Ideology and its Paradoxes: Dimensions of Fantasy and Enjoyment

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Abstract

Building on the innovative work of Laclau and Mouffe, and their conception of ideology as the illusion of an extra-discursive closure, this paper constructively engages their position from the perspective of psychoanalytic theory. A main contention is that in focusing exclusively on discourse, Laclau and Mouffe have tended to overlook the crucial psychoanalytic dimensions of
fantasy and enjoyment which remain, in a certain sense, both before and beyond discourse. This paper attempts to re-contextualize the operation of ideological closure in connection with these dimensions. Two broad points are made. First, a central paradox of ideology is that it can only attempt closure through simultaneously producing the 'threat' to that closure. Second, this 'threat' is intimately bound up with fantasies about the loss and recovery of enjoyment. On these grounds, it is argued that notions of otherness and antagonism need to be re-formulated in respect to the Lacanian Real. Finally, using various examples from political and cultural life, the paper affirms that all ideology involves a fundamental phantasmic endeavour to translate the impossibility of society into the theft of society.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1356-9317
Pages (from-to)219-238
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Political Ideologies
Volume4
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 1999

Keywords

  • Lacan, Zizek, Laclau, Ideology, Discourse, Fantasy, Enjoyment

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