This paper explores the settler-colonial jouissance of the subject of Western alienation, an imaginary figure with whom proponents of fossil fuel development encourage people in Alberta to identify, through an examination of the public discourses that promote pipeline projects in Canada. The dual aims of this paper are, first, to explicate some aspects of the ideological-discursive terrain of Canadian-Albertan pipeline conflicts with reference to concepts from Lacanian and Žižekian theory, and second, to show more broadly how psychoanalysis can be a useful tool for analyzing Canadian environmental politics. To explain why the subject’s enjoyment is perpetually frustrated, I examine the rhetoric of fossil fuel industry proponents, such as former Alberta premier Jason Kenney, who invoke scapegoats responsible for “landlocking” Alberta oil. This scapegoating intensifies the drive to continually fail to achieve political autonomy and economic self-sufficiency. Pipeline proponents appeal to “new markets in Asia Pacific,” overseas sites of total enjoyment which the landlocked subject of Western alienation is perpetually denied. These social fantasies work in concert to conceal the colonial, capitalistic, and climactic antagonisms inherent to oil sands development, and mobilize consent for pipeline projects.
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