Seminar paper: Freud

27 Nov

Sigmund Freud was born in 1856 in Austria. He’s mainly known for founding the practice of psychoanalysis and his redefinition of sexuality (his version included the infantile forms). Freud was considered a romantic and had somewhat of a celebrity status. He was addicted to cocaine, was extremely ambitious and was an atheist.

Freud believed in the ‘all encompassing theory’ which is the theory of everything. This was targeted to a problem – the misery of the human condition. He believed that we are unhappy because we are divided as humans and that we are alienated from ourselves. He had the same starting point as Marx.

It doesn’t matter if you believe or don’t believe in psychoanalysis, but it;s influence has been outstanding. Freudian language has entered into the mainstream and it’s evident that we “all speak Freud now”. Whether we like it or not, we live in a totally Freudian world. He believed that he discovered the archaeology of the human mind through psychoanalysis and by doing this, excavating the secrets of the unconscious. This includes things such as Freudian slips, dreams and neurotic symptoms.

He was seen as a sexual renegade and challenged the enlightenment. He agreed with Rousseau’s teachings that all answers come from ourselves and that “man is the measure of all things”. He damaged the idea of ourselves as noble creatures. Freud was a self proclaimed pessimist and said to think of the artist Rembrandt when you think of him. A little light, but a lot of darkness. This came from this personal experiences. His theories are a dark vision of humanity.


Plato (427 BC) had a theory of the tripartite self. This was made up of reason, spirit and desire which is outlines in the allegory of the chariot. There, however, is one key difference between Plato and Freud. Plato believed that reason was in control of the two others but Freud thought that reason was the weakest of the three as people are irrational and driven by desires that are beyond our control and our concious mind. The idea of a tripartite self was taken on further by Freud, who constructed ideas of the id, ego and super-ego.


Marx (1818) is also similar in his beliefs of the tripartite self but with different titles – natural, alienated and species self. The needs of the species self would become dominate if we lived in a communist society. In a teleological perspective, humanity would finally access its true expression. Marx believed that human nature has an infinite potential to develop and evolve. Freud however rejects this as believed it was too idealistic and that our basic needs are not benign. He thought are deepest needs are aggression and the desire to hurt others and ultimately seek our own destruction in the Death Wish. This is very similar to Hobbes and Machiavelli’s views on human nature.

Freud said that the mind is divided into three distinct processes that are in conflict. The first is the id which is from birth. This is a bundle of instincts aimed at gaining pleasure and avoiding pain. Sex and aggression are combined by the id and they dominate the personality. Excitations are always bubbling away under the surface and demanding to be fulfilled but we are not aware of its dominance. The second is the ego which is the reality principle. This is the least powerful and is the voice of reason/common sense. It’s turned towards the real world. The third and final process is the super-ego which are the internalised rules of society. The Reich is irrational (the same as id) and develops after birth through socialisation. The super-ego has unrealistic standards of perfection and punishes with guilt.

Freud believed that society is full of suffering because life is full of pain. Our own body is decaying, as is nature, and our everyday interactions with people cause the most pain. He thought people are only out to get us and to hurt us. His answer to this is psychoanalysis which is needed to strengthen the ego. He outlines some coping mechanisms but he doesn’t recommend them – intoxication, isolation, religion and sublimation. Freud claimed he had found a way to deal directly with the unconscious, the id. Hypnosis, the pressure method, free association and dreams are all ways of tapping into the unconscious. Dreams are a way for the id to show itself. However, Freud believed that aggression would never be eliminated

There are many people who try to dispute Freud’s beliefs such as Popper. He thought all scientific predictions could be proven wrong, but Freud was so vague with his ideas that it can’t be tested. There is also no proof that psychoanalysis works. Even though Freud thought he was, he was not the discoverer of the unconscious. That, along with repression, childhood and regression were discussed in academic circles in the 19th century, before Freud. Schopenhauer believed man was an irrational being guided by internal forces. Reich believed that sexuality and politics were interlinked. He thought sexual repression was a weapon of political domination. Followers of Reich encouraged their patients to express their feelings openly, which was a direct attack on the Freudians who taught people to control their feelings.


