It has been a few months since the UK national elections, and I still cannot help feeling that it was won by the UKIP, with four million votes and counting, whose policies of wanting to withdraw from the EU are well known. The party’s chairman, Nigel Farage, has kept drumming that withdrawal is the only path to follow if you want to eat from your own bowl and not share your bed with foreigners. He promotes what Foucault called the “care of the self”. And since he mastered to do precisely that, we can take his fears as coming from the horse’s mouth. The dream of withdrawal, of leaving the social scene of debate and negotiations, has a long history and has been recently shared by David Cameron whose supposed reticence in this regard are barely worth mentioning. Clearly, the solipsistic trend in British party politics represents a massive regression to the suppositions made before Freud, namely that the ego is the master, and, what the psychotherapists call the “self”, its legacy.
The ego of Monsieur Farage speaks volumes through his convictions as the only one who knows what the UK needs. With millions of voters who now also know what he wants we are on a merry-go-round of the happy subjects. This certainly shows a growing hysterisation of discourse on the British political scene. So who is Monsieur Farage and what does he say? He speaks, by and large, as the king of foreigners, the emperor of immigrants, the leader of outsiders. Only this allows him to claim the crown of British separatism. He has had enough. and this always brings out the best in us. Monsieur Farage is your kind of bloke. He drinks, smokes, and perhaps does a few other naughty things everyone does. He is like a good Catholic priest who is ready to bring hard rock music to the masses in order to bring people to the church. And he believes in in vino veritas, which is a novelty in British politics. With a pint in one hand and a cigarette in the other, Monsieur Farage, smiling in a rambunctious kind of way only he knows to whom, in the style of a feudal squire, proceeds to inspect the land to ensure those employed to maintain it are not of foreign breed. Look around, he says, do your water taps leak? Can you obtain a council accommodation? Do you have a job? No. Can you drive on a traffic free roads? Do your children play football with kids who speak English? This is clearly Europe’s fault.
It is not bad for someone whose grandparents arrived in Britain, and who is not the only one among the Tory politicians in this position. As a youngest descendent of William the Conqueror, Monsieur Farage now wishes to oust in one go both the spectre of his own predecessors and any prospective newcomers that might follow suit. It makes sense to him. Even in his love life, whereby he chose for his wife a “foreigner” from good, old continent, but different from his own origins. And this, it seems to me, is only part and parcel of the logic of alienation.
By fomenting dissatisfaction and mudding the waters of hatred of the Other, Monsieur Farage raised the debate on emigration to another level. I have found him to be a leader with a purpose. If he brings out anger and outrage in others, it is to spread a new gospel: loving your neighbour gets you nowhere, hate him. As he stirs up dissatisfaction in every corner of the shires he visits, he points his finger to the Channel. Can “Europe” be the imaginary father, as Lacan called him, the one guilty of messing up our lives? Is it really all our grandparents’ fault? The problem was never of economic migration but of postcolonial politics. Now the colonisers become the colonised. It is not easy. How to control emigration without segregation? How to segregate in a politically correct way? How to tell a genuine refugee from a fake one?
It is not surprising that the rhetoric of what Lacan called “perverse solutions” is gaining the upper hand in British politics. But we can see that these developments were already long anticipated by Lacan and his logic of alienation. He anticipated the rise of racism and with it, inevitably, of emigration. And he marked the coordinates of politics of the foreigner as deriving from the politics of the symptom. Lacan approached the issue head on when he remarked in Television that the jouissance of the Other stands out as a master trait in the logic of the foreigner. The discourse of alienation and hatred thus includes both race and religion because both come knocking on the door as a jouissance one cannot put up with. Monsieur Farage knows well enough that everyone hates their neighbour. It has to do with the mode of enjoyment of life, of usurping the place I wish I could occupy. The foreigner, because he is always abroad, always other to himself, loves his language. And the more he enjoys speaking it, or writing it if you read Conrad, the more Monsieur Farage & Co are infuriated by not understanding it.
That’s why Lacan spoke of the precariousness of “our” style of life. He posed the question of how to leave the Other to his mode of jouissance. This implies how to let the foreigner enjoy his language without having to understand it. Did not Lacan touch here on the kernel of the experience called analytical? Segregation, the inevitable offshoot of separatism, can find its match in desidealisation of the “self” with which the discourse of the West, and the UK within it, perceives the Other as underdeveloped and of second rate. Hence our “they have no logic, no reason, and do not understand us” as opposed to “their” jouissance of speech. Monsieur Farage had his 24 hours of the Vagabond King to change the world. Is the way to address the “refugee crisis” to build a China Wall around the coast or castles with moats? Europe is changing. And the march on Vienna that started back in XVII century continues.