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By Herman Bakvis

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Freud proffered the idea that language may provide the key to understanding how the individual repeats in his or her own experience the history of the race or culture. In Moses and Monotheism he says, 'We must conclude that the mental residue to those primeval times has become a heritage which, with each new generation, needs only to be awakened, not to be reacquired. We may think here of the example of speech symbolism, which certainly seems to be inborn. It originates in the time of speech-development, and it is familiar to all children without their having been specially instructed.

32 America and the Semantics of Desire The divisions of the libido and the ego appear not only in the form of identification and object-choice, but also in the creation of the ego ideal. The formation of the ego ideal as Freud describes it is crucial to the process of shaping ideology. Freud argues that the splitting of libido and ego engenders conscience or the moral sense. Part of the ego separates itself and offers the original ego the kind of love, external support or monitoring that the ego sought in identification or object-choice.

The ideology of paradise forbodes failure. We can see in the quest for paradise the creation of a whole series of historical figures who function as cultural ideals to affirm and sustain the illusion of wholeness and paradise, only to rise and fall. The rapid turnover of heroes and scapegoats in America perhaps results from this deep drive to find approval from within ourselves. We create a process of continual elevation and denigration. What some historians see as a cyclical pattern in our alternations between passivity and activism, may be better explained as a kind of regular psychical turmoil.

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