Socialism’s Incestuous Relation to the Mother

A nation with a socialized economy is aptly called a “nanny state.” Like an overly protective mother, it stifles self-reliance, individual initiative, and ultimately liberty itself. The Leviathan that socialism creates invariably infantilizes us. We are to forsake our status as citizens to become subjects, under the aegis of various ministers, or czars, who administer to our needs.

As our dependency on government increases, we become, in effect, wards of the state. Yes, governmental “smother love” is a pernicious thing, which leads one to wonder: why would anyone crave the degraded, ignominious form of existence wrought by socialism? Here lies a mystery!

Socialism Versus Capitalism
Consider, by way of contrast, capitalism. It financially rewards hard work, ingenuity, risk taking, and individual achievement. The downside is that we are must pay the price for our errors. But accepting responsibility for our actions is intrinsic to being a mature adult. Socialism, on the other hand, promises to protect us from the negative consequences of our actions. For example, if we fail to save money for a rainy day and disaster strikes, the state steps in to protect us. It does so by robbing, i.e., taxing, Peter to pay Paul for his poor judgment. In that sense, the lure of socialism is a regressive wish to forsake the burdens of adulthood.

Socialism also appeals to the longing for equality. Socialists contend that any distribution of goods, based on achievement, is intrinsically unfair. The implication is that life is a zero-sum game, and that one person’s gain is another person’s loss. As a solution, Karl Marx advocated the philosophy — and the call to action — that lies at the heart of communism: “From each according to his abilities to each according to his needs.” Implicit here is the view of the state is a large family, with only so much food to go around. If some of the family members have large portions, then the rest of the family will have less. Of course, this metaphor is absurd, for the world is not a large family, even if many Utopian socialists believe it to be so. (Nor is it a village, as Hillary Clinton implied in her book “It Takes a Village.”)

We have mentioned two of the appeals of socialism, the wish not to have to take responsibility for one’s errors and the craving for equality. There is a third appeal of socialism, one that is never stated, perhaps because it initially seems counterintuitive. It is to create a world where one no longer needs to be charitable towards other people. This may sound rather surprising. After all, those on the political left pride themselves on their compassion. Alas, their compassion really consists in forcing those who are affluent to give to those who have less. Apropos is Aristotle’s reason for rejecting socialism. He contended that charity is good for the soul, and under socialism there is no need to be charitable, for the state gives us all that we need.

There exists, then, on the part of the socialist the desire to create a world where no one need ever be charitable. And so why the desire to create such a world? It is because the socialist knows that to give to others contradicts that desire that is at the heart of socialism, the wish to stay to be given and not have to give, i.e., the wish to stay as a child. In such a world, the soul withers and dies.

Pa is to Blame for Everything
Let us consider socialism and capitalism in terms of Jungian archetypes. The mother does not require that her children accomplish anything to receive a piece of the pie. They all receive an equal portion. This matriarchal mode of distribution is the ideal of socialism. Now consider the father, in his many archetypal forms — including one’s personal father, God, one’s pastor, one’s teachers, and anyone else in authority. Unlike the mother who, out of unconditional love, makes no demands, the father divvies up the pie based on individual merit.

Socialists rail against the father’s manner of distribution, accusing him of favoritism and bias, of lacking compassion, of being altogether unfair. Their accusations towards the father cloak their true animus: socialists hate and resent the father for requiring that they become responsible adults. They similarly hate that the father’s love is conditional, in that respect. In the language of Freud, they hate the father for forcing them to renounce the pleasure principle and to accept the reality principle. For in truth, socialism, like all Utopian creeds, is a flight from reality.

Certainly there are injustices in the world, but most often the accusation of unfairness is a puerile protest against the demands of adulthood, a protest that is often darkened by a baleful dose of envy of those who have more. They claim that if it wasn’t for the father, everyone could have an equal piece of the pie. The revolution that socialists wish to foment is one that would kill the father, and put the “mother” in charge of the world.

This patricide can take many forms, from a contempt for culture and tradition to anti-Americanism, from atheism to antisemitism. In regard to the latter, the Jewish people have always embodied the morality of God, the father. Even if particular Jews embrace socialism, and even if particular Jews renounce morality, the Jewish people as a whole are forever branded those, among the nations, who have chosen God, the father.

