The word “patriarchy” traditionally referred to the historically indisputable prevalence of the signifier “father” in cultural structuring. Today, its semantic field has shifted from the Other to the One; at its most intense, it designates an invisible but decisive substance which, before any consent, improperly infiltrates the subject.
These two approaches to patriarchy each have their own version of what Éric Laurent calls “the irreducible of the father”. Classical patriarchy postulates a transcendence necessary to any culture. This culture elects an element – often the father – as the “mediator” and anthropological operator from which subjectivities have to situate themselves in elementary structures. Mediator, because it would ultimately be the flow and diffusion of a religious substance that drives both human and subjective evolution, even in our apparently most secularised societies. Indeed, the “precondition” of intersubjective exchange would be the top-to-bottom trickle of the divine libido that the father translates into social eros. This “permanence of the theological-political”, necessitated by “the impossibility of a society ordering itself in a pure immanence of its own”, would be – according to Géraldine Muhlmann – “the secret of the philosophers”: behind the Other, we find the One, with the divine, progenitive and matricial semblance.
On closer examination, the “diabolical” patriarchy is merely the flip side of this heavenly patriarchy.
Indeed, while the father may come in a variety of versions, they all converge on a toxic substance whose hold on the subject is based on One and irreducible père-version. Thus promoted as the key to universal infamy, this “One” of power finally unmasked provides the comforts of a secular ideology from which everyone can declare themselves a victim.
By depriving it of the double reference to the Other and the One, what does psychoanalysis have to say about the father? What more eloquent demonstration of his “secret” than the clinic of the father? Always too much there (Marie-Hélène Blancard) or not enough (Élisabeth Marion), accused of curbing jouissance or, on the contrary, unleashing it (Arcali Teixido), trying (Anne-Marie Thomas) or not to hold his place, isn’t he always and fatally humiliated by the real (Lucia Icardi, Emmanuel A. Rodriguez), and thus reduced to being nothing more than Nœudbodaddy? Not a nothing (Vanessa Mikowski), far from it, but rather as something that can function as one of the names of the substitutes for the hole that psychoanalysis places at the centre of the Other.
Lacan went so far as to reduce his task to a kind of performance; far from having to represent or embody a power, he must, while maintaining a gap between the symbolic, the imaginary and the real, be sufficiently impressive to merit the name of father. The patriarch no longer impresses; for the fathers, one by one, there is a future.
References from the author:
 Cf. Laurent É., « The irreducible place of the father », Nobodaddy, Blog Pipol 11, 26 February 2023.
 Lefort C., The permanence of the teologico-political, Political theologies, Fordham Univ. Press, 2006, pp. 148-187.
 Muhlmann G., L’Imposture du théologico-politique, Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 2022, p. 116. (Untranslated in English)
 Cf. Lacan J., The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book VI, Desire and its Interpretation, established by J.-A. Miller, translated by B. Fink, Cambridge, Polity, 2019.
 [TN : Noeudbodaddy is a wordplay on Nobodaddy. Noeud is French for knot. Could be translated as Knotbodaddy.]
Translation: Ana-Marija Kroker
Proofreading: Benjamin Wimmer
Picture : © Fabien de Cugnac