Quora answer: Why is Slavoj Zizek hailed as such a badass by some?

Apr 08 2013

Badass? Seems a bit odd as an expression for Zizek.

Just like we are nostalgic during the Metaphysical Era for the passing of the gods, so to we are nostalgic for the passing of Communism as our enemy. Gorbachev told Reagan he was going to do the worst thing possible to him, take away our enemy. And he did. But he did not realize how resourceful we were at generating enemies and in no time we replaced the Cold War with the War on Terror. But now the nostalgia is for an enemy we could understand. Who is some sense like ourselves, i.e. secular. But now we have an enemy we really cannot fathom the religions fanatic who would rather kill themselves hitting back at us than live. So in this time when our new enemies are alien to us, a simple communist is appealing. Zizek says about communism and its fall, and its horrors: if at first you do not succeed try try again. His interesting message is psychoanalytic rather than political. His political message is simplistic and rather uninteresting. But the idea that he can hold to such passe political beliefs makes us wish for the old days where we had an enemy from within we could fight with the tactics of Joe McCarthy, i.e. with tactics just like those of our enemies. Then there was a simple world, where just by getting rid of anyone who thought, or had an intellectual bent we could dumb down our society enough that our masses were no longer a threat to our way of life, i.e. liberal democracy and our precious freedoms without responsibilities. Zizek’s politics represents who we are in our essence, i.e. anti-communists who are satisfied to duck under desks and dream of an apocalyptic world after world war III. He is the old enemy which we vanquished, merely by inventing the Internet. Not like China which is the ultimate extreme of the capitalist state with whom we have a symbiotic Walmart relationship where they finance our debt to buy more and more Chinese made junk or poisoned food or high tech goodies made by slave labor. China who turns their prisoners into on demand transplant donors. We did not play into the hands of the soviets because we could understand them, they like us were ideological creatures. But ultra=capitalist communists we cannot understand and we give away the farm to them without so much as batting the an eye, after we spent decades and billions defeating the soviets. We waste our resources on fighting an abstract war on Terror and stretch ourselves thin trying to be the only remaining superpower with troops all over the globe. We are even sending them to Australia now, for gods sake. Caught between the ultra capitalist so called communist state of China and the Islamicist Terrorists on the other hand with the Oil rich Saudis who finance AlQueda. We actually give our wealth away to those who would destroy us happily in a kind of ignorant bliss, because the Chinese are inscrutable, and the Islamic Wahabi sponsored fanatics are incomprehensible to us. And so when Zizek comes along and proposes communism as an alternative to the excesses of capitalism which we have witnessed recently as our markets collapsed, it sounds almost reasonable. It is like playing oldies but goodies on the radio and remembering what it was like when we were young and at the top of our game, rather than what we have turned into, which is a pawn in the hands of communists who are more capitalistic than we are, and Islamic terrorists who are more crazy than our own evangelicals who work to hasten the end by supporting Zionism unthinkingly to the point where we are likely to be brought into a war with Iran by the Israelis. Clearly we our out of our depth, not knowing how to react to the Arab spring when we have supported dictators elsewhere for so long. We want freedom ourselves but everyone else under the thumb of some totalitarian regime. People we can work with and understand rather than crazies who want freedom at all costs. I.e. who want to be like us. So a nice communist seems almost quaint at this point. And if he has interesting things to say about culture and society via interpreting Lacan as Hegel then so much the better. We bring him in to the Occupy Wallstreet movement to talk to the kids because we know he is harmless. Mean while we kill American citizens and detain them overseas in rendition prisons, our own gulag.

