Book Review: Wilhelm Reich and the Cold War: The True Story of How a Communist Spy Team, Government Hooligans and Sick Psychiatrists Destroyed Sexual Science and Cosmic Life Energy Discoveries. by James Edward Martin, 2nd Edition, Updated. Natural Energy Works, Ashland, Oregon, 2014. Fully Indexed with Photo Section and Documentary Appendix. 415 pages. Available internationally at most on-line bookstores.
Review by James DeMeo, PhD
For those interested in Cold War history or the biography of Wilhelm Reich, especially as regarding the issue of Marxist influences within European and American psychoanalysis and psychiatry, and who was behind the major attacks against Reich during both his European and American periods of work, this new book Wilhelm Reich and the Cold War by James Martin will be an eye-opener. For many years, the "collective consensus" on who was responsible for Reich's demise in the USA -- where he was subjected to public slander and undeserved ridicule, his books and research journals being banned and burned by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with Reich dying in prison for daring to defend his findings -- has always been too-neatly blamed on "right-wing McCarthyites", "antisemitism" or "conservative Christian" elements within American society. No hard proof was ever offered for such assertions, but nearly all of Reich's major biographers expressed such views, as Martin points out, given their own liberal or left-wing political biases.
Martin was the first to seriously investigate the backgrounds of Reich's major detractors and the circles they travelled in. In so doing, he shattered many myths. His book details the personal history of those detractors, and how they influenced the powerful FDA, which eventually launched a flawed and fraudulent "investigation" of Reich. As the attacks mounted against him, Reich wrote that the attacks were coming from Communists (capital "C") or even Soviet agents whom he denounced as "Moscow Hooligans", something which his modern biographers claimed was evidence of a loss of clarity or outright paranoia. After all, the American and European political left-wing had denounced the fear of Soviet Communism as a "collective right-wing paranoia", about a supposedly non-existent "communist bogeyman". The fact that the Soviet Communists and their various regional Communist Party groups had engineered massive genocides around the world, with 100 million victims during the 20th Century alone, was hardly permitted into discussion. Mostly it has been conservative writers who brought forth that documentation. Reich was also ignorant of this Marxist/Communist blood-lust(1) during his early years when he supported the Marxist causes.
Martin covers Reich's early work over the period when, in opposition to growing Nazism, he joined the Austrian and later German Communist Party -- both would eventually kick him out of their organizations for daring to be sufficiently obedient to Marxist dogma. Reich argued against "class warfare" rhetoric and in favor of basic human freedom and the needs for reform of existing sexual and family law, to make contraception, abortion and divorce legal, and to support abandoned mothers with children. His advocacy of responsible adolescent and premarital sexual freedom (as well as against pornography and child-molesters) was the breaking point between Reich and the Communist organizations, who accused him of "distracting youth from the revolutionary cause". Reich responded by pointing out how the supposedly "New Man of the Soviet Proletariat" was just as neurotic and sexually impotent as the "old man" of capitalism. This clash led to the banning of Reich’s writings from the Communist Party bookstores. After witnessing the many betrayals of life and freedom by the European Communists, Reich turned away from them. The Nazis also attacked Reich from the get-go, burning his books. Soon enough he wrote that the "Red Fascism" of the Communist Party was functionally identical to the "Black Fascism" of the Nazi party, with severe criticisms of both Stalin and Hitler. For such writings, Reich attracted the fury of both the extreme Left and Right. Reich had always been anti-Nazi, and by the time of his American period, he had become decidedly anti-Communist.
The charge that Reich had gone "paranoid", was also promoted by many on the Marxist left by claiming his later unorthodox scientific research was prima-facia evidence for it. His exceptionally good work on cancer and biogenesis, his discovery of the bions, the orgone energy accumulator and orgone energy continuum, the cloudbuster, and inquiry into the UFO question, all were dismissed as "lunacy" by Nazi and Communist writers during his lifetime. Persisting attacks and ridicules continue today by predominantly leftist and a few right-wing writers.(2)
Today we know Reich's cancer research, his discovery of the bions, the orgone accumulator and cloudbuster are legitimate natural science, the result of serious clinical and experimental investigations, and confirmed in various books and research articles authored by other scientists who have replicated those investigations. Biogenesis is today no longer a taboo subject, space between the stars is no longer considered so "empty", and the UFO phenomenon is also accepted as a legitimate subject for scientific investigation. And from various Cold War histories, we know how the American government was infiltrated by numerous Soviet spies and Communist sympathizers during much of the 20th Century. From Martin's new book, it is now proven that Reich's charges about influential Soviet spies working to destroy him were also accurate and true.
As the sub-title of the Martin book reveals, the American Communists and Marxists got help in Reich's destruction from various government hoodlums (in the FDA and US Courts), and from the many psychoanalysts and psychiatrists who hated Reich since his European day. They never approved of his rejection of Freud's dogmas about an unproven "death instinct", or his critique on the supposed biological nature of the Oedipus Complex. They were further troubled by his Sex-Pol work, at a time when Nazi Brownshirts were smashing up people who dared to do such things. Their anger at Reich persisted into his American period, when they also fled to America for refuge from the European nightmare. Their collective fury at Reich extended way beyond honest criticism, however, straying as a rule into sexual slander and character assassination, as well as typical back stabbing and dirty tricks.
Martin documents those attacks, which others have done to a lesser extent, but he goes a quantum leap further to investigate and document the backgrounds of Reich's major detractors. Mildred Brady, for example, who wrote major slander articles against Reich in the popular New Republic and Harpers magazines, triggered a tidal wave of copy-cat articles (2), which misguided an entire generation of Americans into wrongly believing Reich was the master of some kind of "sex-cult", promoting the orgone accumulator as the "orgasm box" or as a "cancer cure" -- none of it was true, but no matter, the same lies get repeated even today by modern "journalists".
