The much needed defense of the world’s greatest living mind

September 3, 2012

[UPDATE 1 – 4/9/12: This comment is now back up at the LARB site – see comment thread below]

[UPDATE 2 – 5/9/12: For some reason I can’t get comments to work on the LARB site today; this is probably just a glitch, but I’ve posted the additional comment I was planning to leave in comments here.]

[UPDATE 3 – 6/9/12: Comments are still not easily visible on the LARB site; they seem to all be in ‘white-on-white’ type.]

Another deleted comment on Zizek to file away here. This one I posted below an article by Kotsko on Zizek at the LA Review of Books – here’s the piece.

Alphonse van Worden has a screencap of the thread as it was before the LARB deleted a number of comments (including mine). [UPDATE: As of the evening of the 4th, my comments are back up on the site; Alphonse van Worden’s are not.] I thought I’d post my long comment here, too.

(The admittedly somewhat bitter title of the post comes from one of the pro-Zizek comments that didn’t get deleted.)

Comment is below:

~~

Another data point on the issue of why many people (including me) regard Zizek’s politics as reactionary, and as a negative influence of any attempt to think constructively about alternative political and economic institutions:

Here’s a Zizek piece published in the New Statesman:

http://www.newstatesman.com/environment/2010/05/essay-nature-catastrophe

The main question Zizek is trying to help us to answer, in this piece, is what institutional changes can help us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in such a way that we can hopefully escape the more extreme predicted possible environmental consequences of our current economic practices. This is, of course, an incredibly pressing and important problem, many possible detailed solutions to which have been proposed by people and organisations right across the political spectrum.

Opinions differ on everything, here, of course – but it seems to me, and to many observers, that one of the principal things missing in ‘our’ ability to implement various of those proposals is political will. It’s not hard to see how regulation of carbon emissions, for example, would work (whether or not this is our favoured solution): but it’s hard to see how a sufficiently large-scale implementation of such regulation could be achieved in present political circumstances. Reasons for this lack of political will can themselves then be discussed (e.g. the difficulty of international co-ordination w/r/t free rider problems; the influence of existing industry interests on political decision-making bodies; etc.)

All these issues are, as I say, being discussed in great and concrete detail by people right across the political spectrum; there is a vast body of academic and non-academic work on almost every aspect of these issues.

Now what does Zizek add to this serious, extensive and ongoing debate, in his New Statesman piece? He proposes four things:

1) “worldwide norms of per capita energy consumption should be imposed”

2) “terror: the ruthless punishment of all those who violate the imposed protective measures, including severe limitations of liberal “freedoms” and the technological control of prospective lawbreakers.”

3) “voluntarism: the only way to confront the threat of ecological catastrophe is by means of collective decision-making”

4) “trust in the people: … We should not be afraid to encourage, as a combination of terror and trust in the people, the resurgence of an important figure in all egalitarian-revolutionary terror – the “informer” who denounces culprits to the authorities.”

Now, looking particularly at points two and four (that is: terror, and the resurgence of the ‘informer’) – what problems, exactly, are these proposals a solution to? It seems clear to me that the principal problems faced by the implementation of proposals to limit greenhouse gas emissions are not located at the level of individual citizens’ transgression of authorities’ demands. But Zizek’s ‘solutions’ are principally oriented to the establishment of a global terroristic police-state-style system.

Why would a globally coherent terroristic police system, with informants denouncing fellow citizens, be Zizek’s solution to the problem of anthropogenic global warming? There seems, at best, to be a leap in argument or logic here. [Note that this is not a right wing proposal advanced in order to be problematised or transformed (as Kotsko describes in the piece above). This is the culmination of the article, and the position Zizek himself advocates for, in his own voice.]

For many (like me) the lack of logic here suggests that Zizek (like, of course, many columnists) is using issues like climate change as a largely arbitrary ‘hook’ to lead into political proposals that he wishes to advance for other reasons. And, again, for many (like me) the political perspective that Zizek in fact advocates is repugnant.

In other words: Kotsko’s piece above does not adequately address the extent to which many objections to Zizek’s work are based, not in an objection to ‘thinking alternatives’, or in a blind adherence to the status quo, but rather in specific political and ethical objections to the specific ways in which Zizek proposes we think ‘alternatives’. Put bluntly, Zizek’s politics are often (to me, and to many others) abhorrent.

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20 Responses to “The much needed defense of the world’s greatest living mind”

  1. Tom Lutz Says:

    This comment was deleted by accident, it is back up.

