We take the term psycho-sociological to refer to the way psychological and sociological factors combine. This is one way of understanding how the behaviors of individuals can be shaped by the groups or communities of which they are a part.
We take the term fascist patriarchy to suggest a political structure which is also inherent in personal relationships. In this case, it is a structure which is enforced from the top down, but also from the bottom up. From the top down through patriarchal institutions such as the private ownership of the means of production, i.e. capitalism; or authoritarian structures such as a non-democratic work environment; or more obvious forms of patriarchal control such as oppressive religious institutions, which seek to restrict freedom of control over populations such as women or human behaviors such as sexuality. Then from the bottom up insofar as these same structures are reflected and enforced in individual social units such as the family.
It is my theory that family dysfunction is ironically a function of social control.
The dysfunctional family can be described as such, and echoes the same in a society which is not free and equal: Dysfunction is defined as the inability of a family unit to work appropriately for all its members.
What is meant by appropriateness and membership
We should consider the concept of membership and of appropriateness. Membership in this case is not too different from the concept of citizenship, and is the social context in which one finds themselves independently of an individual decision. So for instance the circumstances into which one is born. One is born into a family unit independent of any decision made by the individual, and this intrinsic membership is what is meant by the concept of members of a family. Of course this membership is not immutable and also has cultural constituents. For instance in the way that it’s possible to seek citizenship in a country other than that of one’s origin, or in the ways that families continue to grow and evolve over time. Those considered to be members of a group is also culturally determined and is as much a product of who is considered to be accepted and not accepted into the group that constitutes the membership of that group.
As for appropriateness, this is another concept which can find its correlate in social phenomena. Let us for instance consider the concept of exploitation in economics.
We shall use this concept as a metric to determine what is meant by appropriateness for all members of a family unit.
The “inappropriateness” of exploitation
Exploitation in an economic context is defined by an unequal relationship between capital and labor, whereby in order for the capitalist to make a profit, they must expropriate from the laborer a portion of the value that the laborer creates. The laborer doesn’t receive the full value of their labor, but rather that value is extracted by the capitalist, and only a portion of its value is given back to the laborer in the form of a wage, in order for the capitalist to generate a profit. Profit is the main economic driver in capitalism, and so exploitation is intrinsic to the structure of capitalism. There can be no capitalism without profit, and there can be no profit without exploitation, and so the inequality of exploitation is what constitutes the capitalist relation. Our concept of appropriateness is defined against that. The appropriateness of a relationship is defined by its general equality. So in an economic context, appropriateness would be defined as the absence of exploitation in an economic relationship. In the context of a family unit, it would be defined as the general equality in the relationships between individual members.
What is meant by equality of relationships
The absence of exploitation in the workforce is what is known as socialism. Another way of putting this is that socialism is democracy in the workplace. What this means is very simple. While most people in the United States are generally under the assumption that democracy is a good and worthy political value, few seem to question why this political principle is not found in the domain where most people spend the overwhelming amount of time in their lives—besides at home—namely in the workplace.
Democracy in the workplace basically means that individuals have a proportionate amount of say in decisions which affect them. This is generally what people understand democracy to be in a political context; that in theory members of a democracy are able to participate in decision making, by say, voting on issues which affect them. People in the United States generally find this much more amenable to their sensibilities than say, the political structure of a dictatorship, in which people do not have a proportionate amount of say in decisions which affect them, but rather have commands dictated to them. Yet these same ideological champions of democracy and critics of dictatorship don’t seem to question the way that workplaces in the United States are not democratized at all, but very much operate like a dictatorship, with one class of individuals giving orders that another class of individuals have to obey, lest they would lose their job and be submitted to a state of economic precarity.
Democracy in the workplace is a threat to capitalism, because if workers had a proportionate say in decision making, one of the first democratic decisions they would almost certainly make, is to put an end to the structure of exploitation. The only reason that people consent to economic exploitation is because they have no other choice. There is no one who would consent to being paid less than what their labor is worth, if there wasn’t an authoritarian structure compelling them to accept these conditions. There is for instance obviously no one who would voluntarily consent to the conditions of slavery. Rather those conditions must be brutally enforced on a population.
If the structure of relationships between people is equal; that is to say no one has a greater proportion of decision making power over the conditions which affect others, then we would say that structure is appropriate. We would say it’s equal.
However if a privileged class or individual has a disproportionate degree of decision making power, over the conditions which affect others, then we would say the structure of relationships is not working appropriately. That it is unequal.
