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November 15, 2010



I haven't read tons of Žižek, so we might be basing our opinions of his taste level on different passages. But on my reading, his take on Stalin was just that we have to treat Stalinism as an understandable consequence of the failure to make a proletarian state--and not a reason to give up on socialism. His point is that the show trials were the product of ideological and geopolitical circumstances that are worth trying to understand, rather than of Eeevil.

Your point about Titoist Slovenia makes some sense, but, on the other hand ... there are still Communists in Romania and Albania.

All that said, I still think Žižek is probably a bullshitter. If he's such a big-time Marxist, then why did he run for President of Slovenia on the ticket of a centrist liberal party?


I like your idea of exemplars vs vanguards. My problem with Leninists is their idea that they speak on behalf of proletariat. This mistake was fatal to the Russian revolution and directly led to Stalinism, in my opinion (I'm not saying that the geopolitical situation wasn't a major factor too). Let the people identify with you, don't identify yourself with "the people". That's what the Tea Party does. It also has powerful industrial backers.

I have one caveat though. The existence of the Tea Party, or the experience of recent years suggests to me that shame is a feeling unknown to most politicians and probably every serious capitalist out there. I just wonder how the exemplar can make a difference in that climate.

As far as Zizek goes, the lack carats in my spelling his name might indicate that I esteem him little. "Ethical violence" reminds me of New Labour's much-trumpted "ethical foreign policy", which was quickly nixed even before 9/11 by the UK's sale of jets to Indonesia so the latter could bomb Aceh.

I agree with Fugazi's Ian MacKaye. Someone once asked him if, as a pacifist, would he just stand by and see his grandma mugged. He replied that of course he wouldn't, he'd throw punches if he had to - but it's never okay, it's never right.


"More and more, I believe that there is no greater weapon than shame. It is a weapon, moreover, to which oppressors can have no recourse."

Like NB above, I'm skeptical of this position.

Consider that most Americans seem to support the proposition of the US Secretary of Defense that Wikileaks has "blood on its hands". I can't think of a more poignant example of an oppressor not only being immune to shame, but using it as a weapon against those who would speak for the oppressed.


"I believe that there is no greater weapon than shame. It is a weapon, moreover, to which oppressors can have no recourse."


Do you have a more detailed post on your thesis?

How something like shame can contrast today's exploitation?


Zizek is as cute and cuddly and ridiculous as ever, but if one were to stop for a second and actually think through his clownish terror-glorifying idiocy, you’ll realize that “radical intellectuals” are hardly a part of the oppressed classes; they are, in fact, at the heart of the oppressive classes. The politically-correct show-boating Leninist, Stalinist-sympathizing, violence-rousing, champagne socialism of Zizek is quite possibly the most widespread type of religion among the globe’s ruling classes. From Barack Obama to the vanguard of the current Russian kleptocracy to the British ConDemLabor junta to all the clowns in charge of poor countries—there is nothing quite as popular and motivating as talk of “class warfare” and standing up for the poor and a “nuanced understanding of Stalin”, and, of course, a fawning and highly lucrative admiration of court-jestering power-whore intellectuals like Zizek.


Simply not liking something does not constitute argument, this is a load of hesitant trash.

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