  2. duncan Says:

    Thanks, I’ve updated the post.

  3. duncan Says:

    This is the additional comment I’ve not been able to leave at the LARB site today:

    ~

    Kotsko will not address the content I have quoted here because he believes, rightly, that most of the readers of the LA Review of Books, unlike Kotsko himself, are not sympathetic to Zizek’s advocacy of a global terroristic police state.

    Kotsko suggests in two different ways that Zizek’s terroristic police state proposal is unworthy of discussion here. First, Kotsko implies that he need not take seriously criticism of Zizek that focuses on Zizek’s journalistic, rather than his academic work. (Although a major part of Zizek’s influence comes from his journalistic work, and Zizek first gained prominence as an op-ed columnist, for Mladina, not as a philosopher.)

    Second, Kotsko implies that the content of Zizek’s own political views is somehow beside the point, given the purpose of Kotsko’s article (which is “to help people get a handle on [Zizek’s] style of argument.”) But – self-evidently – Kotsko’s article is an intervention in the debate around the political meaning and value of Zizek’s work. Kotsko’s article is written as a counterweight to numerous critiques of Zizek that have been published in the mainstream media. (Critiques that allege, among other things, racism, authoritarianism, valorization of violence, etc.) Kotsko would have us believe that those critiques are misguided, because they fundamentally misconstrue the purpose of Zizek’s work. In considering whether Kotsko is right about this, it is entirely relevant and legitimate to give examples from Zizek’s corpus of the kind of passages that warrant the criticisms from which Kotsko is concerned to defend Zizek. The ‘terroristic police state’ passages I quoted are one such example; there are plenty of others.


  4. It’s all so foolish. He complains that Grey innoculates people against “Zizek’s ideas” so people can be comfortable dismissing them.

    And he dismisses them himself. So what’s the problem? An ally of his says it’s not what Zizek says but how.

    So who cares that Grey dismisses the what?

    But what is the what? There’s very little there. “As a radical Marxist I say I want death squads and torture for those who don’t recycle!” Fascinating. Well, plenty of death squads already, good luck with moving recycling up the agenda.

    The excuse for the odious material is it shouldn’t undermine his great insights as a philosopher. Which are? This great stuff that mustn’t be throw out with the bathwater or baby is never brought forward. In that Grey was onto an aspect of Zizek’s performance – there’s a lot of gesticulation creating an illusion of a wasp attack but no xasp. You know how actors on the stage doing big physical comedy make it look like someone is pulled around by the hair viciously – the actor who plays the puller just gently holds the other’s hair and the other violently throws his head back and forth. It always looks so good. This is what is Zizek is doing constantly – this will surprise you, this will get me in trouble in California, this is the paradox…he’s yanking his head around.

    But Kotsko’s the “pusher” and Zizek is a drug that is meant to open the mind. Psychedelic! Yet all that emerges is cliché and banality. The news of greenwashing has at last reached Ljublijana on the back that donkey that left Trieste in 1970.

    I know we disagree a little on one thing – to me it seems obvious that Zizek’s aim is to associate climate activism and especially the climate debt/climate justice campaign with totalitarian nightmares. He works hard to characterize Morales as a kind of mad primitive. The occasion of the piece was the volcanic ash problem from Iceland but it was not long after Copenhagen. The way Kotsko would defend this piece – as just a little do it yourself movie, watch it in your head, not intended as a real proposal but just a fantasy for you to have, is close to an admission of what it’s for. David Lynch also said “it’s just a fantasy, just a dream, just let it occupy your mind for a while.” This kind of operation is anti-rational – it addresses the audience as objects to administered some treatment; its openly about substituting the homemade fantasy and thought with the store-bought commodified packages of idea/imagery that Zizek sells. Here’s a whole complex of fantasy-ideas-assumption for you to upload into your brain. You can’t take it part, it’s integrated. You can’t really tinker with it to any purpose. It’s like the movies – essay spectacle. Picture this. Earthquakes. Volcanos. That butterfly wing bringing down our wjhole way life. Now picture this. A global police state where neighbors report each other for violations of the carbon footprint limits. Picture it. See it.

    And above PICTURE THIS:

    “What if northern Siberia becomes more inhabitable and appropriate for agriculture, while great swaths of sub-Saharan Africa become too dry for a large population to live there – how will the exchange of population be organised? When similar things happened in the past, the social changes occurred in a wild, spontaneous way, with violence and destruction. Such a prospect is catastrophic in a world in which many nations have access to weapons of mass destruction.”

    See that?
    Can you picture it?
    See it?

