“But even where it emerges without any sexual purpose, in the blindest fury of destructiveness, we cannot fail to recognize that the satisfaction of the drive is accompanied by an extraordinarily high degree of narcissistic enjoyment, owing to its presenting the ego with a fulfillment of the latter’s old wishes for omnipotence.” Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents

When the subject has to relate to an other, whoever he is, the subject always acts as though, as Jacques Lacan emphasizes in The Ethics of Psychoanalysis (1959-1960), the other were in a kind of equilibrium, and as if he were happier than the subject himself. The other has a life in which the jouissance from which the subject is excluded is available. The other, in short, enjoys where the subject cannot.[1] The other, the stranger, gets what the subject is excluded from, but which nevertheless constitutes an (unpleasant) reality for the subject, who is caught in a quest for pleasure. This is also true of the Roma: “… ‘Roma’ classically incarnates the other who enjoys ‘more than me and at my expense’, as evidenced by the emergence of fantasies such as: ‘They live in caravans but drive Mercedes’.”[2]

There is an immediate and insurmountable leap from jealousy to hatred of the other, which is a passion that the subject cannot renounce. The subject does not decide to hate, but is determined by it (even if the hate ignores itself). There is, however, a particular jealousy that can lead to racism or other extreme forms of exclusion. Lacan states about such jealousy, that it

“… is not an ordinary jealousy, it is the jealousy born in a subject in his relation to an other, insofar as this other is held to enjoy a certain form of jouissance or superabundant vitality, that the subject perceives as some-
thing that he cannot apprehend by means of even the most elementary of
affective movements. Isn’t it strange, very odd, that a being admits to being
jealous of something in the other to the point of hatred and me need to destroy, jealous of something that he is incapable of apprehending in any way, by any intuitive path? The identification of this other virtually in the form of a concept may in itself suffice to provoke the movement of malaise concerned; and I don’t think one has to be an analyst to see such disturbing undulations passing through subjects’ behaviors.”[3]

Here, Lacan emphasizes a dead-end logic that animates the schism between the subject and the other, but he also points out that there is no question of an ordinary jealousy in which the subject rivals the other (the subject’s mirror image). It is not a more general aggression towards a rival, but a hatred directed towards the enjoyment of the other. The hatred is not about a particular jouissance attached to an object, but about a jouissance embodied by the other. It is thus about the relation to the jouissance that also causes problems for the subject, but with which the subject believes the other has an uncomplicated relation. It is not, then, a question of hatred of someone whom the subject can mirror or sees as an ideal, but of someone else who has a particular jouissance.

What Lacan does not point out in this passage is the emergence of the discourse today that allows such hatred to be channeled into racist or other exclusionary practices, but he does so later on in his identification of capitalist discourse. This discourse promises us forms of satisfaction that are not limited. Normally castration inserts a limitation on the subject’s (idea of a) so-called unlimited jouissance, but capitalist discourse has rejected castration, as Lacan emphasizes in Je parle aux murs.[4] Rather, it has implanted the notion of all possible forms of satisfaction that would ensure such jouissance.

There has never been unlimited jouissance, but that does not preclude the fantasy of it. A fantasy that, moreover, animates consumerism today. The capitalist discourse has no limits in the pursuit and production of the more-to-enjoy, promoted in a particular kind of mad rush. The subject is completely at its mercy, and death seems to be the only limit to jouissance.

But if the subject gets what the other has (or rather is supposed to have), the subject will be alone with his jouissance. The loneliness that will then befall the subject is defined by the fact that it is ultimately a matter of drive-determined jouissance, which in itself is disruptive to the subject’s position in language. However, the truth of this is separated from the subject. The hatred of the other is related to and presupposes a rejection of the unconscious, the unconscious truth about it.

[1] Cf. Lacan, J.: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis (London: Routledge, 1992), p. 237.

[2] Aurélie Pfauwadel: ”Les Roms: Terrain vague et glissant” (in Le Diable probablement: Dis-Moi qui tu hais. À propos de quelques formes contemporaines de la haine, nr. 11, 2014), p. 42.

[3] Lacan, op. cit.

[4] Cf. Lacan, J. Talking to Brick Walls. Translated by A.R. Price. Cambridge: Polity, 2017.