HCJ3: lecture 4

13 Nov

This week’s lecture was on Social Darwinism. Social evolution was a concept that was considered by Nietzsche after Darwinisn invaded politics in the 1880s. In simple terms, Social Darwinism means that individuals, groups and people are subjected to the same laws of natural selection as plants and animals. It considers the survival of the fittest in society.

Greece: Plato’s idea of people was very simple. He thought of people as metals – philosophers were gold, soldiers were silver and the common people were bronze. These ideas were teleological because they were meant to represent the real form of human. It was similar to Nietzsche’s idea of a superhuman/ubermensch as it was all about saving the ‘gold’.

Artistotle was a great biologist as he categorised species. There was no concept of speciation but traits could be genetically inherited. He believed traits could be inherited via essence and passed down through the generations. This is hereditary evolution.

The Enlightenment: This period saw the development of sciene and animal breeding. Selective breeding, phrenology and racial categorisation occurred.

The Bible: It was written that all species were created in one single act. This shocked civilisation and ultimately led to Protestantism by Martin Luther.

USA: The USA was the first single state to be made up entirely of people with a non-ethic background due to the cruel extermination of the Native Americans. This created a state of neo-classicism. By 1900, USA was seen as the new Rome as they were starting to control parts of the Caribbean through militarism. The USA functions as a state of war to bring people together (this is still going on now all around the world i.e. the Middle East and Lybia).

Germany: They have a very romantic view on ethnicity. The ‘Heimat’ is essentially you are what you eat. They are very dominant and proud of it’s ‘pure’ ethnic background. They disagreed with the Enlightenment and they only mix well with people of their ‘own kind’.

France: They were very similar to Germany in that they wanted to make the world French. They wanted to compete with other nations by endorsing their own civilisation (e.g. the Algerian war).

Britian: Britiain’s language was formed by the Anglo Saxons who were, at the end of the day, German. Essentially to be British you had to be German. Britiain tried to establish themselves with the flag, the royal family and writers. Hellensim was used for imperialism. Public schools educated their students, trying to build up a bureaucratic elite (which was a success, for example, Eton and Harrow are seen to be a cut above the rest in terms of class). This was a new breed of elite as they learnt Ancient Greek and Latin. Britain tried to sort out other countries’ problems as they believed to be better than them because they were educated and ultimately trying to ‘save humanity’.


HCJ3: lecture 3

31 Oct

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was a German philologist and philosopher, alongside being a critic, composer and poet. He is best known for writing critical texts on religion, morality, culture, philosophy and science. He is often seen as the successor to Schopenhauer. Nietzsche was a professor and his political philosophy was influenced by Machiavelli’s, The Prince. He can also be associated with Machiavelli because their ethics were aimed at power and not Christianity.

Schopenhauer believed that life is nothing but a curse, full of pain and suffering. He believed life is circular and that misery repeats itself over and over again. He disliked Christianity but preferred the Indian religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Schopenhauer believed that the only way to escape this suffering is to commit suicide, though art and music provide temporary moments of escape. Nietzsche wasn’t prominent in science or logic, not a fan of the enlightenment, but was particularly influenced by art.

Nietzsche had a bit more of an internal locus of control, suggesting that life is suffering but those who suffer it must find a sheer force of will to live.

One of Nietzsche’s main ideas was that of an ubermensch, or a superhuman. ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’, a philosophical novel written by him, was seen as the creation of the ubermensch. An ubermensch symbolised power, strength and forward thinking. However, the values of the ubermensch have turned evil and warlike. An ubermensch would rise to power through individuality and set a goal for humanity. No-one can be above them and they want bad things to occur. The ubermensch ultimately takes over everything.