Martin documents how Mildred and her husband Robert Brady were both closely tied to one of the most effective Soviet spy rings working in the USA, led by Nathan Gregory Silvermaster. Robert Brady wrote books and articles praising Stalinism (even after the Hitler-Stalin Pact) and called for the extermination of "bourgeois" Americans. He asserted American capitalism was "no different from Nazism", and wrote similar alarming things in support of the Soviet Union, even after the Hitler-Stalin Pact. His wife Mildred became a cloaked Stalinist agent within the nascent American consumers' movement. As a top administrator of the then-communist lobby group, Consumers' Union (today publishing Consumers Report magazine), she wrote drafts for laws later adopted by the FDA, allowing for police actions against natural healing methods, herbal medicine, and unorthodox physicians like Wilhelm Reich.
Martin recounts how both Mildred and Robert Brady had been exposed in prior years as Soviet agents, during hearings led by Rep. Martin Dies of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. After being exposed, they were fired from their jobs within the Roosevelt-era Office of Price Administration, some years before linking up with the New Republic, which at the time of their firing had praised them as martyrs to the Socialist cause. When Mildred ran the West coast branch of Consumers' Union, she and her husband were both in communications with, and attending dinner parties with the Silvermaster spy group, Silvermaster himself being a former university student of Robert Brady. Mildred also had meetings with Robert Oppenheimer, head of the US atomic bomb program -- incidents which figured centrally into Oppenheimer's later loss of Top Secret clearances, and removal from that program. All this was documented in FBI files, as Martin shows, which included testimony of eye-witnesses and transcriptions of wire-tapped telephone calls. The same gal who worked to destroy Reich also went snooping for atomic secrets.
When Mildred penned her defamatory articles against Reich in the New Republic, it was in service to the then Editor of NR, the former US Vice-President Henry Wallace, a well known Soviet sympathizer who had been fired by Roosevelt after making too many pro-Soviet speeches. Had Roosevelt died prior to replacing him with Harry Truman, the US would have had a Soviet agent in the top position as US President. The Publisher of NR at the time was another notable Soviet spy, Michael Straight, an American member of the notorious Cambridge spy ring, which included Philby, Blunt, Burgess, Mclean, and others who took atomic bomb and other secrets to the Soviet Union.
All these connections were investigated, documented and exposed by Martin, plus much more.
For example the role of Max Etingon, lawyer of the well-heeled Etingon family which ran a lucrative fur-trading business with Lenin and later Stalin out of the Soviet Union, in financing Freud's psychoanalytic publications. Meanwhile another, General Leonid Etingon, was an NKVD assassin of anti-Stalinists in Europe. The psychoanalytic Etingon hated Reich and helped get him expelled from the International Psychoanalytic Association, and presumably Reich must have narrowly escaped the attention of the NKVD Etingon, as Reich was put on an NKVD death-list in 1936. Or Arnold Deutsch, a top Soviet spy who at one time helped Reich publish one of his books, and later became a top recruiter of British spies for the Soviet Union, including Philby and the Cambridge spy group. Or Reich's first wife, Annie Pink Reich, who broke with her husband "Willy" in solidarity with Freud, to become a leading psychoanalyst herself. But not before getting remarried to a top Soviet spy Robert Rubenstein, operating under the pseud. of "Comrade Thomas", who had been in control of millions of Soviet-supplied Reichsmarks, earmarked for destabilizing Hitler's Germany.
Martin also informs on Arthur Garfield Hays, former lawyer for the Etingon family Soviet fur-exporting business, and Reich's personal lawyer at the time of the Brady slanders. Hays alarmingly and wrongly advised Reich it would be fruitless to file a lawsuit for defamation against Brady and the New Republic. What he didn't tell Reich, however, was his working associations and friendship with the Bradys, through his own founding role in the Consumers' Union. Lawyer Hays was also a top Soviet sympathizer, who had championed Soviet and Communist causes nearly all his adult life.
It was amazing Wilhelm Reich managed to survive his European period, given how so many top Soviet agents were buzzing in and out of the Vienna and Berlin psychoanalytic scene in which he had once been a central participant and leader. And also not surprising that Reich would learn the deadly games played by the Communists, as well as the names of their key players, so as to later identify similar Soviet and Communist agents in the attacks against himself in America, a time when he had become decidedly anti-Communist.
Whatever your opinion of Wilhelm Reich, or of the Cold War in general, Wilhelm Reich and the Cold War has much to recommend it. It is no empty "conspiracy theory", but a biographical narrative and documentation of a very real conspiracy that weaves through many different social circles and world regions. The book is heavily referenced and fully indexed, with a map of Reich's travels, a photograph section, and documentary appendix reproducing several "smoking gun" documents retrieved from FBI or Soviet archives. Chapter sections are also included on Reich's Tucson Arizona cloudbuster experiments with desert-greening, where he made rain and UFOs were observed and photographed. Martin's work plunged straight into lingering controversies, and the documentation he provides rehabilitates Reich from the dark shadows into which his malicious attackers have cast him. At the end of Martin's presentation of evidence, we find Reich had remained brilliant and clear-minded into the very last days of his life, about his work, and about those who organized and plotted against him.
It should also be mentioned, the first edition of this book, which came out in 1999 in a very limited hardbound edition, was the winner of a Hochberg Award for exceptional new research in orgonomy. If you have the older edition, you will love the 2nd edition even more, for the text revisions, new documentation, new map and other features.
1. Marx-Engels Genocide Quotes
2. Emotional Plague Bibliography