A Refutation of Political Misuses of Reich’s Work
by Morton Herskowitz, D.O.
This article “A Refutation of Political Misuses of Reich’s Work” was written by Morton Herskowitz, D.O. in response to an article by Charles Konia, M.D. entitled “Why Trump is Hated by the Left.”
Dr. Charles Konia, who is a leader in the American College of Orgonomy, has written an article on his personal website called, “Why Trump is Hated By the Left” (1). He writes:
“From a characterological perspective, Trump belongs somewhere on the political right. His armor is primarily in his musculature not in his intellect as in the case of a leftist. He has a strong moral sense of “right” and “wrong” and probably will not be afraid to use his authority defending his convictions when he feels it necessary to do so.
These are qualities that terrify liberals. The hatred of Trump by people on the left comes from their deep fear of physical aggression and of strong individual – not collective – authority. Not having their aggression at their disposal, their weapon of choice is the use of their intellect. Because they are in conflict internally with their personal fear and hate of aggression, Trump is seen by them as a frightening individual no different from the old time Nazis.
Leftists unconsciously respect authority out of fear. Their underlying fear of aggression is why they twist social issues into their preconceived belief-systems such as, for example, that all human beings are good and that all social problems can be solved through collective dialogue. These beliefs are supported by their relative morality of political correctness. But, whenever possible, they will reveal their true hatred of genuine authority by acting in subversive ways. This characteristic mindset is the reason that many leftists are in a state of panic over Trump’s election because the energy behind their personal enmity has no satisfactory social outlet.
By contrast, people on the political right are not in conflict with their feelings of aggression and so have no need to get caught up in politically correct attitudes and ideas. They can respect authority figures and have emotions of affection and even feelings of gratitude for the person in authority.
This distinction based on emotional forces underlying the character structure of people on the left and right is sufficient to explain the social dynamics underlying the political outcome of the 2016 presidential election.”
Dr. Konia is obviously more adept at analyzing the armoring of millions of citizens who are shocked by Trump’s antics, than he is at the pathological behaviors of Trump.
He ignores the fact that Trump bragged that because of his wealth and position he was able to grab the “pussies” of many women in his company, that he did a televised imitation of the tics of an interviewer who asked unwelcome questions, and that he lies unapologetically, announcing at a meeting in Philadelphia that homicides are increasing in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper the next day published figures that revealed homicides are decreasing in the city (2).
The fact that he refuses to divulge his income tax records raises the suspicion that he is “stealing” from the people he serves. Talented lawyers have found paths to turn taxes due, which are owed to the public, back to the funds of the payer. The tax money which is assigned to civic use, to repair damaged streets and bridges, help schools, payment of hospital bills, feed the poor and house them adequately, never appears in the public funds. It has taken a strange turn into the funds of its original owner, by means of specialized legal maneuvering. The ability to discern this is a function not of armored eyes, but of open eyes.
To arrive at an explanation of how some members of an orgonomic organization have come to this distorted path requires the revelation of some unhappy history. The fact that the chief figure in this story is deceased makes the telling more difficult.
The American College of Orgonomy was organized by Dr. Elsworth Baker and a few other therapists. Its function was to train new practitioners, to discuss cases and to spread the awareness of orgonomy.
Dr. Baker was bright, well-practiced in therapy, both in theory and performance. There is no doubt that he was a helpful and effective practitioner. He also was an efficient leader and organizer. His political leanings were to the far right on many issues. I once received an invitation to join the John Birch Society, an extremely right-wing organization, and I knew that it was at Dr. Baker’s suggestion.
I respected him, but never felt personally close. He once said to me, “Mort, why don’t you call me Elsworth?” And I answered, “I’m used to addressing you as Dr. Baker, and by now its habitual.”
In 1973, Dr. Baker and several other college orgonomists were knighted by an organization called the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta (3, 4), then headquartered in Shickshinny, PA. However, this group was not the same as the original Roman Catholic lay religious order (Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem and Rhodes and of Malta), which was founded in Jerusalem in 1099 C.E., and is now headquartered in Rome (5). Admission to the original order is to Catholics only. The order that knighted Baker and other College members was led by Charles Pichel of Shickshinny, PA, who wrote a history of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta (6) which has been exposed as fraudulent. Pichel’s Shickshinny order eliminated the membership requirement of Catholicism, attracting members by requiring lower monetary payments than the traditional Catholic order (7). During the Nazi regime in Germany, Pichel was a U.S. Nazi sympathizer in regular correspondence with Hitler’s aide Ernst Hanfstaengl (8).
