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Robert Castel, Francoise Castel, Anne Lovell “The Psychiatric Society”

February 3, 2013 Leave a comment

Castel, Robert; Francoise Castel; Anne Lovell 1982. The Psychiatric Society. New York: Columbia University Press.

 

Part Three: Psychamerica

With the advent of mental medicine, the lunatic came to be seen as a patient suffereing from a malady. For the first time, a distinction was made between the mentally ill individual and others belonging to such miscellanous categories as social deviants, delinquents, vagabonds, vagrants, debauchees, wastrels, idiots, criminals, and others guilty of violating social and sexual norms. (171)

The nosographic classifications of mental illness have always been dubious, however. They are based on the assumption that there is a clear divdiding line between people who are „ill“ and therefore within the purview of psychiatry, on the one hand, and people who are „normal“ – though they may come under the jurisdiction of some other repressive agency, such as the courts – on the other hand. (171)

The people who seek these new services exhibit symptoms that are signs not so much of a specific pathology as of a malaise in daily life: exaggerating somewhat, one might say that what must be cured is normality. Now that we have reached the point of „therapy for the normal“, virtually all of social space has been opened up to the new techniques of psychological manipulation. (172)

 

Chapter 6: The Psychiatrization of Difference

In many police departments social workers are on call around the clock. There are „roving medical teams“ which include a psychologist and an intern who work for the police. This gives mental health personnel access through the police to people who would never have thought of seeking psychiatric help on their own, particularly in the ghettos and other poor areas. (177)

American courts confront a basic contradiction. Unable to mete out the prison sentences provided for by law, they discharge their responsibilities by sending lawbreakers to community treatment programs, most of which the judges know to be shams. What makes this deceit credible is that the concept of „treatment“ is invoked – in other words, the contention is that techniques based on medicine will be used to rehabilitate delinquents. Were it not for this safety valve, perhaps the fiction that justice is being done by the courts would have been exploded long ago, and people might then have been willing to look more closely at the foundations of a legal system (and a society) so conceived that nearly a third of the nation’s young people violate its laws. Rather than raise basic questions about the system, people have cast about for dubious alternative to what are ostensibly the most brutal forms of punishment. What is paradoxical about all but a few of these „alternatives“ is that they have done nothing to empty the prisons while augmenting the number of people mixed up with the courts. (183)

[…] the legal criterion for accepting or rejecting experimentation of this sort turned on the degree to which the technique in question was genuinely „medical“. (188)

According to some estimates, however, the number of addicts was most likely higher in the early twenties than it is today, perhaps nearly as high as one million. But addiction was not yet recognized as a social scourge. What has happened lately is not so much a drug „epidemic“ – a term suggestuve of the medicalization of the problem – as a stepping up of coordinated efforts to control certain social groups. (190)

In retrospect, the nineteenth and realy twentiet centuiries have been called a „drug addicts’ paradise“: morphine and heroin were widely used both for medical purposes (in the treatment of alcoholicm, as sedatives, and for „women’s troubles“) and simply for pleasure. The definition of a substance as a drug is a social act and goes hand in hand with efforts to restrict its use. (191)

[…] methadone has two decisive advantages in connection with drug control policy: there is no withdrawal, so users are less likely to be drive to violent crime in search of drugs or money to satisfy their craving, and users become dependent on methadone and are thereby forced to submit to daily scrutiny by the medical personnel who dispence the drug. Official documents recognize the fact that methadone users are in a dependent state and hold that this is one key to its effectiveness. One stated that many addicts have difficulty forming close relationships, and if they were not dependent on metadone, they would find it difficult if not impossible to go to the dispensary every day and establish a long-term relationship with the staff. Thus the dependence created by methadone is crucial to establishing a potentially therapeutic and rehabilitatice relationship with the addict. (197)

The new techniques have made it possible to tighten surveillance and control and extend their range. If prisons are beginning to look like hospitals, this means that their claim to provide therapy is not incompatible with their repressive function. (202)

