Politics and Any Signifier by Claudia Iddan


According to the matheme of his discourse, the analyst, whilst installing the transference, occupies the place of the agent. Can this place function as an agent with regard to public opinion, in “the City”? It seems to me that a certain contradiction exists between, on the one hand, this place of agent and its effects in analysis at the level of the “one-by-one”, and, on the other, the effects which this place might produce in the public domain; that is to say at the level of the social group. In this case, would we not be ordinary citizens?

In the Seminar entitled “An Effort of Poetry” (Un effort de poésie) J.-A. Miller tells us that Lacan’s idea, “the unconscious is politics” is equivalent to another Lacanian formulation: “the discourse of the master is the discourse of the unconscious”; in other words, both formulae emphasise the existence of master signifiers which capture the subject. If the field of politics “creates communities agglomerated by identifications” then doesn’t influencing a group lead to agglomerating oneself into the very same identification? Miller adds that one of the factors of politics is fear, whether that is identifying it or naming it. Politics sometimes uses fear in order to massify public opinion around a problematic presented as a “danger”. The function of a citizen-analyst perhaps consists in the de-veiling of such a phenomenon and in rendering it readable.

What, then, would his position be within the city? It might be comparable to the position of a member of a cartel, which is characterised by “an identification to the group” – an expression of Lacan’s which can be found in the Seminar RSI – all the while not revealing the point of identification to which he refers himself within the group. However, to the extent that there is no hierarchy in a cartel and all of the members are equal, it is no longer an identification to a leader but to a central hole of knowledge, a common cause. It seems to me, rather, that what is at stake in a cartel is the function of the “plus one”, “who, if he is anyone, must be someone”; he maintains equality in relation to the cause. I would say this function is analogous with that of “any signifier” (signifiant quelconque), as per the matheme of transference, by which Lacan names the place of the analyst: someone who facilitates the reading of the master signifiers which capture society.

Translated by Raphael Montague