Monday, June 26, 2017

Freud lives!

We are often told that psychoanalysis is dead. Outdated scientifically, in that the Freudian model of the mind has been superseded by neurobiology; outdated clinically, where the talking cure has lost ground to drug treatment or behavioural therapy; outdated socially, where the idea that we are repressed by the norms of others is no longer stocked in today’s supermarket of free choices.
But perhaps the moment of psychoanalysis has only just arrived. At a time when we are bombarded on all sides by the injunction to ‘Enjoy!’, it is a unique space in which we are released from such pressures. The psychoanalytic encounter allows one person to feel alive in the mind of another, whatever the consequences. Neither a cure nor a cure-all, it changes those who experience it, sometimes by helping them to understand why they cannot change.

Slavoj Žižek and Stephen Grosz – a dazzling theorist and a renowned practitioner – have urgent stories to tell us about ourselves and the present state of our wishes: the wish for a trouble-free existence, and for therapies which can instantly return us to everyday reality, or unreality; the wish for science to explain our minds, or explain them away…

Discovering the unconscious at work in psychic life, Freud showed that the ego is not master in its own house, that we do not know our own minds. This is a truth with no sell-by date, and Freud’s insights are alive today more than ever.

Masterclass on Jacques Lacan: A Lateral Introduction

Qatar slams Saudi-led demands

Hypocritical Republicans--Trumpcare Plan Is Opposite of 'Pro-Life'

Sister Simone: Republican's Trumpcare Plan Is Opposite of 'Pro-Life'
"People will lose their lives if this bill becomes law."

Writing in The Hill on Monday, anti-poverty crusader Sister Simone Campbell took Senate Republicans to task regarding their healthcare bill—and the implications it has for millions of Americans, particularly women and children.

As the executive director of NETWORK, the Catholic social justice lobbying group, Sister Simone has been a vocal advocate for the expansion of health coverage for Americans and for ending income inequality. While many in Washington see healthcare as a controversial issue, for Sister Simone, it couldn't be more simple. For her, she writes, "it boils down to making sure that as many people as possible have access to life-saving healthcare coverage."

Sister Simone has gained a progressive following—and drawn ire from the Catholic Church—for her staunch support of abortion rights. But today she repeated her belief that a pro-life agenda must prioritize the lives of American women and families, not just unborn children.

"...As Senate Republicans seek to rush through a plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the most secretive manner, I want to call their bluff on their proclaimed pro-life stance...The House and Senate healthcare proposals are the antithesis of a pro-life stance and needs to be named as such. People will lose their lives if this bill becomes law."

Economists estimate that between 15 million and 22 million Americans could lose health coverage if the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BRCA) passes. Many of those who would lose care are those who rely on Medicaid, which was expanded in 31 states under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. As Sister Simone writes,

"This bill preys on the most vulnerable!...Medicaid dollars benefit seniors residing in nursing homes, including many Catholic Sisters who have served their entire lives tending to the most vulnerable. It also affects people with disabilities, whose care can be too expensive for a family to manage. But, Republican efforts to cut Medicaid funding arbitrarily will jeopardize their lives and wellbeing."

Sister Simone's opposition to the bill stands in stark contrast to the lawmakers who authored it; the BRCA was written in closed-door sessions attended by just 13 Republicans—all of them male. She writes that myriad women's healthcare needs, including childbirth, appear to have been almost wholly ignored by the GOP.

"...what many don’t know is that 45 percent of births in the United States are paid for by Medicaid. The Senate bill ends Medicaid as we know it, and as a result these "pro-life" members of Congress are actually disregarding the needs of moms and their newborn children. Supporting Medicaid funding is a pro-life stance."

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act are putting pressure on Republican senators this week, urging them not to support the new bill. The GOP can only afford to lose two votes for the BRCA, and Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia are among the so-called moderate Republicans who could vote against it. While 13 men were tasked with writing a bill that could jeopardize women's healthcare, Sister Simone Campbell is one of many progressives who are waiting to see if Republican women will do anything to block the legislation.

Mladen Dolar--Of Drives and Cultures

Srećko Horvat - The Utopia of Love

Trumpcare Is Lethal for the Poor and Elderly. The Answer Is Medicare-for-All.

