Iakov Levi

Mikis Theodorakis, Anti – Semitism, and Castration Anxiety

Sept 9, 2004

The anti-Semitic pamphlets shower down
wildly upon me (which pleases me a hundred
times more than their earlier restraint)

(F. Nietzsche, letter to Franz Overbeck, Nice, 3 February 1888)

On August 27, Mikis Theodorakis, the most important Greek composer of our time, gave an extraordinary interview to Haaretz Magazine.
The comment of Haaretz editorial on 31/08/2004, has been as follows:

Theodorakis spoke freely about how Jews control the banks, the media and the world of music, and the tendency of the Jews to be domineering and fanatical. He referred to the Jewish people as a secret society that is concerned with promoting the interests of its members, and spoke of the Jewish rejection of Jesus' message of love. He made unbridled use of dark racist motifs. When referring to the State of Israel, Theodorakis again compared it to Nazi Germany. Throughout the interview, Theodorakis proved that he is not a progressive humanist, but an out-and-out anti-Semite worthy of condemnation.
As a psychohistorian, I am more interested in understanding the real significance of Theodorakis' words, than in just condemnations. Condemnations do not enhance understanding.
The arrogance of a so called progressive humanist, who was not shy of coming out into the open, gives us a splendid occasion for understanding the latent meaning of anti – Semitism in general, and of  “progressive” anti – Semitism in particular.

There is no point in reiterating the unsoundness of Theodorakis' accusations. As Jean-Paul Sartre said, "anti – Semitism is a passion" (Réflexions sur la question juive, Chap. I) and, as Freud stated, people do not easily give up their passions. Henceforth, I shall try to analyze the substance of this passion.
As Freud has written in Moses and Monotheism, Judaism is the religion of the Father, while Christianity is the religion of the Son. Christianity represents the articulation of the collective aspiration for a world ruled by the Vicar of the sons. As I have shown in Pinocchio: The Puberty Rite of a Puppet, Jesus Christ, Himself a Son God, ascends to Heaven, condenses with the Father, and ultimately gains the supremacy on Him, becoming the Last Judge. The Jews rejected the resolution of a world ruled by a Son God, and retrenched into the faith of a world ruled solely by the Father. They rejected and denied the victory of the Son on the Father. In this way, they attracted the hatred of the Western world, which had opted for the Son - resolution.
Christians correctly accuse the Jews of representing an archaic and regressive religion. Retrenching in a Father religion, which denies the supremacy of the Son, the Jews deny the prehistoric victory of the primal brotherhood horde on the tyrannical oppressive primal Father. The victory of the Sons on the Father indeed represents a progress. Without such a victory, no democracy nor social (and scientific) progress are possible. It is not casual that Western civilization, which since the time of the myths of the heroes had taken the path of the struggle on the Father, is also the cradle of democracy. Mikis Theodorakis, a Greek, and a progressive humanist, is the aptest speaker of a civilization, which, through the victory of the Primal Brotherhood Horde on the Father, gave to the world so many achievements: democracy, science, sexual freedom, philosophy, and art.

Now to the accusations one by one:
1) Jews control the banks, the media and the world of music, and “the tendency of the Jews to be domineering and fanatical”.
The father is unconsciously perceived by the child as omnipotent. He controls everything, specially every source of wealth. Psychoanalytically speaking, money is sperm (Cf. Pinocchio’s tree, which in the puppet’s fantasy was supposed to yield thousands of gold coins). In a more regressive distribution of the libido, money is also faeces. Wealthy people are supposed to own tons of it. Controlling and domineering is an anal feature. The primal Father was indeed an anal sadistic narcissist, who controlled women and wealth. The little child unconsciously perceives his own father as such, too. So, Jews, the delegates of the Father against the Sons, are accused of having the same peculiarities of the primal Father. Fanatical means being fanatical in their loyalty to the hated Father.