Socialism and the Oedipus Complex
All cultures have an incest taboo. They realize that a violation of this taboo can have grave results, for the individual and for society. Freud referred to the dynamic, by which the child’s incestuous longings are punished, as the Oedipus Complex. As we have been suggesting, socialism is essentially a longing for the mother. In other words, socialism is the creation of those who — despite the guilt engendered by the Oedipus Complex — have refused to renounce their longings for the mother. (The consequence of ignoring one’s Oedipal guilt is a diminished sense of self, but that is another story for another essay.)

The original version of the film, The Manchurian Candidate (1962) evokes this noxious connection between communism, i.e., socialism taken to its logical conclusion, and the mother. In that nightmarish story, a POW, named Raymond Shaw, is brainwashed and turned into a political assassin, by the Chinese communists, during the Korean War. The film suggests that Raymond has an incestuous relation with his domineering mother. (The book, by the same title went much further down that road.) A casual remark by the protagonist of the film, Major Marko, suggests a parallel between Raymond’s relation to his mother and difficulties that Orestes had with his mother, Clytemnestra.

Raymond’s mother — although apparently a virulent anti-communist, right-winger — is really in league with the communists, who have brainwashed her son. What triggers the hypnotized Raymond to obey a command is the site of a certain playing card, the queen of hearts. That card, of course, represents his mother. In any case, we mention this film because it evokes the connection between socialism in its final form, i.e., communism, and an unresolved Oedipus complex.

Marx famously wrote: “A specter is haunting Europe — the specter of communism.” Were Marx psychologically astute, he would have realized that the real specter haunting Europe, the US, and the rest of the world, is the mother archetype, or what the Jungian Erich Neumann called “the Great Mother.”

The Swinging of the Pendulum
As Hegel’s dialectic reveals, when the pendulum of history swings to one extreme, it will invariably swing to the opposite extreme. What, then, lies on the opposite extreme of socialism? The other end of the pendulum’s arc is radical Islam. It is concomitantly a fanatical faith in the father (Allah) and a violent rejection of the mother.

Islamists perceive that both the socialistic and the capitalistic nations…

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8 People have left comments on this post

» MikeBandN said: { Jul 23, 2009 - 10:07:34 }

I meant to say the following after discussing politics with you, but, FYI, I have been having a Left v. Right (inner dialogue) political debate with myself for over at least a year now. Male members of my family are strictly Republican, whereas my mother “takes my side” in political debates for unknown reasons. However, after reading your post, and furthering the inner-dialogue debate, I have concluded that I agree with your conceptualization of politics. Of course, having thoroughly examined this debate for over a year now (including taking a Philosophy seminar entitled “Contemporary Moral Problems & Law”), I still wish to further this discussion in the pursuit of greater knowledge. Frankly, I have bragged about our discussion with my colleagues and wish to capitalize further with your insight. Considering your attention to this website, I am sure to receive a response/invitation, and would be delighted to do so. Please get back to me ASAP so we can further discuss these insights and/or others. You are a worthy and sincere acquaintance, I thank you sincerely. ~m

» apiascik said: { Jul 31, 2009 - 10:07:46 }

This is a weird connect-the-dots, but it reminds me of an episode from the old Star Trek, “I, Mudd” in which the enterprise crew is taken captive by a race of androids who plan to take over the human race. They contend that mankind is too self-destructive to be left to their own devices.

The insidious part is that they plan to keep humanity subservient by catering to their every whim, including granting immortality. Their ruler is a good-for-nothing human named Harry Mudd (the ST version of Falstaff). The interesting twist is that Mudd keeps around an android version of his wife, Stella, who constantly nags him until he tells her to shut up, which didn’t work in real life :-) . She, as animus-possessed woman, represents his guilty conscience and evasion of responsibility, which ultimately is the price to be paid for wanting to have everything handed to you. A synopsis of the episode can be found here:,_Mudd

» mdillof said: { Aug 2, 2009 - 10:08:09 }

Yes, that is the paradox: “…they plan to keep humanity subservient by catering to their every whim.” It is a version of Hegel’s master/slave reversal.

The shrew is another form of this same reversal.

» mdillof said: { Aug 24, 2009 - 08:08:40 }


Thank you for your thoughts. As clarity is attained — and right and left are seen to be a species of masculine and feminine — the inner-dialogue will become an inner-dialectic.

The time may come when the whole thing makes beautiful sense. One sees that life has to be this way for It to see Itself. I.E., without duality and the cosmic war that ensues, there could be no self-seeing. When the mind sees this, it smiles at the whole cosmic joke.

