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I.

Introducing Liberal “Excess”
My consideration of liberal guilt and shame begins with the “Te Birth of
Biopolitics,” where Michel Foucault initially defnes liberal thought as a
principle and as a method of rationalizing the activity of governing human
behaviour “in the framework of, and by means of, state institutions.” It is,
in this emerging moment, a “rationalization that obeys—and this is its
specifcity—the internal rule of maximum economy” (Foucault, “Birth” ;¡).
Foucault subsequently observes that, in the course of its history, liberal
thought breaks with the rationalization of government as a reason of state,
an end in itself, and “governmentality” as such:
Liberal thought starts not from the existence of the state,
seeing in the government the means for attaining that end it
would be for itself, but rather from society, which is in a com-
plex relation of exteriority and interiority with respect to the
state. Society, as both a precondition and a fnal end, is what
enables one to no longer ask the question: How can one gov-
ern as much as possible and at the least possible cost° Instead,
the question becomes: Why must one govern° In other words,
what makes it necessary for there to be a government, and
A Democracy is Being Beaten
Karyn Ball
University of Alberta
ESC ¡a.¡ (March aoo6): ¡¸–;6
Ball.indd 9/6/2007, 9:59 AM 45
what ends should it pursue with regard to society in order to
justify its existence° Te idea of society enables a technology
of government to be developed based on the principle that
it itself is already “too much,” “in excess”—or at least that it
is added on as a supplement which can and must always be
questioned as to its necessity and its usefulness. (;¸)¹
Based on this defnition, Foucault foregrounds liberalism’s threefold func-
tion as “a tool for criticizing the reality: (¡) of a previous governmentality
that one tries to shed, (a) of a current governmentality that one attempts
to reform and rationalize by stripping it down, (¡) of a governmentality
that one opposes and whose abuses one tries to limit” (;¸). Tere are two
elements in this defnition that I want to foreground as a departure point
for a consideration of liberal-democratic subject formation and, specif-
cally, the role of guilt and shame within it. Te frst concerns Foucault’s
abstract observation about “society” as “a complex relation of exteriority
and interiority with respect to the state.” Society, so defned, would func-
tion at once as the precondition and end of liberal criticism, which aims to
demarcate it from state power that encroaches on the dignity of individu-
als. Te state is hereby “envisioned as kind of political power that ignores
individuals, looking only at the interests of the totality or […] of a class or
a group among the citizens” (“Subject” ¡¡a). Yet as Foucault underlines,
“the state’s power (and that is one of the reasons for its strength) is both
an individualizing and a totalizing form of power” (¡¡a).
In “Te Subject and Power,” Foucault distances himself from the lib-
eral opposition between society and the state by insisting that “[p]ower
relations are rooted in the whole network of the social” (¡¡¸). Tis stance
supports the view of socialization that Foucault puts forward in Discipline
and Punish, where he argues that microphysical networks of disciplinary
power across various intersecting domains produce a visibility for sub-
jects that compels them to internalize their own surveillance. Te modern
subject is here conceived on the model of a prisoner in the Panopticon. As
Judith Butler notes, the subject’s “soul is fgured as itself as a kind of spatial
captivity, indeed, as a kind of prison, which provides the exterior form or
regulatory principle of the prisoner’s body” (Psychic Life 8¸). Hence the
boundary that divides the “outside” from the “inside,” or governmentality
from individuation, is “in the process of being installed, precisely through
¡6 | Ball
¡ Foucault adds: “It cannot be said, then, that liberalism is a utopia never real-
ized—unless the core of liberalism is taken to be the projections it has been led
to formulate out of its analyses and criticisms. It is not a dream that comes up
against a reality and fails to fnd a place within it” (“Birth” ;¸).
Knuv× Bn¡¡ is an
Associate Professor
specializing in
Critical Teory in the
Department of English
and Film Studies at the
University of Alberta.
Her articles on the
Frankfurt School, socio-
cultural theory, and the
Holocaust and trauma
studies have appeared
in Diferences, Cultural
Critique, Women in
German Yearbook, and
Research in Political
Economy. She edited
a volume of essays,
Traumatizing eory:
e Cultural Politics of
Afect In and Beyond
Psychoanalysis (Other
Press, aoo;), a special
issue of Cultural Critique
on “Trauma and its
Cultural Afterefects”
(aooo), an issue of
Parallax on the theme
of “Visceral Reason”
(aoo¡), and co-edited
an issue of Cultural
Critique with Susanne
Soederberg on “Cultures
of Finance” (aoo;).
Her book, Disciplining
the Holocaust, is
forthcoming with su×v
Press.
Ball.indd 9/6/2007, 9:59 AM 46
the regulation of the subject” (6;). By implication, the task of managing
population as an object and vehicle of “maximum economy” will be to
make the “exterior” coercion of administration into the “interior” of the
subject. Tis disciplinary inversion renders “society” endemic to the pro-
cess of collapsing the individualized subject of discipline into the collec-
tive subject of biopolitics, which efectively blurs the distinction between
governmentality and society as a liberal counterpoint to the former. Butler
has recently argued that such a view of subject formation “depends upon
an account of the subject who internalizes the law or, minimally, the causal
tethering of the subject to the deed for which the institution of punish-
ment seeks compensation.” In this respect, Foucault “difers explicitly from
Nietzsche by refusing to generalize the scene of punishment to account
for how a reßexive subject comes about” (Giving ¡¸).
Butler’s comparison between Nietzsche and Foucault raises a ques-
tion as to the intelligibility of the “excess” governmentality that liberalism
targets. How does such excess become discernible in liberal guilt, or what
Butler calls a “passionate attachment” to subjection° Indeed, how is the
very reßexivity of this subject formation “excessive” in liberal critique’s own
terms° In her recent writings about tolerance, Wendy Brown considers
how the identity of liberalism depends on the construction of a barbaric
Other who is seen as viciously perverting the virtues and conventions
that demarcate civil democratic culture and society.² Such virtues, she
notes, are entrenched in the ideological opposition between “secular” indi-
vidualist and “non-secular” organicist societies, or those “not subdued by
liberalism” (Regulating Aversion ¡¸o). Citing his Group Psychology and the
Analysis of the Ego, she argues that Freud himself fell prey to this binary
construction in presupposing that “organicist societies are inherently less
civilized than liberal individualistic ones because non-individuation signals
a libidinally charged psychic economy that constrains rational deliberation
and impulse control” (¡6¡). Brown observes that this opposition “renders
individuation both an efect and sign of instinctual repression, conscience,
and the capacity for self-regulation. It renders groups inherently dangerous
because of the de-repressed human condition they represent” (¡6¡).
A Democracy is Being Beaten | ¡;
a I am grateful to Wendy Brown for granting me permission to work from a
printout of a keynote address entitled “Te Tolerant and the Tolerable: Liber-
alism and Its Dangerous Others” that she presented at the conference on the
Social at the University of Alberta in Edmonton in the spring of aoo¡. A revised
version of the talk appears as Chapter 6: “Subjects of Tolerance: Why We Are
Civilized and Tey Are Barbarians” in Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age
of Identity and Empire.
Ball.indd 9/6/2007, 9:59 AM 47
¡8 | Ball
Brown’s reading of Freud’s Group Psychology underscores the “a priori
status of the individual” in his thinking: “regressed man, unindividuated
man, isn’t regressed to the group but by the group to a more instinctual
psychic state. And his de-individuation derives from his relation not to
others but to his own instincts. He is without the independence of will
and deliberation yielded by a developed superego” (Regulating Aversion
¡¸8). As Brown remarks, “It could even be said that for Freud there is only
ever the individual, that is, the individual is both the ontological a priori
and the telos of civilization” (¡¸;). Brown calls attention to the putative
secularity of the liberal ethic of tolerance because it actually disavows its
religious underpinnings and hypocritically sponsors a paradoxical intol-
erance of religious intolerance vis-à-vis militant Islam as its “primitive”
counter-face. Borrowing from Max Weber, I want to extend Brown’s com-
ment to suggest that a key component in the formation of this inherently
contradictory attitude is a secularized Christian asceticism that calls for
personal discipline in the social and bio-economic spheres. Tis asceti-
cism takes the form of a work ethic that requires subjects to manage not
only instincts, sickness, and “personal problems” for the common good of
fulflling workplace obligations, “subjective opinions” and “strong” judg-
ments, particularly of a religious andior political nature, must also be sup-
pressed. Such “excrescences” trouble the emcient amiability of workspaces
that ensures an appearance of equality, understood as neutral conformity
and social “grace.” In addition, they also disrupt the culture of small talk
that reigns in many public domains, where it is crucial, above all, merely
to get along.
Brown’s recent writings on Freud are illuminating because they allude
to a sadomasochistic excess that vexes a wounded attachment to the lib-
eral-democratic ethic of protecting individual rights. Her critique of the
liberal “intolerance of intolerance” invites us to explore the consonances
and disparities between Freud’s various theses on instinctual aggression
with the aim of understanding political masochism and liberal guilt as
subdemocratic conditions of democratic subject formation.
Freud speculates on the prospect that masochism derives from sadism
in his ¡,¡, essay, “‘A Child Is Being Beaten.’” As I will suggest, in Beyond the
Pleasure Principle (¡,ao), he reverses this grammar when he constructs
evidence for a primary masochism from the repetition of painful scenes in
veteran’s dreams and his infant grandson’s “fort-da” game. In that context,
compulsive repetition seems, at frst glance, to allow subjects to master
anxiety-producing events and memories, however, such repetition is, as
Freud will argue, goaded by unconscious patterns and forces and, specif-
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A Democracy is Being Beaten | ¡µ
cally, by the death drive. In one register, this drive appears to serve the
regulatory aims of the pleasure principle by aiding decathexis from trau-
matic anxiety. Yet Freud also adopts Barbara Low’s thesis on the “Nirvana
Principle” to delineate a radical destructive register. In this register, the
death drive seeks to annihilate all tensions and, indeed, vitality itself. Te
masochism that lies “beyond” the pleasure principle is evinced in this
radical register of the death drive, which is not only primary (uncon-
scious) but also primal to the extent that, according to Freud, it repeats
tendencies that originated in the simplest forms of organic life. It is thus
the metapsychological sediment of a phylogenetically imbedded urge to
return to a state of inorganic, tension-free existence.
After ¡,ao, in “Te Economic Problem of Masochism” (¡,a¡) and,
subsequently, in Civilization and Its Discontents (¡,¡o), Freud appears to
contemplate a possible rapprochement between his theses on primary mas-
ochism and “bad conscience” in Nietzsche’s sense of a self-punishing sec-
ond nature that results from a repression of “animal” instincts.³ Nietzsche
pointedly naturalizes the Will to Power as an instinct to individuate, cre-
¡ Borossa and Rooney have connected Nietzsche’s later philosophy with Freud’s
speculations on the death drive via Lou Salome’s inßuence. Tey cite Salome’s
comments to Freud, fve months before he sent her the completed manuscript
of Beyond the Pleasure Principle: “‘[I]t is my view, in general, that as products
of the unconscious they [sadism and masochism] are in fact identical in their
oppositeness.’” According to Barossa and Rooney, she “goes on to posit a mas-
ochism beyond this, stating, ‘I cannot get rid of the feeling that the primary
masochism is a pre-sadistic one which is then resuscitated secondarily, after
this has been made possible by the small portion of ego-consciousness which
was necessary to produce the sadism’” (Barossa and Rooney a,6, citing Freud
and Salome, Letters ¡o¡). In its bearing on my discussion here, one particularly
provocative diference between Salome and Freud emerges from Barossa and
Rooney’s account of her role as a signifcant interlocutor for both Nietzsche
and the psychoanalyst. In their interpretation, Salome indicates that while “she
agrees with the gist of his argument [about the death drive], she would, in fact
invert its terms. Te passive instinct she refers to concerns the pre-egoic bliss-
ful experience of life (jouissance), but the desire to return to it from the point
of view of egoic consciousness could be considered as a return to the origins
of life in terms of the imagined death of the egoic self.” Tey summarize the
key conjunctures and distinctions between Nietzsche and Freud via Salome
as follows:
Comparable to Nietzsche, she perceives that what is eternally
original is life: whereby life instincts would be prior to anything
such as a death drive, which Freud conversely sees as operating
from the start of life. But, like Freud, she is concerned with the
ways in which self-destructive capacities are paradoxically bound
up with an eternal desire for life, or desire for eternal life. In efect,
although not in these terms, Salome shows that the proud will to
The maso-
chism that lies
“beyond” the
pleasure princi-
ple is evinced in
this radical reg-
ister of the death
drive, which is
not only pri-
mary (uncon-
scious) but
also primal to
the extent that,
according to
Freud, it repeats
tendencies that
originated in the
simplest forms
of organic life.
Ball.indd 9/6/2007, 9:59 AM 49
¡o | Ball
ate, and dominate which is perverted through a “civilizing process” into
a sadomasochistic desire to be punished and to hound those who betray
their faulty discipline by forgetting themselves in a regression to “bestial”
instincts and pleasures. As Scott Greer writes, it is through “‘the internal-
ization of instinct,’” that a “state of guilt became a permanent part of the
human psyche, referred to by Nietzsche as our ‘bad conscience’” (Greer
¡¡o). Greer traces Freud’s “tentative and strangely qualifed admissions” in
early letters to Wilhelm Fliess (¡¡ May and ¡¡ November ¡8,;) where the
former alludes to Nietzsche’s importance in anticipating psychoanalysis
before its omcial inauguration in ¡,oo (¡o;). Although Freud is reported
to have publicly disclaimed knowledge of Nietzsche’s work,⁴ Greer notes
amrm sufering and loss, which may actually constitute a defance
of their reality, can lead to an internalized sado-masochism, as
opposed to a so-called primary masochism. (a,;)
For an insightful exploration of jouissance in light of partially overlapping con-
cepts of morality between Kant, Nietzsche, and Freud, see also Mladek. On
the relationship between Nietzsche and Freud, see Greer and Chapman and
Chapman-Santana.
¡ Richard Waugaman quotes the minutes of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society
from ¡,o8 that record Freud’s disclaimer: “He does not know Nietzsche’s work,
occasional attempts at reading it were smothered by an excess of interest. In
spite of the similarities which many people have pointed out, he can give the
assurance that Nietzsche’s ideas have had no inßuence whatsoever on his own
work.” As Waugaman observes, the minutes subsequently report that “Freud
followed this unequivocal denial with an amusing ‘Freudian slip’” in which he
acknowledges the complex origin of ideas and refers, by way of example, to a
refutation of his concept about the etiology of the neuroses that triggered him
belatedly to recall its development through the inßuence of Breuer, Charcot, and
Chrobak (Waugaman ¡¸,, citing Federn and Nunberg ¡¸,–6o). Paul-Laurent
Assoun joins Waugaman in attending to the implications of another of Freud’s
ambivalent declarations about his relationship to Nietzsche:
In recent times I have denied myself the great beneft of Nietzsche’s
work, with the express intent that in the gathering of psychoana-
lytic impressions I not be impeded by any conceptual anticipations.
Terefore I had to be prepared—and I remain so—to renounce all
claim to priority in the frequent cases where painstaking psycho-
analytic investigation can only confrm the intuitively perceived
insights of the philosopher. (cited by Waugamann ¡6o)
Both Waugaman and Assoun take this admission as a justifcation to stage po-
tential convergences between Nietzsche and Freud. Assoun ofers a magisterial
reading of the historical parameters of possible and virtual points of contact in
their thinking on the instincts, the ego, and the body as well as the metaphor
of chemistry to understand motivation and misrecognition. Yet he would also
tend to acknowledge along with Waugaman that “profound divergences underlie
almost every superfcial similarity” (Waugaman ¡6¡).
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A Democracy is Being Beaten | ¡1
that he purchased the philosopher’s works “at some expense” in ¡,oo (cit-
ing Peter Gay ¡¸). In the same year, he attended a lecture on Nietzsche
given by Georg Brandes, the philosopher’s “frst proponent outside of
Germany” (Greer ¡o¸). Greer also recalls Alfred Adler’s statement to the
efect that “Nietzsche’s writings were closer than those of any other phi-
losopher to the tenets of psychoanalysis” (Greer ¡o6). Indeed, though he
“publicly equivocated about his knowledge of Nietzsche, he was apparently
never at a loss for a Nietzsche quotation” (¡¡¡). Tis history leads Greer
to contend that “Freud’s theory on the emergence of civilization, morality,
and conscience can be seen as derived directly from Nietzsche’s On the
Genealogy of Morals” (¡o,). Greer thus follows K. R. Holmes in concluding
that “Essentially, Freud extended Nietzsche’s idea of the archaic bad con-
science into a full-ßedged psycho-anthropological theory of phylogenetic
guilt” (Holmes ¡,,, cited by Greer ¡¡o).
Greer’s reconstruction sketches a horizon for my reading later in this
essay of Freud’s reference to the Will to Power in Civilization and Its Dis-
contents in the course of demonstrating how conscience is imbricated in
an economy of aggression that is internalized as guilt and depression and
externalized in the scrutiny, regulation, and punishment of others. Weber’s
formulation of the “Protestant work ethic” indicates that this economy of
aggression is nurtured by the rationalization of ascetic self-denial under
capitalism, which precipitates alienation from and resentment against
socio-economic control. Taking Foucault’s lead, I want to re-imagine
Weber’s ethic as a disciplinary technology that inverts the exterior-inte-
rior boundaries of liberal subject formation. My aim is to make the liberal
ethic of tolerance intelligible as a byproduct of this technology in view of
certain ambiguous points of contact between Nietzsche and Freud on the
vexed relationship between the instincts and socialization. Tese potential
convergences resonate with Weber’s critical scrutiny of the repressive
ethos that he ascribes to Christian asceticism, which compels subjects to
monitor their “instinctual natures.” Te specifc issue I seek to open up
through this reading is whether the sadomasochistic fantasy structure
that Freud connects to the death drive and guilt is the condition or the
efect of a secularized asceticism, the “spirit” of capitalism in Weber’s
sense, and “bad conscience” in Nietzsche’s. One possible implication is
that liberal intolerance exposes the “bad conscience,” which results from
an ascetic code requiring civilized subjects to repress their drives in order
to prove their democratic “grace.” Tis thesis frames a speculative attempt
to address the question I have posed above concerning the status of guilt
as an “excess” of liberal subject formation. Ultimately, I will return to
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¡z | Ball
Brown in order to argue that sadomasochistic fantasy is a refraction of this
ascetic lineage. It is a fantasy structure that may efect political paralysis in
nurturing wounded attachments to the failed ideals of a democratic state
as well as pleasure- and shame-saturated identifcations with images of
its sufering victims.
II. e Sadomasochistic Grammar of Liberal Guilt
In his ¡,¡, essay, “‘A Child Is Being Beaten,’” Freud investigates the fantasy
among his patients diagnosed with hysteria and obsessional neurosis of
an adult (or parent) beating a child. In preparation for my discussion of
Brown’s reading of this essay, it will be helpful to review the stages of
this fantasy, which, for Freud, depicts the derivation of masochism from
sadism, before looping back to a sadistic voyeurism. While his patients
apparently did not enjoy actual scenes of corporeal punishment, Freud
observes that, “Te phantasy—‘a child is being beaten’—was invariably
charged with a high degree of pleasure and had its issue in an act of plea-
surable, auto-erotic gratifcation” (¡8o). Freud hereby emphasizes that such
sadomasochistic pleasures are available only on the level of fantasy. In
the three phases of the fantasy that Freud delineates, the frst is not only
marked by oscillating identities but also by inversions in the syntax from
a passive “A child is being beaten” (Ein Kind wird geschlagen), in which the
identities of the child and adult are ambiguous, into “My father is beating
the child” (Der Vater schlägt das Kind), which subsequently becomes “My
father is beating the child whom I hate” (Der Vater schlägt das mir ver-
haßte Kind). Initially, amnesia obscures the identities of both the adult and
the child, but these eventually coalesce into the beating father and a hated
child who is, perhaps, a sibling but is, in any case, a rival for the parent’s
love. Freud suggests that this initial phase afords the fantasizing subject
sadistic pleasure, which is then reversed in the second phase of the fantasy.
In this phase, the child is identifed as the subject him or herself: “I am
being beaten by my father” (Ich werde vom Vater geschlagen). Te syntax
of this sentence confgures the enunciating subject as its focal point, albeit
as a passive object. It thus underscores the masochistic dimension of the
scenario, which revolves around the subject’s own punishment. Te third
phase already plots a movement away from this masochistic identifca-
tion with the fgure of the beaten child. Te father is replaced by another
adult, possibly a teacher, while the child’s identity remains male but is
otherwise anonymous. Tis phase is thus distinguished by an intensifed
voyeuristic identifcation with the unknown spectators of a public scene
Freud hereby
emphasizes that
such
sadomasochistic
pleasures are
available only
on the level of
fantasy.
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A Democracy is Being Beaten | ¡¡
of punishment. Te idea of the other’s humiliation and shame serves as
the primary locus of enjoyment.
Freud remarks that the second, masochistic phase is never remem-
bered but is merely a construction of the analysis, which implies that
it occasions the highest degree of repression in contrast to the sadistic
phases that precede and follow it. He also speculates that the sadistic and
incestuous component of the frst phase spurs guilt and is duly punished in
the second phase. In his words, “a sense of guilt is invariably the factor that
transforms sadism into masochism” (¡8,). Freud confronts the thorny issue
that arises from evidence that the child remains a naughty boy in phases
¡ and ¡ even in the fantasies of girls. Indeed, if sibling rivalry is at stake,
then spanked girls should also fgure in this fantasy. His exertions along
this path lead him to Alfred Adler’s Nietzschean thesis about “masculine
protest” to the efect that “every individual makes eforts not to remain on
the inferior ‘feminine line [of development]’ and struggles toward the ‘mas-
culine line,’ from which gratifcation alone can be derived” (ao¡).⁵ Freud
critiques Adler’s “masculine protest” because it monolithically attaches
¸ To debunk Adler, Freud reiterates his thesis about the “bisexual constitution of
human beings” based on the assumption that, “Te motive force of repression
in each individual is a struggle between the two sexual characters.” Hence “with
men, what is unconscious and repressed can be brought down to feminine [drive
stirrings] [Triebregungen], and conversely with women” (“Child” aoo, ao¡, “Ein
Kind” aaa). It is telling that Freud reanimates the bisexual constitution thesis
in Beyond the Pleasure Principle where his defnition of the regressive nature
of the drive as “a need to restore an earlier state of things” (¸;) suddenly veers
into a consideration of the origin of sexual drives inspired by Plato’s Symposium
(also cited in the ¡,¡, essay) as if the psychoanalyst were deferring the grim
implications of his own speculations (Beyond ¸;–¸8). Following this defnition,
Freud cites Aristophanes’ characterization of primeval humans as doubled in
all of their parts before Zeus cut them into two. Aristophanes’ narrative is sub-
sequently made to resonate with a biochemical notion of the “living substance”
at work in sexual attraction and repulsion as portrayed in Goethe’s Elective Af-
fnities. Te following is Strachey’s translation of the passage in question (here
and elsewhere I have substituted drive for instinct where Trieb appears):
Shall we follow the hint given us by the poet-philosopher, and
venture upon the hypothesis that living substance at the time of
its coming to life was torn apart into small particles, which have
ever since endeavoured to reunite through the sexual [drives]° that
these [drives], in which the chemical amnity of inanimate matter
persisted, gradually succeeded, as they developed through the
kingdom of the protista, in overcoming the dimculties put in the
way of that endeavour by an environment charged with danger-
ous stimuli—stimuli which compelled them to form a protective
cortical layer° that these splintered fragments of living substance
in this way attained a multicellular condition and fnally transferred
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¡¡ | Ball
a repressing agency to a “masculine” impulse while the repressed would
always be attributed to a passive “feminine” one. As Freud notes, such an
identifcation distorts an understanding of the symptom, which would
“also be the result of a feminine impulse, for we cannot discard the char-
acteristic feature of symptoms—that they are substitutes for the repressed,
substitutes that have made their way out despite repression” (ao¡). Tis is
to say, “the doctrine of masculine protest is altogether incompatible with
the fact of repression” (ao¡). Freud therefore corrects Adler by “democ-
ratizing” the symptom: “In the last resort, we can only see that both in
male and female individuals masculine as well as feminine [drive] impulses
[Triebregungen] are found, and that each can equally well undergo repres-
sion and so become unconscious” (aoa, “Ein Kind” aa¡).⁶
It is worth asking how Freud’s disciplining of Adler in this context and
elsewhere inßuences his understanding of Nietzsche’s concept of the Will
to Power as an “instinct to dominate,” which is then consonant with the
psychoanalyst’s own thesis about a destructive drive. For the time being, I
would like to leave this question aside in order simply to emphasize that, in
the [drive] for reuniting, in the most highly concentrated form,
to the germ-cells°—But here, I think, the moment has come for
breaking of. (Beyond ¸8)
Te literary sources of Freud’s bisexual consitution thesis indicate its status as a
fantasy that serves as a theoretical explanation. Te very modes of condensation
and substitution that Freud describes in his formulations of the dream work and
symptoms transpire at the level of his theory itself as a dynamic bricolage of
elements from various discourses. What about this chain of associations com-
pels Freud momentarily to break of° How does this self-conscious cut connect
to the long footnote that concludes the sixth chapter of Beyond the Pleasure
Principle (6o–6¡, Jenseits 6a–6¡) where he considers his methods of induction
and synthesis and delineates the shifts that have transpired in his theory of the
drives between ¡,¡¡ and ¡,ao°
6 Tis move is consistent with his prior thinking on hysterical symptomatology
as a model for neurosis among both men and women. It is perplexing, then,
that Freud nevertheless reneges on the egalitarian promise of his theory when
he states that drives “with a passive aim must be taken for granted as existing,
especially among women” (“Child” ¡,¡). Tough he admits that such passivity
is not “the whole of masochism,” in ¡,a¡, he subsequently delimits a “feminine”
