“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?”
“Social valorization of affects basically means that we pay the plaintiff with her own money: oh, but your feelings are so precious, you are so precious! The more you feel, the more precious you are. This is a typical neoliberal maneuver, which transforms even our traumatic experiences into possible social capital. If we can capitalize on our affects, we will limit out protests to declarations of these affects — say, declarations of suffering — rather than becoming active agents of social change. I’m of course not saying that suffering shouldn’t be expressed and talked about, but that this should not ‘freeze’ the subject into the figure of the victim. The revolt should be precisely about refusing to be a victim, rejecting the position of the victim on all possible levels.
…this bind derives precisely from the subjective gain or gratification that this positioning offers. (Moral) outrage is a particularly unproductive affect, yet it is one that offers considerable libidinal satisfaction. By ‘unproductive’ I mean this: it gives us the satisfaction of feeling morally superior, the feeling that we are in the right and others are in the wrong. Now for this to work, things must not really change. We are much less interested in changing things than in proving, again and again, that we are in the right, or on the right side, the side of the good. Hegel invented a great name for this position: the ‘beautiful soul.’ A ‘beautiful soul’ sees evil and baseness all around it but fails to see to what extent it participates in the perpetuation of that same order of things. The point of course is not that the world isn’t really evil, the point is that we are part of this evil world.”
Alenka Zupančič, “Too Much of Not Enough: An Interview with Alenka Zupančič”
Bonus links: “The Politics of Identity” and “Art and Exploitation: Ai Weiwei, Dissidence and the Refugee Crisis”
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 and “Fake News”
Contrasting examples: “Paying the Price for Breakdown of the Country’s Bourgeois Culture” vs. “Social Democracy Is Good. But Not Good Enough”; “GOD ALMIGHTY in his most holy and wise providence, hath soe disposed of the condition of mankind, as in all times some must be rich, some poore, some high and eminent in power and dignitie; others mean and in submission.” John Winthrop, A Modell of Christian Charity (1630) vs. “The first man, who, after enclosing a piece of ground, took it into his head to say, ‘This is mine,’ and found people simple enough to believe him, was the true founder of civil society. How many crimes, how many wars, how many murders, how many misfortunes and horrors, would that man have saved the human species, who pulling up the stakes or filling up the ditches should have cried to his fellows: Be sure not to listen to this imposter; you are lost, if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong equally to us all, and the earth itself to nobody!” Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “A Discourse Upon the Origin and the Foundation of the Inequality Among Mankind” (1754); see also The Dreyfus Affair and Snowpiercer