» KiwiYogi said: { Jul 20, 2011 - 04:07:30 }

America’s infatuation with masculine values is expressed in capitalism. In contrast, the USSR’s infatuation with feminine values expressed as communism. These two super-powers played off each other – each despising the other – causing them to go further to the left and right.

Now that the USSR has gone, there is nothing pushing America more and more to the right. Naturally, it is moving back towards equilibrium at the centre. America is now having to own what it previously disowned – its feminine nature: socialism.

This is terribly offensive to the American identity – as demonstrated by loud groups like the Tea Party which cling to their masculine values: independence, autonomy, look-after-yourself mentality.

America’s demonisation of the left in the past is making its road to equilibrium in the present a difficult time.

» mdillof said: { Aug 14, 2011 - 08:08:30 }


Thank you for your thoughts. “Cling” is a loaded word. Members of the Tea Party do not cling to traditional American values, such as independence, autonomy and self-reliance. On the contrary, they tenaciously defend these values, for anything of value is worth defending.

Socialism is not, like some sort of neo-Jungian would argue, a repressed side of American culture and society. It is a foreign export, and is anathema to American ideals.

As for equilibrium, it is not necessarily a good thing. For example, death establishes a nice equilibrium.

» KiwiYogi said: { Feb 7, 2012 - 04:02:09 }

> like some sort of neo-Jungian would argue

Putting labels on people and objectifying them is a core feature of the masculine point of the view. Those entrenched in the masculine point of view often cannot see past these labels (which they might call ‘facts’) and see the legitimacy of both sides of an argument.

>Socialism is not a repressed side of American culture and society.

Of course it is. The word ‘socialist’ is used to insult people.

>It is a foreign export, and is anathema to American ideals.

Capitalism is also exported to other countries. Corporations go into other countries and promote their own self-serving ideals.

Corporations are given the legal status of people – what could be more unnatural and soul-less than that? It is like giving a robot human status.

Have you seen the documentary The Corporation? It profiles the personality of corporations and finds them to be sociopathic – ruthless self-interest at the expense of individuals, society and the environment.

It would be hard to argue that the products of the Coca-Cola or McDonalds corporations contribute much to society other than consumerism and diabetes. Yet, they are admired by capitalists as great successes.

In your article you place socialism and capitalism as opposites. I would say they are complementary opposites – they are two sides of the same coin. They are essentially the same creature with equal and opposite advantages and disadvantages.

The government is to socialism as corporations are to capitalism.

>As for equilibrium, it is not necessarily a good thing. For example, death establishes a nice equilibrium.

Disequilibrium and division are food for the ego which thrives on separation. It is very hard for the ego to admit that the underlying motivation of both sides of the political spectrum have equal merit.

In your case, you declare the socialist’s motivation to be incestuous and the glorify the capitalist. To me that is an obvious and unreasonable polarization.

[Do you realise that the login process on this site gave me a password that gives me access to your WordPress dashboard? I could edit your articles and comments. You should get that fixed ASAP]

» mdillof said: { Mar 22, 2012 - 10:03:02 }


I first of all want to thank you for alerting me to the website problem! I’ve alerted my webmaster. I’m hoping that it will be fixed this evening.

Now on to your post. You state that those entrenched in the masculine point of view cannot see past labels. I think that you are unfairly labeling those who have a masculine way of seeing.

McDonalds has some very tasty chicken platers. My favorite is the Southwestern. I’ve been eating it for several years and so far my doctor cannot find any evidence of diabetes. McDonalds helps people who don’t have a lot of money — students, teachers, people at low paying jobs, and starving philosophers, like myself. And McDonalds hires high school kids. For many people, it is their first job. I love McDonalds and keep an Ronald McDonalds doll next to my statue of Socrates.

You state: “[Capitalism and socialism] are essentially the same creature with equal and opposite advantages and disadvantages.” Huh? You got me there. I’m not sure that I understand how they are the same creature. It would be like saying that me mother and my father are really the same person. That would be scarrrrry! I mean it would be like an episode of the Twilight Zone. Maybe you would be kind enough to explain.

Finally, I’m not glorifying capitalism. Even Adam Smith, perhaps the father of modern-day capitalism, had some very unkind things to say about capitalism. And I’ve worked for many companies and I know full well what it is to be a wage slave working for a bonehead boss. But what Winston Churchill said about democracy could also be said about capitalism, “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” In other words, Kiwi, capitalism has many flaws and defects, but it’s a lot better than socialism. And I’m not just basing this on abstract reasoning. There have been many attempts to implement a socialistic economy and they have been dismal failures.

Thanks for your thoughts.

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