Lacan, Marriage, Proudhon, and the Quilting Points

Lacan admired Proudhon on three points, one of which was Proudhon’s theory of marriage. Proudhon was an anarchist and remains one of the undoubted canonical figures of classical anarchist theory. However, he passionately argued against his socialist brethren on the value of free-love for the communist vision.

I understand that Proudhon had some remarkably horrible views (however, when put in context they were rather conventional for the time). But his belief that the institution of marriage holds everything together, that it is, more or less, communism for two, is the correct one. Lacan admired this vision in his second seminar.

Marriage is therefore something like, to borrow a Lacanian phrase, a “quilting point.” Daniel Colson – a French post-anarchist – was correct to bring the Lacanian concept of the quilting point in close proximity to Proudhon’s anarchist theories. For Lacan, a quilting point is what, among other quilting points, holds together a signifying chain to produce the semblance of meaning. Without some quilting points we’d have no sense, no understanding. Marriage is the same. Marriage holds together the signifying system of communism, according to Proudhon (in so many words). Or, to put it another way, it holds together the lack of the symbolic relation – whether as a necessary condition or as a failure to accept primordial lack.

The late Lacan would most likely tackle this from a different angle. We would begin with the question of Fidelity and the Real within Badiou’s development of theory. Marriage (in the broadest sense) as a ‘communism for two’ or, put another way, as a response to a touch of the real in the truth procedure of love.


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