from the “erotogenic” and “moral” forms of masochism and locates it in men
whose fantasies place them in “characteristically female situations, they signify,
that is, being castrated, or copulated with, or giving birth to a baby” (“Economic”
¡6a). In the ¡,¡, essay, Freud acknowledges that so many features of what he
labels “feminine” masochism point to infantile sexuality and, more specifcally,
to the guilt that surrounds unconscious Oedipal fantasies lying at the root of
childhood masturbation (“Child” ¡,¸).
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¡,¡,, the three stages of the child-beating fantasy confrm, for Freud, “that
masochism is not the manifestation of a primary [drive] [keine primäre
Triebäußerung ist], but originates from sadism which has been turned
around and directed upon the self, that is to say, by means of regression
from an object to the ego.” He adds, “Te transformation of sadism into
masochism appears to be due to the inßuence of the sense of guilt which
takes part in the act of repression” (¡,¡). Te sadistic frst phase in the ¡,¡,
essay precedes the masochistic phase (triggered by guilt) in the child-beat-
ing fantasy, a logic that Freud will nevertheless appear to reverse in ¡,ao.
In Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud refers back to his clinical obser-
vations of the ree Essays on the eory of Sexuality (¡,o¸) and “[Drives]
and Teir Vicissitudes” (¡,¡¸), which led him to regard masochism “as
sadism that has been turned round upon the subject’s own ego” (Beyond
¸¡). He goes on to acknowledge that “there is no diference in principle
between [a drive] turning from an object to the ego and its turning from
the ego to the object,” which is the point “under discussion.” As the “turn-
ing round of the [drive] upon the subject’s ego,” masochism would “in that
case be a return to an earlier phase of the [drive’s] history, a regression.”
Freud subsequently admits that he must emend his earlier thesis about the
priority of sadism in relation to its component masochism “as being too
sweeping in one respect: there might be such a thing as primary masoch-
ism” (“der Masochismus könnte auch … ein primärer sein”) (Beyond ¸¡–¸¸,
Strachey’s emphasis, Jenseits ¸8–¸,).
Tis prospect of primary or unconscious masochism is an “excess” of
the psychoanalytic subject—the “beyond” which emerges as Freud arrives
at the disturbing conclusion that the death drive does not merely serve
the regulatory and homeostatic aims of the pleasure principle but may
also transcend them in its radical register determined, since the origins of
life, to return the psycho-physical apparatus to a state of inorganic calm.
Te systemic paradox of a destructive drive that aims to neutralize life
itself propels “Te Economic Problem of Masochism” (¡,a¡) as well as his
consideration of guilt in Civilization and Its Discontents. In the ¡,a¡ essay,
Freud delineates a form of “moral masochism” that allows subjects to bind
their death drives through guilt-spurred fantasies of punishment and mar-
tyrdom. It is in his defnition of moral masochism that Freud once again
rethinks his ¡,¡, supposition that masochism derives from sadism:
We have said that, by their behaviour during treatment and
in life, the individuals in question give an impression of being
morally inhibited to an excessive degree, of being under the
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¡6 | Ball
domination of an especially sensitive conscience, although
they are not conscious of any of this ultra-morality. On closer
inspection, we can see the diference there is between an
unconscious extension of morality of this kind and moral
masochism. In the former, the accent falls on the heightened
sadism of the super-ego to which the ego submits, in the latter,
it falls on the ego’s own masochism which seeks punishment,
whether from the super-ego or from parental powers outside.
We may be forgiven for having confused the two to begin with,
for in both cases it is a question of a relationship between the
ego and the super-ego (or powers that are equivalent to it),
and in both cases what is involved is a need which is satisfed
by punishment and sufering. It can hardly be an insignifcant
detail, then, that the sadism of the super-ego becomes for the
most part glaringly conscious, whereas the masochistic trend
of the ego remains as a rule concealed from the subject and
has to be inferred from his behaviour. (¡68–6,)
Here, Freud distinguishes between the imaginary structures of sadism
and masochism as a reßection of the division between the ego and the
super-ego in his second topography. Tis articulation undermines the
¡,¡, genesis of masochism from sadism since both are co-present and
potentially interactive.⁷ What is confounding about this passage is that
it naturalizes the “powers” split between the super-ego and ego by intro-
ducing a distinction between “excessive moral inhibition” and moral
masochism. Tis distinction implies that, in the instance of excessive
moral inhibition, a sadistic desire to punish is experienced by the subject
as stemming from the super-ego and that it is experienced consciously
as a mode of domination, which leads to severe inhibition, in contrast,
in the case of moral masochism the desire to be punished issues uncon-
sciously from the ego, which is to say, that the subject does not recognize
or cannot avow his or her enjoyment of sufering and punishment. Te
problematic character of Freud’s ego psychology thus comes to the fore
in his apparent disregard here for the signifcance of the reciprocity he
himself has delineated between primary and secondary impulses. For if
moral masochism is unconscious, then how is it possible to distinguish
between those instances when the super-ego’s sadistic punishment of the
ego is conscious from those when it is the byproduct of primary mas-
; As Judith Butler notes, Freud also asserts the priority of sadism in “Mourn-
ing and Melancholia,” which his later emphasis on the death drive will invert
(Psychic ¡8,).
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A Democracy is Being Beaten | ¡;
ochistic desires° Would not primary masochism on the part of the ego
underlie super-egoic sadism°
I want to connect the problematic emergence of primary masochism in
Freud’s work to the question I posed in the introduction to this essay about
the “excess” of governmentality. I am proposing that liberal criticism not
only seeks to regulate this excess but also acts it out masochistically at the
level of a wounded and guilt-ridden identifcation with democratic state
ideals. It is guilt with unconscious causes that will ultimately provide the
bridge between Freud’s understanding of the grammar of sadomasochism
in ¡,¡, and its revision in ¡,a¡. Such guilt, in Freud’s conceptualization,
is not merely a residue of repressed Oedipal fantasies or the product
of socialization from which the need for self-censorship and discipline
ensues. It reaches back to a primordial meeting between the libido and
the death drive:
In (multicellular) organisms the libido meets the [drive] of
death, or destruction [Todes-oder Destruktionstrieb], which
is dominant in them and which seeks to disintegrate this cel-
lular organism and to conduct each separate unicellular organ-
ism [composing it] into a state of inorganic stability (relative
though this may be). Te libido has the task of making the
[destroying drive] innocuous, and it fulfls the task by diverting
[the drive] to a great extent outwards—soon with the help of
a special organic system, the [musculature]—towards objects
in the external world. [It is] then called the destructive [drive]
[Destruktionstrieb], [drive] for mastery [BemächtigungstriebI],
will to power [Wille zur Macht]. A portion of the [drive] [Ein
Anteil dieses Triebes] is placed directly in the service of the
sexual function, where it has an important part to play. Tis
is sadism proper. Another portion does not share in this
transposition outwards, it remains inside the organism and,
with the help of the accompanying sexual excitation described
above, becomes libidinally bound there. It is in this portion
that we have to recognize the original, erotogenic masoch-
ism. (“Economic” ¡6¡–6¡, Strachey’s translation modifed,
“Das ökonoomische” ¡;6)
Tis derivation for “erotogenic” or “original” masochism (masochism pro-
per) extends the implications of Freud’s speculations from Beyond the
Pleasure Principle that the sex and death drives are inextricably tied up
together insofar as sexual tensions activate a primal destructive urge to
return to an inert state. Tis derivation is also signifcant because it endows
I am proposing
that liberal
criticism not
only seeks to
regulate this
excess but also
acts it out
masochistically
at the level of a
wounded and
guilt-ridden
identifcation
with democratic
state ideals.
Ball.indd 9/6/2007, 9:59 AM 57
¡8 | Ball
the libido with the vital protective role of binding the death drive through
its attachment to objects in the external world. Masochism internalizes
the excess of the death drive as the metaphysical and phylogenetic fgure
for Freud’s compromise between Eros and Tanatos.⁸
Of particular interest for the present discussion is the reference in the
passage to Nietzsche’s Wille zur Macht, which Freud links to the death
drive and to sadism as its libidinal outgrowth. Paul-Laurent Assoun
notices a “remarkable functional homology” between the Will to Power
and the economic concept of the Libido. “Tanks to the intervention of
this [economic] principle,” Assoun writes, “the inßation of instincts is
reattached in the Nietzschean dynamic to a unifying principle” such that
“every instinct becomes in the last instance a specifc articulation of the
Will to Power” (,¡). Assoun historicizes Nietzsche’s recourse to a theory
of instincts as shaped by Schiller, Hölderlin, Schopenhauer, Emerson, and
Wagner. In contrast, Freud’s thoroughly physicalist and entropic concep-
tion of “instinct is less a principle than a given or a condition” (6¡). It there-
fore cannot assume the virtue with which Nietzsche endows it. With this
qualifcation in mind, Assoun’s analysis ultimately constructs a homology
between the egoistic and somatic nature of Nietzsche’s Will to Power and
the libido as Freud’s energetic source for the drives and as an expression
of afectivity. Assoun’s contention that the Will to Power “is another name
for energy, but specifed and qualifed, that out of which every human
phenomenon is formed” (,a) supports Claudia Crawford’s delineation of
Nietzsche’s understanding of the essence of force, which “lies in its afect
upon other forces.” Force is, in his view, “inseparable from its capacity for
being afected by other forces” (Crawford a8¸). Afect for Nietzsche does
not merely bring about a change in forces but, as Crawford stipulates, “he
also means it in the emotive sense.” According to Crawford, then, the Will
to Power is “‘the primitive form of afect’” from which “all other feelings
are derived. Tus, all sensibility is a becoming of forces” (a8¸).
Assoun’s interpretation is consonant with Crawford’s delineation of the
Will to Power “as afectivity, sensibility, and sensation [that] encompasses
and directs individual afects and their becoming of force”, however, she
also goes on to attribute “sensation of afects,” for both Nietzsche and
Freud, to the “qualitative interpretation of quantity,” which is, then, “what
8 Tis compromise is evinced in Freud’s phylogenetic speculations concerning
the very frst multicellular organism that divided in order to defer a death
brought on by exhaustion. For further discussion, see Ball, “Te Substance of
Psychic Life.”
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A Democracy is Being Beaten | ¡µ
constitutes our consciousness and is the conscious basis upon which we
react to stimuli” (a8¸–86). Crawford is interested in bridging Nietzsche’s
and Freud’s standpoints on the basis of a common “energetics.” It diverges
in Nietzsche’s amrmation of the vitality of active power and Freud’s con-
cern with the paradoxes of an unconscious libidinal economy that pits
the pleasure principle against the introjected modes of socialization that
discipline instinctual aggression. Assoun’s reading of Nietzsche’s vari-
ous assertions about consciousness indicates that it would be reductive
to conjoin him with Freud along these lines. He argues that Nietzsche
ironically subtends the valuation of “the Conscious” by philosophers and
psychologists who are heirs to the Enlightenment tradition, which bestows
this concept with a measure of clarity. Instead, Nietzsche subordinates
the Conscious to the instinctive in order to valorize power: the former is
a “precarious intermediary formation,” an adaptive efect of the external
world and a response to the need for communication (¡¡¡). According to
Assoun, the Conscious is, for Nietzsche, the “cause of nothing” whereas
“the Will to Power is in the last instance the fnal cause” (¡¡¡). As the site
of an illusion or a false morality that both masks and deforms a natural,
instinctual, and creative egoism, the Conscious is, thus, a symptom of the
decline of the Will to Power as a source of health.
In Assoun’s characterization, consciousness is opposed to Freud’s Es
as the site of the drives and, likewise, to Nietzsche’s Selbst with the body
as its locus. “Te Self,” Assoun remarks, is “the corporal identity of the
individual, which is also domination (Herrschaft) and materializes Will
to Power, the body being the creation of Will (Herrschaftsgebilde). Tus
it is the truth of the Ego, defned at the same time as power and wisdom”
(¡¡;). Assoun writes:
From the beginning of Nietzsche’s writing corpus, the call to
the Self is a command: “Wish for a Self!” It leads the campaign
against those who deny the body, who deprive themselves of
the health furnished by the great wisdom of the Body. All of
morality, seen as a sickness, is in this sense a negation of the
voice of the Body. Te Superego would thus only be a sickness,
an infection in the wisdom of the Body: that is why it would be
a pathological symptom rather than an apparatus! (¡¡;)
Assoun’s prediction about Nietzsche’s hypothetical attitude toward the
super-ego is compelling, though it seemingly bypasses a crucial aspect
of Freud’s understanding of metapsychology, which allows for an uncon-
scious and conscious dimension to the guilty ego in relation to a punishing
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6o | Ball
super-ego. It is the dynamic interrelation among these agencies as objects
and mediators of libidinal forces that tracks the unconscious impact of
social formation.
In the terms of Butler’s reading of Nietzsche and Freud, this problem
might be understood as a question about whether punishment precedes
the construction of conscience, which would mean that the latter’s “pecu-
liar reßexivity” takes place “prior to, or in some form of complicity with,
a set of externally posed demands” (Psychic ;o). Freud’s conscience is “a
force of desire—although sometimes a force of aggression—as it turns back
on itself,” while prohibition is not “a law external to desire,” but “the very
operation of desire as it turns on its own possibility” (6¡). For Nietzsche,
too, as she notes, bad conscience is a moral reßexivity afected by the will
recoiling on itself. As an “illness” that results from an internalization of
external inßuences, “morality performs that violence again and again in
cultivating the subject as a reßexive being.” Tis is to say that self-con-
sciousness cannot simply oppose violence in the name of nonviolence “for
when and where it is opposed, it is opposed from a position that presup-
poses this very violence” (6¡) Butler calls on us to consider whether “the
model by which an instinct or a will expresses or discharges itself in a deed”
is “in any sense prior to this self-thwarted expression of bad conscience”
(;6). What makes this question particularly vexatious is that, for Freud,
“the strength of conscience is nourished precisely by the aggression that
it forbids” (;o). Te internalization of prohibition cannot, for this reason,
be unilaterally plotted in relation to the libidinal economy.
Butler understands the “recoil” of conscience on the imaginary body
as the source of Nietzsche’s instinctual will. Tis conceptualization hints
at the strategic value of a provisional distinction between instincts and
drives for a theorization of the liberal “libido,” which refracts the “reason
of state” as an excess. As is well known, James Strachey’s translation of
Trieb as instinct obscures the metapsychological specifcity of the drives
in relation to instincts, though admittedly Freud himself does not rigor-
ously sustain this distinction. In Beyond the Pleasure Principle, he defnes
a drive or Trieb, as “an [inner] urge [innewohnender Drang] to restore an
earlier state of things which the living entity has been obliged to abandon
under the pressure [Einfüsse] of external disturbing forces, that is, it is a
kind of organic elasticity, or, to put it another way, the expression of the
inertia [Trägheit] inherent in organic life” (Beyond ¡6, Jenseits ¡8).⁹ Tis
, In the original: “Ein Trieb wäre also ein dem belebten Organischen innewoh-
nender Drang zur Wiederherstellung eines früheren Zustandes, welchen dies
Belebte unter dem Einßüsse äußerer Störungskräfte aufgeben mußte, eine Art
Butler
understands the
“recoil” of
conscience on
the
imaginary body
as the source
of Nietzsche’s
instinctual will.
Ball.indd 9/6/2007, 9:59 AM 60
A Democracy is Being Beaten | 61
formulation implies that there is a systemic self-destructive need inherent
in organic life, which is a fundamental expression of the drive’s conserva-
tive nature: the organism is inclined to die in its own fashion (¡,, Jenseits
¡¡). Indeed, Freud will even speculate that the aim of all life is death, and,
reciprocally, that lifelessness was prior to life (¡8, Jenseits ¡o). Such a prop-
osition has the efect of making the death drive originary and paradigmatic
for all drives, thereby attenuating its metapsychological distinctiveness
from an instinct. Whereas Freud proposes a phylogenetically regressive
drive that results from external inßuences, Nietzsche’s employment of
the word Instinkt in his characterization of the Will to Power suggests
that such inßuences corrupt a prior natural and thus instinctual egoism.
In a certain sense, then, Nietzsche resolves the problem of distinguish-
ing between Freud’s general defnition of a drive and an instinct: Freud’s
regressively conservative drive is the denatured inversion of Nietzsche’s
instincts to live, create, and dominate. Te drive is, thus, a vehicle for the
corrupted “second nature” that Nietzsche calls “bad conscience.”
In the Second Essay from On the Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche exco-
riates bad conscience, defned as an internalized deformation of the Will
to Power. According to Nietzsche, the religious body-soul split is merely
another efect of the hemming in and internalization of “alle Instinkte”:
All instincts that do not discharge themselves outwardly turn
inward—this is what I call the internalization of man: thus it
was that man frst developed what was later called his “soul.”
Te entire inner world, originally as thin as if it were stretched
between two membranes, expanded and extended itself,
acquired depth, breadth, and height, in the same measure as
outward discharge was inhibited. Tose fearful bulwarks with
which the political organization protected itself against the
old instincts of freedom—punishments belong among these
bulwarks—brought about that all those instincts of wild, free
prowling man turned backward against man himself. Hostility,
cruelty, joy in persecuting, in attacking, in change, in destruc-
tion—all this turned against the possessors of such instincts:
von organischer Elastizität, oder wenn man will, die Äußerung der Trägheit
im organischen Leben” (Jenseits ¡8). It is worth noting that Strachey’s English
translation has converted the plural Einfüsse, or “inßuences,” to a more mecha-
nistic and monolithic pressure. Te German thus allows for various sensory and
potentially political, social, economic, cultural, and libidinal inßuences to act
upon the psychophysical organism.
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6z | Ball
that is the origin of the “bad conscience.” (8¡–8¸, Nietzsche’s
emphasis)¹⁰
Whether or not we agree with Nietzsche’s iconoclastic and ironic reversal
of the condemnation of cruelty that supposedly defnes “civilized” soci-
eties, it is nevertheless dimcult in view of human history to dismiss his
near mythical supposition that taking delight in domination is primal and,
by implication, natural. If, as Nietzsche suggests, there is a prior natural
instinct to dominate, then punishment-induced memory warps it into
an “unnatural” bad conscience and morally masochistic guilt as such.
Moreover, to view the Will to Power as an aggressive and egoistic instinct
rather than a drive is to assume that it is even more primal than so-called
“primary masochism.” Masochistic fantasies would merely provide a means
for subjects to invert and libidinally bind their more fundamental “life”
energies. Tis logic of subjectifcation is consistent with Freud’s thesis in
the ¡,¡, essay concerning the genesis of masochism from sadism in fan-
tasies about children as the objects or voyeurs of corporeal punishment.
It also suggests an impetus for the return to the sadism of the frst phase
in the voyeuristic third as the child beating fantasy rises up in reactive
protest against the shame that it provoked and that is dramatized in the
second phase.
Following his “discovery” of primary masochism in Beyond the Plea-
sure Principle in ¡,ao, the Freud of “Te Economic Problem of Masochism”
can no longer deßect the threat to civilization insinuated by Nietzsche’s
individualist celebration of the primal urge to live free, create, and domi-
nate. Indeed, what comes to the fore in Freud’s reference to the Will to
Power in ¡,a¡ is that his thinking on masochism has shifted since ¡,¡,.
Between ¡,ao and ¡,¡o, he must increasingly come to terms with what
Nietzsche calls the Will to Power, which he identifes as a transcultural
and transhistorical instinct toward egoistic aggression and transcendence,
and with the essence of the will to life. In Civilization and Its Discontents,
Freud employs the term conscience to reßect on the ubiquity of guilt and
the entrenchment of sadomasochistic fantasy structures in death-driven
subjects. Te subject is captive to a sadistic super-ego that castigates the
ego for its asocial urges. Tis super-ego is itself the efect of the subject’s
secondary narcissistic desire to be accepted by others whose expectations
¡o Foucault rewrites this point in Discipline and Punish: “Te man described for
us, whom we are invited to free, is already in himself the efect of a subjection
much more profound than himself. A ‘soul’ inhabits him and brings him to
existence, which is itself a factor in the mastery that power exercises over the
body. Te soul is the efect and instrument of a political anatomy, the soul is
the prison of the body” (¡o).
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A Democracy is Being Beaten | 6¡
he or she internalizes in an idealized form—what Freud calls the ego-ideal.
Because this idealization sets up an impossible standard, attempts to regu-
late drives will always fail at some level. Tese failures produce refractions
in other subjects: the unconsciously masochistic subject feels aggressive
toward those who not only frustrate his or her sexual desires and regres-
sive drives but who also exacerbate his or her guilt about having them in
the frst place. Tis guilt-limned aggression must then be consciously and
unconsciously internalized or externalized in ways that bypass the ascetic
codes against allowing nature to escape.¹¹
By ¡,¡o, then, Freud has grimly come to accept the standpoint that
aggression is primal and that it infects all social relations:
Te element of truth behind all this, which people are so ready
to disavow, is that men are not gentle creatures who want to
be loved, and who at the most can defend themselves if they
are attacked, they are, on the contrary, creatures among whose
instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share
of aggressiveness. As a result, their neighbour is for them not
only a potential helper or sexual object, but also someone who
tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him, to exploit
his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexu-
ally without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate
him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him. (Civilization
¡¡¡, Das Unbehagen ¡;o–;¡)
Freud subsequently stresses that because of this “primary mutual hos-
tility among human beings, civilized society is perpetually threatened
with disintegration. Te interest of work in common would not hold it
together, instinctual passions [triebhafte Leidenschaften] are stronger than
reasonable interests” (¡¡a, Das Unbehagen ¡;¡). His equally dire prognosis
is that civilization “has to use its utmost eforts in order to set limits to
man’s aggressive [drives] and to hold the manifestations of them in check
with psychical reaction-formations.” Of course, the incitement to “love
thy neighbour” along with institutional eforts to restrict sexual life and
criminality have proven futile in eliminating the vicious cycle of aggression
because they employ the right to use violence in order to regulate it.
¡¡ Brown writes that “If the staging of punishment against one’s peers confrms
identity rooted in injury without making the subject sufer the injury directly,
then presumably this displacement also spurs guilt that itself must be assuaged
or expiated. […] Moreover, the guilt would produce its own new economy
of obligation and aggression toward the sufering and toward the world that
induced that sufering” (“Desire” ¸¡).
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6¡ | Ball
III. Liberal “Bad Conscience”: Between the “Protestant Work
Ethic” and Sadomasochistic Fantasy
Freud’s deepening pessimism in ¡,¡o indicates a potential intersection
with Nietzsche’s polemic in the Genealogy against the repressive efects
of interdicted will as a modality of bad conscience and Weber’s analysis
of the ascetic formation of hard-working subjects. Tis formation propels
aggression toward those who are not “sumciently” repressed and what
Brown has identifed as the liberal intolerance of religious intolerance. My
reading of this formation highlights the aims of “civilization” in Freud’s
account as the secular counterpart of the ascetic Protestant protocols
identifed by Weber in his sociological history of the work ethic. Such
protocols require subjects to diferentiate themselves from animals and
savages by regulating “the barbarism within.” Te liberal conscience that
enjoins tolerance is a variation on the Calvinist principle that “grace” must
be proven through systematic self-denial and a methodical monitoring
of natural urges. Grace, in Weber’s words, is “a status that separates man
from the depravity of the creaturely and from the ‘world.’” It must be
demonstrated in “a specifc form of conduct unambiguously distinct from
the style of life of the ‘natural’ man.” Te consequence for the individual
was, as Weber notes, “the drive to keep a methodical check on his state of
grace as shown in how he conducted his life and thus to ensure that this
life was imbued with asceticism” (¡o¡).
In explaining the impetus of the work ethic, Weber alludes to the “tra-
ditionalism” of workers who, from their employer’s perspective, will not
take advantage of an opportunity to make more money by labouring longer
hours and whose “sluggishness” or “inertia” ßies in the face of capitalist
proft and progress. He fallaciously attributes such “Trägheit” to the work-
ers’ monastic idealization of poverty and humility, which permits them
to sublimate the “simple life” that traditionalism ensures. Te worker’s
“recalcitrant” investment in merely fulflling his needs must be ofset with
an ascetic investment in a Calling so that the ideal of self-martyrdom in
the interests of a higher goal will become inspirational. Tis traditional-
ism in Weber’s account is therefore not as primordial as the regressive
death drive defned by Freud, Christian ideology inculcates ascetic values
that rationalize and thereby restructure a destructive urge to return to an
archaic inert state as a morally masochistic fetishism of hard work for its
own sake.
Nietzsche anticipates Weber’s considerations of an ascetic of self-sacri-
fce by underscoring the violence that shadows the promise in the context
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A Democracy is Being Beaten | 6¡
of the debtor-creditor relationship as a paradigm of Western morals. Te
Second Essay in e Genealogy of Morals traces the vicissitudes of bad
conscience in a history of punishment that links individual responsibility
with the ability to fulfll one’s promises and to pay one’s debts. In this con-
nection, Nietzsche cites a medieval policy of allowing the unpaid creditor
to extract the “choicest morsel” of ßesh from a negligent debtor.¹² Te
creditor’s compensation comes in the sadistic pleasure of partaking in the
“entitlement and right to cruelty” or what Nietzsche refers to as the right
of the masters when, at last, “he, too, may experience for once the exalted
sensation of being allowed to despise and mistreat someone as ‘beneath
him’—or at least, if the actual power and administration of punishment has
already passed to the ‘authorities,’ to see him despised and mistreated”

