A commentary on Zizek: either stop talking or stop thinking

In the immediate aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris, Slavoj Zizek wrote a column for the Guardian.[1] Hs purported goal was to help us, the West, think about or even think through the shootings. One imagines that he wanted us to better understand the shooting and by giving it meaning allow us to respond to it in an effective way, or even respond effectively, or at least respond in a meaningful way. However, Zizek, as he is wont to do, leads us on a, at least for the reader, tortured path to his desired destination in which we, after thinking about the killing, must arrive. In his inimitable style, he leads us to where we begin and we see ourselves for the first time. To get there, though, we have to follow his path from where he starts.

Now, when we are all in a state of shock after the killing spree in the Charlie Hebdo offices, it is the right moment to gather the courage to think.

Zizek suggests that we only begin thinking after an act. Even this though is not true. We can only gather the courage to think. In an echo of Heidegger, Zizek claims we are not yet thinking. Yet, this is not true. We can only gather the courage to think. We are not thinking and we appear frightened to think, which is why we have to gather our courage to think. If we are to think, what are we to think once we have the courage to think?

We should, of course, unambiguously condemn the killings as an attack on the very substance our freedoms, and condemn them without any hidden caveats (in the style of “Charlie Hebdo was nonetheless provoking and humiliating the Muslims too much”).

Immediately we no longer have to think. The answer is provided by Zizek. We must condemn the killings. He does not offer a reason. There is no need to think of a reason, the killings are clearly wrong. If it is clearly wrong, why do we have to think about it or even gather our courage to think about it? Curiously Zizek does not condemn the killings. He only says we would condemn them. He avoids the moral judgement. He does not say “I condemn the killings.” He only suggests or indicates that what we should do, not what we do, or must do, or will do. He leaves it conditional. He does not want to judge. Perhaps he is too much of a philosophical coward to condemn, even as he encourages others to condemn.

But such pathos of universal solidarity is not enough – we should think further.

Here Zizek claims that if we decide to condemn the attack and the attackers we have been thinking. Even there he suggests a lower form of thinking, if it is thinking at all, by referring to the pathos of solidarity. He claims this pathos is not enough instead we have to think further. He does not call us to act, he only call us to think. For Zizek it might be that thinking is the highest act. If it is, that is fine for the philosopher but it leaves the political community without a guide. In this claim, Zizek abandons the community and escapes into thought as a way to avoid responsibility, a cowardly decision that saves himself and leaves the community vulnerable to further attack.

Such thinking has nothing whatsoever to do with the cheap relativisation of the crime (the mantra of “who are we in the West, perpetrators of terrible massacres in the Third World, to condemn such acts”).

Zizek seeks to defend his call to thought by defending it against the public prejudice that such thinking would lead us to relativize the crime. Yet, why would that claim exist since he has already commanded that we should condemn the killings? Even to call it a crime seems to indicate a judgement. He wants us to look beyond such relativism that we are as guilty of crimes and therefore cannot condemn the attack. One could almost excuse Zizek for assuming Christ’s mantle to counter the claim that the West cannot cast a stone for it is not without sin. Have we begun to think? Zizek will provide an understanding of what is to be done beyond the moral equivalent or relativism.

It has even less to do with the pathological fear of many Western liberal Leftists to be guilty of Islamophobia. For these false Leftists, any critique of Islam is denounced as an expression of Western Islamophobia; Salman Rushdie was denounced for unnecessarily provoking Muslims and thus (partially, at least) responsible for the fatwa condemning him to death, etc.

Zizek also warns us against fear, the fear that we might be labelled with the mental disease (Islamophobia). The fear is that we would have an irrational fear of Islam, which has somehow excused the attacks or at least inhibits or limits our response to them if not our ability to think about them. As a side note, it is useful to remember that philosophy begins in wonder while faith begins in fear of the Lord. Whatever the fears or the issue, Zizek wants us to know that these are not true Leftists as they are false Leftist, which implies that there is a standard by which we can judge Leftist thought and behaviour. We are assured that Zizek knows this standard so as to render judgement on Leftists even as he has rendered judgement on the Islamic attackers or those who would respond to them.

The Muslim does not act out of fear or fragile beliefs

Another thinker tried to save the West from fear, the fear of violent death, and in forgetting his success we have become vulnerable. He seems an unpalatable option as his solution, which had worked previously, is not one that is conducive to Zizek’s intended outcome. Perhaps intellectual probity is no longer important when we need to make an ideological point. The desire to make ideological points at the expense of intellectual probity betrays the truth. If one does not believe in truth, beyond the truth of one’s ideology, then this is not a problem. However, Zizek is not finished with the psychological analysis.

The result of such stance is what one can expect in such cases: the more the Western liberal Leftists probe into their guilt, the more they are accused by Muslim fundamentalists of being hypocrites who try to conceal their hatred of Islam. This constellation perfectly reproduces the paradox of the superego: the more you obey what the Other demands of you, the guiltier you are. It is as if the more you tolerate Islam, the stronger its pressure on you will be . . .

