Make lurv not war?

Last night’s ABC 7.30 Report contained a depressingly predictable story suggesting that the Catholic Church has learned little or nothing about how to handle child sexual abuse by its clergy and teachers, and remains frozen into a lawyer-driven stance of dishonesty, denial and complete lack of compassion towards its traumatised victims. No doubt the Hetty Johnsons of this world are equally culpable in the opposite direction, but it hardly exculpates the Church, which you might have hoped would exhibit a greater capacity to learn, adapt and grow. I wonder how many ex-Catholics this ongoing fiasco has created. I certainly classify myself as one of those, even though I still occasionally attend Mass mostly out of habit (but partly for the ritual, peaceful contemplation time and the carols at Christmas).

I was also struck, though in a different way, by these comments from the perennial Malaysian pseudo-dictator Dr Mahathir:

Mahathir said Europeans also wanted to impose their cultural values on the world, including “unlimited freedom for the individual” and “the practice of free sex including sodomy as a right.”

“Marriage between male and male, between female and female are officially recognised by them. What we call incest is not regarded as serious by them.”

Leaving aside the incest bit, you have to wonder just how repellent Mahathir’s citizenry actually find his vision of evil western decadence.

Then, in a blinding flash of insomniac inspiration, it occurred to me that there’s actually a crucial link between religious fundamentalism (and perhaps religion in general) and Mahathir-style authoritarian government: both are generated, or at least sustained, by sexual repression. Of course, it’s hardly an original insight; pioneering psychiatric theorist Wilhelm Reich came to similar conclusions 70 years ago (extract from The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Paul Edwards, Editor in Chief, Volume Seven, Macmillan, 1967. [“Reich, Wilhelm”, by Paul Edwards], from Christianism website):

Reich is strongly opposed to the tendency of “emancipated” unbelievers to dismiss religions as nothing more than the fancies of silly and ignorant people. He insists that a study of religious people¢â¬âof the content of their emotions and beliefs, of the ways in which these are implanted, and of the function which they fulfill in their psychological economy¢â¬âis highly rewarding. It sheds light on many other phenomena, including, for example, the psychological basis of fascism and of reactionary political movements. Such a study also explains why, by and large, free-thought propaganda is so unsuccessful in spite of the fact that from a purely rational point of view the positions defended by freethinkers are vastly superior to the religious claims¢â¬âsomething that is not altogether unknown among believers. Above all, a happy life for the majority of mankind is impossible unless the power of religion is broken, unless one can prevent “the mystical infestation of the masses” (ibid., p. 161). However, in order to be effective in “the relentless fight against mysticism,” one must have a full comprehension of its origin and its psychological sources of strength so that one can meet its “artful apparatus . . . with adequate counter-measures” (ibid., p. 152). To suppose that mystical attitudes become anchored in human beings simply as a result of intellectual indoctrination is a naive and dangerous mistake.’ …

‘It would lead too far afield to discuss here the various ways in which, according to Reich, the “mystical idea of God” becomes anchored in people. These mechanisms may vary in detail, but they all involve the implanting of sexual anxieties; and Reich concludes that from the point of view of energy, mystical feelings are “sexual excitations which have changed their content and goal.” The energy of these emotions is the energy of natural sexuality which has become transformed and attached to mystical, psychic contents. Religious patients, upon establishing a fully satisfying sex life, invariably lose their God-fixation.
Once one comprehends the nature of “religious excitations,” it becomes clear why the free-thought movement “cannot make itself as a counter-force” (ibid., p. 147). Aside from the fact that in many countries the churches enjoy the support of the state and that generally the mass information media are grossly biased in favor of religion and religious morality, the impact of free-thought propaganda is limited because it relies almost exclusively on intellectual arguments. These are not, indeed, a negligible factor, but they are no match for the “most powerful emotion” on which the mass-psychological influence of religious institutions is based: sexual anxiety and sexual repression. …

‘it follows incontrovertibly that “full sexual consciousness and a natural regulation of sexual life mean the end of mystical feelings of any kind, that, in other words, natural sexuality is the deadly enemy of mystical religion” (ibid., p. 152). Any social efforts which are directed toward making people affirm their sexual rights will ipso facto weaken the forces of mysticism.’

All they need, Reich is saying, is a good root. Better still, regular good roots. Now, we need to keep in mind here that Reich, like most psychiatrists, was completely mad. In his later life he became utterly convinced of the existence of UFOs, and even came to believe that he himself was the offspring of a spaceman. Moreover, there are one or two inherent logical difficulties involved in Reich’s sexual repression and religiosity hypothesis. It requires us, for example, to accept that no religiously-minded couples have a fulfilling sex life (otherwise their faith would quickly lapse).

