Marci Shore

    is an American historian, associate professor of history at Yale University. Her research focuses on European intellectual history, in particularly twentieth and twenty-first century Central and Eastern Europe. She received her M.A. from the University of Toronto in 1996 and her PhD from Stanford University in 2001 and is a visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Science in Vienna. She divides her time between New Haven and Vienna. She is the translator of Michał Głowiński’s The Black Seasons and the author of Caviar and Ashes: A Warsaw Generation’s Life and Death in Marxism, 1918-1968, The Taste of Ashes: The Afterlife of Totalitarianism in Eastern Europe, and The Ukrainian Night: An Intimate History of Revolution. In 2018 she received a Guggenheim Fellowship for her current project titled “Phenomenological Encounters: Scenes from Central Europe.” She has published a number of essays, articles and reviews in the Times Literary Supplement, Eurozine, New Yorker and The New York Times and other journals. “In the early 20th century, Freud lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the masses to Marx—who, in contrast to Freud, promised happily ever after. Now Freud is taking his revenge. During the American election campaign, Trump’s supporters explained that they were drawn to his ‘honesty’. This honesty’ had nothing to do with a correspondence between what he said and empirical truth. What Trump’s supporters meant by ‘honesty’ was the rejection of the repression of instinct that made civilization possible. This does bring a certain kind of liberation—at the small price of the destruction of civilization. We find ourselves in a Dostoevskyian world where ‘everything is permitted’. There is another way in which Freud is taking his revenge. For Freud, the unconscious was a dark psychic closet in which all things too disturbing for the conscious mind to bear were shoved. […. In Hitler’s Willing Executioners, Daniel Goldhagen argued that for generations Germans had been infected with virulent antisemitism. They were bad people who enjoyed killing Jews. Goldhagen’s greatest opponent (from beyond the grave) was Hannah Arendt. ‘For many years now,’ Hannah Arendt wrote late in the war, ‘we have met Germans who declare that they are ashamed of being Germans. I have often felt tempted to answer that I am ashamed of being human.’ In explaining the popularity of Goldhagen’s thesis, the Czech political theorist Pavel Barša wrote, ‘if Goldhagen is right, then we can all sleep soundly.’ Because, alas, Arendt and Freud were right and Goldhagen was wrong, we can never sleep soundly again. Among Freud’s unpleasant messages is this: what threatens us is never securely outside of ourselves. Historical policy and conspiracy theories—like nationalism more broadly, in Poland as elsewhere—serve as an evasion of responsibility, an attempt at psychic consolation through the exporting of guilt, a desire to find a safe place in the world.”
    Photo: Rostyslav Kostenko