To fight an enemy we have to become like them. And as I have pointed out elsewhere we have entered the age of corporatism which is a fusion of Communism, Capitalism and Fascism. And our global corporatism which as Ron Paul points out is who Obama supports. Obama is not a socialist or communist but a corporatist. And so the Republicans who have sold their souls to the corporations via the lobbyists feel like they have to appeal to the lunatic fringe of their party and so are worse candidates than Obama which is merely a straight forward supporter of corporatism. Like Clinton Obama wins by going right, which drives the republicans our into the own lunatic fringe. And so our democracy is undermined from within by the elevation of demagogues on the right like Santorum and Gingrich. It is demagoguery that is the end of democracy. Meanwhile Obama appears to be the perfect model of sanity holding back the storm of idiocy from the right. And thus the Corporatists win our either way. Either by getting their lackeys installed under the rubric of the Tea Party and social conservatism, or by getting elected an eloquent right wing politician like Obama who can actually put together a whole sentence without making any gaffs. Either way Corporatism wins in our political environment.

Communism is just a part of corporatism, i.e. the part that provides slave labor overseas. On the other hand Terrorism provides the impetuous toward fascism in which we give up our personal freedoms in order to be safe from Terror, trusting in Government to not go too far, and take their surveillance to excesses (fond wish). And then Capitalism can run amuck though deregulation, and wreak more havoc on our economy than any enemy ever has. In light of all this a simple communist who we can call our own, is infinitely preferable, because his communism is our long lost simple enemy who we long to recover so we can understand our enemy who is like ourselves again. The fact that this simple communist message comes with a powerful social and cultural critique based on Lacan as Hegel makes it all the more alluring.

Zizek is the trojan horse. Outwardly he appears to be something we can understand, and old enemy who we long for. Inwardly he carries a psychoanalytic critique of our culture and society to which we have no answer due to its extreme sophistication and the fact that it gives a point of view that can critique anything, as Zizek shows daily. We bring him in to our midst as the representative of the fallen enemy, and he points out to us all the ways in which we are our own worst enemies. In other words his message is quite simply we have nothing to fear except ourselves, and our own ignorance that creates unnecessary enemies just because we feel we need an enemy to give our lives meaning, and also so we will be distracted from the takeover of our society by corporatist interests. By giving our all to the global economic arm of colonialism in its last stages, we have sapped our own strength since the end of the Cold War. And Zizek is there to point our that we are doing all this to ourselves and so we deserve what ever we get in the end.

If as Adorno and Horkheimer says that capitalism is like Odysseus bound to the mast while his men row with their ears full of wax, then Zizek is that siren who Odysseus hears. Zizek offers political nostalgia for the lost enemy, while at the same time singing to us of that we have bound ourselves to the mast, and we have poured wax into our own ears. And the loss of our place as the last superpower due to hubris and over extension, like the Greek folly of the attempt to take Sicily during the Peloponnesian War, only make for Zizek a self-fulfilling prophecy. He is like Cassandra who was ignored because she said things that people did not want to hear that just happened to be true because she saw through the illusions of others. For instance, Agamemnon’s illusion that he could return home as a hero to a wife whose daughter he had sacrificed to get good headwinds when he was leaving. Because he left with a slaughter he had to return to a slaughter (his own). Zizek turns Lacan into the Oracle of our fate while he offers over simplistic political solutions that we don’t take seriously. Zizek does Lacan one better and becomes his Psychoanalyst turning him into Hegel. Just as Lacan used Freud as a foil, so Zizek uses Lacan as a foil, reading Hegel though him. And so Hegel comes back to haunt us, who was rejected during the Soviet period because Marx drew from Hegel. That drove us into Analytical Philosophy (the safe alternative in a McCarthy era purge of intellectuals). Zizek is a Communist and proud of it. He with all his quirks is an outstanding intellectual, who with Badiou have taken over the reigns of Continental Philosophy after the death of the real greats like Deleuze, and Derrida, the generation after Sartre and Merleau-Ponty. Badiou out analyzes the Analytic Philosophers by appealing to Set Theory and Logic to ground his ideas of Being and Worlds. Zizek on the other hand makes the oracle of Lacan comprehensible. Lacan sits on the tripod, while Zizek as priest turns the random mumblings of the intoxicated priestess into poetry.

Zizek is “Badass” because he points out that we have Bad Asses. In other words we foul our own nest. And as a member of a fallen ideological movement who we fought almost half a century if not longer he has the right to laugh as we fall too, without our old enemies to help us keep our balance.



No responses yet

Comments are closed at this time.

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog