Post-politics

Authored by: Olivier Jutel

Routledge Handbook of Psychoanalytic Political Theory

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138696310
eBook ISBN: 9781315524771
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315524771-35

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Abstract

This chapter considers the crisis of American liberalism as born of the politics of lack. In the face of a surging right-wing populism, liberalism replaces antagonism with a drive that disavows the constitutive role of trauma and enjoyment in politics. Where Donald Trump’s populist jouissance consists of lashing out at an enemy, liberalism endlessly appeals to consensus, civility, and rationalism as a way to disavow an absent political core. Post-politics reached its apogee in the figure of Hillary Clinton: a progressive technocrat seemingly propelled by history and an algorithmic campaign. Confronted with Clinton’s traumatic loss, American liberalism has embraced a politics of jouissance. Through ‘Russiagate’, Trump is constructed as the product of an overdetermined network of subversives determined to thwart history and steal American social jouissance. American liberals have come to ‘enjoy’ Trump, mocking him as a sexually servile subject of Vladimir Putin. In this collapse of the liberal symbolic universe, it is the national security state that functions as the big Other called on to reinstate ‘Truth’. Online technologies and data, once conceived as a means for perfecting communication and a post-political consensus, are deployed to reenact Cold War paranoia that shields a dwindling liberal class from the political.

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