This paper is premised on Lacan's demonstration that the unconscious is structured like a language. Reading psychoanalytic texts structurally shows that the unconscious and civilisation share the same structure, named “Oedipus complex” by Freud and “law of symbolisation” by Lacan. Freud uncovered this structure when a logical inconsistency in his Oedipal theory–the absence of an external prohibitive instance – led him to hypothesise an anthropological account of the origin of law and so civilisation. If Lacan convincingly subsumes this logical inconsistency under his concept of jouissance, Freud's Oedipal fictions remain useful as they formalise the minimal conditions for modern civilisation: an empty place of power, formal equality before the law and an operational ethical system. These requirements are structural and imply nothing as to the value of a given social organisation
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