The Capitalist Unconscious: Marx and Lacan
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
A major systematic study of the connection between Marx and Lacan’s work
Despite a resurgence of interest in Lacanian psychoanalysis, particularly in terms of the light it casts on capitalist ideology—as witnessed by the work of Slavoj Žižek—there remain remarkably few systematic accounts of the role of Marx in Lacan’s work.
A major, comprehensive study of the connection between their work, The Capitalist Unconscious resituates Marx in the broader context of Lacan’s teaching and insists on the capacity of psychoanalysis to reaffirm dialectical and materialist thought. Lacan’s unorthodox reading of Marx refigured such crucial concepts as alienation, jouissance and the Freudian ‘labour theory of the unconscious’. Tracing these developments, Tomšič maintains that psychoanalysis, structuralism and the critique of political economy participate in the same movement of thought; his book shows how to follow this movement through to some of its most important conclusions.
this is written, black on white, in my book.15 ‘Unconscious is history’ rejects two false oppositions: between structure and dialectics, and between unconscious and history. These oppositions are merely variations of a more fundamental opposition, which marked postwar continental philosophy, between structure and genesis. As mentioned earlier, this opposition needs to be substituted with a specific intertwining of structure and historicity, one that does not hide its dialectical pretensions. We
emerges from materiality. Lacan thereby rejects two seemingly opposite but nonetheless anti-materialist readings: conventionalism, for which language is a cultural product (human convention with the exclusive aim of communication), and neurolinguistics, which places language in the broader context of cerebral evolution (and for which language is no less an organ of communication). Neither a convention nor a biological product of evolution, since both reductions exclude the autonomy of the
bought and sold on the market, where it appears as a commodity among others. To say that Marx’s novelty lies in the correct situation of labour – and not simply in the labour theory of value, to which his critical interventions could mistakenly be reduced – again argues that a materialist science of value is not possible without a theory of the subject that the political-economic labour theory failed to articulate. Lacan grounds the homology between surplus-value and surplus-jouissance on a
unconscious’,24 the autonomy of the signifier that marked Lacan’s first return to Freud. The Interpretation of Dreams without any doubt grounds psychoanalysis as a logic and not as a hermeneutic of the unconscious. Let us move on to unconscious labour. The dream work stands for various formal operations. Freud names them condensation, displacement, consideration of representability and secondary elaboration. Unconscious labour is already implied in the inverted relation between concrete and
interests, most firmly places the economic debate on the epistemic terrain. But the truth of fetishisation is that the transference pushes the subject into domination and inequality, e.g., economic dependency on a wealthy nation, just as the selling and buying of labour-power goes hand in hand with the dependency of labour on capital. The poorer nation thereby becomes the passive recipient of economic and political dictates. The loss of knowledge, through its projection in the wealthy Other,