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Dialectics as Superstition
a reading of Slavoj Zizek's "critique" on Jean-Claude Milner
Marco Mauas

I'll begin my answer from the very last sentence of Zizek's critique: "Does the idea of Jews turning into a Nation-State not imply the END (sic, in very big letters) of Judaism, no wonder that the Nazis supported this plan! Jews stood for the "Four-fold" precisely in order to maintain their identity without a Nation-State."

This sentence is precisely the Hegelian-point of this critique. Exactly as Hegel said that Christianity is really the end of God (without writing it like this: "END") - with its mortal passion of the Christ, so would be the Nation-State of the Jews should be the "END" of Judaism. Were the Jews and their Destiny, including the Shoah, a dialectical puzzle, Zizek has the right point. But this is a more material puzzle, that Hegelian Dialectics does not recognize as such. This is Lacan's thesis in his XI Seminar 1 - it is really much more than a thesis, it is a matter-of fact, a consequence of his deduction of objet petit a as something that is "the very limit of these dialectical discussions". Freud himself did not believe that these "Critiques" were very worth of. He preferred to abstain, because there is something in psychoanalysis that makes it non-dialectical. Well, what I am saying now is precisely this: that Lacan's saying in Seminar XI about the shoah is the equivalent of Freud's reluctance to any dialectical discussion.

In its place we have something as a "conversation". Jacques-Alain Miller has put it clearly that in the era of the non-rapport between signifier and signification (S/s), the conversation is the only recourse we have to cope with this gap, to try to make it a visible gap. Eric Laurent also stressed it in his intervention at his seminar with Jacques-Alain Miller "L'Autre qui n'existe pas et ses comités d'éthique": the conversation about marriage. This is not only about of dialectics; this is also about conversation. The conversation takes into account something that is not possible to dialecticize. It takes into account: it lets it to be, to exist. From this point of view, it is possible to continue to read après-coup the text of Zizek: "The Jews stood for the Four-fold" precisely in order to", implies something of an intention: "in order to". So that not only we have a dialectics of Jewish position, we have an intention in this dialectics. Hegel named it with a very clear and clever name: the astuteness of reason. What does it mean? What is this astuteness of reason? 2 The reason knows everything from the beginning. We have to remind here that for Jacques Lacan this is precisely the non-analytic, the non-Freudian point of Hegel. Neither the reason cannot know everything from the beginning, nor could these Zionists and their Nazis collaborators know everything from the beginning.

What is the name we can ourselves give to this "intention"? Let's continue our tour. The Spinoza's name for it was simply "superstition": 3 to believe that the Gods will be in your side if you know what to offer to them. Spinoza's example is that of Alexander the Great: when things were doing fine for him, he didn't care of his magicians and augurs. When things begun to complicate, he called them all to him. Zizek is calling in this sense to the augurs of dialectics: to help him, us all also, give a dialectical intention and explanation to this strange meeting between Zionists and Nazis. It is a Deus ex machina. They supposedly met because they wanted the same in some obscure sense, even if they are supposed to be the extreme absolute, or precisely because of that. Well, this is a dialectical interpretation. It is true, but it is not the end of it, it is only a dialectical truth. We have to continue. And to continue means: to continue against dialectics, because there is a gap, an internal gap. So let's continue our tour.

Lacan gave to this intention a different name: the truth as a final cause as we find it in religion. It is a superstition of reason also, but we have with Lacan a different mode of treatment. Lacan named it the final cause 4 as Spinoza did, but what is the aim of Lacan when he poses it as the truth as fibnal cause? The real cause. The aim of Lacan is the real cause, or more precisely, "the cause as real". 5 The object petit a is the cause of desire, so there is a causal gap that makes it impossible to fill it with dialectical intentions. If we accept Francois Regnault interpretation - it is not a thesis, it is an interpretation 6 - that the Jew is the object petit a of Western civilization , we accept also that this object has no dialectical intention in it. It is rather a position, as Jacques-Alain Miller simply put it in his "Extimite" course (1986-87). "The Jew" is a "separation position." This is something not easy to grasp with the dialectics of Zizek, because this dialectics is blind to it, as it is blind to the fact that the object petit a is a cause in the real sense of the word. Dialectics cannot cope with this humble fact, because dialectics is a sort of superstition of reason. "Give me a problem and I can dialecticize it". If you try to interpret my position, I will show you that you are speaking the truth against yourself.

Well, were dialectics the all-might instrument to solve gaps, we would not really need psychoanalysis. And I am not sure this is the case.

This is the reason why Jacques-Alain Miller statement in this same course of 1986 comes to meet a similar statement by Leo Strauss in 1958. Let's see Miller 's statement in the first place:

Il est même incroyable de voir que ce qui a l'air le plus populaire ce soit la position sartrienne qui consiste a dire que le Juif n'existe pas, qu'il n'existe que par le regard d'autrui. Ca me semblerait devoir susciter l'insurrection précisement la ou on vous tartine de la sécificité juive... Eh bien moi, cet égard. je suis lacanien. Je ne pense pas que c'est le regard d'autrui qui est constitutif de cette position... 7

Now let's see what Leo Strauss has to say:

On peut diviser en deux classes les Juifs non religieux d'aujourd'hui. Il y a ceux qui souhaitent n'être pas juifs, qui considèrent leur origine juive comme un malheur; et il y a ceux qui ne souhaitent pas ne pas être nés juifs, et qui sont peut être même heureux d'être nés juifs. Ils pensent que ce qu'il y a de mieux en eux vient de leur origine juive, ou se trouve en tout cas inextricablement lié a cet origine. D'une manière étrange, ils croient encore d'une manière ou d'une autre que les Juifs sont le Peuple élu... Freud a été certainement un Juif en ce sens. Je fais un pas de plus. Je crois que les Juifs du type numéro deux son a la fois meilleurs et plus heureux que les Juifs du type numéro un. 8

"The Jew" cannot, by structure, have any intention to maintain his position - even if there is an active side of this position, as Jacques-Alain Miller stresses it - as an object, so to survive as a Jew. We can make the clear cut distinction between activity and intention. Freud said it was really a question, what made this people survive - actively, of course - through the ages. But Freud was not so Hegelian, nor Lacan, with all due respect for Hegel.

