Slavoj Žižek, the jester of neoliberal capitalism

Image: Lăzuran Călin
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By GABRIEL ROCKHILL*

The most famous “Marxist” in the capitalist world, graced by newspapers linked to the engine of US imperialism

In 2012, one of the most prominent intellectuals in the contemporary world was named to the magazine's "Top 100 Global Thinkers" list. ForeignPolicy.[I] He shares that honor with the likes of Dick Cheney, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Benjamin Netanyahu and former Mossad director Meir Dagan. The most famous conception of this theorist – according to the well-known magazine, which is in practice an arm of the US State Department – ​​is that “the great revolution awaited by the left will never come”.[ii]

It is true that other ideas of his compete seriously with this one and we could add more recent conceptions to the list. To cite just a few examples, this eminent global thinker described XNUMXth-century communism, and more specifically Stalinism, as "perhaps the worst ideological, political, ethical, social (and so on) catastrophe in human history."[iii] In fact, he adds to this, by way of emphasis, that "if you compare it at some abstract level of suffering, Stalinism was worse than Nazism", apparently lamenting that Stalin's Red Army defeated the Nazi machine. Nazi war.[iv]

The Third Reich would not have been as "radical" in its violence as communism, he insists, and "Hitler's problem is that he wasn't violent enough."[v] Perhaps he could have picked up some tips from Mao Tse-Tung, who, according to intellectual power, made the "merciless decision to starve tens of millions."[vi] This baseless assertion places the author well to the right of the anticommunist black book of communism, who acknowledged that Mao did not intend to kill his compatriots.[vii] However, such information is not relevant to the theorist, as he considers that “the worst crime against humanity” in the modern world was not committed by Nazism or Fascism, but by Communism.

The thinker in question is also a self-declared Eurocentric, as he insinuates that Europe is politically, morally and intellectually superior to all other regions of the planet.[viii] When the refugee crisis intensified in Europe – thanks to the West's brutal military interventions across the Mediterranean region – he parroted Samuel Huntington's credo about the “clash of civilizations” and asserted that “the plain fact is that most of refugees come from a culture incompatible with Western European notions of human rights”.[ix]

Furthermore, this distinguished commentator supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election.[X] Recently, he explicitly positioned himself on the right of the notorious warmonger Henry Kissinger (accused by him of being a “pacifist”); he registered “full support” for the US in its proxy war in Ukraine; and argued that “we need a stronger NATO” to defend “European unity”[xi].

Being praised by the prominent newspaper co-founded by Huntington – an arch-conservative US National Security agent – ​​is just the tip of the iceberg for this superstar world that has achieved a level of international fame rarely bestowed on professional intellectuals[xii]. In addition to being an academic celebrity, with prestigious positions in leading universities in the capitalist world and innumerable international conferences, he has consolidated an enormous media platform. This includes publishing books and articles at breakneck speed in some of the most important vehicles, being the subject of several films and appearing regularly on television and major media shows.

Given the nature of these political positions and their amplification by the bourgeois cultural apparatus, it can be assumed that the thinker in question is a right-wing ideologue, promoted by think tanks imperialists and US National Security. However, it is a commentator that everyone who researches Online, looking for radical theory or even Marxism, finds it almost immediately; is one of the most visible intellectuals among those considered on the left: Slavoj Žižek.

Donald Trump expressed his belief in the power of the US propaganda machine with the infamous claim that he could “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone” without losing a single voter.[xiii] In the imperialist heart of our perverse and decaying society of the spectacle, much of this applies to the poster child of the global theory industry as well. Slavoj Žižek could take the most reactionary political positions possible, transmit them through the capitalist cultural apparatus, and still be presented as a leading intellectual of the left. In reality, that's exactly what he does.

Stuffing sausage for ignorant

As a young philosophy student in the United States in the early 1990s, I have to admit that I was seduced by this mercenary and the system that promoted him. He burst onto the scene like an Evel Knievel of the theory industry when I was an undergraduate. More than monotonous and endless dissertations on the history of European philosophy – of which I knew nothing –, here was someone who, to a nineteen-year-old, ill-educated, aspiring intellectual, could talk about Hollywood movies, science fiction, consumer society, digital culture, theories of fashion in Europe, pornography, sex and, above all, sex. It was intoxicating to read, even more so for someone miseducated by the American ideological apparatus and hungry for something – commodified as – different.

I devoured each of his books as they came to light in the 1990s and early XNUMXst century. Also, I followed in his footsteps in pursuit of a Ph.D. under the guidance of his Parisian intellectual father: Alain Badiou. However, as I continued to educate myself, I began to tire of its repetitions, theoretical superficialities and mechanical rhetorical movements. More and more I saw his provocative antics as a replacement [substitute] for historical and materialist analysis. This came to a head in 2001, when he endeavored to explain the events of XNUMX/XNUMX with a cheeky Lacanian interpretation of the film. Matrix. Its fiery insights, even if they sold like hot cakes, paled in the face of rigorous materialist analyzes of the history of US imperialism and the machinations of its national security apparatus – such as those presented in the work of Noam Chomsky or, better still, Michael Parenti.[xiv]

In graduate school, when I translated a book by Jacques Rancière, I had a unique opportunity to see how Slavoj Žižek stuffed sausage. Given that Jacques Rancière was then largely unknown in the English-speaking world, publisher after publisher declined the project [to publish the translation]. When I was finally able to get one of them to consider the possibility, after a harsh initial rejection, the sales director of the publishing house – now disappeared – imposed a condition on me: to guarantee its profits, I would have to secure the preface of a marketing heavyweight of the theory radical, someone like Slavoj Žižek. I spoke to him, who agreed and then sent me a confusing text that bore a clear resemblance to the section on Rancière in his book The Ticklish Subject [The sensitive matter][xv].

Through free associations, he added certain ruminations and introductory comments to one of Rancière's books on cinema, which demonstrated little or no knowledge of his work on aesthetics or the book in question (I had translated Le Partage du sensible: Esthetique et politique [The sharing of the sensible: aesthetics and politics. Ed. 34]). Disgusted by this blatant disregard for academic rigor, but then bereft of any institutional power or deeper political analysis, I found my hands tied, having to accept the use of the quack to sell theory-industry wares if I wanted my translation to work. see the light of day. I tried to bury the preface by making it an afterword and surrounding it with scholarly elucidations on Rancière's work. Today, however, I think I should have simply stopped the project.

Looking back on my experiences with the so-called Elvis of cultural theory, I now realize that, as part of a class stratum of poorly educated managerial professionals, but rising in the heart of imperialism, I was the butt of Slavoj Žižek's shenanigans. In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell and his first major book appeared in English, by Verso: The Sublime Object of Ideology. With a preface by the radical-democrat and “post-Marxist” – that is, anti-Marxist – Ernesto Laclau, the book was presented as an emblematic publication in his new series with Chantal Mouffe.

The series sought to be based on the “anti-essentialist” theoretical fashion, such as that of France (inspired by Martin Heidegger), aiming to provide “a new vision for the left, conceived in terms of a radical and plural democracy”, instead of support for socialism[xvi]. These two radical democrats [Laclau and Mouffe] – whose political orientation resonated with the anti-communist movements presented as “pro-democracy” and used to dismantle socialist countries – played a central role in promoting Žižek. They invited him to present his work in the English-speaking world and opened up prestigious publishing platforms for him.

He reciprocated, explicitly using their post-Marxist statement, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy [Hegemony and socialist strategy, Intermeios] to frame his book, based on the common opposition to “revolution as a global solution” advocated by “traditional Marxism”[xvii]. In 1991, the USSR was dismantled, and the aspiring Western-oriented post-Marxist theorist published two more books: another in the Laclau and Mouffe series and one by October[xviii]. Thus, he decisively rode the wave of radical democracy at a time when dissident, “pro-democracy” movements, supported by imperialist states and their intelligence services, were violently reducing working-class earnings and redistributing wealth among those at the top.

