« Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened;
Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require ».
David, Psalms 40 to the glory of God.
« I do not fear that the results of our experiment will be
that Men could be trusted to lead themselves without a master ».
Thomas Jefferson, on drafting the U.S. Constitution.
The Patriarchy is the social regime of the Name-of-the-Father. Collective psychology and individual psychology are one and the same. Lacan will call this the master’s discourse, the first and primary discourse of domination.
A few sublime works trace its genesis and institution. In our culture, the Bible and Greek tragedy are the ones that bear witness to it.
Take Aeschylus’s Eumenides for example. It deals with the question of judging Orestes, Apollo’s protégé, the patriarchal god, guilty of the murder of his mother. He murdered her in the name of the father. The ancient deities demand that this ultimate crime be punished in the name of blood and earth. Athena, daughter of the God of gods whose triumph she guarantees, takes the side of parricide : « My office it is now to give final judgment; and this, my vote, I shall add to Orestes’ side. For mother have I none that gave me birth, and in all things, save wedlock, I am for the male with all my soul, and am entirely on the father’s side ».
She domesticated the Erinyes, whose name she euphemized (in Eumenides, the Kindly Ones) upon their agreement to cut their losses, by granting them the sacrifice of the first fruits: firstborns and first crops.
Let us remember the unique lesson of The Seminar « The-Names-of-the-Father », from November 20, 1963 : Lacan, muzzled by his peers and by the fathers-of-virtue of the psychoanalytic institution, comments on the sacrifice of Abraham : the intervention of the angel who stopped Abraham’s arm permits the substitution of Isaac with the ram.
The angel’s gesture shifts the jouissance of the ferocious father – this savage god who demands the sacrifice of sons – to the reign of desire and law.
For Freud, we pass from the enjoying father of the horde to the father according to Oedipus. For Lacan, the sacrificed animal is itself this primitive father. In other words, if castration is what is introduced to the sons, it is the enjoyment of the fathers that is humanized !
Thus patriarchy, in its mythical golden age, is established by barring the ancient jouissance : horror matrix, furor patris. The Church will then come, and on its baptismal fonts, St. Paul will be there to say : « Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. » But the instituted church, the spiritual arm of the Empire has dedicated itself entirely to the promotion of patriarchy up to the monarchical form of its apparatus of divine right and its pretense to the pope’s infallibility. It is not surprising that the sanctification of clerics under this sign has its underside : the abusive priests. The angel’s arm sometimes fails to hold the instrument of sacrifice…
Today, in the decline of this long historical era, the denunciation of patriarchy can take a persecutory form. This is what happens when the signifier of the Name-of-the-Father is masked by an imaginary figure that condenses negative affects : father of the hoard, whipping master, avatars of the enjoying Other. But in one way or another, the figures of the father, the different forms under which the signifier Name-of-the-Father is incarnated, are never, by definition, only symbolic : they are imagoes, according to the accepted term burrowed by Freud and taken up by the first Lacan, i.e., semblants, mixes of the imaginary and the symbolic.
It also happens that we can say about the father : « He did not know that he was dead ».
In fact, Freud does not hesitate to recall that fathers cling furiously to the patria familiae potestas. By so doing, he targets the father who is the heir of Roman law, the pater familias having the right of life and death over his entire house, women, children, and slaves. He is the one on which the sons’life itself depends, waiting to be recognized and exhibited, or doomed to nothingness. One does not give up so much power easily: not every day is the night of the 4th of August !
Our era marked by the evaporation of the father is therefore also marked by the possible return of the figures of the father in the real, who are thus the figures of the worst.
All religions offer variants straight from their fatal histories, and the tyrannies that flourish here and there, under the rule of tragic Ubu fathers, also testify to the nostalgia of the Caesars. None of them have anything to envy the Urvater of mythical hordes. The last smoke of patriarchy, as Lacan indicates, is the reign of an iron order.
The aim and horizon of our function can by no means be « saving the soldier daddy »: we do not have to reinflate the father, as we are invited to do by all parties, in the name of the Holy Family, the natural law or the defense of the throne and the altar, but to take into account this dit-solution and experience in the clinic, each case one by one, what has the value of a sinthomatic solution.
Translated by Dana Tor
Reviewed by Adeena Mey
 Aeschylus, « Eumenides », Aeschylus Vol. II. Agamemnon, Libation-Bearers, Eumenides, Fragments (trans. Smyth, H.W.), London and New York, William Heinemann and G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1926, p. 343-344.
 Cf. Lacan J., « Introduction aux Noms-du-Père », Des Noms-du-Père, Paris, Seuil, 2005, p. 67-104.
 NKJV, Matthieu 23 :9.