U.S. Capitol Police remove a woman from a protest against the GOP healthcare bill in front of the office of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Totality ‘exists’ insofar as one pays the price for forgetting to include oneself in the situation

Slavoj Žižek, from Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left, by Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau, and Slavoj Žižek (London: Verso, 2000), pp. 227-230:

The second aspect of Laclau's critique of my reading of Hegel is that I do not sufficiently take into account the gap between the Hegelian project in its fundamental dialectical principle and what Hegel actually accomplishes: Hegel's theoretical practice often differs from his 'official' self-understanding--in what he does, he often relies on (disavowed) rhetoricity, contingent tropes, and so on. To this, I am tempted to answer that the split Laclau is talking about is already discernible in the very fundamental Hegelian project itself, which is thoroughly ambiguous. Let me simply mention what may appear to be Hegel's utmost 'logocentric' notion, namely, the notion of totality: one should bear in mind that this notion does not designate simply a total mediation accessible to a global subject but, rather, its exact opposite, best exemplified by the dialectic of the Beautiful Soul: 'totality' is encountered at its purest in the negative experience of falsity and breakdown, when the subject assumes the position of a judge exempt from what he is passing a judgement on (the position of a multiculturalist critic of Western cultural imperialism, of the Western pacifist liberal horrified at the ethnic violence in fundamentalist countries)--here the message of 'totality' is simply: 'No, you are involved in the system you pretend to reject; purity is the most perfidious form of cheating.'... So, far from being correlative to the Universal Subject, 'totality' is really experienced and 'actually exists' precisely in the negative shock of failure, of paying the price for forgetting to include oneself in the situation into which one intervenes. Furthermore, I think that here we are not dealing with a simple case of misreading Hegel: the fact that Laclau tends to reduce the properly Hegelian dialectic of necessity and contingency to the simplified standard notion of contingency as the external/empirical mode of appearance of a 'deeper' underlying Necessity indicates some inherent inconsistency in his theoretical edifice, an inconsistency in the relationship between the descriptive and the normative--here is Laclau's answer to my criticism on this point:

[quotation from Laclau] I have been confronted many times with one or other version of the following question: if hegemony involves a decision taken in a radically contingent terrain, what are the grounds for deciding one way or the other? Žižek, for instance, observes: 'Laclau's notion of hegemony describes the universal mechanism of ideological "cement" which binds any social body together, a notion that can analyse all possible sociopolitical orders, from Fascism to liberal democracy; on the other hand, Laclau none the less advocates a determinate political option, "radical democracy".' I do not think this is a valid objection. It is grounded in a strict distinction between the descriptive and the normative which is ultimately derivative from the Kantian separation between pure and practical Reason. But this is, precisely, a distinction which should be eroded: there is no such strict separation between fact and value. A value-oriented practical activity will be confronted with problems, facilities, resistances, and so on, which it will discursively construct as 'facts'--facts, however, which could have emerged in their facticity only from within such activity. (EL, pp. 79-80) [end of quotation from Laclau]

I think two levels are confounded here. I fully endorse Laclau's argument against the strict distinction between the descriptive and the normative--in fact, I myself refer to a similar example of how the Nazis' 'description' of the social situation in which they intervene (degeneration, the Jewish plot, a crisis of values...) already depends on the practical 'solution' they propose. In Hegelese, it is not only, as Marx put it, that '[m]en make their own history; but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past'; it is also that these circumstances or 'presuppositions' are themselves always-already 'posited' by the practical context of our intervention in them. In this sense, I fully endorse Laclau's point that 'the question: "If the decision is contingent, what are the grounds for choosing this option rather than a different one?", is not relevant' (EL, p. 85): there are no ultimate 'objective' grounds for a decision, since these grounds are always-already retroactively constructed from the horizon of a decision. (I myself often use the example of religion here: one does not become a Christian when one is convinced by reason of the truth of Christianity; rather, only when one is a Christian can one really understand in what sense Christianity is true.) My point, however, is precisely that it is Laclau's theory of hegemony itself which relies on an unreflected gap between the descriptive and the normative, in so far as it functions as a neutral conceptual tool for accounting for every ideological formation, including Fascist populism (one of Laclau's favourite examples). Of course, Laclau would have answered here that the universal theory of hegemony is not simply neutral, since it already involves the practical stance of 'radical democracy'; but again, my answer would be that, precisely, I do not see in what specifically inherent way the very universal notion of 'hegemony' is linked to a particular ethico-political choice. And--as I have already argued in my first contribution to this debate--I think the key to this ambiguity is the unresolved question of the historicity of the assertion of historicism/contingency itself in Laclau's (as well as Butler's) theoretical edifice.