(6¸).
Punishment thus serves the aim of reminding debtors of their promises
to creditors as a function of their responsibility to society at large. It thus
cows the “instinct for freedom,” which is “forcibly made latent […] pushed
back and repressed, incarcerated within and fnally able to discharge and
vent itself only on itself” (8;). Nietzsche associates this instinct for freedom
with the “soul” of an animal, now inverted and denatured. Te beast that
forgets, aggresses, and enjoys without debt, conscience, or guilt is now one
who is “forcibly confned to the oppressive narrowness and punctilious-
ness of custom. Impatiently lacerated, persecuted, gnawed at, assaulted,
and maltreated himself, this animal that rubbed itself raw against the bars
of its cage as one tried to ‘tame’ it” (8¸). Bad conscience is, for Nietzsche,
the instinct for freedom “rubbed raw” against the punishing morality that
incarcerates it.
Te corruption of the Will to Power is evinced in an ascetic morality
that requires us to prove that we remember our debt to society by repress-
ing our natures. Indeed, from Nietzsche’s standpoint, the martyrdom
narrative of Jesus dying for our sins is just another version of the creditor-
debtor relationship that culminates in the extraction of a chunk of ßesh in
exchange for an unpaid and unpayable debt. Hence the Christian partition
of the monotheistic God allows the Father to act as a creditor who requires
his own Son to expiate humankind’s debt of sin with his life.¹³
¡a I am paraphrasing 6¡–6¸ of the Second Essay here. For the German, I consulted
Philosophie von Platon bis Nietzsche (covor).
¡¡ Regarding “that stroke of genius on the part of Christianity,” Nietzsche writes:
“God himself sacrifces himself for the guilt of mankind, God himself makes
payment to himself, God as the only being who can redeem man from what
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66 | Ball
In Nietzsche’s view, various forms of Christian asceticism would
merely be sublimations of a more basic underlying cruelty. Yet while Weber
seemingly extends Nietzsche’s polemic against Christian asceticism as a
perseveration of bad conscience, Weber’s theses on Calvinist self-denial
vex the natural primacy Nietzsche bestows upon an aggressive instinct
that external inßuences pervert into a masochistic conscience. For Weber,
these inßuences are contingent upon the demands of capitalist progress
to provide a well-oiled machinery through compliant and long-sufering
workers who conscientiously prove their “grace” by making profts for
paternalistic bosses. In a certain respect, then, the standpoint of political
economy alters and complicates the grammar of the Will to Power—the
natural priority of Nietzsche’s “instinct” to dominate in relation to its
inversion as bad conscience, or Freud’s destructive “drive.” Liberal guilt is
the masochistic fruit of a secularized Calvinist emphasis on self-denial as
the proving ground of grace: one amrms one’s “Election” to democratic
civility by internalizing its ascetic codes and punishing oneself for failing
to live up to them.
I would like to suggest, in agreement with Brown, that the Calvinist
underpinnings of Weber’s work ethic have evolved into an increasingly
hegemonic force in neo-liberal ideology that “equates moral responsibil-
ity with rational action” and thereby confgures “morality entirely as a
matter of rational deliberation about costs, benefts, and consequences.”
Brown notes that a neo-liberal interpellation “carries responsibility for
the self to new heights: the rationally calculating individual bears full
responsibility for the consequences of his or her action no matter how
severe the constraints on this action.” A neo-liberal fall from grace would
thus correspond to the “mismanaged life,” which “becomes a new mode of
depoliticizing social and economic powers and at the same time reduces
political citizenship to an unprecedented degree of passivity and politi-
cal complacency” (“Neo-liberalism” ¸). Yet if neo-liberalism moralizes
“the consequences of individual freedom,” as Brown suggests, then it
also converts the individual into a micro-managing mini-version of the
entrepreneurial state (6). Nietzsche gestures at the ways in which bad
conscience sediments the history of states whereby “the oldest ‘state’ thus
appeared as a fearful tyranny, as an oppressive and remorseless machine,
and went on working until this raw material of people and semi-animals
has become unredeemable for man himself—the creditor sacrifces himself
for his debtor, out of love (can one credit that°), out of love for his debtor!—”
(Genealogy ,a).
Liberal guilt is
the masochistic
fruit of a
secularized
Calvinist
emphasis on
self-denial as the
proving ground
of grace: one
affrms one’s
“Election” to
democratic
civility by
internalizing
its ascetic codes
and
punishing one-
self for failing to
live up to them.
Ball.indd 9/6/2007, 9:59 AM 66
A Democracy is Being Beaten | 6;
was at last not only thoroughly kneaded and pliant but also formed” (86,
Nietzsche’s emphasis). Subjectifcation, in Nietzsche’s terms, would be the
efect of our willingness to suppress our natural instincts to dominate by
internalizing the “remorseless” machinery of the punishing powers that
once belonged to the state.
Revising Nietzsche, the genealogical Foucault distances himself from
the liberal prioritization of individual rights over and against the excesses
of the state in order to locate bad conscience in the microphysics of power
and the pleasures of discipline: we are civilized subjects because we inter-
nalize our own surveillance. According to Foucault, institutional and other
socio-cultural practices “implant” categories of perversion and criminality
in subjects. Te technology of categorization renders various “behaviours”
intelligible as such, and they thereby become visible for regulation. Citi-
zens internalize the gaze of their surveyors in order to avoid punishment.
It is this internalization that guarantees the automatic reproduction of
disciplinary technologies, as Foucault characterizes them, which makes
citizens “kneaded and pliant” in Nietzsche’s words, “but also formed.” To
extend Nietzsche’s critique of morals is to seek to recognize, with Foucault,
the process of forming malleable subjects in liberal democracies. Tis pro-
cess sustains an economy of guilt among individuals who recognize their
failure to live up to the universal ideal of tolerance because they cannot
completely neutralize their will to punish and to dominate. Such guilt is
the mnemonic surfeit of internalized social regulation that refracts the
excesses of state reason.
Yet while Foucault acknowledges in the frst volume of e History of
Sexuality that subjects enjoy the disciplinary technologies constituting
them, his post-psychoanalytical explanation does not obviate sadomas-
ochistic fantasy, which organizes the aggression spurred by wounded
narcissism and the desire for love. Brown’s emphasis on narcissistic
projection as a mode of structuring socio-political desire thus points to
a missing step in the logic that permits Foucault to posit a disciplined
subject as the hapless byproduct of disciplinary power. In her critique
of liberal tolerance, Brown recalls Freud’s “oft-rehearsed tale” that in the
beginning “there is only sexual desire” (Regulating Aversion ¡6o). Hence
what “we call love precipitates out of the inhibition of this desire.” She
goes on to reßect that,
Aim inhibition entails a displacement or rerouting of libidinal
energy, in the case of love, this energy goes into idealization
of the object. But idealization itself, Freud explains, is more
Ball.indd 9/6/2007, 9:59 AM 67
68 | Ball
than reverence for the object. Rather, it is a way of satisfying
one’s own need to be loved through projecting one’s ideals of
goodness onto an other. Idealization thus involves a circuitry
of projection from the ego ideal of the lover onto the love
object, a projection that produces a feeling (being in love)
that in turn gratifes the lover’s ego’s own desire for love or
self-idealization. […] Idealization is narcissistic projection
necessitated by aim inhibition. (¡6o–6¡)
Brown’s observations lead to the conclusion that a secondary narcissistic
idealization of liberal-democratic ideals conditions subjects to take plea-
sure in the sufering of those who thwart or compete with a narcissistic
desire for (paternal) love. Such subjects therefore also crave punishment
for their own failure to inhibit their sexual and aggressive aims. Freud’s
conceptualization of a sadistic conscience and a morally masochistic ego
should therefore be viewed as a metapsychological component of subjec-
tifcation in Foucault’s sense.
In “Te Desire to Be Punished: Freud’s ‘A Child Is Being Beaten,’”
Brown turns to Freud’s ¡,¡, analysis to investigate diferent facets of
“political masochism.” For Brown, the alternation between sadistic and
masochistic phases that distinguishes the beating fantasy is reßected on
a political level in universalist fantasies that subjects produce in order to
protect their investment in a liberal democratic order. In idealizing this
order, a liberal subject shores up a secondary narcissistic projection of his
or her inherent goodness and entitlement to love onto another, however,
such an entitlement is fraught with the danger that the desire for love will
be thwarted by others or poisoned by the subject’s own faulty self-con-
trol. Te need to protect a liberal-democratic identifcation can therefore
paralyze critics as well as their sufering and marginalized victims whose
identity may seem rooted in a traumatic history. Tis situation arises
because identity of any kind will not appear to remain the same without
its continual performative activation. In addition, if identity is formed out
of trauma, then, as Brown writes, “there would also be a certain reassur-
ance, and possibly even erotic gratifcation, in restaging the injury, either
at the site of our bodies (masochism) or at the site of another (displaced
masochism in which we are split of from that with which we identify as
we are ‘passively looking on,’ to use Freud’s phrase).” Tis restaging serves
to stabilize “an identity whose traumatic formation would render unstable
its political or public face, it forges a politically coherent, continuous, and
conscious identity out of conßicting unconscious desires” (“Desire” ¸¸).
Ball.indd 9/6/2007, 9:59 AM 68
A Democracy is Being Beaten | 6µ
Brown delineates a parallel between a masochistic identifcation in
the second phase and the critical logic of identifying with the sufering of
oppressed groups that comprises the afective impetus of multiculturalist
discourse.¹⁴ In Brown’s words, “reliving a certain punishing recognition
reassures us not only of our own place (identity) but also of the presence
of the order out of which that identity was forged and to which we remain
perversely beholden. Te repetition gratifes an injured love by reamrm-
ing the existence of the order that carried both the love and the injury”
(“Desire” ¸6). Yet “if as Freud argues, the desire to punish issues from felt
impotence or disregard, if it issues from guilty or unrequited love, then
the punitive desire is an inherently ambivalent one insofar as it installs
(relatively impotent) violence at the site of a hoped-for tenderness and
capaciousness” (¸;). Unreciprocated love may also foster rage against the
ideal that potentially humiliates the narcissistic subject. As my own read-
ing of Freud’s analysis of the masochistic second phase suggests, such rage
is a form of aggression that cannot be tolerated in civilized societies: it is
a misdeed that begs for due punishment.
Tis relatively impotent violence explains the paralytic efect of a sado-
masochistic fxation on a status quo in which the abuse of certain groups is
permitted within democratic nations whose governments are presumed to
protect the rights of minorities against majorities. In e Sublime Object
of Ideology, Slavoj Žižek argues that it is naïve for critics to point to the
exceptions to democratic principles as failures that might and should be
fxed since the existence of these “particularities” actually confrms the
universalist fantasy that structures liberal identifcation. Reading Brown
with Žižek implies that such a disavowal is organized by the socio-politics
of enjoyment: liberal democratic defenders need exceptions in order to
continue to enjoy their universalist fantasy and, reciprocally, these same
¡¡ Brown asks:
[D]o scenes of social punishment for a marked identity broker a
complex and largely unexcavated relationship between identity and
guilt on one side, and identity and aggression on the other° And
if these opposing (yet mutually constitutive) impulses require the
oscillation between punishing and being punished that is suggested
by Freud’s three-phase interpretation […] if these dual impulses
keep alive a certain investment in marked identity, are they also
a source of political paralysis, a constraint on a subject’s willing-
ness to surrender this investment° If so, might they also constrain
the desire for emancipation from the injuries that constitute the
identity, insofar as they require the incessant restaging—in ab-
stract, ambivalent, and above all oscillating terms—of scenes of
punishment° (“Desire” ¸6)
Ball.indd 9/6/2007, 9:59 AM 69
;o | Ball
defenders require this fantasy in order to enjoy their guilty investment in
its sufering and marginalized exceptions. Butler’s analysis of Nietzsche
and Freud underscores this point in suggesting that a passionate attach-
ment to subjection presumes both the passion and the aim to attach it to
some kind of object (Psychic ;¡). One could say, in Žižek’s Lacanian terms,
that a portion of this “passionate attachment” would consist of transgres-
sive enjoyment as an ambivalent residue of subjectifcation through fan-
tasies that bind subjects to society. Te prospect of such jouissance arises,
as Klaus Mladek proposes, “once we become aware of the stark diference
between usefulness and enjoyment, between the omcially legitimized ends
and the non-theorizable surplus of punishment” (Mladek a¡a). Accord-
ing to Mladek, the legal concept of usufruct as “the right to temporarily
enjoy the use of certain rights of others,” which Nietzsche precociously
visualizes the unpaid creditor’s “enjoyment of the rights over someone
else’s body,” also introduces limits into jouissance, “for one is allowed to
enjoy this power, but not to abuse or squander it.” As Lacan articulates it,
“Precisely this is the essence of law—to divide, to distribute, to spread out
that which is jouissance” (Mladek a¡a, citing Lacan ¡o).
In Mladek’s reading, “Nietzsche sides with jouissance against ressenti-
ment, precisely because it runs counter to contentment, pleasure or hap-
piness” (Mladek a¡¡). While Mladek insists on distinguishing the “carnal
delight” in pain, death, and sufering, which transpires as an extra-legal
result of and supplement to legal punishment, from ressentiment, I am
more persuaded by attempts to understand how the “unequal distribution”
of jouissance, so defned, may underlie various experiences of melancholy
as enjoyment-saturated vicissitudes of sociohistorical anger and Leben-
sneid (life envy) among the agents and bearers of domination in liberal
democracies. Writing on racial melancholy in national and postimperial
contexts respectively, Anne Anlin Cheng (aoo¡) and Paul Gilroy (aoo¸)
have emphasized that melancholic fxations on wounded identities are
just as constitutive of the dominant subjects who enact them—sometimes
violently, as Gilroy demonstrates in the case of socio-economically emas-
culated soccer hooligans subsisting in the postcolonial ruins of a declin-
ing British empire—as they are of the disenfranchised racially marked
or immigrant “objects” who internalize these narratives of loss while
recoiling against them. Gilroy notes that among the painful obligations
that attend the task of working through the “grim details of imperial and
colonial history” is the transformation of “paralyzing guilt into a more
productive shame that would be conducive to the building of a multicul-
tural nationality that is no longer phobic about the prospect of exposure
Ball.indd 9/6/2007, 9:59 AM 70
A Democracy is Being Beaten | ;1
to either strangers or otherness” (,,). I question whether such shame can
be detached from a sadomasochistic imaginary that precipitates liberal
guilt. As a qualifcation of Gilroy’s recommendation, I would add that to
sympathize with victims of oppression is also to visualize their sufering
by drawing on a cultural repertoire of images. I have elsewhere argued that
the sympathetic imagination feeds on fantasies that permit pleasurable
identifcations with images of persecution and marginalization.¹⁵ In the
present context, I am contending that the sadomasochistic organization
of these images allows left-leaning academics not only to enjoy visual-
izations of minority sufering but also to enjoy a pleasurably punishing
liberal guilt triggered by those images. Tis guilt fulflls an attendant need
to be castigated for an incestuous love, for desiring the abusive father, a
“crime” they delightfully do penance for through entrenched masochism.
As Butler writes, the origin of bad conscience is “the joy taken in persecut-
ing oneself, where the self persecuted does not exist outside the orbit of
that persecution” (Psychic ;¸). Hence the masochistic second phase of the
beating fantasy translates into political paralysis among liberal democratic
subjects who cannot escape the vicious cycle of punishing themselves for
unconsciously deriving satisfaction from the very abuses they decry.
Moreover, if, as Brown suggests, liberal subjects must protect their
love for wounded democratic ideals, then identity politics provides them
with the abstract victims of a beating fantasy that alternately obscures and
reveals the beaters and the beaten in imaginary scenes of punishment and
humiliation. First, such a fantasy permits liberal subjects to believe that
democracy loves them more than the marked other who is a rival for public
and state attention. Second, in spurring their masochistic identifcation
with persecuted others who stand in for their own disappointed hopes,
this fantasy also allows such subjects to punish themselves for resenting
the democracy that has failed them by perpetrating abuse. Ultimately,
then, the “beaten other” fantasy allows wounded liberal subjects to see
the naughty victim publicly punished for exposing the shoddy universality
of their beloved democratic ideals.
Brown’s rewriting of Freud’s three stages furnishes a disturbing answer
to the question I posed in the introduction with reference to Foucault
about how liberal subject formation manifests and rationalizes the very
“excess” of governmentality that it purports to repudiate. My explanation,
drawing on Brown and Butler, is that the “excess” of sadomasochism con-
stitutes the condition of possibility for liberal democratic subjectifcation:
¡¸ See Ball, “Unspeakable Diferences.”
As a
qualifcation of
Gilroy’s
recommen-
dation, I would
add that to
sympathize
with victims of
oppression is
also to visualize
their suffering
by drawing on a
cultural
repertoire of
images.
Ball.indd 9/6/2007, 9:59 AM 71
;z | Ball
My fantasies must allow me to enjoy discipline and identify with its tar-
gets along with its administration in order to reproduce my membership
in a liberal democracy that omciates the ethic of “civilized tolerance” in
opposition to a “hateful” and “undisciplined” Other. What this means for
marginalized and disenfranchised subjects is that in order to fll the slots
delimited for them in liberal ideology and, perhaps, to exist intelligibly
at all within it, they must “earn” attention by continually revisiting their
oppressed histories. Tough identity politics might be narrowly viewed as
a mode of protest against enforced masochism, as Rey Chow has argued in
e Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of Capitalism (aooa), it may serve to
reconsolidate the masochistic circularity of identity by requiring the mar-
ginalized other to bear her traumatic cross in order to ensure the loving
devotion of bleeding hearts. Te conventional American racists in Cheng’s
analysis must develop elaborate ideologies and compensatory narratives to
accommodate their actions with democratic ideals. Meanwhile, as Cheng
writes, “white liberals need to keep burying the racial others in order to
memorialize them” (¡¡). Tis is why it is important not to fxate exclusively
on the other’s trauma at the expense of the violator’s own dynamic in acts
of denigration (¡a). Nevertheless, “the racialized minority is as bound to
racial melancholia as the dominant subject” (¡,). Because of its assimila-
tive reßexivity, the “talk” about racial grief “also runs the risk of repeating
a tool of containment historically exercised by authority. […] In short, it
can be damaging to say how damaging racism is” (¡¡). Yet if, as Cheng
observes, such melancholia has always existed for raced subjects “both as
a sign of rejection and as a psychic strategy in response to that rejection”
(ao), then the issue is whether or not the racially marked subject should
or even can rail against a liberal-masochistic “work ethic” by partaking in
the privilege of the masters.
I have speculated that Freud’s third phase of the beaten child fantasy
could be seen as a venue for a hedged counter-formation of Nietzsche’s
Will to Power when sadism re-emerges to recuperate the subject from a
shameful masochism. Tis counter-formation may therefore be seen as
staging something akin to Gilles Deleuze’s model of masochism, which
suggests that the beating fantasy allows a subject to atone for his or her
resemblance to the father and the “miniaturized” father’s likeness in him
or her that is “ridiculed and humiliated” (Deleuze 6o–6¡, cited by Mladek
a¡o). As Mladek characterizes Deleuze, “In the cunning theater of pain and
pleasure, neither the child nor the self is being beaten by the father, but
the father himself is beaten” (a¡o). Yet it is important to bear in mind that
while the liberal-democratic version of this counter-formation perverts the
Ball.indd 9/6/2007, 9:59 AM 72
A Democracy is Being Beaten | ;¡
Will to Power into masochism, a sadistic supersession of this masochistic
second phase is also potentially blocked for the marginalized (or actually
beaten other). In light of Brown’s extrapolation from Freud’s analysis, I
therefore want to emphasize that the voyeuristic third phase of the beaten
child fantasy will remain inaccessible to the disenfranchised if such sub-
jects are locked into masochistic interpellations by wounded liberal
fantasies. A new question thus arises about the political consequences of
sadomasochistic subjectifcation: How can the fantasy of protest become
a reality for groups who are restricted to masochistic self-expression by
liberalism’s “wounded attachments” to the democratic state° Even if mar-
ginalized others move on from masochism to a voyeuristic third phase,
they will merely be engaging in a rather quietist form of biting the hand
that beats them. To transcend perverse liberalism, perhaps there is a need
to call for a politicized fourth phase in which the other stops loving the
punishing hand and rises up to spank an unfulflling democracy. Among
“us” guilt-ridden progressives, some will reject this “terrorist” fourth phase.
Others among us will not allow ourselves to forget our liberationist agen-
das as a guilty symptom of our masochistic second phase. We will writhe
in our complicity with domestic and global state aggression that provoked
such violence despite and because of our liberal-democratic masochism
(which is to say, that watching “Daddy” wage a preemptive war on televised
news might be a ffth phase). However, such writhing is merely another
recoil of bad conscience that permits us alternately to take pleasure in
and feel ashamed of our anti-authoritarian lust for the phantom limb that
extends from a lacerated bloody stump after the father’s beating hand has
been spectacularly cut of to become the “choicest morsel” of them all.
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K B is an Associate Professor specializing in Critical eory in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta. Her articles on the Frankfurt School, sociocultural theory, and the Holocaust and trauma studies have appeared in Differences, Cultural Critique, Women in German Yearbook, and Research in Political Economy. She edited a volume of essays, Traumatizing eory: e Cultural Politics of Affect In and Beyond Psychoanalysis (Other Press, ), a special issue of Cultural Critique on “Trauma and its Cultural Aftereffects” (), an issue of Parallax on the theme of “Visceral Reason” (), and co-edited an issue of Cultural Critique with Susanne Soederberg on “Cultures of Finance” (). Her book, Disciplining the Holocaust, is forthcoming with  Press.

