The Common Understanding Of “Character” Is Not Enough

In a recent Wall Street Journal article “America’s Crisis of Character” (April 21-22 2012), conservative columnist Peggy Noonan cites that the week’s Gallup poll showed that only 24% of Americans feel that the nation was on the right track.  She attributes the  dissatisfaction to the widespread cultural degradation that is taking place in every area of American life . She is “worried about the American character-who we are and what kind of adults we are raising.”

Typical of conservatives, the use of the concept of character in this way is unfortunately fraught with strong pejorative and moral overtones (i.e. “good” vs “bad” character) and is, therefore, of not much help in providing an understanding and management of the source of social problems.

There is now a true science of character. First  discovered by Wilhelm Reich and extended into the social and political arena by Elsworth Baker, knowledge of characterology can dramatically help people  to effectively deal with today’s social destructiveness. Reich described character functionally as the individual’s stereotypical manner of acting and reacting in all, (including social and political) situations.  The primary function of  character is to protect (armor) the individual from feeling unpleasant and unacceptable emotions and sensations.  A functional understanding of  character can be essential to know how a person will behave in any given social situation.

Our anti-authoritarian society is the result of the breakdown of the traditional authoritarian family and of the numerous kinds of impulsive an anti-social character types that are currently littering the social landscape.  Today’s anti-social behavior that Ms. Noonan describes in her article is a direct result of this breakdown.  Without an understanding of the function of character armor and of the anti-authoritrian transformation of society that we are living in, all attempts at trying to make sense of what is happening to our society are  bound to be futile.  The only thing the political right can accomplish is to retard the social degradation into socialism.  It can do nothing to arrest or reverse it.


  1. Another provocative and relevant read, Dr. K. Thanks, MB

  2. It is quite interesting that, discussing with leftist “Reichians” Dr. Baker’s characterological approach to socio-politics, they claim one has to consider “objective” socio-economic “Marxist” processes neglected by Baker, “too.” Actually they seem to be quite perturbed by the notion of “character” in social terms as if Baker’s argument is moralistic and means “character” in the traditional conservative sense.

    At the same time the socio-economic arguments of these leftists impress me as also moralistic. Actually they impress me as more moralistic than any conservative who is demanding that one shows “character!” What is the difference between these two kinds of moralism?

    Does it make sense to say that conservative morality, i.e., morality in terms of “character,” implies the middle layer (“distinguishing oneself by keeping one’s drives under control,” “inner strength”), while leftist morality belongs solely to the character-structural façade (“everyone is equal”)?

    • Yes. Your understanding of the differences in the origins of the morality of the right and the left is correct. Because there is no core contact in leftist morality it less able than the morality from the right to contain the destructiveness contained in the middle layer.

  3. Does the slowing down of the current social degradation into socialism in the U.S by the characterlogical conservatives and others who can see the “end game” of this descent represent some short term hope in your view?

    Would not buying some time in the short term provide more time in the mid and long term for more people to become acquainted with and interested in the concepts in orgonomy which provide a rational and practical way to deal with the biological and emotional based problems that are at the root of anti-authoritarianism and the pseudo-liberal movement?

    Short of “divine” intervention, it seems to me that concepts and terms like armor, emotional plague, primary and secondary emotional expressions, anti-authoritarianism etc need, at minimum, more time and a less steep “slippery slope” on the social scene to have any chance of taking hold.

    • You are right. The longer the descent into socialism can be held back by the conservative movement, the greater is the chance that the science of orgonomic sociology can take root in enough people to reverse the degradation.

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