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1NC Subversive Ideolog K


Ideological transgression is a continuation o! t"e e#isting order$t"e po%er o! t"e protest structurall depends upon t"e continued aut"orit o! t"e s stem& '"e criti(ue !unctions as a carnivales(ue reversal o! aut"orit $%e ma)e a gesture o! non-compliance t"at posits us as t"e *real+ masters o! !ate& ,i-e) ./ (Slavoj, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis, !" !#D TH$
P%ST&%D$'# &I#D( S)P$'$*% B+ D$,!) T, -ardo.o a/ 'evie/, 0112, 03 -ardo.o 4 'ev4 1526

In the traditional patriarchal society, the inherent trans7ression of the la/ assumes the form of a carnivales8ue reversal of authority( the kin7 becomes a be77ar, madness poses as /isdom, etc4 ! custom practiced in the villa7es of northern

*reece until the middle of our century e9emplifies this reversal4 n2 %ne day a year /as set aside for /omen to take over4 &en had to stay at home and look after children /hile /omen 7athered in the local inn, drank to e9cess, and or7ani.ed mock trials of men4 "hat breaks out in this carnevales8ue suspension of the rulin7 patriarchal la/ is the fantasy of feminine po/er4 acan dra/s attention to the fact that, in everyday ,rench, one of the desi7nations for the /ife is la bour7eoise n3 : the one /ho, beneath the semblance of male domination, actually pulls the strin7s4 This, ho/ever, can in no /ay be reduced to a version of the standard male chauvinist /isecrack that patriarchal domination is not so bad for /omen after all since, at least in the close circle of the family, they run the sho/4 The problem runs deeper;

one o! t"e conse(uences o! t"e !act t"at t"e master is al%a s an impostor is t"e duplication o! t"e master : the a7ency of the master is al/ays perceived as a semblance concealin7 another, <true< master4 Suffice it to recall the /ell:kno/n anecdote 8uoted by Theodore !dorno in &inima &oralia, about a /ife /ho apparently subordinates to her husband and, /hen they are about to leave the party, obediently holds his coat, all the /hile e9chan7in7 behind his back ironic patroni.in7 7lances /ith the fello/ 7uests to communicate the messa7e, <poor /eaklin7, let him think he is the master=< In this opposition of semblance and actual po/er men are impostors, condemned to performin7 empty symbolic 7estures /hile the actual responsibility falls to /omen4 Ho/ever, the point not to be missed here is that this specter of /oman>s po/er structurally depends on the male domination( it remains its shado/y double, its retroactive effect, and as such its inherent moment4 ,or that reason, brin7in7 the /oman>s
shado/y po/er to li7ht and ackno/led7in7 it publicly enables la/ to cast off its direct patriarchal dress and present itself as neutral e7alitarian4 The character of its obscene double also under7oes a radical shift0

%"at no% erupts in t"e carnivales(ue suspension o! t"e 1egalitarian1 public la% is precisel t"e aut"oritarian-patriarc"al logic t"at continues to determine our attitudes2 althou7h its direct public e9pression is no lon7er permitted4 <Carnival1 t"us becomes t"e outlet !or t"e repressed dar) side o! social 3ouissance0 4e%-baiting riots2 gang rapes2 l nc"ings2 etc& Insofar as the supere7o desi7nates

the intrusion of enjoyment into the field of ideolo7y, /e can also say that the opposition of symbolic la/ and supere7o points to/ards the tension bet/een ideolo7ical meanin7 and enjoyment( symbolic la/ 7uarantees meanin7, /hereas supere7o provides enjoyment /hich serves as the unackno/led7ed support of meanin74 Today, in the so:called postideolo7ical era, it is crucial to avoid confoundin7 fantasy that supports an ideolo7ical edifice /ith ideolo7ical meanin7 : ho/ can /e other/ise account for the parado9ical alliance of post:-ommunism and ,ascist nationalism such as that bet/een 'ussia and Serbia? !t the level of meanin7, their relationship is that of mutual e9clusion; yet they share a common phantasmatic support (/hen -ommunism /as the discourse of po/er, it played deftly /ith nationalist fantasies : from Stalin to -eausescu64 -onse8uently,

there is also no incompatibility bet/een the postmodern cynical attitude of nonidentification : of distance to/ards every ideolo7y : and the nationalist obsession /ith the ethnic thin74 The thin7 is the substance of enjoyment( the cynic is a person /ho believes only in enjoyment : and is not the cynic the clearest e9ample of one obsessed precisely /ith the national thin7?

Criti(ues up"old t"e e#isting s stem because t"e are a sa!e outlet !or transgression2 %"ic" is a necessar supplement to an s stem o! po%er& ,i-e) ./ (Slavoj, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis, !" !#D TH$
P%ST&%D$'# &I#D( S)P$'$*% B+ D$,!) T, -ardo.o a/ 'evie/, 0112, 03 -ardo.o 4 'ev4 1526

supere7o emer7es /here the la/ : the public la/, the la/ articulated in the public discourse : fails4 !t this point of failure, the public la/ is compelled to search for support in an ille7al enjoyment 4 Supere7o is the obscene <ni7htly< la/ that necessarily accompanies, as its shado/, the <public< la/4 This inherent and constitutive splittin7 in the la/ is the subject of 'ob 'einer>s film, ! ,e/ *ood &en, the court:martial drama about t/o marines accused of murderin7 one of their fello/ soldiers4 In the film, the military prosecutor accuses t/o marines of premeditated murder4 The defense, ho/ever, /ins an ac8uittal, demonstratin7 that the defendants /ere just follo/in7 <-ode 'ed< orders, /hich authori.e a clandestine ni7httime beatin7 of any fello/ soldier /ho, in the opinion of his peers or of the superior officer, breaks the )nited States &arines> ethical code4 The dual function of -ode 'ed is e9tremely interestin7; it condones an act of trans7ression : ille7al punishment of a fello/ soldier : yet, at the same time, it reaffirms the cohesion of the 7roup, callin7 for an act of supreme 7roup identification4 Such a code must remain under cover of ni7ht, unackno/led7ed, unutterable; in public, everybody fei7ns
The proper /ay to approach <psychoanalysis and la/< is to ask the 8uestion( /hat kind of la/ is the object of psychoanalysis? The ans/er is, of course( i7norance, or even actively denies its e9istence4 -ode 'ed represents the community spirit in its purest form, e9ertin7 the stron7est pressure on the individual to comply /ith its mandate of 7roup identification; yet simultaneously, it violates the e9plicit rules of community life4 The pli7ht of the t/o accused soldiers is that they are unable to 7rasp this e9clusion of -ode 'ed from the <bi7 %ther< : the public la/; they desperately ask themselves /hat they did /ron7, since they simply follo/ed a superior officer>s order4

,rom /hence does this splittin7 of the la/ into the /ritten public la/ and its underside, the <un/ritten,< obscene secret code, come? ,rom the incomplete character of the public la/4 $9plicit, public rules do not suffice; they must be supplemented by a clandestine <un/ritten< code aimed at those /ho, althou7h they 0

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Updated Lacan K 5 violate no public rules, maintain a kind of inner distance and do not truly identify /ith the <spirit of community4< n5 Sadism thus relies on the splittin7 of the field of the la/ into la/ 8ua <e7o:ideal<( a symbolic order /hich re7ulates social life and maintains social peace, and into its obscene, supere7otistical inverse4 !s has been sho/n by numerous analyses from &ikhail Bakhtin on/ards , periodic transgressions o! t"e public la% are in"erent to t"e social order inasmuc" as t"e !unction as a condition o! t"e latter6s stabilit 4 n@ W"at most deepl "olds toget"er a communit is not so muc" identi!ication %it" t"e la% t"at regulates t"e communit 6s 1normal1 ever da circuit2 but rat"er identi!ication %it" a speci!ic !orm o! transgression o! t"e la% : of the la/>s suspension (in psychoanalytic terms, /ith a specific form of enjoyment64

Lacanian politics are a genuine political alternative& I! it is impossible to !ull represent t"e real2 t"en %e "ave no c"oice but to institutionali-e t"e Lac) or design politics around doubt and uncertainit & '"is %ill result in more radicall democratic politics4 Stavra)a)is2 .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, pa7es p 13:1B64
!ccordin7 to my readin7, Bellamy, Butler and ane are 8uestionin7 the value of reco7nisin7 the effects and the structural causality of the real in society; instead of the political they prioritise politics, in fact traditional fantasmatic politics4 This seems to be the kernel of their ar7ument( is possibleCencirclin7

$ven if this move the unavoidable political modality of the realCis it really desirable, is it ethically and politically satisfactory? The fear behind all these statements is common; it is that the stress on the political 8ua encounter /ith the real precludes the possibility of presentin7 a more or less stable (present or future6 7round for ethics and democracy, that it undermines their universal character and the possibility of any final reconciliation at either the subjective or the social level 4 ,rosh is summarisin7 this fear apropos of the issue of human ri7hts( Dif humanism is a fraud Eas acan insistsF and there is no fundamental human
entity that is to be valued in each person Ean essence of the psyche maybe?F, one is left /ith no /ay of defendin7 the Gbasic ri7htsH of the individualI (,rosh, 01BJ(0@J64 In the t/o final chapters of this book I shall ar7ue that the reason behind all these fears is the continuin7 he7emony of an ethics of harmony4 !7ainst such a position the

ethics of the real entails a reco7nition of the irreducibility of the real and an attempt to institutionalise social lack4 Thus it mi7ht be possible to achieve an ethically and politically satisfactory institution of the social field beyond the fantasy of closure /hich has proved so problematic, if not catastrophic4 In other /ords, the best /ay to or7anise the social mi7ht be one /hich reco7nises the ultimate impossibility around /hich it is al/ays structured 4 "hat could be some of the parameters of
this ne/ or7anisation of the social in our late modern terrain? )lrich BeckIs theory seems to be relevant in this respect4 !ccordin7 to our readin7 of BeckIs schema, contemporary

societies are faced /ith the return of uncertainty, a return of the repressed /ithout doubt, and the inability of masterin7 the totality of the real4 "e are forced thus to reco7nise the ambi7uity of our e9perience and to articulate an auto:critical position to/ards our ability to master the real4 It is no/ revealed that althou7h repressin7 doubt and uncertainty can provide a temporary safety of meanin7, it is nevertheless a dan7erous strate7y, a strate7y that depends on a fantasmatic illusion4 This realisation, contrary to any nihilistic reaction, is nothin7 but the startin7 point for a ne/ form of society /hich is emer7in7 around us, to7ether of course /ith the reactionary attempts to reinstate an a7ein7 modernity( 13 $#-I'- I#* TH$ P% ITI-! Perhaps
the decline of the lodestars of primary $nli7htenment, the individual, identity, truth, reality, science, technolo7y, and so on, is the prere8uisite for the start of an alternative $nli7htenment, one /hich does not fear doubt, but instead makes it the element of its life and survival4 (Beck, 011J(0306 Is it not

acanian theory stands at the forefront of the stru77le to make us chan7e our minds about all these 7randiose fantasies? Beck ar7ues that such an openness to/ards doubt can be learned from Socrates, &ontai7ne, and others; it mi7ht
strikin7 that be possible to add acan to this list4 In other /ords, doubt, /hich threatens our false certainties, can become the nodal point for another modernity that /ill respect the ri7ht to err4 Scepticism contrary to a /idespread error, makes everythin7 possible a7ain( 8uestions and dialo7ue of course, as /ell as faith, science, kno/led7e, criticism, morality, society, only differently444thin7s unsuspected and incon7ruous, /ith the tolerance based and rooted in the ultimate certainty of error4 (Beck, 011J(03@6 In that sense, /hat

is at stake in our current theoretico:political terrain is not the central cate7ories or projects of modernity per se (the idea of criti8ue, science, democracy, etc46, but their ontolo7ical status, their foundation4 The crisis of their current foundations, /eakens their absolutist character and creates the opportunity to 7round them in much more appropriate foundations ( aclau, 01BBa64 Doubts liberate; they make thin7s possible4 ,irst of all the possibility of a ne/ vision for society4 !n anti: utopian vision founded on the principle DDubio er7o sumI (Beck, 011J(0356 closer to the subversive
doubtfulness of &ontai7ne than to the deceptive scepticism of Descartes4 !lthou7h acan thou7ht that in &ontai7ne scepticism had not ac8uired the form of an ethic, he nevertheless pointed out that &ontai7ne is truly the one /ho has centred himself, not around scepticism but around the livin7 moment of the aphanisis of the subject4 !nd it is in this that he is fruitful, that he is an eternal 7uide, /ho 7oes beyond /hatever may be represented of the moment to be defined as a historical turnin7:point4 (KI(55@LM6 This

is a standpoint /hich is both critical and self:


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critical( there is no foundation Dof such a scope and elasticity for a critical theory of society 1J $#-I'limitation and self:modificationI (ibid4( 03@64 He

Updated Lacan K 7

I#* TH$ P% ITI-! (/hich /ould then automatically be a self:critical theory6 as doubtI (Beck, 011J(0J@64 Doubt, the invi7oratin7 champa7ne of thinkin7, points to a ne/ modernity Dmore modern than the old, industrial modernity that /e kno/4 The latter after all, is based on certainty, on repellin7 and suppressin7 doubtI (ibid4( 0J@64 Beck asks us to fi7ht for Da modernity /hich is be7innin7 to doubt itself, /hich, if thin7s 7o /ell, /ill make doubt the measure and architect of its self:

asks us, to use Paul -elanIs phrase, to Dbuild on inconsistenciesI4 This /ill be a modernity institutin7 a ne/ politics, a politics reco7nisin7 the uncertainty of the moment of the political4 It /ill be a modernity reco7nisin7 the constitutivity of the real in the social4 ! truly political modernity (ibid4( 264 In the ne9t t/o chapters I /ill try to sho/ the /ay in /hich acanian political theory can act as a catalyst for this chan7e4 The current crisis of utopian politics, instead of 7eneratin7 pessimism, can become the startin7 point for a rene/al of democratic politics /ithin a radically transformed ethical frame/ork4

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1NC Lacan K
We create enemies as a means o! dealing %it" internal con!licts& '"e enem becomes t"e embodiment o! t"e disavo%ed parts o! our o%n ps c"es& We tal) about t"reats as a %a o! avoiding re!lection about t"e ps c"oanal tic roots o! %ar& '"is turns t"e case& Stein 7 (Ho/ard, Professor, )niversity of %klahoma, Nournal for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society B45 (5OO@6 0BJ:011 Days of !/e( September 00, 5OO0 and its
-ultural Psychodynamics64

We not onl need enemies (Aolkan, <#eed,< <Blood ines<6, but %e also create enemies b provo)ing t"em4 "e (each </e<6 project a77ression, provoke a77ression, and then justify our o/n a77ression as defense 4 In a /orld of true believers and infidels, David evine /rites of the fatal psycholo7ical symbiosis of faithful and infidel( "hen the unfaithful self is projected onto e9ternal objects, the a77ression /e attribute to it becomes their a77ression directed at us, their desire to destroy our faith4 "e must no/ mobili.e a77ression to protect ourselves a7ainst the infidel, not%it"standing t"e !act t"at t"e t"reat "e poses is t"e t"reat o! connection %it" our o%n split o!! and disavo%ed !ait"less selves4 Since the infidel>s rejection of the 7ood object is also our o/n, the a77ression /e attribute to him is also our o/n a77ression outside and
e9perienced as a threat to us4 (<Toleratin7< 256 -oninues444 If there is some historical truth to the accusation of !merican abandonment and e9ploitation of the #ear $ast,

does t"e U&S& not also pla an unconscious and s mbolic role (a Durkheimian <collective representation<6, one %"ic" no% generates and provo)es its o%n realit 9 Put differently, /hat is the interplay bet/een what we do to others and what we represent to others, bet/een /hat /e actually do (achieved status6 and /hat /e projectively are (ascribed status6? Do not cultures often <7et /hat they unconsciously desire<C/hich often differs from conscious a7endas and interests? Do not 7roups <dance< in some kind of reciprocal unconscious adversary symbiosis (Stein, <!dversary<6? ,urther, can this dance /ith our enemiesC/ho do bad thin7s to usCbe separated from the bad thin7s /e do within our o/n national 7roup? Such a split is common4 In the Soviet )nion, Stalin /as a master of this displacement of his o/n terror onto the #a.i menace
and the *reat Patriotic "ar ("orld "ar II6 a7ainst ,ascism4 ,urthermore, do not the leaders and follo/ers of currently /arrin7 7roups have childhoods and families of ori7in, as /ell as political:economic realities, that affect decision:makin7? "hat do these /arrin7 7roups represent to each other, and /hat are the overdetermined roots of these symbolisms? ,inally, /hat 7ood are borders (psycholo7ical, 7eo7raphic6 if they cannot keep their promises? I leave this interpretive paper and its subject /ith an over/helmin7 sense of incompleteness4 I accept this void in kno/in7 as necessary4 -onventional and styli.ed accounts are at /orst defenses a7ainst understandin7 the meanin7 of the attack, and at best they are partial truths4 "hat /e can kno/ now is limited by the complicated process of mournin7 (Aolkan, Need, Blood Lines; Stein, <&ournin7<64 +et, it is often unbearable to mourn, so /e flee into violent action4 !s

!merica focuses e9clusively on </hat they Ethe enemyF did and do to us,< /e have failed to pay attention to </hat /e !mericans did and do to ourselves 4< on7 before

September 00, the decade:and:a:half lon7 le7acy of <mana7ed social chan7e< from do/nsi.in7 and restructurin7, to outsourcin7 and reen7ineerin7, have symbolically disposed of millions of !mericans in the service of instant bottom:line inflation and a sur7e in shareholder value4 The <$nron Scandal,< in /hich company officials took millions of dollars from a collapsin7 corporation, /hile prohibitin7 /orkers from sellin7 shares, thereby losin7 their entire retirement savin7s, emer7ed in early 5OO5 as internal !merican self:destructiveness on an unprecedented economic scale4 "hat and /ho the )nited States becomes no/ as a culture, and /hat /e do in the /orld, after September 00, 5OO0 rests upon /hat and /ho /e value, and not only /hat and /ho /e oppose4 There is so much more to be kno/n, and felt, beyond culturally styli.ed sentiment and sentimentality, ideolo7ically ri7ht thinkin7, nationalistic jin7oism, and obli7atory action4 People died on that terrible day because people could not be reco7ni.ed as people4 They could only be reco7ni.ed as symbols, embodiments, part objects4 People

/ere killed and people killed others because /ho and /hat they represented consumed their e9istence as distinct, differentiated, and inte7rated persons4 &any more /ill die, /ill be killed, in the name of heaven and nation 4 The psychoanalytic /ork of comprehendin7 September 00, 5OO0 is scarcely be7un4

'"e a!!irmative:s utopian vision o! a peace!ul global communit %ill be impossible to reali-e$necessitating t"e scapegoating and elimination o! t"e ot"er& Lacanian political intervention is t"e onl %a out& Stavra)a)is2 .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment,
)niversity of $sse9, pa7es 11:0OO64

%ur a7e is clearly an a7e of social fra7mentation, political disenchantment and open cynicism characterised by the decline of the political mutations of modern universalismC a universalism that, by replacin7 *od /ith 'eason, reoccupied the 7round of a pre:modern aspiration to fully represent and master the essence and the totality of the real4 %n the political level this universalist fantasy took the form of a series of utopian constructions of a reconciled future society4 The fra7mentation of our present social terrain and cultural milieu entails the collapse of such 7randiose fantasies 40 Today, talk about utopia is usually characterised by a certain ambi7uity4 ,or some, of course, utopian constructions are still seen as positive results of human creativity in
the socio: political sphere( Dutopia is the e9pression of a desire for a better /ay of bein7I ( evitas, 011O(B64 %ther, more suspicious vie/s, such as the one e9pressed in &arie BerneriIs book Nourney throu7h )topia, /arnC takin7

into account e9periences like the Second "orld "arCof the dan7ers entailed in trustin7 the idea of a perfect, ordered and re7imented /orld 4 ,or some,
instead of bein7 Dho/ can /e realise our utopias?I, the crucial 8uestion has become Dho/ can /e prevent their final realisation?4444 EHo/ canF /e return to

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a non:utopian society, less perfect and more freeI (Berdiaev in Berneri, 01J0(@O1645 It is particularly the political e9perience of these last decades that led to the dislocation of utopian sensibilities and brou7ht to the fore a novel appreciation of human finitude, to7ether /ith a 7ro/in7 suspicion of all 7randiose political projects and the meta:narratives traditionally associated /ith them ("hitebook, 0112(J264 !ll these developments, that is to say the crisis of the utopian ima7inary, seem ho/ever to leave politics /ithout its prime motivatin7 force( the politics of today is a politics of aporia4 In our current political terrain, hope seems to be replaced by pessimism or even resi7nation4 This is a result of the crisis in the dominant modality of our political ima7ination (meanin7 utopianism in its various forms6 and of our inability to resolve this crisis in a productive /ay4@ In this chapter, I /ill try to

acanian theory provides ne/ an7les throu7h /hich /e can reflect on our historical e9perience of utopia and reorient our political ima7ination beyond its suffocatin7 strait:jacket4 etIs start our e9ploration
sho/ that /ith the most elementary of 8uestions( /hat is the meanin7 of the current crisis of utopia? !nd is this crisis a development to be re7retted or cherished? In order to ans/er these 8uestions it

is crucial to enumerate the conditions of possibility and the basic characteristics of utopian thinkin74 ,irst of all it seems that the need for utopian meanin7 arises in periods of increased uncertainty, social instability and conflict, /hen the element of the political subverts the fantasmatic stability of our political reality4 )topias are 7enerated by the surfacin7 of 7rave anta7onisms and dislocations in the social field4 !s Tillich has put it Dall utopias strive to ne7ate the ne7ative444in human e9istence; it is the ne7ative in that e9istence /hich makes the idea of utopia necessaryI (Tillich in evitas, 011O(0O@64 )topia then is one of the possible responses to the ever:present ne7ativity, to the real anta7onism /hich is constitutive of human e9perience4 ,urthermore, from the time of &oreIs )topia (02036 it is conceived as an ans/er to the ne7ativity inherent in concrete political anta7onism4 "hat is , ho/ever, the e9act nature of this response? )topias are ima7es of future human communities in /hich these anta7onisms and the dislocations fuellin7 them (the element of the political6 /ill be forever resolved, leadin7 to a reconciled and
harmonious /orldCit is not a coincidence that, amon7 others, ,ourier names his utopian community DHarmonyI and that the name of the %/enite

utopian community in the #e/ "orld /as D#e/ HarmonyI4 !s &arin has put it, utopia sets in vie/ an ima7inary resolution to social contradiction; it

is a simulacrum of synthesis /hich dissimulates social anta7onism by projectin7 it onto a screen representin7 a harmonious and immobile e8uilibrium (&arin, 01BM(3064 This final resolution is the essence of the utopian

promise4 "hat I /ill try to do in this chapter is, first of all, to demonstrate the deeply problematic nature of utopian politics4 Simply put, my ar7ument /ill be that

every utopian fantasy construction needs a Dscape7oatI in order to constitute itselfCthe #a.i utopian fantasy and the production of the DNe/I is a 7ood e9ample , especially as pointed out in iekIs analysis4M $very utopian fantasy produces its reverse and calls for its elimination4 Put another /ay, the beatific side of fantasy is coupled in utopian constructions /ith a horrific side, a paranoid need for a sti7matised scape7oat4 The naivetyCand also the dan7erCof utopian structures is revealed /hen the realisation of this fantasy is attempted4 It is then that /e are brou7ht close to the fri7htenin7 kernel of the real( sti7matisation is follo/ed by e9termination4 This is not an accident4 It is inscribed in the structure of utopian constructions; it seems to be the /ay all fantasy constructions /ork 4 If in almost all utopian visions, violence and anta7onism are eliminated, if utopia is based on the e9pulsion and repression of violence (this is its beatific side6 this is only because it o/es its o/n creation to violence; it is sustained and fed by violence (this is its horrific side64 This repressed moment of violence resurfaces, as &arin points out, in the difference inscribed in the name utopia itself (&arin, 01BM(00O64 "hat /e shall ar7ue is that it also resurfaces in the production of the fi7ure of an enemy4 To use a phrase enunciated by the utopianist ,ourier, /hat is Ddriven out throu7h the door comes back throu7h the /indo/I (is not this a DprecursorI of acanIs dictum that D/hat is foreclosed in the symbolic reappears in the realI?CAII(0@0642 The /ork of #orman -ohn and other historians permits the articulation of a 7enealo7y of this manichean, e8uivalential /ay of understandin7 the /orld, from the 7reat /itch:hunt up to modern anti:Semitism, and acanian theory can provide valuable insi7hts into any attempt to understand the lo7ic behind this utopian operationChere the approach to fantasy developed in -hapter 5 /ill further demonstrate its potential in analysin7 our political
e9perience4 In fact, from the time of his unpublished seminar on The Formations of the Unconscious, acan identified the utopian dream of a perfectly functionin7 society as a hi7hly problematic area (seminar of 0B Nune 012B64

Lacanian politics are a genuine political alternative& I! it is impossible to !ull represent t"e real2 t"en %e "ave no c"oice but to institutionali-e t"e Lac) or design politics around doubt and uncertainit & '"is %ill result in more radicall democratic politics4 Stavra)a)is2 .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, pa7es p 13:1B64
2

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!ccordin7 to my readin7, Bellamy, Butler and ane are 8uestionin7 the value of reco7nisin7 the effects and the structural causality of the real in society; instead of the political they prioritise politics, in fact traditional fantasmatic politics4 This seems to be the kernel of their ar7ument( is possibleCencirclin7

$ven if this move the unavoidable political modality of the realCis it really desirable, is it ethically and politically satisfactory? The fear behind all these statements is common; it is that the stress on the political 8ua encounter /ith the real precludes the possibility of presentin7 a more or less stable (present or future6 7round for ethics and democracy, that it undermines their universal character and the possibility of any final reconciliation at either the subjective or the social level 4 ,rosh is summarisin7 this fear apropos of the issue of human ri7hts( Dif humanism is a fraud Eas acan insistsF and there is no fundamental human
entity that is to be valued in each person Ean essence of the psyche maybe?F, one is left /ith no /ay of defendin7 the Gbasic ri7htsH of the individualI (,rosh, 01BJ(0@J64 In the t/o final chapters of this book I shall ar7ue that the reason behind all these fears is the continuin7 he7emony of an ethics of harmony4 !7ainst such a position the

ethics of the real entails a reco7nition of the irreducibility of the real and an attempt to institutionalise social lack4 Thus it mi7ht be possible to achieve an ethically and politically satisfactory institution of the social field beyond the fantasy of closure /hich has proved so problematic, if not catastrophic4 In other /ords, the best /ay to or7anise the social mi7ht be one /hich reco7nises the ultimate impossibility around /hich it is al/ays structured 4 "hat could be some of the parameters of
this ne/ or7anisation of the social in our late modern terrain? )lrich BeckIs theory seems to be relevant in this respect4 !ccordin7 to our readin7 of BeckIs schema, contemporary

societies are faced /ith the return of uncertainty, a return of the repressed /ithout doubt, and the inability of masterin7 the totality of the real4 "e are forced thus to reco7nise the ambi7uity of our e9perience and to articulate an auto:critical position to/ards our ability to master the real4 It is no/ revealed that althou7h repressin7 doubt and uncertainty can provide a temporary safety of meanin7, it is nevertheless a dan7erous strate7y, a strate7y that depends on a fantasmatic illusion4 This realisation, contrary to any nihilistic reaction, is nothin7 but the startin7 point for a ne/ form of society /hich is emer7in7 around us, to7ether of course /ith the reactionary attempts to reinstate an a7ein7 modernity( 13 $#-I'- I#* TH$ P% ITI-! Perhaps
the decline of the lodestars of primary $nli7htenment, the individual, identity, truth, reality, science, technolo7y, and so on, is the prere8uisite for the start of an alternative $nli7htenment, one /hich does not fear doubt, but instead makes it the element of its life and survival4 (Beck, 011J(0306 Is it not

acanian theory stands at the forefront of the stru77le to make us chan7e our minds about all these 7randiose fantasies? Beck ar7ues that such an openness to/ards doubt can be learned from Socrates, &ontai7ne, and others; it mi7ht
strikin7 that be possible to add acan to this list4 In other /ords, doubt, /hich threatens our false certainties, can become the nodal point for another modernity that /ill respect the ri7ht to err4 Scepticism contrary to a /idespread error, makes everythin7 possible a7ain( 8uestions and dialo7ue of course, as /ell as faith, science, kno/led7e, criticism, morality, society, only differently444thin7s unsuspected and incon7ruous, /ith the tolerance based and rooted in the ultimate certainty of error4 (Beck, 011J(03@6 In that sense, /hat

is at stake in our current theoretico:political terrain is not the central cate7ories or projects of modernity per se (the idea of criti8ue, science, democracy, etc46, but their ontolo7ical status, their foundation4 The crisis of their current foundations, /eakens their absolutist character and creates the opportunity to 7round them in much more appropriate foundations ( aclau, 01BBa64 Doubts liberate; they make thin7s possible4 ,irst of all the possibility of a ne/ vision for society4 !n anti: utopian vision founded on the principle DDubio er7o sumI (Beck, 011J(0356 closer to the subversive
doubtfulness of &ontai7ne than to the deceptive scepticism of Descartes4 !lthou7h acan thou7ht that in &ontai7ne scepticism had not ac8uired the form of an ethic, he nevertheless pointed out that &ontai7ne is truly the one /ho has centred himself, not around scepticism but around the livin7 moment of the aphanisis of the subject4 !nd it is in this that he is fruitful, that he is an eternal 7uide, /ho 7oes beyond /hatever may be represented of the moment to be defined as a historical turnin7:point4 (KI(55@LM6 This

is a standpoint /hich is both critical and self: critical( there is no foundation Dof such a scope and elasticity for a critical theory of society 1J $#-I'- I#* TH$ P% ITI-! (/hich /ould then
automatically be a self:critical theory6 as doubtI (Beck, 011J(0J@64 Doubt, the invi7oratin7 champa7ne of thinkin7, points to a ne/ modernity Dmore modern than the old, industrial modernity that /e kno/4 The latter after all, is based on certainty, on repellin7 and suppressin7 doubtI (ibid4( 0J@64 Beck asks us to fi7ht for Da modernity /hich is be7innin7 to doubt itself, /hich, if thin7s 7o /ell, /ill make doubt the measure and architect of its self: limitation and self:modificationI (ibid4( 03@64 He

asks us, to use Paul -elanIs phrase, to Dbuild on inconsistenciesI4 This /ill be a modernity institutin7 a ne/ politics, a politics reco7nisin7 the uncertainty of the moment of the political4 It /ill be a modernity reco7nisin7 the constitutivity of the real in the social4 ! truly political modernity (ibid4( 264 In the ne9t t/o chapters I /ill try to sho/ the /ay in /hich acanian political theory can act as a catalyst for this chan7e4 The current crisis of utopian politics, instead of 7eneratin7 pessimism, can become the startin7 point for a rene/al of democratic politics /ithin a radically transformed ethical frame/ork4

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lin)0 demands
Impossible demands maintain t"e status (uo$%e can passionatel pla t"e role o! radicals %it"out ris)ing actual c"ange& ,i-e) 5 (Slavoj2 International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis, Welcome to the Desert of
the eal! Fi"e #ssays on Septem$er %% and elated Dates , GPassions of the 'eal, Passions of SemblanceH, p4 21:306 &H In a strict acanian sense of the term, /e should thus posit that >happiness> relies on the subject>s inability or unreadiness fully to confront the conse8uences

of its desire( the price of happiness is that the subject remains stuck in the inconsistency of its desire4 In our daily lives, /e (pretend to6 desire thin7s /hich /e do not really desire, so that, ultimately, the /orst thin7 that can happen is for us to 7et /hat /e >officially> desire4 Happiness is thus inherently hypocritical( it is the happiness of dreamin7 about thin7s /e do not really /ant4 "hen today>s eft bombards the capitalist system

/ith demands that it obviously cannot fulfil (,ull employment= 'etain the /elfare state= ,ull ri7hts for immi7rants=6, it is basically playin7 a 7ame of hysterical provocation, of addressin7 the &aster /ith a demand /hich /ill be impossible for him to meet, and /ill thus e9pose his impotence4 The problem /ith this strate7y, ho/ever, is not only that the system cannot meet these demands, but that, in addition, those /ho voice them do not really /ant them to be reali.ed4 ,or e9ample /hen, >radical> academics demand full ri7hts for immi7rants and openin7 of the borders, are they a/are that the direct implementation of this demand /ould, for obvious reasons, inundate developed "estern countries /ith millions of ne/comers, thus provokin7 a violent /orkin7:class racist backlash /hich /ould then endan7er the privile7ed position ofthese very academics? %f course they are, but they count on the fact that their demand /ill not be met : in this /ay, they can hypocritically retain their clear radical conscience /hile continuin7 to enjoy their privile7ed position 4 In 011M, /hen a ne/ /ave of emi7ration from -uba to
the )S! /as on the cards, ,idel -astro /arned the )S! that if they did not stop incitin7 -ubans to emi7rate, -uba /ould no lon7er prevent them from doin7

it : /hich the -uban authorities in effect did a couple of days later, embarrassin7 the )S! /ith thousands of un/anted ne/comers4444 Is this not like the proverbial /oman /ho snapped back at a man /ho /as makin7 macho advances to her( >Shut up, or you>ll have to do /hat you>re boastin7 about=> In both cases, the 7esture is that of callin7 the other>s bluff, countin7 on the fact that /hat the other really fears is that one /ill fully comply /ith his or her demand4 !nd /ould not the same 7esture also thro/ our radical academics into a panic? Here the old >3B motto >SoyOns realistes, demandons l>impossible=> ac8uires a ne/ cynical and sinister meanin7 /hich, perhaps, reveals its truth( > et>s be realists( /e, the academic eft,

/ant to appear critical, /hile fully enjoyin7 the privile7es the system offers us4 So let>s bombard the system /ith impossible demands( /e all kno/ that these demands /on>t be met, so /e can be sure that nothin7 /ill actually chan7e, and /e>ll maintain our privile7ed status=> If someone accuses a bi7 corporation of particular financial crimes, he or she is

e9posed to risks /hich can 7o ri7ht up to murder attempts; if he or she asks the same corporation to finance a research project into the link bet/een 7lobal capitalism and the emer7ence of hybrid postcolonial identities, he or she stands a 7ood chance of 7ettin7 hundreds ofthousands of dollars4

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Updated Lacan K ;

lin)0 narratives
Narratives are politicall disempo%ering because t"e prevent understanding t"e
broader underpinnings o! t"e in3ustice <c=o%an 8 PhD from %hio State $n7lish Department (Todd, 5OOM, GIntroduction( Psychoanalysis after &ar9H, #nd of Dissatisfaction& 'ac(ues Lacan and the
#mer)in) Society of #n*oymentH, p4 1B:16 &H Ho/ever, as /e can see in the passa7e from aclau and &ouffe, there is some slippa7e bet/een the impossibility of universality and the call for a prohibition a7ainst Gthe discourse of the universal4H In other /ords, they be7in by claimin7 that universality is no lon7er possible, that the universal position Ghas been eradicated,H and then they insist that /e must renounce universality4 By makin7 universality seem to be a possibility that /e must avoid, aclau and &ouffe cover over their insi7ht into the evanescent nature of universality today4 There is no need to avoid or renounce universality, precisely because /e are no lon7er capable of it4 !nd /e are no lon7er capable of it insofar as /e e9perience our subjectivity as one of, in aclau and &ouffeIs terms, Ga polyphony of voices, each of /hich constructs its o/n irreducible discursive identity4H ,or aclau and &ouffe, as for much of the contemporary eft, this

turn from universality to particularity is a turn a/ay from domination and from the violence of tryin7 to speak for others4 "hat they miss, ho/ever, is /hat is lost alon7 /ith the loss of universality4 "hen /e can no lon7er take up a universali.in7 perspective, /e can no lon7er escape our isolated position in order to understand the social order as a totality4 "ithout the universal, /e lose the ability to interpret the events occurrin7 in our everyday livesC/e lose the ability to find meanin7Cbecause it is only the universal that makes interpretation possible4 Interpretation operates by relatin7 the particular to the universal, by takin7 a seemin7ly isolated event and seein7 its lar7er importance4 The universal provides the frame/ork of meanin7 throu7h /hich the particular ac8uires /hatever sense it /ill ac8uire4 "ithout the possibility of a reference to the universal, particular events lose their connection to the /hole and thus take on the appearance of contin7ency4 "e can see this phenomenon at its most e7re7ious in the contemporary attitude to/ard crime4 People fear crime today in lar7e part because it al/ays threatens to take them by surprise4 'ather than bein7 the product of definite sociohistorical conditions, the criminal seems to emer7e out of no/here, strike, and then return to anonymity4 !s the victim (or potential victim6 of the crime, I e9perience it as a /holly random act, disconnected /ith the functionin7 of the social order as a /hole4 "hat I e9perience most forcefully is the fact that the crime could have happened to anyoneC that it could have happened to someone else just as easily as it happened to me4 -ertainly it is never anythin7 that I did that tri77ered the crimeCor at least such is my e9perience4 -rimes appear, in other /ords, in almost every instance as particular acts /ithout any link to the universal, /ithout any connection to the social order in /hich they e9ist4 %ne mi7ht have a theory about crimeCblamin7 it on Gliberal jud7es,H for instanceCbut /hen crime actually strikes, it seems random and irreducibly sin7ular4 Hence, it becomes impossible to interpret crime, to 7rasp particular crimes /ithin their universal si7nificance4 1 But nonetheless crime does have a universal si7nificance, and it does emer7e from locali.able conditions, despite its appearance of isolation and particularity4 In fact, one could convincin7ly ar7ue that crime should be easier to understand /ithin the current conte9t of 7lobal capitalism than ever before in human history, simply because never before have those /ho live in s8ualor been bombarded on a daily basis /ith nonstop ima7es of opulence4 &akin7 connections like this is increasin7ly difficult today, ho/ever, because subjects increasin7ly vie/ their e9perience as an isolated, essentially private e9perience40O Individual e#periences are not relevant to t"e political$%e need to !ind universal issues in social 3ustice2 not personal stories& <c=o%an 8 PhD from %hio State $n7lish Department (Todd, 5OOM, GIntroduction( Psychoanalysis after &ar9H, #nd of Dissatisfaction& 'ac(ues Lacan and the
#mer)in) Society of #n*oymentH, p4 116 &H In addition to fosterin7 paranoia about crime, this

contemporary failure to reco7ni.e the universalCand the inability to interpret that it producesC renders subjects unable to see any /ay out of the isolated particularity that en7ulfs them4 ! sense of claustrophobia sets in( /ithout the possibility of universality, I have no means throu7h /hich I mi7ht escape my insular, private /orld4 ,rom this perspective, one can understand yet another reason for the appeal of fundamentalism today4 In addition to promisin7 a return of transcendence (as /e sa/ in the previous chapter6, fundamentalism (7rounded in reli7ion, ethnicity, nation, etc46 provides the subject /ith a /ay out of his or her private /orld, a /ay of rediscoverin7 the possibility of the universal4 It assures us that there is a universal frame of reference that holds for everyone and that isnIt subject to the varie7ations of our relativistic /orld4 "hereas traditional reli7ions today make allo/ances for other reli7ions (other particularities6 and thus tend to esche/ universali.in7, fundamentalism has no such 8ualms4 The subject in the society of enjoyment feels incapable of universality, and fundamentalism comes alon7 to provide an avenue throu7h /hich it can be attained and e9perienced4 !s lon7 as subjects continue to feel themselves isolated /ithin their particularity, fundamentalism /ill continue to have an appeal4 It provides the missin7 universal frame/ork that allo/s us to make sense of our particular situation, to discover its meanin74 ,undamentalism, ho/ever, is not the only path to universality4 In fact, the turn to/ard it is based upon a misperception involved in the e9perience of late capitalist subjectivity4 Thou7h subjects donIt reco7ni.e the e9istence of the universal today, they nonetheless continue to e9ist under its s/ay4 B

Westminster 06-07

Updated Lacan K . !s speakin7 bein7s, /e are all the time employin7 the universal, discussin7 a particular situation throu7h the vehicle of the universal4 ,rom the moment that /e use /ords at all, /e have moved from the level of the particular to that of the universal4 This is the point that He7el insists upon in the first chapter of the Phenomenolo7y( %f course, /e do not envisa7e the universal This or Bein7 in
7eneral, but /e utter the universal; in other /ords, /e do not strictly say in this sense:certainty /hat /e mean to say4 But lan7ua7e, as /e see, is the more truthful; in it, /e ourselves directly refute /hat /e mean to say, and since the universal is the true EcontentF of sense:certainty and lan7ua7e e9presses this true EcontentF alone, it is just not possible for us ever to say, or e9press in /ords, a sensuous bein7 that /e mean400 He7elIs claim here is that thou7h

/e may intend to communicate a particular content /hen /e speak, the very act of speakin7 itself Cusin7 /ordsC necessarily implies that /e are dealin7 /ith universals, not particulars4 "hatever /ords /e use to describe the particular that /e are tryin7 to describe /ill be universalsC/ords that describe other
particularities as /ell4 Hence, /e cannot speak that particular that /e are tryin7 to speak4 !s He7el puts it, Gthe sensuous This that is meant cannot be reached by lan7ua7e, /hich belon7s to consciousness, i4e4, to that /hich is inherently universal4H05 'ather than speakin7 about particulars,

/e are al/ays involved /ith the universal /hile /e inhabit the /orld of lan7ua7e, the symbolic order4 The point, thenCand this is /hat the fundamentalist missesCis that /e havenIt lost the universal, that the universal continues to persist despite the current difficulties /e have in discernin7 it4 Thou7h our e9perience seems bereft of the universal, it is nonetheless there, providin7 the frame throu7h /hich /e encounter the particulars of our everyday lives4 The key to interpretation today is the ability to 7rasp this silent functionin7 of the universal4"e can continue to interpretC/e can continue to move from the particular to the universalC because the universal persists4 Interpretation becomes, ho/ever, more difficult and, at the same time, more e9i7ent4 In the face of the seemin7 absence of the universal, /e must interpret all the more, because /ithout interpretation our e9perience is simply a series of randomly arran7ed events, /holly /ithout si7nificance4 Narratives o! su!!ering pla into t"e "ands o! t"e e#isting order& '"e cannot c"allenge t"e !undamental components o! t"e political !antas because t"e are !ocused on victimi-ation2 not real political c"allenges& ie) 1 (Slavoj, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis, Intervie/ /ith -hristopher
Hanlon, Ph4D4 from )&ass:!mherst, GPsychoanalysis and the Post:Political( !n Intervie/ /ith Slavoj iek,H #e/ iterary History, @540, 0:50, Project &use64

S,0 "ell, I don>t think that 4 4 4 %P, -ornel "est did say that4 But I nonetheless don>t think that he perceives us as the main opponent4 Because this very reproach that you
usually relies on the most abstract and pure theory, and as an old philosopher I /ould say, as you said before, that /e

mention is not a reproach that can be addressed specifically to acan4 &y idea is the old mar9ist idea that this immediate reference to e9perience, practice, stru77le, etcetera,

simply cannot escape theory4 I fanatically oppose this turn /hich has taken place in social theory, this idea that there is no lon7er time for 7reat theoretical projects, that all /e can do is narrativi.e the e9perience of our sufferin7, that all various ethnic or se9ual 7roups can ultimately do is to narrate their painful, traumatic e9perience4 I think t"is is a catastrop"e4 I think that t"is !its per!ectl t"e e#isting capitalist order2 that t"ere is not"ing subversive in it& I think that t"is !its per!ectl toda 6s ideolog o! victimi-ation2 %"ere in order to le7itimi.e2 to gain po%er politicall 2 ou must present oursel!2 someho/, as t"e victim4 Narratives create social apart"eid$i! onl individuals can relate t"eir o%n e#periences2 it means t"at onl t"e trul understand t"e situation and it relives t"e rest o! us o! an responsibilit !or t"eir su!!ering& ie) 5 (Slavoj, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis, intevie/ /ith Bad Subjects,
GI am a ,i7htin7 !theist( Intervie/ /ith Slavoj iek,H Bad Subjects, Issue Q21, ,ebruary, http(RReserver4or7RbsR21Riek4html64

&y opponent here is the /idely accepted position that /e should leave behind the 8uest for universal truth C that /hat /e have instead are just different narratives about /ho /e are, the stories /e tell about ourselves4 So, in that vie/, the hi7hest ethical injunction is to respect the other story4 !ll the stories should be told, each ethnic, political, or se9ual 7roup should be 7iven the ri7ht to tell its story, as if this kind of tolerance to/ards the plurality of stories /ith no universal truth value is the ultimate ethical hori.on4 I oppose this radically4 This ethics of storytellin7 is usually accompanied by a ri7ht to narrate, as if the hi7hest act you can do today is to narrate your o/n story, as if only a black lesbian mother can kno/ /hat it>s like to be a black lesbian mother, and so on4 #o/ this may sound very emancipatory4 But t"e moment %e accept t"is logic2 %e enter a )ind o! apart"eid& In a situation of social domination, all narratives are not the same4 ,or e9ample, in =erman in t"e 1.70s2 t"e narrative o! t"e 4e%s %asn6t 3ust one among man & '"is %as t"e narrative t"at e#plained t"e trut" about t"e entire situation& %r today, take the 7ay stru77le4 It>s not enou7h for 7ays to say, </e /ant our story to be heard4< #o, the 7ay narrative must contain a universal dimension, in the sense that their implicit claim must be that /hat happens to us is not somethin7 that concerns only us4 "hat is happenin7 to us is a symptom
or si7nal that tells us somethin7 about /hat>s /ron7 /ith the entirety of society today4 "e have to insist on this universal dimension4

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Updated Lacan K 10

lin)0 visual
>rioriti-ing t"e visual pla s ma)es us vulnerable to totalitarianism because %e are !ar less critical o! images and its non verbal nature means t"at it is an individual2 not s"ared e#perience& <c=o%an 8 PhD from %hio State $n7lish Department (Todd, 5OOM, GIntroduction( Psychoanalysis after &ar9H, #nd of Dissatisfaction& 'ac(ues Lacan and the
#mer)in) Society of #n*oymentH, p4 326 &H

This belief in the truth of the ima7e leaves us especially vulnerable to ideolo7ical coercion (/hich is not to say, of course, that the ima7e cannot be subversive as /ell64 The ima7e, much more than the /ord, inspires trust, and this trust is precisely /hat ideolo7y hopes to en7ender4 This is /hy fascists rely so heavily on ima7ery 4 In fact, cultural theorist Paul *ilroy links the rise of the ima7e to the rise of fascism in the mid:t/entieth century4 ! ccordin7 to *ilroy( The application of ima7e:buildin7 and ima7e:maintainin7 techni8ues has created a condition in /hich icons severely 8ualify and often dominate the vivid authority of the spoken /ord in /ays that recall the operations of fascist propa7anda4 The po/er of speech, already substantially reduced by the imperative to supply empty but memorable sound bites, has declined even further since HitlerIs innovations40J In valuin7 the ima7e over the /ord, /e fall victim to the ima7eIs appearance of full revelation4 "hereas the /ord prompts suspicion and 8uestionin7, the ima7e produces belief and devotion4 It is in this sense that *ilroy sees a latent fascism in the contemporary elevation of the ima7e4 The ima7e today si7nifies the possibility of a completely successful process of manipulation4 !ccordin7 to Postman, ho/ever, the 7reat dan7er of this epistemolo7ical transitionCto/ard faith in the ima7eCis not the possibility for manipulation but the inescapability of distraction4 The flo/ of ima7es in contemporary society serves to keep subjects constantly entertained and distracted4 "e are amused, but /e are also isolated and docile 4 In the final pa7es of his treatise, Postman articulates this dan7er in dramatic terms( G"hen a population becomes distracted by trivia, /hen cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, /hen serious public conversation becomes a form of baby:talk, /hen, in short, people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture:death is a clear possibility4H0B "hat Postman labels Gculture:deathH is the breakdo/n of symbolic mediation, the inability of lan7ua7e to link subjects to each other4 There is no symbolic authority demandin7 that subjects leave the ima7inary realm and enter into the social /orld4"ithout this authority, subjects remain /ithin the private /orld of the ima7e, confined to /hat Nean Baudrillard calls Gthe hell of the same4H

0O

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Updated Lacan K 11

lin)0 utopianism
*?armon + as t"e a!!irmative constructed it is impossibleand %ill re(uire t"e e#termination o! t"ose %"o are blamed !or t"e inevitable !ailure o! utopia& Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, Lacan and the Political, GThe acanian %bjectH p43@:26&H &ac !rthur, %dum and -lements, like Isaac #e/ton , Dhad tried to make nature into a sin7le, coherent picture /here all the pieces fitted firmly to7etherI4 !ll of them tried to reduce the disorderliness or the unkno/n 8ualities of nature to a sin7le all:encompassin7 metaphysical idea ("orster, 011M(MOO64 $ven conceptions of nature stressin7 the element of conflict, such as the Dar/inian one, sometimes feel the need to subject
this non:perfect ima7e to some discernible 7oal of nature (for e9ample the Dconstantly increasin7 diversity of or7anic types in one areaIC"orster, 011M(0306 /hich introduces a certain harmony throu7h the back door4 "hat

constantly emer7es from this e9position is that /hen harmony is not present it has to be someho/ introduced in order for our reality to be coherent4 It has to be introduced throu7h a fantasmatic social construction4 01 %ne should not 7et the impression thou7h that this is a mere philosophical discussion4 In so far as our constructions of reality influence our behaviourCand this is /hat they basically doCour fi9ation on harmony has direct social and political conse8uences4 'eality construction does not take place on a superstructural level4 'eality is forced to conform to our constructions of it not only at the spiritual or the intellectual, but also at the material level4 But /hy does it have to be forced to conform? This is due, for instance, to the 7ap bet/een our harmonious fantasmatic constructions of nature and nature itself, bet/een reality and the real4 %ur constructions of reality are so stron7 that nature has to conform to them and not they to nature; reality is conceived as masterin7 the real4 But there is al/ays a certain leftover, a disturbin7 element destabilisin7 our constructions of nature4 '"is "as to be stigmatised, made into a scapegoat and e#terminated4 The more beatific and harmonious is a social fantasy the more this repressed destabilisin7 element /ill be e9cluded from its symbolisationC/ithout, ho/ever, ever disappearin74 In this re7ard, a vi7nette from the history of nature conservation can be revealin74 !s is
/ell kno/n nature conservation /as developed first in the )nited States; /hat is not so /ell kno/n is that Da major feature of the crusade for resource conservation

/as a deliberate campai7n to destroy /ild animalsCone of the most efficient, /ell:or7ani.ed, and /ell:financed such efforts in all of manIs historyI ("orster, 011M(53064 !ll this, althou7h not solely attributable to it, /as part of a Dpro7ressiveI moralistic ideolo7y /hich conceived of nature to7ether /ith society as harbourin7 ruthless e9ploiters and criminals /ho should be banished from the land ("orster, 011M(53264 The drivin7 force behind this enterprise /as clearly a particular ethically distinctive construction of nature articulated /ithin the frame/ork of a conservation ideolo7y4 !ccordin7 to this construction /hat D/asI had to conform to /hat Dshould beI and /hat Dshould beI, that is to say nature /ithout vermin (coyotes and other /ild predators6, /as accepted as more naturalCmore harmoniousCthan /hat D/asI( DThese conservationists /ere dedicated to reor7ani.in7 the natural economy in a /ay that /ould fulfil their o/n ideal vision of /hat nature should be likeI ("orster, 011M(53364 This construction /as accepted by the 'oosevelt administration in the )S! (01O0:16 and led to the formation of an official pro7ramme to e9terminate vermin4 The job /as 7iven to a 7overnment a7ency, the Bureau of the Biolo7ical Survey (BBS6 in the Department of !7riculture, and a ruthless /ar started (in 01OJ alone, 0,JOO /olves and 5@,OOO coyotes /ere killed in the #ational Parks and this policy continued and e9panded for years6 ("orster, 011M(53@64 "hat is this dialectic bet/een the beatific fantasy of nature and the demonised vermin doin7 if not illustratin7 the acanian dialectic bet/een the t/o sides of fantasy or bet/een fantasy and symptom? Since /e /ill e9plore the first of these t/o acanian approaches to fantasy in -hapter M, /e /ill concentrate here on the fantasyRsymptom a9is4 5O !s far as the promise of fillin7 the lack in the %ther is concerned, fantasy can be better understood in its relation to the acanian conception of the symptom; accordin7 to one possible readin7, fantasy and symptom are t/o inter:implicated terms4 It is the symptom that interrupts the consistency of the field of our constructions of reality, of the object of identification, by embodyin7 the repressed jouissance, the destabilisin7 part of nature e9cluded from its harmonious symbolisation4 The symptom here is a real kernel of enjoyment; it is the repressed jouissance that returns and does not ever Dstop in imposin7 itself Eon usFI (Soler, 0110(50M64 If fantasy is Dthe support that 7ives consistency to /hat /e call realityI (iek, 01B1(M16 on the other hand reality is al/ays a symptom ( iek, 011564 Here /e are insistin7 on the late acanian conception of the symptom as sinthome4 In this conception, a si7nifier is married to jouissance, a si7nifier is instituted in the real, outside the si7nifyin7 chain but at the same time internal to it4 This parado9ical role of the symptom can help us understand the parado9ical role of fantasy4 ,antasy 7ives discourse its consistency because it opposes the symptom ('a7land:Sullivan, 0110(0364 Hence, if the symptom is an encounter /ith the real, /ith a traumatic point that resists symbolisation, and if the discursive has to arrest the real and repress jouissance in order to produce reality, then the ne7ation of the real /ithin fantasy can only be thou7ht in terms of opposin7, of sti7matisin7 the symptom4 This is then the relation bet/een symptom and fantasy4 The self:consistency of a symbolic construction of reality depends on the harmony instituted by fantasy4 This fantasmatic harmony can only be sustained by the

neutralisation of the symptom and of the real, by a ne7ation of the 7eneralised lack that crosses the field of the social4 But ho/ is this done? If social fantasy produces the self:consistency of a certain construction it can do so only by presentin7 the symptom as Dan alien, disturbin7 intrusion, and not as the point of eruption of the other/ise hidden truth of the e9istin7 social orderI (iek, 0110a(MO64 The social fantasy of a harmonious social or natural order can only be sustained if all the persistin7
disorders can be attributed to an alien intruder4 To return to our e9ample, the illusory character of our harmonious construction of nature is sho/n in the fact that there is a part of the real /hich escapes its schema and assumes a symptomatic form (vermin, etc46; in order for this fantasy to

remain coherent, this real symptom has to be sti7matised and eliminated4 It cannot be accepted as the e9cluded truth of nature; such a reco7nition /ould lead to a dislocation of the fantasy in 8uestion4 "hen, ho/ever, the dependence of fantasy on the symptom is revealed, then the playCthe relationCbet/een the symptom and fantasy reveals itself as another mode of the play bet/een the real and the symbolicRima7inary ne9us producin7 reality4

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'"e drive to master t"e globe is t"e ultimate in t"e politics o! utopia& @at"er t"an admitting t"at t"e %orld is be ond our control %e contruct a !anats o! total master o! t"e planet& Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, pa7es p B0:B5 64
The fantasmatic support If

Updated Lacan K 15

political reality is a symbolic construction produced throu7h metaphoric and metonymic processes and articulated around points de capiton and empty si7nifiers, it nevertheless depends on fantasy in order to constitute itself4 This dimension must have become evident from our ar7umentation so far4 It is useful ho/ever to
present one more e9ample in /hich this dimension is illustrated /ith clarity4

,antasies of mastery, especially mastery of kno/led7e, have direct political si7nificance4 Thomas 'ichards, in
his book The Imperial !rchive( Pno/led7e and the ,antasy of the $mpire, e9plores the importance of fantasy in the construction of the British empire4 There is no doubt that no nation can close its hand around the /hole of the /orld4 In that sense an empire

is al/ays, at least partly, a fiction4 !bsolute political control is impossible due to a variety of reasons, such as the lack of information and control in distant parts of the imperial territory4 This 7ap in kno/led7e (in the symbolic constitution of the empire6 and control, /as covered over by the fantasy construction of the imperial archive, Da fantasy of kno/led7e collected and united in the service of state and empireI 4 In that sense Dthe myth of imperial archive brou7ht to7ether in fantasy /hat /as breakin7 apart in factI and /as thus shared /idely; it even had an impact in policymakin7 ('ichards, 011@(364 This imperial archive /as not a real museum or a real library, it /as not a buildin7 or a collection of te9ts, but a fantasy of projected total kno/led7e( it constituted a Dcollectively ima7ined junction of all that /as kno/n or kno/able, a fantastic representation of an epistemolo7ical master pattern, a virtual focal point for the hetero7eneous local kno/led7e of metropolis and empireI ('ichards, 011@(0064 In this utopian space, disorder /as transformed to order, hetero7eneity to homo7eneity and lack of political control and information to an ima7inary empire of kno/led7e and po/er4 Such a fantasmatic support is, ho/ever, discernible in all the e9amples /e have already presented4 This is because all ideolo7ical formations, all constructions of political reality, althou7h not in the same de7ree or in the same /ay, aspire to eliminate an9iety and loss, to defeat dislocation, in order to achieve a state of fullness 4 Thus D/hat Thatcherism as an ideolo7y does, is to address
the fears, the an9ieties, the lost identities, of a people4444 It is addressed to our collective fantasies, to Britain as an ima7ined community, to the social

This fantasmatic element is crucial for the desirability of all these discourses, in other /ords for their he7emonic appeal4 !ll political projects to reconstitute society as a /ell:ordered and harmonious ensemble aim at this impossible object /hich reduces utopia to a fantasmatic screen 4 If, accordin7 to aclauIs acanian dictum, Dsociety does not e9istI (as a harmonious ensemble6, this impossible e9istence is all the time constructed and reconstructed throu7h the symbolic production of discourse and its fantasmatic investment, throu7h the reduction of the political to politics4
ima7inaryI (Hall, 01BB(03J64 The same applies to nationalism, to millenarian redemption, as /ell as to DisraeliIs D%ne #ationI and to Blairism4

W"en %e tr create global "armon 2 %e come up against its impossibilit & 'o maintain !ait" in t"e !antas 2 %e %ill tr to violentl eliminate components t"at do not !it2 turning t"e case& Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, pa7es 0OO:0O064
In order to ans/er these 8uestions it is crucial to enumerate the conditions of possibility and the basic characteristics of utopian thinkin74 ,irst of all it seems that the

need for utopian meanin7 arises in periods of increased uncertainty, social instability and conflict, /hen the element of the political subverts the fantasmatic stability of our political reality4 )topias are 7enerated by the surfacin7 of 7rave anta7onisms and dislocations in the social field4 !s Tillich has put it Dall utopias strive to ne7ate the ne7ative444in human e9istence; it is the ne7ative in that e9istence /hich makes the idea of utopia necessaryI (Tillich in evitas, 011O(0O@64 )topia then is one of the possible responses to the ever:present ne7ativity, to the real anta7onism /hich is constitutive of human e9perience4 ,urthermore, from the time of &oreIs Utopia (02036 it is conceived as an ans/er to the ne7ativity inherent in concrete political anta7onism4 "hat is, ho/ever, the e9act nature of this response? )topias are ima7es of future human communities in /hich these anta7onisms and the dislocations fuellin7 them (the element of the political6 /ill be forever resolved, leadin7 to a reconciled and harmonious /orld Cit is not a coincidence that, amon7
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!s &arin has put it, utopia

Updated Lacan K 17

others, ,ourier names his utopian community DHarmonyI and that the name of the %/enite utopian community in the #e/ "orld /as D#e/ HarmonyI4

sets in vie/ an ima7inary resolution to social contradiction; it is a simulacrum of synthesis

/hich dissimulates social anta7onism by projectin7 it onto a screen representin7 a harmonious and immobile e8uilibrium (&arin, 01BM(3064 This final resolution is the essence of the utopian promise4 "hat I /ill try to do in this chapter is, first of all, to demonstrate the deeply problematic nature of utopian politics4 Simply put, my ar7ument /ill be that

every utopian fantasy construction needs a Dscape7oatI in order to constitute itselfCthe #a.i utopian fantasy and the production of the DNe/I is a 7ood e9ample, especially as pointed out in Si.ekIs analysis4M $very utopian fantasy produces its reverse and calls for its elimination 4 Put another /ay, the beatific side of fantasy is coupled in utopian constructions /ith a horrific side, a paranoid need for a sti7matised scape7oat4 The naivetyCand also the dan7erCof utopian structures is revealed /hen the realisation of this fantasy is attempted4 It is then that /e are brou7ht close to the fri7htenin7 kernel of the real( sti7matisation is follo/ed by e9termination4 This is not an accident4 It is inscribed in the structure of utopian constructions; it seems to be the /ay all fantasy constructions /ork 4 If in almost all utopian visions, violence and anta7onism are eliminated, if utopia is based on the e9pulsion and repression of violence (this is its beatific side6 this is only because it o/es its o/n creation to violence; it is sustained and fed by violence (this is its horrific side64 This repressed moment of violence resurfaces, as &arin points out, in the difference inscribed in the name utopia itself (&arin, 01BM(00O64 "hat /e shall ar7ue is that it also resurfaces in the production of the fi7ure of an enemy4 To use a phrase enunciated by the utopianist ,ourier, /hat is Ddriven
out throu7h the door comes back throu7h the /indo/I (is not this a DprecursorI of acanIs dictum that D/hat is foreclosed in the symbolic reappears in the realI?CAII(0@0642 The /ork of #orman -ohn and other historians permits the articulation of a 7enealo7y of this manichean, e8uivalential /ay of understandin7 the /orld, from

the 7reat /itch:hunt up to modern anti:Semitism, and acanian theory can provide valuable insi7hts into any attempt to understand the lo7ic behind this utopian operationC here the approach to fantasy developed in -hapter 5 /ill further demonstrate its potential in analysin7 our political e9perience4 In fact, from the time of his unpublished seminar on The Formations of the Unconscious, acan identified the utopian
dream of a perfectly functionin7 society as a hi7hly problematic area (seminar of 0B Nune 012B64

Lacanian t"eor is a source o! liberation !rom t"e strait-3ac)et o! t"e politics o! "armon $Lacanian t"eor can "elp us to develop a more radicall democratic societ & Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, pa7es M4441:0O64 acanian conceptual and theoretical apparatus for political analysis and the theory of politics, the t/o chapters that follo/ are desi7ned to demonstrate some of the /ays in /hich this conceptual apparatus can lead to ne/ challen7in7 approaches to areas /hich are crucial for contemporary political theory and political pra9is, namely the crisis of utopian politics and the ethical foundation of a radical democratic project4 Here a7ain, /e shall ar7ue that both a historical and theoretical analysis reveals that the politics of utopiaC /hich has for lon7 dominated our political hori.onClead to a set of dan7ers that no ri7orous political analysis and political pra9is should ne7lect4 Its current crisis, instead of bein7 the source of disappointment and political pessimism, creates the opportunity of Dliberatin7I our political ima7ination from the strait:jacket imposed by a fantasmatic ethics of harmony, and of developin7 further the democratic potential of this ima7ination in an a7e in /hich all sorts of 9enophobic, neofascist andnationalist particularisms and fundamentalisms sho/ a7ain their u7ly face4 acanian theory can be one of the catalysts for these political DliberationsI, simultaneously offerin7 a non: foundational ethical 7roundin7 for their articulation 4
If the first three chapters aim at e9tractin7 the importance of the

'"e crisis identi!ied b t"e a!!irmative is an opportunit to turn a%a !rom t"e politics o! utopia and create a ne% order designed around accepting antagonism& Stavra)a)is .. A+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment,
)niversity of $sse9, pa7es 0@2:0@364
Slavoj Si.ek starts Tarryin) with the Ne)ati"e by presentin7 the

most strikin7 and sublime e9pression of a political attempt to encircle the lack of the real, to sho/ the political /ithin a space of political representation( the fla7 of the rebels in the violent overthro/ of -eausescu in 'omania4 In this fla7 , the red star, the communist symbol constitutin7 the nodal point of the fla7 and of a /hole political order, the Dsymbol standin7 for the or7anisin7 principle of
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the national lifeI is

cut out; /hat remains in its place is only a hole4 It is in this brief moment, after the collapse of an order and before the articulation of another one, that it becomes possible to attest to the visibility of the hole in the bi7 %ther, to sense the presence of the political4 If there is a duty for critical intellectuals today it is to occupy all the time the space of this hole, especially /hen a ne/ order (a ne/ reoccupation of traditional politics6 is stabilised and attempts to make invisible this lack in the %ther (iek, 011@(0L 564 !s far as political pra9is is concerned our ethical duty can only be to attempt the institutionalisation of this lack /ithin political reality4 This duty is a truly and radically democratic one4 It is also an ethical duty that marks the philosophical dimension of democracy 4 !s Bernasconi and -ritchley point out, if democracy is an
ethically 7rounded form of political life /hich does not cease to call itself into 8uestion by askin7 of its le7itimacy, if le7itimate communities are those that call themselves into 8uestion, then these communities are philosophical (-ritchley, 0115(5@164 In this li7ht, /hat becomes fundamental in democracy is that it makes visible the political institution, the limit of all political forces4 By institutin7

Updated Lacan K 18

anta7onism it points to the distance bet/een every utopian symbolisation and the real it attempts to master4 But ho/ e9actly is this distance marked and made visible? This visibility is only obtained in so far as opposite forms of institution (of the social6 are possible, and this possibility is revealed /hen those forms are actually postulated and fou7ht for in the historical arena 4 ,or it is only in their anta7onistic relation to other projects that the contin7ency of particular acts of institution is sho/n, and it is this contin7ency that 7ives them their political character4
( aclau, 011M(M6 In other /ords, the

conditions for maintainin7 the visibility of the constitutive lack and the contin7ent nature of a structure are, accordin7 to aclauIs schema, the follo/in7( first, to make visible the (e9ternal6 conflict bet/een the different political projects, the different contents that purport to fill this lack (none of /hich is pre: determined to perform this task6; and second, to make visible the (internal6 split markin7 each of these projects, a split bet/een their function as representatives of (universal6 fullness and their concrete (particular6 content ( aclau, 011@(5B264 Democracy attempts to maintain this visibility, to institutionalise this lack by includin7 Das a part of its GnormalH, Gre7ularH reproductionI the moment of the suspensionR dissolution of political reality4 This particular moment of the eruption of the real is, as iek points out, the moment of elections( !t the moment of elections, the /hole hierarchic net/ork of social relations is in a /ay suspended , put in parentheses; DsocietyI as an or7anic unity ceases to e9ist, it chan7es into a contin7ent collection of atomi.ed individuals, of abstract units, and the result depends on a purely 8uantitative mechanism of countin7, ultimately on a stochastic process( some
/holly unforeseeable (or manipulated6 eventCa scandal /hich erupts a fe/ days before an election, for e9ampleCcan add that Dhalf per centI one /ay or the other that determines the 7eneral orientation of the countryIs politics over the ne9t fe/ years4444 In vain do /e conceal this thorou7hly DirrationalI character of /hat /e call Dformal democracyI4444 %nly the acceptance of such a risk, only such a readiness to hand over oneIs fate to DirrationalI ha.ard, renders DdemocracyI possible4 (iek, 01B1(0MJ6

This suspension of sedimented political reality, this openin7 to the moment of the political, presupposes the institutionalisation both of the e9ternal anta7onism bet/een competin7 political forces and, most importantly, of the internal split markin7 the identity of all these forces (iekIs pure anta7onism6, since the repetition of the moment of elections inscribes deep in our political culture the reco7nition that none of these forces can sublate its internal split; if /e need elections every once in a /hile it is because /e accept that the he7emonic link bet/een a concrete content and its incarnation of fullness has to be continuously re:established and rene7otiated4 This is one of the /ays in /hich democracy identifies /ith the symptom (the constitutive anta7onism of the social /hich is usually presented as a mere epiphenomenon6 and traverses the fantasy of a harmonious social order( by institutin7 lack at the place of the principle of societal or7anisation41 '"e politics o! utopia are responsible !or t"e %orst acts o! violence$t"e !ailure o! t"e !antas to be !ull relai-ed causes us to pro3ect t"at !ailure on an alien intruder$ 3usti! ing persecution and massacres& Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, pa7es 0O0:0O564

In order to realise the problematic character of the utopian operation it is necessary to articulate a 7enealo7y of this /ay of representin7 and makin7 sense of the /orld4 The /ork of #orman -ohn seems especially desi7ned to serve this purpose4 "hat is most important is that in -ohnIs schema /e can encounter the

three basic characteristics of utopian fantasies that /e have already sin7led out( first, their
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link to instances of disorder, to the element of ne7ativity 4 Since human e9perience is a continuous battle /ith the une9pected there is al/ays a need to represent and master this une9pected, to transform disorder to order4 Second, this representation is usually articulated as a total and universal representation, a promise of absolute mastery of the totality of the real, a vision of the end of history4 ! future utopian state is envisa7ed in /hich disorder /ill be totally eliminated4 Third, this symbolisation produces its o/n remainder; there is al/ays a certain particularity remainin7 outside the universal schema4 It is to the e9istence of this evil a7ent, /hich can be easily localised, that all persistin7 disorder is attributed4 The elimination of disorder depends then on the elimination of this 7roup4 The result is al/ays horrible( persecution, massacres, holocausts4 #eedless to say, no utopian fantasy is ever realised as a result of all these DcrimesI Cas mentioned in -hapter 5, the purpose of fantasy is not to satisfy an (impossible6 desire but to constitute it as such4 "hat is of 7reat interest for our approach is the
/ay in /hich -ohn himself articulates a 7enealo7y of the pair utopiaRdemonisation in his books The Pursuit of the &illennium and $uropeIs Inner Demons (-ohn, 011@b, 011@c64 The same applies to his book "arrant for *enocide (-ohn, 01136 /hich /ill also be implicated at a certain sta7e in our analysis4 These books are concerned /ith the same social phenomenon, the

Updated Lacan K 1/

idea of purifyin7 humanity throu7h the e9termination of some cate7ory of human bein7s /hich are conceived as a7ents of corruption, disorder and evil4 The
conte9ts are, of course, different, but the ur7e remains the same (-ohn, 011@b(9i64 !ll these /orks then, at least accordin7 to my readin7, are concerned /ith the production of an archenemy /hich 7oes to7ether /ith the utopian mentality4 It could be ar7ued that the roots of both demonisation and utopian thinkin7 can be traced back to the shift from a cyclical to a unilinear representation of history (-ohn, 011@a(55J643 Ho/ever, /e /ill start our readin7 of -ohnIs /ork by 7oin7 back to 'oman civilisation4 !s -ohn claims, a profound demonisin7 tendency is discernible in !ncient 'ome( /ithin the imperium, the 'omans accused the -hristians of cannibalism and the Ne/s /ere accused by *reeks of ritual murder and cannibalism4 +et in the ancient 'oman /orld, althou7h Nudaism /as re7arded as a bi.arre reli7ion, it /as nevertheless a reli7io licita, a reli7ion that /as officially reco7nised4 Thin7s /ere different /ith the ne/ly formed -hristian sect4 In fact the -hristian $ucharist could easily be interpreted as cannibalistic (-ohn, 011@b(B64 In almost all their /ays -hristians i7nored or even ne7ated the fundamental convictions by /hich the pa7an *raeco:'oman /orld lived4 It is not at all surprisin7 then that to the 'omans they looked like a bunch of conspirators plottin7 to destroy society4 To/ards the end of the second century, accordin7 to Tertullian, it /as taken as a 7iven that the -hristians are the cause of every public catastrophe, every disaster that hits the populace4 If the Tiber floods or the #ile fails to, if there is a drou7ht or an earth8uake, a famine or a pla7ue, the cry 7oes up at once( DThro/ the -hristians to the ions=I4 (Tertullian in -ohn, 011@b(0M6 This defamation of -hristians that led to their e9clusion from the boundaries of humanity and to their relentless persecution is a pattern that /as repeated many times in later centuries, /hen both the persecutors and the persecuted /ere -hristians (-ohn, 011@b(0264 Bo7omiles, "aldensians, the ,raticelli movement and the -atharsCall the 7roups appearin7 in )mberto $coIs fascinatin7 books, especially in The #ame of the 'oseC/ere later on persecuted /ithin a similar discursive conte9t4 The same happened /ith the demonisation of -hristians, the fantasy that led to the 7reat /itch:hunt4 !7ain, the conditions of possibility for this demonisation can be accurately defined4 ,irst, some kind of misfortune or catastrophe had to occur, and second, there had to be someone /ho could be sin7led out as the cause of this misfortune (-ohn, 011@b(55364

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Updated Lacan K 16

lin)0 criti(ues
Small acts o! subversion Asuc" as armc"air ideological distanceB ma)e us more com!ortable and t"ere!or more invested in t"e political status (uo& <c=o%an 8 PhD from %hio State $n7lish Department (Todd, 5OOM, GIntroduction( Psychoanalysis after &ar9H, #nd of Dissatisfaction& 'ac(ues Lacan and the
#mer)in) Society of #n*oymentH, p4 05M:36 &H In response to the command to enjoy, contemporary

cynicism is an effort to 7ain distance from the functionin7 of po/er , to

resist the hold that po/er has over us4 Hence, the cynic turns in/ard and displays an indifference to e9ternal authorities , /ith the aim of self:sufficient independence4 Symbolic authorityC/hich /ould force the subject into a particular symbolic identity, an identity not freely chosen by the subject herselfC is the e9plicit enemy of cynicism4 To ackno/led7e the po/er of symbolic authority over oneIs o/n subjectivity /ould be, in the eyes of the cynic, to ackno/led7e oneIs failure to enjoy fully, makin7 such an ackno/led7ment unacceptable4 In

the effort to refuse the po/er of this authority, one must esche/ all the trappin7s of conformity4 This is /hy the 7reat -ynical philosopher Dio7enes made a sho/ of masturbatin7 in public, a 7esture that made clear to everyone that he had moved beyond the constraints of the symbolic la/ and
that he /ould brook no barrier to his jouissance4 By freely doin7 in public /hat others feared to do, Dio7enes acted out his refusal to submit to the prohibition that others accepted4 He attempted to demonstrate that the symbolic la/ had no absolute hold over him and that he had no investment in it4 Ho/ever,

seeming to be be ond t"e s mbolic la% and actuall being be ond it are t%o differentCand, in fact, opposed$ t"ings, and this difference becomes especially important to reco7ni.e in the contemporary society of enjoyment4 In the act of makin7 a sho/ of oneIs indifference to the public la/ (in the manner of Dio7enes and todayIs cynical subject6, one does not 7ain distance from that la/, but un%ittingl reveals one:s investment in it4 Such a sho/ is done for the look of the symbolic authority4 The cynic sta7es herRhis act publicly in order that symbolic authority /ill see it4 Because it is sta7ed in this /ay, /e kno/ that the cynicIs actCsuch as the public masturbation of Dio7enesCrepresents a case of actin7:out, rather than an authentic act , an act that suspends the functionin7 of symbolic authority4 !ctin7:out al/ays occurs on a sta7e, /hile the authentic act and authentic enjoymentCthe radical break from the constraints of symbolic authorityCoccur unsta7ed, /ithout reference to the %therIs look 41 In the
once /alked on the beautiful carpets /ith muddy feet, sayin7, GI tread on the pride of Plato4H G+es, but /ith another pride,H replied Plato, as pointedly4

History of Philosophy, He7el makes clear the cynicIs investment in symbolic authority throu7h his discussion of PlatoIs interactions /ith Dio7enes( In PlatoIs house EDio7enesF

"hen Dio7enes stood /et throu7h /ith rain, and the bystanders pitied him, Plato said, GIf you /ish to compassionate him, just 7o a/ay4 His vanity is in sho/in7 himself off and e9citin7 surprise; it is /hat made him act in this /ay , and the reason /ould not e9ist if he /ere left alone40O Thou7h Dio7enes attempts to act in a /ay that demonstrates his self: sufficiency, his distance from every e9ternal authority, /hat he attains, ho/ever, is far from self:sufficiency 4 !s PlatoIs ripostes demonstrate, ever t"ing t"at t"e c nic does to distance "imsel! !rom s mbolic aut"orit pla s directl into t"e "ands o! t"at aut"orit &00 Here /e see ho/ cynicism functions symptomatically in the society of enjoyment,
providin7 the illusion of enjoyment beyond social constraints /hile leavin7 these constraints completely intact4 "e donIt have to look t/enty:five hundred years in the past for an e9ample of cynicismIs hidden investment in symbolic authority( this

investment is even more fully present in contemporary cynicism4 It is especially clear in the cynicism of the antiauthority, discontented hacker /orkin7 at a ne/ internet company4 The hacker is able to esche/ all
of the trappin7s of the traditional office labor( sheRhe can make herRhis o/n hours, /ear /hat sheRhe /ants, listen to a /alkman, and, in 7eneral, be herRhis o/n boss4 But nonetheless, this rejection of authority is /holly amenable to the functionin7 of the internet company4 In fact, such a company thrives on it4 It is not uncommon for internet companies to fire hackers /hen they lose their rebelliousness and become part of the corporate structure4 Such companies /ant ed7y product development that only a rebellious hacker can provide4 The cynical /orker /orks all the more effectively for the companyCfor the authorityCin the 7uise of an opposition to structures of authority4 Ima7inin7 herRhimself as a rebel a7ainst tradition allo/s the hacker to become more creative, to spur the company on to/ard 7reater and 7reater profits4 -ontemporary cynicism at lar7e /orks much like it does in the case of the hacker4 The cynic rejects authority at the same time sheRhe devotes all o! "erC"is energies to "elping it

along4 The contemporary cynicIs rebellion is, in this /ay, not a brake upon the functionin7 of late capitalism, but its en7ine4 The cynicism amon7 subjects today thus indicates the e9tent to /hich the society of enjoyment leaves subjects bereft of the actual enjoyment that /ould break from the prevailin7 symbolic authority4 So-called radical acts o! subversion allo% us to ignore our roles in t"e s stem& We need to embrace our responsibilit b identit! ing %it" oppressive po%er2 not ma)ing empt gestures against it& <c=o%an 8 PhD from %hio State $n7lish Department (Todd, 5OOM, GIntroduction( Psychoanalysis after &ar9H, #nd of Dissatisfaction& 'ac(ues Lacan and the
#mer)in) Society of #n*oymentH, p4 015:M6 &H

The problem /ith the school uniform movement, as /ell as all of the other calls for a return to prohibition, is that, as the previous chapters have sou7ht to demonstrate, /idespread disobedience is not the problem4 The problem /ith the society of commanded enjoymentC/hat constitutes its dan7er for us Cis not the enjoyment that it unleashes, but the barrier that it proves to enjoyment4 'ather than bein7 beset by disobedience and trans7ressive enjoyment, our society has become replete /ith obedience , /ith subjects /ho are /holly committed to sustainin7 their symbolic identity, their
status /ithin the prevailin7 social order4 This

obedience predominates precisely because it successfully dis7uises itself as its oppositeCas rebellion, radicality, and difference4 The most difficult obstacle to overcome today is the sense that one is radical or subversive, precisely because t"is sensibilit is so pervasive2 even amon7Cor especially amon7Cthe most 03