For children even more than adults, psychiatric labels are often thin disguises for difficulties in adjusting to specific social, family, or scholastic situations rather than descriptions of clear-cut pathologies. (202)

The present goal is not merely to segregate abnormal individuals but also to detect potentially troublesome cases early on. One element of the new stategy is to examine everyone belonging to certain specific social groups or age categories. (204)

Schools are increasingly being used to separate the wheat from the chaff, the normal from the pathological, and growing numbers of specialists are being trained to assist, cousel, and treat what might be calles „abnormal pupils.“ (206)

Thus it seems clear that the real target of the treatment is the child’s disruptive behavior per se. The therapeutic excuse for the use of these drugs has been abandoned, and they are now openly accepted as instruments of control. As one pediatrician has put it, the object of medication is to improve the functioning of the brain so that the child becomes more normal in his thinking and responses. (209)

[…] childhood in general has become the prime target of an indiscriminate hunt for anomalous behavior. (210)

William Ryan has used the phrase blaming the victim to describe the ideologies and practices that have been used in the United States against deprived groups and individuals suspected of menacing law and order. This is how it works: „First, identify a social proble,. Secon, study those affected by the problem and discover in what ways they are different from the rest of us as a consequence of deprivation and injustice. Third, define the differences as the cause of the problem itself. Finally, of course, assign a government bureaucrat to invent a humanitarian action program to correct the difference.“ (210-211)

If we are right in thinking that we are now witnessing a transition to a new and more effective level of technological manipulation of marginal social groups, hten criticism of social control policies must also shift its ground to focus on the manipulative uses of the „scientific“ approach. (213)

 

Chapter 8: Psy Services and Their New Consumers

One comes away with an impression that everyday life is utterly suffused with interpretations stemming from medical psychology; the methods are now so flexible that nothing further stands in the way of their unlimited proliferation. The political implications of this colonization of social life by psychology are enormous. (257)

The same society that welcomed Freud as the messiah continues to celebrate his lesser epigones. Why? Because the role that psychoanalysis played in the United States was not limited to dominating, as it once did, the narrow field of mental medicine. Psychonanalysis was the main instrument for the reduction of social issues in general to questions of psychology. (261-262)

With the arrival of the post-psychoanalytic era it has become possible to speak of „therapy for the normal“ on a much wider scale. This is an important change, for it implies that anyone and everyone now falls within the purview of one of the new types of therapy. (264)

[…] behavior modification has been used as a way of imposing scientifically designed controls on the daily routine of many people; it therefore lends itself to a virtually unlimited range of applications. With some exaggeration, perhaps, it might be said that behavior modification turns all of life into an educational and disciplinary institution. (266)

„Therapy for the normal“, then, uses an array of mental and, particularly, physical tehcniques to maximize the „human yield“ of each individual; it is not aimed at healing, as standard therapies presumably are. The goal is not to get well, but to become healthier (that is to experience more pleasure, to „get in touch with one’s feelings“, to become aware of one’s body, etc.). Medical healing gives way to personality growth: Encounter groups are designed for people who are functioning normally but who wish to impove their relationships with others. (282)

To earn the right to treatent (as psychoanalysis had suspected), the normal individual must exhibit neurotic symptoms. But what is a symptom? „A psychic symptom today is no longer a symptom but a sign that life lacks joy.“ Normal life – social life – is sick, it requires therapy, therapy for nomrality, and techniques to develop human potential and foster autonomy and enhance pleasure in a sad and alienated world. Adjustment, then, has been supplanted by a normative notion of normality – normality seen, in this new light, as the product of „working on“ one’s own personality. (282-283)

If a man’s social status is merely a product of the way he lives his life, then it is possible to use technical means to manipulate the factors that enter into his choices. With regard to relations between social groups, this outlook has led unions, for wxample, to take a particular line, namely, to make demands aimed at enabling the category of worker they represent to „play the game“ successfully within the system, i.e., to compete successfully in the struggle for advancement. With regard to the lowest strata in the society, it has led to a welfare policy that seeks to minister to individual shortcomings without touching the structural conditions that may be responsible for them (293)

