File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2003/bhaskar.0309, message 42

Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2003 18:32:02 +0100
Subject: BHA: Blair, Bush and narcissism, or, Capitalism and Citizenship

An interesting doco on Channel 4, UK, last night: 'Inside the mind of 
Tony Blair'. The last place I'd want to be, but I'm glad I watched it 
because it demonstrated that Blair has a decidedly narcissistic 
personality (the same I would think goes for Bush). The concepts of 
narcissism and of narcissistic social relations (self-centredness and 
amour propre going along with psychic immiseration and stunted 
subjectivity) are (inter alia) explored by Kathryn Dean in an important 
new book in the Routledge CR: Interventions series: Capitalism and 
Citizenship: the impossible partnership (pb 19.99) which brings 
together Marx, Freud, Arendt and Bhaskar among others in an incisive 
theory of capitalist processes of subjectivation.The narcissistic 
personality craves public adulation and when it isn't forthcoming reacts 
with an immature 'to heck with you all then, I'll do it my way', which 
is precisely the mode Blair is in now (Clare Short called him  'a 
narcissistic control freak' or words to that effect).  Kathryn argues 
that narcissism is systematically generated by capitalism in the phase 
of real subsumption and commodity fetishism, and is the polar opposite 
of the kind of 'anaclitic' relations (the bearers of social love) that 
are required for responsible citizenship in a globalizing world. Though 
perhaps touched a little too much by the hand of historicism and 
socio-cultural reductionism and too prone to throw out dialectical along 
with abstract universality, her book is exceptionally well researched 
and argued and an excellent, if demanding, read.


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