Slavoj Žižek: Trump Presidency could result in a “big awakening” and begin “new political processes.”
Slovenian Hipster Hegelian, Marxist Medialogue and Lacanian Lad Likes Trump.
In 1990, the well-known Slovenian sociologist, philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek was the Liberal Democracy of Slovinia candidate for the Presidency of Slovenia (an auxiliary body of the President of the Republic, abolished in 1992). The party is a member of the LIberal International and Alliance of Liberal and Democrats for Europe Party.
Slavoj Žižek is in the Presidential news again, this time it’s the US race.
He has courted predictable outrage with remarks appearing (‘dialectically’) to favour Trump.
Earlier this year the Slovenian Hipster Hegelian, Marxist Medialogue and Lacanian Lad, was in trouble for calling for the ““militarisation” of European responses to the refugee crisis in Against the Double Blackmail: Refugees, Terror and Other Troubles with the Neighbours (2016) This, it should always be recalled was in the context of this ‘contradiction’, “my greatest problem with all this humanitarianism is that people are not aware of what is really happening in Europe – the massive anti-immigrant populist movement.”The following particularly aroused controversy.
The Slovenian savant considered that there is a need to
Formulate a minimum set of rules that are obligatory for everyone, without feat that will appear ‘Eurocentric’ religious freedoms, the protection of individual freedom against group pressure, rights of woman, and so on; and second, within these limits, unconditionally insist on the tolerance of different ways of life.
Such should be a “positive emancipatory leitkultur..”
Many might consider that those who attacked Žižek as a ‘racist’ were themselves trying to impose their own “leitkultur” which involves accepting absolute “difference” and a right to impose reactionary mores inside “their” community.
To make himself clear Žižek went on to say,
With regard to the refugees, our proper aim should be to try and reconstruct global society on such a basis that desperate refugees will no longer be forced to wander around. Utopian as it may appear, this large-scale solution is the only realist one, and the display of altruistic virtues ultimately prevents the carrying out of this aim. The more we treat refugees as objects of humanitarian help, and allow the situation which compelled them to leave their countries to prevail, the more they come to Europe, until tensions reach boiling point, not only in the refugees’ countries of origin but here as well. So, confronted with this double blackmail, we are back at the great Leninist question: what is to be done?
One would have to be soothsayer to imagine the details of what world order the author has in mind here – but the intentions are surely good…..
But let that pass.
As often is the case with Žižek, people pick and choose what they want to hear.
I like this (though it’s old hat chez Coatesy),
…yet another Leftist taboo that needs to be abandoned is that of prohibiting any critique of Islam as a case of ‘Islamophobia’. This taboo is a true mirror-image of the anti-immigrant populist demonisation of Islam, so we should get rid of the pathological fear of many Western liberal Leftists that they might be guilty of Islamophobia.
Yet, I didn’t like this, on Donald Trump,
“Read Trump closely – it is difficult to do, I know – and if you extract his total racist and sexist stupidities, you will see that here and there, where he makes a complete proposal, they’re usually not so bad,” “He said he will not totally dismantle universal healthcare, raise the minimum wage, and so on.”
“Trump is a paradox: he is really a centrist liberal, and maybe even in his economic policies closer to the Democrats, and he desperately tries to mask this. So the function of all of these dirty jokes and stupidities is to cover up that he is really a pretty ordinary, centrist politician.”
Less noticed is that at the conclusion of Against the Double Blackmail Žižek called for a kind of left-wing leap in the dark, an act of profound ontological will, against the course of history.
As he put it, in strangulated sub-Walter Benjamin sentences,
In contrast to classical Marxism, in which ‘history is on our side’ (the proletariat fulfills a predestined task of universal emancipation), in today’s constellation, the big Other is against us; left to itself, the inner thrust of our historical development leads to catastrophe. To apocalypse. Here, the only thing that can prevent catastrophe is pure voluntarism, i.e. our free decision to act against historical necessity.
The latest Žižek news is now of just such a jump into catastrophe…..
The ‘alt-right’ site Breitbart reports,
Slovenian-born philosopher and cultural theorist Slavoj Žižek said a Hillary Clinton presidency is a greater danger to the nation than a President Donald Trump.
Žižek explained that while he is “horrified” by Trump, he believes a Trump presidency could result in a “big awakening” that could set into motion the formation of “new political processes.”
By contrast, Žižek said he sees Clinton as “the true danger”–pointing specifically to her insincerity, her ties to the Wall Street banks, and her dedication to the “absolute inertia” of our established political system.
Zižek explained that Trump has been able to “disturb” the entrenched political system and argued that a Trump win could set into motion “new political processes”:
“In every society, there is a whole network of unwritten rules, how politics works, and how you build consensus. And Trump disturbed this. If Trump wins, both major parties–Republicans and Democrats–would have to return to basics, rethink themselves, and maybe some things can happen there. … It will be a kind of big awakening. New political processes will be set in motion, will be triggered.”
Žižek, who has been described as “the Elvis of cultural theory,” rejected the narrative that a Trump presidency would introduce fascism in America. “Look, America is still not a dictatorial state. He will not introduce fascism,” Žižek said.
While the rockstar Lacanian Marxist professor, who has been described as a “leftist rabble-rouser,” said he was concerned by Trump’s pledge to appoint conservative Supreme Court justices, Žižek explained that, in his view, the threat of a conservative court pales in comparison to the danger posed by a Hillary Clinton presidency:
“Listen, Trump has openly said … he will nominate right-wingers [to the Supreme Court], so there are dangers [to a Trump presidency]. I’m just afraid that Hillary stands for this absolute inertia, the most dangerous one, because she’s a cold warrior, and so on, connected with banks pretending to be socially progressive.”
How far should we take any of this seriously?
In Slavoj Žižek: A Radical Critique we noted (Weekly Worker No 855 Thursday March 03 2011)
Will Žižek go further in this mystical, millennialist direction? Critics have accused him of randomly lumping together ideas, of repetition, of contradiction and of opaque thoughts. It would be better to say that his ideas are often hidden behind great verbal radicalism and convoluted digressions, as shown by his current religious themes. Very few people who take the time to decipher his writings will find substantial tools to use for mundane politics. The pictures of class divisions (included/excluded), immaterial production (exploitation reduced to rent), privatisation of the ‘commons’, and the dictatorship of the proletariat – not to mention the residue of Badiou’s timeless metaphysics – are, we have argued, botched. Nobody is going to storm heaven – or the state – with copies of these writings in their haversack.
Nobody with this rag-bag of ideas is going to begin the revival of mass emancipatory politics. It is even less likely that Trump, if he is elected (which we sincerely hope not) will lead to a “new political processes.” of benefit to any form of left.
We suspect this has the ring of truth about it,
The last time we checked in on collection of bodily fluids Slavoj Zizek, he was saying on-brand things about the election. Specifically, he had a “provocative thesis” that Trump was a liberal centrist. (In a Trump-ian twist, Zizek also described Trump in a way that is loosely descriptive of himself—as “personally disgusting, bad racist jokes, vulgarities, and so on.”) With five days to go until the election, Zizek is back and he’s trying on a new stained black t-shirt—the stained black t-shirt of punditry.
No sleepless nights worrying about the future of Žižek, though a few at the possibility that Trump might win.
See also: From Farce to Tragedy: Žižek Endorses Trump. Ian Steinman.