As Soviet-type socialism was dismantled, this an influencer native of Eastern Europe increasingly presented his post-Marxism as nothing less than the most radical form of Marxism. A bit like Elvis – who clearly achieved fame in the music industry thanks to the appropriation, domestication and integration of music from black communities (often rooted in real resistance) –, Slavoj Žižek became the lead singer of the world's theory industry, borrowing from Marxist tradition some of its insights most important and subjecting them to a comic postmodern cultural mix.

Thus, it managed to crush the substance of Marxism and commodify it for mass consumption in the era of neoliberal anti-communist revanchism. In this regard, it is worth noting that, in the 1990s, while celebrating the supposed end of history, the establishment capitalist also promoted the symbol of Marxism among a stratified niche of the intelligentsia radlib [radical-liberal], but allegedly stripped of its substance, almost like a red balloon that floats wherever the wind (of capitalism) blows. That was Slavoj Žižek: the best-known “Marxist” of the frenzied era of neoliberal anti-communism. Such a mysterious fellow from the East – the exact caricature of the “crazy Marxist”, best captured by the nickname “the Borat of philosophy” – rose like a perverse phoenix rejoicing in the flames of the destruction of Soviet socialism.

dialectical sophistry

Like many of his fellow self-described radical thinkers – whose fish oil sells well because it's so slippery – Slavoj Žižek prides himself on his elusive prose and erratic behavior. As we read it, we can sense, as we turn each page, yet another catch, when we discover that it actually means the opposite (of whatever it was we were led to believe before)! Like a child who never tires of playing hide-and-seek – despite his inability to actually hide – the Slovenian wunderkind squirms and dodges discursive control, saying everything and its opposite, hoping to cover his tracks and remain forever. elusive. He seems to ignore the fact that an obvious and consistent ideology operates in the chameleonic character of intellectuals of his ilk. It's opportunism.

When Slavoj Žižek was interviewed for the [clothing company] Abercrombie & Fitch catalog, his interviewer informed him that she would send him the text before publication. To this he replied: “Oh, no need. Whatever I say, you can put it the other way around.”[xx]. Saying something is as good as saying the opposite to an opportunist whose goal is to get his name in the spotlight. Indeed, if you say two things at once – and falsely attribute this rhetorical play to “dialectics”, giving pseudo-intellectual cover to a crass chicanery for self-promotion – you will take up more space, save time and crush those who really have something to do with it. to say.

The fact that the bourgeois cultural apparatus offers him such a large platform reveals his propensity to promote nonsense at the expense of really radical forms of analysis. It is worth remembering, in this sense, that his Dadaist dialectic has very precise limits. As far as I know, we never heard him say something like “the dominant ideology often says that the really existing socialism was completely horrible… but it's just the opposite!”.

One might wonder why a self-styled Marxist would uncritically embrace the coarser elements that promote him in the culture industry, willingly prostituting himself to fashion mega-corporations ranked in the “Sweatshop Hall of Shame” by International Labor Rights Forum [International Labor Rights Forum] in 2010. However, this is just one of several examples of the umbilical relationship between the global industry of theory and the general consumer industry of capitalism. Slavoj Žižek not only sells books, he advertises books, art, literature, magazines, newspapers, public shows, but also American clothes “for cool, good-looking people” (in the terms of A&F CEO[xx]).

An anti-Communist and pro-Western dissident

Since this crook says and unsays everything and its opposite, it is worth focusing on what he actually did and the nature of his theoretical practice. To better understand this, we have to place him, with his machinations, within the social relations of intellectual production. In other words, by theoretical practice I mean not only his subjective activities as an intellectual, but also the objective social totality within which he moves and which promoted him to international superstar. Part of my argument is that Slavoj Žižek should be understood as a cultural product of the global theory industry rather than fetishized as a subject sui generis.

the author of In Defense of Lost Causes [In Defense of Lost Causes] was born in 1949 and grew up in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (RSFI). He would later claim – with nothing but anecdotes to back it up – that “life in a communist state was generally worse than in many capitalist states”.[xxx]. However, his native country provided a quality of life for the masses that is worth quickly recalling:

Between 1960 and 1980, Yugoslavia had one of the highest growth rates, in addition to free health and medical services, the guaranteed right to [wage] income, one month of paid vacation, a literacy rate above 90%, and an expectation of life of 72 years. Yugoslavia also offered its citizens public transport, rent, electricity and water, in a largely public market socialist economy.[xxiii].

According to his biographer, Tony Myers, Slavoj Žižek disliked the communist culture of his homeland. Certainly informed of personal socioeconomic advantages in the wider capitalist world, the young intellectual hireling devoted himself to absorbing Western pop culture. “As a student,” Myers writes, “he developed an interest in and wrote more about French philosophy than about Communist paradigms of thought.”[xxiii]. His MA in French theory “was considered politically suspect” because, in the words of his colleague Mladen Dolar (a Slovenian philosopher), “the authorities were concerned that Slavoj Žižek’s charismatic ideas might unduly influence students with dissident thinking.”[xxv].

In the end, his first book was about the unrepentant Nazi Martin Heidegger, the main figurehead of the Slovenian anti-communist opposition, according to Slavoj Žižek himself. He also published the first Slovenian translation of the first philosopher who played a huge role in Heidegger's rehabilitation after World War II: Jacques Derrida[xxiv]. The French wizard of deconstruction himself was directly involved in anti-communist dissident political activism against the Czechoslovak government[xxv]. He co-founded the French arm of the Jan Hus Education Foundation, which has been funded by an impressive array of Western corporations and governments with a history of supporting anti-Communist subversion, such as the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, the Open Society Fund (Soros), the Ford, the US Information Agency, and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), an appendix of the CIA[xxviii].

After a stay in Paris to complete a second Ph.D., Slavoj Žižek returned to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and first gained attention as an anti-Communist dissident who was part of the pro-Western “opposition” influenced by French theory[xxviii]. “By the late 1980s,” he explains, “I myself was personally engaged in undermining the order of socialist Yugoslavia.”[xxix]. He was the “leading political columnist” for the Youth, a prominent weekly publication, part of the dissident movement and against communist rule[xxx]. In a long and detailed report by the Yugoslav Communist Party, this magazine – in which he wrote a weekly column – was accused of being supported by the USA.

That report also highlighted the proliferation of counterrevolutionaries who threatened the very existence of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.[xxxii]. Slavoj Žižek later claimed on several occasions that it was precisely his orientation as a dissident that contributed to the fall of communism.[xxxi]. He was involved, among other things, with the Committee for the Protection of the Human Rights of the Four Accused, which in 1988 demanded – in his own words – “the abolition of the current socialist system” and “the worldwide overthrow of the socialist regime”.[xxxii]. Slavoj Žižek was perfectly aligned with the National Security Decision Directive 133 (NSDD) [US National Security Decision-Making Directive Concerning US Policy in Yugoslavia] by President Ronald Reagan. In 1984, this directive called for “the expansion of efforts for a 'silent revolution', aimed at overthrowing communist governments and parties” in Yugoslavia and other eastern European countries.[xxxv].

Slavoj Žižek co-founded the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and served as one of its main spokesmen[xxxiv]. The PLD was based on the liberal tradition in favor of “pluralism” and dominated Slovenia in the first decade after the end of socialism.[xxxiv]. Slavoj Žižek was the party's candidate for the (then four-person) presidency in the breakaway republic's first election, which served as a wedge to dismantle the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He made the following campaign promise in a televised debate in 1990: "As a member of the presidency, I can substantially assist in the decomposition of the ideological state apparatus of real socialism."[xxxviii].

He expressed his intention to implement liberal economic structuring policies, which had already had disastrous consequences for workers, claiming to be, in this regard, “a pragmatist”: “if it works, why not try a dose of it?”[xxxviii]. In fact, he publicly defended “planned privatizations” and categorically asserted, like a good capitalist ideologue: “more capitalism, in our case, would mean more social security”[xxxix]. Again, this was perfectly in line with Reagan's NSDD 133 directives, which explicitly called for "a long-term internal liberalization in Yugoslavia" and the promotion of a "market-oriented economic structure in Yugoslavia".[xl].

The liberal east has also asserted its support – at least for the short term demolition of socialism – for what the anti-communist philosopher Karl Popper called the “open society”. He argued that George Soros – the anti-communist founder of the Open Society Fund [Open Society Fund] and an alumnus of Popper – did “good work in the fields of education and refugees, keeping alive the spirit of theory and social science”[xi]. Popper supported NATO intervention in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and his work was promoted by the Congress for Cultural Freedom [Congress for Cultural Freedom], an infamous CIA front organization.

George Soros was heavily invested in anti-socialist regime change operations in Eastern Europe. In Yugoslavia, yourOpen Society Institute channeled more than $100 million into the coffers of the anti-Milosevic opposition, founding political parties, publishing houses and 'independent' media”[xliii]. Furthermore, Soros frankly admitted that – through his generous funding of anti-communist organizations and activities – “he was deeply involved in the disintegration of the Soviet system”[xiii].

Although Slavoj Žižek was narrowly defeated in his presidential race, he served as Ambassador for Science in the emerging post-socialist republic and is apparently still serving as an adviser to the government.[xiv]. Indeed, he expressed his “public support for the Slovenian state after capitalist restoration in the 1990s” and remained true to his anti-communist liberalism: “I did something I lost all my friends for, which no good person on the left would ever do: I fully supported the ruling party of Slovenia”[xlv].

The PLD, as a capitalist party, acted for denationalization and privatization. This in a context in which the IMF and the World Bank were pressing for brutal economic counter-reforms, which destroyed the industrial sector, dismantled the welfare state, promoted the collapse of real wages and fired workers in large steps (614 thousand people, in a force total industrial workforce of about 2,7 million, were laid off between 1989-90)[xlv]. The pro-privatization party openly supported by Žižek in the period of “the massive fall in the living standards of large sections of the world's population” was also in favor of becoming a minor member of the imperialist camp. He was the “main proponent of joining the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)”[xlv]. This process began in the 1990s; Slovenia officially joined the European Union in 2003 and NATO the following year[xlviii].

Therefore, we must not lose sight of the fact that this intellectual entrepreneur was pro-western civil society and against the state when it was socialist, and proudly against civil society and pro-state when it became capitalist (and sought affiliation with capitalist and imperialist transnational organizations). )[xlix]. Incidentally, in his presidential campaign he advocated for an anti-socialist purge of the state apparatus, adding that he would be very strict and "start from scratch" with regard to "Administration of Domestic Affairs, political police, etc."[l]. He explicitly advocated the development of an intelligence service totally free of any socialist subjects, which could only be interpreted as one of the CIA's sweetest dreams for the breakaway republic (and raises serious doubts about his relationship with such an agency, which played central role in overthrowing socialist governments around the world, often hand in hand with anti-socialist political parties, intelligence services, publishing outlets and intellectuals).

As he stated, “I would cut it [The Domestic Affairs Administration and Political Police]. And now I will say something sinful. I believe that in these turbulent times Slovenia will need an intelligence service, because in this battle for its sovereignty there will be actions to destabilize it. But it is particularly important that this service does not share any continuity with the Domestic Affairs [ie, the Socialist] Administration. In this I defend a cut”[li]. Communists, according to the sycophant of the West, hate him. They certainly recognize him as an opportunist playing a risky role to advance his career – and with it brutal privatization schemes and imperialist expansion – at the expense of the working masses. “I am actually seen as a kind of obscure, threatening and scheming political manipulator” – writes the Lacanian joker about how he is seen in Slovenia – “something I am immensely happy about and quite fond of”[liiii].

Although he was mildly critical of the Western propaganda narrative that ethnic hatred was the main cause of the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, his reasoning in this regard – as in so many of his other political positions – aligns perfectly with the propaganda promoted. by pro-capitalist public relations firms such as Ruder & Finn and CIA media assets. In a text entitled “NATO, the Left Hand of God”, he categorically asserted that “it was only Serbian aggression, and not an ethnic conflict, that unleashed the war”[iii].

Serbs, it is worth remembering, had “proportionately a higher percentage of communist party members than other nationalities”[book]. Slavoj Žižek thus parroted the position put forward by the director of Ruder & Finn, James Harff, who boasted that his skilled doctors were capable of constructing a “simple story of good guys and bad guys” about the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia[lv]. Western liberals even tried to condemn the communists – who maintained a functioning multi-ethnic state for decades – for fostering nationalism and for “a forced attachment to the national question”[lv]. He also embraced the demonization of Socialist President Slobodan Milošević and indulged in liberal horseshoe theory, arguing that “he [Milošević] manages to epitomize an unimaginable combination of fascism and Stalinism.”[lviii].

However, whatever the errors and misconduct of the socialists, the fact remains (as Michael Parenti explained in a factual book on the subject): "there was no civil war, no mass murders, no ethnic cleansing until the Western powers began to meddling in Yugoslavia's internal affairs, funding splinter organizations and creating the politico-economic crisis that triggered the political conflict”[lviii].

What is the position of the pro-capitalists regarding NATO's self-styled humanitarian bombs, which killed a defenseless civilian population and destroyed the socialist infrastructure, and whose real objective was the "third-worldisation" and the effective colonization of the only nation in the region that refused to to get rid of what was left of their socialism? He brazenly asserted, with his particular taste for puerile provocation: “So, precisely because I'm on the left, my answer to the 'bomb or no bomb?' was: not enough bombs yet and they are long overdue”[lix]. Given that your endorsement of the illegal mass murder of civilians has been circulated online in an outline, and this particular passage was taken out of context when published, we have to remember that he was clear as daylight in other interviews, in which he bluntly stated that “I have always been in favor of Western military intervention”[lx].

In his subsequent career as one of the most internationally visible intellectuals, Slavoj Žižek repeatedly took strong positions against really existing socialism. Cuba, for him, would be nothing more than “a nostalgic and inert remembrance of the past” and would not bring any hope for the future. It would even be pointless to consider discreet support[lxi]. Perfectly in line with capitalist propaganda, he dismisses China as an existential threat, and adamantly portrays Chinese Communist leader Xi Jinping as an authoritarian capitalist, belonging to the same corrupt gang as Trump, Putin, Modi and Erdoğan.[lxii].

Upon reading it, it is quite obvious - despite its radical appearance - that it adheres to Margaret Thatcher's infamous liberal motto: TINA - There is no alternative [there is no alternative]. In fact, he often says it himself: "I'm not convinced of any radical left alternative" and "I don't have any fundamental hopes for a socialist revolution or anything like that".[lxiii]. In the aforementioned presidential election debate, he expressly embraced the views of Winston Churchill – whose dogged defense of colonial carnage placed him “at the most brutal and cruel end of the British imperialist spectrum” –, asserting that capitalism “is the worst of all systems”. but “we have no better”[lxiv].

At the same time, he has frequently participated in debates to express his support for the European Union (a long-standing capitalist project, promoted by the US national security state as a bulwark against communism) and certain acts of Western imperialism, including some of the NATO's most brutal military interventions, particularly those close to Europe[lxv]. Their main conception of a future for humanity was not to be found in the socialist states of the global south, which waged victorious anti-colonial struggles against imperialism. Rather, it was to be found at the historical epicenter of imperialism and colonialism. “In today's capitalist world,” he writes, “it [the idea of ​​Europe] offers the only model of a transnational organization with the authority to limit national sovereignty and with the task of guaranteeing minimum standards for ecological well-being and Social. Something that survives in this idea descends directly from the best traditions of the European Enlightenment.[lxvi].

Incidentally, according to his historical narrative of European diffusion, the anti-colonial struggles of the third world would themselves be dependent on concepts supposedly imported from the West, including what Žižek describes as “the self-critical examination”, by the West, of its own “violence and exploitation”. in the third world[lxv]. As a social-chauvinist who deeply believes that Europe is the natural leader of the developed world, he even agrees with Bruno Latour's reactionary assertion that "only Europe can save us".[lxviii].