Despite its fraudulence, the knighthood, with its authority to wear the Maltese Cross and use the letters O.S.J. after one’s name attracted right-wingers, including some generals to Pichel’s self-styled order (9). A mutual interest in UFO’s brought Pichel in contact with Mr. Jerome Eden and Drs. Elsworth Baker, Courtney Baker, and Richard Blasband. The initials O.S.J. can be found after their names in some old Journal of Orgonomy articles1.
E.F. Baker and the Journal of Orgonomy (3, 4) did not mention their connection to Pichel. However, Baker’s associate and fellow “knight” Jerome Eden did mention him (10).
Under Elsworth Baker’s direction the American College of Orgonomy held its annual meeting at an elite, expensive New York hotel. We wore academic robes, colored orgone blue with gold trim.
At our meetings there were often pleas for funds to build a substantial center in Princeton, N.J. I always suggested building a less expensive, substantial building in a less expensive area, and using our funds for civic purposes. I was outvoted, and contributed my $10,000 for the building in Princeton. As time went on, mine was the only negative vote at meetings, and I was out of step almost invariably.
In 1982, Courtney Baker and a few other therapists had an idea for a new organization, the Institute for Orgonomic Science, which I joined.
Courtney Baker said that his father lied frequently. When Dr. Louisa Lance and Courtney were in an emotionally close relationship, she had an opportunity to see Elsworth Baker in a more intimate setting, and she reiterated that he was a practiced liar.
On one occasion I attended a ceremonial event where a colleague pointed out an adolescent young man, obviously disturbed in his movements and expression. He told me that the young man was the son of Elsworth Baker and one of his patients.
Dr. Elsworth Baker pointed the College in a rightist direction. To him and his followers, the expensive hotel, the academic robes, the attainment of “knighthood” were qualities of “standing”. They were attempts to prove the righteousness of the College to a sick society, and possibly to themselves.
In the 1952 U.S. presidential elections, Dr. Reich gave up his usual Democratic Party vote to support the Republican candidate, Dwight D. Eisenhower, a former Democrat. He said that he liked his face (11). According to Baker, most of Reich’s therapist trainees were supporters of the Democratic Party, except for Drs. Baker, Duvall and Silvert, who were politically conservative. Baker had supported Eisenhower’s conservative opponent, Robert A. Taft in the Republican primary. According to Baker, all of the therapists, like Reich, voted for Eisenhower in the general election. (12: 182).
To speak of Reich’s political positions is difficult. While opposing red fascism, he maintained a theoretical position supportive of Marx’s concept of surplus value – that the human laborer earns less money for his work than his work product is worth. The difference is its surplus value. This surplus value is taken and owned by the boss: either the capitalist trader or the state (13). Whoever takes and owns this money, it is not owned by the people and distributed in the community (the ideal situation, beyond our achievement at this point in history, because of human frailty).
In the real world of Austria he did make choices. Reich was already a member of the Austrian Social Democratic Party, a worker’s movement in July 1927 when he also joined the Austrian Communist Party out of disillusionment with the former party’s inability to act in a civic uprising (14).
During this period he was a popular psychiatrist and successful lecturer to crowds of adolescents who swarmed to his lectures on sexuality and birth control. Because of his success as a lecturer he was invited to tour and lecture in the Soviet Union in 1929. He returned from his Soviet lectures still a faithful Communist. From the time of his return through the early 1930s, his awareness of the dangerous policies of the Soviet Union increased. Although he had written about “vulgar Marxism” back in 1933, he first described the Soviet Union in terms of red fascism in the 1946 preface to the Third Edition of The Mass Psychology of Fascism (15).
In 1933 Reich was expelled from the German Communist Party, and there were also orders from the party to stop distributing his books. After the Reichstag fire, he left Berlin, and lived briefly in Denmark and Sweden, and then for several years in Norway, where he was invited to lecture and work and gained some praise. Along with co-workers he also gained enmity in some parts of the community. A newspaper headlined a story of Reich and Leon Trotsky, who had also found temporary refuge there. The article called them the two Jews who proposed to run Norwegian society.
The relationship between Reich and Trotsky is largely unknown to its full extent (16). They both recognized that at the time, the less was that known about their relationship the better. They both criticized the Soviet Union recognizing it as a revolution betrayed (17, 18).
In the course of my personal therapy, Reich inquired about my political views. I told him that I had an interest in Trotskyism in my late twenties and thirties. I read the literature and attended lectures, but never thought of joining the Party. Reich replied, “Trotsky was a good man, but he wasn’t aware enough of the Emotional Plague,” (referring to the hideous ice axe murder by one of Stalin’s agents).
