Studies in East European Thought 56 (4):299-334 (2004)

Marc August De Kesel
University of Ottawa
iek's thinking departs from the Lacanian claim that we live in a symbolic order, not a real world, and that the Real is what we desire, but can never know or grasp. There is a fundamental virtuality of reality that points to the lie in every truth-claim, and there are two ways of dealing with this:repression and denial. An ideology, a system or a regime becomes totalitarian when it denies the virtual character of both its world and its subject (democracy represses truth's basic lie, which makes it possible for the repressed to return). iek's analysis of totalitarianism, particularly Stalinism, shows how a totalitarian system denies its subject, which, being desire for the Real, cannot act in the name of truth but must acknowledge the contingency of its action (a political act can fail to reach its goal), whereas an established system can no longer fail and has to deny its flaws. Any political act disrupts the (evolution of) the symbolic order and thus is revolutionary, creating an event ex nihilo. An act is a jump into the inconsistency of the symbolic order, i.e. into das Ding, a jump both into and out of the nihil in which our world is grounded. Politics therefore can never be Realpolitik. The realization that politics is a symbolic phenomenon, supported not by the real, but by signifiers, is the Lacanian foundation of iek's political theory.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Political Philosophy   History   Political Science
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DOI 10.1023/B:SOVI.0000043004.96751.d7
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