Cosplay of commune

Despite Slavoj Žižek's clear practical political orientation as a pro-Western anti-communist, who rabidly supported the overthrow of socialism in the name of capitalism, this self-described eccentric never tires of claiming that he is a communist. He even tries to put on the costume, so to speak, by presenting himself as a “dirty communist” from the East. In addition to the obligatory beard and disheveled hair, he talks belligerently with his interlocutors, spewing endless leftist provocations as if pseudo-intellectual logorrhea were out of fashion. A real performance for epater les bourgeois [impress the bourgeois].

Žižek is the court jester of neoliberal capitalism. By playing with the figure of the Marxist-as-antisocial-fanatic, he encourages disdain for the true world project of socialism and even sells commodities in Western consumer society, through his mash ups pop-cultural. The histrionic show of this enfant terrible persistent unfolds – let us never forget – on the stage of capitalism. The crook is just a mercenary, a symptom of the neoliberal cultural apparatus. It is the capitalist court that made its clown a superstar, precisely because it has played its part so well. Like all good court jesters, he crosses the boundaries of courtly propriety and says the most outrageous things in a hysterical show of criticism, but in the end he takes a front line and demonstrates his allegiance to the puppet master (the capital king).

To better carry out his provocative function, this harlequin not only says that he is a Marxist, but insists on being nothing less than a “Leninist”. Let's listen to one of his ridiculous outbursts, which, of course, is part of his daily life and is therefore repeated in numerous of his texts: “I am a Leninist. Lenin was not afraid to get his hands dirty. […] When you grab power, if you can, grab it. Do whatever you can”[lxix]. This description of cosplay of commune is to say that Leninism boils down to playing dirty and ruthlessly seeking power. Such hypocritical representation of Lenin, and of Marxism-Leninism in general, is perfectly in keeping with a long historical ideology.

Benedetto Croce, the Italian liberal and fascism sympathizer, said the exact same thing about Marx: he was the Machiavelli of the proletariat because he placed emphasis, first and foremost, on the ruthless conquest of power.[lxx]. Steve Bannon, drawing on the same simplistic association between Leninism and brutal political power, also claims to be a “Leninist” to the Žižek[lxxi]. This is probably one of the reasons why Richard Spencer, a neo-Nazi leader, said: “Slavoj Žižek is my favorite leftist. He has more to teach alt right [alt-right, new far-right] than a million idiotic American conservatives.”[lxxiii].

Since the court jester always has something more to say on all subjects, let us hear him about what it is to be a Leninist. In 2009 he stated the following: “I am a Leninist […]. Here's Why I Supported Obama[lxxiii]. Here's one of his best jokes ever. And the funniest thing is, he really meant it. He literally equates Leninism with support for the Commander-in-Chief of neoliberalism whose image of “diversity” served to cover up the revving of the engine of the imperialist machine across the globe (which led to Obama's infamous statement about his assassination program, when he said it was “really good at killing people”[lxxiv]).

Slavoj Žižek, however, values ​​the supposedly revolutionary approach of the former president in terms of health, in the case of the mandate imposed on private insurance (based on the plan of republican Mitt Romney): “I think that the fight he is waging now, regarding the health insurance, is extremely important, as it touches the very core of the dominant ideology”[lxxv]. Obama, remember, rejected all discussions of single-payer health care, a socialist-based universal coverage system.

When you're a silly idealist like Slavoj Žižek, Leninism is just a word, a shifting signifier you can play with, use as a prop or a gimmick. This is painfully obvious in your comic book Repeating Lenin [Repeating Lenin]. Despite what the title might imply to the innocent and unsuspecting, it proclaims: “I am careful to talk about not repeating Lenin. I'm not an idiot. It would mean nothing today to return to the Leninist party of the working class.”[lxxvi]. What he likes about Leninism is “precisely what scares people about it – the relentless will to discard all prejudices. Why not violence? As bad as it sounds, I think it's a useful antidote to all that ascetic, frustrating, politically correct pacifism.”[lxxvii].

It is this unbridled death drive that the Slovenian Lacanian feels compelled to repeat. “Repeating Lenin”, he writes in such harlequin typography, “does not mean going back to Lenin – repeating Lenin is accepting that 'Lenin is dead', that his particular solution failed, and failed even monstrously, but there was a utopian spark worth saving. […] To repeat Lenin is to repeat not what Lenin did, but what he failed to do, his missed opportunities”[lxxviii]. As this evident Leninist never tires of repeating, communism was and is a colossal failure. His compulsion to repeat this is best understood in terms of the Beckettian motto he often cites in these contexts: “Try again. Fail again. Fail better”. What the future holds, according to this rebel with a lost cause, is therefore nothing more than a marked failure: “we have to accept the fact that it is impossible for communism to win […], i.e., that communism, in this sense, it’s a lost cause.”[lxxix].

The jester's final reward, cosplay commune, it's the fun of the super-rich, who laugh holding their martinis and invite you to write texts for advertisements. Meanwhile, some students and members of the professional managerial class stratum buy into his pop philosophy, hoping perhaps to learn something about Marxism. Instead, they sit on a theoretical magic carpet and are taken on a journey that shows them how ridiculous Marxism is, while at the same time receiving movie advertisements. blockbusters, Hollywood, TV shows, science fiction novels and various consumer products of the global theory industry.

The discreet charm of the petty bourgeoisie

Slavoj Žižek, like Alain Badiou, is not a historical-materialist[lxxx]. None of these philosophers engage in rigorous analyzes of the material and concrete history of capitalism and the world socialist movement; they eschew the seriousness of political economy in favor of discussing superstructural elements and products of the bourgeois capitalist apparatus. Both are satisfied with an idealistic philosophical approach that privileges ideas and discourses and are metaphysical because they defend an anti-scientific belief in superstition.

If we put his eccentric vocabulary in parentheses and examine his theoretical practices outside the confines of cultural market fetishism, his specific brand of idealism may well be described as transcendental idealism. They present their typical conceptual framework (based largely on personal interpretations of non-Marxist discourses, such as those of Jacques Lacan and GWF Hegel) as the transcendental structure of reality. They then choose empirical elements – a present event, a text, a Hollywood movie, a pornography website, or literally anything, particularly in Žižek’s case – whose content confirms the pre-established theoretical model, thus producing the illusion of that this proved correct. Such a procedure, however, can never be rigorously tested collectively, as it is up to the whims of the speculative juggler to decide which empirical data support his theoretical assumptions (and therefore which information to ignore).

This is clearly seen in his approach to communism. Unlike Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who held that “communism is the real movement which suppresses [aufhebt] the current state of affairs”, they claim that communism is an “Idea” and a “desire”[lxxxi]. At the same time, they almost always follow capitalist propaganda in condemning the real communist movement for allegedly turning to bloodthirsty terrorism, violent dictatorship and genocide (easily ignoring the need to provide documentation for such claims or simply invoking as “proof” the work from anti-communist reactionaries or sources funded by the US State Department or the Open Society Fund)[lxxxii].

The only exceptions they sometimes support could best be described as anarchist – at least as they interpret them – in which they tend to celebrate moments of anti-state and anti-party insurgency (including against socialist states, as in Alain Badiou's interpretation of the Chinese Cultural Revolution)[lxxxiii]. Meanwhile, those who support really existing socialism are presented as ideological fools or holdovers from a bygone era, trapped in an imaginary world, therefore not unlike those enmeshed in capitalist ideology. “The left that aligned itself with 'really existing socialism' disappeared or became a historical curiosity” – this is what the introduction to his famous book tells us The Idea of ​​Communism[lxxxiv].

When this book was published by Verso in 2010, the Chinese Communist Party had about 80 million members – which exceeds the total population of France and Slovenia (together) by about 16 million people. We might ask, then, where do these social chauvinists get their information about the current state of the world? The answer is embarrassingly simple in the case of these idealist philosophers: in Jacques Lacan and in Lacanian elements in the work of Louis Althusser.

