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Psychoanalysis and politics: connections and disjunctions in Žižek’s defence of lost causes

Parker, Ian (2010) Psychoanalysis and politics: connections and disjunctions in Žižek’s defence of lost causes. ISSN 1751-8229

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Abstract

Žižek’s work brings to the surface an important question bubbling away in the Left in many parts of the world for many years concerning the role of psychoanalysis in political theory, particularly revolutionary Marxist political theory which is at one and the same time designed to interpret and change the world. His In Defence of Lost Causes (Žižek, 2008a) (henceforth IDLC) is one of the strongest texts and test cases in this respect, for it elaborates connections between psychoanalysis and politics while embedding the political analysis in something very close, close enough perhaps to revolutionary Marxism. An attention to Žižek’s use of psychoanalysis can serve as a way in to some of the political tensions in his writing; I focus on this question here in an overall approach to his book which takes it seriously as an intervention about which I have some tactical but no major strategic political reservations.

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