what ends should it pursue with regard to society in order to justify its existence? e idea of society enables a technology of government to be developed based on the principle that it itself is already “too much,” “in excess”—or at least that it is added on as a supplement which can and must always be questioned as to its necessity and its usefulness. ()¹ Based on this definition, Foucault foregrounds liberalism’s threefold function as “a tool for criticizing the reality: () of a previous governmentality that one tries to shed; () of a current governmentality that one attempts to reform and rationalize by stripping it down; () of a governmentality that one opposes and whose abuses one tries to limit” (). ere are two elements in this definition that I want to foreground as a departure point for a consideration of liberal-democratic subject formation and, specifically, the role of guilt and shame within it. e first concerns Foucault’s abstract observation about “society” as “a complex relation of exteriority and interiority with respect to the state.” Society, so defined, would function at once as the precondition and end of liberal criticism, which aims to demarcate it from state power that encroaches on the dignity of individuals. e state is hereby “envisioned as kind of political power that ignores individuals, looking only at the interests of the totality or […] of a class or a group among the citizens” (“Subject” ). Yet as Foucault underlines, “the state’s power (and that is one of the reasons for its strength) is both an individualizing and a totalizing form of power” (). In “e Subject and Power,” Foucault distances himself from the liberal opposition between society and the state by insisting that “[p]ower relations are rooted in the whole network of the social” (). is stance supports the view of socialization that Foucault puts forward in Discipline and Punish, where he argues that microphysical networks of disciplinary power across various intersecting domains produce a visibility for subjects that compels them to internalize their own surveillance. e modern subject is here conceived on the model of a prisoner in the Panopticon. As Judith Butler notes, the subject’s “soul is figured as itself as a kind of spatial captivity, indeed, as a kind of prison, which provides the exterior form or regulatory principle of the prisoner’s body” (Psychic Life ). Hence the boundary that divides the “outside” from the “inside,” or governmentality from individuation, is “in the process of being installed, precisely through  Foucault adds: “It cannot be said, then, that liberalism is a utopia never realized—unless the core of liberalism is taken to be the projections it has been led to formulate out of its analyses and criticisms. It is not a dream that comes up against a reality and fails to find a place within it” (“Birth” ).

