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ABSTRACTS
ISSUE 72:

PSYCHOANALYSIS, MONEY AND THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS

'MONEY IS LAUGHING GAS TO ME' (FREUD): A CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON IN ECONOMICS AND PSYCHOANALYSIS

David Bennett

Economic theory, since the time of Smith and Hume, has been operating with a model of homo oeconomicus as an autonomous, rational, self-interested calculator of cost-for-benefit. This presumed rationality of 'economic man' supposedly guarantees, in turn, the fundamental rationality of the 'self-regulating', 'efficient' market. Classical political economy, neoclassical economics and neoliberalism have all operated with this model. But the recent 'global financial crisis' was yet another reminder that the psychology of markets and financial dealers can seem far from rational. Even Alan Greenspan had to admit of the 2008-9 financial crash: 'Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders' equity (myself especially) are in a state of shocked disbelief'. From its inception, psychoanalysis has viewed the psychology of money as profoundly irrational - as a realm of illusion, neurosis, phantasy and psychopathology, both individual and collective. Freud, Ferenczi, Jones and Abraham were just the earliest psychoanalytic theorists to decode monetary transactions and relationships into their presumed unconscious motives. And yet, psychoanalysis itself has been notoriously reluctant to speak frankly of its own economics as a profession and business - of how 'filthy lucre' is the indispensable stuff of its own transactions. This essay stages a confrontation between two discourses, psychoanalysis and economics, which for much of their history have been mutually indifferent and mutually opaque. By confronting the implied subjects of these discourses with each other's models of reason or sanity in money matters, rather than of irrationality or psychopathology, it questions the equation of economic rationality with individuated self-interest while seeking to deconstruct the century-old dichotomy between homo oeconomicus and homo psychologicus.
KEYWORDS: psychoanalysis, homo oeconomicus, homo psychologicus, global financial crisis, rationality, Freud, Fenichel, neoclassical economics, behavioural economics, neuroeconomics
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ANALYSAND AND ANALYST IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY, OR WHY ANYONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD PAY FOR AN ANALYSIS

Bruce Fink

Use value, exchange value, the equation between time and money, and globalisation are explored in conjunction with the psychoanalytic concepts of loss and castration, leading to the paradoxical notion that, in psychoanalytic treatment, one pays to lose something. The unique configuration of work and payment in the psychoanalytic situation is explored through several clinical vignettes.
KEYWORDS: psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, money, loss, neurosis, jouissance

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THE FINANCIAL CRISIS: A PSYCHOANALYTIC VIEW OF ILLUSION, GREED AND REPARATION IN MASCULINE PHANTASY

Karl Figlio

The recent financial crisis has shaken the financial system and affected everyone's economic well-being. It has also shaken the framework of stability and trust in rational, ordered management, and injected an anxiety that irrationality is closer than we thought but that no-one really understands it. This essay argues that the financial crisis offers a way to look at a feature of masculinity that is a grounding assumption of both culture and the economy. Through exploring the crisis as a masculine collapse, we can simultaneously bring the nature of masculinity into clearer focus. In particular, I argue that our conscious sense of masculinity is only one pole of a duality - in psychoanalytic terms, it is phallic masculinity, which is based on an illusion of competitive superiority. Viewed as a manifestation of the unconscious, it can be seen as a defence against what I call seminal masculinity, which is based on the procreation, sustenance and restoration of life. I associate phallic masculinity with Klein's 'paranoid-schizoid position' and seminal masculinity with her 'depressive position'. This historic event ramifies into other areas, including environmentalism, trust and deception in politics. The paper focuses on illusion and illusory models that underwrite a sense of rationality, and the sense that a good economy that sustains life has been contaminated by 'toxic assets'.
KEYWORDS: financial crisis, masculinity, seminal masculinity, toxic assets, Melanie Klein, scotomisation, phallocentrism, depressive position, pollution, pathological narcissism
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'THE MEANING OF MONEY': THE RUBLE, THE DOLLAR AND PSYCHOANALYSIS

Viktor Mazin

In keeping with the psychoanalytical tradition, this essay is an interpretation of a dream, or rather a series of answers to questions posed in a dream about the meanings of money. The answers touch on the periods in which the author has lived. What was the attitude towards money in the Soviet Union? How did it change during perestroika? What happened with the advent of capitalism? To understand how the meaning of money has been transformed, the author turns to three literary works: Sergei Mikhalkov's political fairy tale The Adventures of the Ruble (1971), in which a Soviet Ruble encounters an American Dollar; Nikolai Nosov's book Neznaika on the Moon (1965), whose hero flies from the communist Sun City to the capitalist Moon; and Viktor Pelevin's novel Empire V (2006), which describes attitudes to money in the new capitalist Russia. The idea formulated during the course of this analysis is that there is money, and then there is money: money changes its meaning depending on the discursive construction in which it is inscribed. Money is a universal means of exchange, but there is no such thing as universal money.
KEYWORDS: psychoanalysis, money, Russia, Soviet Union, imaginary and symbolic money, quilting point, commercial psychosis, Sigmund Freud
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FINANCIAL CRISIS, SOCIAL PATHOLOGIES AND 'GENERALISED PERVERSION': QUESTIONING ŽIŽEK'S DIAGNOSIS OF THE TIMES

Geoff Boucher and Matthew Sharpe

Slavoj Žižek's work has been highly influential in the formulation of an emerging consensus among Lacanian social researchers, that we live in a society of 'generalised perversion' whose initial fruits are the corrosion of democracy and the recent financial crisis. This position rests upon a notion of modern subjectivity that connects 'commodity fetishism' with clinical perversion in a pathological configuration, so that social theoretical identification of crisis tendencies, evaluative language about moral problems and diagnostic categories from the Lacanian clinic can be combined in a single figure. In this article, we question the series of conceptual links that constitute this position, tracing them from Žižek's critique in his short work on the global financial crisis and his broader restatement of this analysis in the recent Living in the End Times, through the moment of his announcement of the notion of 'generalised perversion' in The Ticklish Subject, all the way back to fundamental propositions outlined in his earliest work. Our argument progresses through three claims. First, we show in the evolution of this position that it leads Žižek to equivocate in his diagnosis of contemporary society between two mutually exclusive categories ('psychosis' and 'perversion'), indicating an antinomy in his work that is resolved in favour of 'generalised perversion' on empirical, not logical, grounds. Secondly, we offer a critical resolution of the antinomy through a critique of what we argue is Žižek's mistaken over-extension of psychoanalytic reason beyond its legitimate scope of application. Finally, we point to some of the political implications of the way that Žižek speculatively resolves his logical difficulties, by analysing the consequences of his claim that generalised social perversion - the problem to be solved - involves a dethroning of the communal ego ideal. A communitarian streak, implicit in the potential conflation of moral denunciation with psychoanalytic diagnosis that the rhetoric of 'perversion' invokes, runs through Žižek's work on capitalism, we propose in conclusion.
KEYWORDS: Žižek, commodity, Lacan, perversion, capitalism
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WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY: EXPENDITURE, THE DEATH DRIVE AND THE CONTEMPORARY ART MARKET

Paul Crosthwaite

The commonplace, knee-jerk response to the enormous sums realised by iconic works of postwar and contemporary art - 'what a waste of money!' - is conventionally countered in three ways: by explaining that such pieces possess an aesthetic importance that fully justifies the amounts spent to acquire them; by, conversely, making the pragmatic point that artworks can often prove to be extraordinarily lucrative investments; or, in a synthesis of these polarised views, by arguing that collecting art yields a degree of 'symbolic capital' (evidence of one's knowledge, taste and sophistication; access to an exclusive, glamorous and creative social milieu) for which many are understandably willing to pay a premium. In this essay, however, I argue that the philistine and reactionary standpoint typically occupied by those who denounce money spent on contemporary art as money 'wasted' should not blind cultural critics to the kernel of truth in such assertions: that it is precisely the function of the contemporary art market - and of the art auction in particular - to provide an arena in which reserves of capital may be wantonly expended, and that the wastefulness of such acts of prodigality is maximised when the object purchased itself represents, or literally embodies, waste - hence the prominence today of artworks that entail death, decay, mortification and abjection. In articulating this position, I draw on a theoretical tradition that has its roots in the Freudian theory of the death drive and runs through the work of the French thinkers Georges Bataille, Jean Baudrillard and Julia Kristeva. I pay particular attention to the auction of work by the 'Young British Artist' Damien Hirst at Sotheby's in London in September 2008, a carnival of expenditure that partook of the wider zeitgeist of financial dissipation generated by the global 'credit crunch', then entering its most intense phase.
KEYWORDS: art market, Damien Hirst, money, credit crunch, death drive, Sigmund Freud, Georges Bataille, Jean Baudrillard, Julia Kristeva
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PSYCHOANALYSIS, ANTI-SEMITISM AND THE MISER

