From Bakunin to Lacan: Anti-Authoritarianism and the Dislocation of Power
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In its comparison of anarchist and poststructuralist thought, From Bakunin to Lacan contends that the most pressing political problem we face today is the proliferation and intensification of power. Saul Newman targets the tendency of radical political theories and movements to reaffirm power and authority, in different guises, in their very attempt to overcome it. In his examination of thinkers such as Bakunin, Lacan, Stirner, and Foucault Newman explores important epistemological, ontological, and political questions: Is the essential human subject the point of departure from which power and authority can be opposed? Or, is the humanist subject itself a site of domination that must be unmasked? As it deftly charts this debate's paths of emergence in political thought, the book illustrates how the question of essential identities defines and re-defines the limits and possibilities of radical politics today.
than a blank space deprived of legislative, normative power.”462 It is this age of uncertainty into which we are thrown, and we must make do as best we can.463 This “blank space” that Schurmann speaks of is what we have referred to as the nonplace created by the war model of relations as well as the Lacanian lack. It is a “space” defined by its structural resistance to essential foundations and dialectical logics which try to determine it; it remains open to difference and plural discourses. It
longer be confined within the institution of the state, or indeed in any institution. Power is a polyvalent force that runs through multiple sites throughout the social network. It is dispersed, decentered power, diffused throughout society: it may run through the prison or the mental asylum, or through various knowledges and discourses such as psychiatry or sexuality. As Foucault says: “power is everywhere because it comes from everywhere.” 232 While power can be colonized by the state, it
questions abstractions which govern thought, which form the basis of various discourses of knowledge and rationality. In other words, it is thought which defies the state.351 Like Stirner, Deleuze and Guattari look for multiplicities and individual differences, rather than abstractions and unities. Abstract generalities like truth, rationality, and human essence are images which, according to Deleuze and Guattari, as well as Stirner, deny plurality and mutilate difference into sameness.
Derrida, Dissemination, trans. B. Johnson (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), 148. 4. Jacques Derrida, Spurs: Nietzsche’s Styles (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), 81. 5. For instance, Stirner has argued that crime only reaffirms the law that it transgresses. See The Ego, 202. 6. Nietzsche too, believes that one cannot merely oppose authority by affirming its opposite: this is only to react to and, thereby, affirm the domination that one is supposedly resisting. Nietzsche
least, reformulate the terms of these demands in such a way that they are no longer in direct opposition. One can construct a path of undecidability between them which would allow for a genuinely non-essentialist politics of resistance to arise. Now that theoretical space has been opened for a politics of resistance, it remains of this discussion to try to define this project of resistance, to describe its political parameters and ethical limits. These ethical and political contours will be