The latter, in his famous interpellation scene, drew on Lacan's mirror stage and conceptualization of the imaginary to create a misleading portrayal of ideology.[lxxxv]. As Althusser stated – in a passage that contradicts his previous analysis –, an individual becomes an ideological subject when he recognizes himself as what he is approached (arrested) by a policeman on the street, which means that the individual identifies with the image cast by the other and thus assumes his place in the current symbolic order.

There is, however, another possibility, to which Lacan referred in his Seminar VII, that of following the imperative of not compromising one's own desire (ne pas ceder sur son desir), what Slavoj Žižek theorized in terms of the 'ethical act'. Instead of remaining an ideological subject, trapped in an imaginary relationship with the social relations of production within the symbolic order, one can become a Subject to the Badiou, who courageously pursues the Real, which is the one je ne sais quoi [don't know what] that escapes and resists to the symbolic order (although it remains at the same time “contained in the symbolic form itself”, insofar as the Real is “the absent Cause of the Symbolic”)[lxxxvi].

The object-cause of desire, which Lacan called petit object [small object A], is, in Žižek’s words, “the emptiness [of the Real] filled by creative symbolic fiction”[lxxxvii]. he drives our enjoyment [enjoyment] in the sense that we want it precisely because it is impossible: the Real can never be perfectly integrated into the symbolic order or merely translated by what Lacan calls “reality”[lxxxviii].

Given that Alain Badiou is more systematic and rigorous than the scattered Slavoj Žižek, and the latter frequently borrows ideas from the idealist – whom he refers to as “a living Plato” –, it is worth remembering the basic Lacanian structure of the “Idea of ​​Communism” in Badiou: “the communist Idea is the imaginary operation by which an individual subjectivation projects a fragment of the real political into the symbolic narration of a History”[lxxxix]. In a little more direct language, this means that the Idea of ​​communism is an operation whereby an individual (the imaginary) commits itself ideologically to an inexplicable political event (the Real) – like the French May 1968, for Alain Badiou – whose consequences they try to trace within a given historical situation (the symbolic).

This can't really be (Actually) made, according to the French metaphysician, because the “Event as Real” is resistant to the symbolic reign of “History” and the “State”; can only be done imaginarily (imaginatively) by the individual Subject[xc]. This is one of the reasons why Badiou bluntly asserts that “communist” cannot be used as an adjective to describe an actual party or state.[xci]. A century of collective aspirations and horrors would apparently have demonstrated that “the Party form, like that of the socialist State, are henceforth inadequate to secure the real support of the Idea”[xcii]. In fact, the communist idea could only support policies that, “definitely, it would be absurd to say that they are communist”[xciii]. “Anarchism” would be the common term, more specifically “insurgent anarchism”, mixed with an unhealthy dose of metaphysics and utopian socialism. After all, it is a policy in which the individual becomes a Subject by being faithful to an inexplicable Event (which interrupts history), acting on its consequences just like the followers of Christ.

“Real communism”, therefore, is a metaphysical communism of the Lacanian Real. Consequently, they say, the collective project of material transformation of the world is in fact doomed to failure if it assumes the form of parties or states, since this gives concrete form or “symbolization” to the supernatural Real. Communism is thus displaced from the realm of collective action, aimed at socialist state-building projects – as a necessary first step in breaking the chains of imperialism – into the realm of individual consciousness, the subjective experience of the privileged few (those what Nietzsche referred to as the “free spirit”).

In contrast to this small group of great thinkers and artists of the world – explains Slavoj Žižek with his characteristic disdain for the working class –, 99% of the “concrete people” would be “idiots and bores”.[xciv]. These unfortunate proletarians and peasants did not study in Paris with the enlightened petty bourgeoisie of the global theory industry, so they did not understand the truly essential: communism is a subjective process of resistance to the symbolic order of existing societies, it is a desire for the impossible, even when one acts individually on that desire[xcv].

One of the reasons why idealists love to dismiss materialists as some form of gross, “unphilosophical” reductionists is precisely because the latter are able to reveal the material structures that underpin and determine their conceptual games. If we subject the idealist conception of “communism of the Real” to a class analysis, it becomes evident that it denies, under the title of “really existing socialism”, precisely the project of the masses, of the among people (subhuman) globals that imagine being able to make the “Real of their desire” a historical reality.

It is here that the Nietzschean orientation of these radical aristocrats clearly shines through, as they ridicule the supposed ignorance of the hoi polloi [majority]. Going further and against gross materialism, the “communists of the Real” would aspire to much more than the simple struggle for collective access to drinking water, food, shelter, health, etc. through concrete projects to build anti-imperialist states (all of this would be in the domain of what Lacan called “necessity” as opposed to “desire”). True communists, in the Lacanian sense, would have the supreme subjective dignity of individually demanding the impossible – not something that can materially help improve the lives of the global masses here and now.[xcvi].

This stance just means that these self-styled radical thinkers demand something that cannot be done. It is the epitome of petty-bourgeois radicalism. What they really want – if we translate their narcissistic and pseudo-intellectual self-pity into materialistic terms – is the appearance of making ultra-radical demands while avoiding any material threat to the hierarchical system that raised them to important imperialist core intellectuals. They desire the impossible, and even “act according to” this desire, precisely because they don't want anything to change substantially. Here then is his great idea of ​​communism: it is impossible[xcvii].

“The work of Marxists,” wrote VI Lenin in a passage that anticipates the liberal bent of the Lacanian-Authusserians, “is always 'difficult,' but what makes them different from liberals is that they never claim that what is difficult is impossible. The liberal says that difficult work is impossible to hide his resignation from it”[xcviii]. Marx also described in detail, before la lettre, those adapted to capitalism. He presented the essence of petty-bourgeois sophistry in his critique of anarchism, which merges with liberal ideology at essential points. Marx traced the material roots of this to opportunistic careerism within the capitalist core. What he says about Proudhon accurately describes Badiou's casuistic idealism and Žižek's glaring contradictions:

“Proudhon leaned by nature towards the dialectic. But since he never understood the really scientific dialectic, he only reduced it to sophistry. In fact, this coincided with his petty-bourgeois point of view. The petty bourgeois equals the historian Raumer, composed of 'on the one hand…' and 'on the other hand…'. It is so in its economic interests and therefore [also] in its politics, in its religious, scientific and artistic views. That's how it is in your morals, that's how it is in everything [in all]. He is the living contradiction. If, in addition, like Proudhon, he is a man rich in spirit, he will soon learn to play with his own contradictions and to elaborate them, according to the circumstances, into showy, noisy, sometimes scandalous, sometimes brilliant paradoxes. From one point of view, scientific quackery and political accommodation are inseparable. Only one driving motive remains, the subject's vanity, and, as with all vain people, it is only a matter of momentary success, the feeling of the day. This necessarily extinguishes the simple moral tact that, for example, always kept Rousseau away from any compromise, even an apparent one, with established powers.[xcix].

The Reclaimer of Radicality

The collapse of the biosphere, the rise of fascism and the threat of the 'new' Cold War turning into World War III mean that the stakes of contemporary class struggle could not be greater. Capitalism's court jester, like other intellectuals of his ilk, is applauded by elitist ruling class managers and promoted internationally to encourage us to fearlessly ride the apocalypse of the 'Real' while enjoying his fiery and provocative insights. binge-watching the blockbuster movies and TV shows promoted by it.

This neoliberal mischievous is, therefore, the summary of the recovering of radicality. It cultivates and sells the radical appearance with a view to bringing potentially radical elements of society, particularly youth and students, within the anti-communist imperialist corral. This is precisely why he is the most famous “Marxist” in the capitalist world, adorned by newspapers linked to the engine of US imperialism. His mantra is nothing but a perverse reversal of the final lines of the Communist Manifesto: “Consumers of culture in the pro-Western world, unite – to buy my new book, or film, or multicultural product, or whatever, and so on, and so on [and so on]!".

