The Third International after Lenin

Friday, October 7, 2011

Psychoanalysis, the practice of free association, and Syria

In this press release about one of their imprisoned cothinkers in Syria, the Lacanians [specifically Jacques-Alain Miller] give a summation of their views of the Arab Spring and the current conjuncture.

The psychoanalyst Rafah Nached is currently in high-security custody after being arrested by the Syrian authorities on 10 September 2011, 1.30am at Damascus airport, about to board a flight to Paris where her daughter was due to give birth.

This news release by Jacques-Alain Miller was issued on 13 September and subsequently printed in the French weekly news magazine Le Point, Issue 2036, 22 September. The English language version reproduced below was read by the translator at the PULSE Seminar, "Lacan's Legacy", Barnard College, Columbia University, 30 September 2011.

The Syrian authorities have unleashed a pitiless policy of suppression.

Some of our friends who have had previous contact with the Syrian government have been pulling strings to free Rafah, who by all accounts is right now in the clutches of the toughest wing of the security services.

Further to this, we need to make as much noise as possible in order to restrain, as far as is possible, the killers who carry the authority of the Syrian State, or what's left of it.

I hereby call upon the seven sisters, the seven Schools of the Freudian Field across the world, and upon their members, one by one:

  1. To sign the "free Rafah" petition: "making a racket for RAFAH!"; that's the least you can do.
  2. To contact journalists, intellectuals, artists, writers, and media figures in your respective countries to raise as much awareness as you can.
  3. To organize, should Rafah remain in custody, peaceful gatherings in the public eye.

The stakes could not be higher.

a) The "revolutions" that marked the start of the year have convinced public opinion that liberal democracy is a true aspiration of the Arab peoples who for too long have been under the yoke of dictators. These dictators have enjoyed the complicity of the West in league with the Comprador class who shamelessly betray the interests of the nation's working and middle classes alike.

b) The desire to consume; freedom of speech and the freedom to form groups and associations; the right to enjoyment; indeed, people everywhere want to taste the pleasures of the One-all-alone. Small matter that a certain bird of ill omen (Jacques Lacan, the well-known reader of Kojève and Heidegger, to give him his name) should have thought that this would never be a cure-all and that "Paradise" (like the Paradis of Philippe Sollers) has certainly not run out of fantasies. People want it, and the pointer of logical time is saying that they are going to have to go down the road of liberal consumerism specific to this point in world history, i.e. the intense production of the "want-of-jouissance" – so that one day they might go over and beyond it: towards saintliness, suggested Lacan.

c) Psychoanalysis, the practice of free association, is part and parcel of this moment, just like your ipads and iphones, Facebook, Google, Go Go Girls, Lady Gaga, The Huffington Post and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The whole Megillah.

d) Rafah in prison, Rafah raided and rounded up, is a moronic, Lilliputian attempt to tie down Gulliver to universal discourse. A figure of the Spirit is on the verge of dying. Let's help the serpent of wisdom to shed its old skin!

Psychoanalysis in the twenty-first century has become a social issue.

It has been keeping the lawmakers busy, the same who dream of "closing loopholes in the law". Indeed, that's their job. But it's not ours. Ours is to assist logical time by activating the power of lacuna, by ensuring the free play of make-believe, by introducing the freedom to come together and form associations, free association.

Psychoanalysis has become a social issue. The "socioheads" (Sollers) are on our trail. Very well! As one Chinese sage had it, to be attacked by one's enemy is a good thing, not a bad one. It's time, it's logical, for psychoanalysis to become a material force and a political force.

This is what is really at stake in the Rafah affair.

Let's make a racket for Rafah!

Translated from the French by Adrian Price

The petition can be signed by sending an e-mail to:


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