constitution and individuation

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Constitution and Individuation
Constitution et individuation
By Bernard Stiegler
This two-volume work proposes principles of political and industrial economy for the constitution of Europe.[1] It relies on axioms and theses developed over the course of my earlier work, in which I make use of the concept of psychological and collective individuation as proposed by Gilbert Simondon.
The construction and constitution of Europe aims at creating a new process of individuation, by making pre-existing modes of individuation converge : those of European nations. It’s necessary nowadays to make national processes of individuation converge into continental and supranational processes because, throughout the industrial world, the general conditions of individuation have changed. The nation is no longer an autonomous framework capable of assuring good conditions for individuation to its inhabitants.
            On the other hand, the psychological and collective industrial individuation generated by contemporary capitalism has encountered a crisis without precedent. Contemporary individuation suffers from a dangerous malady : desublimation, which will have the effect of demotivation in all areas of life. The process of capitalist industrial individuation has reached a state of contradiction with itself and will tend to destroy itself to the degree that it contains this desublimatory counter-process within itself, caused by what I have analyzed previously as a tendency towards a decrease of libidinal energy, which is marked by a loss of individuation, destruction of the structures of primordial narcissism, loss of aesthetic and symbolic participation, and, finally, depression and demotivation.
            Europe must respond to these challenges by inventing a process of psychological and collective individuation guided by the objective of struggling against generalized dis-individuation. This can be concretized as the disarticulation of the psyche and of the collective (that is, of the social). That is why the rearticulation of the psyche and of the collective should be the primordial objective and therefore the first political principle of a European constitution.
            The articulation of the psyche and the collective operates through societal sharing of shoring-up techniques[2] of the pre-individual foundations which will constitute a process of individuation similar to the one it inherits. At the moment in industrial societies, the bulwarks of the pre-individual foundations of individuation are the technologies for symbolic exchanges (both cultural and cognitive) which, in their totality, constitute technologies of thought (technologies de l’esprit). This is why the goal of developing an industrial economy and politics of the technologies of thought which allow these technologies to be put in the service of individuation, thereby reversing the current tendency towards a loss of individuation that these technologies have systematically encouraged up until now—and which continue to do so without the slightest sense of shame—should be the primary founding principle of the political economy of the European constitution.
            These goals should be the motivating force of a Europe conceived as a new process of psychological and collective individuation, and should thus constitute its reason.
            I demonstrated in the text On Symbolic misery 1. The hyperindustrial epoch that a psychological and collective individuation also presupposes the individuation of a technical system. This individuation of the technical system poses the question of the balance between it and other social systems which shape the process of psychosocial individuation.
            We live in a period of supranational individuation processes which accompany the continentalization being produced now on our planet. Our epoch is one of supranational individuation because the resolution of tensions between the technical system, which deterritorializes itself at the same time that it individuates itself, and the other social systems proper to existing processes of psychological and collective individuation which have been territorialized for a long time (their territory being their geographic system), are passing through a deterritorialization of individuation itself—that is to say, via its passage to a higher stage of a larger territorial space.
            In the case of Europe as a project of political construction, this process of deterritorialization expresses itself—in France, at least—as a political crisis. This crisis, whose roots are linked specifically with the loss of individuation provoked by the deployment of the most recent forms of industrial capitalism, as I suggested above, should be understood in the terms of Bertrand Gille, with whom one can say that there is a dis-adjustment between the technical system, globalized, and other social systems which are constitutive of all human societies, which are still national, and which form political unities within their territorial unities, as well as national metasystems to some degree, or, more precisely, national syntheses of the ensemble of social systems which are at the base of human social life. These syntheses of social systems constitute the processes of national psychological and collective individuation described previously. However, the deterritorializing dis-adjustment, caused by the deterritorialization of the technical system, requires a new organization of political entities through the elaboration of a new social metasystem at a supranational level.
            De-territorializing dis-adjustments exist because, in all processes of psychological and collective individuation, which are articulated and conditioned by the individuation of a technical system, there is a structural advancement of this technical system which is not just temporal but also spatial—indeed, precisely, which has the effect of deterritorializing. This issue is at work in the writings of Gilles Deleuze (who also relies on the work of Simondon) and Félix Guattari, but is never clearly thematized as such.
