Libido Dominandi: Sexual Liberation as Political Control

Note: I have problems with substantial aspects of Dr. Jones’ subsequent work but consider portions of Libido Dominandi (especially touching on the 18th century French philosophes) important.

Introduction: Internet in Gaza
Excerpted from Libido Dominandi
Copyright © 2000 by E. Michael Jones,, Fidelity Press

London 1996

Since Internet knows no place, it doesn’t really matter where it happened, but just for the record I was in England when I started getting e-mail messages from Lisa and Heather. At least, I think that’s what their names were. They wanted me to check out their hot web sites. Just as there is no place on the Internet, the names don’t mean much either. The important thing was that I was getting unsolicited solicitations for pornography. Spam is, I think, the generic term for this unsolicited material. The pornographic variations are known as blue spam. I was planning to protest to CompuServe and ask them not to make my name available to these agencies when I got some blue spam from CompuServe itself, offering its own pornographic services. Quis custo-diet ipsos custodes? What sells itself as an e-mail service turns out to be a pimp. The situation I have since learned is even worse with AOL, according to one subscriber to that on-line service, who spends each day clearing his electronic mailbox of hundreds of such solicitations. In the recent court case challenging the constitutionality of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), CompuServe signed an amicus curiae brief supporting the pomographers. Predictably, given our judicial system, the three-judge panel in Philadelphia handling the case found the CDA unconstitutional. One of the judges opined that “just as the strength of the Internet is chaos, so the strength of our liberty depends upon the chaos and cacophony of unfettered speech.”

The world “liberty” coming from one of the regime’s mandarins is a dead giveaway that what we’re really talking about here is bondage. What I would like to propose here is a paradigm shift of simple but nonetheless revolutionary (or better still counter-revolutionary proportions) by saying what should be obvious to anyone who has visited these web pages and who has had Heather or Lisa ask for his credit card number, namely, that pornography is now and has always been a form of control, financial control. Pornography is a way of getting people to give you money which, because of the compulsive nature of the transaction, is not unlike trafficking in drugs. Unlike prostitution, which is also a transaction benefiting from compulsion, pornography is closely bound up with technology, specifically the reproduction and transmission of images. Just as the history of pornography is one of progress (technological, not moral progress, of course), so the exploitation of compulsion has been explored in more and more explicit form during the past two hundred years of this revolutionary age. What began as the bondage of sin eventually became financial control and what became accepted as a financial transaction has been forged into a form of political control.

France, 1789

Sexual revolution is contemporaneous with political revolution of the sort that began in France in 1789. This means we are not talking about sexual vice when we use the term sexual revolution, as much as the rationalization of sexual vice, followed by the financial exploitation of sexual vice, followed by the political mobilization of the same thing as a form of control. Since sexual “liberation” has social chaos as one of its inevitable sequelae, sexual liberation begets almost from the moment of its inception the need for social control. That dynamic is the subject of this book.

It is no secret now that lust is also a form of addiction. My point here is that the current regime knows this and exploits this situation to its own advantage. In other words, sexual “freedom” is really a form of social control. What we are really talking about is a Gnostic system of two truths. The exoteric truth, the one propagated by the regime through advertising, sex education, Hollywood films, and the university system – the truth, in other words for general consumption – is that sexual liberation is freedom. The esoteric truth, the one that informs the operations manual of the regime – in other words the people who benefit from “liberty” – is the exact opposite, namely, that sexual liberation is a form of control, a way of maintaining the regime in power by exploiting the passions of the naive, who identify with their passions as if they were their own and identify with the regime which ostensibly enables them to gratify these passions. People who succumb to their disordered passions are then given rationalizations of the sort that clog web pages on the Internet and are thereby molded into a powerful political force by those who are most expert in manipulating the flow of imagery and rationalization.

Like laissez-faire economics, the first tentative ideas of how to exploit sex as a form of social control arose during the Enlightenment as well. If the universe was a machine whose prime force was gravity, society was a machine as well whose prime force was self-interest, and man, likewise, no longer sacred, was a machine whose engine ran on passion. From there it was not much of a stretch to understand that the man who controlled passion controlled man.

John Heidenry’s history of the sexual revolution, What Wild Ecstasy, is one more example of whiggish history – this time, whiggish sexual history.

In fact, all histories of sexual liberation are whiggish. The moral of each piece of this genre is either “People everywhere just wanna be free” or, to give the feminist variant, “Girls just wanna have fun.” That Linda Boreman Marchiano (a.k.a. Linda Lovelace) found getting beaten and raped during the filming of Deep Throat not much fun, is beside the point. The dogma that needs to be promoted here is that sexual license is liberating, and that the quest for liberation is its own justification, so even if a few people get hurt (or killed) in the process, it was generally worth it after all.