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the regulation of the subject” (). By implication, the task of managing population as an object and vehicle of “maximum economy” will be to make the “exterior” coercion of administration into the “interior” of the subject. is disciplinary inversion renders “society” endemic to the process of collapsing the individualized subject of discipline into the collective subject of biopolitics, which effectively blurs the distinction between governmentality and society as a liberal counterpoint to the former. Butler has recently argued that such a view of subject formation “depends upon an account of the subject who internalizes the law or, minimally, the causal tethering of the subject to the deed for which the institution of punishment seeks compensation.” In this respect, Foucault “differs explicitly from Nietzsche by refusing to generalize the scene of punishment to account for how a reflexive subject comes about” (Giving ). Butler’s comparison between Nietzsche and Foucault raises a question as to the intelligibility of the “excess” governmentality that liberalism targets. How does such excess become discernible in liberal guilt, or what Butler calls a “passionate attachment” to subjection? Indeed, how is the very reflexivity of this subject formation “excessive” in liberal critique’s own terms? In her recent writings about tolerance, Wendy Brown considers how the identity of liberalism depends on the construction of a barbaric Other who is seen as viciously perverting the virtues and conventions that demarcate civil democratic culture and society.² Such virtues, she notes, are entrenched in the ideological opposition between “secular” individualist and “non-secular” organicist societies, or those “not subdued by liberalism” (Regulating Aversion ). Citing his Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, she argues that Freud himself fell prey to this binary construction in presupposing that “organicist societies are inherently less civilized than liberal individualistic ones because non-individuation signals a libidinally charged psychic economy that constrains rational deliberation and impulse control” (). Brown observes that this opposition “renders individuation both an effect and sign of instinctual repression, conscience, and the capacity for self-regulation. It renders groups inherently dangerous because of the de-repressed human condition they represent” ().  I am grateful to Wendy Brown for granting me permission to work from a

printout of a keynote address entitled “e Tolerant and the Tolerable: Liberalism and Its Dangerous Others” that she presented at the conference on the Social at the University of Alberta in Edmonton in the spring of . A revised version of the talk appears as Chapter : “Subjects of Tolerance: Why We Are Civilized and ey Are Barbarians” in Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire.

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particularly of a religious and/or political nature. at first glance. Such “excrescences” trouble the efficient amiability of workspaces that ensures an appearance of equality. such repetition is. however. And his de-individuation derives from his relation not to others but to his own instincts. specifi | Ball Ball. where it is crucial. he reverses this grammar when he constructs evidence for a primary masochism from the repetition of painful scenes in veteran’s dreams and his infant grandson’s “fort-da” game. Borrowing from Max Weber. to allow subjects to master anxiety-producing events and memories. is asceticism takes the form of a work ethic that requires subjects to manage not only instincts. the individual is both the ontological a priori and the telos of civilization” (). As Brown remarks. in Beyond the Pleasure Principle (). they also disrupt the culture of small talk that reigns in many public domains. as Freud will argue.” In addition. above all. In that context. must also be suppressed. understood as neutral conformity and social “grace.’” As I will suggest. and “personal problems” for the common good of fulfilling workplace obligations. compulsive repetition seems. “‘A Child Is Being Beaten.indd 48 9/6/2007. sickness. unindividuated man. “subjective opinions” and “strong” judgments. I want to extend Brown’s comment to suggest that a key component in the formation of this inherently contradictory attitude is a secularized Christian asceticism that calls for personal discipline in the social and bio-economic spheres. “It could even be said that for Freud there is only ever the individual. He is without the independence of will and deliberation yielded by a developed superego” (Regulating Aversion ). that is. Brown’s recent writings on Freud are illuminating because they allude to a sadomasochistic excess that vexes a wounded attachment to the liberal-democratic ethic of protecting individual rights. Brown calls attention to the putative secularity of the liberal ethic of tolerance because it actually disavows its religious underpinnings and hypocritically sponsors a paradoxical intolerance of religious intolerance vis-à-vis militant Islam as its “primitive” counter-face. isn’t regressed to the group but by the group to a more instinctual psychic state. Her critique of the liberal “intolerance of intolerance” invites us to explore the consonances and disparities between Freud’s various theses on instinctual aggression with the aim of understanding political masochism and liberal guilt as subdemocratic conditions of democratic subject formation. merely to get along. Freud speculates on the prospect that masochism derives from sadism in his  essay.Brown’s reading of Freud’s Group Psychology underscores the “a priori status of the individual” in his thinking: “regressed man. goaded by unconscious patterns and forces and. 9:59 AM .

by the death drive. after this has been made possible by the small portion of ego-consciousness which was necessary to produce the sadism’” (Barossa and Rooney . vitality itself. but the desire to return to it from the point of view of egoic consciousness could be considered as a return to the origins of life in terms of the imagined death of the egoic self.³ Nietzsche pointedly naturalizes the Will to Power as an instinct to individuate. although not in these terms.indd 49 9/6/2007. ‘I cannot get rid of the feeling that the primary masochism is a pre-sadistic one which is then resuscitated secondarily. she “goes on to posit a masochism beyond this. ey cite Salomé’s comments to Freud. After . she perceives that what is eternally original is life: whereby life instincts would be prior to anything such as a death drive.’” According to Barossa and Rooney. it repeats tendencies that originated in the simplest forms of organic life.cally. that as products of the unconscious they [sadism and masochism] are in fact identical in their oppositeness. Yet Freud also adopts Barbara Low’s thesis on the “Nirvana Principle” to delineate a radical destructive register. In their interpretation. in Civilization and Its Discontents (). e masochism that lies “beyond” the pleasure principle is evinced in this radical register of the death drive. according to Freud. Letters ). in fact invert its terms. she is concerned with the ways in which self-destructive capacities are paradoxically bound up with an eternal desire for life. indeed. which is not only primary (unconscious) but also primal to the extent that. subsequently. Salomé shows that the proud will to The masochism that lies “beyond” the pleasure principle is evinced in this radical register of the death drive. according to Freud. In this register. one particularly provocative difference between Salomé and Freud emerges from Barossa and Rooney’s account of her role as a significant interlocutor for both Nietzsche and the psychoanalyst. In its bearing on my discussion here. In effect. which is not only primary (unconscious) but also primal to the extent that. it repeats tendencies that originated in the simplest forms of organic life. in general. the death drive seeks to annihilate all tensions and. this drive appears to serve the regulatory aims of the pleasure principle by aiding decathexis from traumatic anxiety. tension-free existence. e passive instinct she refers to concerns the pre-egoic blissful experience of life (jouissance).” ey summarize the key conjunctures and distinctions between Nietzsche and Freud via Salomé as follows: Comparable to Nietzsche. five months before he sent her the completed manuscript of Beyond the Pleasure Principle: “‘[I]t is my view. In one register. she would. 9:59 AM . But. A Democracy is Being Beaten |  Ball. citing Freud and Salomé. which Freud conversely sees as operating from the start of life. Salomé indicates that while “she agrees with the gist of his argument [about the death drive]. Freud appears to contemplate a possible rapprochement between his theses on primary masochism and “bad conscience” in Nietzsche’s sense of a self-punishing second nature that results from a repression of “animal” instincts. It is thus the metapsychological sediment of a phylogenetically imbedded urge to return to a state of inorganic. like Freud. or desire for eternal life. stating. cre Borossa and Rooney have connected Nietzsche’s later philosophy with Freud’s speculations on the death drive via Lou Salomé’s influence. in “e Economic Problem of Masochism” () and.

In spite of the similarities which many people have pointed out. As Scott Greer writes. On the relationship between Nietzsche and Freud. Yet he would also tend to acknowledge along with Waugaman that “profound divergences underlie almost every superficial similarity” (Waugaman ). Although Freud is reported to have publicly disclaimed knowledge of Nietzsche’s work.  Richard Waugaman quotes the minutes of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society from  that record Freud’s disclaimer: “He does not know Nietzsche’s work.ate.  | Ball Ball. it is through “‘the internalization of instinct. referred to by Nietzsche as our ‘bad conscience’” (Greer ). which may actually constitute a defiance of their reality. Charcot. Greer traces Freud’s “tentative and strangely qualified admissions” in early letters to Wilhelm Fliess ( May and  November ) where the former alludes to Nietzsche’s importance in anticipating psychoanalysis before its official inauguration in  (). he can give the assurance that Nietzsche’s ideas have had no influence whatsoever on his own work. Nietzsche. with the express intent that in the gathering of psychoanalytic impressions I not be impeded by any conceptual anticipations. 9:59 AM .” As Waugaman observes. citing Federn and Nunberg –). Assoun offers a magisterial reading of the historical parameters of possible and virtual points of contact in their thinking on the instincts.indd 50 9/6/2007.⁴ Greer notes affirm suffering and loss. and dominate which is perverted through a “civilizing process” into a sadomasochistic desire to be punished and to hound those who betray their faulty discipline by forgetting themselves in a regression to “bestial” instincts and pleasures. and Freud.’” that a “state of guilt became a permanent part of the human psyche. (cited by Waugamann ) Both Waugaman and Assoun take this admission as a justification to stage potential convergences between Nietzsche and Freud. () For an insightful exploration of jouissance in light of partially overlapping concepts of morality between Kant. can lead to an internalized sado-masochism. and Chrobak (Waugaman . by way of example. to a refutation of his concept about the etiology of the neuroses that triggered him belatedly to recall its development through the influence of Breuer. the minutes subsequently report that “Freud followed this unequivocal denial with an amusing ‘Freudian slip’” in which he acknowledges the complex origin of ideas and refers. see Greer and Chapman and Chapman-Santana. and the body as well as the metaphor of chemistry to understand motivation and misrecognition. as opposed to a so-called primary masochism. see also Mladek. Paul-Laurent Assoun joins Waugaman in attending to the implications of another of Freud’s ambivalent declarations about his relationship to Nietzsche: In recent times I have denied myself the great benefit of Nietzsche’s work. erefore I had to be prepared—and I remain so—to renounce all claim to priority in the frequent cases where painstaking psychoanalytic investigation can only confirm the intuitively perceived insights of the philosopher. the ego. occasional attempts at reading it were smothered by an excess of interest.

cited by Greer ). Greer also recalls Alfred Adler’s statement to the effect that “Nietzsche’s writings were closer than those of any other philosopher to the tenets of psychoanalysis” (Greer ). ese potential convergences resonate with Weber’s critical scrutiny of the repressive ethos that he ascribes to Christian asceticism. Holmes in concluding that “Essentially. he was apparently never at a loss for a Nietzsche quotation” (). My aim is to make the liberal ethic of tolerance intelligible as a byproduct of this technology in view of certain ambiguous points of contact between Nietzsche and Freud on the vexed relationship between the instincts and socialization.” which results from an ascetic code requiring civilized subjects to repress their drives in order to prove their democratic “grace. Ultimately. which compels subjects to monitor their “instinctual natures. the “spirit” of capitalism in Weber’s sense. he attended a lecture on Nietzsche given by Georg Brandes. 9:59 AM . I want to re-imagine Weber’s ethic as a disciplinary technology that inverts the exterior-interior boundaries of liberal subject formation. regulation. In the same year.indd 51 9/6/2007. though he “publicly equivocated about his knowledge of Nietzsche. Freud extended Nietzsche’s idea of the archaic bad conscience into a full-fledged psycho-anthropological theory of phylogenetic guilt” (Holmes . and “bad conscience” in Nietzsche’s. Greer thus follows K. which precipitates alienation from and resentment against socio-economic control. Taking Foucault’s lead. the philosopher’s “first proponent outside of Germany” (Greer ). I will return to A Democracy is Being Beaten |  Ball. One possible implication is that liberal intolerance exposes the “bad conscience. Weber’s formulation of the “Protestant work ethic” indicates that this economy of aggression is nurtured by the rationalization of ascetic self-denial under capitalism. and conscience can be seen as derived directly from Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals” ().” e specific issue I seek to open up through this reading is whether the sadomasochistic fantasy structure that Freud connects to the death drive and guilt is the condition or the effect of a secularized asceticism. and punishment of others.that he purchased the philosopher’s works “at some expense” in  (citing Peter Gay ). R. Greer’s reconstruction sketches a horizon for my reading later in this essay of Freud’s reference to the Will to Power in Civilization and Its Discontents in the course of demonstrating how conscience is imbricated in an economy of aggression that is internalized as guilt and depression and externalized in the scrutiny. is history leads Greer to contend that “Freud’s theory on the emergence of civilization.” is thesis frames a speculative attempt to address the question I have posed above concerning the status of guilt as an “excess” of liberal subject formation. Indeed. morality.

