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Archive for July 16th, 2011

zizek and linksfaschismus

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I’m not sure there’s a clearer index of the basic intellectual dysfunction of the anglo-american theoretical left than the persistent popularity of Zizek and his work. The dysfunction is this: rather than conceive of themselves as participants in an on-going conversation, a-a theorists see themselves as the passive recipients of truths formulated elsewhere, generally on the continent. These passive recipients then apply these truths as they will – questioning them, revising them, arguing with them, developing one’s one alternative or oppositional versions and takes is not really part of the bargain. Theory is something, in the end, that happens elsewhere – not here.

Unthinking acceptance of the arguments of those deemed to be the master theorists has to be behind their continuing popularity. How else could one square the fact that individuals otherwise engaged in democratic activism, say, line up for hours to hear Zizek give one of his whistlestop talks at Birkbeck? Or those out on the streets in defense of state-funded education return to their rooms to work on translations of Badiou?

At any rate, there’s an incredibly sensible piece by Alan Johnson on Zizek and his fascist tendencies up at Jacobin. Here’s a bit from the beginning:

Mark Lilla in his book The Reckless Mind predicted that the “extraordinary displays of intellectual philotyranny” that disfigured the twentieth century left would not simply disappear just because the wall had fallen. So it has proved. Since 2000, Žižek has established his “New Communism” on two foundations. First, a system of concepts – Egalitarian Terror, the Absolute Act, Absolute Negativity, Divine Violence, the Messianic Moment, the Revolutionary Truth-Event, the Future Anterieur, and so on. Second, a human type and an associated sensibility – that ideologized and cruel fanatic, contemptuous of morality and trained to enormity that Žižek calls the “freedom fighter with an inhuman face.” In his passive-aggressive way, Zikek has even admitted what this so-called New Communism amounts to: “[Peter] Sloterdijk even mentions the “re-emerging Left-Fascist whispering at the borders of academia,’ where, I guess, I belong.”

Žižek’s philosophy is, to be blunt, is a species of linksfaschismus. This is true of its murderous hostility to democracy, its utter disdain for the ‘stupid’ pleasures of bourgeois life, its valorization of will, ruthlessness, terror and dictatorship, and its belief in the salvific nature of self-sacrificial death.

(Hat tip to Sofie Buckland for the link via FB…)

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July 16, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Posted in theory, zizek