Psychoanalysis and marxism

Santiago Colas scolas at
Fri Apr 28 07:08:52 MDT 1995

Without really looking to invalidate Chris' thoughts on this, and without
knowing what came before, I'd like to add a couple of thoughts from what
may be, for some, an unacceptably academic and/or literary/cultural
perspective. Fred Jameson, _The Political Unconscious_, Jean-Joseph Goux,
_Symbolic Economies_, of course, Deleuze and Guattari, the two volumes of
_Capitalism and Schizophrenia_, and just about anything by Slavoj Zizek.
I guess these aren't really thoughts, just some potential points of


Santiago Colas					e-mail:	scolas at
Asst. Professor					phone:	(313) 763-4352
Latin American and Comparative Literature	fax:	(313) 764-8163
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI  48109-1275

On Fri, 28 Apr 1995, Chris Burford wrote:

> Perhaps as the only psychiatrist reading this list (?), I may be taken to
> symbolise what as Guy Yashko indicates, is a recurring theme in 20th
> century marxism: what is the link with psychoanalysis, or individual
> psychology more widely?
> My contribution in reality of course is limited and I would appreciate if
> Guy writes a few comments on the book by Joel Whitbrook he mentioned.
> 3 points briefly however:
> 1) I am strongly influenced by a psychoanalyst called SH Foulkes who was
> almost certainly influenced by the Frankfurt School, and who started
> using psychodynamic techniques in a group setting. Whereas some dynamic
> group analysts like Bion, in crude summary, will elaborate psychodynamic
> issues of an individual group member *in* the group, Foulkes's method is
> a psychodynamic one *of* the group. It susses out a group matrix, which
> starts as an initial set of shared assumptions and which is remoulded by
> the interactions between members of the group who see aspects of
> themselves reflected in the others.
> Therefore I think I have seen such processes on this list interestingly
> even though we are not in face to face contact: perhaps that can make it
> more intense. The recent exchanges between Scott and Justin for example
> were at one level a warm exploration of their differences which
> constructively led to some mutual acceptance of difference and the
> opportunity to acknowledge where their interests positively reflected one
> another. In Foulkesian group dynamic theory this can be commented on not
> just at the level of the individual interchange, but as "speaking for the
> group". Justin and Scott enacted something that had a relevance for much
> of the whole group. While we watched silently, our mental processes were
> engaged. [*especially* engaged were those who are just about to hit
> the keyboard to say how totally infuriating it was!]
> 2. I think with each decade the concepts of projection and introjection
> emerge more powerfully as core concepts of human interaction not only at
> the individual level but at the social level. We are like chemical
> elements with valencies that immediately get almost hopelessly stuck on
> one another by some strange unconscious process, until we are disloged by
> another element coming along. We powerfully see part objects of ourselves
> in others. Whatever his theoretical abilities, Stalin could not have had
> the power he did if he had not been *loved* by hundreds of thousands.
> Seriously. Seriously. Critiques now that just concentrate on how much he
> should be detested, will never be able to analyse concretely all the
> dialectical *social* interactions involved in the existence of Stalin.
> Indeed they just manifest that he is now to be a major *negative*
> political part object for all of us.
> I suspect that the imaginary aspect of commodities (remember folks, the
> great man said they could fulfil needs of the imagination - you do
> remember that don't you?) could usefully be discussed further in terms of
> projected psychological part objects.
> 3. The personal is political. This slogan of the feminists is not just a
> way of undermining much needed class solidarity but an insistence that
> there is a continuity of fractal levels between the global and the
> personal. To deny this is not IMO dialectical or marxist. And to guard
> against fanciful toying with psychoanalytic ideas in a disorientating
> way, I believe that the discussion of psychoanalysis and marxism is best
> located in this context.
> Chris Burford, London.
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