For the past fifty days in Greece, that is since the onset of the quarantine measures, we have been experiencing a large-scale institutional experimentation. The Parliament, without having formally ceased its function, has defacto delegated almost all legislative activity exclusively to the government. Since the beginning of the health crisis, six acts of legislative content have been issued. The first one was issued on February 25th and included six articles, while the last three included 218 articles. These acts provided authorization for relevant ministerial decisions. The Parliament, under the pretext of the state of emergency, has been absent from all crisis management, bearing huge institutional responsibility.
Parliamentary inertia during a period of parliamentary democracy is unprecedented; it demonstrates a certain political choice of giving the government the green light to take emergency legislative measures that are not always relevant to the crisis and the state of emergency, and, of course, not always meant to be temporary. This is nothing but an institutional setback, an institutional escapism of the Parliament that grants free rein to the government. Therefore, in terms of decision-making procedures, Legislation lacks in transparency and adequate substantiation. Under the title of “Measures for dealing with crisis and other emergencies”, several bills have been issued concerning labour rights, education, the environment, direct awards of contracts without the mediation of the public procurement authority, “medical passports” for tourists, ban on gatherings from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m., etc.
Discussions have begun both in Greece and Europe regarding politics, parliaments, rights, and legislative acts. The pandemic does not only challenge the economy and the healthcare system, but also the ability of many governments to resist the temptation of restricting freedoms and undermining democracy. There are a number of alarming cases in EU countries, such as Orban Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, where, by means of extraordinary legislative powers, governments have taken responsibility over the use and exclusive access to information. In Spain, journalists were excluded from the Press Centre (a decision which was fortunately withdrawn) while in Greece journalists have been banned from participating in the daily press conference briefing on the pandemic. Questions are submitted beforehand by the government resulting in the absence of a lively dialogue that would control the flow of information and commentary, while answers are predetermined by the same people who coordinate the interview.
We are witnessing the government’s effort to highlight the singularity and authenticity of the exclusive sources of knowledge and information. Underneath this effort lies an inconspicuous governmental strategy (and of power in general): “Since we possess the authentic sources of knowledge and information, the most authentic policies are our own policies”. However, the variety and pluralism that exists both in ideas and society, also exists in the scientific community (this has been clearly exhibited by the different medical points of view that were formulated at the beginning of the pandemic as opposed to the ones being formulated now). These issues were not discussed at all in mainstream media, which received subsidies of 20 million euros. Therefore, we witness societies grant their fundamental rights on account of fear, while being familiarized with measures of discipline and repression.
Psychoanalysis, as a product of the Enlightenment, does not function either in “emergency” situations or with subjects who have fully yielded their freedoms. It cannot operate in a “complete”, unified context of “One” omnipotent Other who gives orders to which the subject must obey. The Other in Psychoanalysis is “not-whole”. He, like the subject, is castrated. That is why psychoanalysis and democracy go hand in hand. In his Seminar 17, entitled The Other side of Psychoanalysis, Lacan defines discourse as a “necessary structure that subsists in certain fundamental relationships” and defines every act of speech, as well as the rest of our behaviour and actions. Discourse plays an integral role in the subject’s relationship with the external world and is probably more distinct in the field of science which is primarily an effect of the discourse itself.
Discourse is constitutive of social order, as evidenced by the effects of law. Each and every determination of the subject, and therefore of thought, depends on the discourse. Scientific discourse belongs nowadays to the field of the master. The master’s new discourse is established on the basis of the university discourse, while the discourse of the contemporary master is that of the capitalist. To conclude, we’ d say that by means of this institutional experimentation which is related to the attempt of changing the master’s discourse due to the “state of emergency”, we are running the risk of rendering the latter the new state of permanence and “normality”. This new “normality” that will have as its agent the complete Other of each power while coinciding with the scientific discourse, will have access to the singularity and authenticity of knowledge, information and “truth”.
We are walking a tightrope; a difficult and dangerous situation not only for psychoanalysis as a practice but also for the freedom, uniqueness and dignity of each subject individually· that is, for everything psychoanalysis stands for.
Information and data taken from Akritas Kaidatzis, Assistant Professor of Constitutional Law at AUTH. As mentioned in our previous article Stigmatization, in Lacanian Review on line #63, 21 April 2020. Available online.
Lacan, J., The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. Book XVII: The Other Side of Psychoanalysis, transl. by Russell Grigg, Norton, 2007, New York-London.The pages refer to the original French version: Lacan, J., Le Seminaire Livre XVII L’envers de la psychoanalyse, Seuil, 1991.
Ibid., p. 11.
Ibid., p. 216.
Ibid., p. 11.
Ibid., p. 17.
Idid., p. 178.
Ibid., p. 174.
Ιbid., p. 34. The matrix of each discourse is the master’s discourse, while its function is to organize society. Those subjected to the master’s discourse lose part of their freedom.
As is well known, the analyst’s discourse is the opposite of the master’s discourse. This indicates that psychoanalysis is a subversive practice which undermines any attempt at control and domination.