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Updated Lacan K 17 conservative subjects4 In fact, convincing sub3ects t"at t"e are radical "as become t"e primar !unction o! ideolog toda & If I believe that I am already radical /hile I am follo/in7 the dictates of the social order, I am not likely to challen7e those dictates 4 !lready in the nineteenth century &ar9 and $n7els sa/ that life under
capitalism tended to offer subjects a sense of their o/n freedom (i4e4, their o/n radicality and distance from the bi7 %ther6 combined /ith an increase in actual unfreedom4 They say, Gin ima7ination, individuals seem freer under the dominance of the bour7eoisie than before, because their conditions of life seem accidental; in reality, of course, they are less free, because they are to a 7reater e9tent 7overned by material forces4H5 The situation that &ar9 and $n7els describe here has 7ro/n e9ponentially today4 $9istin7 in the isolation of herRhis ima7inary enclave, the contemporary

subject tends to feel certain of herRhis freedom and distance from the social order4 Phenomenolo7ically, todayIs subject is a radical and independent subject, but this e9perience of radicality is the fundamental manifestation of contemporary ideolo7y4@ It is in this /ay that 7lobal capitalismCthe he7emonic po/er of our timeCsecures its domination throu7hout the /orld4 Ironically, despite all of the claims of radicality bein7 made today, very fe/ call into 8uestion the functionin7 of 7lobal capitalism4 "e
can see an illuminatin7 e9ample of the tacit acceptance of 7lobal capitalism in the docu: mentary Trekkies (01116, /hich chronicles the fanatical devotion that Star Trek has inspired4 The film sho/s the e9treme len7ths to /hich people 7o out of love for Star Trek and all that it represents4 %ne /oman /ears her Star ,leet uniform to /ork every day; a dentist transforms his office into a simulation of the $nterprise; and a man considers havin7 his ears sur7ically altered in order to resemble those of &r4 Spock4 !ccordin7 to these fans and the many others intervie/ed, there is somethin7 special about the Star Trek universe that inspires this kind of devotion4"hen pressed for details, they mention its fairness, its e8uality, its diversity, its tolerance, and its ethic of nonviolence4 Ho/ever, not a sin7le fan depicted in the film, out of hundreds that are intervie/ed, mentions the fact that the Star Trek economy is a /holly socialist one, that this universe is so far from our prevailin7 capitalist one that its subjects donIt even have money4 Trekkies find themselves dra/n to Star TrekIs radicalityC or so they claimCand yet, they completely miss the aspect of the sho/ that most challen7es our contemporary e9istence Cits blatant rejection of capitalism as the sine 8ua non of modern life4 Thou7h Star Trek doesnIt hide its rejection of capitalism, Trekkies donIt see it because 7lobal capitalism has become a fundamental hori.on of our thou7ht4 Thou7h /e are skeptical about the functionin7 of almost everythin7 else, /e trust fully in the stayin7 po/er of 7lobal capitalism4 The alternatives, /hich once seemed to be just around the corner, have become unima7inable today4 The universe
of 7lobal capitalism is, or so /e think, here to stay, and /e best not do anythin7 to risk our status /ithin it4 Hence, /e pled7e our alle7iance to it, and /e put our trust in it4

This is the fundamental mode of contemporary obedience to authority4 %nly by comin7 to understand this obedience to the dictates of 7lobal capitalism as obedience can /e hope to break out of it4 *lobal capitalism seems an unsurpassable hori.on simply because /e have not properly reco7ni.ed our o/n investment in sustainin7 it4 "e see it as unsurpassable because /e donIt /ant to lose itCand the ima7inary satisfaction that it provides4 The society of enjoyment /orks to convince
subjects that they e9ist outside this society, in independent isolation4 It thus becomes increasin7ly difficult to 7rasp oneself /ithin the universal4 %ne feels and lives like an outsider4 But this in no /ay hampers the functionin7 of the universal4 It /orks throu7h us all the more effectively insofar as /e fail to reco7ni.e it 4

In the society of enjoyment, the most difficult task becomes reco7ni.in7 our o/n role as an inte7ral part of this society C/hat keeps it 7oin74 '"e great temptation toda lies in proclamations o! one:s radicalit , e9pressions of a refusal to conform to the social order4 But an subversive displa today plays in the prevailin7 demand for enjoyment4 The key to transcendin7 the society of enjoymentC and the 7lobal capitalism /ith /hich it /orks hand:in:handC lies in reconcilin7 ourselves to this society, in 7raspin7 our fundamental investment in it4 "hen /e reco7ni.e ourselves as the subjects of the society of enjoyment and the subjects of 7lobal capitalism rather than as subjects e9istin7 in mar7inality or in isolation, /e take a leap beyond this society 4 The limits of the society of enjoyment are dauntin7 limits precisely because /e cannot reco7ni.e them as such4 In reco7ni.in7 these limitsCin reco7ni.in7 the e9tent of our obedienceC /e find a /ay out of this obedience4 !s He7el puts it in the $ncyclopedic o7ic, G#o one kno/s, or even feels, that anythin7 is a limit or defect, until he is at the same time above and beyond it4HM The act of reco7nition is, at the same time, the act of transcendence4 To
reco7ni.e oneIs failure to enjoy is already to be7in to enjoy4

'"e 1ac presents a subversive per!ormance t"at is a %is"!ul !antas & We brie!l snatc" a%a a small part o! t"e po%er structure2 leaving most !orms o! oppression intact& We produce en3o ment in t"e act o! snatc"ing2 so t"at %e come to love oppression& ,i-e) .7 (Slavoj, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis, The Pla7ue of ,antasies,
p4 M2:MB6 In short,

the ri7ht:/in7 intellectual is a knave, a conformist /ho refers to the mere e9istence of the 7iven order as an ar7ument for it, and mocks the eft on account of its Tutopian> plans , /hich necessarily lead to catastrophe; /hile the left: /in7 intellectual is a fool, a court jester /ho publicly displays the lie of the e9istin7 order, but in a /ay /hich suspends the performative efficiency of his speech4 Today, after the fall of Socialism, the knave is a neoconservative advocate of the free market /ho cruelly rejects all forms of social solidarity as counterproductive sentimentalism, /hile the fool is a deconstructionist cultural critic /ho, by means of his ludic procedures destined to Tsubvert> the e9istin7 order, actually serves as its supplement4 T> "hat psychoanalysis can do to help us to break this vicious cycle of fool:knave is to lay bare its underlyin7 libidinal economy : the libidinal profit, the >surplus:enjoyment>, /hich sustains each of the t/o positions UVori)inal upon
re(uestWU So( if the conservative knave is not unlike the 7ypsy, since he also, in his ans/er to a concrete complaint ("hy are thin7s so horrible for us 444 R7ays, blacks, /omenR?>6, sin7s his tra7ic son7 of eternal fate (>"hy are thin7s so bad for us people, O /hy?>6 : that is, he also, as it /ere, chan7es the tonality of the 8uestion from concrete complaint to abstract acceptance of the eni7ma of ,ate : the the poor 'ussian peasant, the

satisfaction of the pro7ressive fool, a Tsocial critic>, is of the same kind as that of typical hysterical satisfaction of snatchin7 a little piece of *ouissance a/ay from the 0J

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&aster4 If the victim in the first joke /ere a fool, he /ould allo/ the monkey to /ash his balls in the /hisky yet another time, but /ould add some dirt or sticky stuff to his

7lass beforehand, so that after the monkey>s departure he /ould be able to claim triumphantly( >I duped him= His balls are no/ even dirtier than before=> It is easy to ima7ine a much more sublime version of the reversal performed by the 7ypsy musician : is not this same reversal at /ork in the subjective position of castrati sin7ers, for e9ample? They are made to Tcry (o Heaven>( after sufferin7 a horrible mutilation, they are not supposed 4o bemoan their /orldly misfortune and pain, and to look for the culprits responsible for it, but instead to address their complaint to Heaven itself4 In a /ay, they must accomplish a kind of ma7ic reversal and e+chan)e all their /orldly complaints for a complaint addressed to Divine ,ate itself : this reversal allo/s them to enjoy their terrestrial life to the fullest4 This is (the sin7in76 "oice at its most elementary( the embodiment of >surplus enjoyment> in the precise sense of the parado9ical Tpleasure in pain>4 That is to say( /hen acan uses the term plus,de *ouir, one has to ask a naive but crucial 8uestion( in /hat does this surplus consist? Is it merely a 8ualitative increase of ordinary pleasure? The ambi7uity of the ,rench term is decisive here( it can mean Tsurplus of enjoyment> as /ell as Tno more enjoyment> : the surplus of enjoyment over mere pleasure is 7enerated by the presence of the very opposite of pleasure, that is, pain4 Pain 7enerates surplus:enjoyment via the ma7ic reversal:into:itself by means of /hich the very material te9ture of our e9pression of pain (the cryin7 voice6 7ives rise to enjoyment : and is not this /hat takes place to/ards the end of the joke about the monkey /ashin7 his balls in my /hisky, /hen the 7ypsy transforms my furious complaint into a selfsatisfyin7 melody? "hat /e find here is a neat e9emplification of the acanian formula of the fetishistic object (minus phi under small a6( like the castrato>s voice, the o$*et petit a , the surplus:enjoyment : arises at the very place of castration4 !nd does not the same 7o for love poetry and its ultimate topic( the lamentation of4 the poet /ho has lost his beloved (because she doesn>t return his love, because she has died, because her parents do not approve of their union, and block his access to her 4446? Poetry, the specific poetic *ouissance, emer7es /hen the "ery sym$olic articulation of this Loss )i"es rise to a pleasure of its own-. Do /e not find the same elementary ideolo7ical 7esture inscribed into Ne/ish identity? Ne/s Tevacuate the a/ of *ouissance., they are Tthe people of the Book> /ho stick to the rules and allo/ for no ecstatic e9perience of the Sacred; yet, at the same time, they do find an e9cessive enjoyment precisely in their dealin7s /ith the Te9t of the Book( the TTalmudic> enjoyment of ho/ to read it properly, ho/ to interpret it so that /e can none the less have it our o/n /ay4 Is not the tradition of lively debates and disputes /hich strike forei7ners (*entiles6 as meanin7less hairsplittin7 a neat e9ample of ho/ the very renunciation of the Thin7 *ouissance produces its o/n *ouissance (in interpretin7 the te9t6? &aybe Pafka himself, as the "estern TProtestant> Ne/, /as shocked to discover this obscene aspect of the Ne/ish a/> : is not this *ouis,sense in the etter clearly discernible in the discussion bet/een the priest and P at the end of The Trial, after the parable on the door of the a/? "hat strikes one here is the Tsenseless> detailed hairsplittin7 /hich, in precise contrast to the "estern tradition of metaphorical:7nostic readin7, undermines the obvious meanin7 not by endeavourin7 to discern beneath it layers of Tdeeper> analo7ical meanin7s, but by insistin7

$ach of the t/o positions, that of fool and that of knave, is thus sustained by its o/n kind of *ouissance! the enjoyment of snatchin7 back from the &aster part of the *ouissance he stole from us (in the case of the fool6; the enjoyment /hich directly pertains to the subject>s pain (in the case of the knave64 "hat psychoanalysis can do to help the criti8ue of ideolo7y is precisely to clarify the status of this parado9ical *ouissance as the payment that the e9ploited, the servant, receives for servin7 the &aster4 This *ouissance, of course, al/ays emer7es /ithin a certain phantasmic field; the crucial precondition for breakin7 the chains of servitude is thus to Ttraverse the fantasy> /hich structures our *ouissance in a /ay /hich keeps us attached to the &aster : ma)es us accept t"e !rame%or) o! t"e social relations"ip o! domination&
on a too:close, too:literal readin7 (>the man from the country /as never ordered to come there in the first place>, etc464

0B

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lin)0 su!!ering
Narratives o! su!!ering pla into t"e "ands o! t"e e#isting order& '"e cannot c"allenge t"e political !antas because t"e are !ocused on victimi-ation2 not real politics& ,i-e)2 AUniversit o! L3ubl3anaB2 1 (Slavoj, Intervie/ /ith -hristopher Hanlon, Ph4D4 from )&ass:!mherst, GPsychoanalysis and
the Post:Political( !n Intervie/ /ith Slavoj iek,H #e/ iterary History, @540, 0:50, Project &use64 SSX( "ell, I donIt think that 4 4 4 %P, -ornel "est did say that4 But I nonetheless donIt think that he perceives us as the main opponent4 Because this very

this immediate reference to e9perience, practice, stru77le, etcetera, usually relies on the most abstract and pure theory, and as an old philosopher I /ould say, as you said before, that /e simply cannot escape theory4 I fanatically oppose this turn /hich has taken place in social theory, this idea that there is no lon7er time for 7reat theoretical projects, that all /e can do is narrativi.e the e9perience of our sufferin7, that all various ethnic or se9ual 7roups can ultimately do is to narrate their painful, traumatic e9perience4 I think this is a catastrophe4 I think that this fits perfectly the e9istin7 capitalist order, that there is nothin7 subversive in it4 I think that this fits perfectly todayIs ideolo7y of victimi.ation, /here in order to le7itimi.e, to 7ain po/er politically, you must present yourself, someho/, as the victim4
reproach that you mention is not a reproach that can be addressed specifically to acan4 &y idea is the old mar9ist idea that

01

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lin)0 re!orming capitalism


Claims to re!orm capitalism are a re-nevtment in t"e politics o! utopia$e#cesses are blamed on alien intruders %"ic" must be eliminated so t"at %e can return to a "armonious balanceD "iding t"e !act t"at t"e e#cesses are in"erent to capitalism& ,i-e) .7 (Slavoj, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis, Tarryin7 /ith the
#e7ative, p4 50O:5006 et us take the ideolo7ical edifice of fascist corporatism( the fascist dream is simply to have capitalism /ithout its <e9cess,< /ithout the anta7onism that causes its structural imbalance4 "hich is /hy /e have, in fascism, on one hand, the return to the fi7ure of the &aster: eader:/ho 7uarantees the stability and balance of the social fabric, i4e4, /ho a7ain saves us from society>s structural imbalance; /hile, on the other hand, the reason for this imbalance is attributed to the fi7ure of the Ne/ /hose <e9cessive< accumulation and 7reed are the cause of social anta7onism4 '"us t"e dream is t"at2 since t"e e#cess %as introduced !rom outside2 i&e&2 is t"e %or) o! an alien intruder2 its elimination %ould enable us to obtain again a stable social organism %"ose parts !orm a "armonious corporate bod , /here, in contrast to capitalism>s constant social displacement, everybody /ould a7ain occupy his own place- The

function of the &aster is to dominate the e9cess by locatin7 its cause in a clearly delimited social a7ency( <It is they /ho steal our enjoyment, /ho, by means of their e9cessive attitude, introduce imbalance and anta7onism4< "ith the fi7ure of the &aster, the anta7onism inherent in the social structure is transformed into a relationship of power, a stru77le for domination bet/een us and them, those /ho cause anta7onistic imbalance4 Perhaps this matri9 also helps us to 7rasp the reemer7ence of nationalist chauvinism in $astern $urope as a kind of <shock:absorber< a7ainst the sudden e9posure to the capitalist openness and imbalance4 It is as if, in the very moment /hen the bond, the chain preventin7 free development of capitalism, i4e4, a dere7ulated production of the e+cess, /as broken, it /as countered by a demand for a new /aster /ho /ill rein it in4

"hat one demands is the establishment of a stable and clearly defined social body /hich /ill restrain capitalism>s destructive potential by cuttin7 off the Ge9cessive< element; and since this social body is e9perienced as that of a nation, the cause of any imbalance <spontaneously< assumes the form of a Gnational enemy4<

<illions o! lives are sacri!iced b capitalism but %e do not d%ell on t"e ver real possibilit o! planetar e#tinction because %e are soot"ed b "opes !or ne% politics t"at can !i# t"e problem& ,i-e) 5) (Slavoj, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis, -ontin7ency, He7emony,
)niversality, p4 @50:@536 ,irst, let me emphasi.e /hat these lines mean( they mean, in effect, that today,

one cannot even ima7ine a viable alternative to 7lobal capitalism : the only option for the eft is Tthe introduction of state re7ulation and democratic control of the economy so that the /orst effects of 7lobali.ation are avoided> ($ , p4 5O36, that is, palliative measures /hich, /hile resi7nin7 themselves to the course of events, restrict themselves to limitin7 the dama7in7 effects of the inevitable4 4444 ! series of Tirrationalities> immediately comes
of decoloni.ation is that multinationals treat even their o/n country of ori7in as just another colony;

to mind( the result of the breathtakin7 7ro/th of productivity in the last fe/ decades is risin7 unemployment, /ith the lon7:term perspective that developed societies /ill need only 5O percent of their /orkforce to reproduce themselves, /ith the remainin7 BO per cent reduced to the status of a surplus from a purely economic point of vie/; the result

the result of 7lobali.ation and the rise of the T7lobal villa7e> is the 7hettoi.ation of /hole strata of the population; the result of the much:praised Tdisappearance of the /orkin7 class> is the emer7ence of millions of manual /orkers labourin7 in the Third "orld s/eatshops, out of our delicate "estern si7ht 444 The capitalist system is thus approachin7 its inherent limit and self:cancellation( for the majority of the population, the dream of the virtual >frictionless capitalism> (Bill *ates6 is turnin7 into a ni7htmare in /hich the fate of millions is decided in hyper:refle9ive speculation on futures44444 The second ans/er should be a clear line of distinction bet/een utopia and ideolo7y( ideolo7y is not only a utopian project of social transformation /ith no realistic chance of actuali.ationD no less ideolo7ical is the anti,utopian stance of those /ho Trealistically> devalue every 7lobal project of social transformation as Tutopian>, that is, as unrealistic dreamin7 andRor harbourin7 Ttotalitarian> potential :: toda 6s predominant !orm o! ideological Eclosure6 ta)es t"e precise !orm o! mental bloc) %"ic" prevents us !rom imagining a !undamental social c"ange2 in t"e interests o! an allegedl Erealistic6 and Emature6 attitude 4 In his Seminar on the $thics of Psychoanalysis acan developed an opposition bet/een Tknave> and Tfool> as the t/o intellectual attitudes( the ri7ht:/in7 intellectual is a knave, a conformist /ho considers the mere e9istence of the 7iven order as an ar7ument for it, and mocks the eft for its Tutopian> plans, /hich necessarily lead to catastrophe; /hile the left: /in7 intellectual is a fool, a court jester /ho publicly displays the lie of the e9istin7 order, but in a /ay /hich suspends the performative efficiency of his speech4 In the years immediately after the fall of Socialism, the knave /as a neoconservative advocate
,

of the free market /ho cruelly rejected all forms of social solidarity as counterproductive sentimentalism; /hile the fool /as a deconstructionist cultural critic /ho, by means of his ludic procedures destined to Tsubvert> the e9istin7 order, actually served as its supplement4 Today, ho/ever, the relationship bet/een the couple knave:fool and the political opposition 'i7htR eft is more and more the inversion of the standard fi7ures of 'i7htist knave and eftist fool( are not the Third "ay theoreticians ultimately today>s 0na"es, fi7ures /ho preach cynical resi7nation, that is, the necessary failure of every attempt actually to chan7e somethin7 in the basic functionin7 of 7lobal capitalism? !nd are not the conservative fools , those conservatives /hose ori7inal modern model is Pascal and /ho as it /ere sho/ the hidden cards of the rulin7 ideolo7y, brin7in7 to li7ht its underlyin7 mechanisms /hich, in order to remain operative, have to be repressed : far more attractive?

Today; in the face of this eftist knavery, it is 5O

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Updated Lacan K 51 more important than ever to hold this utopian place of the 7lobal alternative open, even if it remains empty, livin7 on borro/ed time, a/aitin7 the content to fill it in4 I fully a7ree /ith aclau that after the e9haustion of both the social democratic

/elfare state ima7inary and the >really:e9istin7:Socialist> ima7inary, the eft does need a ne/ ima7inary (a ne/ mobili.in7 7lobal vision64 Today, ho/ever, the outdatedness of the /elfare state and socialist ima7inaries is a cliche : the real dilemma is /hat to do /ith : ho/ the eft is to relate to :: the predominant li$eral democratic ima7inary4 It is my contention that aclau>s and &ouffe>s Tradical democracy> comes all too close to merely Tradicali.in7> this liberal democratic ima7inary, /hile remainin7 /ithin its hori.on4 aclau, of course, /ould probably claim that the point is to treat the democratic ima7inary as an Tempty si7nifier>, and to en7a7e in the he7emonic battle /ith the proponents of the 7lobal capitalist #e/ "orld %rder over /hat its content /ill be4 Here, ho/ever, I think that Butler is ri7ht /hen she emphasi.es that another /ay is also open( it is not Tnecessary to occupy the dominant norm in order to produce an internal subversion of its terms4 Sometimes it is important to refuse its terms, to let the term itself /ither; to starve it of its stren7th>4 This

means that the eft has a choice today( either it accepts the predominant liberal democratic hori.on (democracy, human ri7hts and freedoms 4446, and en7a7es in a he7emonic battle /ithin it, or it risks the opposite 7esture of refusin7 its very terms, of flatly rejectin7 today>s liberal blackmail that courtin7 any prospect of radical chan7e panes the /ay for totalitarianism 4 It is my firm conviction, my politico:e9istential premiss, that the old >3B motto Soyons realistes, demandons l.impossi$le1 still holds( it is the advocates of chan7es and resi7nifications /ithin the lib eral: democratic hori.on /ho are the true utopians in their belief that their efforts /ill amount to anythin7 more than the cosmetic sur7ery that /ill 7ive us capitalism /ith a human face4

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Fll !antasies operate %it"in constraints o! pro"ibition and desire& '"e problem is t"at t"e pleasure derived !rom t"ose pro"ibitions "elp to sustain t"e !antas itsel!& ,i-e) .7 (Slavoj, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis, The Pla7ue of ,antasies, p4
53:5J64 "e are no/ in a position to specify the distinction bet/een the ,oucauldian interconnection bet/een Po/er and resistance, and our notion of Tinherent trans7ression>4 et us be7in via the matri9 of the possible relations bet/een a/ and its trans7ression4 The most elementary is the simple relation of e9ternality, of e9ternal opposition, in /hich trans7ression is directly opposed to le7al Po/er, and poses a threat to it4 The ne9t step is to claim that trans7ression hin7es on the obstacle it violates( /ithout a/ there is no trans7ression; trans7ression needs an obstacle in order to assert itself4 ,oucault, of course, in Aolume I of The 2istory of Se+uality, rejects both these versions, and asserts the absolute immanence of resistance to Po/er4 Ho/ever, the point of Tinherent trans7ression> is not only that resistance is immanent to Po/er, that po/er and counter:po/er 7enerate each other; it is not only that Po/er itself 7enerates the e9cess of resistance /hich it can no lon7er dominate; it is also not only that : in the case of se9uality

lin)0 pro"ibitions

: the

disciplinary Trepression> of a libidinal investment erotici.es this 7esture of repression itself , as in the case of the
He7elian terms of speculative identity,

obsessional neurotic /ho derives libidinal satisfaction from the very compulsive rituals destined to keep the traumatic *ouissance at bay4 This last point must be further radicali.ed( the po/er edifice itself is split from /ithin( in order to reproduce itself and contain its %ther, it has to rely on an inherent e9cess /hich 7rounds it : to put it in the

Po/er is al/ays:already its o/n trans7ression, if it is to function, it has to rely on a kind of obscene supplement4 It is therefore not enou7h to assert , in a ,oucauldian /ay, that po/er is ine9tricably linked to counter:po/er, 7eneratin7 it and bein7 itself conditioned by it( in a self:reflective /ay, the split is al/ays already mirrored back into the po/er edifice itself, splittin7 it from /ithin, so that the 7esture of self: censorship is consubstantial /ith the e9ercise of po/er 4 ,urthermore, it is not enou7h to say that the Trepression> of some libidinal content retroactively erotici.es the very 7esture of Trepression> - t"is 6erotici-ation6 o! po%er is not a secondar e!!ect o! its e#ertion on its ob3ect but its ver disavo%ed !oundation2 its Econstitutive crime62 its !ounding gesture %"ic" "as to remain invisible i! po%er is to !unction normall 4 "hat /e 7et in the kind of military drill
depicted in the first part of Full /etal'ac0et, for e9ample, is not a secondary erotici.ation of the disciplinary procedure /hich creates military subjects, but the constitutive obscene supplement of this procedure /hich renders it operative4 Nudith

Butler> provides a perfect e9ample of, a7ain, Nesse Helms /ho, in his very formulation of the te9t of the anti:porno7raphy la/, displays the contours of a particular fantasy : an older man /ho en7a7es in sadomasochistic se9ual activity /ith another, youn7er man, preferably a child : /hich bears /itness to his o/n perverted se9ual desire4 Helms thus un/ittin7ly brin7s to li7ht the obscene libidinal foundation of his o/n crusade a7ainst porno7raphy4

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lin)0 decreasing discrimination


'"e problem %it" t"e le!t is t"at %e ta)e a stance against discrimination and congratulate ourselves on polticall correct progress2 %it"out ever disturbing t"e !undamental !antas t"at ma)es oppression !unction& Small acts o! transgression are part o! %"at ma)es t"e !antas possible& ,i-e) .7 (Slavoj, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis, Tarryin7 /ith the
#e7ative, p4 500:50M6 !nd yet in

spite o! this sel!-re!lective incorporation o! t"e liberal2 1sociall conscious1 ingredients2 t"e !antas remains t"oroug"l t"e same, its efficiency in structurin7 our space of desire intact4 '"e trul radical criti(ue o! ideolog s"ould t"ere!ore go be ond t"e sel!-congratulator 1social anal ses1 %"ic" continue to participate in t"e !antas t"at sustains t"e ob3ect o! t"eir criti(ue and to search for /ays to sap the force of this underlyin7 fantasy:frame itself:in short, to perform somethin7 akin to the acanian <7oin7:throu7h the fantasy4< The 7eneral lesson to be dra/n from it /ith reference to ho/ ideolo7y /orks concerns the 7ap that separates
elements /hose value /holly depends on their respective differential position /ithin the symbolic structure4 The

ideolo7y 8ua discursive formation from its fantasy:support( an ideolo7ical edifice is of course submitted to incessant retroactive restructurations, the symbolicdifferential value of its elements shiftin7 all the time, but fantasy desi7nates the hard kernel /hich resists symbolic <perlaboration,< i4e4, /hich as it /ere anchors an ideolo7y in some <substantial< point and thus provides a constant frame for the symbolic interplay4 In other /ords, it is on account of fantasy that an ideolo7y cannot be reduced to a net/ork of

positive e9pression of this ambivalence to/ard the other>s fantasmatic enjoyment is the obsessive attitude that one can easily detect in /hat is usually referred to as <P-,< political correctness( the compulsive effort to uncover ever ne/, ever more refined forms of racial and R or se9ual violence and domination (it is not P- to say that the president <smokes a peace:pipe< since this involves a patroni.in7 irony
say, at

to/ard #ative !mericans, etc4, etc464 The problem, here, is simply <ho/ can one be a /hite, heterose9ual male and still retain a clear conscience<? !ll other positions can affirm their specificity, their specific mode of enjoyment, only the /hite:male:heterose9ual position must remain empty, must sacrifice its enjoyment4 The /eak point of the Pattitude is thus the /eak point of the neurotic compulsion( the problem is not that it is too severe, too fanatic, but 8uite on the contrary that it is not se"ere enou)h- That is to

first 7lance, the P- attitude involves the e9treme self:sacrifice, the renunciation of everythin7 that sounds se9ist and racist, the unendin7 effort to unearth traces of se9ism and racism in oneself, an effort not un/orthy of the early -hristian saint /ho dedicated his life to discoverin7 in himself ever ne/ layers of sin4< +et all this effort should not dupe us; it is ultimately a strata7em /hose function is to conceal the fact that the P- type is not ready to renounce /hat really matters( <I>m prepared to sacrifice everythin7 $ut that3 :but /hat? The very 7esture of self:sacrifice4 In other /ords, the Pc attitude implies the same anta7onism bet/een the
enunciated content and the position of enunciation that He7el denounced apropos of the ascetic self:humiliation( it conceals a patroni.in7 elevation over those /hose injuries from discrimination are alle7edly compensated4 In the very act of emptyin7 the /hitemale:heterose9ual position of all positive content, the Pc attitude retains it as a universal form of subjectivity4 !s such, the

P- attitude is an e9emplary case of the Sartrean mauvaise foi of the intellectuals( it provides ne/ and ne/er ans/ers in order to keep the problem alive4 "hat this attitude really fears is that the problem /ill disappear, i4e4, that the /hite:maleheterose9ual form of subjectivity /ill actually cease to e9ert its he7emony4 The 7uilt displayed by the P- attitude, the apparent desire to 7et rid of <incorrect< elements, is therefore the form of appearance of its e9act opposite( it bears /itness to the infle9ible /ill to stick to the /hite:male heterose9ual form of subjectivity4 %r, to put it in clear, old:fashioned political terms( far from bein7 a dis7uised e9pression of the e9treme eft2 t"e >C attitude is t"e main ideological protective s"ield o! t"e bourgeois liberalism against a genuine le!tist alternative 4<

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lin)0 criti(ues o! t"e state


Intellectual discussions about t"e ills o! t"e state are t"e !lip side o! totalitarianism& >ublic aut"orit and private protest are mutuall supportive o! one anot"er& ie) ./ (Slavoj, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis !" !#D TH$
P%ST&%D$'# &I#D( S)P$'$*% B+ D$,!) T, -ardo.o a/ 'evie/, 0112, 03 -ardo.o 4 'ev4 15264 %ne must therefore take a step further and consider that

there is no /ay to simply step aside from ideolo7y4 '"e private indulgence in c nicism and t"e obsession %it" private pleasures are all precisel "o% totalitarian ideolog operates in nonideolo7ical everyday life4 It is ho/ this life is determined by ideolo7y, ho/ ideolo7y is <present in it in the mode of absence ,< if /e may resort to this synta7ma from the heroic epoch of structuralism4 The

depolitici.ation of the private sphere in late Socialist societies is <compulsive,< marked by the fundamental prohibition of free political discussion; for that reason, such depolitici.ation al/ays functions as the evasion of /hat is truly at stake4 This accounts for the most immediately strikin7 feature of Pundera>s novels( the depolitici.ed private sphere in no /ay functions as the free domain of innocent pleasures; there is al/ays somethin7 damp, claustrophobic, inauthentic, even desperate, in the characters> strivin7 for se9ual and other pleasures4 In this respect, the lesson of Pundera>s novels is the e9act opposite of a naive reliance on the innocent private sphere; the totalitarian socialist ideolo7y vitiates from /ithin the very sphere of privacy to /hich /e take refu7e4 This insi7ht, ho/ever, is far from conclusive4 !nother step is needed to deal /ith Pundera>s even more ambi7uous lesson4 #ot/ithstandin7 the dampness of the private sphere, the fact remains that the totalitarian situation 7ave rise to a series of phenomena attested by numerous chronicles of everyday life in the socialist $ast4 In

reaction to totalitarian ideolo7ical domination, not only a cynical escape into the <7ood life< of private pleasures took place, but also an e9traordinary flourishin7 of authentic friendship, of payin7 visits at home, of shared dinners, and of passionate intellectual conversations in closed societies : features /hich usually fascinated visitors from the "est4 The problem, of course, is that there is no /ay to dra/ a clear line of separation bet/een the t/o sides; they are the front and the back of the same coin, /hich is /hy, /ith the advent of democracy, they both 7et lost4 It is to Pundera>s credit
that he does not conceal this ambi7uity( the spirit of <&iddle $urope< : of authentic friendship and intellectual sociability : survived only in Bohemia, Hun7ary, and Poland as a form of resistance to totalitarian ideolo7ical domination4 Perhaps yet another step is to be ventured here; the

very subordination to the socialist order brou7ht about a specific enjoyment( not only the enjoyment provided by an a/areness that people /ere livin7 in a universe absolved of uncertainty (since the system possessed, or pretended to possess, an ans/er to everythin76, but above all the enjoyment of the very stupidity of the System : a relish in the emptiness of the official ritual, in the /orn:out stylistic fi7ures of the predominatin7 ideolo7ical discourse4

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lin)0 in!inite obligation


In!inite demands on be"al! o! t"e e#cluded are so over"elming t"at t"e are designed to !ail& Completel unreasonable demands are t"ere!ore in t"e service o! t"e e#isting order& ,i-e)2 .. (Slavoj, The Ticklish Subject, p4551:5@O, plus footnote 2M6 '"e pat"etic assertion EWe are all G4e%s2 Hlac)s2 ga s , residents of Sarajevo 444F> can t"us %or) in an e#tremel ambiguous %a 0 it can also induce a "ast claim t"at our o%n predicament is in !act t"e same as t"at o! t"e true victims2 t"at is2 a !alse metap"oric universali-ation o! t"e !ate o! t"e e#cluded4 Soon after the publication of Sol.henitsyn>s 4ula) trilo7y in the "est, it became fashionable in some Tradical> leftist circles to emphasi.e ho/ Tour entire
consumerist "estern society is also one 7i7antic 4ula), in /hich /e are imprisoned by the chains of the rulin7 ideolo7y : and our position is even /orse, since /e are una/are of our true predicament>4 In a recent discussion about clitoridectomy, a Tradical> feminist pathetically claimed that "estern /omen are in a /ay also thorou7hly circumcised, havin7 to under7o stressful diets, ri7orous body trainin7 and painful breast: or faceliftin7 operations in order to remain attractive to men4444 !lthou7h, of course, there is in both cases, an element of truth in the claims made, there is none the less somethin7 fundamentally faked in the pathetic statement of a radical upper:middle:class student that Tthe Berkeley campus is also a 7i7antic 4ula)- Is it not deeply si7nificant that the bestkno/n e9ample of such a pathetic identification /ith the outcastRvictim is N4,4 Pennedy>s >Ich bin ein Berliner> from 013@ : a statement /hich is definitely not /hat 'anciere had in mind (and, incidentally, a statement /hich, because of a 7rammatical error, means, /hen retranslated into $n7lish, TI am a dou7hnut>6? The /ay out of this predicament seems easy enou7h( the measure of the authenticity of the pathetic identification lies in its sociopolitical efficiency4 To /hat effective measures does it amount? In short, ho/ does this political stance of sin)ulier uni"ersel affect /hat 'anciere calls the police structure? Is there a le7itimate distinction bet/een t/o Tpolices (orders of bein76>( the one /hich is (or tends to be6 self:contained, and the one /hich is more open to the incorporation of properly political demands( Is there somethin7 like a Tpolice of politics>? %f course, the Pantian ans/er (shared even by Badiou6 /ould be that any direct identification of police (the %rder of Bein76 /ith politics (the Truth:$vent6, any procedure by means of /hich the Truth posits itself directly as the constitutive structurin7 principle of the sociopolitical %rder of Bein7, leads to its opposite, to the Tpolitics of the police>, to revolutionary Terror, /hose e9emplary case is the Stalinist desastre- The

problem is that the moment /e try to provide the pathetic identification /ith the symptom, the assertion of the uni"ersel sin)ulier, /ith a determinate content ("hat do protesters /ho pathetically claim T"e are all immi7rant /orkers=> actually want& "hat is their demand to the Police Po/er?6, the old contrast bet/een the radical universalism of e)ali$erte and the Tpostmodern> assertion of particular identities reappears /ith a ven7eance, as is clear from the deadlock of 7ay politics, /hich fears losin7 its specificity /hen 7ays are ackno/led7ed by the public discourse( do you /ant e(ual ri)hts or specific ri)hts to safe7uard your particular /ay of life? The ans/er, of course, is that t"e pat"etic gesture o! singulier universel e!!ectivel !unctions as a " sterical gesture made to avoid t"e decision b postponing its satis!action inde!initel 4 That is to say( the 7esture of sin7ulier universel flourishes on bombardin7 the PoliceRPo/er edifice /ith impossible demands, /ith demands /hich are Tmade to be rejected>; its lo7ic is that of TIn demandin7 that you do this, I am actually demandin7 that you do not do it , because that>s not it4> The situation here is properly undecidable( not only is a radical political project often Tbetrayed> by a compromise /ith the Police %rder (the eternal complaint of revolutionary radicals( once the reformists take over, they chan7e only the form and accommodate themselves to the old masters6, there can also be the opposite case of pseudo: radicali.ation, /hich fits the e9istin7 po/er relations much better than a modest reformist proposal42M Iootnote /80 2M4 Therein lies the 7rain of truth of 'ichard 'orty>s recent polemics a7ainst Tradical> cultural studies elitists (see 'ichard 'orty, !chievin7 %ur !merica, -ambrid7e, &!( Harvard )niversity Press 011B6( under t"e pretence o! radicall (uestioning t"e m t"ical spectre o! >o%er2 t"e per!ectl !it t"e reproduction o! t"e e#isting po%er relations, posin7 no threat to them /hatsoever : or, to paraphrase "alter Benjamin>s thesis, their declared attitude of radical opposition to the e9istin7 social relations coe9ists /ith
their perfect functionin7 within these relations, rather like the proverbial hysteric /ho perfectly fits the net/ork of e9ploitation a7ainst /hich he complains, and effectively endorses its reproduction4

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lin)0 et"ics
Universal et"ical principles ignore t"e crucial Lacanian insig"t t"at desire cannot simpl be ignored& 'r ing to renounce all desire in !avor o! et"ics turns us into perpetual ?amlets$ !ro-en in indecision %it" catastrop"ic results all around& Jona"ue 1 (Brian, Department of $n7lish, *on.a7a )niversity, G&ar9ism, Postmodernism, iek,H Postmodern -ulture,0545, Project &use6 iek specifies this crucial opposition bet/een symbolic la/ and supere7o e9plicitly in terms of the movement from permission to obli7ation, from possibility based on clearly defined universal prohibition to necessity based on radical contin7ency4 Parado9ically, in the absence of prohibition, /here one mi7ht e9pect the free flo/ of libidinal ener7y, supere7o intervenes to
re8uire /hat is already permitted( a/ is the a7ency of prohibition /hich re7ulates the distribution of enjoyment on the basis of a common, shared renunciation (the <symbolic castration<6, /hereas supere7o marks a point at /hich permitted enjoyment, freedom:to:enjoy, is reversed into o$li)ation to enjoy::/hich, one must add, is the most effective /ay to block access to enjoyment4 (For They 5@J64 It

is because of this obscene, harsh, punitive 8uality of the supere7o that the subject can never settle accounts /ith it4 There is al/ays more that can be sacrificed, iek e9plains, /hich is /hy acanian psychoanalytic ethics is based e9plicitly on opposin7 the coercion of the supere7o, in contrast to the ordinary association of supere7o /ith <conscience< or the moral sense 7uidin7 ethical behavior (

acan>s ma9im of the ethics of psychoanalysis (<not to compromise one>s desire<6 is not to be confounded /ith the pressure of the supere7o4444 acan takes seriously and literally the ,reudian <economical parado9< of the supere7o::that is, the vicious cycle that characteri.es the supere7o( the more /e submit ourselves to the supere7o imperative, the 7reater its pressure, the more /e feel 7uilty4 !ccordin7 to acan, this <feelin7 of 7uilt< is not a self:deception to be dispelled in the course of the psychoanalytic cure::/e really are 7uilty( supere7o dra/s the ener7y of the pressure it e9erts upon the subject from the fact that the subject /as not faithful to his desire, that he 7ave it up4 %ur sacrificin7 to the supere7o, our payin7 tribute to it, only corroborates our 7uilt4 ,or that reason our debt to the supere7o is unredeemable( the more /e pay it off, the more

acan>s ethical imperative must be taken as e#plicitl opposed to t"e concept o! conventional moralit %it" its !ocus on ma#imi-ing t"e =ood2 /hich functions as the arbiter of all action2 since t"is model ultimatel leads to a ps c"ological paral sis arisin7 from infinite consideration of ramifications, a process that turns the subject into a perpetual Hamlet, standin7 behind -laudius but unable to decide /hether killin7 him or not killin7 him /ould be the better option4 The interminable process of tryin7 to decide /hich course of action leads to the <7reater *ood< entails its o/n kind of choice (that is, to <compromise one>s desire< by default6 /ith its o/n kind of psychic conse8uences for the subject4 iek e9plains this ethical:moral distinction throu7h a *reimasian semiotic s8uare based on
/e o/e4 (/etastases 3J:3B6 Indeed, the four possible arran7ements of the positive and ne7ative versions of these terms and the fi7ures correspondin7 to the four pairin7s::moral, ethical (Saint6; immoral, unethical (Scoundrel6; immoral, ethical (Hero6; and moral, unethical (supere7o6::and endorses the acanian championin7 of Hero over supere7o ( /etastases 3J64 iek also anticipates the an9ious objection that this acanian ethical attitude is too radical in its practical implications( is it reasonable to propose that everyone unrelentin7ly pursue his or her o/n desire and renounce all other considerations ?

