eternal sucklings of the world unite

In 1779, Emperor Joseph II was contemplating a second wave of land reform, removing certain burdens from the peasantry. Habsburg officials in Vienna conducted a survey among the empire’s official’s in the field, including Justus Moeser, who is, surely, among the counter-enlightenment’s greatest lights, along with his friend Friedrich von Gentz. Moeser was an administrator in Osnabrück, and responsible for the reforms there. Technically, Osnabrück was not a Habsburg territory, but Moeser had a reputation for understanding the incredibly complex structure of legal obligations that bound together the peasants and the masters in a relation of Horigkeit – dependence. Jonathan B. Knudson used the discovery of Moeser’s response in the state archive in his book about Moeser:

‘He states at the beginning: “serfdom (Leibeigenthum) is a notion which can be eradicated by a carefully conceived theory or better [which] can be regulated, so that it is beneficial to the state; and I have ventured to eliminate it without either lord or peasant noticing [what was taking place]. … Moeser was able to speak of abolishing serfdom without anyone noticing because he felt that serfdom embodied a concrete set of social and economic relationships that could be reformed, after which an independent peasantry would exist regardless of the label.” [134]

The dream of invisible emancipation is one of the keys to the conservative response to modernity.

So successful, in one way, was that invisible emancipation that Freud, in his search for father substitutes, overlooked the object and intent of Haizmann’s contract with the devil. This isn’t to say that Freud’s sense of the paternal is not at work here – after all, the contract with the devil is a gift of blood – literally, in terms of the ink, and figuratively, in terms of the declaration of “serfdom” – Leibeigentum. It is one of Deleuze and Guattari’s claims, in the Anti-Oedipus, that psychoanalysis has employed the sexual template to reduce a power relationship to natural terms; and that, in so doing, psychoanalysis reflects a certain high capitalist stage of universal history.

‘Perhaps he himself was only a poor devil who simply had no luck; perhaps he was too ineffecgtive or untalented to make a living, and ws one of those types of peope who are known as ‘eternal sucklings” – who cannot tear themselves away from the blissful situation at the mother’s breast, and who, all through their lives, persist in the demand to be nourished by someone else. – And so it was that, in this history of his illness, he followed the path which led from his father, by way of the Devil as a father-substitute, to the pious Fathers of the Church.”(Freud, 50)

Next, I want to look at Michel de Certeau’s essay about … Freud’s essay.