The Lacanian Left: Essays on Psychoanalysis and Politics

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In recent years psychoanalysis—especially Lacanian theory—has been gradually acknowledged as a vital resource in the ongoing reorientation of contemporary political theory and analysis. Of particular note is that the work of Jacques Lacan is increasingly being used by major political philosophers associated with the Left. This indicates the dynamic emergence of a new theoretico-political horizon: that of the “Lacanian Left.” However, this field has yet to be properly conceived as a field, and this is the first book to bring it into academic consciousness and to systematically draw its implications for concrete political analysis. This book offers an accessible mapping of its main contours; a detailed examination of the convergences and divergences between the major figures active within or at the periphery of this terrain, including Slavoj Žižek, Ernesto Laclau, Alain Badiou, and Cornelius Castoriadis; and a critical evaluation of their respective arguments on social construction and the political, affectivity and discourse, ethics and social change, and negativity and positivity.

Engaging with the role of affect and emotion in political life through the central Lacanian notion of “enjoyment,” The Lacanian Left puts forward innovative analyses of political power and authority, nationalism, European identity, consumerism and advertising culture, and de-democratization and post-democracy. It will be of value to everyone interested in exploring the potential of psychoanalysis in reinvigorating political theory, critical political analysis, and democratic politics.
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About the author

Yannis Stavrakakis is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He is author of Lacan and the Political and coeditor (with David Howarth and Aletta J. Norval) of Discourse Theory and Political Analysis: Identities, Hegemonies and Social Change and (with Jason Glynos) Lacan and Science.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Pages
328
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ISBN
9780791478929
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Political
Political Science / History & Theory
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Democracy
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This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Psychoanalytic Reflections on Politics: Fatherlands in mothers’ hands is a playful exploration of how people’s desires, fantasies, and emotions shape political events and social phenomena. It highlights the mythical sources of today’s political projects, the power of political imagination, and the function of symbolism in political thought. Eszter Salgó argues that the driving force for the formation of political communities is fantasy – ‘illusions’ in a Winnicottian sense, ‘phantasies’ in a Lacanian sense, ‘phantoms’ as described by Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok, and ‘dreams’ as interpreted by Sándor Ferenczi. She introduces the metaphor of the ‘fantastic family’ as a symbolic representation of political communities, both to reflect on people’s deeply felt desire to find in public life the resolution, love, and wholeness of early childhood, and to unveil the political elite’s readiness to don the mask of the ‘ideal parent’.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part of the book explores the theories of Donald Winnicott and Jacques Lacan: the matrimony on the stage of politics between the ‘good-enough mother’ and the Symbolic Father which inaugurates the story of democracy’s ‘fantastic family’. The second part presents the ‘fantastic families’ of selected countries such as Hungary, Italy, and the world community to explain the proliferation of cosmogony projects, and to document the failure of the political elites to offer a satisfactory performance of their maternal and paternal functions.

Psychoanalytic Reflections on Politics: Fatherlands in mothers’ hands presents a new way of considering the art of politics, based on the understanding that people perceive reality through imagination and unconscious fantasy. It will be of interest to psychoanalysts, and academics from across the disciplines of politics, psychology, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, literature, and art.

The emerging field of ‘psychoanalytic political theory’ has now reached a stage in its development and rapid evolution that deserves to be registered, systematically defined and critically evaluated. This Handbook provides the first reference volume which showcases the current state of psychoanalytic political theory, maps the genealogy of its development, identifies its conceptual and methodological resources and highlights its analytical innovations as well as its critical promise. The Handbook consists of 35 chapters offering original, comprehensive and critical reviews of this field of study. The chapters are divided into five thematic sections:

Figures discusses the work of major psychoanalytic theorists who have influenced considerably the development of psychoanalytic political theory. Traditions genealogically recounts and critically reassesses the many attempts throughout the 20th century of experimenting with the articulation between psychoanalysis and political theory in a consistent way. Concepts asks what are the concepts that psychoanalysis offers for appropriation by political theory. Themes presents concrete examples of the ways in which psychoanalytic political theory can be productively applied in the analysis of racism, gender, nationalism, consumerism, etc. Challenges/Controversies captures the ways in which psychoanalytic political theory can lead the way towards theoretical and analytical innovation in many disciplinary fields dealing with cutting-edge issues.

The Routledge Handbook of Psychoanalytic Political Theory will serve as scholarly reference volume for all students and researchers studying political theory, psychoanalysis, and the history of ideas.

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