Don>t <ordinary< people need an <ethics of the >common *ood ,>444 despicable as it he concludes that this concern::<"hat if everyone /ere to do the same as me?<::is simply another /ay of introducin7 the <patholo7ical consideration of the conse(uences of our act in reality< and therefore functions as a /ay of imposin7 supere7o injunctions, restraints, and cycles of 7uilt throu7h the insistence that /e renounce our desire precisely because it cannot be universali.ed (3164
may appear in the eyes of the suicidal heroic ethics advocated by acan?< ( /etastases 3164 But

'"e searc" !or universal et"ical principles is a version o! t"e impossible (uest !or t"e big Kt"er and an impossible state o! "armon & Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, pa7es 05J:051 64
In the first place acanIs su77estion that the status of the ,reudian conception of the unconscious is ethical (KI(@@6 and that ,reudIs initial

central intuition is ethical in kind mi7ht seem stran7e 4 Ho/ever, his seminar of 0121L3O devoted to The #thics of Psychoanalysis proves the importance he attributed to the 8uestion of ethics 4 &oreover, he /as to return a7ain and a7ain
to the problematic of the #thics seminar, startin7 from the seminar of the follo/in7 year 5Transference6 up to #ncore (01J5L@6 /hich starts /ith a reference to the seminar on The #thics of Psychoanalysis- In fact, it is in #ncore /here acan states that his #thics seminar /as the only one he /anted to re/rite and publish as a /ritten te9t (KK(2@6Cfor someone accused of lo7ocentrism this is a very important statement4 Ho/ever, it is not the place here to embark on an analysis or even a presentation of acanIs seminar; instead I /ill use some of the insi7hts developed there as a startin7 point in order to articulate an ethical position relevant to the discussion on democracy articulated in the previous section of this chapter4

Psychoanalytic ethics is clearly not an ethics of the ideal or the 7ood as is the case /ith traditional ethics4 The ideal, as master si7nifier, belon7s to the field of the ideolo7ical or even the utopian ( D! sensitive subject such as ethics is not no/adays separable from /hat is called ideolo7yI (AII(0B564 ,or acan, the Dethics of the 7oodI or the ideal is no more a real philosophical possibility ('ajchman, 0110(M364 This is clearly sho/n in his seminar on The #thics of Psychoanalysis /here the 7ood is definitely the most important issue in 8uestion4 But acan makes clear from the be7innin7 that
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he is 7oin7 to speak about the 7ood from a bi.arre point of vie/( DI /ill speak then about the )ood, and perhaps /hat I have to say /ill be $ad in the sense that I donIt have all the 7oodness re8uired to speak /ell of itI (AII(50B, my emphasis64 In acanIs vie/, Dthe 7ood as suchCsomethin7 that has been the eternal object of the philosopherIs 8uest in the sphere of ethics, the philosopherIs stone of all the moralitiesI is radically
denied by ,reud (AII(1364 This is because Dthe Soverei7n 7ood, /hich is das Din), /hich is the mother, is also the object of incest, is a forbidden 7ood, and EbecauseF444there is no other 7ood4 Such is the foundation of the moral la/ as turned on its head by ,reudI (AII(JO64 *eneralisin7 from his analysis one can ar7ue that almost the

Updated Lacan K 57

/hole of the history of "estern philosophy and ethical thou7ht is an unendin7 but al/ays doomed 8uest for harmony based on successive conceptions of the 7ood ( I have emphasi.ed this

since the be7innin7 of the year( from the ori7in of moral philosophy, from the moment /hen the term ethics ac8uired the meanin7 of manIs reflection on his condition and calculation of the proper paths to follo/, all mediation on manIs 7ood has taken place as a function of the inde9 of pleasure4 !nd I mean all, since Plato, certainly since !ristotle, and do/n throu7h the Stoics, the $picureans, and even throu7h -hristian thou7ht itself in St Thomas !8uinas4 !s far as the determination of different 7oods is concerned, thin7s have clearly developed alon7 the paths of an essentially hedonist problematic4 It is only too evident that all that has involved the 7reatest of difficulties, and that these difficulties are those of e9perience4 !nd in order to resolve them, all the philosophers have been led to discern not true pleasures from false, for such a distinction is impossible to make, but the true and false 7oods that pleasure points to4 (AII(5506 This is also the case /ith the

majority of ethical standpoints in everyday life4 The clear aim of all these attempts is to reinstate the bi7 %ther, the symbolic system, the field of social construction, as a harmonious unified /hole by referrin7 it to a sin7le positive principle; the same applies to the subject C maybe primarily to the subject /hich, accordin7 to traditional ethics, can be harmonised by bein7 subjected to the ethical la/4 It is evident that an ethical vie/ based on the fantasy of harmony applied both to the subject and to the social is not compatible /ith democracy, rather it can only reinforce DtotalitarianismI or Dfra7mentationI 4 Instead of a harmonious society democracy reco7nises a social field inherently divided; in a sense it is founded on the reco7nition of the lack in the %ther4 Instead of harmonisin7 subjectivities democracy reco7nises the division of the citi.ensI identities and the fluidity of their political persuasions4 In fact it points to the lack in the subject, to a conception of subjectivity /hich is not unified by reference to a sin7le positive principle4 Thus the intervention of psychoanalysis in the field of this antithesis bet/een traditional ethics and democracy is of the utmost importance4 In the course of history the search for the proper ideal, for the DrealI 7ood, has led to numerous distinctions bet/een true and false 7oods4 This enterprise of ethical thou7ht aims at the fantasmatic reduction of all impossibility, at the elimination of the intervention of t&&& in human life4 ! certain idea of the 7ood is instituted at the place of the constitutive aporia of the human life4 But this is a dead end; the successive failures of all these attempts not only put into 8uestion the particular ideas of the 7ood that have been dislocated but this /hole strate7y(
the 8uestion of the Soverei7n *ood is one that man has asked himself since time immemorial, but the analyst kno/s that that is a 8uestion that is closed4 #ot only doesnIt he have that Soverei7n *ood that is asked of him, but he also kno/s there isnIt any4 (AII(@OO6

Fll e!!orts to organi-e "umanit under a single et"ical principle "ave !ailed& Knl recogni-ing t"e impossibilit o! t"is (uest can bring about liberator politics& Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, pa7es 051:0@064
In acanIs vie/, Dthe

sphere of the 7ood erects a stron7 /all across the path of our desire444the first barrier that /e have to deal /ithI (AII(5@O64 acanIs central 8uestion is( /hat lies beyond this barrier, beyond the historical frontier of the 7ood? This is the central 8uestion that 7uides the ar7umentation in The #thics of Psychoanalysis- "hat lies beyond the successive conceptions of the 7ood, beyond the /ays of traditional ethical thinkin7, is their ultimate failure, their inability to master the central impossibility, the constitutive lack around /hich human e9perience is or7anised4 In fact, this impossibility e9ercises a structural causality over the history of ethical thou7ht4 Its intolerable character causes the attempts of ethical thou7ht to eliminate it 4 But this elimination entails the dan7er of turnin7 7ood to evil, utopia to dystopia( Dthe /orld of the 7ood is historically revealed to be the /orld of evilCas epitomi.ed not only by the famous reversibility of GPant /ith SadeH but also by the unendin7 murders under the rei7n of the politics of happinessI ( acoue: abarthe, 011J(2B64 %n the other hand, the irreducible character of this impossibility sho/s the limits of all these attempts4 The name of this
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impossibility in acan is, of course, the real4 The real stands at the heart of the acanian ethics of psychoanalysis (
contrary, /ill proceed instead from the other direction by 7oin7 deeply into the notion of the real4 The (AII(006

Updated Lacan K 5;

!s odd as it may seem to that superficial opinion /hich assures any in8uiry into ethics must concern the field of the ideal, if not of the unreal, I, on the

8uestion of ethics is to be articulated from the point of vie/ of the location of man in relation to the real4
!s /e have repeatedly mentioned in this book, the

real here is the impossible, that is to say, impossible to represent in any ima7inary /ay or inscribe in any symbolic system4 It is the impossible *ouissanceCan enjoyment beyond any limit, any barrierCthe link bet/een death and the libido4 It is this same Thin7 that escapes from the mediation of discourse; it escapes its representation and symbolisation and returns al/ays to its place to sho/ their limits4 It is the constitutivity of the real that reveals the subject as a subject of lack4 It is the constitutivity of the real that creates the lack in the %ther; it is the constitutivity and irreducibility of the impossible real that splits the social field4 The erection of the 7ood or the ideal of traditional ethics aimed at masterin7 this structural impossibility of the real4 Its failure opens the road to a different strate7y, that of reco7nisin7 its centrality and irreducibility4 The ethics of psychoanalysis is an ethics /ithout an ideal (&iller, 01BJ(164 The possibility of such a discourse is based on the psychoanalytic idea that there can be an ethically satisfactory (thou7h not necessarily Dsatisfyin7I6 position to be achieved in encirclin7 the real, the lack, the $7ance as such ( ee, 011O(1B64 !lthou7h the
real in itself cannot be touched there are t/o strate7ies in confrontin7 its structural causality4 The first one is to defensively by:pass itCas traditional ethical discourse doesC/hile the second is to encircle it ( ipo/at., 0112b(0@164 This later strate7y entails

a symbolic reco7nition of the irreducibility of the real and an attempt to institutionalise social lack4M This attitude is /hat iek has called the ethics of the real4 The ethics of the real calls us to remember the past dislocation, the past trauma( D!ll /e have to do is to mark repeatedly the trauma as such, in its very Gimpossibility H, in its non: inte7rated horror, by means of some GemptyH symbolic 7estureI (iek, 0110b(5J564 %f course /e cannot touch the real but /e can encircle it a7ain and a7ain, /e can touch the tombstone /hich just marks the site of the dead4 iek calls us not to
7ive /ay( "e Dmust preserve the traces of all historical traumas, dreams and catastrophes /hich the rulin7 ideolo7y444/ould prefer to obliterateI4 "e ourselves must become the marks of these traumas4 DSuch

an attitude444is the only possibility for attainin7 a distance on the Eideolo7icalF present, a distance /hich /ill enable us to discern si7ns of the #e/I (iek, 0110b( 5J@64 The ethics of the real breaks the vicious cycle of traditional Dideolo7icalI or utopian ethics4 The ultimate failure of the successive conceptions of the 7ood cannot be resolved by identifyin7 /ith a ne/ conception of the 7ood4 %ur focus must be on the dislocation of these conceptions itself4 This is the moment /hen the real (throu7h its political modality6 makes its presence felt and /e have to reco7nise the ethical status of this presence4

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lin)0 !ear
We create enemies and %ar as a means o! controlling internal con!lict& Fggression is not inevitable but it a ps c"ological construct& Knl ps c"oanal tic re!lection o!!ers a %a out o! t"is c cle& H les2 A>ro!essor Lnglis"2 Universit o! C prusB 07 ANoanna &ont7omery, 'ournal for the Psychoanalysis of
Culture and Society B45 (5OO@6 5OB:50@, Psychoanalysis and "ar( The Supere7o and Projective Identification64 It is here of course that lan7ua7e plays an important role in ima7inin7 the other , the other /ithin the self, and the other as self, as /ell as the enormously influential visual ima7es each 7roup can have of the other4 In the need to emphasi.e similarity in difference, both verbal and visual metaphor can play a meanin7ful role in creatin7 a climate for peaceful understandin7 , and this is /here literature, especially the social /orld of the drama and of film, but also the more private /orld of poetry, can be immensely si7nificant4 %f course not all literature is e8ually transparent4 In conclusion, /ar, in

all its manifestations, is a phenomenon put into action by individuals /ho have been politici.ed as a 7roup to 7ive and receive violent death, to appropriate the enemy>s land, homes, /omen, children, and 7oods, and perhaps to lose their o/n4 !s /e have seen, in /artime the splittin7 of the self and other into friend and enemy enormously relieves the normal psychic tension caused by human ambivalence /hen love and hate find t/o separate objects of attention4 Hence the 4soldier>s and terrorist>s /illin7ness to sacrifice herRhis life for <a just cause,< /hich may be a #ation, a *roup, or a eader /ith /hom he has close emotional ties and identity4 I n this /ay sRhe does not feel 7uilty( the destructive impulses, mobilised by herRhis o/n supere7o, to7ether /ith that of the social supere7o, have projected the 7uilt sRhe mi7ht feel at killin7 stran7ers onto the enemy4 In other /ords, the char7in7 of the enemy /ith 7uilt by /hich the supere7o of the State mobili.es the individual>s supere7o seems to be of fundamental importance in escapin7 the sense of 7uilt /hich /ar provokes in those en7a7ed in the killin7; yet the mobili.ation of supere7o activities can still involve the individual>s self:punitive mechanisms, even thou7h most of hisRher 7uilt has been projected onto the enemy in the name of his o/n civili.ation and culture4 !s /e all kno/, this 7uilt can become a problem at the end of a /ar, leadin7 to varyin7 de7rees of misery and mental illness4 ,or some, the killin7 of an enemy and a stran7er cannot be truly mourned, and there remains a blank space, an irretrievable act or event to be lived throu7h over and over a7ain 4
This dilemma is poi7nantly e9pressed in "ilfred %/en>s "orld "ar %ne poem <Stran7e &eetin7< the final lines of /hich read as follo/s( I am the enemy you killed, my friend4 I kne/ you in this dark( for so you fro/ned +esterday throu7h me as you jabbed and killed4 I parried; but my hands /ere loath and cold4 et us sleep no/4 444 (%/en 0536 The

problem for us today is ho/ to create the psycholo7ical climate of opinion, a mentality, that /ill reject /ar, 7enocide, and terrorism as viable solutions to internal and e9ternal situations of conflict; to reco7ni.e our projections for /hat they are( dan7erously irresponsible psychic acts based on supere7o hatred and violence4 "e must challen7e the /ay in /hich the State supere7o can manipulate our responses in its o/n interests, even take a/ay our subjectivities4 "e should ackno/led7e and learn to displace the vio lence in ourselves in socially harmless /ays, 7ettin7 rid of our fears and an9ieties of the other and of difference by relatin7 and identifyin7 /ith the other and thus creatin7 the serious desire to live to7ether in a peaceful /orld 4 "hat seems to be needed is for the supere7o to re7ain its developmental role of miti7atin7 omniscient protective identification by ensurin7 an intact, inte7rated object /orld, a /orld that /ill be able to contain unconscious fears, hatred, and an9ieties /ithout the need for splittin7 and projection4 !s Bion has pointed out, omnipotence replaces thinkin7 and omniscience replaces learnin74 "e must learn to link our internal and e9ternal /orlds so as to act as a container of the other>s fears and an9ieties, and thus in turn to encoura7e the other to reciprocate as a container of our hatreds and fears4 If /ar represents cultural formations that in turn represent objectifications of the psyche via the super:e7o of the individual and of the State, then perhaps /e can reformulate these psychic social mechanisms of projection and supere7o a77ression4 Here, that old peace:time e7o and the reparative component of the
individual and State supere7o /ill have to play a lar7e part4 The 7reater the clash of cultural formations for e9ample, "estern &odernism and Islamic ,undamentalism the more ur7ent the need4 <The

kno/led7e no/ most /orth havin7< is an authentic /ay of internali.in7 /hat it is /e understand about /ar and international terrorism that /ill liberate us from the history of our collective traumatic past and the imperatives it has imposed on us4 The
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inner psychic /orld of the individual has an enormously important adaptive role to play here in developin7 mechanisms of protective identification not as a means of dama7in7 and destroyin7 the other, but as a means of empathy, of containin7 the other, and in turn bein7 contained 4 These chan7es may be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, 7radual ratherthan speedy4 Peace and dare I say it contentment are not just an absence of /ar, but a state of mind4 ,urthermore, /e should learn not to project too much into our 7roup, and our nation, for this allo/s the 7roup to tyranni.e us, so that /e follo/ like lost sheep4 But speakin7 our minds takes coura7e because 7roups do not like open dissenters4 These radical psychic chan7es may be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, 7radual rather than speedy; ho/ever, my proposition that understandin7 the other so that /e can reduce herRhis motivation to kill re8uires ur7ent action4 Peace is not just an absence of /ar, but a state of mind and , most importantly, a /ay of thinkin74
Iear o! t"e ot"er is a !orm o! collective ps c"osis %"ic" endangers ever one& =leisner ;7 (Nohn, consultant psychiatrist at the #orth "estern 'e7ional Health !uthority in *reater &anchester, ne/ internationalist 050, &arch,
http(RR///4ne/int4or7Rissue050Renemy4html64 &any /ere shocked to hear British people chant Dnuke the !r7iesI and to see ho/ the &inistry of Defense and the media portrayed !r7entina as a nation of international 7an7sters4 It /as a shock, but it should not have been4 !fter all, 7overnments

Updated Lacan K 70

and media throu7hout the /orld have perfected a psycholo7ical /ar machine /hich is hi7hly efficient in fosterin7 fear and hatred of Dthe enemyI 4 True, for us in the "est
past for fearin7 the enemy, and the distinction bet/een DthemI and DusI /as once necessary for survival4 But nuclear /eapons have chan7ed everythin74 Today

the enemy these days is usually portrayed as totin7 a red fla7 and a fistful of nuclear missiles, but the fear and hatred are free:floatin7 and can be attached, by skilful manoeuverin7, to any object4 Softened by centuries of insecurity, our minds are malleable clay for the psycholo7ical /ar machine4 There have often been 7ood 7rounds in the

that ancient them us distinction threatens the survival of them and us4 !s $instein once said( DThe unleashed po/er of the atom has chan7ed everythin7 e9cept our /ay of thinkin74 4 4 /e need an essentially ne/ /ay of thinkin7 if mankind is to survive4I The old them:us thinkin7 is dan7erous because it leads us to accept the unacceptable4 !nd the reasonin7 7oes somethin7 like this( D The 'ussians are basically different from us4 They are /icked bullies /ho intend to take over the /orld4 "e can stop them only by threatenin7 them because bullies only respond to threats4 !nd because they are basically different from us it is alri7ht to destroy them if necessary4 #uclear /eapons are terrible but it may be that the 'ussians cannot be stopped by any other means4 !lthou7h nuclear /ar /ould be horrible, /e have a reasonable chance of survivin74 !nd any/ay life under 'ussian rule /ould be far /orse than death4I If any individual spoke about another usin7 lo7ic like this they /ould be dia7nosed as paranoid4 !nd, indeed, them:us thinkin7 is a time:honored symptom of psychosis (a psychotic bein7 someone /ho can no lon7er distin7uish bet/een events in the /orld and events takin7 place
in their ima7ination6, characterised by /hat psycholo7ists call DdenialI and DprojectionI4 DDenialI is refusin7 to ackno/led7e oneIs o/n unpleasant motives4 DProjectionI is attachin7 these unackno/led7ed motives onto someone else and then rejectin7 them4 It is the perfect /ay of havin7 your cake and eatin7 it too( of indul7in7 your o/n bad motives and criticisin7 them at the same time4 %ur media and 7overnments depict the 'ussians as a77ressive e9pansionists bent on our destruction4 ! po/erful perception of threat is created to soften up the public for yet more DdefenceI spendin7, !nd in the Soviet )nion precisely the same tricks are used to persuade Soviet citi.ens to make the necessary DsacrificesI for protection a7ainst us4 &ost of us have never met a 'ussian4 +et there are fe/ of us /ithout opinions about ho/ dan7erous they are4

"e tend to see our o/n country as conciliatory, just, trust/orthy, rational, le7itimate4 Theirs is a77ressive, unjust, untrust/orthy, irrational and ille7itimate4 +et anyone travellin7 in the Soviet )nion is soon struck not only by the SovietsI stron7 belief in their o/n peacefulness, but also by their surprise and pu..lement at the fact that forei7ners do not vie/ them in the same li7ht4 They fear us C for precisely the same reasons that /e fear them4

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impact0 case turn$%ar


We create enemies and %ar as a means o! controlling internal con!lict& Fggression is not inevitable but it a ps c"ological construct& Knl ps c"oanal tic re!lection o!!ers a %a out o! t"is c cle& H les 7 (Noanna &ont7omery, Professor $n7lish, )niversity of -yprus 'ournal for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society B45 (5OO@6 5OB:50@, Psychoanalysis and
"ar( The Supere7o and Projective Identification64 %f course, I am not ar7uin7 that there are not some important aspects of the social supere7o that are beneficial, for e9ample the ethical and moral la/s /hich shape society and protect its citi.ens; nevertheless, in /artime and its most recent manifestation, international terrorism, it is precisely these civili.in7 aspects of the social supere7o that are i7nored or repressed4 It seems to me that the

failure of civili.ation historically to control the a77ression, cruelty, and hatred that characteri.e /ar ur7ently re8uires a psychoanalytic e9planation 4 %f course, I am speakin7 of psychic, not biolo7ical (survival of the fittest6, a77ression4 In /artime the e9ternali.ed supere7o of the state sanctions killin7 and violence that is not allo/ed in peacetime (in fact, such violence a7ainst others durin7 peacetime /ould be considered criminal6C sanctions, in fact, the 7ratification of /arrin7 a77ression, thus ensurin7 that acts of violence need not incur 7uilt 4 "hy do /e accept this? Psychoanalysis posits the idea that a77ression is not behavioral but instinctual; not social but psycholo7ical 4 To 8uote Aolkan, /ho follo/s ,reud, <It is man>s very
nature itself4< %bviously, it is vital that humanity find more mature, less primitive /ays of dealin7 /ith our hatred and a77ression than /ar, 7enocide, and international terrorism4 The most characteristic thin7 about this kind of violence and cruelty is its collective mentality( /ar re8uires 7roup co:operation, or7ani.ation, and approval4 Some theorists ar7ue that one of the primary cohesive elements bindin7 individuals into institutionali.ed human association is defence a7ainst psychotic an9iety4 In 4roup Psycholo)y ,reud /rites that <in a 7roup the individual is brou7ht under conditions /hich allo/ him to thro/ off the repressions of his unconscious instinctual impulses4 The apparently ne/ characteristics he then displays are in fact the manifestation of this unconscious, in /hich all that is evil in the human mind is contained as a predisposition< (JM64 ater in the same essay, /hen speakin7 of the individual and the 7roup mind, ,reud 8uotes e Bon ( <Isolated, he may be a cultivated individual; in a cro/d, he is a barbarianCthat is, a creature actin7 by instinct4 He posseses the spontaneity, the violence, the ferocity, and also the enthusiasm and heroism of primitive bein7s< (JJ64

"ar is a collective phenomenon that mobili.es our an9ieties and allo/s our ori7inal sadistic fantasies of destructive omnipotence to be re:activated and projected onto <the enemy4< Some critics have ar7ued that /e <need< enemies as e9ternal stabili.ers of our sense of identity and inner control4 It has also been ar7ued that the militancy a particular 7roup sho/s to/ard its enemies may partly mask the personal internal conflicts of each member of the 7roup, and that they may therefore have an emotional investment in the maintenance of the enmity4 In ot"er %ords2 t"e need t"e enem and are unconsciousl a!raid to lose it& '"is !its in %it" t"e %ell-)no%n p"enomenon o! inventing an enem %"en t"ere is not one readil available 4 War "as a ps c"oanal tic root because it is a misguided attempt at national t"erap & We translate internal an#iet into real e#ternal danger so as to control it& >s c"oanal sis is necessar to understanding %" %ars "appen and "o% to stop t"em& H les 7 (Noanna &ont7omery, Professor $n7lish, )niversity of -yprus, 'ournal for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society B45 (5OO@6 5OB:50@, Psychoanalysis and
"ar( The Supere7o and Projective Identification64

The problem of /arfare /hich includes 7enocide, and its most recent manifestation, international terrorism, brin7s into focus the need to understand ho/ the individual is placed in the social and the social in the individual, Psychoanalytic theories of supere7o a77ression, splittin7, projection, and projective identification may be useful in helpin7 us to understand the psychic links involved4 It seems vital to me /ritin7 in the &iddle $ast in September 5OO5 that /e e9amine our understandin7 of /hat it is /e understand about /ar, includin7 7enocide and terrorism4 Some psychoanalysts ar7ue that /ar is a necessary defence a7ainst psychotic an9iety (,ornari 99( Aulkan6, and ,reud himself first advanced the idea that /ar provided an outlet for repressed impulses4 (<"hy "ar>< 01J64 The problematic of these vie/s is the individual Y need to translate internal psychotic an9ieties into real e9ternal dan7ers so as to control them4 It su77ests that culturally /arfare and its most recent: manifestation, international terrorism and the so:called </ar on terrorism,< may he a necessary object for internal a77ression and not a patholn 4 Indeed, ,ornari su77ests that </ar could be seen as an attempt at therapy, carried out by a
social institution /hich, precisely by institutionali.in7 /ar, in:creases to 7i7antic proportions /hat is initially an elementary defensive mechanism of the e7o iii the schi.o: paranoid phase< (9vii:9viii64 In other /ords, the history of /ar mi7ht represent the e9ternali.ation and articulation of shared unconscious fantasies4 This idea /ould su77est that the culture of /ar, 7enocide, and international terrorism provides objects of psychic need4 If this is so, /ith4 /hat can /e replace them?

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>s c"oanal tic re!lection allo%s us to re!ormulate ps c"ic social mec"anisms so as to allo% !or a genuine peace& H les 7 (Noanna &ont7omery, Professor $n7lish, )niversity of -yprus, 'ournal for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society B45 (5OO@6 5OB:50@, Psychoanalysis and
"ar( The Supere7o and Projective Identification64

The problem for us today is ho/ to create the psycholo7ical climate of opinion4 a mentality, that /ill reject /ar, 7enocide, and terrorism as viable solutions to internal and e9ternal situations of conflict; to reco7ni.e our projections for /hat they are:dan7erously irresponsible psychic acts based on supere7o hatred and violence4 "e must challen7e the /ay in /hich the State supere7o can manipulate our responses in its o/n interests, even take a/ay our subjectivities4 "e should ackno/led7e and learn to displace the violence in ourselves in socially harmless /ays, 7ettin7 rid of our fears and an9ieties of the other and of difference by relatin7 and identifyin7 /ith the other and thus creatin7 the serious desire to live to7ether in a peaceful /orld4 "hat seems to be needed is for the supere7o to re7ain its
developmental role of miti7atin7 omniscient projective identification by ensurin7 an intact, inte7rated object /orld, a /orld that /ill be able to contain unconscious fears, hatred, and an9ieties /ithout the need for splittin7 and projection4 !s 'ion has pointed out, omnipotence replaces thinkin7 and omniscience replaces learnin74

"e must learn to link our internal and e9ternal /orlds so as to act as a container of the other>s fears and an9ieties, and thus in turn to encoura7e the other to reciprocate as a container of our hatreds and fears 4 I! %ar represents cultural !ormations t"at in turn represent ob3ecti!ications o! t"e ps c"e via t"e super-ego o! t"e individual and o! t"e State2 t"en per"aps %e can re!ormulate t"ese ps c"ic social mec"anisms o! pro3ection and superego aggression4 Here, that old peace:tine e7o and the reparative component of the individual and State supere7o /ill

have to play a lar7e part4 The 7reater the clash of cultural formations:for e9ample, "estern &odernism and Islamic ,undamentalism:the more ur7ent the need4 <The kno/led7e no/ most /orth havin7< is an authentic /ay of internali.in7 /hat it is /e under4 rand about /ar and inter:national terrorism that /ill liberate us from the history of our collective traumatic past and the imperatives it has imposed on us4 The inner psychic /orld of the individual has an enormously important adaptive role to play here in developin7 mechanisms of projective identification not as a means of dama7in7 and destroyin7 the other, but as a means of empathy, of containin7 the other, and in turn bein7 contained4 ,urthermore, /e

should learn not to project too much into our 7roup, and our nation, for this allo/s the 7roup to tyranni.e us, so that /e follo/ like lost sheep4 But speakin7 our minds takes coura7e because 7roups do nor like open dissenters4 These
radical psychic chan7es may be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, 7radual rather than speedy( ho/ever, my proposition that understandin7 the other so that /e can reduce herRhis motivation to kill re8uires ur7ent action4 >eace importantly, a /ay of thinkin74

is not 3ust an absence o! %ar2 but a state o! mind- and, most

>s c"oanal sis is t"e )e to stopping %ar because it addresses t"e roots o! violence$ understanding our individual roles in sustaining a culture o! violence is more important t"an e#amining t"e state& H les 7 (Noanna &ont7omery, Professor $n7lish, )niversity of -yprus, 'ournal for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society B45 (5OO@6 5OB:50@, Psychoanalysis and
"ar( The Supere7o and Projective Identification64 !s already mentioned, analysts such as Aolkan and $rikson have /ritten about the processes by /hich an enemy is dehumani.ed so as to provide the distance a 7roup needs from its perceived enemy4 ,irst the 7roup becomes preoccupied /ith the enemy accordin7 to the psycholo7y of minor differences4 Then mass re7ression occurs to permit the 7roup to recover and reactivate more primitive methods4 "hat they then use in this re7ressed state tends to contain aspects of childish (pre:oedipal6 fury4 The enemy is perceived more and more as a stereotype of bad and ne7ative 8ualities4 The use of denial allo/s a 7roup to i7nore the fact that its o/n e9ternali.ations and projections are involved in this process4 The stereotyped enemy may be so despised as to be no lon7er human, and it /ill then be referred to in non:human terms4 History teaches us that it /as in this /ay that the #a.is perceived the Ne/s as vermin to be e9terminated4 !s I /rite, !l Zaeda

terrorist 7roups vie/ all !mericans as demons and infidels to be annihilated, and many !mericans are comforted by demoni.in7 all of bearded Islam4 &any Israelis consider most Palestinians as dirt beneath their feetCsub:humanCand most Palestinians think of most Israelis as despoilers of the land they are supposed to share4 In other /ords, the problem of the mentality of /ar and of terrorism mobili.es our an9ieties in such a /ay so as to prevent critical reality testin74 If /e could learn the enormously difficult and painful task of re:introjection, of takin7 back our projections, our hatreds, an9ieties, and fears of the other and of difference, lon7 before they harm the other, there mi7ht be a transition, a link, from the state sanctioned violence of /ar back to individual violence4 "e mi7ht learn to subvert ne7ative projective identification into a positive identification as a means of empathi.in7 /ith the other and thus containin7 difference4 The violence of the individual could then be contained and sublimated in peaceful /ays, such as reconcilin7 and balancin7 competin7 interests by askin7 /hat e9actly these opposin7 interests are and e9plorin7 /hat the dynamics, conscious and unconscious, are for the hatred of deep /ar:like anta7onisms4 In other /ords, /e /ould need to chan7e our relationship /ith the other, 7ivin7 up the dan7erously irresponsible habit of splittin7, projective identification, and e9clusivity by reco7ni.in7 difference not anta7onistically but throu7h an inclusive process that reco7nises the totality of human relationships in a
peaceful /orld4 "e mi7ht substitute for the libidinal object:ties involved in projective identification the re:introjection of the object into the e7o, and thus reach a common feelin7 of sharin7, of bein7 part of the other, of empathy, in short4 !s ,reud pointed out, the e7o is altered by introjection, as su77ested by his memorable formulation( <The shado/ of the object has fallen on the e7o4<

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Iull embracing t"e Kt"er %il !ail as a political strateg & Flienation is inevitable& Knl t"e Lacanian alternative can cope %it" t"is realit & Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, pa7es @M:@264
"hat should be stressed at this point is that /hat is at stake here is not only subjective identification but the constitution of reality itself( Din order for there to be reality, ade8uate access to reality, in order for the sense of reality to be a reliable 7uide, in order for reality not to be /hat it is in psychosis, the %edipus comple9 has to have been lived throu7hI (III(01B64 !s /e shall see in -hapter 5, reality

is symbolically constructed and articulated in lan7ua7e4 %nce a7ain, lin7uistic articulation presupposes a certain loss, the e9clusion of somethin7 throu7h an act of decision( po/er is revealed as an inherent element of the lo7ic of the si7nifier45M There is no society and social reality /ithout e9clusion; /ithout it the /orld collapses into a psychotic universe4 But /hat is it e9actly that is sacrificed in the /orld of lan7ua7e? "e said that it is the mother, the maternal Thin74 %n a
more 7eneral level, it is also our access to an unmediated level of need relatin7 to all animal life4 It is to the constitutivity of the symbolic in human life that /e o/e the fact that need becomes demand and instinct becomes drive and then desire4

"hat is happenin7 in all these transformations is the loss of a primordial level of the real4 "hat is lost is all unmediated access to this real4 #o/ /e can only try to encounter the real throu7h symbolisation4 "e 7ain access to reality, /hich is mainly a symbolic construct, but the si7nified of the si7nifier DrealityI, the real itself, is sacrificed for ever452 #o identification can restore it or recapture it for us4 But it is e9actly this impossibility that forces us to identify a7ain and a7ain4 "e never 7et /hat /e /ere promised but thatIs e9actly /hy /e keep lon7in7 for it 4 In other /ords, any identity resultin7 from identification is al/ays an unstable identity, a split or even non: identity, since every identification is marked by an alienatin7 dimension4 !s ar7ued earlier, althou7h ima7inary identification offers the subject a sense of identity it also entails a radical ambi7uity, it introduces a certain anta7onistic tension4 The same alienation is characterisin7 symbolic identification( in The ,our ,undamental -oncepts of Psychoanalysis, acan refers to a lack /hich Demer7es from the invasion of the symbolic, by the fact that the subject depends on the si7nifier but the si7nifier is first of all in the field of the %therI (KI(5OML264 Here /e are confronted /ith an ambivalence similar to the one that led to the failure of ima7inary identification4 "hat belon7s to the socio:symbolic %ther can never become totally ours; it can never become us( it /ill al/ays be a source of ambivalence and alienation and this 7ap can never be brid7ed 4 The ultimate result of symbolic identification is a further alienation in lan7ua7e, in the social /orld ( DThe parado9 of the "ord is therefore that its emer7ence resolves the tension of the pre:symbolic anta7onism, but at a price( the "ord444involves an irretrievable e9ternali.ation:alienationI (Si.ek, 011Ja( M564 To recapitulate our ar7ument so far, both ima7inary and symbolic identification fail to provide us /ith a stable identity4 ! lack is continuously re:emer7in7 /here identity should be consolidated4 !ll our attempts to cover over this lack of the subject throu7h identifications that promise to offer us a stable identity fail, this failure brin7s to the fore the irreducible character of this lack /hich in turn reinforces our attempts to fill it4 This is the circular play bet/een lack and identification /hich is markin7 the human condition; a play that makes possible the
emer7ence of a /hole politics of the subject4 In this re7ard /e have to be very clear, assumin7 at the same time the risk of a certain repetition( the

politics of the subject, the politics of identity formation, can only be understood as a politics of impossibility 4 If the e7o is based on the ima7inary misreco7nition of the impossibility of fullness and closure, it also entails a constitutive alienation, makin7 visible a certain lack4 This lack also constitutes an irreducible element of the symbolic order in /hich the subject turns for its representation; here lack is elevated to the position of a precondition for symbolic representation4 In the symbolic, the subject is properly constituted but as the subject of lack; somethin7 is a7ain missin74 Identification is thus revealed as, by constitution, alienatin7 ( aclau and Sac, 011M(0M64 It can never realise its aim, it can never achieve full identity, it can never brin7 back our lost fullness since it /as its o/n institution that introduced this loss4 Identification is al/ays an identification doomed to fail4 %ne has to a7ree /ith aclau
and Sac that the proper ans/er to acoue: abartheIs rhetorical 8uestion D"hy, after all, should the problem of identification not be, in 7eneral, the essential problem of politics?I is that the identity politics, identification

problem of politics is identification and its failure ( politics is revealed as the politics of impossibility4

aclau and Sac, 011M(@264 Beyond

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'"e desire to be re-3oined %it" t"e Kt"er2 to create a state o! "armon 2 is utterl impossible& Language can never !ull represent t"e real or t"e Kt"er and %e %ill al%a s be alienated& Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, pa7es 25:2@64
"hat is, ho/ever, the e9act political si7nificance of the fantasmatic promise? ,rom millenarianism to the -ommunist &anifesto and up to *reen ideolo7y, /e kno/ that every

political promise is supported by a reference to a lost state of harmony, unity and fullness, a reference to a pre:symbolic real /hich most political projects aspire to brin7 back 4 %nce a7ain, the constant presence of this idea of a lost past is not revealin7 anythin7 about the true nature of such a state; it is a retroactive projection conditioned by the intervention of symbolic lack4 If social reality is lackin7, if enjoyment is only partial, then the pre:symbolic state /e lon7 for has to be a state of fullness, a state /ithout limits ;
Djouisse. sans entrantsI /as one of the slo7ans of les evenements of &ay 013B as it is revealed in the famous photo7raph taken by -artier:Bresson4 The attributes of this state as articulated in political fantasy are a retroactive effect of symbolisation( symbolisation makes us believe that /hat is impossible /as prohibited and thus can also be recaptured4

Psychoanalysis, as /e shall see, reco7nises the importance of such fantasies /ithout affirmin7 their empirical plausibility or sanctionin7 their ima7inary projections4 In that sense, althou7h ,reudIs Dpre:civilisation state of happinessI, characteristic of the primal horde, 7oes a7ainst all available ethno7raphic and archaeolo7ical material ( eledakis, 0112(0J26, it is a Dnecessary fictionI, a myth brin7in7 to the fore the utopian structure of human fantasy4 This state of happiness, embodyin7 the lostRimpossible jouissance, has to be posited as lost (and thus as pre:e9istin7 our current
state6 if our life in the socio:symbolic /orld is to have any meanin7; /ithout it no desire for social and political identification /ould arise4 This does not mean, of course, that psychoanalysis accepts the possibility of an ade8uate embodiment of this pre:symbolic real405

The field of discursive representation, a field e9tendin7 from the lin7uistic to the social in 7eneral, is constitutive in all our doomed attempts to achieve a perfect identity /ith ourselves4 But the central feature of lan7ua7e, of the symbolic, is discontinuity( somethin7 is al/ays missin7 in lan7ua7e, the symbolic itself is lackin74 "ords can never capture the totality of the real, they can never fully represent us 4 !s acan points out in Television (01J@6, lan7ua7e cannot say the /hole truth4 The /ords to do it are missin7; it is materially impossible (these are acanIs e9act /ords6 to achieve it and this is a source of alienation in /hich /hat emer7es is the lack in every representation4 This is also /hy enterin7 into the field of lin7uistic representation permits the development of our desire and a certain structuration of our identity ; but this identity can never be full since the symbolic is never full4 $nterin7 into lan7ua7e entails a loss of immediacy, the loss of a direct unmediated fulfilment of need4 It entails symbolic castration4 "e are forced to approach the real throu7h its symbolisation, by attemptin7 to represent it, but thus /e loose it for ever4 $nterin7 into the social /orld entails a loss of this re7ister of the real, it entails the emptyin7 out of jouissance from the body4 D!nd /hat is the a7ent of this castration?I asks Darian eader, D "hat creates lack that in turn 7ives rise to creative efforts to suture lack?I asks $llie 'a7land:Sullivan( Dthe symbolic re7ister as such, lan7ua7e4 The or7anisms passa7e throu7h and into lan7ua7e is castration, introducin7 the idea of loss and absence into the /orldI ( eader, 0113(0MB64 It is lan7ua7e that murders the referent, thin7s as full presence ('a7land:Sullivan, 0110(M64 This is the meanin7 of the acanian dictum Dthere is no %ther of the %therI ($( @0364 The %ther cannot offer /hat /e demand from him, that is to say our lostRimpossible jouissance; precisely because the %ther is structured around the prohibition, the sacrifice of this jouissance4 Nouissance is forbidden, this is the a/ of the %ther4 It is foolish to believe that this
To summarise my ar7ument so far in this chapter, this is then the parado9 of the human condition in acan4 absence is due to the particular social and political confi7uration ($( @0J64 !las, it is a structural irreducible feature of the %ther, of the symbolic as such( D"e must insist that jouissance is forbidden to him /ho speaks as suchI says acan ($( @0164