2) He referred to the Jewish people as a secret society that is concerned with promoting the interests of its members.
This accusation refers to a supposed clan structure of Judaism. The Jews represent an archaic and regressive religion, peculiar to tribes ruled by a Father figure. Judaism has no dogma, and faith is not relevant. As J. Frazer writes in the Golden Bough, describing primitive societies, only rites are relevant. The rites of Judaism, as in primitive societies, are the rites of the Father. In contrast, Western civilization, having reported through Christianity a final victory on the Father, and on the tribal oppressive Law imposed by him, became ecumenical. Christianity proclaimed that men are all brothers, invalidating the laws of internal cohesion and blood brotherhood, peculiar to primitive societies. The Jews, having maintained some peculiarities of archaic clans, are accused of being loyal only among themselves. However, in the accusation of being a secret society, there is another important hidden reference, which smells of paranoid hallucination. The secret. Whose secret? The little child is convinced that only his father owns the secret to the possession of the mother. All what concerns sexual intercourse and proliferation represents to the child a hidden secret. He is consumed in the craving to possess that secret. The Jews, representing the omnipotent father, are unconsciously perceived as being a “secret society”, ruminating only among themselves that terrible, paramount secret, pivotal to the child, and to the Primal Brotherhood Horde’s survival. The little child, having craved capturing his father’s secret and potency, expects retaliation. Henceforth, the paranoid connotation of this accusation. The “secret society” of the Jews is menacing and threatening. They are conspiring to retain their secret, and to retaliate on the child for his arrogant craving, which the ancient Greeks called Hybris.

3) He spoke of the Jewish rejection of Jesus' message of love.
The substance of this accusation continues the same thread. The Brotherhood Horde, having assassinated the primal Father, expects retaliation. The Law of the Talion (Lex Talionis) is the only valid law in our unconscious, as in archaic psyche. In order to invalid the Law, and to defuse the death – castration threat, Christianity formulated an ideology of forgiveness and of Love. Now, the Jews, the live delegates of the dead Father, are accused of not accepting the Christ’s message of Love and forgiveness, the only device for defusing the Father’s wrath. They became the living representation of the Sons' unconscious dread of the Father’s vengeance: “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord”.

4) Theodorakis again compared the State of Israel to Nazi Germany.
The Nazis were a Brotherhood Horde of savages, with no instinct inhibitions, which broke the yoke of every paternal imago and Super Ego. What Freud called: the moral instance. In order to be able to indulge in an unbridled instinctual orgy, first of all they had to get rid of the Jews, because those were interpreted as being the representatives of the Father and his instinct inhibition's demands. The Nazis were the most extreme expression of the need of the sons to break the yoke of the moral instance, represented by the Father’s imago.
If Christianity, although through the supremacy of the Son, had given way to a compromise with the Father, necessary to the survival of every civilized society, Nazism brought to the extreme the supremacy of the Brotherhood Horde on the Father, and refused every compromise with the moral inhibiting instance. They assassinated again the Father, in the personification of the Jews. The Holocaust was a repetition of the primal patricide.
They did it because of their own internal needs, but there is no doubt that many “progressive – humanists” in the West, identified with them. Now, in order to remove all doubt that what the Nazis did, in their behalf they did it, too, those “progressive – humanists” accuse the Jews of being the Nazis. Mikis Theodorakis and his likes, having identified with the Nazis, unconsciously feel that the finger is pointed against themselves, too. In order to defuse an accusation generated in their own bad conscience, and in their anxiety of retaliation, they say to the Jews: “You are the Nazis, not we!” A child, who is called names, defends himself by repeating the same names towards the accuser. In this way, the child defuses the accusation.