An unequal structure of relationships in a family unit, is what we refer to as a structure of relationships which is not working appropriately for all members.
We have defined the inability of a family unit to work appropriately for all members, as family dysfunction.
Dysfunction as control
Just because a relationship or structure of relationships is dysfunctional, doesn’t mean it isn’t functioning according to a certain logic.
This is where we may notice the reality of dysfunction is related to the psychological concepts of repression and denial.
In the case of capitalism, its “dysfunction” undoubtedly operates according to a specific logic, has clear aims and goals, and serves a specific interest. One class in the relationship is repressed—or oppressed—they are exploited, not without purpose; but because it’s in the best interest of the class above them to exploit them. A kind of analogy could be made here with psychological repression. Denial for instance, is the repression of clear basic facts, but not without purpose. In classical psychology, this has been explained as a defense mechanism. In short, when the individual psyche is confronted with anomalous or uncomfortable information which it may perceive as threatening, it is likely to react against that information with extreme emotion which is the action of repression. The initial extreme emotion will then be avoided in the future by making of the content of that anomalous or uncomfortable information the subject of denial.
To then return from the psychological to the sociological, we could see another kind of analogy manifested sociologically in a labor movement.
An exploited class of workers moves to improve their material conditions, and is repressed—oppressed—by the capitalist class which dominates them.
One class fights to bring to light the fact of the injustice of their exploitation and domination, whereas the other class reacts against that movement, in a very real material way, denying the movement of its push for economic justice. Because our theory as a psycho-sociological analysis, attempts to find parallels between psychological and sociological phenomenon, perhaps one of our first most basic assertions, is to note the parallel between repression and oppression. That is, repression in the psychological sense, and oppression in the sociological sense. One common factor we may observe in these separate psychological and sociological instances, is control.
The repression of a labor movement is a capitalist exertion of control; it is the denial of workers to assert their agency. To grant agency to the workers would be to implement democracy in the workplace; it would be workers taking control over their own destiny. Instead, that agency is denied them, their movement is repressed, and they are placed back under capitalist control.
In the case of psychological repression, the defense mechanism of denial is basically a function of the ego, either insisting on a particular narrative or on the maintenance of a particular state of affairs. That narrative or state of affairs is usually unhealthy or damaging in some way; and hence its continual reproduction is known as enabling.
Movements to alter the dysfunctional state of affairs, will be perceived by the dominant factor in the defense mechanism, the repressive ego, as threatening. In this way, uncomfortable or anomalous information which contradicted the dominant narrative—even if provably correct—will be denied. Attempts to alter the unhealthy environment into a healthy one, will be rejected. All this to say that living in a state of denial can be perfectly logical.
This is because the state of denial serves some important purpose for the individual ego; it enables the reproduction of a certain state of affairs, or the continuation of a dominant narrative. And so—like the control exerted in a sociological context of a labor movement—so too is there a degree of control being exerted over a particular narrative or state of affairs in the psychological context of repression and denial.
A psycho-sociological summary of fascist patriarchy
At this point if we have sufficiently shown what a psycho-sociological perspective would look like, namely, one that finds parallels between psychological and sociological phenomenon, then, we can proceed with making an attempt to define what is meant by fascist patriarchy.
This term itself may prove initially triggering, as these words on their own go often deeply misunderstood, and in common parlance, can often simply appear to be synonymous with what is “bad,” or trigger extreme emotional reactions, as a projection of what is perceived to be under criticism.
It is thus a necessary burden for this essay to define what is meant by fascism and patriarchy.
Before doing so, we can begin by asserting a general structuralism for the psycho-sociological perspective, which takes into account there is a complex interaction between political and personal factors. As such it must be emphasized that in essence fascism and patriarchy are institutional structures or systemic dynamics primarily. Although they do get embodied secondarily in particular individuals.
We will begin with fascism and then move to patriarchy. This is not necessarily because one proceeds the other, even though one is more generally enforced from the top down, and the other from the bottom up. This is because the top down and bottom up reinforcement works together mutually. One is not necessarily the cause of the other, but both mutually influence each other.
