Sadean Politics or a Tyranny of Jouissance

  • Jelica Šumič Riha
Keywords: Sade, politics, nature, jouissance, the law, the social bond, freedom


One of the lessons to be drawn from Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents is undoubtedly that jouissance – because it implies pain and suffering – is something harmful to the subject. However, this inherent cruelty of jouissance becomes a problem for modern moral and political philosophy with Sade, for whom the right to jouissance is a fundamental human rights and as such universal. While Sade’s universal right to jouissance is inconceivable outside the horizon of human rights discourse, the only space in which universal rights can arise, it represents the ultimate limit of this discourse precisely to the extent that the despotism of the passions, which Sade advocates, promotes the rights, not of man, but of jouissance. But can there be something like an ethics of jouissance and, consequently, a politics of jouissance at all if ethics and politics are founded on a relationship with the Other, whereas jouissance, being solipsistic, autistic in nature, problematises the very status of the Other? And conversely, if Sade’s project of emancipation aims at the realisation of the tyranny of jouissance precisely at the level of the socius, then one might ask: What is the social bond that is founded on something which appears to be incompatible with it? To answer these questions, this article examines the radical nature of Sade’s despotism of passions as a reinvention of the social bond that consists in bringing together two incompatible instances: freedom and jouissance.


Download data is not yet available.
How to Cite
Šumič RihaJ. Sadean Politics or a Tyranny of Jouissance. FV [Internet]. 2019Jan.16 [cited 2020May31];39(3). Available from: