You are a loser. For psychoanalysis, this isn’t a personal slight, but an impersonal truth. So why have we come to fear losing?
‘Loser’ was Donald Trump’s favourite insult within a hotly contested field. But while progressives disdain his divisive politics, they have mostly failed to challenge meritocratic values that divide society into winners and losers. How might we truly escape our toxic political culture?
In this powerful, wide-ranging essay, psychoanalyst and critic Josh Cohen suggests that the answer may lie in a notion of humility. Far from a sentimental moral virtue, humility may well be the most elusive, precarious, and indeed radical value of all, one which relies upon a full-hearted embrace of one’s inner loser. Enlisting the help of a cast of unlikely comrades – Thomas Bernhard, Franz Kafka, and Robert Walser – Cohen shows how we might move beyond a culture based on enforced positivity, resentment, and humiliation. [publisher's note]