Sexuation 3: The Logic of Jouissance (Cont.)
from Larval Subjects. Thus, when the band of brothers kill the primal father in Totem and Taboo, they institute the law of exchange and the prohibition against having the mother and sister. By contrast, claims Lacan, feminine sexuated subjects have the true love of difference, of the hetero, insofar as “not-all of speaking being is subordinated to the law of castration”.
However, social structures organized in feminine terms encounter their own impasse as well. Masculine social structures can be thought in terms of transcendence and necessity– The transcendence of the leader, the boss, the father, God, the nation, etc., with respect to its subjects and how these subjects relate to the Law. The Law here is understood as transcendent and universal with only one exception to the Law (perhaps this is why the last 26% of Bush supporters are not troubled by the illegalities of his administration). By contrast, feminine social structures can be understood as immanent and contingent. Here the emphasis is decidedly on the formation of relational networks that are ever shifting and changing. Yet while these networks might appear more appealing insofar as the don’t generate the same terrifying bifurcated forms of collective fantasy that caused so much horror in the last century, they do cause a set of other problems.
On the one hand, network based social formations are decidedly more difficult to politically contest as it is not clear where the enemy is. As Žižek liked to joke, it is far easier to protest the totalitarian Oedipal father than the new, sensitive post-modern father. The totalitarian Oedipal father tells you that “you’re going to your grandmother’s whether you like it or not!” In this way a space of freedom is preserved– if only in the Stoic form –insofar as one is permitted to go to one’s grandmother’s without enjoying it, and second, insofar as one can contest the Oedipal command. This holds likewise for protest against the various Oedipal regimes, where the target of resistance is clear... Perhaps more fundamentally, feminine networked society is accompanied by the emergence of a search for phallic masters or gurus of all types.
In The New Spirit of Capitalism, Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello analyze management literature between the 60s and the 90s, demonstrating a fundamental shift from centralized, top-down, master-based models of management during the 60s (Oedipal models of social organization), to de-centralized, network based, non-hierarchical, difference based models of management. In the latter model, the manager is no longer the one running the show, but is rather the guru who has a general Vision of where the corporation is to go and who cedes implementation of this Vision to a series of lower level managers who are largely autonomous. The new structure of management portrays itself as egalitarian and open-ended, without a hierarchy between upper management and lower management.
Boltanski and Chiapello are able to show how capitalism was able to integrate the radical critiques of 60s anti-capitalist theory, turning these critiques into new ways of producing capital. Accompanying this shift from transcendent models of social organization to immanent and egalitarian models of social organization, we everywhere see a search for masters or gurus. Perhaps this is because the new freedom of desire opened up by a networked based society fill subjects with anxiety, as there is no longer a compass that would tell them what to desire.
“I know I desire, but what desire is the right desire for me and what desire will make me desirable?”
This might also account for the rise of fundamentalisms of all sorts, where subjects cleave to hierarchical social models so as to create a space of desire and avoid the empty depressive stance of late capitalism. In short, while preferable in a number of respects, and while premised on the true or real insofar as it recognizes the “not-all” of the symbolic, it cannot be said that feminine sexuation will save us.
However, the point to be borne in mind is that both masculine and feminine sexuation are premised on an order organized around the name-of-the-father and the Oedipus. In other words, while sexuation pertains to the real, there is only masculine and feminine sexuation insofar as the name-of-the-father is the primary modality through which subjectivity is formed. The late Lacan envisioned another possibility. There, in Seminar 23: The Sinthome, Lacan observes that “it is possible to do without the name-of-the-father so long as one makes use of it.” Likewise, the name-of-the-father is pluralized, allowing for a variety of signifying structures to serve its function.
Finally, psychosis becomes generalized to all subjects, such that Oedipal structures organized around the name-of-the-father are one way of tying the borromean knot among others or one way of responding to the inexistence of the big Other (A). Instead, the sinthome comes to tie the three strings of RSI, allowing for a social link that need not be Oedipal in character. Perhaps, then, the borromean clinic provides an alternative way of tying the knot beyond the Oedipus (which Lacan refers to as Freud’s myth) that would generate different formal impasses beyond those of masculine and feminine sexuation.
Perhaps a politics that encourages all our people to earn honest money in completely free markets will gradually wean misguided people away from terrorism. Further, co-operation between the people and the law will also increase. People will have faith in a government that leaves all peaceful trades alone.
Note that our politicos are only making political capital out of this. Theirs is not a politics that seeks to establish a moral consensus among a people. So let this not be an event that results in a stronger State. Rather, let there be a call for a new politics: a politics of morality, of Liberty, of peace and prosperity. And do read my old article: The Purpose of Politics.