Metaphysical Presupposition: A Random, Meaningless Universe

Heidenry lays his metaphysical cards on the table at various points during the book. At the very beginning he tells us, for example, that “this … is the way we were from about 1965 on, when the particles of revolt and enlightenment coalesced into a sexual Big Bang.” We have here, in other words, the classic Enlightenment explanation of everything. Just as the entire physical universe in all its grandeur, beauty and order is really nothing more than the random motion of discrete particles bumping into each other, so every social movement from economics to sexual liberation is essentially the same thing. The same explanation that George Will applies to the economic order, John Heidenry applies to the moral and sexual realm. Instead of atoms, we have atomistic individuals; instead of gravity, we have passion as the great motivating force, and instead of an orderly universe explainable by the laws of physics, we have society reconfigured by social movements, like sexual liberation. This is how it is; in other words, the Big Picture. People everywhere just wanna be free and what gesture could encapsulate this freedom more than, say, masturbating to the dirty pictures in Hustler?

As the last example makes clear, we are not talking about freedom here but a form of addiction or moral bondage – certainly for the individual, but also for the culture as well. Which brings us back to the dishonesty of Heidenry’shook. The sexual revolution was not a grassroots uprising; it was not the coalescing of “particles of revolt and enlightenment;” it was rather a decision on the part of the ruling class in France, Russia, Germany and the United States at various points during the last 200 years, to tolerate sexual behavior outside of marriage as a form insurrection and then as a form of political control. Heidenry’s book is part of the general mystification on this subject and so it’s not something that will explain things to the unwary. However, it is worthwhile as a classic expression of how sexual liberation has worked as a form of political control in this country over the past thirty-two years. Bernard Berelson, who worked for the Rockefellers, was a student of the Enlightenment and put those ideas to work in manipulating public opinion for them during the ’60s, most specifically in their battle with the Catholic Church over the decriminalization of contraception. Edward Bemays was the nephew of Sigmund Freud and the father of modern advertising. Both were part of the Illuminist tradition of controlling people through their passions, without the knowledge of person being controlled. And of all the passions – the illuminists make clear – the sexual passions are the most effective when it comes to controlling man.

What Heidenry’s book shows is how this control takes place not in theory but in practice. Given the wounded state of human nature after the Fall, flooding a country with pornography means getting a certain number of people hooked on it, just as flooding a country with drugs will result in a certain percentage of addiction. Once people are hooked, the culture’s mandarins can use the details of their addictions against anyone who goes against the regime. The subtext of Heidenry’s book is that everyone who opposes sexual liberation will be punished. “Several of pornography’s most outspoken enemies,” he actually says at one point in the book, “had come to an unhappy end.”(2) What he fails to tell us, is that the unhappy end he describes is just a veiled way of talking about how sexual license is used as a form of political control.

So to give the best known examples cited in Heidenry’s book, Preachers Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker were brought down by sexual scandals. Heidenry even admits that Bakker’s interlude with Jessica Hahn was a set up, but refuses to understand the implications of the facts he brings forth. Nor does he mention the fact of Hahn’s seduction of Bakker was portrayed as Bakker’s seduction of Hahn in a way calculated to destroy his ministry and the ministries of other televangelists at the time. If Heidenry were a consistent proponent of sexual liberation, he would applaud both Jimmy Swaggart’s interlude with a prostitute, a visit clearly motivated by his exposure to pornography, and Bakker’s extramarital sex with Jessica Hahn. But that is precisely what he does not do. And the only explanation that makes any sense out of this double standard is that an act of “sexual liberation” is in reality a potential form of political control – and only has meaning in light of the politics of the person who commits it. Just why is what Jimmy Swaggart did bad, when Larry Flynt does the same thing and is applauded as a hero when he does it? The answer to that conundrum is political. Jimmy Swaggart was on the wrong side of the political equation, and so could be marginalized by being exposed in Penthouse as a hypocrite.

Heidenry’s motivation in this is clear enough. He was raised a Catholic, the scion of the family that bought out B. Herder, the American branch of the German Catholic publisher, some time after the outbreak of World War I. Heidenry, after a conservative Catholic upbringing, ended up working for Penthouse, and a book like this can be seen as a rationalization of the moral and religious decisions he has made along the way. But the story doesn’t stop there. People with Kinsey-like compulsions are put to use by people who can benefit politically from a world in which morals are devalued and money takes the place of morals as the arbiter of social interaction. Those who succumb to sexual addiction but refuse to go along will be outed. Those who refuse to go along but do not have sexual skeletons in their closets will be patronized and ignored. Those who go along with the ideology of sexual liberation, however, can do what they damn well please sexually because in going along they are under the sexual control of the controllers anyway.