Stephen Frosh

In some recent writing that draws on Lacanian ideas about the structure of psychoanalysis, Slavoj Žižek opposes the common cultural vision of the analyst as confessor or priest. In this view, psychoanalysis is born out of the capitalist spirit of 'thrift', of hoarding and spending only with reluctance. Instead of the religious imagery of confession and forgiveness, or indeed a fantasy that psychoanalysis might represent a 'cure by love', Žižek alights on an anti-semitic trope that starkly pronounces on psychoanalysis as a mode of economic exchange. Miserliness is the core of this trope. Žižek writes (in The Parallax View), 'The link between psychoanalysis and capitalism is perhaps best exemplified by one of the great literary figures of the nineteenth-century novel, the Jewish moneylender, a shadowy figure to whom all the big figures of society come to borrow money, pleading with him and telling him all their dirty secrets and passions.' This paper takes seriously the idea that, in centring on a miserly exchange mediated by money, psychoanalysis reveals the structuring power of the social order over encounters that are fantasised to be based on love or care. However, it asks why the trope has to be so explicitly anti-semitic in its formulation. It is argued that what breaks through in this and some other passages where Žižek overly exuberantly evokes anti-semitism is a continuing failure of psychoanalysis to deal with its own 'Jewish' investments.
KEYWORDS: psychoanalysis, Žižek, Jews, anti-semitism, money, miser
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PSYCHOANALYTIC REFLECTIONS ON THE NATURE OF MONEY: AUTHORITY, REGULATION OF STANDARDS, AND THE LAW OF THE FATHER

Tan Waelchli

This essay sketches out a psychoanalytic contribution to historical and anthropological discussions about the nature of money. Setting out from an observation by Jean-Joseph Goux, according to which the genealogy of the Oedipus complex is analogous to the genealogy of money form ('universal equivalent') in Marx, I ask how the Freudian notion of the father might illuminate our understanding of money. In a new close reading of chapter 4, paragraph 7 of Totem and Taboo (1913), I claim that the historical father figure Freud had in mind most prominently was Caesar Augustus, who assumed a new kind of auctoritas and thereby managed to transfer the law of paterfamilias to the public realm. According to this reading, the paradoxical afterlife of the father's law, which begins at the moment of his death, can be identified with the theological-political frame of Christianity, which both depended on and tried to overcome the Caesar's auctoritas. Based on observations by Max Weber as well as by recent research on Roman monetary policy, I then go on to claim that the emergence of money form takes place under the rule of the Caesars as well. In my opinion a 'universal equivalent' is not established - as Marx claimed - as soon as gold becomes selected as primary means of payment, but only when a currency - not actually based on material value - is issued and regulated by a central authority. I thus suggest that there is a historical connection between auctoritas - the Freudian law of the father - and the emergence of money. I conclude by raising the question how in the Christian world the money form invented by the Caesars continues to live after its 'death'.
KEYWORDS: psychoanalysis, Karl Marx, theory of money, Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo, law of the father, ancient economy, Roman Empire
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PLEASURE AND PAIN: AT THE CROSSROADS OF PSYCHOANALYSIS AND THE POLITICAL ECONOMY