What is being worked out, in short, is a completely rational concept of man, a concept perfectly attuned to the dominant notion of what is rational. The problem then ceases to be one of healing the sick, reeducating the guilty, ot controlling deviant behavior (these goals remain, of course, but as objectives allied with new techniques). Instead, „normal“ man has come to the fore as the center of attention in a society whose only passion is to produce earnestly and efficiently. To heal is good, to precent is better, but to maximize output by adjusting each individual to his social role and by calibrating change to the social dynamic as required by the necessity to reproduce the social order is surely the ideal of policy without politics. (295)

 

Conclusion

Underlying the boldest attempts to standardize behavior is a conception of a sort of „scientific“ utopia: to achieve happiness for both the individual and the community by means of rational planning carried out by technical experts. (316)

If the study of recent changes in psychiatry proves anything, it is how much the present expansion of psychiatry’s sphere of influence owes to those who have come one after another to work on the fringes of the profession, pushing back its boundaries by „moving beyond“the old models, which they descrube as archaic, coercive, prescriptive, and so forth. (319-320)

Psychiactric sociaty: No longer a society in which psychiatry takes care of a few patients, whether really ill or merely purported to be, in any case defined bu a starky contrast between the normal and the pathological; but rather an organization of everyday life in which manipulative techniques, more often than not developed and popularized mental medicine, become coextensive with all aspects of social life. No longer the manifestation of naked power exerted directly to repress social and political differences; but rather diffuse pressures of many kinds, which invalidate such differences by interpreting them as so many symptoms to be treated. Not the country of gray dawns in which state commissars drag dissidents out of bed at the crow of the cock; but rather a padded world watched over night and day by squads of skilled specialists, many of them well-meaning. Skilled at what? At manipulating people to accept the constraints of society. (320)

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Slavoj Žižek “Organs without Bodies”

October 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Žižek, Slavoj 2004. Organs without Bodies: Deleuze and Consequences. New York and London: Routledge

DELEUZE

The reality of the virtual […] stands for the reality of the Virtual as such, for its real effects and consequences. (3)

[…] the Deleuzian „transcendental“ is infinitely RICHER than reality – it is the infinite potential field of virtualitie out of which reality is actualized. (4)

[…] Deleuze’s notion of the virtual is a radical one in that its ultimate reference is pure becoming without being (as opposed to the metaphysical notion of pure being without becoming). This pure becoming is not a particular becoming of some corporeal entity, a passage of this entity from one to another state, but a becoming-of-it-itself, thoroughly extracted from its corporeal base. (9)

Foucault-Deleuze (10)

The moments of the emergence of the New are precisely the moments of Eternity in time. The emergence of the New occurs when a work overcomes its historical context. (11)

Becoming is […] strictly correlative to the concept of REPETITION: far from being opposed to the emergence of the New, the proper Deleuzian paradox is that something truly New can only emerge through repetition. What repetition repeats is not the way the past “effectively was” but the virtuality inherent to the past and betrayed by its past actualization. (12)

The truly New is not simply a new content but the very shift of perspective by means of which the Old appears in a new light. […] The standard opposition of the abstract Universal (say, Human Rights) and particular identities is to be replaced by a new tension between Singular and Universal: the Event of the New as a universal singularity. (14-15)

Perhaps the core of Deleuze’s concept of repetition is the idea that, in contrast to the mechanical (not machinic!) repetition of linear causality, in a proper instance of repetition, the repeated event is re-created in a radical sense: it (re)emerges every time as New […] (15)

[…] the true problem is not “How, if at all, could machines imitate the human mind?” but “How does the very identity of human mind rely on external mechanical supplements? How does it incorporate machines?” (16)

(1)   on the one hand, the logic of sense, of the immaterial becoming as the sense-event, as the EFFECT of bodily-material processes-causes, the logic of the radical gap between generative process and its immaterial sense-effect […]