*Gabriel Rockhill is professor of philosophy at Villanova University. Author among other books by Radical History & the Politics of Art (Columbia University Press).

Translation: Rafael Almeida.

Originally published in counter punch.

Notes


[I] I would like to thank Jennifer Ponce de León, Eduardo Rodríguez and Marcela Romero Rivera for encouraging me to write this article, as well as for – together with Helmut-Harry Loewen and Julian Sempill – providing a feedback of this text. However, I bear all responsibility for any mistakes or mishaps.

[ii] Veja Foreign Policy (December 2012): (accessed November 20121201034713, 2012).

[iii] Watch his interview on the show “HARDtalk” (from the British BBC) on November 4, 2009: (accessed November 153, 22).

[iv] Ibid. And also Slavoj Žižek. Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism? Five Interventions in the (Mis)use of a Notion (London: Verse, 2011) [ed. braz.: Did someone say totalitarianism? São Paulo Boitempo, 2013], p. 127-129.

[v] Slavoj Žižek, In Defense of Lost Causes (London: Verse, 2009) [ed. braz.: In defense of lost causes. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2011], p. 151 (Zižek's emphasis).

[vi] Ibid., P. 169.

[vii] See Domenico Losurdo's insightful critique of Žižek at Western Marxism. Trans. by Steven Colatrella (New York: 1804 Books, in press) [ed. braz.: Western Marxism. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2018].

[viii] See, for example, Slavoj Žižek. “A Leftist Plea for 'Eurocentrism.'” [A Leftist Plea for Eurocentrism]. Critical Inquiry, 24:4 (Summer 1998): 998-1009; Slavoj Žižek. “Nous pouvons encore être fiers de l'Europe!” [We can still be proud of Europe]. Le Figaro (October 31, 2022); and his oral presentation on the future of Europe, available here (accessed on November 8, 35).

[ix] Quoted after Thomas Moller-Nielsen. “What Is Žižek For?”. Current affairs (Sep./Oct. 2019): (accessed on November 2019, 10).

[X] See, for example, his statements in a 2016 interview with Channel 4, archived here: (accessed on November 10154211377601939, 22).

[xi] See Slavoj Žižek, “Pacifism Is the Wrong Response to the War in Ukraine”. The Guardian (June 21, 2022): (accessed November 2022, 21).

[xii] Huntington served as White House security plan coordinator on the National Security Council. He also worked as an adviser to PW Botha's security service in Apartheid of South Africa (Botha was an outspoken opponent of black political power and international communism, as well as a staunch supporter of Apartheid).

[xiii] Reena Flores, “Donald Trump: I could 'shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose any voters.'” CBS News (January 23, 2016): (accessed on November 22, 2022).

[xiv] See, for example, Noam Chomsky, 9/11: Was There an Alternative? [11/9: Was there an alternative?] (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2001) and Michael Parenti, The Terrorism Trap: September 11 and Beyond [The Terrorist Trap: 11/2002 and Beyond] (San Francisco: City Lights Books, XNUMX).

[xv] Questions concerning Žižek's plagiarism and self-plagiarism have arisen so often that there is even a section in his Wikipedia, with links to various articles. See, in particular, Jay Pinho. “A Year of Writing Dangerously: Žižek's Serial Self-Plagiarism.” [A Year of Writing Dangerously: Žižek's Serial Self-Plagiarism]. The First Casualty (September 22, 2012): (accessed November 2012, 09).

[xvi] See its description in the book series “Phronesis” by Slavoj Žižek. The Sublime Object of Ideology (London: Verse, 1989) [ed. braz.: They don't know what they're doing - the sublime object of ideology. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar, 1992]. For an insightful critique of radical democracy, see Larry Alan Busk, Democracy in Spite of the Demos: From Arendt to the Frankfurt School [Democracy despite the demos: from Arendt to the Frankfurt School] (London: Rowman & Littlefield International, 2020).

[xvii] Žizek, The Sublime Object of Ideology, P. 6 (on Žižek's adherence to their intellectual matrix, see his acknowledgments on p. XVI). I also refer the reader to the book written for the “Phronesis” series by Žižek, Laclau and their radical-democratic, “anti-totalitarian” crony, Judith Butler. In the introduction, co-signed by them, they argue that the book is based on Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, insofar as it “represented a turn towards post-structuralism within Marxist theory, considering the problem of language as essential in the formulation of an anti-totalitarian and radical democratic project"(Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left. London: Verse, 2000, 1, emphasis mine).

[xviii] Žižek described his second book in the “Phronesis” series as based on several lectures given in Slovenia, “aimed at a 'benevolent and neutral' audience of intellectuals who were the driving force of the democracy movement” (For They Know Not What They Do: Enjoyment as a Political Factor. London: Verso, 1991, p. 3) [ed. braz.: They don't know what they're doing - the sublime object of ideology. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar, 1992]. In addition to Laclau and Mouffe, the Lacanian Joan Copjec also helped to facilitate Žižek's rise in the English-speaking world, thanks to the promotion of his work in French-theory circles that revolved around the New York art journal October. As he comments in the acknowledgments of his book Looking Awry (1991) – published by October jointly with MIT Press –, Copjec “was present from the very conception” of the project, encouraging him to write and putting his time into the manuscript (Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture [Looking askew: an introduction to Jacques Lacan through popular culture]. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1991, p. XI).

[xx] Jodi Dean. Žižek's Politics (New York: Routledge, 2006), p. xi.

[xx] Benoit Denezit-Lewis, “The Man Behind Abercrombie and Fitch”. Salon (January 24, 2006): (accessed November 2006, 01)

[xxx] Slavoj Žižek, “The Communist Desire”. Los Angeles Review of Books. “The Philosophical Salon” (July 25, 2022): (accessed November 1, 22).

[xxiii] Michael Parenti. To Kill a Nation: The Attack on Yugoslavia [Killing a Nation: The Attack on Yugoslavia] (London: Verso, 2000), p. 17. Basing himself on World Bank data – not at all suspicious of pro-communist sympathies – Michael Chossudovsky draws a similar picture of pre-1980 Yugoslavia, in The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order [The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order] (Pincourt, Canada: Global Research, 2003), p. 259.

[xxiii] Tony Myers, Slavoj Žižek (New York: Routledge, 2003), p. 10.

[xxv] Ibid., P. 7.

[xxiv] On Heideggerian “opposition” and Žižek's first book, see Christopher Hanlon and Slavoj Žižek, “Psychoanalysis and the Post-Political: An Interview with Slavoj Žižek”, New Literary History, 32:1 (Winter, 2001), p. 1-21.

[xxv] See, for example, Barbara Day, The Velvet Philosophers [The Velvet Philosophers] (London: The Claridge Press, 1999).

[xxviii] On NED, see William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower [The Rogue State: A Guide to the Only Global Superpower] (London: Zed Books, 2014), p. 238-243. Allen Weinstein, who helped write the NED charter, publicly acknowledged that "a lot of what we do today was done covertly by the CIA 25 years ago" (ibid., P. 239).

[xxviii] See, for example, Ian Parker, Slavoj Žižek: A Critical Introduction [Slavoj Žižek: A Critical Introduction] (London: Pluto Press, 2004). On the CIA's support of French theory and anticommunist intellectuals in general, see Gabriel Rockhill, "The CIA Reads French Theory: On the Intellectual Labor of Dismantling the Cultural Left." [CIA Reads French Theory: On the Intellectual Work of Dismantling the Cultural Left] Los Angeles Review of Books. “The Philosophical Salon” (February 28, 2017): (accessed November 22, 2022).

[xxix] Thomas Moller Nielsen, “Unrepentant Charlatanism (with a Response by Slavoj Žižek)”. [Unrepentant quackery – with a response from Slavoj Žižek]. Los Angeles Review of Books. “The Philosophical Salon” (November 25, 2019): (accessed November 22, 2022).

[xxx] Ernest Laclau. “Preface”. Žizek, The Sublime Object of Ideology, P. xi.