    What that is, is genocide propaganda. It’s sly, but it’s not equivocal.


  5. So if we assume his work is alwasy functioning in this Golovinsky fashion, performing two acts at the same time, what this piece does is:

    For the liberals with assets, the well heeled progressive readers of the New Statesman. It’s helpful to remember Naomi Klein’s Ted Talk, which was a little after the volcano. But she represents the target, the analysis, that has appeal to these progressives but is a bit radical for them; they’re Blairites and this makes them uneasy, talk of reparations, of the leadership of the South, it seems to be aimed at reducing their comforts and east. To this audience, Zizek’s performs sets out to discredit the very movement he seems to be advocating but in this peculiarly extreme way. He says “I am part of the climate debt movement. You agree with me the problem is urgent. My soliution is a global police state and a reduction of your energy consumption, enforced by terror and torture.” Well is designed to make that association for that class of readers – of a global climate justice movement and a cinematic dystopia, a tyranny.

    But then comes another layer of provocation, drawing on a phantasmagoria of hoards of hungry Africans at the gates of Europe. Wild, violent. Nukes the only way to stop them. Picture this. You’ve seen it in the movies. – This is aimed at weaker minds, at the young who are his fans who are already more brain damaged by the spectacle. It is aimed specifically at white readers, designed to inculcate a sense of themselves as white and as European, facing a problem that is too many black Africans. They are invited to see a future horror movie, zombie movie, and to imagine solutions which such panoramic scenes suggest. The construction of two different kinds of populations – citizens and rabble, humans and zombies – is a consistent mission of his work, a topos which each piece performs maintenance at least on. Here a selection of youth are targeted and draw away from the rest as the addressees; they are hooked in by their concern for the climate and that concern – and fear and terror – is redirected to be a fear and terror of a flood of black people, wild and violent. (“the flood of the expropriated who overflow the gated communities that protect those who exploit them.”, “not men reduced to ‘beasts’, but the stripped-down form of the ‘beast’ produced by capitalist ideology.” etc)

  6. duncan Says:

    Thanks Chabert. Say – are you are to view comments at the LARB? They seem to have turned them white-on-white: I’ve tried on several machines now; it’s not a browser issue.

    I’m not sure how much we disagree – I do see that Zizek’s work – including New Statesman piece – performs these functions. And certainly Zizek will be getting access to plenty of mainstream forums because he can play the fool, be presented as a representative of the left and then shown as a snorting, gabbling, offensive clown – if you’re the editor of ‘Hard Talk’ or whatever, you’ve got to love this. And of course his (mis)representation of the Marxist tradition influences people like Kotsko, who read lots of Zizek but not much other left intellectual work (apparently).

    But I think a sizeable proportion of Zizek’s readership – many of the core fans – simply do endorse the manifest positions put forward. And this is part of the function Zizek’s work performs, as well. Kotsko, for instance, does want a terroristic police state; this is part of Zizek’s work’s appeal for him. It’s is why the piece he wrote for the LARB is at base so dishonest – and why it chooses to pitch itself at the level of form (“how to read Zizek”), not content (“what Zizek actually says”).


  7. hacked comments! haha kotsko must be so relieved. If you highlight you can read them though: here’s a new one

    On Tue, Sep 4, 2012 at 1:10 AM, David Auerbach wrote:
    Suggested next front: http://www.versobooks.com/blogs/1046-not-less-than-nothing-but-simply-nothing

    Zizek’s got some nerve accusing people of misreading him! Shouldn’t he be celebrating being misread? Much less writing *these* lines: “Truth doesn’t matter here—what matters is the effect. This is what today’s fast-food intellectual consumers crave for: simple catchy formulas mixed with moral indignation.” Oh physician, disappear up thy own ass already!

    ——————————————————————-

    I do agree the authoritarian fasho shit appeals to a good chunk – the most devoted – of Zizek’s audience. The whole operation depends on this – like Golovinski.

    But Zizek’s project is mainly destructive, disruptive. He’s not really trying to further some new project of a communist order, he’s just protecting the current ruling class and the status quo. His aim, the coherent purpose to it all, is to obstruct all opposition to US empire and white supremacy. So he can be very very flexible and opportunistic. He’s not trying to organize people or convince people of anything coherent – the opposite. He’s just trying to attack all the opposition to the US and to undermine all the analyses that expose it.


  8. I listened to some of that “masterclass” and I really didn’t think I was capable of being shocked by what his fans will enjoy but the defense of Joseph Mengele? Did you hear this?