Another key idea he discussed was the ‘will to power‘. This is a sheer force and personality of a ruler. Nietzsche admired individualism and thought that individuals were more important that the misery of a whole country. One of his heroes was Napoleon. Napoloen made nationalism possible and Nietzsche thought that the war has ‘higher hopes for the century’. Napoleon made nationalism possible and Nietzsche thought that this war had ‘higher hopes for the century.’  Aristocracy also plays a part in the will to power because these people are biologically superior according to Nietzsche. The ‘noble man’ is a governing aristocrat, capable of cruelty and only protects artists and poets. Nietzsche’s superior aristocracy is like Plato’s philosopher kings. These are the golden people who must think for the bronze people or the masses.

On religion, Nietzsche thought that Christianity’s main driving force was the ‘revolt of the bungled and botched’ and thought that these are the masses so saw no problem with their suffering. He thought Christianity tames man which is a mistake, and that Christianity is like a wild beast with a certain splendour which is lost when it’s tamed. Nietzsche thought that god is dead. Nietzsche prefers evil to good and wants to change everyone’s perception of what good and evil actually is.

Nietzsche had a very backwards view on what a woman’s role in society should be. He thought women are holding back society, that they are not capable of making friendships, called them cats/birds/cows and belived that women were only there for the pleasure of men. Independent women were intolerable and women in general were the property of men. Whereas Schopenhauer’s abuse towards women started due to his rocky relationship with his mother, Nietzsche seemed to have no negative experiences with women at all.


HCJ3: lecture 2

16 Oct

This week, the focus of the lecture was on Max Weber and his analysis of bureaucracy. Weber was born in 1864 and was a German philosopher and political economist. He is often known as one of the founding fathers of sociology along with Marx and Durkheim. He was interested in power and how to make it legitimate.

He believed that there are three types of power:

Traditional authority – this is a type of power resulting from habit (teleological). It’s seen as legitimate because everyone has by habit, obeyed the leader without any questions asked. An example of this is the authority found with the feudal lords as power is achieved and maintained through inheritance.

Charismatic authority – this is based on the charisma of the individual leader. It’s legitimate because people believe in the leader and are devoted to them. People have a herd mentality and have the tendency to follow the crowd. Weber said it’s “a certain quality of an individuals personality which is considered extraordinarily and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman or exceptional powers and qualities”. There are no rules and the leader decides everything. However, the leader can’t be there all the time to exert power so has to become more traditional or rational.

Legal/rational authority – a state of government needs to have a monopoly on legitimate power. This power needs to be centralised (like Hobbes’ The Leviathan) and for this they needed bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is technically sound as everyone in the system is trained to do one job, and if it’s not their job to do what you’re asking them to do, you have to find the person trained to do it. Rational authority is the rule of law, which means authority is given to public officials. Weber believed that bureaucracy is the purest type of legal/rational authority. Bureaucracy is often seen as tedious, but according to Weber it is the most efficiant system we have.

Weber’s views were formed by what was happening around him at the time. Prussia’s rise to power was a key part to play in this. Here, taxes were collected to fund a powerful army. They avoided the usual method of going to parliament which resulted in the militarisation of Prussia. It came to be known as not a country with an army, but an army with a country.


HCJ3: lecture 1

29 Sep

This week marked the beginning of my second year of university, and subsequently my second year of History and Context of Journalism. We were introduced to modernism, post-modernism and the creation of yellow journalism.

The geographic home of modernism is the USA. In 1848, there we revolutions in Germany, Italy, Russia and many other European countries. This was seen as Europe’s last chance to become modernised but all of the revolutions failed. Economic developments slowed down which eventually lead to famines in many countries (especially in Ireland). Due to this, there was a mass migration of landless peasants and radicals to New York and other Eastern cities in the USA. Modern New York is polyglot (a mixture of languages) due to this. In 1849, gold was discovered in California, and the gold rush happened. In the 1850s there was a huge amount of industrialisation in the North East due to the limitless supply of cheap labour. The migrants were exploited. There was a huge continental market, and this attracted even more migration from Europe. This created tension within America and subsequently the Native American territories were cleansed (in the 1870s-1880s). Buffaloes were mass murdered which was the main food supply of the Native Americans, and blankets with foreign diseases such as smallpox were introduced into the communities. This lead onto the American civil war which was the first industrialised war, and the North prevailed.