What is the underlying coincidence between these two sayings? In what sense can we understand Jacques-Alain Miller a cet égard, je suis lacanien? There is a clinical reason in it, a reason that simply supposes the humble fact of psycho-analytical practice: the subject is directed toward his destiny, his tragic-comical destiny, and there is no dialectics that can be able to surpass his confrontation, his responsibility vis- a -vis his jouissance.

Lacan says something about the reason that is inherent in "being Lacanian" as Miller says in his course. Lacan stresses in his 25 january 1967 seminar, "La logique du fantasme":

J'avais rêvé pour quelques petits de cette tribu qui m'entoure, de leur rendre service d'élucider un peu la question concernant leur rapport au Dieu au nom imprononçable, à celui qui s'est exprimé dans le registre du je, non pas "je suis celui qui suis", pas de transposition d'une pensée Plotinienne, mais "je suis ce que je suis" tout simplement. J'avais pensé ; "j'y reviendrai toujours pour leur rendre ce service, et nous en resterons toujours là tant que nous n'aurons pas repris cette question du nom du père". Je parle des petits, il y a aussi les grands. Les grands juifs n'ont pas besoin de moi pour s'affronter à leur Dieu. Mais nous, nous avons ici à faire à l'Autre en tant que champ de la vérité et que cet Autre soit marqué, que nous le voulions ou pas, comme philosophe, qu'il soit marqué au premier abord, par la castration. Voilà aujourd'hui ce à quoi nous avons affaire. C'est ce contre quoi, dès lors que l'analyse existe, rien ne saurait prévaloir.

It is the lacanian name for this impossibility, that remained as such till the last teaching of Lacan: there is something incurable. Zizek's "Critique" aims to cure the Jews from their Milnerian dreams, as it were, to become universally Europeans with the Muslim Other. But it disregards the difference in position. The same superstitious dialectics can be transformed in the secret of an active position, non-dialectizable, incurable as such. But this is not tha aim of Zizek, his aim is a Critique, so he does not admit as such the Jew as a serious question mark, he simply rejects it in and with this dialectical superstition.

In its more radical sense, Milner's book is an interpretation, and this fact may be the fact that makes it "weak" in Zizek's "Critique" (p. 3). Zizek's "Critique" is really a Critique of a Milnerian interpretation, a Milnerian-Lacanian interpretation that is "Lacanian" in the same sense of Miller's sentence: in the sense that it preserves the position, the cause and the causal gap, without trying to find a cure, a dialectical solution, a superstitious solution that can restore the "sense". It is more striking when you read another article in the same book by Leo Strauss, another very Milnerian sentence:

Je recommence encore. Il n'existe pas de solution du probleme juif. L'esperance d'une telle solution vient de la prémisse selon laquelle tous les problemes ont une solution." 9

This is - paradoxically enough - more akin with a chance of analytic interpretation. There is a stop on it. And this is also the secret of Jean-Claude Milner's book-interpretation of the Jewish Position.


1. Jacques Lacan, Séminaire XI, Seuil, Paris, Ed. établi par Jacques-Alain Miller: "C'est, présentifiant les formes les plus monstrueuses et prétendues d'epassées de l'holocauste, le drame du nazisme. Je tiens qu'aucun sens de l'histoire, fondé sur les prémises hégéliano-marxistes, n'est capable de render compte de cette resurgence, par quoi il s'avere que l'offrande a des dieux obscures d'un objet de sacrifice est quelque chose a quoi peu de sujets peuvent ne pas succomber, dans une monstruouse capture."
2. About this particular point, cf.: Lacan, Écrits, Ed Seuil, Paris, 1966, p 809 and ff.
3. Spinoza, TTP, Préface, 4.
4. Jacques Lacan, Écrits, p. 872. Seuil, Paris, 1966.
5. Cf for the beginning of this clinical point concerning the practice: Jacques Lacan, Séminaire XI, (1963-64) Ed. établi par Jacques-Alain Miller, Seuil, Paris, 1973, Ch. II, p. 25: "Eh bien, l'inconscient freudien, c'est a ce point que j'essaye de vous faire viser par approximation qu'il se situe, a ce point ou, entre la cause et ce qu'elle affecte, il y a toujours de la clocherie... (...)... Car l'inconscient nous montre la béance ou la névrose se raccorde a un réel - réel qui peut bien, lui, n'etre pas déterminé."
6. Francois Regnault: "Notre objet a", Ornicar 50, 2003, p. 31
7. Jacques-Alain Miller, "Extimité", cours du 22-1-1986, (Version not corrected by J-A Miller.)
8. Leo Strauss: " Freud sur Moise et le Monotheisme" (1958), dans Pourquoi nous restons Juifs, "La Table Ronde Editions, Paris, 2001, p. 267.
9. Leo Strauss, op. cit, p. 22.




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