            However, there is no deterritorialization which does not also operate as a territorialization, and vice versa. Each deterritorization is a new territorialization because it provides a new way of anchoring oneself within a geographic system. A technical measure cannot be suspended in mid-air : it is either on earth, or on the moon, or on Mars. Certainly spatial vehicles exist, as well as interplanetary travel and orbital stations. But these devices function in conjunction with technical systems linked to the gravitational fields of planetary surfaces via telecommunication networks.
            The conquest of a particular space—even if it leads to some form of orbiting or nomadism—always occurs in relation with the organisation of previously inhabited spaces. Clearly, this phenomenon cannot be reduced simply to technologies considered « spatial » ; the conquest of the space of a new psychological and collective individuation process is at once what overflows the territorial space of that process, and what succeeds in individuating the technical system doing the overflowing, both locally and singularly. This singular, local individuation is, therefore, a historicization as well as a territorialization. Individuation is what temporalizes its space and spatializes its time—but while always already exceeding its history and geography via the network which constitutes the technical system, and which is the structural overflow. In this way, the new localization which is the having-taken-place of the new individuation produces phenomena of « internal resonance », as Simondon might say, in the process of psychosocial individuation which the entire planet has been turned into through the planetarized industrial technical system, which secretes global intercontinental organizations.
            (Beyond this, phenomena of deterritorialization may occur—and in fact will occur more and more frequently—which do not coincide with any territorial attachments, or with any global organization, and from which the great powers of the future may arise, as happened in the past with the Hanseatic League. However, this is a question which I will not discuss in this particular essay).
            Europe cannot constitute itself in such a world unless it perceives the world as a process of planetary psychological and collective individuation which is larger than it. However, this globalization realizes itself today as the destruction of all shame. That’s why what passes for globalization nowadays suscitates enormous fear.
            Europe will not consitute itself unless it is wanted and desired. But it won’t be desired unless it resolutely confronts this challenge.
This little work in two volumes assembles five original texts and give interviews which I gave during the European elections on June 30, 2004. After the elections were over, I attempted to show, in Disbelief and discredit 1. The Decadence of Industrial Democracies, why it was time to pose the European question in a new light, given the enormous rates of abstention which characterized this vote—not to mention the referendum of May 29, 2005, which was designed to allow the French people to take a stand on France’s ratification of a European constitution composed by a committee presided over by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.
            It’s easy to see what the result of this new vote would have been if one looks at the controversies over its preparation and the general confusion which reigns in regard to Europe[3] as an entity. The real moment for debating the conditions under which a new Europe could constitute itself as a unity—that is to say, as one process of psychological and collective individuation—lies in the future rather than in our past. This debate is our future.
            Like the vast majority of my fellow citizens, I am worried by the impressive mediocrity which characterized the political life of this period—in France and all over the globe. The most desolating aspect of my worry is that I am struck by the lack of shame which characterizes the contemporary world—lying and unscrupulous, as we have seen demonstrated in relation to Iraq, or completely cynical, as Patrick Le Lay has shown us. This context—and the renouncing of political representatives to analyze or transform it—is a central element of the political and economic crisis which industrial democracies are currently experiencing. Given this context, the time has come to speak differently of Europe, for Europe, and about Europe in the world, as well as of a vision of the world that wants a united Europe and will propose Europe. The lack of shame is stricto sensu a total indifference to the loss of individuation, in the face of which we must affirm our will to reconstitute psychological and collective individuation by rearticulating them through a new European project.
            This work contains two volumes. The first, In a world without shame, considers first of all the fact that the world has become a place without perspectives and without desires, or in other words without a future, principally in the measure that that shame which the ancient Greeks called aidôs [4] has begun to disappear. Along with dikè, or justice, aidôs is the precondition of all social organization—and therefore the precondition of all political constitutions, European or otherwise. This analysis will be developed along economic lines by a consideration of design and marketing as an organizing principle of consumption. Shame is not a question of morals of « values », as the second article of the European constitution presented to the French population for a vote on May 29, 2005, suggests, but rather a question of the organization of symbolic exchanges, which is primarily the organization of modes of production and consumption.
            The second volume, The European Motif, claims that the disappearance of shame is the result of an ideology of performance which is based on a calculation of motivations. This calculation is the foundation of management techniques and marketing strategies—which ruin processes of individuation insofar as these models for the management of industrial activity have become counter-productive : they create de-motivation. The point here is to propose measures for a succcessful European industrial politics, yet also raise considerations about production and work within enterprises, basing them on a theory of motivation which takes into account notions of individuation.