While his patients apparently did not enjoy actual scenes of corporeal punishment.and shame-saturated identifications with images of its suffering victims. which is then reversed in the second phase of the fantasy. the child is identified as the subject him or herself: “I am being beaten by my father” (Ich werde vom Vater geschlagen). it will be helpful to review the stages of this fantasy.Freud hereby emphasizes that such sadomasochistic pleasures are available only on the level of fantasy. is phase is thus distinguished by an intensified voyeuristic identification with the unknown spectators of a public scene  | Ball Ball. e father is replaced by another adult. II. for Freud. In preparation for my discussion of Brown’s reading of this essay. which. e syntax of this sentence configures the enunciating subject as its focal point. It is a fantasy structure that may effect political paralysis in nurturing wounded attachments to the failed ideals of a democratic state as well as pleasure. “e phantasy—‘a child is being beaten’—was invariably charged with a high degree of pleasure and had its issue in an act of pleasurable. perhaps. a sibling but is.indd 52 9/6/2007. possibly a teacher. 9:59 AM . which revolves around the subject’s own punishment. In the three phases of the fantasy that Freud delineates. but these eventually coalesce into the beating father and a hated child who is. Brown in order to argue that sadomasochistic fantasy is a refraction of this ascetic lineage. a rival for the parent’s love. Freud observes that. It thus underscores the masochistic dimension of the scenario. depicts the derivation of masochism from sadism. In this phase. which subsequently becomes “My father is beating the child whom I hate” (Der Vater schlägt das mir verhaßte Kind). “‘A Child Is Being Beaten. amnesia obscures the identities of both the adult and the child. in which the identities of the child and adult are ambiguous. Initially. Freud suggests that this initial phase affords the fantasizing subject sadistic pleasure. e third phase already plots a movement away from this masochistic identification with the figure of the beaten child. into “My father is beating the child” (Der Vater schlägt das Kind). the first is not only marked by oscillating identities but also by inversions in the syntax from a passive “A child is being beaten” (Ein Kind wird geschlagen).’” Freud investigates the fantasy among his patients diagnosed with hysteria and obsessional neurosis of an adult (or parent) beating a child. albeit as a passive object. e Sadomasochistic Grammar of Liberal Guilt In his  essay. before looping back to a sadistic voyeurism. auto-erotic gratification” (). Freud hereby emphasizes that such sadomasochistic pleasures are available only on the level of fantasy. in any case. while the child’s identity remains male but is otherwise anonymous.

Freud cites Aristophanes’ characterization of primeval humans as doubled in all of their parts before Zeus cut them into two. e idea of the other’s humiliation and shame serves as the primary locus of enjoyment. “e motive force of repression in each individual is a struggle between the two sexual characters. Following this definition. what is unconscious and repressed can be brought down to feminine [drive stirrings] [Triebregungen]. and venture upon the hypothesis that living substance at the time of its coming to life was torn apart into small particles. which implies that it occasions the highest degree of repression in contrast to the sadistic phases that precede and follow it.’ from which gratification alone can be derived” ().⁵ Freud critiques Adler’s “masculine protest” because it monolithically attaches  To debunk Adler. Aristophanes’ narrative is subsequently made to resonate with a biochemical notion of the “living substance” at work in sexual attraction and repulsion as portrayed in Goethe’s Elective Affinities. He also speculates that the sadistic and incestuous component of the first phase spurs guilt and is duly punished in the second phase. if sibling rivalry is at stake. then spanked girls should also figure in this fantasy. “Ein Kind” ).of punishment.indd 53 9/6/2007. Freud confronts the thorny issue that arises from evidence that the child remains a naughty boy in phases  and  even in the fantasies of girls. “a sense of guilt is invariably the factor that transforms sadism into masochism” (). in which the chemical affinity of inanimate matter persisted. in overcoming the difficulties put in the way of that endeavour by an environment charged with dangerous stimuli—stimuli which compelled them to form a protective cortical layer? that these splintered fragments of living substance in this way attained a multicellular condition and finally transferred A Democracy is Being Beaten |  Ball. masochistic phase is never remembered but is merely a construction of the analysis. It is telling that Freud reanimates the bisexual constitution thesis in Beyond the Pleasure Principle where his definition of the regressive nature of the drive as “a need to restore an earlier state of things” () suddenly veers into a consideration of the origin of sexual drives inspired by Plato’s Symposium (also cited in the  essay) as if the psychoanalyst were deferring the grim implications of his own speculations (Beyond –). 9:59 AM . and conversely with women” (“Child” . as they developed through the kingdom of the protista. gradually succeeded.” Hence “with men. Indeed. In his words. which have ever since endeavoured to reunite through the sexual [drives]? that these [drives]. Freud remarks that the second. His exertions along this path lead him to Alfred Adler’s Nietzschean thesis about “masculine protest” to the effect that “every individual makes efforts not to remain on the inferior ‘feminine line [of development]’ and struggles toward the ‘masculine line. e following is Strachey’s translation of the passage in question (here and elsewhere I have substituted drive for instinct where Trieb appears): Shall we follow the hint given us by the poet-philosopher. Freud reiterates his thesis about the “bisexual constitution of human beings” based on the assumption that. .

What about this chain of associations compels Freud momentarily to break off? How does this self-conscious cut connect to the long footnote that concludes the sixth chapter of Beyond the Pleasure Principle (–. “Ein Kind” ).indd 54 9/6/2007. substitutes that have made their way out despite repression” (). For the time being. to the germ-cells?—But here. I think. As Freud notes. Freud therefore corrects Adler by “democratizing” the symptom: “In the last resort. he subsequently delimits a “feminine” from the “erotogenic” and “moral” forms of masochism and locates it in men whose fantasies place them in “characteristically female situations. “the doctrine of masculine protest is altogether incompatible with the fact of repression” (). such an identification distorts an understanding of the symptom. being castrated. the moment has come for breaking off. Freud acknowledges that so many features of what he labels “feminine” masochism point to infantile sexuality and. and that each can equally well undergo repression and so become unconscious” (. or giving birth to a baby” (“Economic” ).a repressing agency to a “masculine” impulse while the repressed would always be attributed to a passive “feminine” one.  | Ball Ball. they signify. more specifically.⁶ It is worth asking how Freud’s disciplining of Adler in this context and elsewhere influences his understanding of Nietzsche’s concept of the Will to Power as an “instinct to dominate. I would like to leave this question aside in order simply to emphasize that. ough he admits that such passivity is not “the whole of masochism. It is perplexing. In the  essay. or copulated with. (Beyond ) e literary sources of Freud’s bisexual consitution thesis indicate its status as a fantasy that serves as a theoretical explanation.” which is then consonant with the psychoanalyst’s own thesis about a destructive drive. which would “also be the result of a feminine impulse. for we cannot discard the characteristic feature of symptoms—that they are substitutes for the repressed. to the guilt that surrounds unconscious Oedipal fantasies lying at the root of childhood masturbation (“Child” ). in the [drive] for reuniting. Jenseits –) where he considers his methods of induction and synthesis and delineates the shifts that have transpired in his theory of the drives between  and ?  is move is consistent with his prior thinking on hysterical symptomatology as a model for neurosis among both men and women. 9:59 AM . that is. we can only see that both in male and female individuals masculine as well as feminine [drive] impulses [Triebregungen] are found. in the most highly concentrated form. especially among women” (“Child” ). is is to say. that Freud nevertheless reneges on the egalitarian promise of his theory when he states that drives “with a passive aim must be taken for granted as existing.” in . then. e very modes of condensation and substitution that Freud describes in his formulations of the dream work and symptoms transpire at the level of his theory itself as a dynamic bricolage of elements from various discourses.

for Freud. “that masochism is not the manifestation of a primary [drive] [keine primäre Triebäußerung ist]. is prospect of primary or unconscious masochism is an “excess” of the psychoanalytic subject—the “beyond” which emerges as Freud arrives at the disturbing conclusion that the death drive does not merely serve the regulatory and homeostatic aims of the pleasure principle but may also transcend them in its radical register determined. In Beyond the Pleasure Principle. but originates from sadism which has been turned around and directed upon the self.” which is the point “under discussion. Freud refers back to his clinical observations of the ree Essays on the eory of Sexuality () and “[Drives] and eir Vicissitudes” (). by their behaviour during treatment and in life. the three stages of the child-beating fantasy confirm. since the origins of life. which led him to regard masochism “as sadism that has been turned round upon the subject’s own ego” (Beyond ).” Freud subsequently admits that he must emend his earlier thesis about the priority of sadism in relation to its component masochism “as being too sweeping in one respect: there might be such a thing as primary masochism” (“der Masochismus könnte auch … ein primärer sein”) (Beyond –.. that is to say. by means of regression from an object to the ego. Jenseits –). Strachey’s emphasis. He goes on to acknowledge that “there is no difference in principle between [a drive] turning from an object to the ego and its turning from the ego to the object. to return the psycho-physical apparatus to a state of inorganic calm. 9:59 AM . It is in his definition of moral masochism that Freud once again rethinks his  supposition that masochism derives from sadism: We have said that. a logic that Freud will nevertheless appear to reverse in . “e transformation of sadism into masochism appears to be due to the influence of the sense of guilt which takes part in the act of repression” ().” As the “turning round of the [drive] upon the subject’s ego. a regression. e sadistic first phase in the  essay precedes the masochistic phase (triggered by guilt) in the child-beating fantasy. e systemic paradox of a destructive drive that aims to neutralize life itself propels “e Economic Problem of Masochism” () as well as his consideration of guilt in Civilization and Its Discontents. of being under the A Democracy is Being Beaten |  Ball.indd 55 9/6/2007. Freud delineates a form of “moral masochism” that allows subjects to bind their death drives through guilt-spurred fantasies of punishment and martyrdom.” masochism would “in that case be a return to an earlier phase of the [drive’s] history. the individuals in question give an impression of being morally inhibited to an excessive degree. In the  essay.” He adds.

in the latter. it falls on the ego’s own masochism which seeks punishment. which is to say. e problematic character of Freud’s ego psychology thus comes to the fore in his apparent disregard here for the significance of the reciprocity he himself has delineated between primary and secondary impulses. is distinction implies that. For if moral masochism is unconscious. although they are not conscious of any of this ultra-morality. It can hardly be an insignificant detail. In the former. 9:59 AM . which leads to severe inhibition. is articulation undermines the  genesis of masochism from sadism since both are co-present and potentially interactive. We may be forgiven for having confused the two to begin with. in contrast. the accent falls on the heightened sadism of the super-ego to which the ego submits. whereas the masochistic trend of the ego remains as a rule concealed from the subject and has to be inferred from his behaviour. whether from the super-ego or from parental powers outside. that the sadism of the super-ego becomes for the most part glaringly conscious. in the instance of excessive moral inhibition. for in both cases it is a question of a relationship between the ego and the super-ego (or powers that are equivalent to it). that the subject does not recognize or cannot avow his or her enjoyment of suffering and punishment. we can see the difference there is between an unconscious extension of morality of this kind and moral masochism. then.⁷ What is confounding about this passage is that it naturalizes the “powers” split between the super-ego and ego by introducing a distinction between “excessive moral inhibition” and moral masochism. then how is it possible to distinguish between those instances when the super-ego’s sadistic punishment of the ego is conscious from those when it is the byproduct of primary mas As Judith Butler notes.  | Ball Ball.” which his later emphasis on the death drive will invert (Psychic ). On closer inspection. and in both cases what is involved is a need which is satisfied by punishment and suffering.indd 56 9/6/2007.domination of an especially sensitive conscience. in the case of moral masochism the desire to be punished issues unconsciously from the ego. (–) Here. Freud also asserts the priority of sadism in “Mourning and Melancholia. a sadistic desire to punish is experienced by the subject as stemming from the super-ego and that it is experienced consciously as a mode of domination. Freud distinguishes between the imaginary structures of sadism and masochism as a reflection of the division between the ego and the super-ego in his second topography.

Strachey’s translation modified. I am proposing that liberal criticism not only seeks to regulate this excess but also acts it out masochistically at the level of a wounded and guilt-ridden identification with democratic state ideals. in Freud’s conceptualization. Another portion does not share in this transposition outwards. which is dominant in them and which seeks to disintegrate this cellular organism and to conduct each separate unicellular organism [composing it] into a state of inorganic stability (relative though this may be). It is in this portion that we have to recognize the original. Such guilt. (“Economic” –. Ball. is derivation is also significant because it endows A Democracy is Being Beaten |  I am proposing that liberal criticism not only seeks to regulate this excess but also acts it out masochistically at the level of a wounded and guilt-ridden identification with democratic state ideals. “Das ökonoomische” ) is derivation for “erotogenic” or “original” masochism (masochism proper) extends the implications of Freud’s speculations from Beyond the Pleasure Principle that the sex and death drives are inextricably tied up together insofar as sexual tensions activate a primal destructive urge to return to an inert state. 9:59 AM . will to power [Wille zur Macht]. It reaches back to a primordial meeting between the libido and the death drive: In (multicellular) organisms the libido meets the [drive] of death. e libido has the task of making the [destroying drive] innocuous. is not merely a residue of repressed Oedipal fantasies or the product of socialization from which the need for self-censorship and discipline ensues. erotogenic masochism. and it fulfils the task by diverting [the drive] to a great extent outwards—soon with the help of a special organic system. with the help of the accompanying sexual excitation described above. becomes libidinally bound there. or destruction [Todes-oder Destruktionstrieb]. A portion of the [drive] [Ein Anteil dieses Triebes] is placed directly in the service of the sexual function.ochistic desires? Would not primary masochism on the part of the ego underlie super-egoic sadism? I want to connect the problematic emergence of primary masochism in Freud’s work to the question I posed in the introduction to this essay about the “excess” of governmentality. the [musculature]—towards objects in the external world. is is sadism proper.indd 57 9/6/2007. [drive] for mastery [BemächtigungstriebI]. where it has an important part to play. [It is] then called the destructive [drive] [Destruktionstrieb]. it remains inside the organism and. It is guilt with unconscious causes that will ultimately provide the bridge between Freud’s understanding of the grammar of sadomasochism in  and its revision in .

indd 58 9/6/2007. which “lies in its affect upon other forces. that out of which every human phenomenon is formed” () supports Claudia Crawford’s delineation of Nietzsche’s understanding of the essence of force. For further discussion. and Wagner. “inseparable from its capacity for being affected by other forces” (Crawford ). Schopenhauer. which Freud links to the death drive and to sadism as its libidinal outgrowth. and sensation [that] encompasses and directs individual affects and their becoming of force”.” Force is. all sensibility is a becoming of forces” (). sensibility. Assoun’s interpretation is consonant with Crawford’s delineation of the Will to Power “as affectivity. the Will to Power is “‘the primitive form of affect’” from which “all other feelings are derived.”  | Ball Ball. then. Masochism internalizes the excess of the death drive as the metaphysical and phylogenetic figure for Freud’s compromise between Eros and anatos. “what  is compromise is evinced in Freud’s phylogenetic speculations concerning the very first multicellular organism that divided in order to defer a death brought on by exhaustion. In contrast. Assoun historicizes Nietzsche’s recourse to a theory of instincts as shaped by Schiller. Assoun’s analysis ultimately constructs a homology between the egoistic and somatic nature of Nietzsche’s Will to Power and the libido as Freud’s energetic source for the drives and as an expression of affectivity.” Assoun writes.” for both Nietzsche and Freud. “the inflation of instincts is reattached in the Nietzschean dynamic to a unifying principle” such that “every instinct becomes in the last instance a specific articulation of the Will to Power” ().the libido with the vital protective role of binding the death drive through its attachment to objects in the external world. “anks to the intervention of this [economic] principle. 9:59 AM . she also goes on to attribute “sensation of affects. Affect for Nietzsche does not merely bring about a change in forces but. us. Assoun’s contention that the Will to Power “is another name for energy. “he also means it in the emotive sense. Freud’s thoroughly physicalist and entropic conception of “instinct is less a principle than a given or a condition” (). Hölderlin. in his view. It therefore cannot assume the virtue with which Nietzsche endows it. see Ball. as Crawford stipulates. but specified and qualified. “e Substance of Psychic Life. With this qualification in mind. Emerson. then.” which is. Paul-Laurent Assoun notices a “remarkable functional homology” between the Will to Power and the economic concept of the Libido. however.” According to Crawford. to the “qualitative interpretation of quantity.⁸ Of particular interest for the present discussion is the reference in the passage to Nietzsche’s Wille zur Macht.