Jean-Joseph Goux

At the very moment when Freud, still a student, initiated his first works, three economists from different countries - the Englishman Stanley Jevons, the Frenchman Leon Walras and the Austrian Carl Menger - revolutionised economic thought, breaking with the 'objectivism' of the classical economists (Smith, Ricardo, Marx) and introducing 'a psychological, individual and subjective explanation' of value and exchange in which the notions of 'desirability' and satisfaction are central. The Freudian discovery is linked to neoclassical economic theory through the epistemological basis they share: utilitarianism, a moral philosophy that runs from Epicurus to Bentham through Helvétius and considers the search for pleasure and the avoidance of pain as the basis of human behaviour. This epistemological basis is visible in Freud, not least in the decisive importance he attributed to sexuality, understood as the human experience that intensifies pleasure to its maximum. This essay considers whether it is this link that gives psychoanalysis its double and conflicting vocation: on one hand, its easy fit with the motives and ends of a society ruled by economic liberalism, marked by expenditure, hedonism, consumption, monetary profits and speculations; and, on the other hand, its capacity to play the role of a critical consciousness, having recognised the limits and difficulties of the principle of pleasure (moving 'beyond' this principle) and having identified the illusions and disappointments that threaten aspirations to happiness.
KEYWORDS: utilitarianism, Freud, neoclassical economic theory, theory of value, Walras, Jevons, Menger, consumerism
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WHAT KIND OF SUBJECT IS THE MARKET?

Campbell Jones

Up to and during the latest series of financial crises, we have seen the market represented as a kind of subject, one with desires and will, a subject that is capable of responding in extreme fashion if this will is contravened. Given this subjectivisation of the market and the concomitant attribution of powers, we ask: if the market is a subject, what kind of subject is it? As psychoanalysis stresses that the subject is not master of its own home, the market is likewise a strangely homeless subject - on the one hand it manifests in the form of an imagined singular, subjective agent and on the other as a mysterious and ungraspable, unknowable yet powerful force. Suspecting the magic that attributes such powers to the market, this absolute master that is the market is here called to account.
KEYWORDS: Capital, finance, ideology critique, Lacan, political economy, psychoanalysis, subjectivity
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TRANSLATOR'S INTRODUCTION TO BERNARD STIEGLER'S 'PHARMACOLOGY OF DESIRE: DRIVE-BASED CAPITALISM AND LIBIDINAL DIS-ECONOMY'

Daniel Ross

Understanding Stiegler's attempt to marry psychoanalysis and economics requires rethinking the relation of need and desire, not only theoretically but in terms of the material composition and decomposition of these in the history of capitalism. Stiegler shows via Husserl that desire is inherently connected to the selection inherent in perception, that is, that it inherently involves the question of knowledge. This leads him to rethink the Platonic opposition of appearance and idea in terms of the distinction between existence and consistence, and in turn to understand these in relation to the distinction between life as subsistence and as existence. The problem of desire today can then be grasped as the calculated reduction of life to the finitude of the drives rather than the infinity and singularity of desire. KEYWORDS: psychoanalysis, economics, consumerism, Bernard Stiegler, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Edmund Husserl, Plato
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PHARMACOLOGY OF DESIRE: DRIVE-BASED CAPITALISM AND LIBIDINAL DIS-ECONOMY

Bernard Stiegler

The concept of desire is the key to understanding the relation between economics and psychoanalysis, that is, between social and psychic investment, or between productive and libidinal economies. Today, the system organising the relation between these two economies is less a matter of biopower than of 'psychopower,' technologies and industries developed in order to control the behaviour of consumers. But this system interferes with the intergenerational circuits on which desire has hitherto always been based. Consequently, the system is now encountering certain limits, threatening the collapse of the system itself, and requiring a new economic understanding, itself dependent on a new theoretical foundation for understanding desire in general.
KEYWORDS: psychoanalysis, economics, consumerism, Sigmund Freud, Herbert Marcuse, Donald Winnicott
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REVIEWS
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ABSTRACTS

