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May 12, 2010


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Go on....



Banning the teaching of racial/ethnic solidarity, or renaming that as racism itself-- requires intellectual history indeed..


I'm not sure if the the missing fourth term (the S1, if you will) is necessarily the state... In the series neoliberalism, religion, neuroscience, there seems to be a qualitative difference from the series communism, atheism, psychoanalysis. So it's not just that the former replaced the latter. It's, rather, that the former ARE the post-political co-ordinates, marked by the absence of a certain Master-Signifier.

Would it not make sense to think of this missing fourth term as the 'class struggle' itself?

The series communism, atheism, psychoanalysis, as a thematic translation of the series Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, represents a particular political stance against the series, capitalism, Christianity, individuality (or some other version of bourgeois subjectivity). It therefore represents a critical position against the background of the latter.

Perhaps, then, what is needed is a critical formula for the post-political conditions of neoliberalism, fundamentalism (standing in for religion proper), neuroscience, all of which are ideological effects of contemporary class struggle (and the contemporary form of the class state).

However, I'm at a loss when it comes to naming that formula...

The (post-)structuralist version could, perhaps, have been Althusser, Deleuze/Foucault, Lacan... But I think that the present conditions of struggle require a new-er formula...

this post really got me thinking :)


As always, very provocative. But I still think the "masters of suspicion" have alot to not only tell us about our contemporary condition, but as Matt points out they represent a critical position in relation to the current coordinates. How can one read the communist manifesto today and not be struck by both the accurate description of capitalism and the accomplishment of so many of its demands. Globalization of course threatens many of these gains but that makes the contrast all the more powerful. A good dose of Marx, Nietzsche, Freud would be a good thing for anyone of any age. Fuck the corporatists and their courtiers. All power to the imagination and those who have unleashed it.

Geert Lovink

Honest posting. Go on. I came to a similar observation recently, Jodie. I primarily thought of the lameness, the powerlessness of Freudo-Marxism as a productive-subversive theory se (sorry btw to have left out Nietzsche). Not because it is false or wrong but because there are no point anymore in the everyday where it connects. What theory at its best does is produce an 'aha Erlebnis'. Many are looking for this experience again, but it has become rare. We need to have the feeling of insight again ("the act or result of apprehending the inner nature of things or of seeing intuitively" from W.) One way of getting there is to relentlessly be open to the present. However, to analyze the present these days is tremendously exhausting. It requires the abilty to unpack micro events that occur in seconds. Or should we rather describe the large trends that are equally invisible for the mainstream eye?

Jodi Dean

thanks, folks, for the comments--they are helpful in pushing me to think what might be opened up here.

To be clear, I didn't mean this as a dismissal of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud (or of intellectual history). I meant it more as a lament or self-criticism, along the lines that Geert suggests, as a way to mark a kind of impasse or lack of 'aha'!

Matt--your comments made me think about the political/class struggle/state (here not designating a series but different approaches to the same thing) as the space of the earlier series, a space that may be eclipsed/displaced or may be ignored or recirculated or reconfigured, maybe not as the fourth term but as the interstices of the terms, I don't know. Maybe the parallel between the two series is the mistake/illusion, an illusion that depends on not recognizing the change in the political between the two series, maybe the change from master/hysteric (bourgeois revolution) to university/analyst (could call this information revolution, or capitalist revolution as end of USSR)....

Jodi Dean

perhaps a too simple designator of the change in the political: the most from sovereignty to governmentality or from discipline to control....

the problem, though, that has not been properly addressed (the problem that is the dilemma for contemporary critical theory) is how this changes the opportunity/practice/energy for Left politics. So, ideas of refusal and rejection (forfeiting the state etc) are already superceded--the forces of Capital and State would be happy with political refusal.


I'd be very interested to hear something more specific about neuroscience as the post-political Freudianism. While I am not in the least bit hostile to the train of thought, it certainly isn't immediately obvious to me why neuroscience is to Freud what neo-liberalism is to Marx.

Jodi Dean

Circling squares--thanks for the question/remark. Here's my intuition (if it seems promising, I'll likely try to build it into an argument with evidence etc). I'm thinking about changes in the role of reflexivity (role with respect to subjectivity): in psychoanalysis, reflection is part of a communicative process of understanding that is eventually tied to something like freedom (if not happiness). In neuroscience, reflexivity is associated more with feedback and environment, less with the understanding and freedom of a subject and more with the actions/reactions, complexity of interlinked determinations, of not even an organism but with processes within yet exceeding the organism.

Neoliberalism likewise depends on the sense that, if the settings of markets are maintained, the feedback mechanisms of interacting entities will lead to some thing close to equilibrium. Feedback takes the place of discipline, over the heads and behind the backs of subjects.

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