William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) was an American newspaper publisher who’s claim to fame was the San Francisco Examiner where he advertised which towns the gold was being found in, proving to be very popular and thus made him a lot of money. Meanwhile, New York was being run by radicals, namely a Hungarian radical called Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911). Pulitzer was a left-wing journalist who wrote for the radicals and the poor.  Hearst raged war on Pulitzer in order to take over the New York market so developed a polyglot newspaper language which was simple and understandable for all (words such as ‘cops’ being used instead of ‘police’). The Hearst vs. Pulitzer battle included physical violence to insure that their particular newspaper was sold in certain newsagents.

Hearst led a political campaign to conquer the Spanish colonies and manufacturer a nationalism that focused on the hatred of others. After the ‘mysterious’ sinking of a US naval ship in Spanish waters (Havana), he used his paper to fuel hatred of the Spanish and convince the population to go to war. As he famously said to his publicist: “you supply the story, I’ll supply the war.”

Hearst invented the modern newspaper: simple polyglot language, massive sensationalist headlines, populist politics, visual emphasis (illustrations), crime reporting, life scandals of politicians, movie stars and business enemies, and cartoon strips (namely The Yellow Kid which gave name to Yellow Journalism). Yellow journalism came to Britain by imitation – Lord Northcliffe set up a newspaper called ‘Answers to Everything Under the Sun‘, which to this day, is still a section in The Sun newspaper.


HCJ2: lecture 6

17 May

This week’s lecture was taken by Shira and was on the topic of The Dreyfus Affair and Emile Zola.

The Dreyfus Affair was seen as the beginning of modern anti-Semitism and the beginning of Jewish nationalism (Zionism). This case showed the power of the media and the media was the real winner of the whole situation – without it, we wouldn’t have heard about the story. This was also the start of yellow journalism which included exaggeration of the facts, facts which were not accurate and large headlines and illustrations.

Timeline of events:

1894 – Secret French military information was found in a waste bin at the German embassy in Paris. The counter intelligence office implicated Captain Alfred Dreyfus (a young Jewish-French artillery officer).

Oct. 1894 – Secret martial court charges him of treason out of the public eye.

Jan. 1895 – Dreyfus is stripped of his military rank and sent to French Guinea for life. His elder brother started a campaign to prove his innocence.

1896 – Ferdinand Esterhazy is identified as the real culprit by Lt Col Piquard. Military officials supress the evidence for this, Esterhazy is acquitted and flees France. Piquard is sent to south Tunisia to serve. The army wanted the case to be closed there and then, but the family of Dreyfus wanted to keep it open to make it to the second trial.

1898 – Emile Zola, a French writer, takes on the case, was found guilty and this action turned the ‘case’ into an ‘affair’. There was now massive pressure for a second trial.

1899 – After a massive public campaign and a second trial, Dreyfus was pardoned but was not aquitted of the charges.

1906 – Dreyfus is finally aquitted in court, fully rehabilitated and integrated back into the ranks with a promotion.

Political context:

In 1894, there was a major corruption scandal around the construction of the Panama Canal and the Jews were heavily involved. This flamed anti-Semitism. The 3rd Republic is 24 years old and very divided and broken. Jews didn’t want to be associated with the case as they thought it would increase anti-Semitism.


In the 1800s, France was a very militaristic country. There were high hopes for vengeance, the army was a status symbol, there was a close society and the army was seen as the safe keeper of tradition. There was a large gap between the army’s values and the new republican society (democracy vs. hierarchy). The army was very racist and anti-Semitic – Captain Mayer who was a Jewish officer was killed in a duel death which triggered considerable emotion.


During this period, there was a great sense of nationalism amongst the French people and a concern about French greatness and the Jewish emancipation evolved after the revolution. In 1886, Edouard Drumont, a French writer and journalist, published a book called ‘Jewish France‘ which talked about the conspiracy of the Jews to take over France. He said that they could not be cured by baptism, and the only way to get rid of Judaism was to exile them from France. The press at this time was virtually free to write and disseminate any information, even when offensive. Drumont created the newspaper ‘La Libre Parole’ which was an anti-Semetic paper, which allowed him to further expand his audience to popular readership and to spread his views on Judaism.

