Lacanian Review Online: Modern Dictatorships and Discourse

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24th April 2019


University Discourse, Modern Dictatorships and Hysteric Discourse
Yaron Gilat

On April 9, 2019, the elections to State of Israel’s 21st Knesset were held. Eventually, a large right wing party won the elections and is about to form coalition with ultra-orthodox Jewish and extreme right wing parties, in order to form the most right winged government ever to exist in Israel.

On the agenda, new laws that will damage the distinctive superior status of the Supreme Court, laws that will impede the Separation of powers,  annexation of large parts of the west bank with or without full citizenship to the Palestinian population living there and more. In the meantime, Israel’s attorney general intends to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges, of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with three cases. According to media resources, the upcoming government will legislate a law that will assure the Prime Minister immunity in the face of justice as long as he serves in office.

Right winged populist parties obtaining political power is a worldwide phenomenon, both in Europe (Poland, Hungary, Russia, France), Asia (Turkey), south America (Brazil), north America (USA) and now Israel. Voices of racism, segregation, anti-democracy and nationalism are heard ever more laud.

In his seminar “the other side of psychoanalysis”1, Lacan introduced four discourses – the discourse of the master, the discourse of the analyst, the discourse of the university and the discourse of the hysteric. For Lacan, discourse is “social link”. Geoff Boucher2 states that “the various discourses determine institutional frameworks that mediate social antagonism in distinctive ways”.

In examining the structure of these four discourses, one may notice that they include two inverse couples; the inverse of the discourse of the analyst is the discourse of the master, and the inverse of the discourse of the university is the discourse of the hysteric.

Matthew Sharpe3 claims that “in the contemporary world, ‘university discourse’ is increasingly becoming the dominant form structure of social relations”.

Boucher, mentioned above, stresses that “Lacan’s diagnosis of modernity involves the displacement of the master by the bureaucrat. The decline of the master and the rise of the bureaucrat – including the totalitarian leader […], the gradual displacement of politics by bureaucracy, the mastery of persons by the administration of thing”. Boucher also states that “from the thirteenth century onward, the discourse of mastery relied increasingly upon the university discourse […] that actually served to legitimate the reigning master signifiers”. He mentions that Lacan aligns the discourse of science and technology with the university discourse, and that he considers bureaucracy to be the perfect realization of the university discourse.

I suggest that the dictatorships of the 20th century, as well as the new ultra-right governments of the 21st century, due to their leaning on science, pseudoscience and technology and due to their bureaucratic excellence, are regimes that very much operate in line with the university discourse. Therefore, in order to resist them, one must operate according to the inverse of the discourse of the university, which is the discourse of the hysteric. Let us not forget that Lacan’s interpretation of the movement of the radical students in 1968 was that this movement represented a hysterical demand for a new master.

One cannot expect the master to rebel. For that, he has a slave; the slave may transform the fantasy into a demand in the form of a hysterical revolt. One cannot expect the university to rebel against itself and the analyst is not a rebellious entity. In other words, in order to combat semi-fascist phenomena that seem to spread around the world, we must invoke hysterization of public discourse. Only the hysteric, because of her belief in the power of truth, is best suited for rebellion. The hysteric is in a constant position of revolt against the sexual-non-rapport. Who else but Dora could act out and slap Mr. K in the face?

1. Lacan, J., The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. Book XVII, The Other Side of Psychoanalysis, Transl. R. Grigg, W. W. Norton & Company, 2007.
2. Boucher, G., “Bureaucratic Speech Acts and the University Discourse: Lacan’s Theory of Modernity”. In Jacques Lacan and the Other Side of Psychoanalysis: Reflections on Seminar XVII. J. Clemens, R. Grigg (Editors), Duke University Press Books, 2006.
3. Sharpe, M., “The Revolution in Advertising and University Discourse”. In Jacques Lacan and the Other Side of Psychoanalysis: Reflections on Seminar XVII. J. Clemens, R. Grigg (Editors). Duke University Press Books, 2006.

 
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