The most hysterical of masters: Lacan’s capitalist discourse and contemporary styles of interpellation

  • Matthias PauwelsEmail author
Original Article


This article advances an interpretation of Jacques Lacan’s discourse of the capitalist, focused on its implications for the styles of mastery characteristic of contemporary capitalism. The capitalist discourse is found to offer a remarkably apt formalisation of new modes of interpellation that emerged from capitalism’s crises of legitimacy in the 1960s and 1970s. Through close readings of a scene from the anti-capitalist documentary The Corporation and advertisements of McDonald’s and Shell, the capitalist discourse is deployed to account for contemporary capitalism’s public self-presentation and projections of its ideal Other-collaborator, as well as novel, project-based organisational models. The article further contributes to Lacanian scholarship on latest trends in corporate employee management by articulating a strategy that employs self-critique as a way to muster and harvest employees’ idealistic energies for corporations’ self-interest and public legitimacy.


Jacques Lacan capitalist discourse interpellation contemporary capitalism organisational culture employee management 



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© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of JohannesburgPretoriaSouth Africa

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