“one should . . . admit how problematic it is to anchor one’s political demands to status of victimhood. Is the basic characteristic of today’s subjectivity not the weird combination of the free subject who believes themselves ultimately responsible for their own fate and the subject who bases their argument on their status as a victim of circumstances beyond their own control? Every contact with another human being is experienced as a potential threat – if the other smokes, if he casts a covetous glance at me, he already hurts me; this logic of victimization is today universalized, reaching well beyond the standard cases of sexual or racist harassment.”
Slavoj Žižek, “Sex and ’68: Liberal Movement Revolutionized ‘Sexuality’ But at What Cost?”
Bonus link: “The Politics of Identity”
Link to an article by Timothy Bryar:
“Preferring Zizek’s Bartleby Politics,” International Journal of Žižek Studies, Vol 12, No 1 (2018).
Bonus links: Crowds and Party, “Rimbaud’s Systematic Derangement of the Senses”
Bonus quote: “When the self ceases to exist, the world exists.” Alejandro Jodorowsky, The Finger and the Moon: Zen Teachings and Koans
Link to an article by Slavoj Žižek:
“Alt-right Trump Supporters and Left-wing Bernie Sanders Fans Should Join Together to Defeat Capitalism”
“The fear not to make any compromises with the alt-right can muddy the degree to which we are already compromised by it. One should greet every sign of this self-critical reflection which is gradually emerging and which, while remaining thoroughly anti-fascist, casts also a critical glance on the weaknesses of the liberal left.
“The obscenity of the situation is breath-taking: global capitalism is now presenting itself as the last protection against fascism, and if you try to point this out you are accused of complicity with fascism.”
“Today’s Anti-fascist Movement Will Do Nothing to Get Rid of Right-wing Populism – It’s Just Panicky Posturing”
Bonus links: “15 Writers Confess the Worst Thing They Wrote in 2017” and “Why We All Love to Hate Haider”
“They play the Beautiful Soul, which feels superior to the corrupted world while secretly participating in it: they need this corrupted world as the only terrain where they can exert their moral superiority.”
Slavoj Žižek, Refugees, Terror and Other Troubles with the Neighbors: Against the Double Blackmail (2016)
Bonus links: Phenomenology of Spirit and Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship
Link to a lecture by Slavoj Žižek:
“Let Us Be Realists And Demand The Impossible: Communism”
The title of the talk alludes to the May 1968 slogan “Be realistic, demand the impossible.” This is one of Žižek’s more coherent lectures.
“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).
Bonus links: comments by Domenico Losurdo and The Fragile Absolute
Contrasting examples: “Paying the Price for Breakdown of the Country’s Bourgeois Culture” vs. “Social Democracy Is Good. But Not Good Enough”
Slavoj Žižek from In Defense of Lost Causes (2008):
“Populism is ultimately always sustained by ordinary people’s frustrated exasperation, by a cry of ‘I don’t know what’s going on, I just know I’ve had enough of it! It can’t go on! It must stop!’ — an impatient outburst, a refusal to understand, exasperation at complexity, and the ensuing conviction that there must be somebody responsible for all the mess, which is why an agent who is behind the scenes and explains it all is required. Therein, in this refusal-to-know, resides the properly fetishistic dimension of populism.” (p. 282)
“for a populist, the cause of the troubles is ultimately never the system as such but the intruder who corrupted it (ﬁnancial manipulators, not necessarily capitalists, and so on); not a fatal ﬂaw inscribed into the structure as such but an element that doesn’t play its role within the structure properly. For a Marxist, on the contrary (as for a Freudian), the pathological (deviating misbehavior of some elements) is the symptom of the normal, an indicator of what is wrong in the very structure that is threatened with ‘pathological’ outbursts. For Marx, economic crises are the key to understanding the ‘normal’ functioning of capitalism; for Freud, the pathological phenomena such as hysterical outbursts provide the key to the constitution (and hidden antagonisms that sustain the functioning) of a ‘normal’ subject.” (p. 279)
Two contrasting examples of these very principles:
Thomas Frank: “Donald Trump doesn’t really reflect the moral values of middle America. He is a consummate city slicker, a soft-handed, foul-mouthed toff who lives in a 58-story building and has been identified with New York City excess his entire life. But people in rural areas are desperate these days. Many of them chose Trump, despite his vulgarity and his big-city ways, because he promised to make them ‘great again’. *** Why? One of the men present told me you could summarize it with a single word: ‘Hillary!’ “
Kshama Sawant: “Because this is not only about Trump. It is this predatory system of capitalism, in decline and crisis, that has given rise to Trumpism.”