From an interesting post by Daniel Tutt at Spirit is a Bone:
We find that shame is a tool that is used in many countless ways by neoliberalism to further de-politicize civic and political life. Shame tells poor people that they should feel in part responsible for their failure, by reducing their situation to a matter of choice: you just didn’t work hard enough. Or the even more brutal injunction: you can work as hard as possible, but there aren’t any guarantees, you might just not get lucky. With the fall of any assurance of success by a big Other, we fall into shame.
I am thinking now of the wild venture capitalism that we’re all experiencing, the type that leads even a new couple that are both doctors to live “paycheck by paycheck.” What do we do in this new wild to fend off shame, and as Lacan said, once you get down to the heart of society you realize that there is so much shame that you won’t know what to do with it. With the wild wild west of capitalism now afoot, it is only appropriate to quote the film The Edge with Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin about three men that get lost in the woods:
Charles Morse: You know, I once read an interesting book which said that, uh, most people lost in the wilds, they, they die of shame.
Charles Morse: Yeah, see, they die of shame. “What did I do wrong? How could I have gotten myself into this?” And so they sit there and they… die. Because they didn’t do the one thing that would save their lives.
Robert Green: And what is that, Charles?
Charles Morse: Thinking.
Shame’s political co-optation of course coincides with the failure of the American dream. I have heard from my analyst friends that a common experience for young people in psychoanalysis today, whose symptoms are often located at the site of the failure of the big Other, is that they have gone through all the meritorious motions that society asks of them. They have technically found “success” objectively through the market and so on, but they are still left with a sense of emptiness. But, the big Other – that force in their life that is there which assures meaning to one’s work – who assures that the dream will work is now gone. Whereof does one find support for the vanquished Other that guaranteed some modicum of success?
The entire post “On Shame, or the Proof of the Other’s Inexistence” can be read here:
- On Shame, or the Proof of the Other’s Inexistence (danieltutt.com)