            While attempting to analyze the causes of the global malaise in industrial societies that the European constitution should aim to remedy, these two small texts simultaneously propose pragmatic directing principles by which the construction and constitution of a united Europe could and should create a genuine industrial civilization.
            The two volumes conclude with a postface that returns to psychoanalysis by discussing the question of the superego. For if the consitution of a process of European psychological and collective individuation requires the invention of a new spirit of enterprise, then entreprendre will necessitate sublimation. It’s time to revisit the thoughts of Freud and Lacan on these questions.
Construction and Destruction
Construction et destruction
As Jeremy Rifkin’s recent work The European Dream suggests, the world expects a great deal from Europe, and Europe will not be able to constitute itself as a power unless it gives itself the means with which to respond to this demand. But, what is being asked of it? The world does not expect good intentions. It expects Europe to invent a new industrial model which is capable of interrupting the destructive process unleashed by the capture and unlimited exploitation of the libidinal energy of producers and consumers which will lead, in all domains, to a vaste process of desublimation.
            As soon as the libidinal energy of individuals and groups is hegemonically made to detour towards objects of consumption, all other objects of the libido—particularly those which permit the consitution of a civilization by supporting sublimation—are disinvested and seriously threatened. Thus the family and, more generally, education, schools, and knowledge in its totality are threatened, as are politics, law, and all the sublimities of the mind which are the fruit of what the Germans call Bildung.
            In other words, the whole world and Europeans themselves expect from Europe the reinvention of the notion of an industrial civilization, as well as the affirmation that industry does not inevitably engender regression.
            In the last few years, the European Union has systematically privileged the unlimited expression of a deciduous industrial model, and has made its sole objective the transformation of all social practices into markets, reduceable to the miserable status of modes of consumption. The consequence is that, today, the construction of Europe is experienced more and more by Europeans as a process of the destruction of Europe. This sense of being threatened has become more vivid because this single-minded objective of creating markets in all areas of life has been strived for in the name of an ideology which takes as its absolute principle the notion that European nations should be put in competition with each other, without any horizon of a greater unity in the case of conflicts of interest having been explained or strongly affirmed. However, Europeans remember where the competition between their nations has already led them once ; two world wars have already ravaged most of Europe, not to mention other wars which occurred in the more distant past. This threat has become even more perceptible now that the threat of desublimation resulting from the unlimited consumerism as the sole societal goal, and it conceals the impulse towards death, as Freud once warned.
            The second volume of Consituting Europe sketches out a critical analysis of managerial theories of motivation and performance which have dominated the twentieth century and proposes principles for the activation of a process of European psychological and collective individuation that will lead us towards a new industrial future while at the same time affirming this future in the face of the dominant disindividuation as a new, previously unheard of form of individuation.
            The concretization of these principles will lead to the outlines of an industrial politics of the mind which, to paraphrase Paul Valéry, will constitute the new European motif : a motif founded on a revised form of economic rationality, re-investing European reason understood here as an economy of desire which concretizes the psychological and collective motivation natural to the age of industrial technologies of the mind.
            It is mistaken to believe that humans find well-being in the satisfaction of their basic needs. This is why, just as it is necessary to artificially motivate the producer to work (as Max Weber explains so well), it is also necessary to create artificial needs to stimulate people to consume.
            However, far from satisfying humans, overconsumption leads them towards a lack of well-being and gives rise to their ugliness ; we live in a world where ugliness seeps out automatically. We all know it, but no-one dares say it out loud : that would be reactionary. Yet everyone suffers from it, and the poor suffer more than anyone else : they are permanently exposed to ugliness and cannot escape this becoming-rank of the world as long as they are kept in symbolic reservations in solvent social substratums in their golden ghettos.
            Globalization is put into practice today exclusively for the realization of economies of scale on the planetary level, and it causes these phenomena on a global scale, creating global frustrations. Besides the enormous social injustices, the pillaging organized by international measures, and the destruction of the most basic conditions necessary for subsistence for millions of human beings, it also causes pressure on the salaries and social rights of those who are supposed to profit from these injustices (disguised as rules imposed to protect human rights), and it also destroys their lifestyles, which are annuled by the hegemony of subsistance criteria.