I quote a segment from the interview that Theodorakis gave to Ari Shavit

                  ATHENS - Twenty-four hours before the opening of the 2004 Olympic Games, we sat on the penthouse roof. The Acropolis hovered  above us. A white security blimp hovered above the Acropolis. And when the burning  August sun disappeared in the west, when the orchestra began to play, when the Olympic torch was about to arrive, Mikis Theodorakis placed his hand on mine. And said look how   beautiful. Look how beautiful. And just as Goethe wrote: It's like frozen music, the   Acropolis. It dominates all of Athens like frozen music.  Afterward he spoke about his music. How his music comes to him. He hears notes in his sleep. He turns on the light and jots down the notes on a piece of paper. He turns out the light and goes back to sleep, until more notes awaken him. So that toward morning, he gets up and gathers the pile of papers from the  night. And when the silhouette of the Acropolis emerges from the darkness, he sits at his desk and tries to understand the main thing. The  dominant idea. And he checks himself on the grand piano. Slowly but surely he carves out  the proper shape from the chaos. The musical structure that will remain.  I am close to the German spirit, says Theodorakis. Very romantic, but very disciplined. Swept up completely in great feelings, but hard-working and orderly. I admire Beethoven and Wagner, have reservations about Schoenberg. I don't believe in intellectual music. I don't believe in what is cut off from myth, from religion, from human pain. From the terrible pain of death. Does he think about death a lot? Every day. Every day. Only when he is into music does he feel immortal. But he doesn't delude himself. He celebrates this life, because beyond it there is no other life. And in recent years, his body's betrayal distresses him. Insults him. All his life he was so strong, and suddenly he needs this walking stick. Suddenly he has to lean on me when he rises slowly from his chair.

It is not casual that Ari Shavit began his interview with the description of the environmental background of Mikis Theodorakis: Athens and the Acropolis; these are the cradle of Western civilization. Anti – Semitism engendered from the encounter between the Greek – Romans, the people who moved on the sign of the supremacy of the Son on the Father, and the Jews, the people who retrenched into the cult of the Father.  Beauty –  the eye of Apollo – the god of art and a Son - god, like the Christ – is the symbol of Western civilizations, while the Jews retrenched into an iconoclastic denial of images, which, as Freud has shown, is a feature of instinct inhibition.
Then, they spoke of music: "Afterward he spoke about his music. How his music comes to him. He hears notes in his sleep". As Theodor Reik has shown in “Shofar”, (in Ritual – Psycho-analytic Studies, Farrar and Straus, New York 1946), music engendered in the mimicry of the voice of the assassinated primal Father, by the Brotherhood Horde.
The next association was (what else?) with the Germans and their music. The Germans “are very romantic, but very disciplined”. Very romantic, like the primal brothers who craved for the women, and very disciplined for being able to attack and to kill the primal Father.

 So, we have all the associative chain in place, which will eventually lead to the accusation towards the Jews of being themselves the Nazis: Music – assassinated Father – Germans.

Of course: “I have reservations about Schoenberg. I don't believe in intellectual music”. Schoenberg was Jewish (Theodorakis does not believe in the Father), and “intellectual” is also a household name for Jews and Judaism.

“I don't believe in what is cut off from myth, from religion, from human pain”.
Well, he does not believe in castration (what is cut off) and in the subsequent pain. Castration was the punishment the Primal Father inflicted on his rebellious sons. In the same way, little children are terrorized of being castrated by their own father, as a punishment for their early erections. The Jews, through circumcision, symbolically repeat on themselves the rite, as a sign of loyalty to the Law of the Father. As Freud pointed in a footnote in "Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year-Old Boy" (in Standard Edition, 10, 5-147), one of the sources of anti- Semitism is that circumcision, that the Jews perform on themselves, activates the castration  anxiety of Gentiles.

“From the terrible pain of death. Does he think about death a lot? Every day. Every day”.
That is the most interesting part. In nature, there is not dread of death. As Nietzsche said: “The non - being is unthinkable” (Unpublished Writings, 3[91]). And Freud: "It is true that the statement 'All men are mortal' is paraded in text-books of logic as an example of a general proposition; but no human being really grasps it, and our unconscious has as little use now as it ever had for the idea of its own mortality...." ("The Uncanny," [Das Unheimliche], 1925). The unconscious has no conception of death because death has no prototype, while castration does.
The fear of death is a displacement of castration's anxiety. In our unconscious, castration and death are synonymous, as we can easily infer from “Death”, which is always represented as a skeleton holding a scythe.

