debates was guilty / innocent was debates

Miles Jackson cqmv at
Tue Oct 17 09:35:46 PDT 2000

On Tue, 17 Oct 2000 kenneth.mackendrick at wrote:

> On Mon, 16 Oct 2000 12:16:55 -0700 (PDT) Miles Jackson <cqmv at> wrote:
> > We are socially (not psychically!) constrained to be
> > unitary subjects.
> Sorry, I didn't address this point... No social constraint can enforce
> unification upon subjectivity (all such attempts, of course, are
> violent). The idea of unity is an illusion - pure fantasy. Legal
> systems might assume that we are unified, and they might act like we
> are unified, but let's not be fooled, the legal system is no more
> unified than the subject upon which it seeks to imprint its right.

So there is some substrate of fractured, "true" identity behind the iron fist of social norms? Then why does everyone I know identify themselves as a unified, stable type--race, gender, religious affiliation, political affiliations, and so on? This is like that infuriating psychodynamic idea of repression--If the client says no, it must mean yes. The social fact is this: we are socially constrained to be unitary subjects. Is there some "true" fragmented subjectivity before this violence, some pure psychic realm corrupted by social forces? You obviously assume there is; I don't see anyway of providing evidence for your claim (but I've noticed the charisma tends to trump evidence among psychoanalytic theorists). In terms of understanding how society works, however, this speculation about whether the unity of the subject is an illusion is completely irrelevant.

We do not need to speculate about the inner realm to understand how our social practices create stable subjects. Whether this is violence imposed upon multiplicity or the creation of stable self out of nothing, the social effects of the process are the same: the stable social identity helps to sustain existing power relations. I honestly don't understand--what is the point of this speculation about unconscious processes?


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