Nevertheless, there’s the germ of a good idea in here. What we need to do is establish a secular humanist guerilla army, staffed with squadrons of highly-trained callgirls (and callboys, to cover the field). First we send them out into the Bible Belt of the southern and western United States and Sydney’s North Shore, to teach the good burghers about the joys of tantric sex and the location of the G-Spot. Some would need to ingratiate themselves with Catholic and Anglican priests, and convince them that sex with a person over the age of sixteen can actually be rather pleasant. Then we send them out to do likewise in the terrorist badlands of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Of course, this part would be a tad more risky, but you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. What I’m advocating here is nothing less than taking Samuel P Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations between the sheets; a sexualised version of the imperialist “neocon” strategy. It might not work, but it should be a lot more entertaining than listening to Paul Wolfowitz (though possibly not for the callgirls subjected to sharia “justice”).

PS – The first illustration shows the “Arch d’Venus”, available from Tantra.com and a steal at $76 (US). They describe it in the following terms:

Voluptuous, durable, discreet and breathtakingly beautiful the Arch d’ Venus wand is a masterpiece of art with a special purpose. Inspired by the sensuous curves of the body and named for the planet of Love, this acrylic wand fits all the right places. Its curved end stimulates the G-spot or prostate with perfect accuracy. With a diameter of 1 5/8 inches, this unique sex toy satisfies and heals at the same time.

It does have a certain je ne sais quoi, nest-ce pas? It might look nice on the loungeroom coffee table, next to the Wedgwood elephant box.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Scott Wickstein
2022 years ago

I don’t know Ken, a nice theory…

Like you, I’m retired from Catholicism, but a few years ago I had a mate who was deeply involved in a revivalist church. He was a good bloke, he just literally believed that God had spoken to him- his wife was of similar faith.

Their faith was a real thing, which dominated their lives. All their friends were invovled in this church and I went along once, after much pestering.

It was roughly along the lines of a Catholic service with emphasis on the singing; but less proscribed ritual.

Actually the entire community was a very agreeable way of living and I would have gone right into it but for one small point- I have absolutely zero religious inclination at all.

But there was no doubt that for these people, they lived pretty normal lives. I don’t think you could call them sexually repressed given the amount of anklebiters that many of them had- my friend had four kids, and from what I could tell they were.. pretty normal from that point of view.

They had no political inclination at all, mind you.

It does seem to me that the strongest religions though are those that are furthest from reason. Every attempt to rationalise religion weakens it- who would die for Anglicanism?

How do we deal with Islamists who will die for their faith? I’m not sure reason is the answer- for the believer, faith trumps reason every time.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Scott,

That’s precisely the point Reich made: you can’t convince them by reason. Only a good root will do it. As you point out, however, many of them probably already have healthy sex lives. Nevertheless, that isn’t true of Catholic priests or, I suspect, Islamic terrorists. Of course, we’d have to find Osama first before we could organise him a good root. And if we did actually find him, it would be quicker and safer just to kill the bastard!

Paul Watson
2022 years ago

I’m pretty sure that the link between sexual and political repression was – ahem – fully thrashed out in the late 60s and early 70s. Which is not to say that the theory wasn’t correct (it was, and is, IMO). Rather, the polysexual panacea in practice just rather severely underestimated the micro-politics of sex – the intensity of which makes the Italian parliament look as staid and maiden-auntly as an Australian state’s Upper House.

So it’s not actually a bad idea, Ken – I just hate to think of the kind of Tammany that greater Catholics* would have to create to negotiate, plot and bluff their/our collective, tribal way through the sexual-free-for-all.

In any case, as I semi-seriously blogged a few weeks ago, long-term debt is perhaps the main agent of repression in western societies currently:
http://paulwatson.blogspot.com/#94885530

* “Greater Catholics”, while strictly-speaking an unforgivable tautology, is used in the same sense as “Greater China”, i.e. all those which the Church seeks to claim, vice versa, and probably a few more else besides.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Good thinking Ken. This is just the kind of theory that really could have … legs!

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

BTW I should have mentioned that readers may be interested to take the G-Spot test (see link in main post). It’s fun and you might learn something. Feel free to share your results with the rest of us.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Ken,

If I can take some of your writing seriously.

( I will not write how there is no such thing as a chrisian priest) but my observation is that most of the problems concerning people in the catholic and anglican denominations happened between men and boys. Forgive my ignorance but how in the world would sex with a woman overcome that?

the Leaders in both denominations IF they were christians would have instantly dismissed them as any cursory reading of the pastoral epistles would have demanded instead they took the cowardly way of ignoring the problem in the hope it would go away.

Reason versus faith. If Jesus couldn’t convince Jews way back then when he cured cripples, brought a person back from the dead etal then why would ‘reason’ work any better today?

Tysen
Tysen
2022 years ago

Have there been any studies that confirm that sexual abuse occurs more frequently in the church? Most of the statistics quoted start with “some have suggested that as much as X%”. Of course by making that statement they are confirming it’s truth – that is, they themselves are making that suggestion.

mark
2022 years ago

Homer, you’ve got to give up this belief that Catholic != Christian. Really.

