[individual/systemic, diabolical/radical, agentic/agens, bureaucratic/narcissistic]
A ‘strict’ law is said to have been part of the rise of Nazism, (Vadolas p140), inciting and producing the “death-coveting element of fascism” – but also producing guilt at the conflict between an instinct to care/love for the other and the demanded destruction, this creates an emotionally exhausting conflict with the caring ideal ego (how I see myself) and the superego (monitors compliance with ideal ego) which has been described as the cause of burnout in caring professions, (Vanheule).
This guilt troubles the stability of the psyche and may incite one of four possibilities :
a) a restoration of the law (the hysteric may secure a subjectivity as far as this is ever possible, via this Law): or
b) abandonment of that law, in favor of (castration by) another Law, or big Other as a more or less active (neurotic or hysteric) dissident, which Vadolas , wrongly in my view, described as perversion; or
c) a total rejection of castration by the social signifying structure (the Other of the Unconscious?) but a continued effort to acquire agentic subjectivity and sense of self, and a failing effort to manage the jouissance of lack via the individual’s own Law (the narcissistic perversion); or
d) abandonment of castration by that strict Law, or any other law, and an abandonment of the quest for agentic subjectivity in favor of a total self-instrumentalisation as agens or embodiment of the strict (fascist) law, identifying with the law and acting to enforce the law at all costs, unthinkingly, with a radical disavowal of the unconscious, and of any need to care for the lives of those to be destroyed by command of the Law.
For perversion there are two forms: bureaucratic and narcissistic.
I suggest (tentatively and provisionally) that in case c) above abandonment equates to the totalitarian psyche’s bureaucratic perversion and radical disavowal of the other and abandonment of subjectivity itself in this context / a radical self-instrumentalisation. And, a banal radical evil.
This bureaucratic perverts acts a Agens for the law.
At the same time, in b) above, the stricter the law, the more it causes guilt and leaks and incites abandonment in the form of a narcissistic perversion – contra Vadolas’ theorisation this is due to the attempt to assuage lack through the Law of an Other with its origins within the psyche of the individual and not from any social signifying structure. And, a diabolical evil, more likely associated with the death-drive than the bureaucratic self-instrumentalisation.
The bureaucratic pervert is not formed via one of Lacan’s four discourse structures since the radical disavowal and identification with the law effectively puts the individual in the position of unthinking object, as if a willing slave, not affected by a subject’s division as in the Master discourse.
The narcissistic pervert is also not part of the four discourses since its psychic structure may correspond to, or at least touch upon fleetingly, the (impossible) ‘little inversion’ of the capitalist discourse structure. (EXPAND and check Ferraro)
This differs from Vadolas’ account where hysteric and pervert are both structured by the Master discourse where the hysteric attempts to relate to the law and the pervert to subvert the law. (TO QUOTE).
A strict Law – and fascism; the effects of strictness as a kind of, or even equivalent to, authoritarianism. The stricter the law the more likely to destabilize neurotic and hysteric subjectivity.
Because the strictness and it’s Laws are also vague enough to condemn everyone of sin, by condemning and outing the sinful, in more ways than one, then the more the individual makes and effort is made to prove ‘goodness’.
The strict law often (maybe always?) involves identification of a sinful ‘other’ – other sexuality, culture, color, religion etc.
“He (Hitler) wanted strict laws to prohibit political opposition and to deal with dissidents and resistors.” (Vadolas)
Strictness, as part of a Master discourse, has four tendencies, also found in fascism/totalitarianism:
1. Forbid dissent legally
“The process of crafting a Nazi society was called Gleichschaltung, which translates as ‘moulding into shape’ or ‘forced co-ordination’.”
2. Mould (as in his ‘ideal’) in his image = controlling values and beliefs (sentiments) – eg laws controlling behaviours (smoking, drug use, prostitution)
3. The strict (authoritarian) Masters make Laws via empty signifiers (Law and Order a common one, others eg Final Solution, The Bomb. The Cure) that always leave doubt about meaning and therefore the impossibility of adequate obedience, and the possibility of being always already sinful (and guilty) : and the interpellation, the instrumentalisation by the Master’s Law, all the more powerful.
4. Strictness may have a tendency to be hyperbolic increase over time as the more or less instrumentalised servant/managers fail to be totally subservient or even rebel. Actual and fear of possible, rebellion/dissent fuels strictness by the insecure Masters.
4. Increasing strictness takes advantage of, or uses, the power of tribalism, the power of a kind of mass hysteria or crowd or herd like unity to foster the implication that foreign (not of our herd or kind) others, ‘they’, are a threat to ‘us’ and the cause of failure to achieve more power, economic growth etc – so xenophobic and racist discourse grows.
What is strictness? It commands via seemingly specific examples but also via a generality of unknown sins, so the commanded is always sinning, always guilty (never ‘good’ enough for the Master), and also commands via the threat of terrible punishments also unknown which makes them more terrifying, but at the very least disapproval for letting down the Master you strive to emulate / to be: hard-working and ‘good’ and even omnipotent. But, as with the psychic castration one can never be like the father , because the father’s desire, the mother, is forbidden.
With Paterson (see below) the strict law could, for example, be from his own father figure growing up. For any individual this would be a possibility. But the state also can impose ‘strict laws’ evoking guilt and unease pressing for even enhanced consolidation of the law (bureaucratic perversion? Or abandonment – the narcissistic version of perversion. Note Meadow was a trophy child. (QV)
As another inquest opens into UK breast surgeon Paterson, (NEED SUMMARY or link to chapter in thesis) this time regarding his alleged role in the deaths of several women, this is an apposite time to look at plausible explanations for the behaviours of medical personnel that appear to be examples of narcissistic perversion. So, what would constitute a plausible explanation? Surely only one that is able to account, in terms of psychic structures and their relation to societal norms, for monstrous levels of destruction of other humans. We can remember and reflect on the behavior of Professor Sir Roy Meadow and the terrible consequences of his now discredited law and characterization of the perpetrators of MSBP. And today we see a Mr Paterson, sentenced to 20 yrs for extraordinary levels of ‘over-treatment’ for false and deliberately fabricated diagnoses of cancer and intended bodily harm to women , and about to be subject to a further inquest into the deaths of seven other women. through ‘under-treatment’ for cancer, using cleavage-sparing techniques proscribed by official surgical guidelines.
Such shockingly barbaric behavior by a surgeon to inflict gruesome injuries on hundreds of innocent unsuspecting women on the basis of a false and deliberately fabricated diagnosis of cancer can be plausibly explained by the structure of narcissistic perversion outlined above.
Paterson’s behaviour is, I suggest, consistent with a psyche that:
a) rejected castration by a social Other, here for example, the professions guidelines on surgical procedures and social norms on probity;
b) therefore, radically disavowed the unconscious (the social signifying structure for those held-in-common social norms;
c) attempted to retrieve subjectivity driven by a need to evade the horror of a subjective void and the death drive;
d) by living according to Paterson’s own law: to “Enjoy this little as much as possible!” Where enjoyment refers to the feelings of agonistic ecstasy: ‘jouissance’ produced and discharged through the evasion and production of identity via repetition without teleology in the symbolic: the death drive . And, where ‘this little’ refers to the destruction of women’s lives under the surgeon’s knife.
The woman’s body comes to represent the object à, but also the horror of the subjective void represented by the (m)other. The (m)other here representing the mother figure of the pre-linguistic and pre-Oedipal phase associated with the presence and then the loss, via language and castration of psychic and bodily unity with the mother.
Paterson’s attempt to obtain a sense of self is, ironically, actually subverted by being through his own law, since ‘he’ is always already without subjectivity or any possibility of effective law giving since he rejected castration. He cannot make sense of himself by his non-existent self. Each attempt via destruction of a (m)other fails to achieve subjectivity stability, only serves to repeat his feelings of instability and subjective nothingness producing more jouissance and driving more destruction.
Paterson’s law, of narcissistic perversion, is diabolically evil in a Kantian sense, because for Paterson it becomes duty for duty’s sake, the denial and absence of a socially signifying structural Other that decides our duty for us, and a Kantian categorical imperative – a maxim through which Paterson wills it becomes a maxim for everybody to live by.
We should note well, that such plausible explanations may also be extended to a different and totalitarian psychic structure: the perversion of health-scientists self-instrumentalised by identifying with the Law of Science demanding The Cure of or Perfect Prophylactic for disease and especially Cancer.
These bureaucratic and totalitarian perversions represent a banality of radical (as opposed to diabolical)evil represented and paralleled by the self-instrumentalisation by scientists in their search for the atomic bomb. This structure helps to account for the continued expansion of anticipatory and medicalising technologies despite their harmful consequences.
The systemic perversion of (scientific) knowledge demands the subjects self-instrumentalisation: as non-agentic Agens for an illusory socially utilitarian programme that has no locatable endpoint. The banality of radical evil.