Mikis Theodorakis, the anti-Semite who does not believe in the Father, is terrorized by an obsessive thought of castration.

“Only when he is into music does he feel immortal”
Only identifying with the voice of the assassinated Father he is temporarily relieved from his castration's anxiety.

"And in recent years, his body's betrayal distresses him. Insults him. All his life he was so strong, and suddenly he needs this walking stick. Suddenly he has to lean on me when he rises slowly from his chair".
“Walking stick” is an obvious phallic symbol. Like Oedipus, who had "inflated legs", symbol of the castration inflicted on him by the Father, Mikis Theodorakis is lame. He has to lean on a Jew to slowly rise from his chair.

An anti – Semite is the one, man or woman, who unconsciously hates his own father. This repressed hatred is displaced and projected into the Jews, who symbolize the paternal image.
The Jews are not hated because of what they are or what they do, but because of what they represent in the eyes of the perpetrator. Beauty and ugliness are in the eyes of the beholder.
It does not matter if the Jews behave as devils, or as angels, the unconscious imago dictates the outcome. It is an a priori opinion, result of a passion, as Sartre said.

Postscript A

On why European anti - Semitism is on the rise, I have commented in Without Borders: the Borderline Case of the European Union.
I sustain that anti - Semitism is more virulent where there is a collective perception of loss of identity. Identity is in the Ego, and the Ego is the Father's internal image. The European Union, being a conglomerate of different nations with very little in common, and that have been in a status of perpetual enmity for centuries, represents a trial to delete the collective identity of her member nations. Greek identity, which has survived despite hundreds of years of oppressive Turkish rule, now is put at stake, and is questioned, by Greece adherence to the European Union. The Greeks unconsciously feel threatened more than ever. The by product of that threatening mental confusion is a rising tide of anti - Semitism. During Nazis' occupation, was easier for the Greeks to overcome their latent anti - Semitism, and many of them, including Mikis Theodorakis, defended and even saved Jews. A common enemy, the Nazis (an external threat), had strengthened the collective cohesion and the identity of the group, and had consequently diminished anti - Semitic tensions. On the contrary, the threat of inner disintegration, inherent to being part of an oceanic conglomerate of nations without an identity, has heightened those tensions, which, in search of relief, are discharged on the alters.

And three years later - Link: Column One: As Europe self-destructs by Caroline Glick (May 31, 2007)

Postscript B

Graves' desecration

It is not casual that one of the most outstanding and vulgar expressions of anti-Semitism is graves' desecration. This is a feature almost absent in any form of hatred between other peoples. Germans did not desecrate graves of Poles, or the other way around, even if hatred between those two peoples has always run very high. Nor Indus litter Muslims' graves, or the other way around, nor Arabs Christians' graves etc. Graves' desecration is a privilege reserved to Jews.
Littering graves is an anal sadistic discharge of energies, which is equivalent to defecating. Frustrated children, when they feel helpless towards their omnipotent parents, sometimes express their anger, frustration, and protest, by littering and defecating into the wrong places. Moreover, only the one who feels weak and helpless will litter a grave. Corpses cannot defend themselves; they are bonded into the chains of their own graves, and they are hindered from fighting back.
A little child, frightened by his omnipotent father, does not dare expressing his anger into the open. He dreams and fantasizes seeing his father dead, namely, impotent, in order to be able to discharge his frustration towards the loved - hated object. The darkness of cemeteries is the ideal place.


A Comment to "Whose Hatred", (Haaretz). On Western and Islamic Anti - Semitism
Pinocchio: The Puberty Rite of a Puppet
Rembrandt and the Prodigal Son. On Elder and Youngest Brothers
Freud and Reik: Was Moses an Egyptian?
Maestri and Disciples
Why Islamic Terror Now
Di zoppi e altri mutilati

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