Catholic is Christian, but Christian is not Catholic. Thus all priests are Christian clergymen, but not all Christian clergymen are priests (some are ministers, &c).

mark
2022 years ago

Sexual frustration seems to be a key player in a lot of oppression, including religious oppression. And I’m not just talking about tyrannical regimes a la the Taliban: mediaevil Europe was pretty shitty in the great scheme of things too (albeit not on the scale of burkas). Actually, sex seems to be a sore spot for all concerned.

Ah, pop culture time. In the 50s and 60s, even those in America who had nothing against black people and were considered pretty tolerant were horrified by the concept of interracial marriage: blacks were no different from whites, but if a black man married a white woman or whatever combination you prefer, well, you may as well pack up your trailer park and leave because America was going to hell. You may recall the Star Trek episode which featured Kirk (white man) and Uhura (black woman) unwillingly kissing one another generated the most complaints of any original Star Trek episode simply because people were incensed that a TV show broadcast nationwide was endorsing interracial coupling.

Then there’s Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, in which the self-absorbed drug-addicted rock star Pink (interesting name, wot?) goes through a period where he says “fuck you” to the world, and imagines leading vigilante mobs around the place pleading the extreme right wing cause. Naturally, a chief offence for his targets (cf “Run Like Hell”, track 09 of disc 2) to commit is to dare having sex. God forbid!

And of course who could forget George Orwell’s /Nineteen Eighty-Four/, where the repression of oen’s sexuality is a core part of being a member of the party.

According to many religious outlooks — at least, those based at least in part on the Old Testament (Judaism, most Christia sects, Islam), — sex is dirty, unclean, a necessary evil of procreation and not meant for enjoyment (“Every sperm is sacred!”), and so on. If the attitudes of major religions, would-be prophets and bigoted fucknuckles are any indication, taking from those who would try to control us the right to redefine sex in their own terms (also known as making sure potential victims get a good root plenty often) will also take away a lot of their power.

(There, that didn’t sound much like twaddle at all… did it?)

Norman
Norman
2022 years ago

Whether it was God, or evolution, the experiment hasn’t been a complete success.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

I think your army of secular humanist rooters has been going at it for some considerable time Ken. It’s, indeed, the shaking of windows and the rattling of walls brought on by that massive non-conjugal fuckfest that impels Dr “kill two sodomites and call me in the morning” Mahathir to sound his trumpet blast.

Like all control freaks, Mahathir is obsessed by the essentially anarchic implications of an untramelled sexuality that spills(if that’s not too provocative an allusion) beyond the strict parameters of the pre-enlightenment tribal social ordering represented in the Koran and the Bible.

I don’t know whether self-proclaimed Christians have fabulous sex lives or not- though I doubt it somehow. I do know that they share with the madcap old Sage of KL a thoroughly disturbing fascination with what those who are not so spiritually blessed are up to. They need to get over it – or seek professional help.

Gianna
2022 years ago

Ken, I don’t think this is what people mean when they talk of the root cause of terrorism/fundamentalism, but an enjoyable post regardless!

Comments like those of Mahatir just smack of the defense mechanism known as ‘reaction formation’. He himself probably secretly has unacceptable homosexual urges, and therefore feels the need to take the most extreme opposite position available in order to negate those feelings. (Wonder how poor old Anwar’s going these days?)

I don’t know if it comes down to sexual repression. Maybe it’s something to do with the psychological conflict involved in enjoying sex (as I’m sure even fundamentalists do) at the same time as being brainwashed into thinking it is wrong. It doesn’t stop them killing themselves in the hope of bonking 77 virgins in Paradise, though, does it?

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Mahathir’s daughter, Marina, heads the Malaysian AIDS Council. Kooky, no?

mark
2022 years ago

“the shaking of windows and the rattling of walls brought on by that massive non-conjugal fuckfest”

*guffaws*

I’m not sure I’ll be able to look at Bob Dylan in the same light again…

Patrick
2022 years ago

It doesn’t explain all those represive rulers with the 200 wives and 500 concubines though. All your emperors, Sultans, Mao Zedong, etc.

I guess you can come up with lots of reasons to repress people.

And for the record, all the religious people I know seem to have fine sex lives (once married).

mark
2022 years ago

Well, perhaps it’s the people *being* repressed that have the shocking sex lives. Which includes those who repress themselves out of a sense of duty (and, let’s face it, brainwashing) to their religion.

Must confess, though, I’ve got very little information on the wild sex romps enjoyed by the religious people in my life. Well, there was an old religion teacher who stood up in front of the class and said “I’m a 28-year-old virgin, because I’m saving myself for the right woman.” Um. Yeah.

I’m going off old attitudes (remember, girls, never let him see you naked, never leave the light on, make sure you remain as clothed as possible, try to keep it brief so as to discourage him), which, judging by the behaviour of certain members of the (admittedly far-right wing here) religious castes in other areas, haven’t changed much.

jaime
2022 years ago

Here my friend check out your sources before bluffing
http://foia.fbi.gov/reich.htm
Please used the power http to make a valid point, that is, if your are not too intelectually lazy, for it is easy to go in a google search and withou checking fact just smear people. Ah but if a can take the cream and run, hum?