    “In the middle of the film [Grey Zone] there is an intriguing dialogue between two of these privileged Jewish prisoners who were doing the job of executing, directing the prisoners to the gas chambers and so on and a top surgeon who in in the same camp did medical research on the corpses for the famous – but not as guilty as people think – Doctor Mengele. No I am not playing any obscenity I am just – This really brings up my worst, or best moral instincts. You know, I mean why this focus on Mengele? To avoid any misunderstanding, he was a nightmare, but as I already told you, there was a guy who was a professor in the 50s in the United States who was infinitely worse. I forgot his name, a Japanese doctor you know I think in Manchuria. The Japanese were doing the same experiments but on a much larger scale. [notice he has stopped lisping and spitting]. They have there a great medical experimentation compound. There were 105,000 only doctors there. And they were doing all the possible nasty experiment….”

    roughly commences1:04:00

    He must mean Ishii, but can’t name him because he wants to invent this professorship in the US, which I would imagine he’s freely adapting from Zadie Smith’s _White Teeth_.

    But then this moves into the death penalty – how the Sonderkommandos should really commit suicide because they deserve the death penalty while Mengele should not be so harshly viewed.

    So he’s got an open defense of Mengele (Mengele is like an “innocent country doctor” compared to the diabolical Japanese) , “not as guilty as we say”, a proposal that Sonderkommandos and other Auschwitz prisoners in the “grey zone” (Primo Levi’s terms that Agamben has distorted) deserve the death penalty more than the SS and Nazi doctors, whom we malign, accomplished via the insertion of a Hollywood film presented with an implied Agambenian misreading of Primo Levi as historical document, and an inappropriate analogy to doctors advising Latin American torturers.

    It’s so open, it’s so unabashed. Hitler Hitler Hitler, incessantly, like here:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/73154540/Zizek-The-Only-Good-Neighbor-is-a-Dead-Neighbor

    THE ONLY GOOD NEIGHBOR IS A DEAD NEIGHBOR

    “An eerie event took place on the evening of November 71942,when, in his special train rolling through Thuringia,Hitler was discussing the day’s major news with several aides inthe dining car; since allied air raids had damaged the tracks, thetrain frequently slowed its passage:“While dinner was served on exquisite china, the train stoppedonce more at a siding. A few feet away, a hospital train markedtime, and from their tiered cots, wounded soldiers peered intothe blazing light of the dining room where Hitler was immersedin conversation. Suddenly he looked up at the awed faces star-ing in at him. In great anger he ordered the curtains drawn,plunging his wounded warriors back into the darkness of theirown bleak world.”

    “The miracle of this scene is redoubled: on each side, they experi-enced what they saw through the window-frame as a fantasmatic apparition: for Hitler, it was a nightmarish view of the results of his military adventure; for the soldiers, it was the unexpected encounter with the Leader himself. The true miracle would have been here if a hand were to stretch through the window – say,Hitler reaching over to a wounded soldier. But, of course, it wasprecisely such an encounter, such an intrusion into his reality,that Hitler dreaded, so, instead of stretching his hand, he in panic ordered the curtains drawn… How, then, can we penetrate this barrier and reach out to the Real Other? There is a long literarytradition of elevating the face to face encounter with an enemysoldier as THE authentic war experience (see the writings of ErnstJuenger, who celebrated such encounters in his memoirs of thetrench attacks in World War I): soldiers often fantasize aboutkilling the enemy soldier in a face to face confrontation, lookinghim into the eyes before stabbing him. Far from preventing fur-ther fight, this kind of mystical communion of blood serves pre-cisely as its fake “spiritual” legitimization”


  9. A comment stuck in moderation there about Zizek’s defense of Joseph Mengele. Having come across that “master class” segment today I think I have to retreat from my previous remark. He really must be devoted to some revival of Nazism.

  10. duncan Says:

    Sorry you got caught in the spam filter.

    I didn’t get to day 5, hadn’t heard that. That’s appalling. One wonders if there’s anything at all he could say that his fans wouldn’t be willing to excuse.

  11. duncan Says:

    Just listened to the last 20 minutes. Unbelievable. The following was not the worst moment by a long shot – but I was struck by:

    and this movie is based on historical data – this was the ONLY real rebellion in concentration camps

    Uprisings at Treblinka and Sobibor gone – poof! vanished! – as the International Director of the Birkbeck Institute of the Humanities teaches his work to receptive students. Shameful that he’s given any platform at all. What a monster.


