Political poetics and posthegemony: on Jorge Alemán’s Soledad: Común: Políticas en Lacan. By Gerardo Muñoz.

img_7272The horizon of Jorge Alemán’s thinking is constituted by a desire to confront two deficiencies that have become commonplace in contemporary political thought. The first calls for radical subjectivation to achieve liberation, and the second, the articulation of psychoanalytical theory as an instrument to move away from certain impasses of social emancipation in a moment where the outside of the capitalist general principle of equivalence has become the reification of itself through negation. Subjectivity and theoretical supplementary negation are what constitutes the frame of today’s so-called “Leftist critical hemisphere,” which has achieved nothing but the fides for those persuaded in the subtleties of the Communist Idea, the Multitude, or the biopolitical subject. The refreshing theoretical import of Alemán’s thinking is, first and foremost, that it radically breaks with all theories of subjectivity that guard the foundation of politics today and their sadistic Master discourse.

Just a couple of days ago at a conversation panel session, a person said to another with all sincerity: “there are times where you have to join the Resistance, and give up European critical theory. There are times where there are no other options.” Putting aside the extreme decisionism that such opinion entails, the surge in the absolute of inclusion through communization is today the logical and linguistic articulation by which nihilism today takes the form of exceptional politics. Renouncing communization, or thinking the common otherwise, is enough for radically expulsing whoever brings to bear the fractures within every order of majoritarian hegemony. Against the possibility of a counter-majoritarian hegemonic undoing (which would only be inverting the demand for a narcissistic and thetic contraction of the sameness, of another community, etc.), Alemán’s Soledad:Común: Políticas en Lacan (Capital Intelectual 2012) proposes a radical suspension from every communitarian closure in favor of a solitude of singular desire against the demand of the Master, the equivalence of capitalist structural differentiation, as well as the economy of salvation that is presupposed in every communitarian interdependence as mass psychology of the political. According to Alemán, what is at stake today is to think the “Common” not as a dispensation of propriety and genus, but in relation to the ontological gap that is irreducible to meaning and representation and that opens itself to “existence” (18).

This ontological indeterminacy brings to divergence the poles of politics and psychoanalysis and displaces the metaphysical subjectivist politicity at the core of leftist subjective productionism in thinkers such as Gilles Deleuze, Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, and Alain Badiou. The metaphysics of the subject, Alemán reminds us, is still caught up in the Master discourse and logic of identification, unable to properly give an account of the common as that what names the “void space in every social linkage” (25). Of course, the separation of the void that constitutes the unground of the subject’s ontological indeterminacy is to be distinguished from the liberal and Rortyan relativism that articulates the social space vis-à-vis moral good intentions before the Big Other. For Alemán, on the contrary, facing the non-knowledge of the psychoanalytical school is to confront the very void as the essence of every social contract, which fundamentally exposes the singular to its tragic finitude. For Alemán, and this is of major importance, Heidegger and Lacan are two proper names that untie the Master’s discourse towards a destruction of every commonality onto-theologically grounded for a messianic enterprise of liberation. Alemán calls this other than messianic subjectivist politics a “poetical politics,” which he links to the task of thought and the new beginning for politics:

“La tarea del pensar, en el sentido de Heidegger, aquella que ya ha franqueado el plano “ontoteológico” de la misma filosofía, tiene entre sus propósitos la apertura a un acontecimiento epocal que nos entregue las senas de una nueva donación del Ser. A nuestro juicio, si despojamos esta propuesta de sus acentos teológicos, se trata de construir una “poética política” hecha con los mimbres de Freud, Marx, Heidegger, y Lacan.” (38-39).

I am intrigued by what Alemán is trying to pursue here under the concept “political poetics” (poética política), which he registers in passing, but fails to define at length, immediately moving to what the concept itself has to promise for “emancipation” of the European and the Latin American regional spaces. It is obvious that poetical politics is not a new regionalism, and is not interested in the least in articulating something like a politics for Latin America, or a post-imperial (or Kojevean grand space) European geopolitics. Of course, there is an echo of Heidegger’s concept of the artwork and poetry as solicitation of dwelling; a path that for Alemán needs to suspend the Badiousian militant subjectivity, which he calls a dead subject (un sujeto muerto) at the end of the day. Later on, Alemán provides a clue when he says, “for us the problem today is how to understand the expression of the Will” (49). So, is political poetics a new re-formulation of a political will? But what is a will if not a step back to the command, whether in political, ethical, moral, or theological structure? I am suspicious of a new call for will that could leave behind the Kantian and medieval disputatio that has a long and complicated history in the medieval debates around the Infinite (the work of François Loiret here is very much at stake in thinking through the history of the Will in medieval metaphysics). Alemán is very well versed in the difficulties that the question of the will presupposes, and that is why he will identify the will with Lacan’s “decided desire” (50).

However, this decided desire is the fundamental fiction produced by the neurotic subject. Hence, the question for Alemán is whether this passage from solitude/common to the Will to the neurotic decided subject does not amount to a final story-telling that needs to be rendered inoperative in order to liberate the path of un-grounding (desfundamentación) radically open beyond the Master discourse and the faith in the general principle of equivalence. This is a problem that Alemán does not solve in Soledad:Común. But it is here where the maximum intensification between hegemony and posthegemony resides. In other words, whereas hegemony is the decided desired, posthegemony as I define it, would be the name of a fissured democratic politics that accepts the void of the social contract without subsequent compensatory hegemonic-political reconstruction of the social space. Later on in Soledad: Común, and when Alemán is teasing out the role of knowledge in Lacan’s understanding of School, he writes:

“…las distintas manifestaciones de lo Real, angustia, trauma, pesadilla, repetición, pulsión de muerte, debe ser recibidas, en su “no saber” para luego elaborar la construcción correspondiente propia de una “invención de saber y su transmisión”. El no saber no es la pasión por la ignorancia, es la distancia irreducible entre la verdad y el saber, distancia que debe ser habitada para que surja un invención.” (56-57).

It would seem that for Alemán the destruction of all grounds of politics are preparatory for establishing what he calls, following Laclau, a new “logical dignity that takes the People as the invitation of a logic of hegemony” (59). The problem of the Will seems to allow the hasty move from the fantasy of the neurotic to the construction of a social hegemony. In a way, what at first what discarded as a mass psychology of Freudianism is later achieved by submitting thought to the operation of the Will that re-organizes hegemony in the name of the People. And the problem is that this hegemony of the social is refractory of the singular. In fact, Alemán says at the very end: “This Equality would be identical to what we have called the Common” (69). But can hegemony be then the name of the psychoanalytical cure? Alemán warns us that the Common always opposes, each and every time, the logic of equivalence and value, since the sinthome of the barred-subject is always irreplaceable.

But, it is precisely for this reason why hegemony cannot do the work and it remains insufficient as a mechanism of translation for a generalized cure in the social. In other words, it is because there is always something that fails, that post-hegemony advances a politics of common solitude and the singular sinthome.

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