Utopian "armon %it" t"e ot"er is impossible& F more e!!ective strateg is to accept t"at %e %ill never resolve all tensions and tr to create political stratgies based around t"at lac)& Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, pa7es 0@164
,irst, it is certain that this te9t shares /ith both -onnolly enhance the prospects of democracy4 %ur difference is that they

%therness and difference is enou7h4 -onnollyIs ar7umentation is developed alon7 the polarity identityRdifference /ith the ethical stin7
bein7 a reco7nition of %therness4 ,or -ritchley also, /hat seems to be at stake in deconstruction is the relation /ith DThe %therICalthou7h this %ther is not understood in e9actly the same terms as the acanian %ther (-ritchley, 0115(01J64 Dra/in7

and -ritchley the aspiration to articulate an ethics of DdisharmonyI in order to both think that an ethics founded on a reco7nition of

on evinasian ethics /here the


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ethical is related to the disruption of totalisin7 politics, he contends that( Dany attempt to brin7 closure to the social is continually denied by the non:totalisable relation to the %therI (-ritchley, 0115(5@B64 Thus, the possibility of
democracy rests on the reco7nition of the %ther( DThe community remains an open community in so far as it is based on the reco7nition of difference, of the difference of the %therI (-ritchley, 0115(50164 &oreover, political responsibility in democracy has Dits hori.on in responsibility for the %therI (ibid4( 5@164 This is also TouraineIs position( democracy entails the Dreco7nition of the otherI (Touraine, 011J(01564

Updated Lacan K 76

The problem /ith such an analysis is that it presupposes the %ther as a unified totality or, even if this is not al/ays the case, it seems to be offerin7 a positive point of identification remainin7 thus /ithin the limits of traditional ethical strate7ies or, in any case, not underminin7 them in a radical /ay4 "hat has to be hi7hli7hted is that it is precisely this relationCthe identification /ith the %therCthat attempts to brin7 closure to the social4 In order to have a non:totalisable relation to the %ther /e must relateCidentifyC/ith the lack in the %ther and not /ith the %ther per se- This is the radical innovation of acanian ethics4 !nd this is /hat democracy needs today4

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alt )e to politics
'raversing t"e !antas is critical to a ne% !orm o! politics --- muc" li)e t"e Na-is scapegoated t"e 4e%s2 t"e a!!irmative is a !alse act t"at e#ternali-es violence onto an ot"er& ,i-e) 5) L prof [ )niversity of jubljana (Slavoj, -ontin7ency, He7emony, )niversality, 05M:05J, S'6
#o/ I can also ans/er the obvious counter:ar7ument to this acanian notion of the act( if /e define an act solely by the fact that its sudden emer7ence surprisesRtransforms its a7ent itself and, simultaneously, that it retroactively chan7es its conditions of (im6possibility, is not #a.ism, then, an act par e9cellence? Did

Hitler not Ddo the impossible>, chan7in7 the entire field of /hat /as considered Tacceptable> in the liberal democratic universe? Did not a respectable middle:class petit bour7eois /ho, as a 7uard in a concentration camp, tortured Ne/s, also, accomplish /hat /as considered impossible, in his previous DdecentI e9istence and ackno/led7e his Dpassionate attachmentI to sadistic torture? It is here that the notion of Dtraversing t"e !antas :, and : on a different level : of transformin7 the constellation that 7enerates social symptoms becomes crucial4 !n authentic act disturbs t"e underl ing !antas , attackin7 it from the point of Tsocial symptom> (let us recall that acan attributed the invention of the notion of symptom to &ar9=64 The so:called T#a.i revolution>, /ith its disavo/alRdisplacement of the fundamental social anta7onism (>class stru77le> that divides the social edifice from /ithin6 : /ith its projectionRe9ternali.ation of the cause of social anta7onisms into the fi7ure of the Ne/, and the conse8uent reassertion of the corporatist notion of society as an or7anic "hole : clearly avoids confrontation /ith social4 anta7onism; the D#a.i revolutionI is the e9emplary case of a pseudo:chan7e, of a frenetic activity in the course of /hich many thin7s did chan7e L Dsomethin7 /as 7oin7 on al0 the timeI : so that, precisely, somethin74: that /hich really matters : /ould not chan7e; so that thin7s /ould fundamentally >remain the same>4 In short, an authentic act is not simply e9ternal /ith re7ard to the he7emonic symbolic field disturbed by it( an act is an act only /ith re7ard to some symbolic field, as intervention into it4 That is to say( a symbolic field is al/ays and by definition in itself >decentred>, structured around a central voidRimpossibility (a personal life:narrative, say, is a bricola7e of ultimately
failed attempts to come to terms /ith some trauma; a social edifice is an ultimately failed attempt to displaceRobfuscate its constitutive anta7onism6;

and an act disturbs the symbolic field into /hich it intervenes not out of no/here , but precisely from the
standpoint of this inherent impossibility, stumblin7 block, /hich is its hidden, disavo/ed structurin7 principle4 In contrast to this authentic act /hich intervenes in the constitutive void, point of failure : or /hat !lain Badiou has called the >symptomal torsionI of a 7iven constellation : the inauthentic act le7itimi.es itself throu7h reference to the point of substantial fullness of a 7iven contellation (on the political terrain( 'ace, True 'eli7ion, #ation4446( it aims precisely at obliteratin7 the last traces of the >symptomal torsion> /hich disturbs the balance of that constellation4 %ne palpable political conse8uence of this notion of the act that has to intervene at the Tsymptomal torsion> of the structure (and also a proof that our position does not involve Teconomic essentialism>6 is that in each concrete constellation there is one touchv nodal point of contention /hich decides /here one >truly stands>4 ,or e9ample, in

the recent stru77le of the so:called Tdemocratic opposition> in Serbia a7ainst the &ilosevic re7ime, the truly touchy topic is the stance to/ards the !lbanian majority in Posovo( the 7reat majority of the Tdemocratic opposition> unconditionally endorse &ilosevicIs anti:!lbanian nationalist a7enda, even accusin7 him of makin7 compromises /ith the "est and Tbetrayin7> Serb national interests in Posovo4 In the course of the student demonstrations a7ainst &ilosevic>s
Socialist Party falsification of the election results in the /inter of 0113, the "estern media /hich closely follo/ed events, and praised the revived democratic spirit in Serbia, rarely mentioned the fact that one of the demonstrators> re7ular slo7ans a7ainst the special police /as TInstead of kickin7 us, 7o to Posovo and kick out the !lbanians=>4 So : and this is my point :

it is theoretically as /ell as politically /ron7 to claim that, in today>s Serbia, >anti:!lbanian nationalism> is simply one amon7 the Tfloatin7 si7nifiers> that can be appropriated either by &ilosevic>s po/er bloc or by the opposition( the moment one endorses it, no matter "o% muc" one 6reinscribes it into the democratic chain of e8uivalences>, one already accepts the terrain as defined by &ilosevic, one : as it /ere : is alread Epla ing "is game64 In today>s Serbia, the absolute sine 8ua non of an authentic political act /ould thus be to re3ect absolutel t"e ideologico-political topos o! t"e Flbanian t"reat in Posovo4 Psychoanalysis is a/are of a /hole series of Tfalse acts>( psychotic:paranoiac violent passa7e a l>acte, hysterical actin7 out, obsessional self:hinderin7, perverse self:instrumentali.ation L all these acts are not simply /ron7 accordin7 to some e9ternal standards, they are immanently /ron7 since they can be properly 7rasped only as reactions to some disavo/ed trauma that they displace , repress, and so on4 "hat /e are
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tempted to say is that the #a.i anti:Semitic violence /as Tfalse> in the same /ay( all the shatterin7 impact of this lar7e:scale frenetic activity /as fundamentally Tmisdirected> , it /as a kind of 7i7antic passa7e a l>acte betrayin7 an inability to confront the real kernel of the trauma (the social anta7onism64 So /hat /e are claimin7 is that anti:Semitic violence, say, is not only Tfactually /ron7> (Ne/s are Tnot really like that>, e9ploitin7 us and or7ani.in7 a universal plot6 andRor Dmorally /ron7I (unacceptable in terms of elementary standards of decency, etc46, but also TuntrueI in the sense of an inauthenticity /hich is simultaneously epistemolo7ical and ethical , just as an obsessional /ho
reacts to his EsicF disavo/ed se9ual fi9ations by en7a7in7 in compulsive defence rituals acts in an inauthentic /ay4 acan claimed that even if the patient>s /ife is really sleepin7 around /ith other men, the patient>s jealousy is still to be treated as a patholo7ical condition; in a homolo7ous /ay, even if rich Ne/s Treally> e9ploited *erman /orkers, seduced their dau7hters, dominated the popular press, and so on, anti:Semitism is still an

Updated Lacan K 7;

"hat makes it patholo7ical is the disavo/ed subjective libidinal investment in the fi7ure of the Ne/ L the /ay social anta7onism is displaced :obliterated by bein7 >projected> into the fi7ure of the Ne/4 So : back to the obvious counter:ar7ument to the acanian notion of the act( this second feature (for a 7esture to count as an act, it must >traverse the fantasy>6 is not simply a further, additional criterion, to be added to the first (>doin7 the impossible>, retroactively re/ritin7 its o/n conditions6( if this second criterion is not fulfilled, the first is not really met either : that is to say; /e are not actually Tdoin7 the impossible>, traversin7 the fantasy to/ards the 'eal4
emphatically Tuntrue>, patholo7ical ideolo7ical condition : /hy?

W"en !aced %it" dis"armon 2 %e "ave a c"oice aB %e can continue do%n t"e !ailed pat" o! utopianism or bB %e can accept t"at social antagonism is inevitable and tr to design democratic institutions capable o! accomodating competing political visions& Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, pa7es 0@3:0@B64
To recapitulate, the startin7 point of this chapter /as the disappointment and resentment caused by the ambi7uity constitutive of democracy4 "e have pointed out that, contrary to /hat anti:democratic discourses ar7ue, this ambi7uity, the e9istence of an ori7inal lack at the heart of the social field, is not due to democracy4

Division and disharmony are constitutive of the human condition4 The e9perience of modernity, the Death of *od, in other /ords the dislocation of e9ternal universal markers of certainty, brou7ht to the fore a sense of history /ith no 7uaranteed eschatolo7ical or other meanin7 and made visible the contin7ency of e9istence in its naked horror4 The place of po/er is no lon7er cosubstantial /ith the prince under the 7uarantee of *od4 In front of this development one can act in t/o opposite directions4 The lack of meanin7 that this process makes visible can lead to an attempted return to a pre:modern simulation of certainly; thus modernity is reoccupyin7 (in the Blumenber7ian sense of the /ord6 the place of pre:modernity4 Totalitarianism and particularism move in such a direction4 %n the other hand, democracy attempts to come to terms /ith that lack of meanin7 in a radically different /ay4 It reco7nises in that lack the only possibility of mediatin7 bet/een universalism and particularism in achievin7 a non:totalitarian sense of social unity4 The virtue of democracy is that it is not blind in front of the constitutivity of division, disharmony, lack; their reco7nition and institutionalisation is the only /ay of comin7 to terms /ith the human condition after !usch/it. and the *ula7s4 Democracy is the political form of historical society /here history as punctuated by contin7ency, NP?D, lack, is no lon7er referred to as an e9ternal unifyin7 principle of meanin74 This fact alone /hich is stressed by efort sho/s that the virtue of democracy, its resolve to face history, disharmony, lack and to attempt to institutionalise them also constitutes the 7reatest dan7er for democracy4 !s &ircea $liade has very clearly sho/n in The &yth of the $ternal 'eturn, up to no/, facin7 history in such a /ay /as thou7ht of as intolerable ($liade, 01B164 This is then the task of modern democracy( to persuade us that /hat /as thou7ht of as intolerable has an ethical status40O This is also the reason /hy democracy can cause a 7eneralised resentment or frustration and reinforce aporetic inactivity or even reactive politics4 These developments are due to the fact that in the field of ethics (and ontolo7y6 the ideal of harmony is still he7emonic; an ideal /hich is incompatible /ith democracy4 "hat constantly emer7es from this e9position is that for
democracy to flourish Dthe politics of 7eneralised resentment must be subduedI (-onnolly, 0110(5006, and for that to be done the ethics of harmony must be replaced by an ethics compatible /ith democracy4 It

is here that the ethics of psychoanalysis becomes crucial for democratic theory4 !s I have tried to sho/ the ethics of psychoanalysis moves beyond traditional ethics of the 7ood, moves beyond the barrier of the fantasmatic ethics of harmony to come to terms /ith the impossible real, by
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reco7nisin7 its ultimate irreducibility and its structural causality 4 !s ar7ued earlier in this chapter, the

Updated Lacan K 7.

acanian real and lack have a thorou7hly ethical dimension and both sublimation and identification /ith the symptom, by movin7 beyond traditional ethical identification /ith a certain ima7inary conception of the 7ood, attest to the ethicality of reco7nisin7 and institutionalisin7 them4 In that sense, /ith the help of psychoanalysis, democracy can promote an ethical he7emony /hich is essential for its political survival and effectiveness00 /hile acanian theory and acanian ethics can find in democracy the field of an affinity /hich si7nals their relevance for socio: political analysis and political pra9is4 In that sense, achievin7 a better (but not a perfect6 society, a more democratic and just society, is possible but such a project cannot depend on the Dvisions of the psychic ima7inaryI as "hitebook insists4 %nly

the fracture of ima7inary utopian visions can create the chance of pursuin7 a democratic course, a course /hich is profoundly self:critical( DThe just polity is one that actively maintains
its o/n interruption or ironi.ation as that /hich sustains itI (-ritchley, 0115(5@B64 Such a standpoint seems to be at the antipodes of "hitebookIs vie/, accordin7 to /hich D/ithout the input of the ima7inary, any such debate Eon achievin7 a better societyF444is in dan7er of bein7 emptyI ("hitebook, 0112(B164 "hat "hitebook cannot realise is that it is e9actly the emptiness of the acanian lack in the %ther, the emptiness in the locus of democratic po/er in efort, that becomes the point of reference for the articulation of such a ne/ political vision, a vision beyond ima7inary lures405 To avoid any possible confusion, it must be stressed, ho/ever, that democracy cannot be reduced to anarchy or chaos; it is a form of DorderI4 ! principle of societal or7anisation e9ists4 ! society /ithout a principle of or7anisation /ould be a meanin7less society; it /ould not be able to constitute itself as such4 It /ould amount to a state of pure an9iety insofar as, accordin7 to acanIs comments in !n9iety, the appearance of an9iety is the si7n of the temporary collapse of all points of identificatory reference (seminar of 5 &ay 013564 !s I have pointed out, the importance of the democratic invention is that, in a double movement, it provides a point of reference, a point de capiton for the institution of society, /ithout reducin7 society to a positive content pertainin7 to this point of reference40@ This is achieved because the

positive content of democracy is the acceptance of the constitutive lack and anta7onism (and conse8uently he7emony6 that splits every total representation of the social field4 !nd the status of this lack, as an encounter /ith the real, is ethical4 If democracy entails, as
#iklas uhmann ar7ues, the principle of allo/in7 opposition as a value:concept this means e9actly that the lack ac8uires a certain ethical dimension4 This is an ethics /ithout ideals; the place of the ideal is occupied by the dividin7 line of opposition and by the undecidable moment of elections; in other /ords by the reco7nition of the real of our symptom, of the anta7onistic nature of society4 ,or uhmann the place of the ideal is occupied by a pure difference; that bet/een 7overnment and opposition4 Thus Dpolitics loses the possibility of EtotalF representation4 It cannot presume to beCor even to representC the /hole /ithin the /holeI ( uhmann, 011O(5@@64 In the democratic vision the /hole of society is lackin7, it is crossed, barre by the impossible real4

'"e are 3ust %rong about t"e nature o! t"e political& >olitical scientists li)e to pretend t"at t"e are neutral2 t"rut"!ul and reall in po%er& Hut2 i! %e are rig"t t"at t"e political is a product o! s"ared cultural !antas 2 t"e %e represent t"e true political act& Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity
of $sse9, pa7es J0:J@64
-hapter 5 e9amined the various /ays in /hich acanian theory transforms our vie/ of the objective side of human e9perience4 If up to no/ our main focus /as reality in 7eneral (especially in the last part of -hapter 56, I /ill start -hapter @ by rearticulatin7 some of the conclusions of the previous chapter but this time /ith particular reference to the field of political reality4 #aturally, /hat /e said about reality in 7eneral is also applicable to political reality40 But /hat kno/ that in

is this political reality for /hich acan is relevant ? In fact /hat e9actly is political reality in 7eneral? "e mainstream political science, politics and political reality are associated /ith citi.enship, elections, the particular forms of political representation and the various ideolo7ical families 4 Politics is conceived as constitutin7 a separate system, the political system, and is e9pected to stay /ithin the boundaries of this system( people, that is to say, politicians, social scientists and citi.ens, e9pect to find politics in the arenas prescribed for it in the he7emonic discourse of liberal democracies (these arenas bein7 parliament, parties,
trade unions, etc46, and also e9pect it to be performed by the accordin7ly sanctioned a7ents (Beck, 011J(1B64 !lthou7h this /ell:ordered picture is lately startin7 to sho/ si7ns of disinte7ration, /ith the politicisation of areas previously located outside the political system (as Beck has put it Dif the clocks of politics stop there E/ithin the official arenas of the political systemF, then it seems that politics as a /hole has stopped tickin7ICBeck, 011J(1B6,

politics can only be represented in spatial terms, as a set of practices and institutions, as a system, albeit an e9pandin7 one4 Politics is identical to political reality and political reality, as all reality, is, first, constituted at the symbolic level, and, second, supported by fantasy4 But if reality in 7eneral can only make sense in its relation to a real /hich is al/ays e9ceedin7 it, /hat can that real associated /ith political reality be? If reality cannot e9haust the real it must be also the case that politics cannot e9haust the political- #ot surprisin7ly then, it is one of the most e9citin7
developments in contemporary political theory, and one promoted by theorists such as aclau, &ouffe, Beck and efort, that the political is not reducible to political reality as /e have been describin7 it(

The political cannot be restricted to a certain type of institution , or envisa7ed as constitutin7 a specific sphere or level of society4 It must be conceived as a dimension that is inherent to every human society and that determines our very ontolo7ical condition4
(&ouffe, 011@(@6 In order to illustrate this DemancipationI of the moment of the political let us e9amine very briefly the relevant ar7ument put for/ard by -laude efort4 efortIs project entails the reinterpretation of the political4 He considers both the &ar9ist and the strictly scientific definitions of the political inade8uate4

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unable to reco7nise any substantial specificity to the political4 Political sociolo7y

Updated Lacan K 80

&ar9ism re7ards the political as a mere superstructure determined by a base consistin7 of the supposedly real level of relations of production, and thus is

and political science, on the other hand, attempt to delineate political facts in their particularity, as distinct from other social facts /hich are considered as belon7in7 to other separate levels of social reality( the economic, the aesthetic, the juridical, the scientific, the social itself4 Such an approach claims to provide an objective reconstruction of reality as consistin7 of all these strict differentiations and thus does not realise that its o/n constructs derive from social life and are, conse8uently, historically and politically conditionedCour discussion on constructionism becomes relevant a7ain4 In the definition of politics (as the space of political institutions, such as parties, etc46 /hat is lost is the political itself, meanin7 the moment in /hich the definition of politics, the or7anisation of social reality, takes place( The political is thus revealed, not in /hat /e call political activity, but in the double movement /hereby the mode of institution of society appears and is obscured4 It appears in the sense that the process /hereby society is ordered and unified across its divisions becomes visible4 It is obscured in the sense that the locus of politics (the locus in /hich parties compete and in /hich a 7eneral a7ency of po/er takes shape and is
reproduced6 becomes defined as particular, /hile the principle /hich 7enerates the overall confi7uration is concealed4 ( efort, 01BB(006 The point here is that the

institution of political reality presupposes a certain repression of the constitutivity of the political4 It entails an impossible attempt to erase the political ontolo7y of the social4 In efortIs vie/,
for e9ample, and here he dra/s from traditional political philosophy in /hich /hat distin7uishes one society from another is its re7ime, its shapin7 of human e9istence, the political is related to /hat 7enerates society, the different forms of society4 It is precisely because the very idea of society contains a reference to its political definition that it becomes impossible to localise the political /ithin society4 The

political is thus revealed as the ontolo7ical level of the institution of every particular shapin7 of the social (this e9pression denotin7 both 7ivin7 meanin7 to social relations and sta7in7 them6 ( efort, 01BB(50JL 0164 "hen /e limit our scope /ithin political reality /e are attemptin7 a certain domesticationRspatialisation of the political, /e move our attention from the political per se (as the moment of the disruption and undecidability 7overnin7 the reconstruction of social objectivity includin7 political reality6 to the social (as the result of this construction and reconstruction, as the sedimented forms of objectivity6 ( aclau, 011O(@264 This sedimentation of political reality (as a part or a subsystem of the social6 re8uires a for7ettin7 of ori7ins, a for7ettin7 of the contin7ent force of dislocation /hich stands at its foundation; it re8uires the symbolic and fantasmatic reduction of the political4 +et, Dto ne7ate the political does not make it disappear, it only leads to be/ilderment in the face of its manifestations and to impotence in
dealin7 /ith themI (&ouffe, 011@(0MO64 "hat constantly emer7es in these currents of contemporary political theory is that the political seems to ac8uire a position parallel to that of the acanian real; one cannot but be struck by the fact that the political is revealed as a particular modality of the real4 The political becomes one of the forms in /hich one encounters the real4

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at0 anni"ilation
'"reats o! anni"ilation create a pure %ar mentalit 2 creating conditions !or personal and cultural deat"& >s c"oanal sis is )e to !inding a %a out o! t"is deadloc)& Horg 7 (&ark, Psychoanalyst 'ournal for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society B40 (5OO@6, GPsychoanalytic Pure "ar( Interactions /ith the Post:!pocalyptic
)nconsciousH 2J:3J64

Airilio and otrin7er 7ave the name <pure /ar< to the psycholo7ical condition that results /hen people kno/ that they live in a /orld /here the possibility for absolute destruction (e474, nuclear holocaust6 e9ists4 !s Airilio and otrin7er see it, it is not the technolo7ical capacity for destruction (that is, for e9ample, the e9istence of nuclear armaments6 that imposes the dread characteristic of a pure /ar psycholo7y but the belief systems that this capacity sets up4 Psycholo7ical survival re8uires that a /ay be found (at least unconsciously6 to escape inevitable destructionCit re8uires a /ay outCbut this enforces an irresolvable parado9, because the definition of pure /ar culture is that there is no escape4 %nce people believe in the e9ternal possibilityCat least those people /hose defenses cannot handle the /ei7ht of the dread that pure /ar imposesCpure %ar becomes an internal condition2 a perpetual state o! preparation !or absolute destruction and !or personal2 social2 and cultural deat" 4 The tra7edy at the "orld
Trade -enter in #e/ +ork -ity has 7iven us a bitter but important opportunity to study the effects of the pure /ar condition on individuals4 It allo/s us to look at ho/ this all: encompassin7 state appears in psychoanalytic treatment and to observe its influence throu7h the analysis of transferenceRcountertransference dynamics4 The pure /ar condition has been brou7ht 7rimly to consciousness4 In this paper, I /ill e9plore ho/ it manifests itself in society, in character, and most specifically in the psychoanalytic treatment of one patient /hose dynamics hi7hli7ht si7nificant aspects of the pure /ar state4 Ho/ does treatment happen /hen, at some level, /e perceive ourselves as already dead? "hatever our individual differences, our

visions of the psychoanalytic endeavor arise out of the social defense of the culture /ithin /hich /e live and /ork (I have referred to this as <community character,< cf4 Bor7 @2O64 !nd /hatever our individual differences, in a pure /ar situation the primary tas0 is simply to sustain the dream of psychic survival4 The case of
Noyce, /ho sa/ the first e9plosion at the "orld Trade -enter as she rode do/n ,ifth !venue in a bus after her session /ith me, e9emplifies this task4

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at0 cede t"e political


Fcademic radicals pla t"e role o! t"e actor %"o mista)es t"e pla !or t"e real t"ing& '"e operate %it"in a sel!-re!erential communit t"at accomplis"es not"ing& Fttempts to go be ond t"at %orld are !eeble and usuall ignored& =unnell2 ;8 (Nohn, Ph4D4 )niversity of -alifornia, Berkeley , "hat should political theory be no/?, ed( #elson, p4 @20:@2564
'adical or critical

political theory is an idea, lar7ely somethin7 that is talked about rather than practiced4 It is an academic fantasy and a faint memory /hich lon7 a7o severed any real connection /ith the objects in their concern4 %nly a stran7e academic pretension produces the notion that findin7 the ri7ht philosophical 7roundin7 can make academic political theory into somethin7 more than it is4 %nly another pretension implies that depth of concern or other emotive attributes can make this academic practice, as either scholarly production or classroom education, a form of political action or some e8uivalent to it4 Secured (or imprisoned6 /ithin structures of the university and profession, self:ascribed academic radicals posture like actors on a sta7e4 They
only descend into the audience /ithin the limits of certain a"ante,)arde productions that /ould never, in the end, endan7er their status as actors or propel the audience beyond the role of spectators4 But

even the audience consists primarily of other actors4 -au7ht up in this academic theater, they come to believe after a /hile that the play is the most real thin7, that actin7 is a more noble and efficacious endeavor than the actual practices of life, and that its purity must be maintained4 In lar7e measure, of course, this is rhetoric, but not the rhetoric of the street4 Political myth is one thin7, but mythical politics is another4 "hile these actors have visions of the /orld /hich they /ish to reproduce, they have lon7 since lost touch /ith the concrete character of society, and their /orld is the product of a script /ritten by others4 &aybe the 7reatest irony is that, /hile their performances are dedicated to chan7in7 the /orld, they seldom address the specific /orld in /hich they reside4 They are content to play in a
theater /hose mana7ement and financin) is microcosm of the /orld /hich they /ish to transform, but their vision is too prodi7ious to be directed to/ard such small objects4 They may complain in passin7 about the /ay the players are hired and fired and about the lack of democracy in the company, but they are on the road too fre8uently to 7et involved deeply4 !nd, after all, it is their sinecure as permanent members of the troupe that allo/s them to display their 7rand 7estures /ithout fear of contamination or reprisal4 There are some, usually the more conservative players, /ho also think that society is a seamless /eb and that theater chan7es the /orld, and they become upset at sta7e histrionics /hiff mock and critici.e life4 But much paranoia is surpassed only by the blind faith of those /ho believe that their performances transform the lives of those /ith /hom they come into contact and that the theater is so much a part of life that any real distinction is forced and analytic4 It is difficult to kno/ ho/ many have a real passion for the life /hich they represent on sta7e or the e9tent to /hich their drama is a surro7ate for /hat the /orld denies them or /hat they have denied themselves4 Probably, many are just actors /ith fei7ned and rehearsed concern /hich they have ac8uired from their masters and coaches4 ,or them, the play is the thin74 ,or a fe/, ho/ever, these scenes are a vehicle for hi7her purpose4 Sadly

society reserves the theater for their activity, puttin7 them safely a/ay /here anythin7 can be said, because everyone kno/s that it is just a play4 Society kno/s that, in the end, the demands of the profession /ill keep most from mi9in7 their art /ith life4 %f the fe/ /ho escape to seek reco7nition outside the theater, it is safe to assume that they are too ine9perienced in the /ay of the /orld to manipulate it and that the /orst oppression is simply to i7nore them4

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'o %in t"e @ort turn2 t"e need to %in t"at %e "ave access to t"e @eal& Kt"er%ise2 Lacan:s indict o! rational sub3ects t"at communicate democratic interests is damning !or @ort :s conception o! politics& Jona"ue 1 (Brian, Department of $n7lish, *on.a7a )niversity, G&ar9ism, Postmodernism, iek,H Postmodern -ulture,0545, Project &use6
This acanian <hard kernel< that appears prominently in iek>s /ork can have varyin7 political valences4 Its value for radical politics derives from its affirmation of the acanian notion of the inherent lack enablin7 subjectivity( the subject is constituted throu7h, yet simultaneously split by, the object:cause of desire such that the <it< is al/ays already there before the <I< can be reco7ni.ed4 This

at0 rort

focus on that /hich cannot be made consciously transparent to the subject throu7h lin7uistic symboli.ation counters a prevailin7 current of contemporary mainstream )4S4 culture that denies or derides the unconscious as an invention of psychoanalysis in the same /ay that it denies or derides class stru77le as an invention of &ar9ism, both treated as entirely discredited projects4 The idea that rational lin7uistic processes can never achieve transparency and that subjects are unable to kno/ fully their o/n motivations is corrosive to the basic assumptions of liberalism4 If rational discourse is subtended by an unassimilable, e9tradiscursive 'eal, then the model of liberal politics::free, rational subjects representin7 their interests throu7h transparent communication in an effort to achieve consensus::is called into 8uestion4 < Ireedom21 1rationalit 21 and 1transparenc 1 are s"o%n to be ideological !ictions draped over t"e @eal2 %"ic" is never !ull covered b t"em& Suc" a model poses problems !or , amon7 other projects, the Habermasian social:democratic ideal of rational intersubjective communication as /ell as the !merican liberal neopra7matism promoted by 'ichard @ort 4 Using t"e !ar @ig"t as a scare tactic sti!les t"e Le!t& Iear drives out radical alternatives %"ile t"e %"ole s stem dri!ts to%ard t"e @ig"t& ie) 5) (Slavoj, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis, G"hy /e all love to hate
Haider,H #e/ eft 'evie/, &arch:!pril, http(RR///4ne/leftrevie/4netR# '5@3O@4shtml64 Plain to see, in fact, is the structural role of the populist 'i7ht in the le7itimation of current liberal:democratic he7emony4 ,or /hat this 'i7htCBuchanan, e Pen, HaiderCsupplies is the ne7ative common denominator of the entire established political spectrum4 These are the e9cluded ones /ho, by this very e9clusion (their DunacceptabilityI for 7overnmental office6, furnish the proof of the benevolence of the official system4 Their e9istence displaces the focus of political stru77leC/hose true object is the stiflin7 of any radical alternative from the eftCto the DsolidarityI of the entire DdemocraticI bloc a7ainst the 'i7htist dan7er 4 The Neue /itte manipulates the 'i7htist scare the better to he7emoni.e the DdemocraticI field, i4e4 to define the terrain and discipline its real adversary, the radical eft4 Therein resides the ultimate rationale of the Third "ay( that is, a social democracy pur7ed of its minimal subversive stin7, e9tin7uishin7 even the faintest memory of anti:capitalism and class stru77le4 The result is /hat one /ould e9pect4 The populist 'i7ht moves to occupy the terrain evacuated by the

eft, as the only DseriousI political force that still employs an anti:capitalist rhetoricCif thickly coated /ith a nationalistRracistRreli7ious veneer (international corporations are Dbetrayin7I the decent /orkin7 people of our nation64 !t the con7ress of the ,ront #ational a couple of years a7o, Nean:&arie e Pen brou7ht on sta7e an !l7erian, an !frican and a Ne/, embraced them all and told his audience( DThey are no less ,rench than I amCit is the representatives of bi7 multinational capital, i7norin7 their duty to ,rance, /ho are the true dan7er to our identity=I In #e/ +ork, Pat Buchanan and Black activist eonora ,ulani can proclaim a common hostility to unrestricted free trade, and both (pretend to6 speak on behalf of the le7endary desaparecidos of our time, the proverbially vanished proletariat4 "hile multicultural tolerance becomes the motto of the ne/

The consensual form of politics in our time is a bi:polar system that offers the appearance of a choice /here essentially there is none, since today poles conver7e on a sin7le economic stanceC the Dti7ht fiscal policyI that -linton and Blair
and privile7ed DsymbolicI classes, the far 'i7ht seeks to address and to mobili.e /hatever remains of the mainstream D/orkin7 classI in our "estern societies4 declare to be the key tenet of the modern eft, that sustains economic 7ro/th, that allo/s us to improve social security, education and health4 In this uniform spectrum, political differences are more and more reduced to merely cultural attitudes( multiculturalRse9ual (etc46 DopennessI versus traditionalRnatural (etc46 Dfamily valuesI4

This choiceCbet/een Social Democrat or -hristian Democrat in *ermany, Democrat or 'epublican in the StatesCrecalls nothin7 so much as the predicament of someone /ho /ants an artificial s/eetener in an !merican cafeteria, /here the omnipresent alternatives are #utra:S/eet $8ual and Hi7h\ o/, small ba7s of red and blue, and most consumers have a habitual preference (avoid the red ones, they contain cancerous substances, or vice versa6 /hose ridiculous persistence merely hi7hli7hts the meanin7lessness of the options themselves4

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C"oms) :s lac) o! t"eor causes t%o problems0 1& It results in !actual inaccuracies because it ignores "istor & 5& It !ails as a political strateg & ?e %rites boo)s about t"e dirt details o! US policies and people s"rug and call "im un-Fmerican& ie) 5 (Slavoj, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis, intevie/ /ith Bad Subjects, GI
am a ,i7htin7 !theist( Intervie/ /ith Slavoj iek,H Bad Subjects, Issue Q21, ,ebruary, http(RReserver4or7RbsR21Riek4html64 %r take -homsky4 There are t/o problematic features in his /ork C thou7h it 7oes /ithout sayin7 that I admire him very much4 %ne is his anti:theorism4 ! friend /ho had lunch /ith him recently told me that -homsky

at0 c"oms)

announced that he>d concluded that social theory and economic theory are of no use C that thin7s are simply evident, like !merican state terror, and that all /e need to kno/ are the facts4 I disa7ree /ith this4 !nd the second point is that /ith all his criticism of the )4S4, -homsky retains a certain commitment to /hat is the most elemental in7redient of

!merican ideolo7y, individualism, a fundamental belief that !merica is the land of free individuals, and so on4 So in that /ay he is deeply and problematically !merican4 +ou can see some of these problems in the famous ,aurisson scandal in ,rance4 !s many readers may kno/, -homsky /rote the preface for a book by 'obert ,aurisson, /hich /as threatened /ith bein7 banned because it denied the reality of the Holocaust4 -homsky claimed that thou7h he opposes the book>s content, the book should still be published for free speech reasons4 I can see the ar7ument, but I can>t support him here4 The ar7ument is that freedom of the press is freedom for all, even for those /hom /e find dis7ustin7 and totally unacceptable; other/ise, today it is them, tomorro/ it is us4 It sounds lo7ical, but I think that it avoids the true parado9 of freedom( that some limitations have to 7uarantee it4 So to

understand /hat 7oes on today C to understand ho/ /e e9perience ourselves, to understand the structures of social authority, to understand /hether /e really live in a <permissive< society, and ho/ prohibitions function today C for these /e need social theory4 That>s the difference bet/een me and the names you
<the facts< enou7h? iek( et me 7ive you a very naive ans/er4 I

mentioned4 BS( -homsky and people like him seem to think that if /e just 7ot the facts out there, thin7s /ould almost take care of themselves4 "hy is this /ron7? "hy aren>t

think that basically the facts are already kno/n4 et>s take -homsky>s analyses of ho/ the -I! intervened in #icara7ua4 %P, (he provides6 a lot of details, yes, but did I learn anythin7 fundamentally ne/? It>s e9actly /hat I>d e9pected( the -I! /as playin7 a very dirty 7ame4 %f course it>s more convincin7 if you learn the dirty details4 But I don>t think that /e really learned anythin7 dramatically ne/ there4 I don>t think that merel 1)no%ing t"e !acts1 can reall c"ange people6s perceptions& To put it another /ay( -homsky>s o/n position on Posovo, on the +u7oslav /ar, sho/s some of his limitations, because of a lack of a proper historical conte9t4 "ith all his facts, he 7ot the picture /ron74 !s far as I can jud7e, -homsky bou7ht a
certain narrative C that /e shouldn>t put all the blame on &ilosevic, that all parties /ere more or less to blame, and the "est supported or incited this e9plosion because of its o/n 7eopolitical 7oals4 !ll are not the same4 I>m not sayin7 that the Serbs are 7uilty4 I just repeat my old point that +u7oslavia /as not over /ith the secession of Slovenia4 It /as over the moment &ilosevic took over Serbia4 This tri77ered a totally different dynamic4 It is also not true that the disinte7ration of +u7oslavia /as supported by the "est4 %n the contrary, the "est e9erted enormous pressure, at least until 0110, for ethnic 7roups to remain in +u7oslavia4 I sa/ Eformer Secretary of StateF Names Baker on +u7oslav TA supportin7 the +u7oslav army>s attempts to prevent Slovenia>s secession4 '"e

ultimate parado# !or me is t"at because "e lac)s a t"eoretical !rame%or)2 C"oms) even gets t"e !acts %rong sometimes&

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at0 impossible demands good Aie)B


Impossible demands maintain t"e political status (uo& We "ave clear consciences %"en %e demand t"ings li)e open borders but %e spea) !rom a position o! privilege t"at is not reall t"reatened b our demands& ie) 5 (Slavoj, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis, "elcome to the Desert of the
'eal, p42164 In a strict acanian sense of the term, /e should thus posit that DhappinessI relies on the subjectIs inability or unreadieness fully to confont the conse8uences of its desire( the price of happiness is that the subject remains stuck in the inconsistency of its desire4 In our daily lives, /e (pretend to6 desire thin7s /hich /e do not really desire, so that, ultimately the /orst thin7 that can happen is for us to 7et /hat /e DofficiallyI desire4 Happiness is thus inherently hypocritical( it is the happiness of dreamin7 about thin7s /e do not really /ant4

"hen todayIs eft bombardes the capitalist system /ith demands that it obviously cannot fulfill (,ull employment= 'etain the /elfare state= ,ull ri7hts for immi7rants=6, it is basically playin7 a 7ame of hysterical provocation, of addressin7 the &aster /ith a demand /hich /ill be impossible for him to meet, and /ill thus e9pose his impotence4 The problem this strate7y, ho/ever, is not only that the system cannot meet these demands, but that, in addition, those /ho voice them do not really /ant them to be reali.ed4 ,or e9ample, /henIradicalI academics demand full ri7hts for immi7rants and openin7 of the borders, are they a/are that the direct implementation of this demand /ould, for obvious reasons, inundate developed "estern countries /ith millions of ne/comers, thus provokin7 a violent /orkin7:class racist backlash /hich /ould then endan7er the privle7ed position of these very academics? %f course they are, but they count on the fact their demand /ill not be metCin this /ay, they can hypocritically retain their clear radical conscience /hile continuin7 to enjoy their privele7ed position 4 In 011M,

/hen a ne/ /ave of emi7ration from -uba to the )S! /as on the cards, ,idel -astro /arned the )S! that if they did not stop incitin7 -ubans to emi7rate, -uba /ould no lon7er prevent them from doin7 itC/hich the -uban authorities in effect did a couple of days later, embarrassin7 the )S! /ith thousands of un/anted ne/comers4444Is this not like the proverbial /oman /ho snapped back at a man /ho /as makin7 macho advances to her( DShut up, or youll have to do /hat youIre boastin7 about=I In both cases, the 7esture is that of callin7 the otherIs bluff, countin7 on the fact that /hat the other really fears is that one /ill fully comply /ith his or her demand4 !nd /ould not the same 7esture also thro/ our radical academics into a panic? Here the old I3B motto 8Soyons realistes, demandons l9impossi$le19 ac8uires a ne/ cynical and sinister meanin7 /hich, perhaps, reveals its truth( D etIs be realists( /e, the academic eft, /ant to appear critical, /hile fully enjoyin7 the privele7es the system offers us4 So letIs bombard the system /ith impossible demands( /e all kno/ that these demands /onIt be met, so /e can be sure that nothin7 /ill actually chan7e, and /eIll maintain our privile7ed status=I If someone accuses a bi7 corporation of particular financial crimes, he or she is e9posed to risks /hich can 7o ri7ht up to murder attempts; if he or she asks the same corporation to finance a research project into the link bet/een 7lobal capitalism and the emer7ence of hybrid postcolonial identities, he or she stands a 7ood chance of 7ettin7 hundreds of thousands of dollars4