            The result is the destruction of ways of being and the vectors of sublimation which constitute them on the most intimate level of desire—as the origin itself of desire. However, this destruction is also the destruction of the motivations without which we would have neither production nor consumption. This destruction means the destruction of the capitalist economy itself, in other words. This is what neither managers and investors nor political representatives want to hear. It would mean realizing that they are trying to create the people’s happiness against the people’s wishes and desires. And they are using proven techniques to do it. However, no matter how well proven the techniques are, they don’t work anymore.
            The question here is the motif and the motivations which it gives rise to. The motif—that is, the reason or the sense—has become the object of calculation via research techniques of motivation. I will attempt to show there that these techniques destroy their objects because no motif of desire is quantifiable. These techniques have produced the ideology of performance, which has led in turn to the organization of generalized competition. It’s clear that competition is a fundamental factor of dynamism. Criticisms of state economies, for example, cite the counter-performance and demotivation which were typical of communist countries in order to argue that competition between individual interests is the precondition for all economic vitality—and these arguments can marshall an impressive array of evidence. Nonetheless, the capitalist organization of competition, particularly at the current level of ultraliberal ideology which is characteristic of it, has also begun producing massive amounts of demotivation and « pessimism », as the President of the French Republic, Jacques Chirac, seemed to discover after his conversation with young French people on...
            What is often misunderstood here is the question of imitation, in the sense of the Greek concept eris.
            The citizens of Europe fear that what they are experiencing resembles less and less a construction of a new Europe, and more and more a destruction of Europe. They distrust with reason the false and dangerous idea that one might construct Europe by putting the nations of Europe in competition with each other. How does one imagine that a community could constitute itself by putting the peoples who should consitute it together in competition with each other—that is to say, in opposition to each other ?
            The concept of competition as raised here is a nefarious simplification of the notion of imitation as the Greeks understood it, who called it eris. The fact that imitation is the internal dynamic principle of all economico-political communities is not only concevable, but indiscutable. This is true on the condition that imitation serves to raise, elevate, or educate those whom it dynamizes above the particularities which arise in this process of imitation, and creates a primordial power of integration known as social individuation. Imitation cannot by the first or unique principle of a new political and economic community. It is precisely to the degree that relations between countries allied in the same political community are not reduced to economic exchanges and competition, but instead presuppose a common interest above particular interests, that one can distinguish between a political union and a simple league of economic interests like the Hanseatic League or the Alena today, as well as countless other zones of special economic exchanges.
            The goal, therefore, is to bring into being among the inhabitants of the nations which form Europe as diverse co-existing occurrences one consistant idea—a European idea, or in other words the affirmation of a way of life which incarnates a certain state of mind : a European way of life. The European way of life must express a European state of mind which is, itself, historically constituted by the European notion of reason—by an idea of reason which is a typical European heritage but which, far from being a purely formal concept, must be understood with Freud as desire and incarnated as motif.
            However, desire is itself intrinsically a power of sublimation. What made the eris of Hesiod into the power of the polis—a fact that deeply impressed the young Nietzsche—was the implication that eris will raise you towards an ideal : towards ariston. The peasant in Works and Days is certainly in a relationship of competition or imitation with another peasant, but that relationship pushes him towards a higher ideal. This ideal, which is equivalent to the role of a hero or a god in Greece, will send us back to the concepts of justice and shame which the Greeks, the inventers of laws, called dikè and aïdos—concepts which are not merely « values » but instead founding principles.
            Aidôs, which can also be translated as modesty or honor, is the basis of eris. If this isn’t true, then eris is no longer « a good eris », as Hesiod says . Instead, it becomes a force for self-destruction, an expression of the death drive, or a war—and it leads to wars. However, unlimited competition which is not bounded[5] by unifying principles will lead to a world without shame ; in the name of efficiency, it will reduce everything to the lowest common denominator. Unlimited competition dumbs everything down, whether it is television or social legislation, as Mr. Le Lay shamelessly once admitted. This leveling of everything—this new form of totalitarianism—is what Nietzsche called nihilism.
            Europe was once the continent of warfare. A political constitution is necessary for this continent, to fight at all costs against the return of warfare in the context of this new form of capitalism—a supranational individuation of governments is required. Yet Europeans fear that a constitution based on unlimited competition might, on the contrary, lead countries into new conflicts. They don’t think that the « values » postulated by the project for a European constitution have any connection to the founding principles of a political union that would fight against the disunion which carries within itself the necessary dynamic principle for organizing imitation and competition, a principle necessary for any durable motivation. That is why the rhetoric on values forming the subject of article 2 of the constitution project submitted to referendum sounds false to them ; they don’t believe in it because they cannot find the incarnation of any motif in it when they read between the lines.
            The concept of the motif must be re-thought. In French it signifies reason itself (unlike Vernunft : the German word Grund or foundation would be more applicable here, and likewise the English word grounds). Meanwhile, the question of motif takes us by way of Aristotle’s theos to the question of monotheism : to understand motif as one and only one God, and to further understand it as desire or love of that God.
            It might be tempting to see, in the « return of the religious », if there really is a return of religiosity, [6] as regression. One can legitimately do so to the degree that, for example, the taste for Mysteries and Revelations has come back into fashion (in the process becoming a vast « business »[7]) : a gigantic and terrifying step backwards. But it is not enough to see a simple regression in this  « return » which is, perhaps, a detour. Instead, it’s necessary to understand the internal necessity of what leads to (or resembles) such a « return », something which is specifically necessary to our epoch, and which may turn out, in the next decades, to have been a defining characteristic of this period. 
            I argue that it is not possible to accede to this necessity unless one first recovers, in this regression, the historical form of a much deeper tendency to regression which nothing escapes, and which is therefore intrinsic to what I call (by returning to the thought of desire inaugurated by Aristotle) the noetic soul. Unless it reveals itself as a form of desire, as Freud claimed—who was perhaps rediscovering Aristotle without realizing it—the new critical reason would therefore be that which conceals within itself a tendency that it knows it cannot eliminate, and which, like a hydra, multiplies its heads the more one tries to cut its head off. It asssures its absolute reign all the better under the thousands of disguises that hide it.
            In other words, if it really is a case of religiosity or of a return, then the regression of the « return to the religious » sets into motion a regression which is intrinsic to all reason and all motifs of desire. This is true whether or not the regression is religious in nature, and whether or not its sublimity is transmitted by a revelation—in short, whatever the nature of its « light ». That doesn’t mean that anything goes and there is no use in combatting regression. However, regression must be combatted in all its forms, otherwise one activates it in the moment that one thinks one is fighting it—through one or another of its disguises. Indeed, if one thinks that combatting it means eliminating it, or opposing it in an absolute way, without the slightest possibility of contamination (and also without giving credit to a phenomenon that, before being combatted, may well be respected as a constitutive tendency of counter-tendencies), then one can be sure to have already succumbed to it oneself, and more than ever. In short, the point is not to chop off heads.
            As for the internal necessity proper to our epoch, it uncovers, « reveals » or « unveils » itself as being unconditional yet nonetheless under threat. It is both that without which the forms of life of our existence is impossible, and that which existence makes into a lack—unusually so, in the current period—precisely like the lack of shame discussed in my preceding volume. Our epoch discovers the unconditioned as the condition without condition of all reason, of all motifs, in other words—and we discover it as the object of a combat, as something which requires care and vigilance because it is lacking, and must therefore be cultivated and requires a new culture in order to be cultivated. What I call the unconditioned here is that other plane which conditions all existence insofar as it differs from subsistance and makes existence consistant. Since it is a tendency, regression is precisely that which lacks consistency insofar as it follows a different plan or blueprint than existence does, which, being always conditioned by what subsists, is intrinsically calculable or finite (or, in other words, reduceable to subsistance and threatened by this regression). Yet even so, the « regressions » which take the form of a return to the religious—to Mysteries and revelation—are also exactly what claims to give witness to this consistency, on another plane. Indeed, this other plane lasted for centuries under the name of God—to the point that Kant, the Aufklärer, himself always made it a condition of reason, as the Being which is most supremely real.
            This version of consistency is actually consistency as a question, which only appears as a putting into question (or, in certain ancient societies, as a calling to account), because consistency designates as its motif that which does not exist. This is why the plane constituted by consistency is not the same as the one constituted by existence—unlike the case of monotheism, which seeks to prove the existence of God. What we have here as a question put as a question precisely because it is the question of what does not exist, and what cannot remain in the form of a question, insisting through its consistency, and taking as its proof—the proof of something not accessible to proof, because it can only be experienced [éprouvé]—in order to thereby constitute experience as such : as the improbable.
