Fighting the “Real” Enemy: Fantasizing the Liberal “Final Solution”

Bloom, Peter (2015). Fighting the “Real” Enemy: Fantasizing the Liberal “Final Solution”. The Library of Social Science Newsletter



This paper seeks to construct a broader psychoanalytic theory for understanding the universal political and cultural role of paranoia, demonization and enemy creation. Drawing particularly on the work of Jacques Lacan, it highlights the affective ‘grip’ of ideologies (Glynos 2001) revolving around a mass fear of enemies across time and contexts. This broader theoretical framework, in turn, opens the space for examining the similar function of paranoia and the reliance on enemies within seemingly opposing political systems. Notably, regardless of the character of a politics-- inclusive or exclusive, explicitly racist or publicly anti-prejudice, or democratic or authoritarian—always apparent is a common pathology of needing to overcome the malevolent intents of an always dangerous, officially sanctioned adversary. In this regard, political identity is likewise assured through an affective narrative with a defining feature of paranoia. This shared paranoia is witnessed, for instance, in the similar pathologies exhibited by Nazis in their undertaking of the Final Solution, and contemporary Liberal Democracy with its pre-occupation with destroying ‘anti-liberal’ enemies of all stripes, most recently Islamic terrorists. Each, despite ideological and normative differences, relied upon a fantasmatic narrative characterized by the ‘eradication’ of its adversaries.

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