Zizek on Tunisia and Egypt

Zizek’s latest Guardian piece seems more disjointed and confusing to me than the last one. What he seems to be saying is essentially that if liberals exclude the radical left, they will be unable to resist radical Islam — hence the radical left makes the world safe for liberalism? That seems like a weird argument to be making.

I also expect that those who customarily critique Zizek will point out the apparent contradiction between his opposition between the radical left and radical Islam and his use of Christianity, etc. Yet to me that critique misses the point of his work on Christianity and also ignores the fact that he has also claimed that there is revolutionary potential in Islam (as in his piece on Iran from a couple years ago).

14 thoughts on “Zizek on Tunisia and Egypt

  1. I feel a certain duty, given that I wrote a book on the guy. I do wish he would just take like three years off and write a really high-quality philosophy book rather than all this one-off stuff.

  2. Didn’t Jameson make virtually the same point, RE: Islamic fundamentalism in Afghanistan as a reaction to the suppression of the left, in the South Atlantic Quarterly a few years ago? Was it this one?: htp://saq.dukejournals.org/cgi/pdf_extract/101/2/297 ? Damn paywalls.

    Zizek may be the closest thing we have to a professional dialectician, which makes him slightly more entertaining to watch/read than a professional electrician.

  3. I once got stuck supervising an electrician who was rewiring our whole apartment. It was pretty interesting to watch, actually. The technique of putting a new wire through using the old wire you’re pulling out is brilliant.

  4. @Adam Kotsko: Zizek in fact has been writing a quality book for the past year on Hegel. It’s due to come out sometime soon – and will mark Zizek’s return to pure Hegelianism and Lacanian Psychoanalytic theory, instead of what he has been doing these past few years which is a somewhat un-founded whirlwind analysis of today’s events.

  5. The secular left in Algeria, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and across the Arab world disintegrated in the 1970’s and 80’s, in part because of the geostrategic failure of the USSR generally, but also as in specific case after specific case the Left failed to gain significant concessions in the halls of government — as the Saudi elites negotiated military industrial treaties with the U.S. and locked themselves into power, as Egypt slipped under the influence of US foreign aid, as Israel’s advances proves impossible to contain, as the chance of a united Greater Arabia under Nasser and the Iraqi Communist Party fell apart at the negotiating table, as the Shah continued to oppress the Persians —- in the light of this failure, and out of simple desperation, more and more people turned back toward their deeper tradition and fixated on a brand of optimism that could get them through dark times : Islamic Fundamentalism. Its a simple argument.

  6. And . . . This argument maps onto a number of his concepts:

    1) Parallax. The Left exists in parallax, as the negative overlap between Islamic Fundamentalism and Liberal Capitalism.

    2) Feminine Matheme: While the masculine matheme posits a truth (Western Capitalism) that is opposed to its exception (a recalcitrant Islamic conservatism), the feminine matheme recognizes the simultaneity of these extremes: both exist as part of the internal contradiction of our epoch THROUGH WHICH a new (Leftist?) world an emerge.

    3) Tarrying with the Negative. Only in THAT “cartoon character hovering in mid air not realizing he’s run out of ground”-“Bladderunner realises that he too is a replicant”-feminist realises ‘C’est n’est pas une femme’ and in that moment discovers her resilient indestructable cogito” MOMENT does real change emerge. In order for a true political act to occur (a true act retroactively posits its own conditions), the field must fall into chaos, must be empty, unknowable, sublime.


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