On the 29th October 1894, ‘La Libre Parole’ went with a front page headline of “Why do military authorities keep the silence?”. This was the beginning of a violent anti-Semitic press campaign. In 1896, Lazare said that the affair convinced him that the only solution for the Jewish problem was a land of their own (Israel). On the 13th January 1899, Zola published ‘J’Accuse’ which was a letter to the president in the socialist newspaper L’Aurore. It was a strong provocation, with 200,000 copies sold and was written in the style of naturalism/observational journalism.

All in all, the Dreyfus affair strengthened parliamentary democracy and allowed the creation of the French League of Human Rights. However, it blocked the way for improved relations between France and Italy after the Customs war because they were a Dreyfusard nation.


HCJ2: lecture 5

19 Mar

“Capitalism comes into the world dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.”

Karl Marx was born in 1818 in Germany to Jewish parents. They had to convert to Christianity, and even then it was not the popular denomination at the time. Due to this, Marx always felt like an outsider and therefore understood the concept of alienation. He deduced that people can appear to be free but are actually in chains. He claimed that capitalism alienates men from themselves and from each other. Work is the loss of the self, it belongs to another and does not develop the body or mind. We are separated from the true reality of who we are and what we are doing.

Marx was largely influenced by Hegel in the fact that he believed that everything is changing and in a state of flux. He also agreed with the view of the dialectic process and the view that history is is always heading somewhere (teleology). Hegel thought that history is being guided by a spirit (the Geist) but Marx disagreed with the mystic.

Marx met Friedrich Engels in 1844 in Paris. Marx had intellect whilst Engels had money (due to his father), and so he became his benefactor. Communism and Marxism was merely Engels’ interpretation of Marx’s work after he died. According to Engels, Marx was a fusion of Hegelian philosophy, British empiricism and French revolutionary politics.

He wrote the ‘Communist Manifesto‘ in 1848 which was considered by many as the most dangerous publication ever written. Due to this, he was extradited out of the majority of Europe, so he fled to London where he worked and lived for the rest of his life. This was written in a time of political and economic change, and there were revolutions happening all over Europe. The revolutions failed in Germany, the middle classes had no power so focused largely on education. It was deemed the ‘German century’ as it was a flowering of intellectual life. His views were seen as dramatic and revolutionary – “Abolish all private property”. This is very similar to the principles of Rousseau and Locke (life, liberty and property). Marx believed that you can explain everything about society by analysing economic forces. As opposed to Aristotle, Plato, Kant and Hegel, Marx thought that man is the productive animal. Mankind creates the environment.

His method was scientific, he researched every aspect of society in order to understand it, believing he was using the same methods as Darwin. He worked his way through the British Museum’s records and their raw data. He came to conclusion that capitalism was powerful and effective but inside of capitalism was the seeds of it’s own downfall. Through the dialectic process, he placed the thesis as the bourgeoisies (free market capitalism, liberal state and individual rights), the antithesis as the proletariat, and the synthesis as socialism. Marx saw the class struggle through history – the master and the slave, the lord and the serf, the bourgeoisies (upper classes) and the proletariat (working classes). This clash in the class system, Marx thought, would bring about socialism through the clash. He believed that the factories would overproduce and and exploit the workers (meaning they would not be paid enough and therefore could not buy the products). This would result in a boom and bust and the system would collapse. The proletariat would eventually rise up and dispossess the bourgeoisies which would mean that there would be a dictatorship of  the proletariat. This would result in socialism, people would own everything, the government would wither away and communism would rise. The working class have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Communism didn’t work in the long term due to the flexibility of the market and state intervention. Also, Marx didn’t foresee the ability of marketing and advertising to add value to a product. Marx thought the USSR and China unsuitable for communism as they had no sense of class or identity. He also thought them not to have organisation skills between the poor and so did not know how to work together to rise up against the government.