  12. Yes, I tried to note this also at LAReview but I am still banned. Under Attila’s last comment I tried to post;

    It should be noted he is justifying the SS using and then killing prisoners assigned to sonderkommandos in Auschwitz. Zizek first recites some dialogue from the film The Grey Zone where a sonderkommando, who would be mainly moving gassed bodies to be incinerated and then disposing of the remains, and the fictionalized Dr. Miklós Nyiszli on whose memoir the play which the film adapts is largely based, discuss their culpability, and both attest that they do not kill anyone. Zizek reads out a bit of dialogue (he hasn’t seen the film, I suspect) then says “people ask me, why are you for the death penalty? And I usually give them an example where I would not only be for death penalty but to kill someone knowing fully that this guy didn’t kill anyone else.” He proceeds to explain that it seems to him that the Sonderkommandos, who were executed by Nazis after their period of slave labour, could not return to “normal society” after having performed their tasks in the death camps. It was their moral duty to kill themselves, he believes, if Nazis did not kill them first. He draws an analogy between them and doctors complicit in torture in Latin America, declaring them worse than Mengele, whom he indirectly suggests was engaged in scientific work whose results were “precious” and whose crimes he feels have been deplored ungenerously. He stresses that critics have been too harsh on Mengele whose notorious tortures unto death of thousands including many Gypsy children he does not deny but insists are “inifinitely” less condemnable than the similar crimes committed by Japanese. “Infinitely”. After championing Joseph Mengele as unjustly vilified, Zizek describes his loathing of the doctors in Latin American military dictatorships whom he says “did nothing dirty” but just advised on how to inflict greatest pain without killing etc., whose work he links to Jewish prisoners in Auschwitz in what Levi called “the grey zone” (which Zizek misinterprets after the fashion of Agamben). Creating this analogy – between these doctors he says he read about in an unnamed book on Latin America and the sonderkommandos – Zizek concludes that these prisoners who were used as labour under threat of torture and death in Auschwitz had no right to survival of their ordeal. He declares survival of Auschwitz by those in “the grey zone” (virtually all survivors) to be a moral horror, an obscenity. He builds a case for the fittingness of Nazis killing their body disposal workers behind a flimsy veil of approval of the revolt in Auschwitz, discussing which he also takes as an opportunity for further historical revisionism (stating this was the only Nazi camp revolt, a thing he would not venture before a US university audience but which his audience in the UK seems to be ignorant enough to believe). He has exculpated Mengele (this time; on other occasions he exculpates other Nazi high command) and transferred all their guilt onto their victims, who cannot be permitted to live (and testify). This coheres with his typical celebration of the machismo of the torturer – Mengele, he suggests, was brave enough to torture children to death with his own hands, while the sonderkommandos who carried bodies from gas chambers to ovens were wimps trying to survive, with no such admirable boldness to their credit – but it also exhibits his typical insidious sophistry which serves mainly to disrupt the rationality and capacity for critical thought in his audience. And it is an instance of more revisionism, one more instance of Zizek’s repeated celebration of Nazis for their supposed honesty and daring: on the BBC he said the USSR was worse than Nazism precisely because he claims the Nazis were so honest and open about their crimes. It’s typical of Zizek to celebrate child torturers for being true to themselves against the despicable guilty liberals who unfairly abhor Joseph Mengele, and who themselves don’t torture children to death but only – he believes, for reasons we can only guess – dream about it.

  13. noir-realism Says:

    What’s wrong with your own judgement is that Zizek is portraying not his own official political strategies. As he states it this is the four elements of Alain Badiou’s revolutionary politics: egalitarian justice, terror, voluntarism, and, last, trust in the people. In typical provocateur appraisal he overdetermines each of the functional aspects. Reading him closer you see that he is speaking of both governmental and corporate entities, not the disenfranchised of the world; but of the exploiters, the abusers.

    You quote out of context and leave out the full impact of the message as one against Statist and Corporate Entities. And, the terror you derided is ironic since what he truly proposes is “severe limitations of liberal “freedoms” and the technological control of prospective lawbreakers” – and these are those States and Corporate entities that every year destroy more and more of our earth.

    And, voluntarism to quell by “means of collective decision-making that will arrest the “spontaneous” logic of capitalist development”… again an attack not upon the disenfranchised populace but upon those State and Corporate entities (World Bank, Oil Companies, da da da… ) continue to trash or enslave the earth.

    And, who is this dark terrorist, not some gun toting killer but “informer”, someone within the State or Corporation willing to stand up against the capitalist machine and say enough is enough…

    So in stead of seeing what Zizek is about you denounce your own misreading and would have others accept a literalization of his otherwise ideological provocation. Too bad….