            We may then have to speak, as Michel Onfray suggests, of an atheology (I myself have claimed a certain filiation between Bataille’s concept of atheology and what I have sketched out under the name of atranscendental philosophy, which I will develop as a concept in the final volume of Technique and Time, and while taking my time—inshallah). The condition of atheology is, I believe, to take account of and to do rightly by the question of consistency, or in other words to the question of what causes there to be a difference between subsistance and existence, a difference that one must nonetheless know how to create. This difference gives rise to what exceeds the difference itself, in the shape of the im-probable. Consistency is always that which passes though the singularity of an incommensurability (which Plato calls the khora in Timeus), and this necessarily means that one must know how to discover the difference between subsistence and existence in the name of a consistency which cannot be reduced to a difference, since difference does not exist except between things which, despite being different, can nonetheless be compared, and therefore have some form of differential unity. This is why the consistency which is equal to the difference which one must know how to discover between subsistence and existence is a difference which exceeds itself as a difference, and which is therefore more than a difference. It is, in fact, a singularity, situated on another plan—the difference which exceeds itself by passing to the stage of action and opening up the possibility of a motivation which would take a motif as its object. Since the motif is, in effect, the motif of desire, and since desire is incapable of desiring anything but the singular, consistency is therefore that which designates the mode of being and the mode of becoming of the motif.
            If we must rethink motivation, or in other words desire, then it we must rethink the incommensurable as the best, and define the best as that which aims at a consistency and, in this consistency, aims at multiple consistencies (to on pollakhos legetai), a different plan, one which is not reduceable to the calculable of finite (in other words, reduceable to comparisons). However, just as there is no question of a Providence[8] here, there is no question of calling that which is true in the other plan a simple dream. This other plan cannot be a dream, or at least not in Jeremy Rifkin’s sense of a dream—unless we make this dream the principle of all politics and economics—but then it would be necessary to elaborate a general libidinal economy, which would be very unevocative of Rifkin, who seems not to see the libido as an issue in the world of capitalism, even though he is American, and who in any case supports his arguments with the summary analyses of narcissism proposed by Cristopher Lasch [9]. What Rifkin misses, along with Lasch, is that narcissism is the precondition of all dreams and all psyche, as the etymology of the word alone indicates (this name, which also signifies a mirror, is the proper name of Beauty incarnated in the form of a mortal who was a rival to Aphrodite and who became immortal through the love of Eros—the Psyche who was re-animated by the kiss of Love[10]). This infantile or primary narcissism is transformed by the transition to adulthood of the psyche. When that occurs, the psyche, which is no longer auto-erotic, projects an ideal self which will become the object of its self-love.
It seems that narcissism is displaced onto this new ego ideal which, like the infantile ego, finds itself possessing all the précisuses [sic. translator : typo for « precious »?] perfections. As in every case in the realm of the libido, man shows himself incapable of renouncing a pleasure which he once enjoyed. He does not want to do without the narcissistic perfections of his childhood and, if he has not been able to maintain them, due to reprimands which have troubled him and awoken his judgment in the course of his development, then he attempts to win back that pleasure in the new form of an ego ideal. That which he projects in front of himself as his ideal is a substitute for the lost narcissism of his childhood, when he himself was his own ideal.
   This is the occasion for an examination of the mechanism of this formation of an ideal through sublimation. Sublimation is a process which bears on the libido of the object and it consists in redirecting the drive onto another goal, one remote from sexual satisfaction ; the emphasis here is on the deviation which separates it from the sexual.
   ...The formation of the ego ideal is often confounded with the sublimation of drives...While it is true that the ego ideal does require a sublimation, it cannot be obtained by constraints...Formation of the ego ideal and sublimation have...a very different rapport from the causation of neuroses. The formation of the ideal increases...the demands of the ego, and the ego strongly favors repression ; sublimation constitutes the outlet which permits the fulfillment of the ego’s demands without leading to repression.
In other words, the adult’s narcissism and sublimation form a system ; sublimation gives idealization its vanishing points (which I call its consistencies) and the ego ideal which remains sexual is in some way that which permits the projection of the auto-erotic libido onto the images which form the consistences produced by sublimation. Everything operates as if a schematization were occurring, in the sense that Kant uses the term when he speaks of an interface between intuition and understanding mediated by the imagination.
