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« on: July 07, 2006, 08:12:58 PM »
By studying Bronislaw Malinowsli's research on the Trobriand Islanders, a woman-centred (matricentric) society in which children's sexual behaviour was not repressed and in which neuroses and perversions as well as authoritarian institutions and values were almost non-existent, Reich came to the conclusion that patriarchy and authoritarianism originally developed when tribal chieftains began to get economic advantages from a certain type of marriage ("cross-cousin marriages") entered into by their sons. In such marriages, the brothers of the son's wife were obliged to pay a dowry to her in the form of continuous tribute, thus enriching her husband's clan (i.e. the chief's). By arranging many such marriages for his sons (which were usually numerous due to the chief's privilege of polygamy), the chief's clan could accumulate wealth. Thus society began to be stratified into ruling and subordinate clans based on wealth. To secure the permanence of these "good" marriages, strict monogamy was required. However, it was found that monogamy was impossible to maintain without the repression of childhood sexuality, since, as statistics show, children who are allowed free expression of sexuality often do not adapt successfully to life-long monogamy. Therefore, along with class stratification and private property, authoritarian child-rearing methods were developed to inculcate the repressive sexual morality on which the new patriarchal system depended for its reproduction. [...] As Reich puts it:
"Marriage, and the lawful dowry it entailed, became the axis of the transformation of the one organisation into the other. In view of the fact that the marriage tribute of the wife's gens to the man's family strengthened the male's, especially the chief's, position of power, the male members of the higher ranking gens and families developed a keen interest in making the nuptial ties permanent. At this stage, in other words, only the man had an interest in marriage. In this way natural work-democracy's simple alliance, which could be easily dissolved at any time, was transformed into the permanent and monogamous marital relationship of patriarchy. The permanent monogamous marriage became the basic institution of patriarchal society -- which it still is today. To safeguard these marriages, however, it was necessary to impose greater and greater restrictions upon and to depreciate natural genital strivings." The suppression of natural sexuality involved in this transformation from matricentric to patriarchal society created various anti-social drives (sadism, destructive impulses, rape fantasies, etc.), which then also had to be suppressed through the imposition of a compulsive morality, which took the place the natural self-regulation that one finds in pre-patriarchal societies. In this way, sex began to be regarded as "dirty," "diabolical," "wicked," etc. -- which it had indeed become through the creation of secondary drives."
So basically sexual repression is effectuated for economic purposes?
« on: July 07, 2006, 08:03:23 PM »
Well I guess one of the most curious aspects of socially constructed entities is that many of them are the sorts of artifacts that can perform the social work they are supposed to accomplish only if we ignore or forget their artificial nature. A classic example of this is the socially necessary assumption that value inheres in what we call "money." As a matter of practical psychology money can fucntion as a medium of exchange only to the extent that we manage to treat it as valuable in itself. We don't "believe" money is valuable: we know it is. Yet what is that knowledge other than our unconscious confidence that, in this case, knowledge and belief are not merely compatible, but actually identical? We believe we know money is valuable becuase we know we believe it is. In such cases, the psychology of appropriate social belief requires that we maintain an involuted state of mind in which we both know and don't know that various artifacts in whose existence we believe exist precisely because we believe they do.
Indeed, while money does not succeed in representing, much less replacing, the Thing, it does nevertheless give the illusion of doing so. We might then say that, beyond money's symbolic equivalencies and permutations in the unconscious, there is what we would call 'seeming-money', in thinking here of Lacan's definition of 'seeming' or 'semblance
' (le semblant). According to this definition, as outlined by Martin, seeming is effectively:
to be and not to be what it is, to be and not to be where it is, which is precisely what excludes any possible confusion with the object insofar as the latter offers itself to human industry and, thereby, to both exchange and use. (1984, p. 21)
We are now in a better position to understand Lacan's statement that the unconscious, as a discourse centred around the impossibility of the object small 'a', object of jouissance, may be likened to the emergence of a certain function of the signifier within a register governed by the principle of semblance
. Yet while falling within the register of seeming, this function that the subject is capable of assuming is qualified by Lacan as a primary function of truth, in the sense of the truth of an illusion. The example of money thus helps to make us aware that the universe of the symbolic is also that of semblance and that one should not be duped by this (as forged money, that seeming of a seeming, so exemplarily illustrates). In short, the representation of money with what we have just seen of its 'seeming' aspect, leads us to reflect upon the Symbolic and upon the fact that, however immensely powerful this is, it shows itself, at the same time, to be no less fallible. We might then say, by way of conclusion, that a psychoanalytic reflection on money does not so much consist in applying the psychoanalytic conception of the Symbolic to money, as in grasping, thanks to money, the function of the Symbolic from a psychoanalytic point of view. This is the case even in the day to day existence of organizations, where a consideration of money's place, circulation and use confirms above all the 'Symbolic's hold over the real'.