The text below was presented during the “Beat Le Pen” (BLP) Forum, hosted by l’École de la Cause freudienne, on April 22, 2022, two days before the second and final round of the French presidential election between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. Many speakers presented during the two nights of the BLP (April 21-22, 2022). This is the fourth of four presentations from that event that LRO has published.
This ECF Forum is an opportunity to express my position on the political situation in France between the two rounds of the French Presidential Elections. How does it concern me, given that as a foreigner, a Russian, I am obviously not allowed to vote in French elections? Well, it concerns me exactly as a Russian and a foreigner. It is as a Russian and a foreigner that I join the fight against Marine Le Pen.
The word foreigner in Russia over the last decade has become a kind of insult in State discourse and in pro-Kremlin propaganda, especially since 2012 when a list of foreign agents was drawn up at the Ministry of Justice, in order to stop the work of non-profit associations that receive donations from or are connected with foreign institutions. It is no coincidence that these associations were involved in the defence of human rights. Since 2017, independent media have been added to this list; then, in 2020, natural persons. Their number is constantly increasing: activists, journalists, voices who speak out and, to put it simply, disagree with Putin’s regime and who fight for democratic principles. Speech is their only strength. But by designating them as “foreign agents” the state silences their speech.
Thus in Russia, freedom of expression, one of the fundamental principles of the rule of law, is being blocked by means of this term ‘foreign agent’, where the word ‘agent’ refers to espionage; the foreigner, therefore, becomes hostile. Let us recall that the Russian government in the early days of the war also drew up a list of ‘hostile countries’.
In Marine Le Pen’s programme, which intends to “overhaul” the whole legal framework concerning the rights of foreigners, I see the same tendency. The “national priority” that she wants to include in the French constitution would – and I quote Le Monde – “distort the principles of the Republic: that everyone is equal in rights, stemming from the Declaration of 1789, and that everyone is equal before the law, stemming from the Constitution of 1958”.
The example of Russia shows the ease with which a State, governed by someone who despises human rights, ignores democratic principles. Hence my concerns about the possible election of a candidate whose close relationship with the current leader of Russia is well-known.
At this time, in solidarity with fellow Russians who hold to democratic principles, I find myself somehow less of a foreigner in France where I can call a war a war and a killer a killer. Without fully endorsing him, I appreciate Emmanuel Macron’s position in that, with his appeal not to discriminate against Russians, he distinguishes the Putin regime from the Russian people. Yet this distinction is not always made in particular cases. In some European countries, Russians are identified, against their will, with the Aggressor.
This is why I find it very important to recall this political appeal that Blandine Kriegel evoked at the Great International Online Conversation of the WAP: “if you want to end the war, prepare for peace”. The Russian people must be prepared for peace. During the Great International Conversation, Ukrainian and Russian colleagues received the support of the WAP and the Foundation of the Freudian Field. However, it is not in the name of classical international law that psychoanalytical practice plays its part in the preparation for peace, because, after all, it aims at subjective division by overthrowing the master signifiers, by loosening the stranglehold of identifications, which is not possible without the principle of freedom of speech threatened by Marine Le Pen’s programme.
In this respect, to conclude, I would like to recall the words of Judith Miller in the book Pourquoi Lacan where, speaking of the action of the Freudian Field in Russia, she evoked the difficulty concerning the fundamental rule of psychoanalysis, namely “free association”, in countries where freedom of speech does not exist. This concern goes to the heart of the problem, today this difficulty also has to be addressed in Western countries as well.
In spite of all the threats linked to censorship on the part of the regime, Russian colleagues continue their practice by making this freedom of expression exist within the space of the analytical session. Without exaggeration I can say that this practice is still possible in Russia thanks to our inscription in the Freudian Field, thanks to the Lacanian orientation, thanks in particular to our close links with France, where we do our analyses and our training courses—France, which I hope will keep the democratic principles that I wish for my own country.
Translated by Philip Dravers