            It must then be postulated that the other plan, the one of the consistencies, the extra-ordinary plan, horizon of all love (because one can only love extra-ordinarily), fabric of « our tiny life...bounded by sleep », is the plane of dreams, that which constitutes itself at the horizon of dreams insofar as the dream is the truth of desire. The translation of the dream—that privileged yet nocturbal moment of the unconscious—into daily reality the next day is what we call fantasy.
            Nonetheless, there are many diverse and varied qualities—or consistencies—in dreams and fantasies. I say consistencies to the degree that these can be none other than fruits of the imagination : the projections of the mind insofar as it schematizes, if we follow Kant in thus characterizing an activity of the imagination which he defined as transcendental. One cannot reduce the consistency of a mathematical idea from the point of view of geometry, for example, to a dream of the same nature as the American Dream, even if it really is a kind of dream, because a point does not literally exist. It’s precisely in that sense that I claim that insofar as it distinguishes the qualities of dreams and recognizes, additionally, the role that desire plays in the unconscious (including the body and its drives), the « European dream », or more judiciously the European motif, will not be of the same nature as the American dream.
            On one hand, the European dream should not simply manipulate desires in a calculating way ; on the other hand, it should base itself on an affirmation of the mind which is precisely not the religious mind, like the Biblical reference which Jefferson inscribed in the American world in the Declaration of Independance. On the contrary, it must affirm a rational consistency which is irreducible to the ratio as a calculating or quantifying impulse, like the spirit which Benjamin Franklin took up in the wake of Luther and Calvin, and which leads to what Rifkin himself describes as the absolute forgetting of Beruf.
Translation by Christina Svendsen

[1] Sur ce point, on pourra aussi se reporter au Manifeste d’Ars Industrialis, association internationale pour une politique industrielle des technologies de l’esprit, accessible sur le site
[2] That I call « hypomnesiac », following the ancient language of Plato as reactivated recently by Michel Foucault in his discussion of hypomnémata.
[3] The positions of the leaders of European countries rarely reflect the opinions of the inhabitants.
[4] Platon, Protagoras, and B. Stiegler, La technique et le temps 1. La faute d’Epiméthée, pp. …, et De la misère symbolique 1. L’époque hyperindustrielle, pp. …
[5] Non-critiqued, that is, in the sense that Kant defines the critique of reason as the establishment of reason’s limits. In this, ultraliberal ideology’s dogma of unlimited competition is a metaphysics of efficiency.
[6] That would suppose a rebirth of God—whom I believe to be dead. To say that God is dead means that all things have become quantifiable. All things that one might have designated as incalculable, or infinite, is not God (contrary to what the religious believe), but God cannot « be » any other way than incalculably. As long as He is not dead, God designates an experience of the infinite which occurred as a communal experience in his name, and was therefore not a simple belief of psychological individuals but instead organized the process of psychological and collective individuation. I don’t believe this is the case today, and I don’t think it will ever be the case again. I’m therefore not speaking of the return of the religious as evidence of this ; certainly not in industrialized countries, and even in Iran I’m not sure God is really alive, despite appearances. As for a return of God, or at least of religiosity—as for a return of the question of God’s existence and the version of the experience of the infinite which he constitutes—we can only speak of the return of a phantom, a ghost (une revenance), not a rebirth. It is only once the father is dead, wrote Freud, that he attains his full powers : God as an eternal father, im-mortal. Can God also nontheless increase in power when he loses this « predicate » of im-mortality by « dying » ? In truth, I believe that the « death of God », so obviously a metaphor, also signifies a new regime of articulation between power and action, between the movement towards an act and the regression towards power. Given this, a paradoxical image of the ghost of the eternal father is henceforth, for us, to be understood in the economie of motivation and unmotivatedness (in the sense that Saussure speaks of the unmotivated nature of the signifier, which he also calls the arbitrariness of the sign) which constitutes the death of God.
[8] Cf In a world without shame, volume 1, p. …
[9] Lasch takes the wrong path by using a conception of narcissism which takes into account only a part of the emerging pathology, although the submerged part is none other than the psychological apparatus itself in its totality. Far from exacerbating narcissism, the capitalist libidinal economy of the twentieth century has destroyed narcissism—and that’s why psychotic pathologies are more common now than the neuroticism that was the principal study of the Freudian clinic.
[10]This sculpture by Canova is at the Hermitage Museumin St. Petersburg.