Politics of the political: psychoanalytic theory and the Left(s)

Glyn Daly

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticle


How does Lacanian theory inform our understanding of politics? What inferences can be drawn from such theory for the prospects of radical intervention? This paper explores the ways in which two central perspectives – that of Žižek and the postmarxism of Laclau and Mouffe and the Essex School – have sought to develop and operationalise Lacanian thought in a political context. It will be argued that the tensions that exist between these perspectives cannot be reduced to degrees of emphasis and/or analytical objectives. Rather they reflect basic philosophical and theoretical differences over the interpretation of such notions as totality, necessity, suture, traversing the fantasy, and so on. These differences have precipitated distinct views as regards the authenticity and effectiveness of political action and the nature of political logics. Put in other terms, what is at stake is a politics of the political
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to) 279-300
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Political Ideologies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2009


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