defined at the same time as power and wisdom” (). As the site of an illusion or a false morality that both masks and deforms a natural. Crawford is interested in bridging Nietzsche’s and Freud’s standpoints on the basis of a common “energetics. to Nietzsche’s Selbst with the body as its locus. seen as a sickness. and creative egoism.” It diverges in Nietzsche’s affirmation of the vitality of active power and Freud’s concern with the paradoxes of an unconscious libidinal economy that pits the pleasure principle against the introjected modes of socialization that discipline instinctual aggression. for Nietzsche. which is also domination (Herrschaft) and materializes Will to Power. Assoun’s reading of Nietzsche’s various assertions about consciousness indicates that it would be reductive to conjoin him with Freud along these lines. Instead. All of morality. which bestows this concept with a measure of clarity. the Conscious is. though it seemingly bypasses a crucial aspect of Freud’s understanding of metapsychology. who deprive themselves of the health furnished by the great wisdom of the Body. thus. He argues that Nietzsche ironically subtends the valuation of “the Conscious” by philosophers and psychologists who are heirs to the Enlightenment tradition. 9:59 AM .constitutes our consciousness and is the conscious basis upon which we react to stimuli” (–).indd 59 9/6/2007. e Superego would thus only be a sickness. the “cause of nothing” whereas “the Will to Power is in the last instance the final cause” (). In Assoun’s characterization.” Assoun remarks. likewise. According to Assoun.” an adaptive effect of the external world and a response to the need for communication (). Assoun writes: From the beginning of Nietzsche’s writing corpus. is “the corporal identity of the individual. us it is the truth of the Ego. is in this sense a negation of the voice of the Body. consciousness is opposed to Freud’s Es as the site of the drives and. which allows for an unconscious and conscious dimension to the guilty ego in relation to a punishing A Democracy is Being Beaten |  Ball. the Conscious is. “e Self. Nietzsche subordinates the Conscious to the instinctive in order to valorize power: the former is a “precarious intermediary formation. instinctual. the body being the creation of Will (Herrschaftsgebilde). a symptom of the decline of the Will to Power as a source of health. the call to the Self is a command: “Wish for a Self!” It leads the campaign against those who deny the body. an infection in the wisdom of the Body: that is why it would be a pathological symptom rather than an apparatus! () Assoun’s prediction about Nietzsche’s hypothetical attitude toward the super-ego is compelling.

or in some form of complicity with. e internalization of prohibition cannot. welchen dies Belebte unter dem Einflüsse äußerer Störungskräfte aufgeben mußte.” while prohibition is not “a law external to desire. For Nietzsche.Butler understands the “recoil” of conscience on the imaginary body as the source of Nietzsche’s instinctual will.” is is to say that self-consciousness cannot simply oppose violence in the name of nonviolence “for when and where it is opposed. for this reason. Jenseits ). In the terms of Butler’s reading of Nietzsche and Freud.indd 60 9/6/2007.” but “the very operation of desire as it turns on its own possibility” (). it is a kind of organic elasticity.⁹ is  In the original: “Ein Trieb wäre also ein dem belebten Organischen innewohnender Drang zur Wiederherstellung eines früheren Zustandes. “the strength of conscience is nourished precisely by the aggression that it forbids” (). eine Art  | Ball Ball. super-ego. as “an [inner] urge [innewohnender Drang] to restore an earlier state of things which the living entity has been obliged to abandon under the pressure [Einflüsse] of external disturbing forces. As an “illness” that results from an internalization of external influences. Freud’s conscience is “a force of desire—although sometimes a force of aggression—as it turns back on itself. As is well known. too. for Freud. What makes this question particularly vexatious is that. that is.” which refracts the “reason of state” as an excess. bad conscience is a moral reflexivity affected by the will recoiling on itself. It is the dynamic interrelation among these agencies as objects and mediators of libidinal forces that tracks the unconscious impact of social formation. or. In Beyond the Pleasure Principle. he defines a drive or Trieb. James Strachey’s translation of Trieb as instinct obscures the metapsychological specificity of the drives in relation to instincts. though admittedly Freud himself does not rigorously sustain this distinction. Butler understands the “recoil” of conscience on the imaginary body as the source of Nietzsche’s instinctual will. 9:59 AM . as she notes. which would mean that the latter’s “peculiar reflexivity” takes place “prior to. the expression of the inertia [Trägheit] inherent in organic life” (Beyond . it is opposed from a position that presupposes this very violence” () Butler calls on us to consider whether “the model by which an instinct or a will expresses or discharges itself in a deed” is “in any sense prior to this self-thwarted expression of bad conscience” (). be unilaterally plotted in relation to the libidinal economy. to put it another way. this problem might be understood as a question about whether punishment precedes the construction of conscience. a set of externally posed demands” (Psychic ). is conceptualization hints at the strategic value of a provisional distinction between instincts and drives for a theorization of the liberal “libido. “morality performs that violence again and again in cultivating the subject as a reflexive being.

die Äußerung der Trägheit im organischen Leben” (Jenseits ). Indeed. 9:59 AM . A Democracy is Being Beaten |  Ball. a vehicle for the corrupted “second nature” that Nietzsche calls “bad conscience. defined as an internalized deformation of the Will to Power. cruelty. then. According to Nietzsche. Whereas Freud proposes a phylogenetically regressive drive that results from external influences. ose fearful bulwarks with which the political organization protected itself against the old instincts of freedom—punishments belong among these bulwarks—brought about that all those instincts of wild. thus. Nietzsche excoriates bad conscience.” In the Second Essay from On the Genealogy of Morals. Jenseits ). originally as thin as if it were stretched between two membranes. in the same measure as outward discharge was inhibited. and dominate. that lifelessness was prior to life (. in destruction—all this turned against the possessors of such instincts: von organischer Elastizität. Such a proposition has the effect of making the death drive originary and paradigmatic for all drives. Hostility. and height. economic. and. acquired depth. which is a fundamental expression of the drive’s conservative nature: the organism is inclined to die in its own fashion (. and libidinal influences to act upon the psychophysical organism. in attacking. Freud will even speculate that the aim of all life is death. expanded and extended itself.” to a more mechanistic and monolithic pressure. reciprocally. Jenseits ). It is worth noting that Strachey’s English translation has converted the plural Einflüsse. In a certain sense. social. e German thus allows for various sensory and potentially political. in change. cultural. Nietzsche’s employment of the word Instinkt in his characterization of the Will to Power suggests that such influences corrupt a prior natural and thus instinctual egoism. breadth. free prowling man turned backward against man himself.indd 61 9/6/2007. thereby attenuating its metapsychological distinctiveness from an instinct. Nietzsche resolves the problem of distinguishing between Freud’s general definition of a drive and an instinct: Freud’s regressively conservative drive is the denatured inversion of Nietzsche’s instincts to live. create. oder wenn man will.” e entire inner world.formulation implies that there is a systemic self-destructive need inherent in organic life. or “influences. e drive is. joy in persecuting. the religious body-soul split is merely another effect of the hemming in and internalization of “alle Instinkte”: All instincts that do not discharge themselves outwardly turn inward—this is what I call the internalization of man: thus it was that man first developed what was later called his “soul.

as Nietzsche suggests. what comes to the fore in Freud’s reference to the Will to Power in  is that his thinking on masochism has shifted since .that is the origin of the “bad conscience. natural. is logic of subjectification is consistent with Freud’s thesis in the  essay concerning the genesis of masochism from sadism in fantasies about children as the objects or voyeurs of corporeal punishment. the soul is the prison of the body” (). there is a prior natural instinct to dominate. it is nevertheless difficult in view of human history to dismiss his near mythical supposition that taking delight in domination is primal and. It also suggests an impetus for the return to the sadism of the first phase in the voyeuristic third as the child beating fantasy rises up in reactive protest against the shame that it provoked and that is dramatized in the second phase. Freud employs the term conscience to reflect on the ubiquity of guilt and the entrenchment of sadomasochistic fantasy structures in death-driven subjects. which is itself a factor in the mastery that power exercises over the body. A ‘soul’ inhabits him and brings him to existence. and dominate. is already in himself the effect of a subjection much more profound than himself. he must increasingly come to terms with what Nietzsche calls the Will to Power. then punishment-induced memory warps it into an “unnatural” bad conscience and morally masochistic guilt as such. Between  and . which he identifies as a transcultural and transhistorical instinct toward egoistic aggression and transcendence. In Civilization and Its Discontents. e soul is the effect and instrument of a political anatomy. and with the essence of the will to life. Nietzsche’s emphasis)¹⁰ Whether or not we agree with Nietzsche’s iconoclastic and ironic reversal of the condemnation of cruelty that supposedly defines “civilized” societies. e subject is captive to a sadistic super-ego that castigates the ego for its asocial urges. to view the Will to Power as an aggressive and egoistic instinct rather than a drive is to assume that it is even more primal than so-called “primary masochism. Indeed. If. the Freud of “e Economic Problem of Masochism” can no longer deflect the threat to civilization insinuated by Nietzsche’s individualist celebration of the primal urge to live free. create. by implication. whom we are invited to free.indd 62 9/6/2007.  | Ball Ball. 9:59 AM . Following his “discovery” of primary masochism in Beyond the Pleasure Principle in . is super-ego is itself the effect of the subject’s secondary narcissistic desire to be accepted by others whose expectations  Foucault rewrites this point in Discipline and Punish: “e man described for us.” Masochistic fantasies would merely provide a means for subjects to invert and libidinally bind their more fundamental “life” energies.” (–. Moreover.

he or she internalizes in an idealized form—what Freud calls the ego-ideal. but also someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him. attempts to regulate drives will always fail at some level. then presumably this displacement also spurs guilt that itself must be assuaged or expiated. e interest of work in common would not hold it together. to cause him pain. to exploit his capacity for work without compensation.” Of course. then.  Brown writes that “If the staging of punishment against one’s peers confirms identity rooted in injury without making the subject suffer the injury directly.indd 63 9/6/2007. on the contrary. His equally dire prognosis is that civilization “has to use its utmost efforts in order to set limits to man’s aggressive [drives] and to hold the manifestations of them in check with psychical reaction-formations. 9:59 AM . A Democracy is Being Beaten |  Ball. the guilt would produce its own new economy of obligation and aggression toward the suffering and toward the world that induced that suffering” (“Desire” ). to humiliate him. is guilt-limned aggression must then be consciously and unconsciously internalized or externalized in ways that bypass the ascetic codes against allowing nature to escape. which people are so ready to disavow. Because this idealization sets up an impossible standard. (Civilization . is that men are not gentle creatures who want to be loved. their neighbour is for them not only a potential helper or sexual object. Freud has grimly come to accept the standpoint that aggression is primal and that it infects all social relations: e element of truth behind all this. they are. to seize his possessions. As a result. […] Moreover. Das Unbehagen ). the incitement to “love thy neighbour” along with institutional efforts to restrict sexual life and criminality have proven futile in eliminating the vicious cycle of aggression because they employ the right to use violence in order to regulate it. civilized society is perpetually threatened with disintegration. and who at the most can defend themselves if they are attacked. to use him sexually without his consent.¹¹ By . Das Unbehagen –) Freud subsequently stresses that because of this “primary mutual hostility among human beings. ese failures produce refractions in other subjects: the unconsciously masochistic subject feels aggressive toward those who not only frustrate his or her sexual desires and regressive drives but who also exacerbate his or her guilt about having them in the first place. creatures among whose instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness. to torture and to kill him. instinctual passions [triebhafte Leidenschaften] are stronger than reasonable interests” (.

e worker’s “recalcitrant” investment in merely fulfilling his needs must be offset with an ascetic investment in a Calling so that the ideal of self-martyrdom in the interests of a higher goal will become inspirational.’” It must be demonstrated in “a specific form of conduct unambiguously distinct from the style of life of the ‘natural’ man. Such protocols require subjects to differentiate themselves from animals and savages by regulating “the barbarism within. Christian ideology inculcates ascetic values that rationalize and thereby restructure a destructive urge to return to an archaic inert state as a morally masochistic fetishism of hard work for its own sake.indd 64 9/6/2007.” e consequence for the individual was. Weber alludes to the “traditionalism” of workers who. is traditionalism in Weber’s account is therefore not as primordial as the regressive death drive defined by Freud. in Weber’s words. which permits them to sublimate the “simple life” that traditionalism ensures.III. 9:59 AM .” e liberal conscience that enjoins tolerance is a variation on the Calvinist principle that “grace” must be proven through systematic self-denial and a methodical monitoring of natural urges. Grace. Liberal “Bad Conscience”: Between the “Protestant Work Ethic” and Sadomasochistic Fantasy Freud’s deepening pessimism in  indicates a potential intersection with Nietzsche’s polemic in the Genealogy against the repressive effects of interdicted will as a modality of bad conscience and Weber’s analysis of the ascetic formation of hard-working subjects. In explaining the impetus of the work ethic. as Weber notes. My reading of this formation highlights the aims of “civilization” in Freud’s account as the secular counterpart of the ascetic Protestant protocols identified by Weber in his sociological history of the work ethic. is formation propels aggression toward those who are not “sufficiently” repressed and what Brown has identified as the liberal intolerance of religious intolerance. is “a status that separates man from the depravity of the creaturely and from the ‘world. “the drive to keep a methodical check on his state of grace as shown in how he conducted his life and thus to ensure that this life was imbued with asceticism” (). from their employer’s perspective. Nietzsche anticipates Weber’s considerations of an ascetic of self-sacrifice by underscoring the violence that shadows the promise in the context  | Ball Ball. He fallaciously attributes such “Trägheit” to the workers’ monastic idealization of poverty and humility. will not take advantage of an opportunity to make more money by labouring longer hours and whose “sluggishness” or “inertia” flies in the face of capitalist profit and progress.

e Second Essay in e Genealogy of Morals traces the vicissitudes of bad conscience in a history of punishment that links individual responsibility with the ability to fulfill one’s promises and to pay one’s debts. Nietzsche cites a medieval policy of allowing the unpaid creditor to extract the “choicest morsel” of flesh from a negligent debtor.  Regarding “that stroke of genius on the part of Christianity.¹² e creditor’s compensation comes in the sadistic pleasure of partaking in the “entitlement and right to cruelty” or what Nietzsche refers to as the right of the masters when. persecuted. e beast that forgets. Indeed. aggresses. and enjoys without debt. the martyrdom narrative of Jesus dying for our sins is just another version of the creditordebtor relationship that culminates in the extraction of a chunk of flesh in exchange for an unpaid and unpayable debt. I consulted Philosophie von Platon bis Nietzsche (). “he. Bad conscience is. now inverted and denatured. this animal that rubbed itself raw against the bars of its cage as one tried to ‘tame’ it” (). for Nietzsche. conscience. Hence the Christian partition of the monotheistic God allows the Father to act as a creditor who requires his own Son to expiate humankind’s debt of sin with his life. from Nietzsche’s standpoint. In this connection.” which is “forcibly made latent […] pushed back and repressed. or guilt is now one who is “forcibly confined to the oppressive narrowness and punctiliousness of custom.¹³  I am paraphrasing – of the Second Essay here. gnawed at. and maltreated himself. incarcerated within and finally able to discharge and vent itself only on itself” (). at last.’ to see him despised and mistreated” (). if the actual power and administration of punishment has already passed to the ‘authorities. For the German.indd 65 9/6/2007. It thus cows the “instinct for freedom. Nietzsche associates this instinct for freedom with the “soul” of an animal. the instinct for freedom “rubbed raw” against the punishing morality that incarcerates it.of the debtor-creditor relationship as a paradigm of Western morals. Punishment thus serves the aim of reminding debtors of their promises to creditors as a function of their responsibility to society at large.” Nietzsche writes: “God himself sacrifices himself for the guilt of mankind. God himself makes payment to himself. may experience for once the exalted sensation of being allowed to despise and mistreat someone as ‘beneath him’—or at least. 9:59 AM . assaulted. e corruption of the Will to Power is evinced in an ascetic morality that requires us to prove that we remember our debt to society by repressing our natures. too. Impatiently lacerated. God as the only being who can redeem man from what A Democracy is Being Beaten |  Ball.

