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schoolyards and alienation

The account of alienation in Reich and Fromm follows similar lines to this: the child learns early that survival depends on conditional love which is earned by being successful; and this produces a split between the id and the ego (self-preservation). They build up a persona, kinda like a Scottian public transrript, which is basically a social role, a spook, but they come to identify with it, to take it is as the true and complete self, and to only consciously think and feel things which are compatible with it. The other parts of the self then only appear via dreams, free associations, symptoms and so on. Typically the child also learns to "be good", but only for instrumental reasons, as a kind of virtue-signalling. You may well be right that school is more fundamental than family to this kind of alienation: the core relations of adults to children are commandist and non-intimate, there's strong reliance on reward and punishment, and there's competition and competitive ranking from very early on.

In early Freud, sadism is always one of the component aspects of infantile "polymorphous perversity", along with a bunch of other stuff. It starts as a relatively innocuous desire for "power-to", to be able to do things, but easily turns into a desire to control and then sometimes also to degrade, hurt, etc. Certain social formations will encourage the sadistic element in sexuality, often while forcing it off sexual paths (sublimation). It does seem that school structures are designed to channel mainly sadism and masochism, along with possibly epistemophilia (desire to know) and scopophilia (looking/being looked at). Psychoanalytic theories split later on around the question of origins of aggression: the later Freud posits a "death drive" to return to inertia/homeostasis/undifferentiation which is externalised as aggression, other theories emphasise frustration-aggression, or (in Klein) aggressive desires towards the "bad object" (bad breast, bad genital, later bad mother/father) which one may also feel guilty about once one associates the good and bad objects. I've just read Abraham on manic-depression, which is disturbing and interesting: he thinks depression is a self-judging reaction arising from an earlier strong sadism. A lot of the feminist stuff on male violence suggests that boys/men are trained to convert shame and fear into anger. We all know the harms arising from this, but it's probably also useful for people in contexts like the army and police, or in industrial labour where people need to keep exerting forceful effort without collapsing.

BTW those who've been to old-fashioned private schools like the English Eton/Harrow type ones, probably DO know what you're talking about, they seem designed to mass-produce psychopaths and certainly explain why the elite are like they are (Trump for instance went to a boot-camp military-style school). There's a whole section in Theweleit about the role of elite officer training schools in turning children into the fascist soldier-male type through brutality and competition. Someone once summarised this to me in the phrase "violence is sex for fascists", which is not far from the truth. Historically in these kinds of schools, the bullies would be favoured by the teachers and would also be the prefects. In working-class schools there seems to be a split, the bullies are often the outgroup in official terms and the favoured students ("swots", "asskissers" etc) are some of the most bullied - I'd expect this to produce a split superego.

The intermediate classes in the liberal professions might be insulated a bit, because their social role is rather more to act as an (ineffective) check on or legitimiser of the elite. The intermediate strata also learn to play roles to an extraordinary degree, probably more so than the poor, but they rely more heavily on guilt and conditional love rather than outright threat, and lean towards using rewards rather than punishments.

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