||To resume again...
A Reading of the Seminar From an Other to the other
J - A
Towards a New Concept of Existence
35 Propositions from Logiques des mondes
The Element of Sacrifice in Romantic Love
Lacanian Psychoanalysis and Revolutionary Marxism
Materialism, or the Inexistence of the Big Other
Toril Goksøyr and Camilla Martens
Psychoanalysis as such is not necessarily anti-capitalist, and many analysts have followed Freud's own sardonic assessment of idealist promises for socialism and happier times,1 endorsing in the process a view of the end of personal analysis as entailing for the analysand scepticism if not cynicism about political activity. One of the paradoxes that operate to further separate and restructure the fraught relationship between the individual and the social under capitalism is that it has been the abstract academic forms of psychoanalytic theory that deepened our understanding of contemporary "subjectivity" and that have unfortunately succeeded in providing the main reference points for how we might combine psychoanalysis and Marxism. That they cannot be combined, that they are "directly opposites," was recognized long ago by psychoanalysts, but the more interesting and fruitful question that still needs to be worked through is "are they dialectical opposites?" To answer that question we also need to be clearer about what the appropriate reference points might be. It is not enough simply to say that we can now address the question by comparing and contrasting the writings of Marx and Lacan.
Specifying the particular theoretical traditions-Marxist and Lacanian-can be helpful as a starting point; for there are two assumptions they hold in common that we must take seriously in order to ground the debate. First, there is an emphasis on the dimension of practice, an insistence that it is not enough to interpret the social world or the inner world; in the early psychoanalytic tradition this is apparent in the attention given to what characterizes a "mutative"interpretation and for practising Lacanians it is evident in their focus on clinical training. The domains of practice are very different, but it is only from the work within each of these domains that we may arrive at answers that are both genuinely Lacanian and Marxist. Second, there is an acknowledgement that the location of the work is an accumulating tradition; a movement of activists or practitioners that read and re-read founding texts, but which collectively deliberates the trajectory of the writing and commentaries in order to assess what can be made of errors when theory is put to the test. In each case, of course, the task of retrieving and maintaining that tradition is necessarily figured against an understanding of the specific disastrous errors by which those who speak for the tradition-psychoanalysis or Marxism-have betrayed it.
Art: Pablo Ortiz Monasterio
Vírgenes - Mexico City - C-print, 1990
courtesy Rose Gallery, Santa Monica.
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