Abstract

This essay considers a line of thought about the possibility of political action in psychoanalytic theory. In the mid-1930s George Bataille asked why popular political movements during this period yielded, ultimately, fascism rather than communism. He responds by suggesting that for the reverse to take place, the very structure of knowledge needs to be reworked, and argues that the Freudian unconscious represents a possible commencement for that reworking. In "The Other Side of Psychoanalysis," a seminar delivered during the Parisian student movements, and one famous for introducing the "four discourses" (of the master, the hysteric, the analyst, and the university), Lacan examines in detail this thesis, revealing how an analysis of the unconscious might help reshape our thinking on popular movements, especially insofar as that thinking is derived from Marx. The essay concludes by investigating the recent fierce debate between Ernesto Laclau and Slavoj Zizek about populism, a dispute largely informed by psychoanalysis. --bl

Additional Information

ISSN
1053-1920
Launched on MUSE
2008-05-14
Open Access
No
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