For the purposes of this essay, we will assert a very general, political definition of fascism. We will begin with the general historical assertion that fascism has generally arisen as a political ideology and structure in reaction against socialism. It is generally asserted that the ideologies of fascism and socialism both arise within the context of a crisis of capitalism. Although while socialism seeks to progress beyond capitalism, fascism seeks to preserve it. We limit our definition of fascism therefore to its structural opposition to socialism. For the purposes of our psycho-sociological summary, then, since we have also defined socialism in a specific, general sense, as democracy in the workplace; fascism is the polar opposite view on this issue, that seeks to preserve the hierarchical chains of command which currently exist in the workplace under capitalism, which are in effect, dictatorial in practice.
There are many other constitutive elements of fascism that could be gone into, however again for the purposes of this essay, which is primarily concerned with the integrity of relationships, we are mostly concerned with the structure of relationships within a fascist dynamic, that can be broadly defined as hierarchical.
If socialism seeks an equality of relationships—according to our definition—then fascism seeks the polar opposite which is to preserve the inequality of relationships currently present in the status quo. Here is where patriarchy comes in. Before offering our definition, let it be stated now to be returned to later, that the psycho-sociological parallel within these structures—such as the one of control from earlier—is the enshrinement of hierarchy.
I contend that patriarchy, is a dysfunctional form of control. It is dysfunctional in the sense that it doesn’t work appropriately for all members, and it is a form of control in the sense that it is repressive, and works in connection with authoritarian tendencies.
Our definition of patriarchy is thus relational. It is a specific practice and ideology for structuring the relations within a family. In psycho-sociological terms, it is a personal subset of a broader political system, that is reinforced from the bottom up through a top down structure.
This brings us back to the structure of hierarchy. Among other things, what the general reactionary politics of fascists and conservatives, and liberals, alike, seek to preserve, is the structure of hierarchy which is an inequality of relationships. To the contrary, what the revolutionary politics of leftists seek to create, is not an equality of individuals, but an equality of relationships between individuals. That is, that each member of a unit, be it a citizen or family member, has a proportionate say in decisions which affect them, and, that by the same token, a privileged class or individual doesn’t have a disproportionate degree of decision making power over the conditions which affect others.
In the economic question, to answer to the problem of hierarchy and exploitation in the workplace—the inequality of relationships—the leftist advocates for socialism, for democracy in the workplace which the fascist vehemently opposes.
To consider the same in fascist patriarchy, we may want to briefly consider in conclusion, the relationship between workplace and home.
The word “economy” comes from the ancient Greek word for “household”
We have defined socialism, an alternative way of organizing an economy opposed to capitalism, as democracy in the workplace. We have defined fascism in limited economic terms, as an opposition to socialism in seeking to preserve capitalism, which rejects democracy in the workplace. Insofar as it rejects democracy in the workplace, it champions the dictatorial structure of the capitalist relation. The dictatorial structure of the capitalist relation is hierarchical, which is an inequality of relationships. In practice this inequality of relationships robs the working class of their autonomy, forcing them to submit to life conditions which they would otherwise reject, were they given a proportionate amount of power over conditions which affect them.
This powerlessness over conditions which affect us, is in essence a powerlessness over our environment. Said in another way, it is our inability to make a living without submitting to the conditions of capitalism. For capitalists and workers alike, the only way to make a living under capitalism is by consenting to its inequality of relationships.
This basic inequality and domination inherent to capitalism is present in every single facet of our society, including in the household, although it doesn’t have to be. Where you would find inequality and domination reflected in the household; it is the assertion of this psycho-sociological theory, that you would also see that reflected in the broader society. In theory, if the society was more free and equal, so too would individual households tend to reflect this. In conclusion, we also assert that where you don’t, you are also likely to find fascism and patriarchy.
It is important to understand the ways that human relationships are conditioned by sociological factors and psychological predilections. In the same way that individuals are influenced by the groups or communities of which they are a part, so too are individual households influenced by political and economic structures. The political and economic structures which predominate in the world, and the United States in particular, are fairly obvious to anyone who takes a moment to care. It is the opinion of this writer that the way these work in tandem—as a top down and bottom up structure—could be defined in a broad sweep as a fascist patriarchy. While these two terms in particular carry a lot of extreme cultural reaction, I believe I have made my eccentric uses of this terminology in a way that is fairly clear.
It will undoubtedly remain controversial that patriarchy is a family dysfunction. What I think is uncontroversial however is that patriarchy serves a broader authoritarian society as a form of oppression and control.
We have here suggested that a “dysfunction” could be defined as simply as a condition within a unit which doesn’t work appropriately for all members.
When seen from a psycho-sociological perspective, we simply want to suggest that such a “dysfunction” could possibly be understood as reflective of a broader structure of exploitation and inequality.