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Naiman, J. (1990). L'Inconscient Du Politique. (The Unconscious of Politics.): By Pierre Kaufmann. Paris: Librairie Philosophique. J. Vrin, 1988. 251 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 59:160-162.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 59:160-162

L'Inconscient Du Politique. (The Unconscious of Politics.): By Pierre Kaufmann. Paris: Librairie Philosophique. J. Vrin, 1988. 251 pp.

Review by:
James Naiman

The introduction to this book contains a quotation from Civilization and Its Discontents that expresses one of the main themes of the book: "If civilization is a necessary course of development from the family to humanity as a whole, then … there is inextricably bound with it an increase of the sense of guilt, which will perhaps reach heights that the individual finds hard to tolerate" (Standard Edition, Vol. 21, p. 133). The author (p. 15) then turns to Totem and Taboo and equates the murder of the father with the acquisition of language. Kaufmann continues with the New Introductory Lectures, and claims that Freud said that psychoanalysis "is the study of drives." He proceeds: "He [Freud] specifies that the conditions under which the drives are expressed is a problem for socioeconomic analysis, benefitting in particular from the contributions of Marxism" (p. 18).

Chapter 1 begins with Freud's analogy of the crystal (S.E., Vol. 22, pp. 58-59) and goes on to study the breakdown of political systems, using the Russian Revolution as an example. The author emphasizes the shift in the soldiers' allegiance from the monarchy to the crowd and underlines the role of guilt and its displacements. Chapter 2 begins with the statement that Freud's first thoughts on the origin of the State arose in 1915, "out of the breakdown of the supposedly guaranteed norms of a European community of nations" (p. 15). Kaufmann goes on to note that Freud said that the State forbids violence to the individual only to monopolize it (S.E., Vol. 14, p. 279). He adds that "the community is interposed between the individual and the State" (p. 40), and that "the monopolization of violence by the State is derived from the fascination with the ancestral father" (p. 41). He believes that it is necessary to reconstitute the mechanisms by which violence is made knowable (p. 46).

Chapter 3 states, "Collective guilt appears to be the condition for the transformation of the aggressive drive into the activities of civilization" (p. 53). The guilt of the group, the main theme of Totem and Taboo, results from putting to death the ancestral omnipotence. The author's task is "to link omnipotence, repressed violence and guilt" (p. 58).

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