Symbolic fiction elected Trump!

For Marx the abstract liberal subject was correlated with the commodity form:

In what conditions do individuals experience themselves as subjects of universal human rights..? in a society in which commodity exchange predominates, individuals themselves, in their daily lives, relate to themselves, as well as to the objects they encounter, as to contingent embodiments of abstract-universal notions. 

The classical Marxist gesture is to ‘uncover’ the gap between the two, universal rights are unmasked as Trump (universal rights masks the privilege of white rich men), the value of a commodities appears to be a function of the interaction of supply and demand (“I will make a new trade deal with China/Mexico) when really it is class relations (Trump is a millionaire who is going to give unprecedented tax cuts to the rich) etc…

Zizek’s departure is to suggest that this fiction – “universal rights” – has a certain efficiency independent of that which it conceals:

the “appearance” of egaliberte, precisely, is NOT a “mere appearance,” but evinces an effectivity of its own, which allows it to set in motion the process of the rearticulation of actual socio-economic relations by way of their progressive “politicization” (Why shouldn’t women also vote? Why shouldn’t conditions at the working place also be of public political concern? etc.)

Which renders his recent intervention on the Presidential Election more perplexing when he seemed to suggest that second order effects of the election of Trump, may have progressive potential. Adam Kotsko highlights Zizek’s folly best here.

But whatever one can accuse liberal multiculturalism of, one should at least admit that it is profoundly anti-“essentialist”: it is its barbarian Other which is perceived as “essentialist” and thereby “false,” i.e., fundamentalism “naturalizes” or “essentializes” historically conditioned contingent traits

Trumps election victory seems to be the victory of this ‘barbarian Other’ at the expense of liberal multiculturalism. Here, using a form of argument familiar to any readers of Zizek, is it not that the universal ‘symbolic fiction’ is not really all that independent from the particular content? The symbolic fiction, elected Trump as a staging of our collective cynicism?



Of brexit hospitality

Before my flight from Montreal to London the referendum didn’t to have enamoured the press this side of the pond, and I was thirsty to follow the proceedings from inside of the country that I had recently emigrated from.

Once arrived in London I stayed with a family member and talked about the impending referendum. He works in the NHS, university educated, well travelled and to my surprise he was going to vote leave. My arguments about workers rights rang hollow as he had witnessed employees being paid below the minimum wage whilst he was scratching a living in London before his days in the NHS. Concerns about the economy failed to land, lost in the sea of uncertainty of predicting the future.

Continue reading “Of brexit hospitality”

Zizek: Don Draper as a socially mandated lobster claw



Lacan freed Freud from ego psychology, but in doing so he failed to see how his captives had managed to identify a type of subjectivity spawned by late capitalism. The field of play was once defined by neurosis – perversion – psychosis, each representing a particular stance towards castration. But soon new types of subjectivity appeared at the beginnings of post-industrial capitalism which no longer needed castrated subjects for reproduction.

In this dystopia,  Daddy is dead and the Left has had a hand in his murder.  Two new subjectivities begin to appear on the analysts couch, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Pathological Narcissists (PN). In this dystopian vision, the old Oedipal pact is replaced by new, patriarchy substituted with a new regressive matriarchy.

Failing to undergo castration these subjects have an inner emptiness where the symbolic phallus should be. For the PN at least he is compensated through possessing a  grandiose ego, fed by the conflation of ego/ideal ego/ego ideal and external narcissistic  supplies. Don Draper is a pathological narcissist , a master who is a slave to the recognition of others due to the failure of secondary identification.

There is much to absorb in Zizek’s article, but I can also see the beginnings of a line of critique which focuses on phallocentricism and the problematic notion of regression in Zizek’s  new line of argument, which is baggage left over from using Kernberg as his initial starting point.


Who has promise as thinker of solidarity?

Derrida, for whom there is no Other (not even one who is lacking), but there is a radical quasi-trancendental other. What does this hold for solidarity?

=> Politics of Friendship

Jean-Luc Nancy, elaboration of being-with as an alternative to the lacking Other.

=> Which book/article looks promising?

Zizek, the basis of solidarity is the shared experience of a schism. The enemy is the ways in which we cover over this antagonism.

Catherine Malabou, rejects Derrida’s radical other. Believes that we can act in the place of the other. How does she rethink immanence in a way which is different to Zizek?

=> Which book/article looks promising?