1: REMEMBERING FANON Spring 1987
2: INTELLECTUAL JOURNALISM Summer 1987
3: TRAVELLING THEORY Winter 1987
4: CULTURAL TECHNOLOGIES Spring 1988
5: IDENTITIES Summer 1988
6: THE BLUES Winter 1988
7: MODERNISM/MASOCHISM Spring 1989
8: TECHNO-ECOLOGIES Summer 1989
9: ON ENJOYMENT Winter 1989
10: RADICAL DIFFERENCE Spring 1990
11: SUBJECTS IN SPACE
Summer 1990
12: NATION, MIGRATION AND HISTORY Winter 1990
13: NO APOLALYPSE YET? Spring 1991
14: ON DEMOCRACY Summer 1991
15: JUST LOOKING Winter 1991
16: COMPETING GLANCES Spring 1992
17: A QUESTION OF HOME Summer 1992
18: HYBRIDITY Winter 1992
19: PERVERSITY Spring 1993
20: THE ACTUALITY OF WALTER BENJAMIN Summer 1993
21: POST-COLONIAL INSECURITIES Winter 1994
22: POSTCOMMUNISM: RETHINKING THE SECOND WORLD Spring 1994
23: LACAN AND LOVE Summer 1994
24: ON NOT SPEAKING CHINESE: DIASPORA AND IDENTITY Winter 1994
25: MICHEL FOUCAULT: J'ACCUSE Summer 1995
26: PSYCHOANALYSIS AND CULTURE Autumn 1995
27: PERFORMANCE MATTERS Winter 1995-1996
28: CONSERVATIVE MODERNITY Spring 1996
29: TECHNOSCIENCE Summer 1996
30: CULTURAL MEMORY Winter 1996
31: UNCIVIL SOCIETIES Summer 1996
32: LEGAL FICTIONS Autumn 1997
33: FRONTLINES - BACKYARDS Spring 1998
34: DREAMING IN THEORY Summer 1998
35: THE ETHICS OF VIOLENCE Autumn 1998
36: DIANA AND DEMOCRACY 1999
37: SEXUAL GEOGRAPHIES Spring 1999
38: HATING TRADITION PROPERLY Summer 1999
39: COOL MOVES Winter 1999-2000
40: CULTURE/CHINA Spring 2000
41: THE FUTURE OF DIALOGUE Autumn 2000
42: THE RUINS OF CHILDHOOD Winter 2000
43: MOBILITIES Spring 2001
44: MASS OBSERVATION AS POETICS AND SCIENCE Autumn 2001
45: 'THE RENDEZ-VOUS OF CONQUEST' Winter 2001
46: THE PROSTHETIC AESTHETIC Spring 2002
47: AFTER FANON Summer 2002
48: JEAN LAPLANCHE AND THE THEORY OF SEDUCTION Winter 2002-2003
49: COMPLEX FIGURES Spring 2003
50: REMEMBERING THE 1990s Autumn 2003
51: THE SHORT CENTURY Winter 2003-2004
52: CULTURES AND ECONOMIES Spring 2004
53: INTELLECTUAL WORK Summer 2004
54: READING BENJAMIN'S ARCADE Winter 2004-2005
55. FOUCAULT TALK Spring 2005
56: CRITICAL REALISM TODAY Autumn 2005

57: THE SPATIAL IMAGINARY Winter 2005-2006
58: OF BORDERS AND DISCOS Summer 2006
59: AFTER IRAQ: REFRAMING POSTCOLONIAL STUDIES Autumn 2006
60: EUGENICS OLD AND NEW Spring 2007
61: KRACAUER
Summer 2007
62: ZIDANE'S MELANCHOLY Autumn 2007
63: HAPPINESS
Winter 2007-2008
64: EARTHOGRAPHIES: ECOCRITICISM AND CULTURE Spring 2008
65. AFTER '68: THE LEFT AND 21st C. POLITICAL PROJECT Autumn 2008
66. POSTMODERNISM, MUSIC AND CULTURAL THEORY Spring 2009

67. READING LIFE WRITING Summer 2009
68. DELEUZIAN POLITICS?
69. IMPERIAL ECOLOGIES
70.
LIVING LIFE IN PICTURES 2010
71. HANNAH ARENDT 'AFTER MODERNITY' 2011
72. PSYCHOANALYSIS, MONEY AND THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS 2011
73. READING AFTER EMPIRE

74. FOOD ON THE MOVE
75. LOVE, LOSS AND REVOLUTION
76. THE ANIMALS TURN
77. BERNARD STIEGLER
78. MATERIALITIES OF TEXT
79. TOUCHES, TRACES AND TIMES
80/81. NEOLIBERAL CULTURE
82. MOOD WORK

 

 

 



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