[xxxii] Watch this BBC documentary: “The Death of Yugoslavia”: (accessed November 3, 6). On Žižek's weekly column, see his entry in Encyclopaedia Britannica: (accessed November 22, 2022).

[xxxi] Among other sources, see his interview for the British BBC program “HARDtalk”, on November 4, 2009: (accessed November 153, 22).

[xxxii] Žižek, “A Leftist Plea for 'Eurocentrism'”, p. 990.

[xxxv] Quoted in F. William Engdahl, Manifest Destiny: Democracy as Cognitive Dissonance [Manifest Destiny: Democracy as Cognitive Dissonance] (Wiesbaden: mine.Books, 2018), p. 101.

[xxxiv] Matthew Sharpe, in his article on the Slovenian philosopher in Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (to see , accessed November 22, 2022), states that Žižek co-founded the PLD. Although I have not found other sources for this information, it is quite clear that Žižek was, at the very least, a prominent spokesman for this party.

[xxxiv] See, for example, “Lacan in Slovenia: An Interview with Slavoj Žižek and Renata Salecl”. [Lacan in Slovenia: interview with Slavoj Žižek and Renata Salecl]. Radical Philosophy, no. 58 (Summer 1991). It would be interesting to investigate the financing of this party, following the thread of the rich analysis made by Michael Parenti on the dismantling of Yugoslavia: “U.S. leaders – using the National Endowment for Democracy, various fronts of the CIA and other agencies – funneled campaign money and gave advice to conservative separatist political groups, described in the US media as 'pro-Western' or 'democratic oppositionists'”. (To Kill a Nation, P. 26).

[xxxviii] Watch the televised election debate archived here: (accessed November 942, 8).

[xxxviii] “Lacan in Slovenia”, p. 30.

[xxxix] See here another excerpt from the same 1990 televised election debate: (accessed November 350, 22).

[xl] See here the digital file of NSDD 133: (accessed November 133, 22).

[xi] Geert Lovink, “Civil Society, Fanaticism, and Digital Reality: A Conversation with Slavoj Žižek”. Ctheory (February 21, 1996): (accessed November 14649, 5529).

[xliii] Neil Clark, “NS Profile—George Soros”. New Statesman (June 2, 2003): (accessed November 062203, 22). “Since 2022,” clarifies Clark in his article, “he [Soros] has distributed $1979 million annually to dissidents, including the solidarity Polish, Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia and Andre Sakharov in the Soviet Union. In 1984, he founded his first Open Society Institute in Hungary and pumped millions of dollars into opposition movements and independent media. Clearly aimed at constituting a 'civil society', such initiatives were aimed at undermining existing political structures and paving the way for the colonization of Eastern Europe by global capital”.

[xiii] Quoted by Néstor Kohan, Hegemony and culture in times of “soft” counterinsurgency. [Hegemony and culture in times of counterinsurgency 'soft'] (Ocean South, 2021), p. 63.

[xiv] See Myers, Slavoj Žižek, P. 9.

[xlv] Lovink, “Civil Society, Fanaticism, and Digital Reality.”

[xlv] See, for example, Chossudovsky, The Globalization of Poverty, P. 267: “Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia have agreed to pay their percentages of the Yugoslav debt loan packages. The very similar pattern of factory closures, induced bank failures and impoverishment has continued unabated since 1996 [ie, in the wake of the Dayton Accords in November 1995]. And who conducted the IMF dictations? The leaders of newly sovereign states who collaborated extensively with creditors”.

[xlv] “The fall of the Berlin wall,” writes Mink Li, “was followed by a massive drop in the standard of living of large sectors of the world's population. The disintegration of socialist economies has contributed to the weakening of the global working classes. National income has been redistributed from labor to capital virtually everywhere in the world” (“The 21st Century: Is There an Alternative (to Socialism)?” Science & Society, 77:1 [January 2013], p. 11). See also Božo Repe. “Slovenia”, in Günther Heydemann and Karel Vodicka. From Eastern Bloc to European Union: Comparative Processes of Transformation since 1990 [From the Eastern Bloc to the European Union: Comparing the Transformation Process Since 1990] (New York: Berhahn Books, 2017) and Leopoldina Plut-Pregelj and Carole Rogel. The A to Z of Slovenia [Slovenia's A to Z] (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. 2010), p. 241. On the imperialist dismantling of Yugoslavia, whose dire consequences for the majority of the local population were in inverse proportion to the increase in profits for the capitalist class, see also Boris Malagurski's documentary film, The Weight of Chains [The Weight of Chains] (2010), as well as this 1999 lecture by Michael Parenti, “The US War on Yugoslavia”: It is (accessed November 46, 08).

[xlviii] See Matjaž Klemenčič and Mitja Žagar, The Former Yugoslavia's Diverse Peoples [The Diverse Peoples of the Former Yugoslavia] (Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2004), p. 300-301.

[xlix] See, for example, Lovink, “Civil Society, Fanaticism, and Digital Reality”.

[l] See the second excerpt from the aforementioned presidential debate: (accessed November 350, 22).

[li] Ibid.

[liiii] Lovink, “Civil Society, Fanaticism, and Digital Reality.”

[iii] Slavoj Žižek, “NATO, the Left Hand of God”. nettime (June 29, 1999): (accessed on November 22, 2022).

[book] Parenti, To Kill a Nation, P. 81.

[lv] Quoted in ibid., P. 92.

[lv] Slavoj Žižek, “Eastern Europe's Republics of Gilead”. New Left Review, I/183 (September/October 1990): p. 58.

[lviii] According to Žižek, in “Lacan in Slovenia” (p. 29), Milošević would have launched his campaign for the “ethnic cleansing” of Kosovo in a speech given in 1989. As documented by Michael Partenti – which provides an essential contextualization and contradicts in several points the Žižek's fiery insights – here is what Milošević said: “Citizens of different nationalities, religions and races have been living together with increasing frequency and success. Socialism in particular, being a progressive and democratic society, cannot allow people to be divided on national and religious issues.” (To Kill a Nation, P. 188).

[lviii] Žižek, “NATO, the Left Hand of God”.

[lix] Quoted in Parker, Slavoj Žižek, P. 35.

[lx] Lovink, “Civil Society, Fanaticism, and Digital Reality.”

[lxi] “Slavoj Žižek on Cuba and Yugoslavia” (December 1, 2016): (accessed 22 November 2022). See also Žižek, “The Communist Desire”.

[lxii] Žižek, “Nous pouvons encore être fiers de l'Europe!”.

[lxiii] See his interview with the British BBC program “HARDtalk”, quoted above, and Lovink, “Civil Society, Fanaticism, and Digital Reality”.

[lxiv] That part of the televised debate is archived here: (accessed November 350, 22). For a quick summary of Churchill's contributions to imperialist atrocities, including the Bengal famine that claimed the lives of three million people, see Johann Hari, "Not His Finest Hour: The Dark Side of Winston Churchill". Best Moment: The Dark Side of Winston Churchill], Independent (October 28, 2010).

[lxv] On Europe, see, for example, Steve Weissman, Phil Kelly, and Mark Hosenball, “The CIA Backs the Common Market,” in Dirty Work: The CIA in Western Europe [Dirty Work: The CIA in Western Europe]. eds. Philip Agee and Louis Wolf (New York: Dorset Press, 1978). It is also worth noting that the European Union has served as an important anti-communist force. In 2019, the European parliament passed a resolution that broadly equated communism and fascism and condemned "all manifestations and propagation of totalitarian ideologies such as Nazism or Communism". see in (accessed November 9, 2019).

[lxvi] Žižek, “Nous pouvons encore être fiers de l'Europe!”.

[lxv] Slavoj Žižek, First as Tragedy, then as Farce (London: Verse, 2009) [ed. braz.: First as a tragedy, then as a farce. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2015], p. 115.

[lxviii] Žižek, “Nous pouvons encore être fiers de l'Europe!”.

