Quora answer: Does Zizek’s Marxism contradict his own philosophy based on his reinterpretation of Lacan?
Short answer is No. Long answer is Yes.
Zizek in his politics is the fallen anti-hero of a lost cause that generates incredible nostalgia for an old enemy we could understand, because we have become like them in our struggle with the Soviets.
Zizek as psychoanalyst is the priest to the oracle of Lacan, the anti-Derrida, the real source behind all the work of Deleuze besides Merleau-Ponty. Deleuze took pieces of Lacan and tried to make them comprehensible. Zizek makes all of Lacan comprehensible because he is seen as a foil for Hegel’s views, just as Lacan used Freud as a Foil via semiotics for Hegel’s views.
Marxism turns Hegel upside down, and in the process loses all the meaning. So really Marxism and Hegelianism are two sides of the same coin, i.e. the unintelligible half and the intelligible half, or vice versa as tastes vary. There is no accounting for tastes in philosophy.
So to the extent that Hegelianism is really intelligent Marxism then no there is no contradiction.
But to the extent that Marxism turned into Soviet Communist Totalitarianism, and Zizek says if at first you don’t succeed try, try again, and thus indulges in what Deleuze talks about as Repetition (i.e. Repetition is that which cannot be repeated.) then there is a contradiction, because Zizek believes that there can be an ideal Marxism that really does serve the proletariat instead of enslaving them through bureaucratic dictatorship. as the Chinese do to create our commodities which they then finance our buying. Communism we see in China is really prefect capitalism. And so what was meant to destroy capitalism (We will bury you! [shoe resolutely hitting podium]) has in the post cold war period turned into ultra capitalism and made a death pact with Corporatism which is the oligarchy that rules American though the power of Lobbyists supported by “person” corporations who keep failed Republican candidates alive merely by pouring in more money. Thus we live in the world of the undead political candidates that an hang on in spite of continuing to lose. The undead political candidates propped up by Big Money from Corporations given personhood by Bush Supreme Court, i.e. the unliving, transform our political process before our eyes. And this idealization by Zizek’s naive politics, is in sharp contrast to his sharp and insightful reading of Lacan as Hegel, thus bringing Hegel back from the dead. Analytic Philosophy had thought it had killed Hegel, as well as the radicalization of Hegel as Nietzsche. But now that there is no Soviet communism, communism is free to be reborn according to Zizek, as the protection of the commons, as Zizek said in his speech to the kids in Occupy WallStreet. Joe McCarthy is rolling over in his grave, as he hears the echos of the children of middle class America repeating verbatim the words of Zizek’s speech to the occupy Wall Street not “flower children” any more but weed children now. Weeds growing up through the cracks in Wallstreet. Zizek says go home but do not forget that this was not just another Woodstock, a memory to warm you in your old age, so you can say I was there. But hopefully a beginning of real grass-roots change. But now the camps have been dismantled by the powers that be, for sanitary reasons. And the ideal of occupation until change occurs has been shattered. By the way the change Obama promised but did not deliver on. His corporatist agenda made it inconvenient to prosecute fraud that led to the financial meltdown. Where would the money come from for the next election if we put into prison the prime donors. In short the naïve political ideals of Zizek is in sharp contrast and in contradiction to his sophisticated psychoanalytic analysis of Lacan and Hegel, and though them of our current Social and Cultural scene.
And so we are fascinated by Zizek because he is everything we are not. We are not merely liberal democrats fighting Soviet communism with Reagan anymore. And so we look at him and see the old enemy, the one like us, the one we could understand. On the other hand Zizek is a consummate intellectual, something we gave up during the McCarthy era with the purge of intellectuals in our culture, and so we lost the institutional and cultural as well as social support for intellectualism, and thus our society could not produce someone like Zizek if it wanted to. All our intellectuals are lame, hobbled by the fact that our society has become dumbed down to such an extent that they are culturally irrelevant no matter what they say, so they stick to their specialties, and worry about their chances of getting tenure. Zizek is fearless in saying that the King has no clothes on. But the alternative he offers is a return to Communist ideological sovereignty and totalitarianism. He does not yet realize we have entered a post ideological age. Fukayama calls it the end of History in the Hegelian sense. It is the end of the struggle of ideologies because they have all merged into Corporatism which is Communism (China providing slave labor) + Fascism (the smooth running bureaucracy that broke up the Occupy camps for sanitary reasons) + global capitalism in the form of stateless corporate personhood seeking economic world colonialization and domination which is backfiring on us. Obama has the agenda of supporting corporatism to the utmost as lucidly pointed out by Ron Paul. Obama uses drones to kill Al-Queda as well as american citizens never put on trial thus violating at will the sovereignty of other nations, showing that nation states territory is not theirs alone and cannot be sanctuaries for terrorists. Meanwhile at home he does not prosecute the economic crimes on Wallstreet that led to the financial disaster of corporations run wild, thus showing that the economic territory staked out by financial institutions is unviable even if it wreaks destruction on the rest of society.
As Zizek himself would say this contradiction political ideal and psychological reality does not lead to a synthesis, but remains an open wound. We are living in that wound, and Zizek is happy to point it out to us on every occasion he gets.