SPI CHICAGO 2014 AUTUMNAL STUDY CIRCLE, OVER TEA
“The doctrine of repression is the foundation stone on which the whole structure of psychoanalysis rests, the most essential part of it.” So said Freud. Later attempts by Marxists like Otto Fenichel, Wilhelm Reich, Herbert Marcuse, and Theodor Adorno to appropriate or to synthesize Freudian psychoanalysis with critical politics, placed repression and its vicissitudes at the center of a critical theory of society and a natural history of domination. This work seemed to presage the youth, sexual, and feminist revolutions of the 1960s. Yet these movements have left an ambiguous legacy, which has yet to open onto the fully emancipated humanity these writers sought. This study circle subjects the concept of repression to a dual examination: first, the internal dynamics of the concept and its functions within psychoanalytic theory and therapy; second, its place in an ongoing political history of sciences, concepts, and discourses. Throughout our investigation, we will have an eye toward the aims, achievements, and limits of freedom struggles, now and then.
PART I: FOUNDATIONS proceeds from Freud’s metapsychological essay on repression through Marcuse’s philosophico-historical extension of repression in his 1955 Eros and Civilization. It then examines Michel Foucault’s influential attempt to circumscribe the critical potential of repression and other Freudian concepts in his 1976 History of Sexuality, Volume I. Suggested readings include selections from first and second generation Freudo-Marxists like Fromm, Fenichel, and Adorno, as well as Foucault’s lectures and essays placing his critique of repression in a political-historical framework.
PART II: having established the coordinates of a debate, we will move to examine the multiple fates of repression as a political paradigm of domination in revolutionary political moments of the twentieth century, as well as, more directly, the fate of liberationist politics since the 60s.