Dr. Victor Sobey assisted Reich shortly before his imprisonment. They spoke of many things: they touched on politics, and Reich wanted to clarify the fact that because of humanity’s generally distorted character structure, a government based on Marxist principles was impractical, but he also stressed that he was still a Marxist (19).
With regard to Dr. Konia’s claim that those on the political left use their intellect as a defense, Reich stands as an example of the utter inadequacy of this position. His factual membership in the Socialist and Communist parties, and his theoretical interest in work-democracy assure the exclusion of Reich from Dr. Baker’s “conservative character.”
Elsworth Baker’s political right-wing efforts have turned the College from concentrating on how humanity has armored itself against nature, toward an emphasis on politically conservative views.
Dr. Konia’s article is an illustration of how important discoveries become polluted by humanity – e.g. the invention of dynamite, a huge aid to the mining industry, changed in time to use in bombs and the destruction of millions of innocent lives.
Concealing character behind titles, costumes, etc. increases the distance to discovery of essential nature in human character. It supports a political stance in the guise of orgonomy. It is drivel in the language of armoring that insults the memory of Wilhelm Reich.
1. Konia, C.: “Why Trump is Hated by the Left,”
http://charleskonia.com/trump-hatedleft/ [Accessed 29 May 2017].
2. Palmer, C.: “Trump Says Philly’s Murder Rate is ‘terribly increasing.’ It’s Not,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 26 January 2017.
3. Baker, E.F.: “Editor’s Page,” Journal of Orgonomy, Vol. 7, No. 2, pages 147-148, 1973.
4. “Communications & Notes,” Journal of Orgonomy, Vol. 7, No. 2, page 285; Vol. 8, No. 1, page 109; Vol. 8, No. 2, page 263.
5. Sovereign Order of Malta: https://www.orderofmalta.int [Accessed 31 May 2017].
6. Pichel, C.: History of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta, Crux News Service, Shickshinny, PA, 1957.
7. http://orderstjohn.org/selfstyle/shicksh.htm [Accessed 31 May 2017].
8. Bellant, R.: Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party, South End Press, Boston, MA, 1991.
9. Davis, M.: “Saucers, Secrets, and Shickshinny Knights,” http://orderstjohn.org/lumpen/saucers.htm [Accessed 29 May 2017].
10. Eden, J.: “The Cheapest Commodity,” Eden Bulletin, Vol. 1, No. 2, 1974, page 1.
11. Reich, W.: “On Dwight D. Eisenhower,” Seminar and Case Studies, (Set of Audio LP Records), Side 4B, Location Recordings, Burbank, CA, 1952.
12. Baker, E.F.: My Eleven Years with Wilhelm Reich, ACO Press, Princeton, NJ, 2011.
13. Reich, W.: “The Living Productive Power, ‘Working Power,’ of Karl Marx, International Journal of Sex- Economy and Orgone Research, Vol. 3, Nos. 2-3, pages 151-164, 1944. [This article, originally written in 1936, was reprinted in Reich, W. People in Trouble, Orgone Institute Press, Rangeley, ME, 1953, pages 28-50, including several previously unpublished pages of additional text written in 1937. This paper is also included on pages 48-76 in another translation of People In Trouble, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, New York, 1976.
14. Reich, W.: People in Trouble, Orgone Institute Press, Rangeley, ME, 1953. [Reissued in a new translation by Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, New York, 1976].
15. Reich, W.: The Mass Psychology of Fascism, 3rd Edition, Orgone Institute Press, New York, 1946. [Reissued in a new translation by Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, New York, 1970].
16. Nilsen, H.F.: “ Sexual Politics in Norway: Wilhelm Reich and Leon Trotsky, 1933- 1936,” In: Kuzma, M. and Lafuente, P. (Eds.) Whatever Happened to Sex in Scandinavia? Art and the Politics of Emancipation, New York, Walter Koenig / OCA, 2011, pages 136-145.
17. Reich, W.: The Sexual Revolution: Toward a Self-Governing Character Structure, Orgone Institute Press, New York, 1945. [Reissued in a new translation by Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1974].
18. Trotsky, L.: The Revolution Betrayed, Doubleday, Doran & Co., New York, 1937.
19. Sobey, V.: “The Scientific Basis of Orgonomy (1993),” Journal of Psychiatric Orgone Therapy,
http://www.psychorgone.com/history /the-scientific-basis-for-orgonomy-script [Accessed 31 May 2017].
About the author: Morton Herskowitz, D.O. has been a practicing orgone therapist in Philadelphia, PA since 1952 and is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He was trained in psychiatric orgone therapy by Wilhelm Reich, M.D. and is Reich’s only living trainee.