Father-Figures and Maiden Aunts
To the Editor:
In Mr. Henry Elkin’s letter in your April issue, it is his contention, as I understand it, that Nathan Leites’s book on the character of the Bolshevik is limited by the “inadequacies of (his) Freudian theory,” but that from a “broader, anthropologically sounder psychological viewpoint” many things left unexplained in Mr. Leites’s work can be illuminated satisfactorily.
It is not hard to guess what this broader, sounder psychology might be. Mr. Elkin’s letter is addressed from Zurich, but he is modest enough not to drop names. However, there may be other psychological viewpoints, some of them even sounder and broader than Dr. Jung’s, and from the standpoint of one of these (which J shall leave nameless) Mr. Elkin’s argument is quite dubious, and, on certain things, downright wrong.
For instance, Mr. Elkin identifies Malenkov with the trend toward the Mother-figure (loving, bounteous) and even uses Malenkov’s plumpness to fortify this point. Quite simply this is incredible. If Malenkov was overthrown by the Sons of the Father (the successors to Stalin) then we are faced with a fact which has no consistent anthropological proof—viz., the murder of the Mother by the Sons. I believe even Mr. Elkin will grant this is absurd.
There is, however, another loving, bounteous figure with which Malenkov may be truthfully identified, and once this is done the inadequacies of both Mr. Leites and Mr. Elkin will be corrected. Malenkov was an Uncle-figure, a type which can be both good and evil but is at all times mythically alive. This would make the collective leadership that succeeded Stalin not a band of Sons, but curiously enough a group of Nephews. Murder of uncles by nephews and nephews by uncles is a common historical incident and in the present case only follows a well-traveled road.
The Father-figure, therefore, is not a deep necessity at this moment in Russia and Mr. Elkin’s surmise that the Soviet generals will perhaps come to play that role is quite without grounds.
Actually, the “impressively uniformed and bemedalled generals” are by the very laws of symbology barred forever from the seats of power. It should be obvious that the very uniforms and medals are a limiting factor, symbolizing one function and one function only. They are part of the family, yet outside it. They are not Cousins, for cousins are only related, not part of the family at any time. The generals are then quite simply Brother-in-law figures and, as such, attentive to their wives who are the Sisters of the Nephews now ruling Russia. With the Father dead, the Uncle overthrown, and with the Mother never having played any role at all, it is difficult to see how Mr. Elkin’s argument can now be taken seriously.
And as a last triumphant proof that the foregoing analysis is correct, let us consider the case of Mr. Bulganin, the Soviet Premier. It is well known that Mr. Bulganin is one of the rulers of Russia, a Nephew. Yet he appears before us in the guise of a Brother-in-law, a general. This signifies that as Prime Minister his power is that of a Brother-in-law, strictly nil, and that the real strength still lies with the ununiformed Nephews. All authorities on Russian affairs are unanimous in the opinion that Mr. Bulganin is merely a figurehead, and this opinion is now verified by psychology.
Let me add that out here in Los Angeles we are tensely awaiting the appearance of the Maiden Aunt. This formidable figure is death on Nephews and her arrival will mean the end of the Soviet dictatorship. At that time Mr. Elkin’s hope for the return of God the Father may be realized. Let us hope so.
Los Angeles, California