On Saturday, 20th September, the London Society of the NLS hosted a "Rally of the Impossible Professions: Beyond the False Promises of Security", held under the auspices of the Federation of European Schools of Psychoanalysis.
The rally brought together people from various countries and fields of practice, each concerned for the integrity of their disciplines; most urgently those disciplines that cultivate that which is properly human: Richard Gombrich, Keith Hayward, Mark Neocleous, Michael Power and Robert Snell, as well as speakers from an audience of participants. We were joined by Jacques-Alain Miller as guest speaker. Pierre Gilles Gueguen, and Anne Lysy, President and Vice President of the NLS, were also present to support the event, and we thank them for joining us. Not least, we acknowledge pause to acknowledge the quiet commitment and steady work of members of the London Society, together with those co-opted workers who undertook the preparations for the event.
We came together in a conversation: One by one colleagues spoke of how the bureaucratic demands made in the name of 'regulation' erode the scope for ethical discretion in their work. The crude erosion of proper and pertinent professional judgement applied to the work makes regulation as currently conceived not only ineffective but counter-productive: blind in its movements, it unwittingly dismantles the know-how that orients practice. This insistent push of poorly formulated ideas of what constitutes effective intervention depletes desire and saps vitality. Thus leaving a workforce increasingly demoralised and believing itself to be impotent in the face of the no less insistent real of everyday crises.
Real concerns were voiced that proper education and relevant training are being abolished in favour of programmes that merely pander to an imaginary paper-based consistency; one that bears no relation to the contingencies that are a perrenial feature of everyday practice. Despite all of this, the meeting was not downbeat. The presentations were vivacious and rich in material from which we can draw valuable resources in the times to come. The conversation alighted at the uncomfortable but also vitalising question of "What do we do next?, which is a perennial question that we live with. For some clues in this instance, I quote from a report of the meeting given by Pierre Gilles Gueguen, President of the NLS:
"In his enlightening concluding speech, Jacques-Alain Miller related the various presentations and the general discussion to the rise of what Freud had named the death drive in our present society and to the foreclosure of the Unconscious that the politics of evaluation and false promises of security is spreading..."Do you believe or not in the Unconscious?" he asked the audience at the beginning of his speech. "Clearly, Positivism and Cognitivism disbelieve that the Unconscious exists"... This formulation appeared as an orientation for our next steps of action with the London Society and everyone that happens to be concerned.
"We will continue to entertain this question, 'What do we do next?', as a vector to help us remember that we can act. We can aim to do so in a precise way, responding not to merely implement a universal rule - which is really only an acting out - but according to how contingency instructs us.
The vitality of the responses to Saturday's conversation has been a precious effect of this encounter, and the London Society is enjoying the privilege of hearing from the people, one by one, who have taken something away with them. To keep faith with this desire, we aim to do what we can to support its continuation. One consequence is that Jacques-Alain has agreed to come to London again soon to talk with us in more detail. We expect further steps to come, one by one.
Penny Georgiou, Chair, London Society of the NLS
Vicente Palomera, President, FESP