(2)   on the other hand, the logic of becoming as PRODUCTION of Beings […] (21)

Either the Sense-Event, the flow of pure Becoming, is the immaterial effect (neutral, neither active nor passive) of the intrication of bodily-material causes or the positive bodily entities are themselves the product of the pure flow of Becoming. Either the infinite field of virtuality is an immaterial effect of the interacting bodies or the bodies themselves emerge, actualize themselves, from this field of virtuality. (22)

Insofar as the incorporeal Event is a pure affect (an impassive-neutral-sterile result), and insofar as something New (a new Event, an Event of/as the New) can emerge only if the chain of its corporeal causes is not complete, one should postulate, over and above the network of corporeal causes, a pure, transcendental, capacity to affect. This is also why Lacan appreciated so much the Logic of Sense: is the Deleuzian quasi cause not the exact equivalent of Lacan’s objet petit a, this pure, immaterial, spectral entity that serves as the object-cause of desire? (27)

Against this “idealist” stance, one should stick to Badiou’s thesis on mathematics as the only adequate ontology, the only science of pure Being: the meaningless Real of the pure multitude, the vast infinite coldness of the Void. In Deleuze, Difference refers to the multiple singularities that express the One of infinite Life, whereas, with Badiou, we get multitude(s) without any underlying Oneness. (29)

[…] affects are not something that belong to a subject and are then passed over to another subject; affects function at the preindividual level, as free floating intensities that belong to no one and circulate at the level “beneath” intersubjectivity. This is what is so new about imitation afecti: the idea that affects circulate directly, as what psychoanalysis calls “partial objects”. (35)

This is what Hegel’s motto “one should conceive the Absolute not only as Substance, but also as Subject” means: “subject” is the name for a crack in the edifice of being. (45)

We are […] within the very heart of the problem of freedom: the only way to save freedom is through this short circuit between epistemology and ontology – the moment we reduce our process of knowledge to a proves external to the thing itself, to an endless approximation to the thing, freedom is lost, because “reality” is conceived of as a completed, positive order of Being, as a full and exhaustive ontological domain. (58 – of Kant)

The “ultimate fact” of Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism is the absolute immanence of the continuous flux of pure becoming, while the “ultimate fact” of Hegel is the irreducible rupture of/in immanence. (60)

Therein resides Hegel’s true lesson: immanence generates the specter of transcendence because it is already inconsistent in itself. […] immanence is not an immediate fact but the result that occurs when transcendence is sacrificed and falls back into immanence. (61)

(1)   First, truth is posited as the inaccessible Beyond, something that can only be approached, something that the subject always misses;

(2)   Then, the accent shifts to the psychoanalytic notion of truth as intervening in the moments of slips and distortions, in the interstices of “ordinary” discourse: truth erupts when the continuous line of our speech gets interrupted and perturbed;

(3)   Finally, we arrive at a third position, that of moi, la verité, je parle. The shift from subject to object is crucial here. It is not that what the subject says is true – it is truth itself which speaks, which turns from predicate (a qualification of subject’s statements) to subject (of enunciation). It is here that Truth turns into an “organ without a body” that starts to speak. (63)

[…] the “object” that starts to speak is the object that stands for the lack/inconsistency in the big Other, for the fact that the big Other doesn’t exist. “I, truth, speak” does not mean that through me, the big metaphysical Truth itself speaks, but means that the inconsistencies and slips of my speech directly connect to the inconsistencies and the non-all of the Truth itself. (63-64)

What this means is that the true task of thought is to think together the notion of the “object which speaks” and the inexistence of the big Other. “I, truth, speak” does not involve the magic overcoming of skepticism and uncertainty but involves the transposition of this uncertainty into truth itself. (64)

[…] “transcendence” is a kind of perspective illusion, the way we (mis)perceive the gap/discord that inheres to immanence itself. In the same way, the tension between the Same and the Other is secondary with regard to the noncoincidence of the Same with itself. (65)

