Were philosophers like Derrida, Lacan, Freud involved in any kind of political party, political movement or had any political ideas? or did they just had theories in fields like psychoanalysis.

Edit: Did any of them wanted to change society and make it a better place, like Marx?


I love your question but as far as I know, Freud was potentially a “political pessimist” who believed that politics was only a road to suppression of a healthy internal debate–possibly an anarchist? Or he could have been promoting a view that the only positive political path was an uncomfortable one rife with disagreement, conflict, and debate–pro-Democracy? Libertarian? Either way, to Freud, governments were dangerous business.
I would suggest you to read Lacan, Politics, Aesthetics since it explains the politics from Lacan perspective.
I haven't fully investigated Derrida so I would prefer to hear from someone else.

  • thank you for answer, do you think any of them wanted to change society and make it a better place, like Marx? Jun 1 '15 at 14:34

Derrida was criticised for not being political enough, or so he declared in the introduction of Spectres of Marxism; so he wrote said book; but I suppose a book is not a party-political manifesto.

Given that Derrida was born in Algeria; and spent his formative years there as a pied-noir; and which later went through a war of decolonialisation, he says surprising little about it in his official writings; or perhaps because he was a pied-noir he found himself constrained:

'Given all the colonial censorships and the sub-urban milieu in which I lived and all the social barriers...the only option was to learn Arabic at school...as the language of the other; but a strange kind of other, the other as the nearest neighbour...for I lived on the edge of an Arab neighbourhood on one of those hidden frontiers that are at once hidden and almost impassable.

But unlike a slightly older generation he wasn't called upon to express his views:

Camus, for example, some fifteen years older...made various attempts to intervene, but eventually fell silent apparently overwhelmed by the violence.

Gayatri Chakraborty later, as a Derridean scholar (she wrote the introduction as well as translating Grammatology) found his work useful in theorising about Post-Colonialism; which the English literary critic Terry Eagleton affirmed as being of invaluable assistance to a whole host of activists (whilst at the same time being simultaneously irritated and dismayed at her many neologisms - a possibly bad French habit).

So, yes for being politically aware; but not in a manifestly and easily sign-posted way, as in a party-political way.

  • thank you for answer, do you think derrida had any need to change society and make world a better place, like Marx? Jun 1 '15 at 14:34
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    Derrida has written and spoken in interviews extensively about his time in Algeria, for example in Monolingualism of the Other or Counterpath. Also, the translator of Of Grammatology is Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Jun 2 '15 at 13:48

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