  14. duncan Says:

    You quote out of context

    I invite any readers of this thread to click through the link to the article – here it is again! it’s short! – and judge for themselves whether I am taking Zizek’s clear, unambiguous, and politically repellent advocacy for a police state out of context.

  15. duncan Says:

    Wait, I want to play too though!

    the terror you derided is ironic since what he truly proposes is “severe limitations of liberal “freedoms” and the technological control of prospective lawbreakers” – and these are those States and Corporate entities that every year destroy more and more of our earth.

    Really I think this misreading shows a high level of naivete. When Zizek refers to “severe limitations of liberal ‘freedoms'” it is completely clear if you only read his words in the context of his work overall that the liberal freedoms he refers to are those of dragons. What kind of apologist for capitalism would defend the liberal freedoms of dragons?! They are terrifying beasts, laying waste every year (as Zizek says, in as many words!) to more and more of our earth: breathing fire; kidnapping damsels; hoarding gold. Yet here you are misreading the plain sense of Zizek’s statements, in order to divert conversation into this irrelevant topic of state and corporate power. It’s really a scandal.

  16. duncan Says:

    What do you make of the numerous and significant falsehoods in Zizek’s discussion of the Nazi concentration camps, discussed up thread? Beneath your notice? (I mean who cares about such things when there are chocolate laxative jokes to crack for the n hundredth time?)

  17. duncan Says:

    someone within the State or Corporation willing to stand up against the capitalist machine and say enough is enough

    Here’s the Time piece that Zizek is referring to. I know that Zizek fans don’t like to follow up on references, even when his falsehoods are brought to their attention – and who can blame you! reading is such a chore! and you can hardly be expected to source a backwater journal like Time! – so let me quote an extract:

    In the news media, it is “Enron whistle-blower” Sherron Watkins, even though Watkins never really blew a whistle. A whistle-blower would have written that letter to the Houston Chronicle, and long before August; Watkins wrote it to Ken Lay, and warned him of potential whistle-blowers lurking among them.

    Truly a model revolutionary – if only we all could participate in such egalitarian courage.

  18. duncan Says:

    Notice how noir-realism’s defence of Zizek operates. Zizek’s remarks are a “provocation”… but when we parse them correctly – through their (Laibachian?) irony – we discover that Zizek is advocating… a critique of state and corporate power. An utterly banal view, that is: a political stance he would share with hundreds of thousands of left and liberal intellectuals the world over. If this is, in fact, what Zizek is saying, what could possibly be special about Zizek’s contribution to existing critical discourse? What novel contribution could be sufficiently important that it would warrant overlooking his defence of a racist pogrom, his multiple uncorrected falsehoods about the history of the holocaust, his advocacy of ethnically homogeneous states in the former Yugoslavia, etc. etc. etc. (to name but a very few of the politically and ethically offensive stances he has (‘apparently’!) articulated)? What could Zizek possibly add to critical left discourse that would outweigh his obvious, ‘manifest’, negative contributions to public life?

    In fact, defenders of Zizek rely on the ‘manifest’ reading to generate a frisson of transgression. They rely on the a sense that Zizek is saying the unsayable; is thinking outside of ordinary left categories; is advocating stances fundamentally incompatible with ordinary left political thought. But when challenged about the content of these stances, the stances evaporate. “Oh, Zizek isn’t really saying he wants a police state! He’s saying corporations have too much power!” Ok – so is everyone else within any hailing distance of the left. So… so what? If Zizek’s actual contribution, once his work is parsed appropriately, is so devastatingly banal, why is Zizek a figure of any importance at all? Can’t we just ignore him?

  19. duncan Says:

    Tell me how the informer-driven enforcement of legally mandated per capita energy consumption norms would work in practice, noir-realism? If your goal is to limit corporate pollution, wouldn’t regulation of greenhouse gas emissions be the logical policy choice? Doesn’t tethering your regulatory regime to per capita consumption intrinsically orient enforcement towards… well… consumption? Why on earth, if the object of Zizek’s terror is corporate entities, would he frame his proposals this way?

  20. duncan Says:

    Or are these not Zizek’s proposal’s either? Are they all just ‘provocation’? Has Zizek in fact ever proposed anything in his life? Has he ever even written anything down? Is it all just a mirage, evaporating as soon as one approaches it, leaving behind nothing but the illusion of memories, and the smell of smug, ignorant reaction?


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