Instead of demonstrating how “there is nothing that is not political,” one should rather focus on the opposed question: how is it that Being itself is political, how is our ontological space structured so that nothing can escape being tainted by the political? The answer, of course – or, rather, one of the answers – would be the above-described structure of the gap dividing the One from within, the inherent doublure, as the most elementary ontological fact. (67-68)

This, then, is what Deleuze seems to get wrong in his reduction of the subject to (just another) substance. Far from belonging to the level of actualization, of distinct entities in the order of constituted reality, the dimension of the “subject” designates the reemergence of the virtual within the order of actuality. “Subject” names the unique space of the explosion of virtuality within constituted reality. (68)

Subject thus relates to substance exactly like Becoming versus Being: subject is the “absolute unrest of Becoming (absolute Unruhe des Werdens)” (i.e., a state of things conceived from the perspective of its genesis). (69 – Hegel)

Foucault-Deleuze II (71): […] in Foucault, power is the encompassing unity of itself and its opposite (i.e., the resistance to itself), whereas in Deleuze, desire is the encompassing unity of itself and its “repression” (i.e., its negating force).

Revolution is not the assertion of spontaneity and rejection of every discipline but the radical redefinition of what counts as true spontaneity or discipline. (73)

[…] for something to exist, it has to rely on something that stands out, that disturbs the balance. (74)

[…] virtualization and actualization are two sides of the same coin: actuality constitutes itself when a VIRTUAL (symbolic) supplement is added to the pre-ontological real. In other words, the very extraction of the virtual from the real (“symbolic castration”) constitutes reality – actual reality is the real filtered through the virtual. The function of the quasi cause is therefore inherently contradictory. Its task is, at one and the same time, to perform a push toward actualization (endowing multiplicities with a minimum of actuality) and to counter actualization by way of extracting virtual events from the corporeal processes that are their causes. One should conceive of these two aspects as identical. The properly Hegelian paradox at work here is that the only way for a virtual to actualize itself is to be supplemented by another virtual feature. (84-85)

[…] sexuality can universalize itself only by way of desexualisation, only by undergoing a kind of transubstantiation in which it changes into a supplement-connotation of the neutral, asexual literal sense. (91)

[…] psychoanalysis (and Deleuze) allows us to formulate a paradoxical phenomenology without a subject – phenomena arise that are not phenomena of a subject, appearing to it. This does not mean that the subject is not involved here – it is, but, precisely, in the mode of EXCLUSION, as the negative agency that is not able to assume these phenomena. (96)

Badiou-Deleuze-Laclau (107)

The materialist solution is thus that the Event is nothing but its own inscription into the order of Being, a cut/rupture in the order of Being on account of which Being cannot ever form a consistent All. (107) – all there is is the ontological nonclosure of the order of being (Badiou)

CONSEQUENCES

1: Science: Cognitivism with Freud

We subjects are passively affected by pathological objects and motivations; but, in a reflexive way, we ourselves have the minimal power to accept (or reject) being affected in this way. Or, to risk a Deleuze-Hegelian formulation, the subject is a fold of reflexivity by means of which I retroactively determine the causes allowed to determine me, or, at least, the mode of this linear determination. “Freedom” is thus inherently retroactive. (112)

[…] one should paradoxically claim that this assertion of the excess of the effect over its cause, of the possibility of freedom, is the fundamental assertion of Deleuze’s materialism. That is to say, the point is not just that there is an immaterial excess over the material reality of multiple bodies but that this excess is immanent to the level of the bodies themselves. If we subtract this immaterial excess, we do not get “pure reductionist materialism” but instead get a covert idealism. No wonder that Descartes, the first to formulate the tenets of modern scientific materialism, was also the first to formulate the basic modern idealist principle of subjectivity: “There is a fully constituted material reality of bodies and nothing else” is effectively an idealist position. (113)

