Chantal Duchêne-González, 23 April 2020
Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Political Culture

Here is Number 10 of Psychoanalysis.Today, an issue devoted to psychoanalysis and contemporary politics. It seemed important to us to approach this theme a century after Freud, in his essay Mass Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, widened the field of psychoanalysis to the collective and introduced an unconscious clinical approach to the form of the unconscious to be found in social ties.
What are some of the different relationships between psychoanalysis and politics today? On an individual level, the man of the 21st century lives in a world where political power is subject to financial power. He must constantly adapt to managerial ideology and managerial power. The neo-liberal economic model immerses the individual in a society marked by the omnipresence of evaluation devices, the normalization of behavior, and the over-valuation of appearances. The deployment of communication techniques connects people and paradoxically isolates them. The abuse of these techniques by the political contributes to the deterioration of the social fabric and paradoxically leaves the human being alone and isolated.
However, all the confidence that politicians had placed in the technocrats is being called into question today at a time when the Covid-19 virus is spreading worldwide. Will this uncontrollable pandemic situation allow politicians to manage public affairs differently? Would it be possible to rethink a new model of power respectful of its own commitments and capable of reconciling the economy and social justice, freedom and equality and in so doing, avoid the risk that our democracies will sink into populism?
Our era prefers neuroscience and the cognitive sciences to psychoanalysis. This allows digital management of populations and their behavior. Psychoanalysis, a cure through speech, aims to liberate the living forces of the individual and not to lock them into the shackles of social norms. And it is this crisis of confidence in speech that plagues politicians today. At the same time, the therapeutic methods recommended by the health and medical authorities go in the direction of managing affects and no longer support thinking. The subject under analysis can get rid of his suffering thanks to the revival of his past in the transferential link to his analyst. In this sense, this quote from Walter Benjamin illustrates both the psychoanalytic and the political: 'Articulating the past historically does not mean knowing it as it actually was, but rather becoming master of a memory as it shines at the moment of danger'. ('On the Concept of History', 1940)
The authors of this issue offer insights into politics in the light of psychoanalysis from different points of view and prisms. I leave it to you to discover these articles, all of them are fascinating. Reading them will allow you to appreciate their depth and lead you to think about the complexity of the relationship between politics and psychoanalysis.