Yet if neo-liberalism moralizes “the consequences of individual freedom. In Nietzsche’s view.” Brown notes that a neo-liberal interpellation “carries responsibility for the self to new heights: the rationally calculating individual bears full responsibility for the consequences of his or her action no matter how severe the constraints on this action. these influences are contingent upon the demands of capitalist progress to provide a well-oiled machinery through compliant and long-suffering workers who conscientiously prove their “grace” by making profits for paternalistic bosses.indd 66 9/6/2007. benefits. as an oppressive and remorseless machine. out of love (can one credit that?). or Freud’s destructive “drive. and went on working until this raw material of people and semi-animals has become unredeemable for man himself—the creditor sacrifices himself for his debtor. Nietzsche gestures at the ways in which bad conscience sediments the history of states whereby “the oldest ‘state’ thus appeared as a fearful tyranny.” as Brown suggests.” A neo-liberal fall from grace would thus correspond to the “mismanaged life.” Liberal guilt is the masochistic fruit of a secularized Calvinist emphasis on self-denial as the proving ground of grace: one affirms one’s “Election” to democratic civility by internalizing its ascetic codes and punishing oneself for failing to live up to them.Liberal guilt is the masochistic fruit of a secularized Calvinist emphasis on self-denial as the proving ground of grace: one affirms one’s “Election” to democratic civility by internalizing its ascetic codes and punishing oneself for failing to live up to them. For Weber. Yet while Weber seemingly extends Nietzsche’s polemic against Christian asceticism as a perseveration of bad conscience.  | Ball Ball. then it also converts the individual into a micro-managing mini-version of the entrepreneurial state ().” which “becomes a new mode of depoliticizing social and economic powers and at the same time reduces political citizenship to an unprecedented degree of passivity and political complacency” (“Neo-liberalism” ). 9:59 AM . that the Calvinist underpinnings of Weber’s work ethic have evolved into an increasingly hegemonic force in neo-liberal ideology that “equates moral responsibility with rational action” and thereby configures “morality entirely as a matter of rational deliberation about costs. various forms of Christian asceticism would merely be sublimations of a more basic underlying cruelty. and consequences. Weber’s theses on Calvinist self-denial vex the natural primacy Nietzsche bestows upon an aggressive instinct that external influences pervert into a masochistic conscience. out of love for his debtor!—” (Genealogy ). the standpoint of political economy alters and complicates the grammar of the Will to Power—the natural priority of Nietzsche’s “instinct” to dominate in relation to its inversion as bad conscience. I would like to suggest. In a certain respect. then. in agreement with Brown.

with Foucault. It is this internalization that guarantees the automatic reproduction of disciplinary technologies. “but also formed. But idealization itself. 9:59 AM . e technology of categorization renders various “behaviours” intelligible as such. would be the effect of our willingness to suppress our natural instincts to dominate by internalizing the “remorseless” machinery of the punishing powers that once belonged to the state. this energy goes into idealization of the object. Aim inhibition entails a displacement or rerouting of libidinal energy. institutional and other socio-cultural practices “implant” categories of perversion and criminality in subjects. Hence what “we call love precipitates out of the inhibition of this desire. as Foucault characterizes them. Nietzsche’s emphasis). which organizes the aggression spurred by wounded narcissism and the desire for love. is more A Democracy is Being Beaten |  Ball. Revising Nietzsche.indd 67 9/6/2007.” She goes on to reflect that.” To extend Nietzsche’s critique of morals is to seek to recognize. and they thereby become visible for regulation. In her critique of liberal tolerance. the genealogical Foucault distances himself from the liberal prioritization of individual rights over and against the excesses of the state in order to locate bad conscience in the microphysics of power and the pleasures of discipline: we are civilized subjects because we internalize our own surveillance. Freud explains. Brown recalls Freud’s “oft-rehearsed tale” that in the beginning “there is only sexual desire” (Regulating Aversion ). Yet while Foucault acknowledges in the first volume of e History of Sexuality that subjects enjoy the disciplinary technologies constituting them. which makes citizens “kneaded and pliant” in Nietzsche’s words. is process sustains an economy of guilt among individuals who recognize their failure to live up to the universal ideal of tolerance because they cannot completely neutralize their will to punish and to dominate. Citizens internalize the gaze of their surveyors in order to avoid punishment. According to Foucault. Such guilt is the mnemonic surfeit of internalized social regulation that refracts the excesses of state reason. in the case of love. the process of forming malleable subjects in liberal democracies. Brown’s emphasis on narcissistic projection as a mode of structuring socio-political desire thus points to a missing step in the logic that permits Foucault to posit a disciplined subject as the hapless byproduct of disciplinary power.was at last not only thoroughly kneaded and pliant but also formed” (. Subjectification. his post-psychoanalytical explanation does not obviate sadomasochistic fantasy. in Nietzsche’s terms.

if identity is formed out of trauma. in restaging the injury. […] Idealization is narcissistic projection necessitated by aim inhibition.” For Brown. In addition. Rather. In idealizing this order. Idealization thus involves a circuitry of projection from the ego ideal of the lover onto the love object. Freud’s conceptualization of a sadistic conscience and a morally masochistic ego should therefore be viewed as a metapsychological component of subjectification in Foucault’s sense. however. and conscious identity out of conflicting unconscious desires” (“Desire” ).’ to use Freud’s phrase). such an entitlement is fraught with the danger that the desire for love will be thwarted by others or poisoned by the subject’s own faulty self-control. continuous. Such subjects therefore also crave punishment for their own failure to inhibit their sexual and aggressive aims. 9:59 AM . either at the site of our bodies (masochism) or at the site of another (displaced masochism in which we are split off from that with which we identify as we are ‘passively looking on. then.indd 68 9/6/2007. a projection that produces a feeling (being in love) that in turn gratifies the lover’s ego’s own desire for love or self-idealization. it is a way of satisfying one’s own need to be loved through projecting one’s ideals of goodness onto an other.than reverence for the object. is situation arises because identity of any kind will not appear to remain the same without its continual performative activation.” is restaging serves to stabilize “an identity whose traumatic formation would render unstable its political or public face. it forges a politically coherent. a liberal subject shores up a secondary narcissistic projection of his or her inherent goodness and entitlement to love onto another. the alternation between sadistic and masochistic phases that distinguishes the beating fantasy is reflected on a political level in universalist fantasies that subjects produce in order to protect their investment in a liberal democratic order. and possibly even erotic gratification.  | Ball Ball. as Brown writes. “there would also be a certain reassurance.’” Brown turns to Freud’s  analysis to investigate different facets of “political masochism. (–) Brown’s observations lead to the conclusion that a secondary narcissistic idealization of liberal-democratic ideals conditions subjects to take pleasure in the suffering of those who thwart or compete with a narcissistic desire for (paternal) love. In “e Desire to Be Punished: Freud’s ‘A Child Is Being Beaten. e need to protect a liberal-democratic identification can therefore paralyze critics as well as their suffering and marginalized victims whose identity may seem rooted in a traumatic history.

ambivalent. is relatively impotent violence explains the paralytic effect of a sadomasochistic fixation on a status quo in which the abuse of certain groups is permitted within democratic nations whose governments are presumed to protect the rights of minorities against majorities. As my own reading of Freud’s analysis of the masochistic second phase suggests. the desire to punish issues from felt impotence or disregard. reciprocally. “reliving a certain punishing recognition reassures us not only of our own place (identity) but also of the presence of the order out of which that identity was forged and to which we remain perversely beholden.indd 69 9/6/2007.Brown delineates a parallel between a masochistic identification in the second phase and the critical logic of identifying with the suffering of oppressed groups that comprises the affective impetus of multiculturalist discourse.¹⁴ In Brown’s words. 9:59 AM . Slavoj Žižek argues that it is naïve for critics to point to the exceptions to democratic principles as failures that might and should be fixed since the existence of these “particularities” actually confirms the universalist fantasy that structures liberal identification. insofar as they require the incessant restaging—in abstract. Unreciprocated love may also foster rage against the ideal that potentially humiliates the narcissistic subject. are they also a source of political paralysis. e repetition gratifies an injured love by reaffirming the existence of the order that carried both the love and the injury” (“Desire” ). Reading Brown with Žižek implies that such a disavowal is organized by the socio-politics of enjoyment: liberal democratic defenders need exceptions in order to continue to enjoy their universalist fantasy and. might they also constrain the desire for emancipation from the injuries that constitute the identity. a constraint on a subject’s willingness to surrender this investment? If so. and identity and aggression on the other? And if these opposing (yet mutually constitutive) impulses require the oscillation between punishing and being punished that is suggested by Freud’s three-phase interpretation […] if these dual impulses keep alive a certain investment in marked identity. then the punitive desire is an inherently ambivalent one insofar as it installs (relatively impotent) violence at the site of a hoped-for tenderness and capaciousness” (). such rage is a form of aggression that cannot be tolerated in civilized societies: it is a misdeed that begs for due punishment. In e Sublime Object of Ideology. and above all oscillating terms—of scenes of punishment? (“Desire” ) A Democracy is Being Beaten |  Ball. these same  Brown asks: [D]o scenes of social punishment for a marked identity broker a complex and largely unexcavated relationship between identity and guilt on one side. Yet “if as Freud argues. if it issues from guilty or unrequited love.

While Mladek insists on distinguishing the “carnal delight” in pain. but not to abuse or squander it. pleasure or happiness” (Mladek ). 9:59 AM . “once we become aware of the stark difference between usefulness and enjoyment. “for one is allowed to enjoy this power. In Mladek’s reading. Gilroy notes that among the painful obligations that attend the task of working through the “grim details of imperial and colonial history” is the transformation of “paralyzing guilt into a more productive shame that would be conducive to the building of a multicultural nationality that is no longer phobic about the prospect of exposure  | Ball Ball. According to Mladek. and suffering. death. “Precisely this is the essence of law—to divide. to spread out that which is jouissance” (Mladek . in Žižek’s Lacanian terms. so defined.” which Nietzsche precociously visualizes the unpaid creditor’s “enjoyment of the rights over someone else’s body. that a portion of this “passionate attachment” would consist of transgressive enjoyment as an ambivalent residue of subjectification through fantasies that bind subjects to society.” As Lacan articulates it. Writing on racial melancholy in national and postimperial contexts respectively. Anne Anlin Cheng () and Paul Gilroy () have emphasized that melancholic fixations on wounded identities are just as constitutive of the dominant subjects who enact them—sometimes violently. citing Lacan ). from ressentiment.defenders require this fantasy in order to enjoy their guilty investment in its suffering and marginalized exceptions.indd 70 9/6/2007. as Klaus Mladek proposes. the legal concept of usufruct as “the right to temporarily enjoy the use of certain rights of others. e prospect of such jouissance arises. I am more persuaded by attempts to understand how the “unequal distribution” of jouissance. precisely because it runs counter to contentment. One could say. may underlie various experiences of melancholy as enjoyment-saturated vicissitudes of sociohistorical anger and Lebensneid (life envy) among the agents and bearers of domination in liberal democracies. as Gilroy demonstrates in the case of socio-economically emasculated soccer hooligans subsisting in the postcolonial ruins of a declining British empire—as they are of the disenfranchised racially marked or immigrant “objects” who internalize these narratives of loss while recoiling against them. Butler’s analysis of Nietzsche and Freud underscores this point in suggesting that a passionate attachment to subjection presumes both the passion and the aim to attach it to some kind of object (Psychic ). “Nietzsche sides with jouissance against ressentiment. which transpires as an extra-legal result of and supplement to legal punishment. between the officially legitimized ends and the non-theorizable surplus of punishment” (Mladek ).” also introduces limits into jouissance. to distribute.

the origin of bad conscience is “the joy taken in persecuting oneself. Moreover. I am contending that the sadomasochistic organization of these images allows left-leaning academics not only to enjoy visualizations of minority suffering but also to enjoy a pleasurably punishing liberal guilt triggered by those images. is guilt fulfills an attendant need to be castigated for an incestuous love. this fantasy also allows such subjects to punish themselves for resenting the democracy that has failed them by perpetrating abuse.to either strangers or otherness” (). if. I would add that to sympathize with victims of oppression is also to visualize their suffering by drawing on a cultural repertoire of images. As Butler writes.indd 71 9/6/2007. “Unspeakable Differences. then. in spurring their masochistic identification with persecuted others who stand in for their own disappointed hopes. drawing on Brown and Butler. as Brown suggests. 9:59 AM . the “beaten other” fantasy allows wounded liberal subjects to see the naughty victim publicly punished for exposing the shoddy universality of their beloved democratic ideals. I question whether such shame can be detached from a sadomasochistic imaginary that precipitates liberal guilt. a “crime” they delightfully do penance for through entrenched masochism. for desiring the abusive father.” A Democracy is Being Beaten |  As a qualification of Gilroy’s recommendation. First. Hence the masochistic second phase of the beating fantasy translates into political paralysis among liberal democratic subjects who cannot escape the vicious cycle of punishing themselves for unconsciously deriving satisfaction from the very abuses they decry. is that the “excess” of sadomasochism constitutes the condition of possibility for liberal democratic subjectification:  See Ball. such a fantasy permits liberal subjects to believe that democracy loves them more than the marked other who is a rival for public and state attention. My explanation. Ball. then identity politics provides them with the abstract victims of a beating fantasy that alternately obscures and reveals the beaters and the beaten in imaginary scenes of punishment and humiliation. where the self persecuted does not exist outside the orbit of that persecution” (Psychic ).¹⁵ In the present context. Ultimately. liberal subjects must protect their love for wounded democratic ideals. I have elsewhere argued that the sympathetic imagination feeds on fantasies that permit pleasurable identifications with images of persecution and marginalization. Second. I would add that to sympathize with victims of oppression is also to visualize their suffering by drawing on a cultural repertoire of images. Brown’s rewriting of Freud’s three stages furnishes a disturbing answer to the question I posed in the introduction with reference to Foucault about how liberal subject formation manifests and rationalizes the very “excess” of governmentality that it purports to repudiate. As a qualification of Gilroy’s recommendation.

I have speculated that Freud’s third phase of the beaten child fantasy could be seen as a venue for a hedged counter-formation of Nietzsche’s Will to Power when sadism re-emerges to recuperate the subject from a shameful masochism. Because of its assimilative reflexivity. Yet it is important to bear in mind that while the liberal-democratic version of this counter-formation perverts the  | Ball Ball. e conventional American racists in Cheng’s analysis must develop elaborate ideologies and compensatory narratives to accommodate their actions with democratic ideals. Meanwhile. which suggests that the beating fantasy allows a subject to atone for his or her resemblance to the father and the “miniaturized” father’s likeness in him or her that is “ridiculed and humiliated” (Deleuze –. […] In short.My fantasies must allow me to enjoy discipline and identify with its targets along with its administration in order to reproduce my membership in a liberal democracy that officiates the ethic of “civilized tolerance” in opposition to a “hateful” and “undisciplined” Other. Nevertheless. is counter-formation may therefore be seen as staging something akin to Gilles Deleuze’s model of masochism. they must “earn” attention by continually revisiting their oppressed histories. then the issue is whether or not the racially marked subject should or even can rail against a liberal-masochistic “work ethic” by partaking in the privilege of the masters. ough identity politics might be narrowly viewed as a mode of protest against enforced masochism. the “talk” about racial grief “also runs the risk of repeating a tool of containment historically exercised by authority. “the racialized minority is as bound to racial melancholia as the dominant subject” (). neither the child nor the self is being beaten by the father. cited by Mladek ).indd 72 9/6/2007. “In the cunning theater of pain and pleasure. Yet if. as Rey Chow has argued in e Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of Capitalism (). What this means for marginalized and disenfranchised subjects is that in order to fill the slots delimited for them in liberal ideology and. As Mladek characterizes Deleuze. it may serve to reconsolidate the masochistic circularity of identity by requiring the marginalized other to bear her traumatic cross in order to ensure the loving devotion of bleeding hearts. perhaps. but the father himself is beaten” (). such melancholia has always existed for raced subjects “both as a sign of rejection and as a psychic strategy in response to that rejection” (). as Cheng observes. “white liberals need to keep burying the racial others in order to memorialize them” (). 9:59 AM . to exist intelligibly at all within it. is is why it is important not to fixate exclusively on the other’s trauma at the expense of the violator’s own dynamic in acts of denigration (). it can be damaging to say how damaging racism is” (). as Cheng writes.

Among “us” guilt-ridden progressives.Will to Power into masochism. 9:59 AM . Trans. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Eds.” e Dreams of Interpretation: A Century Down the Royal Road. Paul Laurent. and Jakki Spicer. . Freud and Nietzsche. they will merely be engaging in a rather quietist form of biting the hand that beats them. New York: Continuum. “Unspeakable Differences.” Women in German Yearbook  (): –. However. Catherine Liu. some will reject this “terrorist” fourth phase. forthcoming . A new question thus arises about the political consequences of sadomasochistic subjectification: How can the fantasy of protest become a reality for groups who are restricted to masochistic self-expression by liberalism’s “wounded attachments” to the democratic state? Even if marginalized others move on from masochism to a voyeuristic third phase. Works Cited Assoun. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Richard L. John Mowitt. Collier Jr.indd 73 9/6/2007. Freud et Nietzsche. “e Substance of Psychic Life. To transcend perverse liberalism. that watching “Daddy” wage a preemptive war on televised news might be a fifth phase). I therefore want to emphasize that the voyeuristic third phase of the beaten child fantasy will remain inaccessible to the disenfranchised if such subjects are locked into masochistic interpellations by wounded liberal fantasies. Karyn. We will writhe in our complicity with domestic and global state aggression that provoked such violence despite and because of our liberal-democratic masochism (which is to say. ———. In light of Brown’s extrapolation from Freud’s analysis. Ball. Others among us will not allow ourselves to forget our liberationist agendas as a guilty symptom of our masochistic second phase. perhaps there is a need to call for a politicized fourth phase in which the other stops loving the punishing hand and rises up to spank an unfulfilling democracy. such writhing is merely another recoil of bad conscience that permits us alternately to take pleasure in and feel ashamed of our anti-authoritarian lust for the phantom limb that extends from a lacerated bloody stump after the father’s beating hand has been spectacularly cut off to become the “choicest morsel” of them all. . ———. Obscene Pleasures: e Holocaust as an Object of Desire. A Democracy is Being Beaten |  Ball. a sadistic supersession of this masochistic second phase is also potentially blocked for the marginalized (or actually beaten other).

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