A self is precisely an entity without any substantial density, without any hard kernel that would guarantee its consistency. […] The consistency of the self is thus purely virtual; it is as if it were an Inside that appears only when viewed from the Outside, on the interface-screen […] The Self is not the “inner-kernel” of an organism but a surface-effect. A “true” human Self functions, in a sense, like a computer screen: what is “behind” it is nothing but a network of “selfless” neuronal machinery. (117)

The Deleuzian topic of pseudo cause can thus be correlated to the Hegelian notion of the (retroactive) positing of presuppositions; the direct causality is that of the real interaction of bodies, whereas the pseudo causality is that of retroactively positing the agent’s presuppositions, of ideally assuming what is already imposed on the agent. (119)

A (self)conscious living being displays what Hegel calls the infinite power of Understanding, of abstract (and abstracting) thought – it is able, in its thoughts, to tear apart the organic Whole of Life, to submit it to a mortifying analysis, to reduce the organism to its isolated elements. (Self)Consciousness thus reintroduces the dimension of DEATH into organic Life: language itself is a mortifying “mechanism” that colonizes the Organism. (120)

There is no real Other out there, but there is nonetheless the fiction of the big Other that enables us to avoid the horror of being alone. (129)

The “postsecular” striving to formulate the “limits of disenchantment” all to quickly accepts the premise that the inherent logic of Enlightenment ends up in the total scientific self-objectivization of humanity, in the transformation of humans into available objects of scientific manipulation, so that the only way to retain human dignity is to salvage religious legacy by way of translating it into a modern idiom. Against this temptation, it is crucial to insist to the end in the project of Enlightenment. Enlightenment remains an “unfisihed project” that has to be brought to its end, and this end is not the total scientific self-objectivization but – this wager has to be taken – a new figure of freedom that will emerge when we follow the logic of science to the end. (133) – faced with the genome, I am nothing, and this nothing is the subject itself.

About Dennet’s dangerous idea of Darwin – 138

The initial move of a human being is not thought, reflexive distance, but the “fetishization” of a partial moment into an autonomous goal: the elevation of pleasure into jouissance – a deadly excess of enjoyment as the goal-in-itself. (143)

2: Art: Talking Heads

When we see ourselves “from outside”, from this impossible point, the traumatic feature is not that I am objectivized, reduced to an external object for the gaze, but, rather, that it is my gaze itself that is objectivized, which observes me from the outside, which, precisely, means that my gaze is no longer mine, that it is stolen from me. (155)

This, precisely, is what revolutionary cinema should be doing: using the camera as a partial object, as an “eye” torn from the subject and freely thrown around […] (154)

The gaze is not simply transfixed by the emergence of the excessive-unbearable Thing. Rather, it is, that the Thing (what we perceive as the traumatic-elusive point of attraction in the space of reality) is the very point at which the gaze inscribes itself into reality, the point at which the subject encounters itself as gaze. (163)

What, then, does it mean, exactly, that the (partial) object itself starts to speak? It is not that this object is subjectless but that this object is the correlate of the “pure” subject prior to subjectivization. Subjectivization refers to the “whole person” as the correlate of the body, whereas the “pure” subject refers to the partial object alone. When the object starts to speak, what we hear is the voice of the monstrous, impersonal, empty-machinic subject that does not yet involve subjectivization […] if we take “subject” as the starting point, there are two opposites to it: its contrary (counterpart) is, of course, “object”, but, its “contradiction” is a “person” (the “pathological” wealth of inner life as opposed to the void of pure subjectivity). In a symmetrical way, the opposite counterpart to a “person” is a “thing”, and its “contradiction” is the subject. “Thing” is something embedded in a concrete life-world, in which the entire wealth of the meaning of the life-world echoes, while “object” is an “abstraction”, something extracted from its embeddedness in the life-world. (174-175)

The key point here is that the subject is not the correlate of “thing” (or, more precisely, a “body”). The person dwells in a body while the subject is the correlate of a (partial object), of an organ without a body. […] One should thus reject the topic of the personality, a soul-body unity, as the organic Whole dismembered in the process of reification-alienation: the subject emerges out of the person as the product of the violent reduction of the person’s body to a partial object. (175)

