he recommends a possible confluence of post-Marxism and psychoanalysis 'around the logic of the signifier as a logic of unevenness and
61 What Laclau does not mention at this point, however, is
that this reading of psychoanalysis requires us to ignore not just half
but almost all of 'psychoanalysis', and take up a strictly Lacanian
interpretation. For about 90 per cent of psychoanalysis is burdened
with a leaden weight of essentialism and it is, in fact, only the Lacanian
reworking of the theory that has stripped it of these positivities. Hence
it could be more appropriate to be discussing a confluence of
'post-psychoanalysis' with post-Marxism.
At this point we might turn to Charles Jencks's useful comment on
'the paradoxical dualism' that the hybrid term 'postmodernism' entails:
it is, he writes, at one and the same time the continuation of modernism
and its transcendence.
62 So it is with Laclau and Mouffe, whose work in
some respects remains locked inside a Marxist framework and in
others breaks out into an altogether different philosophical frame of
reference. And if you conclude that the 'axioms' of Marxism, particularly with regard to the relationships between class, ideology and
political discourse, are not self-evidently true in the contemporary
world, then their challenge to Marxism's class essentialism will represent a considerable cracking indeed, collapse -- of the Marxist model.
Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, eds,
Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, London: Lawrence & Wishart 1976, pp. 376-7.
Antonio Gramsci, Selections from Cultural Writings, eds,
David Forgacs and Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, London: Lawrence & Wishart 1985.
Perry Anderson, "'The Antinomies of Antonio Gramsci'", New Left Review 100, 1976-7.
Bob Lumley and
Gregor McLennan, 'Politics and Ideology: Gramsci',
Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, On Ideology, London: Hutchinson 1984;
originally pubd in Working Papers in Cultural Studies 10, 1977. I am indebted in this
account to the exposition of Gramsci in this admirably clear essay.
Anderson, "'Antinomies'", p. 49.
Stuart Hall, "'Rethinking the Base and Superstructure Metaphor'", in
, ed., Class, Hegemony and Party, London: Lawrence & Wishart 1977, pp. 65-6.
Ernesto Laclau, Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory: Capitalism, Fascism, Populism London: New Left Books 1977; and Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, London: Verso 1985.
See the discussion of reductionism as a major problem in Marxist 'explanations' of
women's oppression in Michèle Barrett, Women's Oppression Today: The Marxist/Feminist
Encounter, 2nd edn with new Introduction, London: Verso 1988, pp. 23 ff. A more recent
trend is to clear away the entire problem of reductionism, by abandoning the focus on
pre-given interests characteristic of classical Marxism; see, for example, Barry Hindess, "'The Problem of Reductionism'", in Politics and Class Analysis, Oxford: Basil Blackwell