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date: 23 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter is concerned with the contribution that psychoanalysis has made to progressive political thought. It argues that despite, alongside, or in tension with the more conservative, psychologically ‘reductive’ side of psychoanalytic politics, there is a very challenging radical strand. On the whole, once the Berlin Institute of Psychoanalysis was destroyed by Nazism, it found its strongholds outside the main psychoanalytic movement, for example in the works of philosophers and social theorists from Herbert Marcuse to Judith Butler; and this is one of the issues that needs to be addressed as part of the question of whether this radicalism is truly ‘psychoanalytic’. Starting with Freud, and taking seriously the contribution of social theorists influenced by Klein and Lacan, the chapter suggests that psychoanalysis offers a vocabulary for, and orientation towards, subjectivity that is not otherwise highly developed in political thought.

Keywords: conservatism, radical politics, social theory, subjectivity, Freud, Klein, Lacan

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