It is only the “transcendental” Lacan (the Lacan of the symbolic Law that constitutes human desire by way of prohibiting access to the noumenal maternal Thing) who can be said to invoke a democratic politics that, in the same way that every positive object of desire falls short of the void of the absolute-impossible Thing, asserts that every positive political agent just fills in the void at the center of power. (176)

It is only within this distance that subjectivization proper can take place: what makes me a “human subject” is the very fact that I cannot be reduced to my symbolic identity, that I display a wealth of idiosyncratic features. (179)

3: Politics: A Plea for Cultural Revolution

Deleuze’s account of fascism is that, although subjects as individuals can rationally perceive that it is against their interests to follow it, it seizes them precisely at the impersonal level of pure intensities: “abstract” bodily motions, libidinally invested collective rhythmic movements, affects of hatred and passion that cannot be attributed to any determinate individual. It is thus the impersonal level of pure affects that sustains fascism, not the level of represented and constituted reality. (188)

[…] the struggle for liberation is not reducible to a struggle for the “right to narrate”, to the struggle of deprived marginal groups to freely articulate their position, or, as Deleuze puts it when answering and interviewer’s question, “You are asking if societies of control and information will not give rise to forms of resistance capable of again giving a chance to communism conceived as a ‘transversal organization of free individuals’. I don’t know, perhaps. But this will not be insofar as minorities will be able to acquire speech. Perhaps, speech and communication are rotten … To create was always something else than to communicate.” (190)

In immaterial production, the products are no longer material objects but new social (interpersonal) relations themselves. It was already Marx who emphasized how material production is always also the (re)production of the social relations within which it occurs; with today’s capitalism however, the production of social relations is the immediate end/goal of production. The wager of Hardt and Negri is that this directly socialized, immaterial production not only renders owners progressively superfluous […]; the producers also master the regulation of social space, since social relations (politics) is the stuff of their work. The way is thus open for “absolute democracy”, for the producers directly regulating their social relations without even the detour of democratic representation. (196)

As Claude Lefort and others amply demonstrated, democracy is never simply representative in the sense of adequately re-presenting (expressing) a preexisting set of interests, opinions, and so forth since these interests and opinions are constituted only through such representation. In other words, the democratic articulation of an interest is always minimally performative: through their democratic representatives people establish what their interests and opinions are. As Hegel already knew, “absolute democracy” could actualize itself only in the guise of its “oppositional determination”, as terror. There is, thus, a choice to be made here: do we accept democracy’s structural, not just accidental, imperfection, or do we also endorse its terroristic dimension? (197)

The tautological repetition […] signals the urge to repeat the negation, to relate it to itself – the true revolution is “revolution with revolution”, a revolution that, in its course, revolutionizes its own starting presuppositions. (210-211)

[…] in a radical revolution, people not only “realize their old (emancipatory, etc.) dreams”; rather, they have to reinvent their very modes of dreaming. Is this not the exact formula of the link between death drive and sublimation? It is only this reference to what happens after the revolution, to the “morning after”, that allows us to distinguish between libertarian pathetic outbursts and true revolutionary upheavals. These upheavals lose their energy when one has to approach the prosaic work of social reconstruction – at this point, lethargy sets in. In contrast to it, recall the immense creativity of the Jacobins just prior to their fall, the numerous proposals about new civic religion, about how to sustain the dignity of old people, and so on. (211-212)

With the full deployment of capitalism, especially today’s “late capitalism”, it is the predominant “normal” life itself that, in a way, gets “carnivalized”, with its constant self-revolutionizing, its reversals, crises, reinventions, so that it is the critique of capitalism, from a “stable” ethical position, that more and more appears today as an exception. How, then, are we to revolutionize an order whose very principle is constant self-revolutionizing? Perhaps, this is the question today. (213)