[lxix] Slavoj Žižek, “New Statesman Interview, with Jonathan Derbyshire” [Interview of New Statesman, with Jonathan Derbyshire], New Statesman (October 29, 2009): (accessed November 22, 2022).

[lxx] See, for example, Domenico Losurdo's perceptive critiques of Croce, in Antonio Gramsci: From liberalism to critical communism [Antonio Gramsci: from liberalism to critical communism] (Madrid: dissent, 1997).

[lxxi] Ronald Radosh, “Steve Bannon, Trump's Top Guy, told Me He Was 'a Leninist'.” [Steve Bannon, Trump's top guy, told me he was "a Leninist"], Daily Beast (April 13, 2017): (accessed November 22, 2022).

[lxxiii] O tweet by Spencer was archived here: (accessed November 5, 22).

[lxxiii] Slavoj Žižek, “New Statesman Interview.”

[lxxiv] Michael B. Kelley, “Last Year President Obama Reportedly Told His Aides that He's 'Really Good at Killing People'.” [Last year, President Obama told his aides that he is 'really good at killing people']. Business Insider (November 2, 2013): (accessed November 2013, 11).

[lxxv] Žižek, “New Statesman Interview.”

[lxxvi] “Doug Henwood Interviews Slavoj Žižek”, No Subject – Encyclopedia of Psychoanalysis (February 27, 2002): (accessed November 22, 2022).

[lxxvii] Ibid.

[lxxviii] Slavoj Žižek, Repeating Lenin [Repeating Lenin] (Zagreb: bastard books, 2001), p. 137.

[lxxix] Žižek, “The Communist Desire”.

[lxxx] To take just one of several examples: Žižek had the audacity to claim that class struggle not it is part of “objective social reality”; it would be much more the Real “in the strict Lacanian sense”, which means that the class struggle “is nothing else than the name of the unfathomable limit that cannot be objectified, located within the social totality”. (Slavoj Žižek, Ed. Mapping Ideology. London: Verso, 2000, 25, p. 22).

[lxxxi] Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, Collected Works. Vol. 5 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1976), p. 49.

[lxxxii] Badiou draws particular attention to the books by the right-wing dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, welcomed with open arms by Hienrich Böll and by the CIA networks with which he was involved in Germany (see the 2006 documentary by Hans-Rüdiger Minow for ARTE, When the CIA infiltrates culture [When the CIA infiltrated the culture]: , accessed November 58, 22). The metaphysician also refers to the “remarkable and indisputable” work on Stalinist terror and places “in first place” the “great book” by J. Arch Getty, The Road to Terror: Stalin and the Self-Destruction of the Bolsheviks 1932 – 1939 [The Road to Terror: Stalin and the Self-Destruction of the Bolsheviks, 1932-1939] (Slavoj Žižek, Ed. The Idea of ​​Communism. Vol. 2. London: Verso, 2013, p. 6). Badiou declines to mention that this work was funded by the US State Department, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Open Society Fund. He also omits the fact that the book was published in a series whose advisory board includes powerful members of the US imperial elite, including US State Department agent Strobe Talbott and anti-communist National Security Advisor Zbigniew. Brzezinski. He was involved, among other things, in CIA covert operations in Afghanistan, which financed and supported the Mujahideen – including Osama bin Laden – to fight the Soviet Union (see Chomsky, 9/11, P. 82).

[lxxxiii] For an excellent critique of Badiou in this regard, see Losurdo, Western Marxism.

[lxxxiv] Costas Douzinas & Slavoj Žižek, Eds. The Idea of ​​Communism (London: Verso Books, 2010), p. viii.

[lxxxv] See Gabriel Rockhill & Jennifer Ponce de León. “Toward a Compositional Model of Ideology: Materialism, Aesthetics and Social Imaginaries”, Philosophy Today, 64:1 (winter 2020).

[lxxxvi] Žizek, Looking Awry, P. 39; Slavoj Žižek, Metastases of Enjoyment: Six Essays on Woman and Causality [Metastases of jouissance: six essays on woman and causality] (London: Verso, 1994), p. 30. “The Real”, writes Žižek, “is exactly that which resists and escapes the reach of the Symbolic and, consequently, is detectable within the Symbolic only under the guise of its disturbances” (Metastases of Enjoyment, P. 30).

[lxxxvii] Ibid., P. 76.

[lxxxviii] Žizek, Looking Awry, P. 12. I have no illusions about the constancy of Žižek's political positions, or, for that matter, his interpretation of Lacan and other themes. As an opportunist he has, of course, taken a number of different positions, some of which show clear signs of self-contradiction. But what I point out here is simply one of the constant main lines in his work, namely, the theme of the ethical act, according to Badiou's theory of the subject.

[lxxxix] Alain Badiou. The Communist Hypothesis (Paris: Nouvelles Éditions Lignes, 2009) [ed. braz.: the communist hypothesis. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2012], p. 189. On several occasions, Žižek explicitly embraces Badiou's Idea of ​​Communism, which overlaps with Badiou's extensive writings on the ethical act. Here is an example: “The communist Idea then persists: it survives the failures of its realization like an ever-returning ghost, in an infinite persistence best described by Beckett's already quoted words: 'Try again. Fail again. Fail better'” (Douzinas & Žižek, Eds., The Idea of ​​Communism, P. 217).

[xc] Badiou, The communist hypothesis, P. 188.

[xci] Ibid., P. 189.

[xcii] Ibid. 202. Never to be caught up in the realm of exaggeration, Žižek doubles down on Badiou's bet and takes it further: “If it wants to survive, the radical left must rethink the basic premises of its activity. We must discard not only the two main forms of twentieth-century state socialism (the social democratic welfare state and the Stalinist party dictatorship), but also the very yardstick by which the radical left usually measures the failure of the first two. : the libertarian vision of communism as association, crowd, council, non-representative direct democracy based on permanent citizen engagement”. (Taek-Gwang Lee & Slavoj Žižek. The Idea of ​​Communism. Vol. 3. The Seoul Conference. London: Verse, 2016).

[xciii] Badiou, The Communist Hypothesis, P. 190. It is revealing that Badiou refers to these examples: “the Solidarność movement in Poland in the years 1980-81, the first part of the Iranian Revolution, the French Political Organization [Badiou's political group], the Zapatista movement in Mexico, the Maoists in Nepal” (ibid., P. 203). In the opening remarks of the third volume of The Idea of ​​Communism, based on a conference in South Korea – a capitalist state, and, de facto, a US colony, militarily occupied – Badiou insists that the conference participants “have nothing to do with the nationalist and military state of North Korea”. He adds, just in case: "We have, more generally, nothing to do with the Communist parties which in this and that follow the old fashion of the last century [i.e. of really existing socialism]."

[xciv] “Slavoj Žižek: 'Humanity Is OK, but 99% of People Are Boring Idiots' The Guardian (June 10, 2012): (accessed November 2012, 10).

[xcv] Žižek wrote extensively about Antigone as someone who performed a great act by rebelling against the state and rejecting the reign of the “reality principle” in favor of an uncompromising dedication to her desire (to bury her brother and thus honor the higher law). from Gods). “An act is not just a gesture that 'does the impossible,'” he asserted in his glorification of individual desire. to the Antigone, “but an intervention in social reality that changes the very coordinates of what is perceived as 'possible'” (Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism? p. 167).

[xcvi] Badiou and Žižek occasionally took political positions in support of the working class. This is not the object of my criticism, but rather his strong opposition – with very minor and explainable exceptions – to the international socialist movement since 1917 (which took the form of anti-imperialist state-building projects from the USSR to Vietnam, China, Cuba and others).

[xcvii] See Radhika Desai. “The New Communists of the Commons: Twenty-First-Century Proudhonists”. International Critical Thought,1:2 (August 1, 2011), p. 204-223.

[xcviii] VI Lenin. Collected Works. Vol. 19 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1977), p. 396.

[xcix] Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels. Collected Works [Letter to JB von Schweitzer]. Vol. 20 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1976), p. 33.

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