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at0 ie) "as no political t"eor Aat0 "omer2 giganteB


ie) is e#plicitl political$"e advocates an anti-capitalist agenda as an aspect o! a radicall democratic state& Jona"ue 1 (Brian, Department of $n7lish, *on.a7a )niversity, G&ar9ism, Postmodernism, iek,H Postmodern -ulture,0545, Project &use6
This conception of iek as a political cipher is perhaps understandable on a first readin7 of a te9t like Loo0in) :wry or even The Su$lime ;$*ect of <deolo)y and on a hasty cate7ori.ation of him as a <poststructuralist psychoanalytic theorist< (a cate7ori.ation that /ould re8uire considerable elaboration64

But in li7ht of careful analysis of a /ide selection of his /ritin7s, it /ould be difficult to insist on iek>s political inscrutability4 %n the contrary, his /ork evinces a 7eneral ideolo7ical commitment to a radical democracy that is critical of both the 7lobali.in7 capitalism of the present and the bureaucratic state socialism of the recent past4 Thus, he advocates an (admittedly some/hat nebulous6 <third /ay< for the future /hile ackno/led7in7 the need for nation:states in the present as a counter both to the increasin7 transnationalism of capital and to the dialectically co:determined phenomenon of increasin7 ethnic and reli7ious <fundamentalist< violence and racism4 "hile iek does not fre8uently perform detailed analysis of specific policy issues, he does /rite
consistently from /ithin the broad ideolo7ical frame/ork I have described above::contrary to the effort of *i7ante to build an entire ar7ument on the premise that iek>s <subjective transparency is precisely his point< (02M6 and of Homer to chastise him for failin7 to dra/ connections bet/een his critical /ritin7 and the political sphere4 Indeed, the follo/in7 passa7e provides a clear statement of his ideas about at least one major topic of recent political philosophy, the <civil society< of late capitalism( People have this ethics of the bad state and 7ood civic, independent structures4 But sorry, in Slovenia I am for the state and a7ainst civil society= In Slovenia, civil society is e8ual to the ri7ht: /in7ers4 In !merica, after the %klahoma bombin7, they suddenly discovered that there are hundreds of thousands of jerks4 -ivil society is not this nice social movement but a net/ork of moral majority conservatives and nationalist pressure 7roups, a7ainst abortion, for reli7ious education in schools( a real pressure from belo/4 (<Napan,< par4 5M6

!s for his stance /ith respect to political economy, it is clear that a major aim of iek>s /ork is a criti8ue of capitalism in an effort to contribute to the buildin7 of an anti:capitalist a7enda in the realm of the political, /here stru77les for he7emony are constantly en7a7ed and rene/ed 4 ,ollo/in7 the 7eneral thrust of post:*ramscian &ar9ism, he
stresses that this he7emoni.in7 process of </innin7 consent< is al/ays at /ork, even at the supposedly objective level of the economy4

'urn0 t"e !act t"at t"ese articles are %ritten about ie) proves t"at "is strateg o! overidenti!ication %it" t"e s stem is %or)ing& '"is discom!ort IS t"e point because it !orces us to ta)e a personal stand& Instead o! 3ust bu ing into empt political r"etoric2 %e are !orced to become our o%n anal st& ie) ./ (Slavoj, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis, !" !#D TH$
P%ST&%D$'# &I#D( S)P$'$*% B+ D$,!) T, -ardo.o a/ 'evie/, 0112, 03 -ardo.o 4 'ev4 1526 In the process of the disinte7ration of socialism in Slovenia, the postpunk 7roup aibach sta7ed an a77ressive inconsistent mi9ture of Stalinism, #a.ism, and Blut und Boden ideolo7y4 The first reaction of the enli7htened leftist critics in Slovenia /as to conceive of aibach as the ironic imitation of totalitarian rituals4 Ho/ever, their support of aibach /as al/ays accompanied by an uneasy feelin7( <"hat if they really mean it? "hat if they truly identify /ith the totalitarian ritual?< %r, a more cunnin7 version of it, transferrin7 their o/n doubt onto the %ther( <"hat if aibach overestimates its public?< <"hat if the public takes seriously /hat aibach mockin7ly imitates, so that aibach actually stren7thens /hat it purports to undermine?< Their

uneasy feelin7 is fed on the assumption that ironic distance is automatically a subversive attitude4 "hat if, on the contrary, the dominant attitude of the contemporary <postideolo7ical< universe is precisely the cynical distance to/ards public values? "hat if this distance, far from posin7 any threat to the system, desi7nates the supreme form of conformism, since the normal functionin7 of the system re8uired cynical distance? In this case, the strate7y of aibach appears in a ne/ li7ht( it frustrates the system (the rulin7 ideolo7y6 precisely insofar as it is distanced from its ironic imitation; but over identification /ith it, by brin7in7 to li7ht the obscene supere7o underside of the system, suspends its efficiency4 The ultimate e9pedient of aibach is their deft manipulation of
transference; their public (especially intellectuals6 is obsessed /ith the <desire of the %ther< : /hether aibach>s actual position is truly totalitarian or not4 They address aibach /ith a 8uestion and e9pect an ans/er, failin7 to notice the crucial fact that aibach itself does not function as an ans/er but as a 8uestion 4 H means o! t"e elusive c"aracter o! t"eir desire2 t"e indecision regarding %"ere t"e actuall stand2 Laibac" compels us to ta)e a position and decide upon our desire& aibach actually accomplishes here the reversal that

defines the psychoanalytic cure4 !t the outset of the cure is transference( the transferential relationship is put in force as soon as the analyst appears in the 7uise of the subject /ho is supposed to kno/ the truth about the patient>s desire4 "hen, in the course of the psychoanalysis, the patient complains that he does not kno/ /hat he /ants, the complaint is addressed to the analyst, /ith the implicit supposition that the analyst already kno/s it4 In other /ords, insofar as the analyst stands for the bi7 %ther, the analyst>s illusion lies in reducin7 his i7norance about his desire to an <epistemolo7ical< incapacity( the truth about his desire already e9ists, it is re7istered some/here in the bi7 %ther, and one has only to brin7 it to li7ht and his desirin7 /ill run smoothly4 '"e

end o! ps c"oanal sis2 dissolution o! trans!erence2 designates t"e moment %"en t"e (uestion t"at t"e patient aimed at t"e anal st turns bac) to%ards t"e patient "imsel!4 ,irst, the patient>s (hysterical6 8uestion addressed an analyst /ho /as supposed to possess the ans/er; no/, the analyst is forced to ackno/led7e that he is merely a reflective 8uestion mark addressed back to the patient4 Here, one can e9plain acan>s thesis that an analyst is authori.ed only by himself( the patient becomes the analyst upon assumin7 that his desire has no support in the %ther, that the authori.ation of his desire has no support in the %ther, and that the authori.ation of his M3

Westminster 06-07 desire can come only from himself4 Insofar as this reversal defines drive, one can e9plain
the shift from desire to drive4

Updated Lacan K 87
acan>s thesis that /hat takes place at the end of psychoanalysis is

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Updated Lacan K 8;

at0 ie) is a totalitarian


ie) does not advocate literall repeating Leninist politics$"e onl means t"at Lenin !ound revolutionar %a out o! an ideological deadloc) and t"at %e need to loo) !or one as %ell& ie) 5 (Slavoj, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis , intevie/ /ith Bad Subjects,
GI am a ,i7htin7 !theist( Intervie/ /ith Slavoj iek,H Bad Subjects, Issue Q21, ,ebruary, http(RReserver4or7RbsR21Riek4html64

ie)0 I am careful to speak about not repeatin7 enin4 I am not an idiot& It %ouldn6t mean an t"ing to return to t"e Leninist %or)ing class part toda & "hat interests me about enin is precisely that after "orld "ar I broke out in 010M, he found himself in a total deadlock4 $verythin7 /ent /ron74 !ll of the social democratic parties outside 'ussia supported the /ar, and there /as a mass outbreak of patriotism4 !fter this, enin had to think about ho/ to reinvent a radical, revolutionary politics in this situation of total breakdo/n4 This is the enin I like4 enin is usually presented as a 7reat follo/er of &ar9, but it is impressive ho/ often you read in enin the ironic line that <about this there isn>t anythin7 in &ar94< It>s this purely ne7ative parallel4 Nust as enin /as forced to reformulate the entire socialist project, /e are in a similar situation4 "hat enin did, /e should do today, at an even more radical level 4 ,or e9ample, at the most
elementary level, &ar9>s concept of e9ploitation presupposes a certain labor theory of value4 If you take this a/ay from &ar9, the /hole edifice of his model disinte7rates4 "hat do /e do /ith this today, 7iven the importance of intellectual labor? Both standard solutions are too easy C to claim that there is still real physical production 7oin7 on

ike enin, /e>re deadlocked4 "hat I like in enin is precisely /hat scares people about him C the ruthless /ill to discard all prejudices 4
in the Third "orld, or that today>s pro7rammers are a ne/ proletariat?

'otalitarianism is t"e product o! utopian politics& Stalin and ?itler could commit "orrible acts o! violence in t"e name o! bringing about a "armonious ne% social order& Stavra)a)is2 .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, pa7es 0OB:00O64
!s Nerrold Post has pointed out, /e are al/ays bound to those /e hate( D"e need enemies to keep our treasuredCand idealisedCselves intactI (Post, 0113(5BL164 !nd this for Dfear of bein7 freeI (Sartre, 0112(5J64 The

fantasy of attainin7 a perfect harmonious /orld, of realisin7 the universal, can only be sustained throu7h the constructionRlocalisation of a certain particularity /hich cannot be assimilated but, instead, has to be eliminated4 There e9ists then a crucial dialectic
bet/een the universal fantasy of utopia and the particularity of theCal/ays localCenemy /ho is posited as ne7atin7 it4 The result of this dialectic is al/ays the same( The

tra7ic parado9 of utopianism has been that instead of brin7in7 about, as it promised, a system of final and permanent stability, it 7ave rise to utter restlessness, and in place of a reconciliation bet/een human freedom and social cohesion, it brou7ht totalitarian coercion4 (Talmon, 01J0(126 In that sense, as it
/as implicitly ar7ued in -hapter 5, the notion of fantasy constitutes an e9emplary case of a dialectical coincidentia opositorum-0@ %n the one hand, fantasy has a beatific side, a stabilisin7 dimension, it is identical to Dthe dream of a state /ithout disturbances, out of reach of human depravityI; on the other hand, /e have fantasy as somethin7 profoundly Ddestabilisin7I( D !nd

does the fundamental lesson of so:called totalitarianism not concern the co:dependence of these t/o aspects of the notion of fantasy ?I asks iek4 !ll those /ho aspire fully to realise its first harmonious side have recourse to its other dark dimension in order to e9plain their failure( the foreclosed obverse of the #a.i harmonious =ol0s)emeinschaft returned in their paranoiac obsession /ith Dthe Ne/ish plotI4 Similarly, the StalinistIs compulsive discovery of ever:ne/ enemies of socialism /as the inescapable obverse of their pretendin7 to realise the idea of the D#e/ Socialist &anI4 (iek, 0113a(0036 ,or iek, these t/o dimensions Dare like front and back of the same coin( insofar as a community e9periences its reality as re7ulated, structured, by fantasy, it has to disavo/ its inherent impossibility, the anta7onism in its very heartCand fantasy (the fi7ure of the Dconceptual Ne/I for e9ample6 7ives body to this disavo/al4 In short, the effectiveness of fantasy is the condition for fantasy to maintain its holdI (ibid464 )topia is not that far from dystopia4 "hat is at stake in the acanian conception of fantasy is, as /e have already pointed out,
enjoyment 5*ouissance6- If the effects of the normative idealist or $nli7htenment:style criti8ue of racism are severely limited, if this criti8ue is not enou7h ( ipo/at., 0112a(50@6, this is because, to use one of SloterdijkIs formulations, it Dhas remained more naive than the consciousness it /anted to e9poseI (Sloterdijk, 01BB(@64 In its rationality it has e9hausted itself4 In other /ords, it didnIt take into account that /hat is at stake here is not rational ar7umentation but the or7anisation and administration of enjoyment( The impotence of the attitude of traditional $nli7htenment is best e9emplified by the anti:racist /ho, at the level of rational ar7umentation, produces a series of convincin7 reasons a7ainst the racist %ther, but is nonetheless clearly fascinated by the object of his criti8ueCand conse8uently, all his defence disinte7rates in the moment of real crisis (/hen Dthe fatherland is in dan7erI for e9ample64 (Sloterdijk, 01BB(@6 Thus,

the 8uestion of la tra"ers7e du fantasme, that is to say Dof ho/ to 7ain the minimum of distance from the fantasmatic frame that or7anises our enjoyment, of ho/ to suspend its efficiency, is crucial not only for the concept of the psychoanalytic cure and its conclusion( today, in our era of rene/ed racist tensions, of universalised anti:Semitism, it is perhaps the foremost political 8uestionI (iek, 0113a(00JL0B64 In li7ht of this, traversin7 the fantasy of utopian thou7ht seems to be one of the most
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important political tasks of our a7e4 The current crisis of utopia is not cause for concern but for celebration4 But then /hy is the politics
of today a politics of aporia? There can be only one plausible e9planation( just because, in the ethical sphere, the fantasmatic ideal of harmony is still dominant4 If /e are situated today in a terrain of aporia and frustration it is because /e still fantasise somethin7 that is increasin7ly revealed as impossible and catastrophic4 !cceptin7

Updated Lacan K 8.

state4

this ultimate impossibility seems to be the only /ay out of this troublin7

'otalitarianism is in"erentl tied to politics o! utopia$%e are t"e opposite& Stavra)a)is2 .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, pa7es
e9ternal threats to democracy( democracy

05264

The uni8ueness of democracy /ill be more clearly sho/n in its opposition to t/o trends that threaten it4 These trends are defined by Touraine as the true

can be destroyed either from above, by authoritarian po/er, or from belo/, throu7h chaos, violence and civil /arI (Touraine, 011M(564 The rise and electoral success today of neofascist parties and movements makes imperative the comparison bet/een democracy and totalitarianism4 Totalitarianism emer7es /hen a particular party or political movement claims by its o/n nature to be different from all the other parties and forces4 It destroys all opposition since it claims to represent the /hole of society Dand to possess a le7itimacy that places it above the la/I ( efort, 01BB(0@64 If democracy reco7nises and institutionalises the division of the social, totalitarianism in contrast claims to understand the universal la/ of societal or7anisation and development /hich, applied to the social, can brin7 back the lost or7anic unity and eliminate any division and disharmony; /ith totalitarianism the da/n of DutopiaI is never too far a/ay45 Democracy, ho/ever, is not threatened only by universalist totalitarian tendencies attemptin7 to reinstate a universal or7anic unity( DThere is also a symmetrically opposite dan7er of a lack of all reference to this unityI ( aclau and &ouffe, 01B2(0BB64 This is the dan7er of particularism and of the fra7mentation of the social fabric into se7ments that deny the possibility of any meanin7ful articulation bet/een them4

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Updated Lacan K /0

at0 ie) mar#ism is totali-ing


ie) does not deplo t"e vulagr <ar#ism o! simple2 totali-ing class struggle& @at"er2 <ar#ism calls upon us to see class as one aspect o! ongoing and plural criti(ue& Jona"ue 1 (Brian, Department of $n7lish, *on.a7a )niversity, G&ar9ism, Postmodernism, iek,H Postmodern -ulture,0545, Project &use6
Slavoj iek discusses the implications of the /ay this dividin7 line is usually presented in contemporary theory4 In

a defense of dialectical totali.ation a7ainst the notions of dissemination and radically irreconcilable fra7mentation that prevail in postmodern theory, iek claims that the very form of the opposition as posed in the 8uestion <7ives predominance to the second term of the alternative< because it <silently assumes that every attempt at rational totali.ation is in advance doomed to failure< (For They 1164 But this characteri.ation misrepresents the He7elian understandin7 of a rational totality, he /rites, in that <the very
impetus of the >dialectical pro7ress>< has to do /ith <the possibility of >makin7 a system> out of the very series of failed totali.ations, to enchain them in a rational /ay, to discern the stran7e >lo7ic> that re7ulates the process by means of /hich the breakdo/n of a totali.ation itself be7ets another totali.ation< (1164 He 7oes on

to make a similar ar7ument /ith re7ard to the &ar9ist notion of the class stru77le, /hich is /idely critici.ed by postmodernists as <the >totali.in7> moment of society, its structurin7 principle,444 a kind of ultimate 7uarantee authori.in7 us to 7rasp society as a rational
totality< (0OO64 Such characteri.ations, iek ar7ues, overlook <the ultimate parado9 of the notion of >class stru77le,>< /hich is that society is <held to7ether< by the very anta7onism, split, that forever prevents its closure in a harmonious, transparent, rational "hole::by the very impediment that undermines every rational totali.ation4 !lthou7h <class stru77le< is no/here directly 7iven as a positive entity, it none the less functions, in its "ery a$sence, as the point of reference enablin7 us to locate every social phenomenon not by relatin7 it to class stru77le as its ultimate meanin7 (<transcendental si7nified<6 but by conceivin7 it as an(other6 attempt to conceal and <patch up< the rift of the class stru77le, to efface its traces::/hat /e have here is the typical structural:dialectical parado9 of an effect which e+ists only in order to efface the causes of its e+istence; of an effect /hich in a /ay <resists< its o/n cause4 (0OO6 Here

iek, like Nameson, rebuts condemnations of the mali7ned <closed, totali.ed system,< claimin7 that He7elian and <ar#ist dialectical t"eor never aimed at total closure in t"e !irst place and reasserting its met"odological value in t"e !ace o! postmodern criticisms b arguing t"at t"ose criticisms are based on a generali-ed and mista)en conception o! He7elian and <ar#ist t"in)ing in terms o! absolute2 total2 and uni!ied s stems 4 In other /ords, even He7el kne/ that !bsolute Spirit>s destiny of perfect, static self:contemplation /as al/ays already rendered impossible by the ineluctable necessity of movement, and, as iek /rites, even &ar9 understood that the <>normal> state of capitalism is the permanent revolutioni.in7 of its o/n conditions of e9istence ,< even
thou7h he sometimes proceeded <as if he >did? not 0now it, by describin7 the very passa7e from capitalism to socialism in terms of444 vul7ar evolutionist dialectics< ( Su$lime 25:2@64 "hile he does defend the dialectical tradition, iek does not simply revert to a <vul7ar< &ar9ism (althou7h Nameson has recently su77ested that such a move mi7ht in fact be called for in the post:-old "ar era264 I develop a more thorou7h discussion of his /ork belo/4

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Updated Lacan K /1

at0 "urle Aintraps c"ic criti(ue leaves no room !or politicsB


Lacanian ps c"oanal sis is t"e opposite o! %"at t"e intraps c"ic critics claim& @at"er t"an turning in%ard2 to some personal struggle bet%een t"e S mbolic and t"e @eal2 ps c"oanal sis is about cultural ideolog $it is ps c"olog turned out%ard and is t"ere!ore e#plicitl political& ie) 1 (Slavoj, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis, Intervie/ /ith -hristopher
Hanlon, Ph4D4 from )&ass:!mherst, GPsychoanalysis and the Post:Political( !n Intervie/ /ith Slavoj iek,H #e/ iterary History, @540, 0:50, Project &use64

C?0 < want to as0 a$out one common criti(ue of your wor0, most recently "oiced $y 'ames 2urley, that centers on what we mi)ht call your 3intrapsychic3 focus- @ For you, of course, ideolo)ical coercion occurs at the li$idinal le"el, at the constituti"e le"el of a su$*ect who 3is3 a dis*unction $etween the Sym$olic and the eal- But some commentators have e9pressed concern that this intrapsychic focus has the effect of leavin7 us little to do by /ay of intervenin7 upon specifically institutional mechanisms of coercion - Do such o$*ections concern you& S,0 #o, because I think that such criticism misses the point of ,reudian subjectivity4 I think that the very term <intrapsychic< is misleadin7; I think that, at least for acan, /ho emphasi.es this a7ain and a7ain, the proper dimension of the unconscious is not <deep inside4< '"e proper dimension is outside2 materiali-ed in t"e state apparatuses 4 The model of split subjectivity, as later echoed by ouis !lthusser, is not that there is somethin7 deep in me /hich is repressed; it>s not this internal psychic conflict4 "hat subverts my conscious attitudes are the implicit ideolo7ical beliefs e9ternali.ed, embodied in my activity 4 ,or instance, I>m interested in
this ne/ fashion of Holly/ood Holocaust comedy4 Have you noticed ho/, startin7 /ith Life <s Beautiful, /e have a ne/ 7enre, repeated in 'a0o$ the Liar, and so on? !propos of this, I ask, <"hy do Holocaust tra7edies fail?< ,or me, Speilber7 is at his lo/est durin7 a scene from Schindler.s List, /hen the concentration:camp commander faces the Ne/ish 7irl and /e have this internal monolo7ue, /here he is split bet/een his attraction to the 7irl and his racist tract( you kno/, <!re you a rat? !re you a human bein7?< and so on4 I think this split is false4 I take here 8uite literally acan>s dictum that ps

c"oanal sis is not ps c"olog , that the ultimate lesson of psychoanalysis is that /hen you analy.e phenomena like #a.is or Stalinism, it is totally /ron7 to think that you /ill arrive at any pertinent result throu7h so:called in:depth profiles of fi7ures like Stalin or Hitler4 Here there is a lesson to be learned from Hannah !rendt::thou7h at a different level I disa7ree /ith her::about the banality of evil4 The banality of evil means for me
/ith::to reference my eternal idea about canned lau7hter::/hat I am tempted to call a kind of canned hatred4 In

that the key is not, for e9ample, the personality of $ichmann; there is a 7ap separatin7 the acts of $ichmann from $ichmann>s self:e9perience4 But /hat I /ould add is that this doesn>t mean that $ichmann /as simply innocent in the sense that he /as possessed by some kind of brutally objective lo7ic4 &y idea is more and more that /e are dealin7

the same /ay that the TA set lau7hs for you, relieves you of the obli7ation to really lau7h, $ichmann himself didn>t really have to hate the Ne/s; he /as able to be just an ordinary person4 It>s the objective ideolo7ical machinery that did the hatin7; the hatred /as imported, it /as <out there4< C?0 2e e"en reported that he admired the 'ews, that he used to literally "omit with dis)ust at the efficiency of the e+termination - - - S,0 +es= So a7ain, I /ould say that this reproach misses the point in the sense that t"e !undamental lesson o! ps c"oanal sis is t"at t"e unconscious is outside2 cr stalli-ed in institutional practices 4

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Updated Lacan K /5

at0 derrida At"e *big ot"er+ is a !orm o! essentiali-ationB


'"e claim t"at Lacan essentiali-es a *Hig Kt"er+ is a misreading& ?is point is t"at t"e desire !or t"e ot"er %ill al%a s be !rustrated because t"e *Hig Kt"er+ does not properl e#ist$meaning t"at it is a cultural construct2 not a !i#ed origin o! meaning& ie)2 1 (Slavoj, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis , Intervie/ /ith -hristopher
Hanlon, Ph4D4 from )&ass:!mherst, GPsychoanalysis and the Post:Political( !n Intervie/ /ith Slavoj iek,H #e/ iterary History, @540, 0:50, Project &use64

S,0 I /ould just like to make t/o points4 ,irst, I still think, as I first developed in #n*oy Aour Symptom1, that <resistance< is the appropriate term here4 In deconstructionist one of the standard criticisms of some deconstructionists here in the States is that acan elevates the <Bi7 %ther< into some kind of non:historical, a priori symbolic order 4 4 4 4 &y only, perhaps na]ve ans/er to this is that the bi7 acanian thesis from the mid:fifties is that <The Bi7 %ther doesn>t e9ist4< He repeats this a7ain and a7ain, and the point of this is precisely that there is no symbolic order that /ould serve as a kind of prototranscendental 7uarantor 4
<phallic si7nifier,< and so on, and so on, but the fi7ure of acan they construct is precisely /hat acan /as tryin7 to undermine4 ,or e9ample,

circles, you can almost feel it, this stron7 embarrassment about acan4 So they can buy acan only, as it /ere, conditionally, only insofar as they can say he didn>t 7o far enou7h4 I claim that the truth is the e9act opposite; the only /ay they can appropriate acan is to submit him to a radical misreadin74 +ou kno/, all the time /e hear about the

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Updated Lacan K /7

at0 so)al ad bricmont AgeneralB


So)al and Hricmont do not "ave a %ell educated perspective on Lacan& '"e are part o! a vacuous pop culture bac)las" as Irenc" intellectuals& =l nos M Stavra)a)is 1 (Nason \ +annis, Department of *overnment at the )niversity of $sse9 GPostures and Impostures( %n acan>s Style and )se of
&athematical Science,H !merican Ima7o 2B4@, 3B2:JO3, Project &use64 #o doubt such a Derridean response /ill have its effects4 %ur opinion, ho/ever, is that a different sort of intervention here /as also important4 It /as important not because it promised to be intellectually re/ardin7 in a substantive sense4 "e do not in this essay make any contributions to the understandin7 of psychoanalysis or philosophy of science4 Such an intervention /as important because the

debate taps into a /idespread sentiment characteristic of the current Beit)eist, entailin7 a kind of reactionary backlash a7ainst psychoanalysis and poststructuralism in 7eneral4 This backlash is epitomised by a kind of patholo7ical reaction a7ainst the likes of acan 4 By patholo7ical here /e mean simply symptomatic from the perspective of a polity that ima7ines it is 7overned by principles of reasonableness and pluralism4 That is to say, by patholo7y /e mean only /hat you 7et /hen dismissive opinions about a person>s /ork are taken seriously even if e9pressed by those who admit to their i)norance re7ardin7 that person>s discipline, substitutin7 sensationali.ed irony for intellectual ri7or and relyin7::throu7h mere association::on the crutch of the scientific establishment>s institutional authority4 The poor citi.en /ho inhabits such a <polity of reasonableness< cannot but be horrified , stru77lin7 to offer /hat can only
is not e9amined in any detail4< It

appear as an impotent response( <It is one thin7 for someone to disa7ree /ith acan, or to conclude that acan is too difficult to be /orth the trouble, or to decide that acan is not one>s >cup of tea>; it is 8uite another to 7o out of one>s /ay to invoke institutional faith to endorse and encoura7e cheap entertainment at the e9pense of authors /hose /ork

is clear that S\B>s <ntellectual <mpostures o/es its popularity not to any kind of sound scholarship, intellectual inte7rity, or literary erudition 4 Ho/ then to e9plain all the fuss surroundin7 it? Deconstructive commonsense su77ests that its popularity comes not so much from the content bet/een its covers as it does from the cultural and academic conte9t in /hich it appears 4 "e close /ith a acanian hypothesis, su77estin7 that its success is buoyed up by a satisfaction or enjoyment ( *ouissance6 that has at least t/o sources( (06 the fun poked at ,rench intellectuals /ho are difficult to understand; and (56 the fun poked at those /ho poke fun at ,rench intellectuals 4 It is not so easy to steer clear of these t/o sources of satisfaction4

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Updated Lacan K /8

at0 so)al and bricmont Alacan too denseB


'"e densit o! Lacan:s %riting is not an indict o! "is t"eor & In !act2 t"e di!!icult level is meant to encourage responsible2 re!lective understanding$it is a deliberate2 et"ical position !or "im as an aut"or& =l nos M Stavra)a)is 1 (Nason \ +annis, Department of *overnment at the )niversity of $sse9 GPostures and Impostures( %n acan>s Style and )se of
&athematical Science,H !merican Ima7o 2B4@, 3B2:JO3, Project &use64 "hy should he 7o out of his /ay to caution his audience to resist understandin7 too 8uickly? Precisely because he is concerned that analysts are tempted to understand their patients too 8uickly4 !nd /hat does <understand< mean? To understand somethin7 means to translate a term into other terms that /e are already familiar /ith4 This means, for acan, that in understandin7 the patient>s discourse analysts understand only /hat they are already familiar /ith4 Instead of accessin7 the patient in his or her uni8ueness, instead of bein7 open to somethin7 ne/ and different, analysts effectively reinforce their o/n self:understandin74 #o doubt it is unsettlin7 /hen /e are confronted /ith somethin7 /e cannot immediately understand4 #o doubt it is comfortin7 to believe that /e understand each other and that /e all share certain aspirations and standards of morality4 But, acan /ants to claim, this comes at a price4 The

price /e pay for an undue reliance on immediate understandin7 is an unthinkin7 acceptance of premises /e have come to rely on and that cease to elicit the need for justification4 Think, for instance, of the ideal of peda7o7y4 This is often taken as an un8uestioned ideal that re8uires no justification4 )ltimately, acan>s point is an ethical one, findin7 application not just in the clinic, but in theoretical /ork and 8uotidian life as /ell4 It has to do /ith takin7 responsibility for one>s understandin7, rather than relyin7 on a consensus of understandin74 !nd the strate7y he chose to adopt in this re7ard involved systematically creatin7 a mar7in of nonunderstandin74 He reco7ni.ed in this strate7y its potential productiveness:: productive in terms of 7eneratin7 a desire for responsi$le understandin7 and in terms of 7eneratin7 research4 In short, acan is not celebratin7 misunderstandin74 'ather, he is makin7 an ar7ument in favour of responsi$le understandin74

2M

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Updated Lacan K //

at0 so)al and bricmont Alacan uses mat" poorl B


So)al and Hricmont attac) a stra% person %"en discuss Lacan and mat"ematics& Lacan t"oroug"l discussed di!!erent possible interpretations o! mat"ematical terms and does not use t"em in t"e sense t"e attac)& =l nos M Stavra)a)is 1 (Nason \ +annis, Department of *overnment at the )niversity of $sse9 GPostures and Impostures( %n acan>s Style and )se of
&athematical Science,H !merican Ima7o 2B4@, 3B2:JO3, Project &use64

#o doubt S\B>s hostility to acan>s use of mathematics is also compounded by their particular understandin7 of the nature of mathematics4 S\B take for 7ranted, for e9ample, that mathematical statements have uni8ue meanin7s4 But this vie/ stems from only one possible perspective on the nature of mathematics4 !dmittedly, it is intuitively appealin7 and taps into commonsense /ays about ho/ /e think of mathematics4 But it is based on an underdeveloped analo7y /ith an e8ually underdeveloped idea of lin7uistic meanin74 It is /orth notin7, in this respect, that acan spent considerable time and effort articulatin7 concepts such as analo7y and meanin7 in relation to much literature on the philosophy of science and mathematics4 !ccordin7 to acan, mathematics finds itself occupyin7 a privile7ed locus at the limits of lan7ua7e4 In this vie/, mathematics is essentially meanin7less ( <The mathematical formali.ation of si7nifiers runs counter to meanin74 4 4 4

In our times, philosophers of mathematics say >it means nothin7> concernin7 mathematics, even /hen they are mathematicians themselves, like 'ussell< (01J2, 1@64 This, after all, is /hy identical s8ui77les on a piece of paper may ac8uire vastly different meanin7s dependin7 on the domain of their application (and therefore interpretation64 The fact that the physicist 'ichard ,eynman (013@6 emphasi.ed that 8uantum mechanics cannot be understood is also relevant in this re7ard::it simply </orks< (00J64

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at0 essentialism
It is impossible to accuse Lacan o! essentialism$"is t"eor o! t"e sub3ect is t"e opposite$"e claims t"at %e are mar)ed b t"e Lac)& Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, acan and the Political, GThe acanian SubjectH p40M:26 &H
This is not the case only /ith poststructuralism4 It seems that the acanian subject can fill a lot of lacks and that lacks are increasin7ly proliferatin7 around us (or maybe today /e are becomin7 more a/are of their presence and alert to their persistence64 To provide only a fe/ e9amples, 7ivin7 particular attention to those havin7 some political relevance, 'osalind -o/ard and Nohn $llis point out that D acanIs subject is therefore this ne/ subject of dialectical materialismU4 The emphasis on lan7ua7e provides a route for an elaboration of the subject demanded by dialectical materialismI (-o/ard and $llis, 01JJ(1@64 &ichele Barrett, for her part, ar7ues that Dpsychoanalysis Eand she is mainly referrin7 to acanF is the place one mi7ht reasonably start to correct the lamentable lack of attention paid to subjectivity /ithin &ar9ismIs theory of ideolo7yI (Barrett, 0110(00BL01, my emphasis6, /hile &ark Bracher concludes that D acanian theory can provide the sort of account of subjectivity that cultural criticism needsI (Bracher, 011@(0564 To sum up, the core idea of this ar7ument is that acan is relevant for contemporary sociopolitical analysis because of his vision of the human subject4

!s ,eher*ure/ich states ^ propos of social theory( D acanIs psychoanalytic approach is founded on premises that are in sharp contrast to the ones /hich have led to the failure of an alliance bet/een psychoanalysis and social theoryI4 !nd /hat are these premises? D acan provides social theory /ith a vision of the human subject that sheds ne/ li7ht on the relations bet/een individual aspirations and social aimsI (,eher:*ure/ich, 0113(02M64 Simply put, the acanian conception of subjectivity is called to remedy the shortcomin7s or DsupplementICthis term is not used here in its strictest Derridean sense, althou7h a deconstructionist flavour is not entirely absentC poststructuralism, social theory, cultural criticism, theory of ideolo7y, etc4 But isnIt such a move a reductionist move par e9cellence? !lthou7h our o/n approach, as it /ill be developed in the follo/in7 chapters, is clearly located beyond a lo7ic of supplementation, it /ould be unfair to consider the acanian subject as the point of an unacceptable reduction4

This /ould be the case only if the acanian notion of subjectivity /as a simple reproduction of an essentialist subject, of a subject articulated around a sin7le positive essence /hich is transparent to itself and fully representable in theoretical discourse4 But this essentialist subject, the subject of the humanist philosophical tradition, the -artesian subject, or even the &ar9ist reductionist subject /hose essence is identified /ith her or his class interests, is e9actly /hat has to be 8uestioned and has been 8uestioned; it cannot be part of the solution because it forms part of the initial problem4 The acanian subject is clearly located beyond such an essentialist, simplistic notion of subjectivity 4 #ot only is acan Dobviously the most distant from those /ho operate /ith essentialist cate7ories or simplistic notions of psychic cause or ori7inI (Barrett, 0110(0OJ6, but the acanian subject is radically opposin7 and transcendin7 all these tendencies /ithout, ho/ever, thro/in7 a/ay the baby to7ether /ith the bath /ater, that is to say, the locus of the subject to7ether /ith its essentialist formulations4

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at0 our impacts are true


It:s impossible to directl access realit -- traversing t"e !antas is necessar !or true engagement %it" t"e political ,i-e) 5008 (Slavoj, Birkbeck Institite for the Humanities, -onversations /ith Si.ek, *lyn Daly, JB:J16
Here I /ould a7ree /ith aclau and &ouffeIs notion that society

doesnIt e9ist( that there is no neutral space, no neutral reality that can be first objectively described and from /hich /e then develop the idea of anta7onism4 !7ain, this /ould be my idea of fantasy as constitutin7 reality4 %f course #a.is are a real obstacle, but the 8uestion is /hy are they a real obstacle? The ans/er is, because they are sustained by a certain fantasmatic universe4 That is to say that of course you can describe the /ay #a.is are a real threat, ho/ they threaten social reality for Ne/s, but the reason they are a threat in reality has to do /ith fantasies about radical anta7onism4 In this sense, the only thin7 I am claimin7 is that you cannot account for anta7onism as 'eal in the terms of just a reflection or an effect of some conflicts in social reality 4 To return to the notion of the
real 'eal and reality, the crucial point to bear in mind is that, a7ain, the acanian 'eal is not some kind of a hard kernel( the true reality as opposed to

the 'eal is in a /ay a fiction; 'eal is not some kind of ra/ nature /hich is then symboli.ed4 +ou symboli.e nature but in order to symboli.e nature, in this very symboli.ation, you produce an e9cess or a lack symmetrically( and thatIs the 'eal4 This is the crucial acanian lesson4 ItIs not, as it is sometimes misrepresented, that you haveCletIs
only our symbolic fictions4 This is /hy the notion of the ima7inary 'eal, /hich I evoked before, is so important4 I think that call it naively pre:symbolic reality( you symboli.e it and then somethin7 cannot be symboli.ed and that is the 'eal4 #o, this is just a kind of stupid reality; /e donIt even have an ontolo7ical name for it4 IT is, rather, that the

very 7esture of symboli.ation introduces a 7ap in reality4 It is this 7ap /hich is the 'eal and every positive form of this 7ap is constituted throu7h fantasy4 So a7ain the crucial thin7 is to avoid any reification of the 'eal4 The 'eal can be considered almost as a
topolo7ical term, a topolo7ical t/ist, and any substantiali.ation of the 'eal is a kind of perspective illusion4 'eal is a purely topolo7ical cate7ory4 "ith reference to the passa7e from special to 7eneral theory of relativity in $instein, one could put in these terms( throu7h symboli.ation space itself is curved, and the

'eal is the illusion that this curvature of the space is caused by some positive entity4 But the /hole point about the 'eal is that the impossibility is not the result of some positive obstacle, but is purely inherent( the impossibility is produced as the very condition of symbolic space4 That is the ultimate parado9 of the 'eal4 +ou cannot have it all, not because there is somethin7 opposin7 you, but because of this purely formal, structurally inherent, self:blockade4 Kb3ective realit is a m t"$language can never !ull represent t"e real so %e use inevitabl use cultural !antas to cover over "oles in our )no%ledge& Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, pa7es p 2M:2264

!t first it is indeed possible to confuse the anti:objectivist dimension of acanian theory /ith the standard social constructionist ar7umentation recently in vo7ue4 acan su77ests that social

reality is not a stable referent, a depository of identity, but a semblance created by the play of symbolisation and fantasmatic coherence4 'eality is lackin7 and, at the same time, attemptin7 to hide this lack throu7h the symbolic and ima7inary means at its disposal 4 Social constructionism
is also articulated on the basis of the criti8ue of objectivist and essentialist conceptions of reality4 If, in the past, it /as thou7ht possible to ac8uire an objective representation or symbolisation of reality, even of the deep essence of thin7s, constructionism ar7ues that the failure of all these attempts, the

"hat /e accept as (objective6 reality is nothin7 but a social construction /ith limited duration 4 'eality is al/ays constructed at the level of meanin7 and discourse40M The importance of constructionism is very clearly sho/n in our representation of nature since nature is somethin7 /e usually perceive as objectively real4 #ature, in everyday discourse, refers to the idea of an objective e9ternality /hich can
historical and social relativity of human representations of reality, sho/ that this reality is al/ays the result of a process of social construction4 be absolutely intelli7ible throu7h the mediation of sensation and /ithout the intervention of social meanin74 This is a belief still /idely shared by natural scientists, *reen activists and lay people4 But

ho/ natural is nature? In order to ans/er this 8uestion social constructionists focus their

a *reen activist and an industrialist do not share the same conception of nature 4 Social constructionism is based on the reco7nition of this social relativity of kno/led7e4 !s Ber7er and uckmann have pointed out, /hat is real for a Tibetan monk may not be real for an !merican businessman (Ber7er and uckmann, 013J(0264 The same applies to the level of diachrony4 %ur perception of reality is not only socially relative but also historically relative4 !s -ollin7/ood
attention on the coe9istence, in the same social terrain, of different, if not contradictory, representations of nature4 It is obvious that in our societies

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and Pelsen have sho/n, the

ancient *reek conception of nature differs from the 'enaissance and the modern conception, /hile the primitive attitude to/ards nature is markedly different from modern scientific conceptions of nature (-ollin7/ood, 01M2; Pelsen, 01M364 "hat social constructionism concludes from the social and historical relativity of human kno/led7e is that reality is socially constructed; that it is impossible, for e9ample, to pin do/n once and for all the essence of nature4 ,or humans, reality comes to e9istence as a meanin7ful /hole only /ithin a net/ork of meanin7, /ithin the level of discourse in /hich the elusive DobjectiveI reality is articulated /ith the meanin7 /ith
/hich it becomes visible for us4 This shift from a naturalist to a culturalist paradi7m si7nifies a chan7e of perspective( it is not social meanin7 that is reduced to nature but nature that is

Updated Lacan K /;

revealed as socially constructed at the level of meanin74 "ithin the naturalist frame/ork, real nature (as represented in the DobjectiveI discourse of the naturalist6 is accepted as the si7nified of all social meanin74 Social constructionism introduces an important reversal( nature is only a si7nifier and its si7nified is society, /hich sets the rules accordin7 to /hich /e understand the /orld ($der, 0113(@064 #ot only nature is a si7nifier and not an object or a si7nified, but its o/n si7nified, the si7nified of DnatureI, is not reality (as a hard e9tra:discursive entity6, but the level of construction, of the production of social meanin74 The si7nified is itself a si7nifier; in a very acanian manner
si7nification refers only to another si7nification, and so on and so forth4 Today that social constructionism is he7emonisin7 the terrain of the social sciences, it is standard te9tbook kno/led7e (normal science in PuhnIs vocabulary6 that Dnature is increasin7ly bein7 seen as a social construction4

Social science can no lon7er suppose the objectivity of nature as an unchan7in7 essenceI (Delanty, 011J(264
L#ternal realit ma e#ist but it is irrelevant because %e do not "ave access to it& Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9 Lacan and the Political, G$ncirclin7 the PoliticalH, p4B36 &H
et me illustrate this point by returnin7 to one of the e9amples I used earlier, that of nature4 The crucial 8uestion re7ardin7 our access to the natural /orld becomes no/(

ho/ can /e then, if in fact /e can, approach nature before it becomes #ature, the real before it becomes reality, before its symbolisation? This is the 8uestion posed by $vernden( ho/ can /e return to thin7s Dbefore they /ere captured and e9plained, in /hich transaction they ceased to be themselves and became instead functionaries in the /orld of social discourse E?FI ($vernden, 0115(00O64 Ho/ can /e encounter the pre:symbolic %ther in its radical otherness, an otherness escapin7 all our representations, if he is al/ays DbeyondI? (ibid4( 00B64 "ell, in fact /e canIt; /hat /e can do, ho/ever, is ackno/led7e this failure , this constitutive impossibility, /ithin our symbolisations4 Trapped as /e are /ithin the /orld of social meanin7, all our representations of reality are doomed to fail due to their symbolic character4 $very attempt to construct /hat is impossible to be constructed fails due to our entrapment /ithin the /orld of construction4 The only moment in /hich /e come face to face /ith the irreducible real beyond representation is /hen our constructions are dislocated4 It is only /hen #ature, our construction of e9ternal reality, meets a stumblin7 block, somethin7 /hich cannot be symbolically inte7rated, that /e come close to the real of nature4 #ature, constructed #ature, is nothin7 but Da mode of concealment, a cloak of abstractions /hich obscures that

discomfortin7 /ildness that defies our paranoid ur7e to delineate the boundaries of Bein7I ($vernden, 0115(0@564 %nly /hen these boundaries collapse, in that minute

intermission before /e dra/ ne/ ones, can /e sense the unheimlich of real nature4 It is in that sense thatC as ar7ued in -hapter 5C acanian theory opens the road to a realist constructionism or a constructionist realism; it does so by acceptin7 the priority of a real /hich is, ho/ever, unrepresentable, but, nevertheless, can be encountered in the failure of every construction4 %ne final point before concludin7 this section( /hen applied to our o/n discourse isnIt this reco7nition introducin7 a certain ethical principle ? 'eco7nisin7 at the same time the impossibility of masterin7

the real and our obli7ation to reco7nise this impossibility throu7h the failure of our attempts to symbolise it, indeed seems to introduce a certain principle /hich cannot be by:passed4 %f necessity this is a principle affectin7 the
structure of kno/led7e and science in late modern societies4

'"e capital ' trut" can never be accessed$onl embracing t"e Lac)2 or t"at impossibilit 2 allo%s !or better understanding o! t"e %orld& Stavra)a)is 7 (+annis, professor of Ideolo7y and Discourse !nalysis Pro7ram in the Department of *overnment at the )niversity of $sse9, The Lacanian Left,
GIntroduction( ocatin7 the acanian eftH, p4 1:006 &H But /ait a minute,

ho/ can the paths of e9perience, belon7in7 to /hat is impossible to be ade8uately represented in the domain of the symbolic (/here theory is usually constructed and analysis practiced6, the paths belon7in7 to /hat acan names the real, ac8uire a place /ithin a theory of psychoanalysis or /ithin theory in 7eneral ? Is not acan himself ar7uin7 that the real is radically incommensurable /ith our symbolic constructs? "hat is needed then is a reorientation of the /ay /e construct our theories and conduct our analyses4 Instead of repressin7 the reco7nition of their limits , of their ultimate failure to capture the real L this is the standard reductionist theoretical strate7y L /e can start incorporatin7 this destabilisin7 element /ithin our theories 4 Instead of repressin7 the parado9ical relation, the tension bet/een kno/led7e and e9perience that marks our lives, /e /ould be probably better off 2B

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ackno/led7in7 this tension, repeatedly inscribin7 the limits of theoretical discourse /ithin its o/n symbolic fabric4 In that sense, beyond the banality of normal science, a science /hich limits itself /ithin the field of banal e9perience, acanian theory introduces the idea of a permanent scientific revolution4 ,urthermore, if epistemolo7y can only be political L Depistemolo7y and politics 4 4 4 are one and the same thin7I, /rites atour (5OOM( 5B6 L this ethics of theorisin7 has to be situated /ithin its broader political back7round , one related to the le7acy of the democratic revolution4 But is this (thorou7hly political6 mode of theorisin7 possible, and ho/ is it possible? !ccordin7 to acan it is4 This is e9actly because, ri7ht from the start, the real, althou7h incommensurable, is not alien to the symbolic40B If the real is defined as that /hich resists symbolisation, this is because /e can indeed e9perience the failure of symbolisation to master it4 If the 8uestion is( DHo/ do /e kno/ that the real
resists symbolisation in the first place?I, the ans/er must be( D$9actly because this resistance, this limit of symbolisation, is sho/n /ithin the level of symbolisation itself4I Psychoanalysis is based on the idea that the real, the real of e9perience, is sho/n in certain

effects persistin7 in representation, althou7h it lacks any final positive representation per se4 The limits of every discursive structure (of the conscious articulation of meanin7, for e9ample6, the limits dividin7 the discursive from the e9tra:discursive, can only be sho/n in relation to this same discursive structure (throu7h the subversion of its meanin7 64 In PuhnIs vocabulary, Danomaly
appears only a7ainst the back7round provided by the paradi7mI (Puhn 0113( 3264 Hence ,reudIs focus on the formations of the unconscious( dreams, slips of the ton7ue, symptoms, and the like L the places /here ordinary conscious meanin7 is distorted or disrupted and ne7ativity ac8uires a parado9ical and perple9in7 positive embodiment (both symbolic and affective64 ,urthermore, psychoanalysis

ar7ues that it is possible to enact the symbolic 7estures, the modes of

positivisation, that can encircle these moments of sho/in7 or resurfacin7 of the real; other/ise the Dtalkin7 cureI itself /ould have no effects at all4 The 8uestion that remains open, of course, is /hat is the nature of these symbolic 7estures4 It is not so much a 8uestion of DifI as a 8uestion of Dho/I4 #o/, it is clear that acan believes that, in the first instance, it

is possible to escape from the illusion of theoretical closure and analytical reduction and approach the real by means of a study of parado9 and bi.arre representational structures such as those found in topolo7y( the Borromean knot,01 for e9ample, is capable of sho/in7 a certain real (KK( 0@@64 In his 01J5L@ seminar, $ncore, he makes it clear that the real can only be inscribed on the basis of an impasse of formalisation (KK( 1@64 It is throu7h the failures of symbolisation L the play of parado9, the areas of inconsistency and incompleteness L that it becomes possible to 7rasp Dthe limits , the points of impasse, of dead:end, /hich sho/ the real yieldin7 to the symbolicI ( acan in ee 011O( 0J064 acanIs neolo7isms and statements like DThe "oman
does not e9istI or DThere is no se9ual relationI attempt to reproduce this kind of parado9ical encirclin7 of impossibility, this ne/ orientation in theorisin74 !s #asio has put it, D acanIs formula Gthere is no se9ual relationH is precisely an attempt to delineate the real, to trace or delimit the lack of the si7nifier of se9 in the unconsciousI4 In that sense

theoretical /ork is not reduced simply to statin7 Dhere is the real that is unkno/nI, but involves an attempt to delimit, to /rite the limits of, the real (#asio 011B( 00564 This is, then, the acanian position, /hich underlies the epistemolo7ical and theoretical orientation of the present book45O !lthou7h /e can never fully symbolise the real of e9perience in itself, it is possible to encircle (even in a metaphorical /ay6 the limits it poses to si7nification and representation , the limits it poses to our theories4 It is

possible to become alert to the modes of positivisation these limits ac8uire beyond the fantasmatic reduction of ne7ativity to positivity, of non:identity to identity, of the real to reality4 !lthou7h it is impossible to touch the real, to master e9perience fully, it is possible to encircle this impossibility, e9actly because this impossibility is al/ays emer7in7 /ithin symbolisation, /ithin a DtheoreticalI terrain4 This is not to say, of course, that such an encirclin7 can ever be total; on the contrary, insofar as this strate7y is also articulated at the symbolic level, it is doomed to fail4 It remains, thou7h, open to this failure, to the ontolo7ical trace of its o/n contin7ency4 It assumes the responsibility of this limit, thereby hi7hli7htin7 the ethical dimension of the kno/led7eRe9perience dialectics4 This has nothin7 to do, ho/ever, /ith some kind of nihilistic, even masochistic,

acceptance of passivity and failure 4 "hy? #ot least because the re7isterin7 of the limits of understandin7 allo/s for a better, or rather a different, type of understandin7( Done of the thin7s /e must 7uard most a7ainst is to understand too much 4 4 4 it is on the basis of a kind of refusal of understandin7 that /e push open the door of analytic understandin7I (II( 53264 %nly throu7h the assumption of this failure can theory remain open to the truth of e9perience4 The point, in other /ords, is not to endorse the absence of kno/led7e, nihilistically celebratin7 its disinte7ration, but rather to adopt a position of docta i7norantia, Da kno/led7e about the limits of kno/led7e, a profound a/areness of the si7nificance of not:kno/in7I (#obus and Zuinn 5OO2( 5264 "hich
brin7s us back to acanIs statement 8uoted earlier4 It is impossible to speak the /hole truth4 #evertheless, one needs to try4 #ot in the hope that he or she /ill eventually mana7e to say it all; on the contrary, fully assumin7 the failure of our o/n /ords to say it( it is throu7h this very impossibility that truth holds onto the real4 It is this solid orientation /hich, as /e shall see throu7hout this te9t, underlies the continuous and often radical shifts markin7 acanIs trajectory L /ith re7ard to his vie/s on affect, desire, and so on4

>olitical !antas is all %e "ave$t"ere is no access to t"e *reall real+ so all t"at %e can do is pla %it" pieces o! t"e !antas & ,i-e) 5 (Slavoj2 International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis, Welcome to the Desert of
the eal! Fi"e #ssays on Septem$er %% and elated Dates , GPassions of the 'eal, Passions of SemblanceH, p4 0J:B6 &H The fact that the September 00 attacks /ere the stuff of popular fantasies lon7 before they actually took place provides yet another case of the t/isted lo7ic of dreams ( it is easy to account for the fact that poor people around the /orld dream about becomin7 !mericans : so /hat do the /ell:to:do !mericans, immobili.ed in their /ell:bein7, dream about? !bout a 7lobal catastrophe that /ould shatter their lives : /hy? This is /hat psychoanalysis is about( to e9plain /hy, in the midst of /ellbein7, /e are haunted by ni7htmarish visions of catastrophes4 This parado9 also indicates ho/ /e should 7rasp acan>s notion of >traversin7 the fantasy> as the concludin7 moment of the psychoanalytic treatment4 This notion may seem to fit perfectly the

common:sense idea of /hat psychoanalysis should do( of course it should liberate us from the hold of idiosyncratic fantasies, and enable us to confront reality as it really is= Ho/ever, this, precisely, is /hat acan does not have in mind : /hat he aims at is almost the e9act opposite4 In our daily

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Updated Lacan K 60 e9istence, /e are immersed in >reality> (structured and supported by the fantasy 6, and this immersion is disturbed by symptoms /hich bear /itness to the fact that another, repressed, level of our psyche resists this immersion4 To >traverse the fantasy> therefore, parado9ically, means fully identifyin7 oneself /ith the fantasy : namely, /ith the fantasy /ith structures the e9cess that resists our immersion in daily reality; or, to 8uote a succinct formulation by 'ichard Boothby( >Traversin7 the fantasy> thus does not mean that the subject someho/ abandons its involvement /ith fanciful caprices and accommodates itself to a pra7matic >reality,> but precisely the opposite( the subject is submitted to that effect of the symbolic lack that reveals the limit of everyday reality4 To traverse the fantasy in the acanian sense is to be more profoundly claimed by the fantasy than ever, in the sense of bein7 brou7ht into an ever more intimate relation /ith that real core of the fantasy that transcends_lma_7m74 0O Boothby is ri7ht to emphasi.e the Nanus:like structure of a fantasy ( a fantasy is simultaneously pacifyin7, disarmin7 (providin7 an ima7inary scenario /hich enables us to endure the abyss of the %ther>s desire6 and shatterin7, disturbin7, inassimilable into our reality4 The ideolo7ico:political dimension of this notion of >traversin7 the fantasy> /as dearly revealed by the uni8ue role the rock 7roup Top ista
#adrealista (The Top ist of>the Surrealists6 played durin7 the Bosnian /ar in the besie7ed to/n of Sarajevo( their ironic performances : /hich, in the midst of /ar and hun7er, satiri.ed the predicament of Sarajevo>s population : ac8uired a cult status not only in the counterculture, but also amon7 citi.ens of Sarajevo in 7eneral (the 7roup>s /eekly TA sho/ /ent on throu7hout the /ar, and /as e9tremely popular64 Instead of bemoanin7 the Bosnians> tra7ic fate, they darin7ly mobili.ed all the cliches about the >stupid Bosnians> /hich /ere commonplace in +u7oslavia, fully identifyin7 /ith them : the point thus made /as that the path, of true solidarity leads throu7h direct confrontation /ith the obscene racist fantasies /hich circulated in the symbolic space of Bosnia, throu7h playful identification /ith them, not 0O 'ichard Boothby, ,reud as Philosopher, #e/ +ork( 'outled7e 5OO0, pp45J2:34 throu7h the denial of these obscenities because they do not represent people as they >really are>4 This means that the dialectic of

semblance and 'eal cannot be reduced to the rather elementary fact that the virtuali.ation of our daily lives, the e9perience that /e are livin7 more and more in an artificially constructed universe, 7ives rise to an irresistible ur7e to >return to the 'eal>, to re7ain firm 7round in some >real reality>4 The 'eal /hich returns has the status of another semblance( precisely because it is real, that is, on account of its traumatic R e9cessive character, /e are unable to inte7rate it into (/hat /e e9perience as6 our reality, and are therefore compelled to e9perience it as a ni7htmarish apparition4 This is /hat the compellin7 ima7e of the collapse of the "T- /as( an ima7e, a semblance, an >effect>, /hich, at the same
time, delivered >the thin7 itself>4 This >effect of the 'eal> is not the same as /hat 'oland Barthes, /ay back in the 013Os, called l9effet du reel( it is, rather, its e9act opposite( l9effet de l.irreel4 That is to say( in contrast to the Barthesian l9effet du reel, in /hich the te9t makes us accept its fictional product as >real>4 )sually /e
say that /e should not mistake fiction for reality : remember the postmodern do9a accordin7 to /hich >reality> is a discursive product, a symbolic fiction /hich /e misperceive as a substantial autonomous entity4 "e should be able to discern, in /hat /e e9perience as fiction, the hard kernel of the 'eal /hich /e are able to sustain

only if /e fictionali.e it4 In short, /e should discern /hich part of reality is >transfunctionali.ed> throu7h fantasy, so that, althou7h it is part of reality, it is perceived in a fictional mode4 (This, of course, brin7s us back to the old acanian notion that, /hile animals can deceive by presentin7 /hat is false as true, only humans (entities inhabitin7 the symbolic space6 can deceive by presentin7 /hat is true as false46 !nd this insi7ht also allo/s us to return to the e9ample of cutters( if the true opposite of the 'eal is reality, /hat if, then, /hat they are actually escapin7 from /hen they cut themselves is not simply the feelin7 of unreality, of the artificial virtuality of our life/orld, but the 'eal itself /hich e9plodes in the 7uise of uncontrolled hallucinations /hich start to haunt us once /e lose our anchorin7 in reality?

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at0 ni"ilism
@ecogni-ing t"e impossibilit o! resolving all social tensions does not slide into ni"lism& It t"e beginning o! radicall democratic politics& Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, pa7es 053:05J64
Simply put, modern

societies are faced /ith an irreducible unbrid7eable 7ap bet/een a universal poleC the need for a force /hich acts in the name of the /hole communityCand the particularism of all social forces ( aclau, 0110(2164 This 7ap is not produced by democracy; it precedes democracy4 !s a matter of fact it is e9actly /hat makes
democracy possible( DThe reco7nition of the constitutive nature of this 7ap and its political institutionalisation is the startin7 point of modern democracyI ( aclau, 011M(B64 In that sense the

irreducibility of this 7ap should not be vie/ed as a source of disappointment or resentment, feelin7s fuellin7 an aporia that can clearly lead to totalitarian or particularist identifications, the results of /hich can only be catastrophic 4 %n the contrary, this 7ap should be vie/ed as openin7 the optimistic possibility of democracy as opposed to totalitarianism or radical fra7mentation;@ a possibility that rests on the reco7nition of the constitutive character of this 7ap, this division, the inherent disharmony bet/een universalism and particularism, community and individual, the 7overnment and the 7overned, etc4 Democracy depends on an ori7inary disharmony or disorder4 The demos is at the same time the name of a community and of its division ('anciere, 0115(@64
)p to no/ in this chapter I have tried to sho/ that the historical specificity and uni8ueness of modern democracy, its difference from totalitarianism and fra7mentation and its potential efficacy in mediatin7 bet/een these t/o opposed tendencies that characterise modern societies, depends on the reco7nition and preservation of the emptiness in the locus of po/er, on the

reco7nition of a 7apCa constitutive divisionCat the heart of society and on the institutionalisation of this division4 #o one , ho/ever, can deny that such an understandin7 of democracy raises an important ethical issue4 The 7oals of traditional ethical discourse are radically overturned; instead of a utopian harmony /e are meant to le7itimise disharmony and reco7nise division4 Thus the disappointment /ith democracy is revealed as a deeply ethical problem4 Democracy has to sho/ that reco7nisin7 division and institutionalisin7 social lack, far from bein7 detrimental and intolerable both at the subjective and the collectiveRobjective levelCthis is a common misperceptionC is, in fact, openin7 an ethically satisfactory /ay beyond the barrier of traditional ethics4 It is in that sense that -onnolly asserts that /hat democracy needs is an ethics of disharmonyCan ethics compatible /ith the anti: utopian ambi7uities of democracy4 -onnolly seems to be in a7reement here /ith &ouffeIs call for a democratic ethos4 They are both also close to TouraineIs idea of the need for a ne/ democratic culture beyond all Dsemi:modernI (if /e /ant to use )lrich BeckIs vocabulary6 or even anti: modern reoccupations of fantasmatic politics4 It is this democratic ethos or culture that is associated /ith modernity because DrealI modernity is based on the disappearance of the %ne, on the elimination of all utopian principles used to define a unitary harmonious society (Touraine, 011J(0MJ64 In the rest of this chapter, I /ill ar7ue that the ethics of psychoanalysis , acanian ethics, seem to be the most likely candidate for the job4 Kur alternative is t"e opposite o! political ni"lism& Institutionali-ing t"e lac) and abandoning utopianism allo%s !or t"e creation o! radicall democratic politics& Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, pa7es 001:050 64
%ne final point before concludin7 our ar7umentation in this chapter4 There is a 8uestion /hich seems to remains open4 It is the follo/in7( if /e resist the DreoccupationI put for/ard by Homer and others does that mean that /e accept the supposed political impotence of psychoanalytic political theory? !ssumin7 that psychoanalytically inspired political theory is based on the reco7nition of the political as an encounter /ith the real (althou7h he doesnIt formulate it in e9actly these terms6, 'ustin ar7ues that Dit seems likely that a politics constructed lar7ely on this principle /ill 7enerate paranoid:schi.oid states of mind as its normal psychic conditionI4 If /e prioritise the Dne7ativeI D/hat kind of pro7ressive political or social project can be built if the GpositiveHCthat is concepts, theories, norms and consistent techni8uesCis to be refused as innately inauthentic?I ('ustin, 0112(5M0L@64 Political impotence seems to be the lo7ical outcome4 HomerIs ar7ument seems finally vindicated4 +et this conclusion is accurate only if /e identify pro7ressive political action /ith traditional fantasmatic utopian politics4 This is, ho/ever, a reductionist move par e+cellence- This idea, and HomerIs /hole ar7umentative construction, is based on the foreclosure of another political possibility /hich is clearly situated beyond any DreoccupationsI and is consistent /ith psychoanalytic theory instead of deformin7 it4 This is the possibility of a post:fantasmatic or less:fantasmatic politics4 The best e9ample is democratic politics4 It is true that democracy is an essentially contested term and that the stru77le for a DfinalI decontestation of its meanin7 constitutes a fundamental characteristic of modern societies4 It is also true that in the past these attempts at decontestation /ere articulated /ithin an essentialist, foundationalist frame/ork, that is to say, democracy /as conceived as a natural la/, a natural ri7ht, or even as somethin7 7uaranteed by divine providence4 Today, in our postmodern terrain, these foundations are no lon7er valid4 +et democracy did not share the fate of its various foundations4 This is because democracy cannot be reduced to any of these fantasmatic positive contents4 !s Nohn Peane, amon7 others, has put it, democracy is not based on or 7uided by a certain positive, foundational, normative principle (Peane, 0112(03J64 %n the contrary, democracy

is based on the reco7nition of


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the fact that no such principle can claim to be truly universal, on the fact that no symbolic social construct can ever claim to master the impossible real4 Democracy entails the acceptance of anta7onism, in other /ords, the reco7nition of the fact that the social /ill al/ays be structured around a real impossibility /hich cannot be sutured4 Instead of attemptin7 this impossible suture of the social entailed in every utopian or 8uasi: utopian discourse, democracy envisa7es a social field /hich is unified by the reco7nition of its o/n constitutive impossibility 4 !s -haitin points out, democracy provides a concrete e9ample of /hat /e /ould call a post: fantasmatic or less:fantasmatic politics(
most si7nificant Ein terms of acanIs importance for literary, ethical and cultural theory and political pra9isF, perhaps, is the ne/ li7ht his analysis of the interaction of the universal and the particular has be7un to shed on the 8uestion of maintainin7 a democratic social order /hich can safe7uard universal human ri7hts /hile protectin7 the difference of competin7 political and ethnic 7roups4 (-haitin, 0113(006 Thus, a /hole political project, the by Homer450 Today, it seems that /e

Updated Lacan K 65

project of radical democracy, is based not on the futile fantasmatic suture of the lack in the %ther but on the reco7nition of its o/n irreducibilit y45O !nd this is a political possibility totally ne7lected have the chance to overcome or limit the conse8uences of traditional fantasmatic politics4 In that sense, the collapse of utopian politics should not be the source of resentment, disappointment or even nostal7ia for a supposedly lost harmony4 %n the contrary, it is a development that enhances the prospects for radicalisin7 modern democracy4 But this cannot be done for as lon7 as the ethics of harmony are still he7emonic4 "hat /e need is a ne/ ethical frame/ork4 This cannot be an ethics of
harmony aspirin7 to realise a fantasy construction; it can only be an ethics that is articulated around the reco7nition of the ultimate impossibility of such an idea and follo/s this reco7nition up to its politicalCand, in fact, democraticCconse8uences4 In the ne9t chapter I /ill try to sho/ that

acanian

theory is absolutely crucial in such an undertakin74 #ot only because some offer a non:fantasmatic 7roundin7 for radical democracy4

acanian societies tend to be more democratic than other psychoanalytic institutions (the `cole ,reudienne de Paris /as, in certain of its aspects, an e9tremely democratic society6 nor because psychoanalysis is sti7matised or banned in almost all anti:democratic re7imes4 Beyond these superfluous approaches ,

acanian ethics can

Fccepting t"at utopianism is impossible is not ni"ilism& It is t"e !irst step in creating a radicall democratic politics& Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity
of $sse9, pa7es 00O:00564

Does not, ho/ever, this acceptance of the impossibility of utopia entail the dan7er of a de facto le7itimisation of the e9istin7 socio:ideolo7ical order? This seems to be Paul 'icoeurIs fear since for him Dthe jud7ement of
ideolo7y is al/ays the jud7ement from a utopiaI ('icoeur, 01B3(0J5L@64 'icoeur, althou7h critical of &annheimIs inability to solve the problem of the contrast to a, more or less, objectively perceived reality, albeit a chan7in7 and relational one, builds on his idea to contrast utopia to ideolo7y, and particularly on his idea that ideolo7y serves a certain social order /hile utopia shatters it (&annheim, 011064 !ccordin7 to this point of vie/, if the central function of ideolo7y is inte7ration, the preservation of the established status 8uo, the central function of utopia is e9plorin7 the possible4 )topian constructions 8uestion the present social order; utopia is an ima7inative variation on the nature of po/er, the family, reli7ion, and so on4 "e are forced to e9perience the contin7ency of the social order4444 The intention of utopia is to chan7e Cto shatterCthe present order4444 Here 'icoeur builds on a sentiment of &annheimIs that the latter /as not able to incorporate into his theory, that the death of utopia /ould be the death of society4 ! society /ithout utopia /ould be dead, because it /ould no lon7er have any project, any prospective 7oals4 (Taylor, 01B3(99i6 "ith utopia, then, /e e9perience the contin7ency of order4 This is, for 'icoeur, the main value of utopias4 !t a certain historical period, /hen everythin7 is blocked by systems /hich althou7h failed seem unbeatableC this is his appreciation of the presentChe sees utopia as our only recourse4 ,or him, it is not only an escape, but also, and most importantly, an arm of criti8ue ('icoeur, 01B3(@OO64 In that sense, 'icoeurIs solution to the aporia of contemporary politics is the

reinvi7oration of the utopian operation4 But such a reinvi7oration entails the dan7er of producin7 ne/ arch:enemies, ne/ DNe/sI4 This seems to be a structural risk inscribed in the kernel of the utopian operation4 In other /ords, /hat 'icoeur does not see is that utopia constitutes an ideolo7ical criti8ue of ideolo7y (&arin, 01BM(0136, providin7 no solution /hatsoever to the misery and injustice entailed in our social arran7ements and political orders4 "hat should not be ne7lected ho/ever in 'icoeurIs standpoint is the centrality of the element of hope4 #o doubt, a society /ithout hope is a dead society4 +et, in reality, to eliminate the element of hope from human life is not only undesirable but also impossible4 !s Nac8ues Derrida has put it(
There is no lan7ua7e /ithout the performative dimension of the promise, the minute I open my mouth I am in the promise4 $ven if I say DI donIt believe in truthI or /hatever, the minute I open my mouth there is a Dbelieve meI at /ork4 $ven /hen I lie, and perhaps especially /hen I lie, there is a Dbelieve meI in play4 !nd this DI promise you that I am speakin7 the truthI is a messianic a priori, a promise /hich, even if it is not kept, even if one kno/s it cannot be kept, takes place and (ua promise is messianic4 (Derrida, 0113(B5L@6

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In addition, for Derrida, this element of hope is not necessarily utopian( DI /ould not call this attitude utopian4 The messianic e9perience of /hich I spoke takes place here and no/; that is the fact of promisin7 and speakin7 is an event that takes place here and no/ and is not utopianI (ibid464

-an /e have passion in politics /ithout holocausts? ,urthermore, is it possible to have a politics of hope, a politics of chan7e /ithout utopia? The e9perience of the democratic revolution permits a certain optimism4 Democratisation is certainly a political project of hope4 But democratic discourse is not (or should not be6 based on the vision of a utopian harmonious society4 It is based on the reco7nition of the impossibility and the catastrophic conse8uences of such a dream4 "hat differentiates democracy from other political forms of society is the le7itimisation of conflict and the refusal to eliminate it throu7h the establishment of an authoritarian harmonious order4 "ithin this frame/ork the anta7onistic diversity bet/een different conceptions of the 7ood is not seen
Is it then possible to retain this element of hope /ithout incorporatin7 it into a utopian vision? as somethin7 ne7ative that should be eliminated, but as somethin7 to be valued and celebrated4 This re8uires the presence of institutions that establish a specific dynamic bet/een consensus and dissent444this is /hy

democratic politics cannot aim to/ards harmony and reconciliation4 To believe that a final resolution of conflict is
eventually possible, even /hen it is envisa7ed as asymptotic approachin7 to the re7ulative idea of a free unconstrained communication, as in Habermas, is to put the pluralist democratic project at risk4

Democratic politicsCand politics in 7eneralCcan never eliminate conflict and dislocation, anta7onism and division4 The aim is rather to establish unity /ithin an environment of conflict and diversity; to create a thorou7hly doubtful society, beset by productive self:doubt, a society that traverses its utopian mirror ima7e by identifyin7 /ith its supposed enemy (Beck, 011J(03164 In that sense, understandin7 and acceptin7 the nature of democratic politics re8uires acceptin7 the anti:utopian dimension of anta7onism and dislocation, the constitutivity of the political (ua encounter /ith the real4 Today, the he7emonic appeal of this democratic anti:utopian hope
depends on the creation of a democratic ethos( Dthe real issue is not to find ar7uments to justify the rationality and universality of liberal democracy444/hat is needed is the creation of a democratic ethosI402 The

emer7ence and maintenance of democratic forms of identity is a matter of identification /ith this democratic ethos, an ethos associated /ith the mobilisation of passions and sentiments, the multiplication of practices, institutions and lan7ua7e 7ames providin7 the conditions of possibility for the radicalisation of democracy (&ouffe, 0113b(2LB6403 But this is not an identification /ith a utopian ima7e, it is an identification entailin7 the acceptance of the impossibility of attainin7 such a 7oal, it is an identification /ith the symptom in the acanian sense of the /ord4 IsnIt it somethin7 /orth fi7htin7 for? +et, before ans/erin7 this
8uestion, before developin7 our ar7ument for this psychoanalytic 7roundin7 of modern democracy, /e have to deal /ith the ar7umentation put for/ard a7ainst this kind of confluence bet/een acan and the political (democracy bein7 an order based on the reco7nition and institutionalisation of the political par e+cellence64

Ni"ilism is t"e result o! t"e continued !ailure o! t"e politics o! utopia& Lacanian politics o!!ers us a %a out Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, Lacan and the Political, GBeyond the ,antasy of )topiaH p411:
0OO6&H

%ur a7e is clearly an a7e of social fra7mentation, political disenchantment and open cynicism characterised by the decline of the political mutations of modern universalismCa universalism that, by replacin7 *od /ith 'eason, reoccupied the 7round of a pre:modern aspiration to fully represent and master the essence and the totality of the real4 %n the political level this universalist fantasy took the form of a series of utopian constructions of a reconciled future society4 The fra7mentation of our present social terrain and cultural milieu entails the collapse of such 7randiose fantasies40 Today, talk about utopia is usually characterised by a certain ambi7uity4 ,or some, of course, utopian constructions are still seen as positive results of human creativity in the sociopolitical sphere( Dutopia is the e9pression of a desire for a better /ay of bein7I ( evitas, 011O(B64 %ther, more suspicious vie/s, such as the one e9pressed in &arie BerneriIs book Nourney throu7h )topia, /arnCtakin7 into account e9periences like the Second "orld "arCof the dan7ers entailed in trustin7 the idea of a perfect, ordered and re7imented /orld4 ,or some, instead of bein7 Dho/ can /e realise our utopias?I, the crucial 8uestion has become Dho/ can /e prevent their final realisation?U4 EHo/ canF /e return to a non:utopian society, less perfect and more freeI (Berdiaev in Berneri,
01J0(@O1645 It

is particularly the political e9perience of these last decades that led to the dislocation of utopian sensibilities and brou7ht to the fore a novel appreciation of human finitude, to7ether /ith a 7ro/in7 suspicion of all 7randiose political projects and the meta:narratives traditionally associated /ith them ("hitebook, 0112(J264 !ll these developments, that is to say the crisis of the utopian ima7inary, seem ho/ever to leave politics /ithout its prime motivatin7 force( the politics of today is a politics of aporia4 In our current political terrain, hope seems to be replaced by pessimism or even resi7nation4 This is a result of the crisis in the dominant modality of our political ima7ination (meanin7 utopianism in its various forms6 and of our inability to resolve this crisis in a productive /ay 4@ In this chapter, I /ill try to sho/ that acanian theory provides ne/ an7les throu7h /hich /e can reflect on our historical e9perience of utopia and reorient our political ima7ination beyond its suffocatin7 strait:jacket4 etIs start our
e9ploration /ith the most elementary of 8uestions( /hat is the meanin7 of the current crisis of utopia? !nd is this crisis a development to be re7retted or cherished? In order to ans/er these 8uestions it is crucial to enumerate the conditions of possibility and the basic characteristics of utopian thinkin74

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Updated Lacan K 68 ,irst of all it seems that the need for utopian meanin7 arises in periods of increased uncertainty, social instability and conflict, /hen the element of the political subverts the fantasmatic stability of our political reality4 )topias are 7enerated by the surfacin7 of 7rave anta7onisms and dislocations in the social field 4 !s Tillich has put it Dall utopias strive to ne7ate the ne7ativeUin human e9istence; it is the ne7ative in that e9istence /hich makes the idea of utopia necessaryI (Tillich in evitas, 011O(0O@64 )topia then is one of the possible responses to the ever:present ne7ativity, to the real anta7onism /hich is constitutive of human e9perience4 ,urthermore, from the time of &oreIs )topia (02036 it is conceived as an ans/er to the ne7ativity inherent in concrete political anta7onism4 "hat is, ho/ever, the e9act nature of this response? )topias are ima7es of future human communities in /hich these anta7onisms and the dislocations fuellin7 them (the element of the political6 /ill be forever resolved, leadin7 to a reconciled and harmonious /orldCit is not a coincidence that, amon7 others, ,ourier names his utopian community DHarmonyI and that the name of the %/enite utopian community in the #e/ "orld /as D#e/ HarmonyI 4 !s &arin has put it, utopia sets in vie/ an ima7inary resolution to social contradiction ; it is a simulacrum of synthesis /hich dissimulates social anta7onism by projectin7 it onto a screen representin7 a harmonious and immobile e8uilibrium (&arin, 01BM(3064 This final resolution is the essence of the utopian promise4

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Updated Lacan K 6/

at0 realism
@ealism and deterrence !ail because t"e do not account !or ps c"ological realities&

Nol)an 7 EAamik D4 C &4D4, Professor $meritus of Psychiatry )niversity of Air7inia, GPS+-H%!#!


!#D I#T$'#!TI%#! '$ !TI%#S I# PS+-H%!#! +SISH, pdf, accessed Nuly J, 5O00, S'F

+SIS I# I#T$'#!TI%#! '$ !TI%#S

%bstacles to collaboration bet/een psychoanalysis and diplomacy *iven the pervasive influence of 'ealpolitik on 7overnments, it is not surprisin7 that politicians, diplomats or political scientists do not embrace psychoanalytic observations /ith open arms4 Since ud/i7 von 'ochau (0B2@6 introduced the concept of realpolitik, this idea has evolved, in 7eneral, to mean the rational evaluation and realistic assessment of the options available to oneIs lar7e 7roup and its enemies /ithout considerin7 psycholo7ical processes4 ,ollo/in7 the spectacular success of 'ealpolitik practitioner %tto von Bismarck (0B02:0B1B6, first -hancellor and architect of the *erman $mpire, realism dominated political thinkin7 for the ne9t century4 The international relations scholar, Nohn !4 Aas8ue. (01B36, su77ested that 'ealpolitikIs tenacity in the t/entieth century /as a direct result of the failure of "oodro/ "ilson and other GidealistsH to prevent "orld "ar I( EIFdealists /ere perceived as e9a77eratin7 the influence of reason by assumin7 a fundamental harmony of interests, /hen in fact, accordin7 to realists, there are often conflicts of interest that can only be resolved by a stru77le for po/er (Aas8ue., 01B3, p4 5:@6 Thou7h the idealist:realist debate persisted throu7h the decades bet/een the /ars, the 01MOs sa/ that dispute decisively resolved in favor of realism, /hich /ould dominate much -old "ar:era theory and practice4 Hans N4 &or7enthauIs 01MB /ork, Politics !mon7 #ations, is especially reco7ni.ed as /idely influential in this period4

The influence of 'ealpolitik 7ave birth to /hat became kno/n, especially in the )nited States, as rational actor models of politics and diplomacy4 $ventually, shortcomin7s of various rational actor models became evident4 ,or e9ample, on +om Pippur (%ctober 3, 01J@6, !n/ar Sadat surprised both Israeli and )4S4 military intelli7ence by launchin7 a massive attack on Israel across the Sue. -anal4 Based on rational actor models, policy analysts did not believe that an $7yptian offensive could be launched before 01J2, and so re7arded the $7yptian troop movements reported in September 01J@ as mere e9ercises4 Thus $7yptian forces
/ere able to overrun poorly manned Israeli defenses and drive deep into the Sinai, thou7h SadatIs army ultimately suffered heavy losses before a cease: fire /as declared later that year4 IsraelIs

air superiority and credible commitment to en7a7e fully any attacker GshouldH have provided an effective deterrent, but Sadat /as not deterred4 SadatIs personality or7ani.ation played a key role in the initiation of the +om Pippur "ar 4 !ccordin7ly, in the late 01JOs and early 01BOs, some political scientists and even some 7overnment decision:makers and diplomats be7an to borro/ concepts from co7nitive psycholo7y to e9plain GfaultyH decision:makin7 (Aolkan, et al, 011B64 Still, they did not look to psychoanalysis for insi7hts4 $9ploration of shared, unconscious forces /as avoided despite a lon7 history of attempts to introduce psychoanalysis into politics and diplomacy , includin7 the efforts of Harold ass/ell
(015J, 01@O6, a pioneer in the study of psychosocial /arfare4 %ther difficulties that complicate collaboration bet/een psychoanalysts and practitioners and scholars of politics and international relations come from psychoanalysis itself4 I sensed these difficulties myself as I became more and more involved in collaborative /ork /ith scholars and practitioners of other disciplines4 I noted that the difficulties /ithin psychoanalytic discipline that hindered collaboration bet/een psychoanalysis and diplomacy could be divided into various inter:related cate7ories4 !s e9pected, at first it /as difficult for me to reali.e these obstacles and define them4 But slo/ly I /as able to GfreeH myself from some established psychoanalytic assumptions4

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at0 robinson
@obinson onl "as it "al! rig"t$Lacan does see utopian political pro3ects as impossible& Hut2 "e "as t"e political implications bac)%ards& I! a "armonious political order isimpossible2 t"en onl radicall democratic politics can institutionali-e t"e lac)& Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity
of $sse9, pa7es 1M:1264
nature4 It Thus /e are brou7ht to the second difficulty4 If the first difficulty /as of an epistemolo7ical and theoretical nature the second is of an ethico:political

is not concerned /ith the possibility of sho/in7 and encirclin7 the real /ithin the symbolic, but /ith the political desirability of such a move; is it desirable to encircle the political /ithin politics?
"hat chan7es in our political reality /ould such an attempt inspire? !re these chan7es ethically justified? This /hole discussion has to do, first of all, /ith the supposedly reactionary nature of acanIs vie/s4 This criticism, reminiscent of Deleu.e and *uattariIs criti8ue of the reactionary character of psychoanalysis (both acanian and non: acanian6 ($lliott, 011M(@06, and sta7ed, to 7ive only a first e9ample, by !nthony $lliott in his Social Theory and Psychoanalysis in Transition, is based on the fact that acan posits Dan inevitable human condition /hich is the no:e9it of lack and anta7onismI ($lliott, 0115(01064 Hence, to

move to another e9ample from contemporary critical theorisation, due to his DpessimistI account of the human condition acan has been accused of the Dobscurin7 of political choices and the authoritarianism implicit in his anti:humanist stanceI (,rosh, 01BJ(5J064 "ell, it is true; for acan there is no :ufhe$un), there is no utopian solution to human sufferin7( D/hen one 7ives rise to t/o 5(uand un fait
(KK(B364 condition of possibility of our freedom because it means that no order, no matter ho/ repressive it mi7ht be, can ac8uire a stable character(

deu+6, there is never a return4 They donIt revert to makin7 one a7ain, even if it is a ne/ one4 The :ufhe$un) is one of philosophyIs pretty little dreamsI

The elimination of lack throu7h a definite symbolisation of the real is impossible4 +et this is the D acanIs formulation of /hat mi7ht be termed a circular causality bet/een the symbolic and the real makes it possible to account for the fact that individual subjects are produced by discourse and yet mana7e to retain some capacity for resistanceI (Bracher, 011M(064 Besides, the ethics of psychoanalysis, as formulated in the acanian tradition, point to the possibility and the ethical superiority of a symbolic reco7nition and institutionalisation of the political moment of real lack and this opens a hu7e field of creation of /hich the democratic revolution constitutes only one e9ampleCperhaps the most important4
"hy then have attempts to demonstrate the centrality of the acanian problematic in the construction of an ethico:political project for our timesC and I am mainly thinkin7 of the /ork of iek and aclau and &ouffeC 7enerated so much criticism? Take the e9ample of Bellamy, Butler and ane4 BellamyIs concern is articulated at the subjective level( D-an certain forms of political compromise (a collective G/eH that must be formed out of diversity and conflict6 be usefully characterised as the overcomin7 of psychic conflict?I (Bellamy, 011@(@264 ButlerIs concern is articulated at the social level4 Her fear is that stressin7 the irreducibility and constitutivity of Danta7onismI (or, more properly, political DdislocationI (ua encounter /ith the real6 may Dpreclude the very possibility of a future rearticulation of that boundary /hich is central to the democratic project that iek, aclau and &ouffe promoteI (Butler, 011M(5O3LJ64 In a similar vein, ane asks /hy does the left continue to advance contin7ency and alienation as if both /ere not simply a psychic condition par e+cellence but also a reason for celebration? "hy does the ar7ument that society is radically incomplete and no/ alarmin7ly frayin7 7enerate a certain optimismE?F4 ( ane, 0113(0026 !ccordin7 to my readin7, Bellamy, Butler and ane are 8uestionin7 the value of reco7nisin7 the effects and the structural causality of the real in society;

$ven if this move is possibleCencirclin7 the unavoidable political modality of the realCis it really desirable, is it ethically and politically satisfactory? The fear behind all these statements is common; it is that the stress on the political (ua encounter /ith the real precludes the possibility of presentin7 a more or less stable (present or future6 7round for ethics and democracy, that it undermines their universal character and the possibility of any final reconciliation at either the subjective or the social level4 ,rosh is summarisin7 this fear C propos of the issue of human ri7hts( Dif humanism is a fraud Eas acan insistsF and there is no fundamental human entity that is to be valued in each person Ean essence of the psyche maybe?F, one is left /ith no /ay of defendin7 the Gbasic ri7htsH of the individualI (,rosh,
instead of the political they prioritise politics, in fact traditional fantasmatic politics4 This seems to be the kernel of their ar7ument( 01BJ(0@J64 In the t/o final chapters of this book I shall ar7ue that the reason behind all these fears is the continuin7 he7emony of an ethics of harmony4 !7ainst such a position the

ethics of the real entails a reco7nition of the irreducibility of the real and an attempt to institutionalise social lack4 Thus it mi7ht be possible to achieve an ethically and politically satisfactory institution of the social field beyond the fantasy of closure /hich has proved so problematic, if not catastrophic4 In other /ords, the best /ay to or7anise the social mi7ht be one /hich reco7nises the ultimate impossibility around /hich it is al/ays structured4
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'"eir @obinson evidence begs t"e (uestion$i! %e are rig"t about t"e nature o! t"e political2 t"en %e are t"e onl means to create real c"ange& >ar)er 8 EIanCProfessor in the Discourse )nit at &anchester &etropolitan )niversity and author of books on psychoanalysis, discourse, politics
and culture, S !A%N SIS$P ! -ritical Introduction, p 35:3@, S'F

Updated Lacan K 67

There is clearly a political aspect to this subversive role of psychoanaly: sis4 There is a connection /ith radical politics L /hich the early psychoanalytic movement in ,reudIs day had often made L and /ith a radical political understandin7 of the /ay contemporary institutions try to tame psychoanalysis 4 There is also a connection /ith /hat /e could see as a radical personal politics of self:understandin7 and transformation that the analysand embarks upon4 acanian psychoanalysis is the practice of that self: understandin7 and transformation, and that is /hy it avoids 8uick fi9es, su77estion or the attempt to brin7 about identification bet/een
analysand and analyst4 This is /hy, althou7h

acanian psychoanalysis includes therapeutic moments, it 7oes far beyond the usual psychotherapeutic aims of developin7 copin7 strate7ies or recastin7 problems into opportunities by /ay of more positive thinkin74 Psychoanalysis is the space for Dde: constructin7I ho/ someone copes and ho/ their problems are bound up /ith the /ay they think4 ,or Si.ek, another homolo7ous space is that of cultural criti8ue and political action4 "hen ,reudian concepts are embedded in lan7ua7e, psychoanalytic understandin7 of the relationship bet/een /hat is forbidden, the truth and enjoyment can become a tool to tackle ideolo7y4 ,or acan in his later /ritin7, for e9ample, and for Si.ek, the super:e7o operates not only throu7h prohibition but also throu7h an obscene injunction to DenjoyI4 It incites and contains jouissance, and it then functions as an incitement to Dironic distanceI that actually confirms the hold of the system upon individuals; thus the strate7y of DoveridentificationI elaborated by 7roups like aibach in Slovenia is driven by a psychoanalytic
under: standin7 of the /ay desire is structured in the service of ideolo7y( Dby brin7in7 to li7ht the obscene supere7o underside of the system, overiden: tification suspends its efficiencyI455

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at0 perm
'"e permutation is impossible& Kur alternative relies on admiting t"e !ailure o! utopianism$to combine t"at %it" utopianism is to eliminate t"e radical potential o! t"e alternative& Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, pa7es 003:00J64 Since, ho/ever, acanian political theory aims at brin7in7 to the fore, a7ain and a7ain, the lack in the %ther, the same lack that utopian fantasy attempts to mask, it /ould be self:defeatin7, if not absurd, to en7a7e itself in utopian or 8uasi:utopian fantasy construction4 Is it really possible and consistent to point to the lack in the %ther and, at the same time, to attempt to fill it in a 8uasi:utopian move? Such a 8uestion can
also be posed in ethical or even strate7ic terms4 It could be ar7ued of course that HomerIs vision of a psychoanalytic politics does not foreclose the reco7nition of the impossibility of the social but that in his schema this reco7nition, and the promise to eliminate it (as part of a 8uasi:utopian re7ulative principle6 7o side by side; that in fact this political promise is le7itimised by the conclusions of psychoanalytic political theory4 But this coe9istence is nothin7 ne/4

This reco7nition of the Dimpossibility of societyI, of an anta7onism that cross:cuts the social field, constitutes the startin7 point for almost every political ideolo7y4 %nly if presented a7ainst the back7round of this DdisorderI the final harmonious DorderI promised by a utopian fantasy ac8uires he7emonic force4 The problem is that all this schema is based on the elimination of the first moment, of the reco7nition of impossibility4 The centrality of political dislocation is al/ays repressed in favour of the second moment, the utopian promise4 )topian fantasy can sound appealin7 only if presented as the final solution to the problem that constitutes its startin7 point4 In that sense, the moment of impossibility is only ackno/led7ed in order to be eliminated4 In &ar9, for instance, the constitutivity of class stru77le is reco7nised only to be eliminated in the future communist society 4 Thus, /hen Homer says that he /ants
to repeat &ar9Is error today he is simply ackno/led7in7 that his psychoanalytic politics is nothin7 but traditional fantasmatic politics articulated /ith the use of a psychoanalytic vocabulary4

We cannot bot" accept t"at utopianism is impossible and endorse it& '"e crisis "ig"lig"ted b t"e a!!irmative is an opportunit to re3ect t"e !antasmic ideal o! "armon & Stavra)a)is2 .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, pa7es 0O1:00O64 "hat is at stake in the acanian conception of fantasy is, as /e have already pointed out, enjoyment 5*ouissance6- If the effects of the normative idealist or $nli7htenment:style criti8ue of racism are severely limited, if this criti8ue is not enou7h ( ipo/at., 0112a(50@6, this is because, to use one of SloterdijkIs formulations, it Dhas remained more naive than the consciousness it /anted to e9poseI (Sloterdijk, 01BB(@64 In its rationality it has e9hausted itself4 In other /ords, it didnIt take into account that /hat is at stake here is not rational ar7umentation but the or7anisation and administration of enjoyment(
The impotence of the attitude of traditional $nli7htenment is best e9emplified by the anti:racist /ho, at the level of rational ar7umentation, produces a series of convincin7 reasons a7ainst the racist %ther, but is nonetheless clearly fascinated by the object of his criti8ueCand conse8uently, all his defence disinte7rates in the moment of real crisis (/hen Dthe fatherland is in dan7erI for e9ample64 (Sloterdijk, 01BB(@6 Thus, the

8uestion of la tra"ers7e du fantasme, that is to say Dof ho/ to 7ain the minimum of distance from the fantasmatic frame that or7anises our enjoyment, of ho/ to suspend its efficiency, is crucial not only for the concept of the psychoanalytic cure and its conclusion( today, in our era of rene/ed racist tensions, of universalised anti:Semitism, it is perhaps the foremost political 8uestionI (iek,
0113a(00JL0B64

In li7ht of this, traversin7 the fantasy of utopian thou7ht seems to be one of the most important political tasks of our a7e4 The current crisis of utopia is not cause for concern but for celebration 4 But then /hy is the politics of today a politics of aporia? There can be only one plausible e9planation( just because, in the ethical sphere, the fantasmatic ideal of harmony is still dominant4 If /e are situated today in a terrain of aporia and frustration it is because /e still fantasise somethin7 that is increasin7ly revealed as impossible and catastrophic4 !cceptin7 this ultimate impossibility seems to be the only
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Updated Lacan K 6.

'"e permutation !ails$t"e alternative depends upon maintaining distance !rom t"e !antasmic politics o! utopia& Stavra)a)is2 .. (+annis, Lacan and the Political, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, pa7es 00B:00164
In fact, articulatin7

acanian theory /ith fantasmatic politics is e8uivalent to affirmin7 the irrelevance of acanian theory for radical politics since this articulation presupposes the repression of all the political insi7hts implicit in acanIs readin7 and hi7hli7hted in this book4 The alle7ed irrelevance of acan for radical politics is also the
ar7ument put for/ard by -ollier in a recent article in adical Philosophy- -ollierIs ar7ument is that since it is capitalism that shatters our /holeness and disempo/ers us (as if /ithout capitalism /e /ould be on the road to utopia; obviously, capitalism occupies the structural position of the antichrist in this sort of leftist preachin76, then acanIs theory is, in fact, normalisin7 capitalist dama7e, precisely because alienation is so deep for acan that nothin7 can be done to eliminate it (D acan is deeply pessimistic, rejectin7 cure or happiness as possible 7oalsI, my emphasis6401 Thus acan has nothin7 to offer radical politics4 Somethin7 not entirely surprisin7 since, accordin7 to -ollier, psycholo7ical theory in 7eneral has no political implications /hatsoever4 The conclusion is predictable( D et us 7o to ,reud and Plein for our psychotherapy E acan is of course e9cludedF and to &ar9 and the environmental sciences for our politics, and not 7et our lines crossedI (-ollier, 011B(M0L@64 Surprisin7ly enou7h this is almost identical /ith HomerIs conclusion( acanian theory is %P as an analytical tool but let us 7o back to &ar9 for our ideolo7ical seminar and our utopian catechism= It is clear that from

a acanian point of vie/ it is necessary to resist all such DreoccupationsI of traditional fantasmatic politics4 !t least this is the strate7y that acan follo/s on similar occasions4 ,aced /ith the alienatin7 dimension of every identification, acan locates the end of analysis beyond identification4 Since utopian or 8uasi: utopian constructions function throu7h identification it is le7itimate , I think, to dra/ the analo7ies /ith the social field4 If analysis resists the DreoccupationI of the traditional strate7y of identificationC althou7h it reco7nises its crucial, but alienatin7, role in the formation of subjectivityC/hy should psychoanalytic politics, after unmaskin7 the crucial but alienatin7 character of traditional, fantasmatic, identificatory politics, DreoccupyI their 7round? This rationale underlyin7 the acanian position is not far a/ay
from /hat Beards/orth articulates as a political readin7 of Derrida4 ,or Beards/orth, deconstruction also refuses to implicate itself in traditional politics, in the Dlocal sense of politicsI in Beards/orthIs terminolo7y( In its affirmative refusal to advocate a politics, deconstruction forms, firstly, an account of /hy all political projects fail4 Since the projection of any decision has ethical implications, deconstruction in fact 7enerali.es /hat is meant by the political /ell beyond the local sense of politics4 In this sense it becomes a radical Dcriti8ueI of institutions4 (Beards/orth, 0113(016 Similarly, the

radicality and political importance of the acanian criti8ue depends on its ability to keep its distance from fantasmatic politics, from politics in the traditional sense; /hich is not the same as sayin7 that psychoanalysis is apolitical( in fact, it becomes political precisely by bein7 critical of traditional politics, e9actly because, as ar7ued in the previous chapter, the political is located beyond the utopian or 8uasi:utopian sedimentations of political reality 4

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It is not a (uestion o! %"et"er rationalit is good or not$Lacan siml points out t"at sub3ectivit based onl on individualism and rationalit is simpl not "o% t"e %orld %or)s& Stavra)a)is2 .. (+annis, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, acan and the Political, GThe acanian SubjectH p4026 &H
4 ,or acan it

is Dtrue that the philosopherIs co7ito is at the centre of the mira7e that renders modern man so sure of bein7 himself even in his uncertainties about himselfI ($( 03264 But this essentialist fantasy, reducin7 subjectivity to the conscious e7o, cannot sustain itself any more( Dthe myth of the unity of the personality, the myth of synthesisUall these types of or7anisation of the objective field constantly reveal cracks, tears and rents, ne7ation of the facts and misreco7nition of the most immediate e9perienceI (III(B64 It is clear that the ,reudian discovery of the unconscious, of an a7ency splittin7 the subject of this /hole tradition, cannot be overlooked; it brin7s to the fore somethin7 that this tradition had to foreclose in order to sustain itself4 !s acan formulates it in the D,reudian Thin7I, as a result of ,reudIs discovery the very centre of the human bein7 is no lon7er to be found at the place the humanist tradition had assi7ned to it ($( 00M64 It follo/s that, for acan, any project of assertin7 the autonomy of this essentialist free e7o is e8ually unacceptableC/hich is not the same, of course, /ith promotin7 heteronomy as a 7eneral theoretical or political principle( DI desi7nated that the discourse of freedom is essential to modern man insofar as he is structured by a certain conception of his o/n autonomy4 I pointed out its fundamentally biased and incomplete, ine9pressible, fra7mentary, differentiated, and profoundly delusional character E/hich should not be confused /ith psychosis but, nevertheless, operates Din the same placeIFI (III(0M264 acan ar7ues that ,reudIs discovery of the unconscious is more radical than both the -opernican and the Dar/inian revolutions in that they both left intact the belief in the identity bet/een human subject and conscious e7o4 In his vie/, /e o/e to ,reud the possibility of effectin7 a subversion of this conception of the subject4 It is the subversion of the subject as co7ito /hich, in fact, makes psychoanalysis possible ($( 5136( psychoanalysis opposes Dany philosophy issuin7 directly
from the co7itoI ($( 0645

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Fbsolute )no%ledge2 even t"roug" science2 is a m t"& It is part o! an ancient desire to be in total control o! t"e %orld& Lacanian politics as)s us to accept t"is impossibilit & Stavra)a)is .. (+annis, Aisitin7 Professor, Department of *overnment, )niversity of $sse9, Lacan and the Political, G$ncirclin7 the PoliticalH, p4BB:1O6&H
In this re7ard, acan is e9tremely clear4 Throu7h this fantasy modern society returns to a state of myth( Ho/ is one to return, if not on the basis of a peculiar (special6 discourse, to a prediscursive reality? That is the dreamCthe dream behind every conception (idea6 of kno/led7e4 But it is also /hat must be considered

ThereIs no such thin7 as a prediscursive reality 4 $very reality is founded and defined by a discourse4 (KK(@56 In 'eco7nisin7 the irreducible character of impossibility, the constitutivity of the real as e9pressed primarily in the failure of our discursive /orld and its continuous rearticulation throu7h acts of identification, far from bein7 a postmodern move, reveals the truly modern character of the acanian project; instead of a postmodern mysticism it leads to a reorientation of science and kno/led7e 4 'eco7nisin7 the constitutivity of the real does not entail that /e stop symbolisin7 ; it means that /e start tryin7 to incorporate this reco7nition /ithin the symbolic itself, in fact it means that since the symbolic entails lack as such, /e abstain from coverin7 it over /ith fantasmatic constructs Cor, if one accepts that /e are al/ays trapped /ithin the field of fantasy, that /e never stop traversin7 it4 The
mythical4
opposition to such a Dre7ressiveI attitude, acanian theory promotes a return to the foundin7 moment of modernity4 7uidin7 principle in this kind of approach is to move beyond fantasy to/ards a self:critical symbolic 7esture reco7nisin7 the contin7ent and transient character of every symbolic construct4 This is a scientific discourse different from the reified science of standard modernity4 I take my lead, in this re7ard, from acanIs te9t

acan sta7es a criti8ue of modern science as it has been articulated up to no/, that is as a discourse constantly identifyin7 the kno/led7e it produces /ith the truth of the real4 If the constitutive, nonreducible character of the real introduces a lack into human reality, to our scientific constructions of reality for e9ample, science usually attempts to suture and eliminate this 7ap4 acan, for his part, stresses the importance of that /hich puts in dan7er this self:fulfillin7 nature of scientific a9ioms( the importance of the real, of the element /hich is not developin7 accordin7 to /hat /e think about it4 In that sense, science ^ la acan entails the reco7nition of the structural causality of the real as the element /hich interrupts the smooth flo/ of our fantasmatic and symbolic representations of reality4 "ithin such a conte9t, this real, the obstacle encountered by standard science, is
DScience and TruthI (it is the openin7 lecture of his 0132L3 seminar on The %bject of Psychoanalysis64 In this particular te9t, Nac8ues

not bypassed discretely but introduced /ithin the theory it can destabilise4 The point here is that truth as the encounter /ith the real is DencounteredI face to face (,ink, 0112a(0MOL064 It is in this sense that psychoanalysis can be described as a science of the impossible, a science that does not repress the impossible real4 ,or acan, /hat is involved in the structuration of the discourse of science is a certain Aer/erfun7 of the Thin7 /hich is presupposed by the ideal of absolute kno/led7e, an ideal /hich Das $#-I'- I#* TH$ P% ITI-! 1O everybody kno/sU/as historically proved in the end to be a failureI (AII( 0@064 In other /ords, /e cannot be certain that definite kno/led7e is attainable4 In fact, for acan, certainty is not somethin7 /e should attribute to our kno/led7e of thin7s4 -ertainty is a definin7 characteristic of psychosis4 In acanIs vie/, it constitutes its elementary phenomenon, the basis of delusional belief (III(J264 %penin7 up our symbolic resources to uncertainty is, on the other hand, the only prudent

move /e have left4 "hat /e can kno/ has to be e9pressed /ithin the structure of lan7ua7e but this structure has to incorporate a reco7nition of its
o/n limits4 This is not a development /hich should cause unease; as #ancy has put it "hat /ill become of our /orld is somethin7 /e cannot kno/, and /e can no lon7er believe in bein7 able to predict or command it4 But /e can act in such a /ay that this /orld is a /orld able to open itself up to its o/n uncertainty as suchU4 Invention is al/ays /ithout a model and /ithout /arranty4 But indeed that implies facin7 up to turmoil, an9iety, even disarray4 "here certainties come apart, there too 7athers the stren7th that no certainty can match4

'"e *trut"!ulness+ o! scienti!ic data is not relevant$t"e %a s in %"ic" t"ose conclusions are translated into politics are al%a s mediated b culture and !antas and are t"ere!ore 3ust as open to criti(ue as an ot"er claim& Stavra)a)is 7 (+annis, professor of Ideolo7y and Discourse !nalysis Pro7ram in the Department of *overnment at the )niversity of $sse9, The Lacanian Left,
GIntroduction( ocatin7 the acanian eftH, p4 2:B6 &H These last statements, /hich underlie the epistemolo7ical and methodolo7ical premises of this te9t, call for some elaboration4 This is a book of theory and theoretically informed analysis; but /hat kind of theory? Ho/ can and ho/ should theory position itself in relation to the e9perience it desires to analyse?0O !nd ho/ should it relate to the desire that stands at its o/n root as an e9perience? Here, the startin7 point can only be the constitutive tension bet/een kno/led7e and e9perience, a tension

that is neither epiphenomenal nor accidental4 %n a fairly simple level, the main purpose of kno/led7e and theory construction seems to be to approach and account for e9perience and then direct our pra9is, that is to say, canalise e9perience and 7uide action alon7 ethically sound, truthful, and le7itimate channels4 This is a very simple L almost simplistic L and neutral statement4 It is a /idely shared belief that Dthe main reason for believin7 scientific theories is that they e9plain the coherence of our e9perienceI4 This is, in fact, a 8uotation from !lan Sokal and Nean BricmontIs no/ infamous book Intellectual Impostures (Sokal and Bricmont 011B( 226400 The problem is, ho/ever, that theoretical in8uiry and scientific discourse

continuously fail to account for, and understand, the totality of our e9perience, let alone to predict and direct human pra9is4 $ven in Sokal and BricmontIs te9t, /here the DholyI inte7rity of science is defended at all cost, the aforementioned statement makes sense only /hen
e9perience is reduced to scientific e9periments and scientific theories to the Dbest:verified onesI; this is a7ain a 8uotation (ibid464 The problem here is, ho/ever, that,

instead of entailin7 an encounter /ith the real, scientific e9periments are often limited /ithin an already domesticated field of e9perience, a field of measurements that are already paradi7m:determined L that is to say, contaminated by the same theory they are called to verify (Puhn 0113( 0536405 #evertheless, the verification they provide J0

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Updated Lacan K 75 usually seems enou7h to sustain the fantasy Dthat the scientific community kno/s /hat the /orld is likeI, the fantasy that DverifiedI theories ade8uately represent the field of ra/ e9perience (p4 264 Besides, this is e9actly /hat permits the /ord DtotalityI to enter into the picture4 In this circularity of an already symbolised e9perience sustainin7 the fantasy of a closed and accurate order of theory is revealed the nature of /hat Thomas Puhn calls Dnormal science I4 #eedless to
say, the constitution of this order is a predominantly political issue; it is not a coincidence that PuhnIs account of the historicity of science is articulated usin7 a

political vocabulary, thus revealin7 its direct relevance for political reflection4 The

fantasy of normal science rests Don the po/er 7iven to those /ho can move back and forthI bet/een the reality of ra/ e9perience and our socio:political /orld4 These subjects supposed to kno/, to use a acanian formulation0@, Dthese fe/ elect, as they themselves see it, are endo/ed /ith the most fabulous political capacity ever inventedI4 !nd /hat is this supposed capacity? DThey can make the mute /orld speak, tell the truth /ithout bein7 challen7ed, put an end to the interminable ar7uments throu7h an incontestable form of authority that /ould stem from thin7s themselvesI ( atour 5OOM( 0M64 %ne has to a7ree /ith atour that D/e cannot pass this fairy tale
off as a political philosophy like any other L and even less as superior to all othersI (p4 0264 "hy? ,or one reason L and here I am advancin7 a acanian line of reasonin7 L because the circularity of this play bet/een theory and e9perience, kno/led7e and truth, can be sustained only /hen somethin7 is e9cluded; /hat remains outside the e8uation is the unsymbolised or rather the unsymbolisable part of e9perience, /hat al/ays escapes symbolisation and theoretical representation L in short, the real as distinct from reality4 Theory can only appear as a truthful representation or ade8uation of e9perience if the field of e9perience is reduced to that /hich is already symbolised, at best, to /hat is symbolisable accordin7 to the prevailin7 rules of symbolisation( if, in acanian terms, the DrealI is reduced to DrealityI (/hich, accordin7 to acan, is constructed the lacanian left at the symbolic and ima7inary levels, throu7h the si7nifier and the ima7e64 "hat is disputed here, then, is not that kno/led7e can be truthful to reality; of course it can4 %nly this /ill be a reality already produced throu7h the scientific rules of symbolisation; an already theorised reality4 Pno/led7e can be truthful to the reality of our e9perience and still miss L foreclose, repress or disavo/ L the real of e9perience, /hat falls outside the 7rasp of this reality4 It is this e9clusion that e9plains the banality of many scientific theories; and this is true in both natural and social sciences, provided one makes the appropriate DtranslationsI and modifications4 The discourse of science is usually devoted to representin7 and accountin7 for this field of domesticated e9perience, the field of /hat could be called Dbanal e9perienceI40M %ne only has to 7o throu7h a list of PhD titles and abstracts in our universities to become instantly a/are of that4 There are no surprises here, since the destabilisin7 real is e9cluded( Donly the anticipated and usual are e9perienced, even under circumstances /here anomaly is later to be observedI (Puhn 0113( 3M64 Dealin7 /ith banal e9perience, /ith the rationalisations 7rafted on the automatism of natural and social reproduction, theory becomes part of the same banality4 In fact, the more successful it is in representin7 reality L the reality of banal e9perience, the reality of /hat atour calls Dmatters of factI, risk:free objects /hich are supposed to have clear boundaries, a /ell:defined essence and properties ( atour 5OOM( 556 L the more banalised it becomes4 "ithin the schema of normal science, all encounters /ith the real, /ith the DanomalousI (/hat violates the paradi7m:induced e9pectations 7overnin7 normal science6, are reduced to the De9pectedI (Puhn 0113( 226402 This repression, ho/ever, can only be temporary4 Sooner or later the real re:emer7es and dislocates theory4 #o/ Dmatters of factI become Dmatters of concernI, parado9ical objects /hich disturb any fantasy of absolute representation, control and predictability( asbestos, the perfect modernist substance, the ma7ic material, turns into a ni7htmare of contamination; prions une9pectedly emer7e to account for BS$ /here nothin7 of the sort /as even ima7inable in mainstream science ( atour 5OOM( 55LM64 It is in such moments of disruption L of surprises and events (p4 J16 L that e9perience 8ua Dencounter /ith the realI, to use a acanian phrase, makes its presence felt4 This can lead to a crisis of normal science and to a scientific revolution L althou7h this dramatic impact is not al/ays so visible, bein7 retroactively absorbed by the various self:representations of scientific disciplines4 In such encounters /e come across a radical scientific of anomaly E/hichF opens a period in /hich conceptual cate7ories are adjusted until the initially anomalous has become Ea7ainF the anticipatedI, initiatin7 the he7emony of a ne/ paradi7m (Puhn 0113( 3M64 It seems that Dscience, if one looks at it more closely, has no memory 4 4 4 it

for7ets the circuitous paths by /hich it came into bein7I ($5OO3( J@B64 $ven Prusiner, the heretic /ho put for/ard the revolutionary
prion hypothesis to e9plain -ND and Dmad co/ diseaseI, /as eventually a/arded the #obel pri.e and his theories 7radually ac8uired the status of a ne/ orthodo9y, becomin7 increasin7ly resistant to 8uestionin7 and dispute4 Ho/ever, the restoration of normality does not mean that the ne/ paradi7m is no/ safe4 The reason is simple( isnIt it founded on a similar banalisation of the real of e9perience? IsnIt the real al/ays e9ceedin7 its normalised representation? If this is the case, normal science is never safe4 !ccordin7 to PuhnIs schema, it al/ays remains susceptible to crises and scientific revolutions, to the forces of ne7ativity and their partial positivisationR sedimentation into ever:ne/ orders of (scientific6 discourse4 The conclusion flo/s almost naturally( contrary to a popular unconditional $nli7htenment optimism, kno/led7e in 7eneral is never ade8uate; somethin7 al/ays escapes4 It looks as if theory is a strai7htjacket unable to contain our vibrant and unpredictable field of real e9perience4 Scientific analysis is revealed as unable to map its frontiers4 The real seems to be a terra /hich /ishes to remain inco7nita403 ,rustrated by its inability to articulate fully the truth of the real in kno/led7e, science prefers to for7et its reliance on its traumatic encounter, it Ddoes:not:/ant:to:kno/:anythin7

about the truth as causeI ($5OO3( JM564

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at0 accepting lac) bad


Iailure to accept t"e lac) causes us to pursue strategies o! impossible control %"ic" culminate in %ar!are&

Hrennan .7 L lecturer in the ,aculty of Social and Political Sciences [ -ambrid7e (Dr4 Teresa Brennan, History !fter
,rom the be7innin7,

acan, p4 MO:M26

acan had asserted that the Dlure of spatial identificationI in the mirror:sta7e accounts for the maconnaissances that mark the e7o in all its structures ( acan 01M1, pp4 ML364 The mirror:sta7e identification is an
inverse one, in /hich the ima7e is outside and opposed to the self; it is, so to speak, a DreversalI4 This spatial lure is an ener7etic formation /hich also structures the subject as a rival /ithin itself4 Subse8uently, its ener7etic aspect /ill implicitly, as ever /ith acan /ho is al/ays implicit, bear on the link bet/een the e7o and the environment4 Turnin7 here to the mirror:sta7e as an internal rivalrous structure( the key point here is that this structure not only constitutes the subject:to:beIs identity4 It is also a precondition for the subjectIs %edipal rivalry /ith the other4 #ote that this means that an internal

The narcissism of the mirror:sta7e is ine9tricably bound up /ith a77ressiveness a7ainst this DotherI, and is the locus of the master:slave stru77le for reco7nition that binds the e7o as master and the e7o as slave one to another 4
structure prefi7ures a similar e9ternal one4 ! psychical reality, or fantasy, pre:dates its subse8uent actin7 out4 In steps that are not clear (and to /hich I return6 acan discusses this bonda7e and the a77ressiveness it 7enerates in the first four theses of D%n !77ressivityI4 He introduces the fifth, final thesis by sayin7 that Such

a notion of a77ressivity as one of the intentional co: ordinates of the human e7o, especially relative to the cate7ory of space, allo/s us to conceive of its role in modern neurosis and in the DdiscontentsI of civili.ation 4 ( acan 01MB, p4 526 The fifth thesis is avo/edly DsocialI4 It is about a77ression Din the present social orderI (ibid4, p4 5264 In it, acan indicates ho/ the spatial dimensions of the environment and the e7o intersect4 He seems to be sayin7 that a77ression increases in the spatial restrictions of an urban environment4 He e9plicitly refers to Dthe dialectic common to the passions of the soul and the cityI and to the effects of the Dever:contractin7 livin7 spaceH in /hich human competition is becomin7 ever keenerUI (ibid4, pp4 53LJ6455 ,or acan the cityIs spatial restrictions result in needs to escape on the one hand, and an increased social a77ressiveness on the other 4 The apparent
banality of acanIs statement that Dovercro/din7 leads to a77ressivenessI is alleviated in that his account 7estures to /hy overcro/din7 leads to a77ressiveness, and as /e shall see, to a territoriali.in7

imperative /hereby the e7o seeks to make the 7lobe over in its o/n ima7e4 !77ressiveness motivates the drive to dominate not only the earthIs surface but outer space throu7h Dpsycho:techni8uesI (ibid464 It is also part of a competitive Dar/inian ethic /hich Dprojected the predations of Aictorian Society and the economic euphoria that sanctioned for that society the social devastation that it initiated on a planetary scaleI (ibid4, p4 5364 It is /ith Aictorian imperialism that the e7oIs era 7athers steam4 The Dar/inian ethic, acan notes, presents itself as natural, althou7h its true ori7ins lie in the a77ression 7enerated by the masterslave dialectic4 In its entirety, D%n !77ressivityI su77ests a fundamental connection bet/een the spatial dimension of the e7o and the spatial environment4 Ho/ever, the precise nature of this e7oicRenvironmental spatial dialectic needs to be constructed from acanIs allusions 4 There are some
indications as to ho/ this mi7ht be done4 To be7in e9plicatin7 them, it is necessary to hark back to acanIs comment on an9iety, and its intersection /ith the spatial dimension4 acanIs introduction of an9iety at that point in the te9t on a77ressiveness appears some/hat ad hoc4 +et he has obli8uely referred to an9iety earlier in the same te9t, throu7h referrin7 to &elanie Plein4 acanIs te9t is dated 01MB, a time /hen PleinIs name /as associated /ith the vie/ that an9iety and a77ressiveness played a dominant part in very early psychical life45@ acan refers to Plein in D%n !77ressivityI /hen discussin7 the Dparanoiac structure of the e7oI and the Despecial delusion of the misanthropic belle bme, thro/in7 back onto the /orld the disorder out of /hich his bein7 is composedI ( acan 01MB, p4 5O64 !fter referrin7 to PleinIs /ork, acan turns to a77ressiveness and its relation to narcissism (ibid4, p4 5064 I take this mention of the belle bme as a si7npost to the formation of the modern e7o, 7iven that acan referred to the belle bme /hen sayin7 that he had Dindicated else/hereI ho/ the modern e7o takes on its form4 Projection

is a mechanism of the ima7inary, and the subject /ho thro/s his disorder back into the /orld is en7a7in7, evidently, in the act of projection 4 Plein /as particularly concerned /ith the early operation of projection, /hose force she linked to an9iety( for her, the e9tent of a subjectIs persecutory an9iety not only affects its ability to link; it also determines the de7ree to /hich it projects Dbad internal objectsI4 Projection is the mode for puttin7 bad feelin7s and Dbad internal objectsI (to /hich acan e9plicitly refers6 (ibid4, p4 506 outside the self( this projective process in turn 7enerates feelin7s of persecution about bad objects returnin7, hence paranoia4 This is not the only reference to this projective process in the te9t on a77ressiveness4 The projection of internal ne7ativity is a mobili.in7 factor in /ar, as indeed is the need to dominate physical space (ibid4,

p4 5B64 Takin7 physical pressure, its Ddialectical counterpartI in the physical environment and the a77ressive an9iety they tri77er into account, there are 7rounds for settin7 out ho/ a historical, spatial dynamic mi7ht /ork4 If, as acan says, the more spatially constricted the environment is, the more an9iety and the a77ressive desire to dominate space increase, then that desire and an9iety must increase as space becomes more constricted and more dominated4 +et as acan also says that this process produces an increase in a77ressive competitiveness, his dialectic re8uires an economic, technolo7ical supplement4 The supplement should illuminate the e7oIs ri7idity and desire for control4 The ri7idity, the basis of the e7oIs Dresistance to truthI, is first formed in the spatial positionin7 of the mirror:sta7e4 I /ant to su77est here that, just as there is a dialectic bet/een the spatial dimensions of the e7o and of the environment, so too mi7ht the e7oIs ri7idity have a dialectical counterpart in the thin7s the subject constructs4 It is this dialectical counterpart

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/hich accounts for the temporal process at /ork in the foreclosure of the sense of time, and /hich e9plains /hy the sense of history is fadin74 !s /ill be plain by -hapter 2, the Dthin7sI constructed physically alter the perception of time4 DThin7sI means the /hole technolo7ical apparatus by /hich the environment is controlled4 The modern a7e Dbe7ins that /ay of bein7 human /hich mans the realm of human capability as a domain 7iven over to measurin7 and e9ecutin7, for the purpose of 7ainin7 mastery over that /hich is as a /holeI (Heide77er 01M1, p4 0@564 !part from the fact that the construction of thin7s is one e9pression of the desire to dominate space, it is also consistent /ith acanIs other/ise pu..lin7 8uestion as to /hether the master:slave dialectic D/ill find its resolution in the service of the machineI4 It fits, too, /ith his suspicion of reality:testin74 If the construction of thin7s is one e9pression of /hat acan else/here refers to as Dthe passionate desire peculiar to man to impress his ima7e on realityI( acan 01MB, p4 556 then reality:testin7 is suspect because the e7o has constructed the reality it then proceeds to test4 !s the point of departure for this supplement on ho/ the

acan ties both the e7oIs ri7idity and the social psychosis to paranoia4 The e7o, in part, has a paranoid dimension because both the e7o and the e7oIs objects are conceived of as fi9ed, and the e7o /ants them to stay fi9ed4 !ny unre7ulated movement or chan7e in these objects poses a threat to the e7oIs concept of itself as fi9ed, in that its o/n fi9ity is defined in relation to them4 Here /e can locate the need to control the environment in an attempt to predict and re7ulate chan7es /ithin it, to subject the irre7ularity of livin7 thin7s to a form of domination in /hich the e7o closes off to itself the truth about itself, by makin7 its dream of fi9ation come true4 That is to say, at the same time as it closes off the truth on /hich its psychical health depends, it also, and in a parallel
e7oIs ri7idity has a counterpart in the environment it constructs, it is /orth recallin7 that

manner, restricts the re7eneration of the natural environment on /hich it depends to stay alive4 This couplin7 of spatial shifts /ith technolo7ical e9pansion is repeated, althou7h the emphasis is reversed in &ar9Is account4 ,or &ar9, the division of to/n and country is at one and the same time the basis of the accumulation of capital, /hich accelerates and re8uires the technolo7ical e9pansion necessary for /innin7 in the competition of the marketplace4 This does not solve the problem of /hat tri77ers a77ressive competitiveness in so far as &ar9 himself continued to seek, and /as unhappy /ith, his o/n accounts of the cause of the accumulation of capital; he sou7ht them in a variety of places, from the rela9ation of the churchIs la/s restrictin7 usury, to the shift /hereby the merchant became an industrialist throu7h employin7 small rural producers45M &ar9Is critics, notably &a9 "eber, have ar7ued that he overlooked the e9tent to /hich substantial urbani.ation preceded capitali.ation (*iddens 01B0, p4 0O164 +et /hatever the cause of capitali.ation, the technolo7ical e9pansion that accompanied it is the means /hereby the e7o is able to secure the DreversalI in kno/led7e, as it makes the /orld over in its o/n ima7e4 It is also, and this is critical to the dynamics of the e7oIs era, a means of 7eneratin7 continuous economic insecurity and an9iety over survival in the majority, and 7uarantees their dependence on those identified /ith the dominant e7oIs standpoint4 In fact to say that the above points can be made in the form of an economic supplement is drastically to understate the case( the unelaborated relation bet/een the economic dimension and the e7o is the subjective fla/ in acanIs historical theory, because it is only throu7h the elaboration of this relation that the mechanism by /hich the social psychosis could e9ist simultaneously in and around individuals /ill emer7e4 D!77ressive competitivenessI is tied to imperialism (loosely6 but the fact that this tie is also fundamental in the competitive profit motive is not follo/ed throu7h (despite, or perhaps because of, the Heide77erian allusions64 This tie can be effected after the foundational fantasy is identified in more detail in Part II4 !nd once this is done, the details of the mechanism by /hich the fi9ity or ri7idity that acan so fre8uently refers to as a hallmark of the individual e7o has a counterpart in the historical e7oIs era /ill be apparent4 So /ill another reason for scepticism about Dreality:testin7I 4

acan refers to the e7oIs era approach to kno/led7e as paranoid, as it is based on a need for control4 But he does not take account of ho/ the e7o technolo7ically constructs an environment it can control, and ho/ this, in turn, reinforces paranoia, precisely because the dama7e done to nature in the process makes the e7o fear (ri7htly6 for its o/n survival4

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