“Ernesto Laclau has conceptualized . . . the struggle for hegemony. *** That is to say, class struggle is ultimately the struggle for the meaning of society ‘as such’, the struggle for which of the two classes will impose itself as the stand-in for society ‘as such’, thereby degrading its other into the stand-in for the non-Social (the destruction of, the threat to, society).
“To simplify: Does the masses’ struggle for emancipation pose a threat to civilization as such, since civilization can thrive only in a hierarchical social order? Or is it that the ruling class is a parasite threatening to drag society into self-destruction, so that the only alternative to socialism is barbarism?” Slavoj Žižek, Afterword to Revolution at the Gates: Selected Writings of Lenin From 1917 (pp. 209-10).
Link to an article by Slavoj Žižek:
Notes: The phrase “spaceship Earth” was coined by R. Buckminster Fuller. Žižek seems to clarify Fuller’s suggestion, “If the success or failure of this planet, and of human beings, depended on how I am and what I do, how would I be? What would I do?” Žižek repeats his general position that people should not cynically obtain surplus enjoyment for doing what is good, but should instead be duty-bound to do good.
Link to an article by Rob Hunter:
Typically Žižek writes long and short books, with the shorter ones restating concepts he had introduced in longer works. But The Fragile Absolute is a bit different in terms of being shorter but also developing (relatively) new concepts. His views on christian atheism are significant enough that this book was reprinted years later as part of the publisher’s “Essential Žižek” series. Yet for as important as the the core christian ideas are to the book, given its title, most of the first half or so scarcely mentions religion at all. And for that matter, Žižek doesn’t ever mention Thomas J. J. Altizer‘s “death of god” theory, or Ernst Bloch‘s Atheism in Christianity (1968), which seem to set forth a similar frame of discussion. Instead he starts with Alain Badiou‘s Saint Paul: The Foundations of Universalism (1998). In short, Žižek’s thesis is that christianity offers a radical position that used “love” as a way toward universality. Using his typical Lacanian psychoanalytic techniques, and a heavy reliance on Hegelian philosophy, he explores how a sense of duty in the christian concept of love — specifically Pauline agape (love as charity) — can rupture the duality of law and transgression and the pagan notion of life cycles built around a global social hierarchy (of each person and thing in its “proper” place). In other words, he sees christianity as offering a significant step forward toward an egalitarian society by asserting that each individual has immediate access to (and the right to participate in) universality, without seeing it as “evil” when a person (or strata) no longer is satisfied with a position within an ordered social hierarchy (which inherently has masters who must be obeyed). Žižek’s key arguments are as profound as ever, yet those could have been distilled to more potent essay or article rather than a book that comes across as rambling in the first half.
Link to an article by Alan Nasser:
Bonus Quote: “I’d rather vote for something I want and not get it than vote for something I don’t want and get it.” Eugene V. Debs
“Of course, no privileged political agent knows inherently what is best for the people and has the right to impose its decisions on the people against their will (as the Stalinist Communist Party did). However, when the will of the majo[r]ity clearly violates basic emancipatory freedoms, one has not only the right but also the duty to oppose that majority. This is not reason to despise democratic elections — only to insist that they are not per se an indication of Truth. As a rule, elections reflect the conventional wisdom determined by the hegemonic ideology.”
Link to an article by Slavoj Žižek:
- “being a victim at the bottom of the social ladder does not make you some kind of privileged voice of morality and justice.”
- “This destructive potential of envy is the base of Rousseau’s well-known distinction between egotism, amour-de-soi (that love of the self which is natural), and amour-propre, the perverted preferring of oneself to others in which a person focuses not on achieving a goal, but on destroying the obstacle to it [quoting Rousseau, juge de Jean-Jacques, first dialog] . . . An evil person is thus not an egotist, ‘thinking only about his own interests’. A true egotist is too busy taking care of his own good to have time to cause misfortune to others. The primary vice of a bad person is that he is more preoccupied with others than with himself.”
- “The difficult lesson of this entire affair is thus that it is not enough to simply give voice to the underdogs the way they are: in order to enact actual emancipation, they have to be educated (by others and by themselves) into their freedom.”