The whole system Heidenry praises so dishonestly is based on a double standard which Heidenry exploits but will not acknowledge. Heidenry cites the Jimmy Swaggart expose in Penthouse in all of its lurid detail. Conspicuous by its absence from Heidenry’s book was the equally lurid Penthouse expose of Bill Clinton’s affair with Gennifer Flowers. If Penthouse is a credible source worth mentioning for the first story, why isn’t it mentioned in the second? The answer is obvious. It serves no political purpose to attack President Clinton because he supports sexual liberation, which is to say the vehicle the dominant culture uses to exercise hegemony over its citizens. The regime first promotes sexual addiction in the name of liberation, then exploits it as a form of control. It then uses it to destroy anyone of sufficient prominence who refuses to go along.

As a variation on the same theme, let me propose the following thought experiment. Try to imagine the reaction of the press if Kenneth Starr or Senator Jesse Helms were caught soliciting an undercover agent in a public men’s room. Now try to imagine the reaction of the press if Barney Frank were to do the same thing. Why the huge reaction in the first instance, and the non-reaction (when Frank’s roommate was actually caught running a homosexual prostitution ring out of his home) in the second? Why is the same act both heinous and liberatory at one and the same time, depending on the politics of who does it? The answer is simple: Sexual liberation is a form of political control. Frank and Clinton are immune because they go along; Swaggart is destroyed for doing the same thing that makes Larry Flynt a cultural hero. The only thing that saves Starr or Helms from fate similar to that of Swaggart and Bakker is the life each leads.

What follows is the history of an idea. The idea that sexual liberation could be used as a form of control is not a new idea. It lies at the heart of the story of Samson and Delilah. The idea that sin was a form of slavery was central to the writings of St. Paul. St. Augustine in his magnum opus in defense of Christianity against the accusations of the pagans that it contributed to the fall of Rome, divided the world into two cities, the City of God, which loves God to the extinction of self, and the City of Man, which loves self to the extinction of God. Augustine describes the City of Man as “lusting to dominate the world” but at the same time “itself dominated by its passion for dominion.”(3) Libido Dominandi, passion for dominion, then, is a paradoxical project, practiced invariably by people who are themselves in thrall to the same passions they incite in others to dominate them.

The dichotomy Augustine describes is eternal. It will exist at least as long as man exists. The revolutionaries of the Enlightenment created no new world, nor did they create a new man to populate their brave new world.

What they did was adopt the worldview of Augustine and then reverse its values. “The state of the moral man is one of tranquillity and peace, the state of an immoral man is one of perpetual unrest.”(4) The author of that statement was not St. Augustine (although he would have wholeheartedly agreed with it); it was the Marquis de Sade. I mention this to show that both Augustine and the Marquis de Sade shared the same anthropology and the same rational psychology, if you will. Where they differed was the values they attributed to the truths of those sciences. For Augustine, motion was bad; for de Sade, the revolutionary, the perpetual motion caused by unruly passions was good because it perpetuates “the necessary insurrection in which the republican must always keep the government of which he is a member.”(5)

The same could be said of freedom. What the one called freedom, the other called bondage. But the dichotomy of the two cities – one abasing the self because of its love of God, the other abasing God because of its love of the self and its desires – is something that both could agree upon.

What follows is the history of a project bom out of the Enlightenment’s inversion of Christian truths. “Even those who set themselves up against you,” Augustine writes, addressing the Almighty in the Confessions, “do but copy you in a perverse way.” The same could be said of the Enlightenment, which began as a movement to liberate man and almost overnight turned into a project to control him. This book is the story of that transformation. It can be construed as a history of the sexual revolution or a history of modem psychology or a history of psychological warfare. What all of these histories have in common is a transgenerational project that would come by way of trial and error and with an intention perverted by passion to the same conclusions that Augustine reached at the end of the Roman Empire. A man has as many masters as he has vices. By promoting vice, the regime promotes slavery, which can be fashioned into a form of political control. The only question which remained was whether that slavery can be harnessed for financial and political gain and, if it could: How to do it? The best way to control man is to do so without his awareness that he is being controlled, and the best way to do that is through the systematic manipulation of the passions, because man tends to identify his passions as his own. In defending them he defends his “freedom,” which he usually sees as the unfettered ability to fulfill his desires, without, for the most part, understanding how easy it is to manipulate those passions from without. It took the evil genius of this age to perfect a system of financial and political exploitation based on the insight that St. Paul and St. Augustine had into what they termed the “slavery of sin.” This book describes the systematic construction of a worldview based on that insight. It explains how sexual liberation became a form of political control.

E. Michael Jones
South Bend, Indiana, February 20, 1999

Engraving taken from the 1789 Dutch edition of “The story of Juliette” and the 1797 edition of “The story of Justine”. Marquis de Sade

Fidelity Press

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s