One can almost imagine Leftists going to Zizek’s couch to understand their guilt. He will absolve them of their guilt with Freud by warning them against the power of the superego. The false Leftist ideology, of which Zizek is the judge, will force you to obey and the more you go along with what everybody else wants, you will feel more guilt. You will be caught out by the fundamentalists who ridicule you for secretly hating them even as you try to stop Islamophobia. The more you tolerate it, the more pressure to renounce that tolerance as a hypocrite. Why the Leftist liberal fears the words of the Muslim fundamentalist more than their machine gun bullets remains a mystery. If you can avoid hating Islam you will be spared the machine gun bullets but you will still have to face their words that accuse you of hypocrisy. Perhaps Zizek, the philosophical court jester to Western democracy, is being ironic in claiming that words will hurt you more than sticks or stones or in this case machine gun bullets. What is clear, though, is Zizek rejects moderation. He wants action, extreme action, even if he will not do it nor will he judge such action. Perhaps for him thinking is his extremism.

This is why I also find insufficient calls for moderation along the lines of Simon Jenkins’s claim (in The Guardian on January 7) that our task is “not to overreact, not to over-publicise the aftermath. It is to treat each event as a passing accident of horror” – the attack on Charlie Hebdo was not a mere “passing accident of horror”. it followed a precise religious and political agenda and was as such clearly part of a much larger pattern. Of course we should not overreact, if by this is meant succumbing to blind Islamophobia – but we should ruthlessly analyse this pattern.

Zizek wants to condemn moderation in the face of such acts. He seems to think that moderate reactions, a proportionate counter attack, is wrong. Yet, he also cautions against overreacting. It appears he wants us to have an extreme moderation or a moderate extremism. The basis for wisdom, though, is moderation. Wisdom is revealed in the proportionate course of action that statesmen take in response to these issues. Although Zizek modifies his immoderate criticism of moderation, by indicating that an immoderate behaviour would be to succumb to blind Islamophobia, a psychological condition. The psychological condition returns as if one can choose to go mad, one can rationally choose a mental illness. A moderate response cannot be understood as a leap into Islamophobia unless one is suggesting that Islamophobia is now assumed to be the moderate position. Strangely, for his previous criticism of false Leftists who feared being called Islamaphobes, he wants us to avoid choosing Islamophobia as our moderate response for it might be the right response according to Zizek but only after we have analysed the pattern.

We must think through the pattern of the attack, which Zizek assures us exists for it cannot be an accident of a larger movement. The attack is part of the pattern of history and the logic of that history is known, it would appear, to Zizek if no one else. Even as he calls for us to avoid moderation that falls into Islamophobia he suggests we must be ruthless, extreme, in our thinking our analysis of the pattern of these attacks and the agenda they follow. We are not told the pattern or the agenda although to claim there is a pattern and an agenda requires that Zizek knows it.

The pattern and the agenda Zizek find is created, as we see below, was set by Friedrich Nietzsche. He will help us to break down the myth that turns the suicide attackers into heroes by demonising them.

What is much more needed than the demonisation of the terrorists into heroic suicidal fanatics is a debunking of this demonic myth.

We are not told where this myth originates or why the myth exists. What Zizek suggests, again strangely since he condemns the false Leftists for such beliefs, is that it is created by the West.

Long ago Friedrich Nietzsche perceived how Western civilisation was moving in the direction of the Last Man, an apathetic creature with no great passion or commitment. Unable to dream, tired of life, he takes no risks, seeking only comfort and security, an expression of tolerance with one another: “A little poison now and then: that makes for pleasant dreams. And much poison at the end, for a pleasant death. They have their little pleasures for the day, and their little pleasures for the night, but they have a regard for health. ‘We have discovered happiness,’ – say the Last Men, and they blink.”

Zizek suggests that the myth is born of a desire by the West to see the attackers as heroes and in doing so go give meaning to their own lives. He knows we are in the age of the Last Man, but how he knows this is not clear. What he does know is that in the age of the Last Man, the West must create the heroic suicidal bomber to keep itself alive to the danger of life. Only in the myth can we avoid our own emptiness.

It effectively may appear that the split between the permissive First World and the fundamentalist reaction to it runs more and more along the lines of the opposition between leading a long satisfying life full of material and cultural wealth, and dedicating one’s life to some transcendent Cause. Is this antagonism not the one between what Nietzsche called “passive” and “active” nihilism? We in the West are the Nietzschean Last Men, immersed in stupid daily pleasures, while the Muslim radicals are ready to risk everything, engaged in the struggle up to their self-destruction.

We in the West are the permissive empty Last Men content in our nihilism while the Muslims, who are also nihilists but do not know it, become extremists pursuing death for some belief that gives their lives meaning. The duality is actually a monality as both reduce to nihilism. However, we have to remember this is only what it appears to Zizek. This too is only a possible view and not what Zizek believes.

William Butler Yeats’ “Second Coming” seems perfectly to render our present predicament: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” This is an excellent description of the current split between anemic liberals and impassioned fundamentalists. “The best” are no longer able fully to engage, while “the worst” engage in racist, religious, sexist fanaticism.

The choice is clear: a disengaged nihilist or a fanatic nihilist. What is important, though, is neither of these apply to Zizek. He thinks. He acts. He is beyond Good and Evil. He will provide the values by which we can judge even as he refuses to pass judgement on the attack. He will help us to think through the pattern and the agenda. The reality is that the radical fundamentalists are not fundamentalists at all.

However, do the terrorist fundamentalists really fit this description? What they obviously lack is a feature that is easy to discern in all authentic fundamentalists, from Tibetan Buddhists to the Amish in the US: the absence of resentment and envy, the deep indifference towards the non-believers’ way of life. If today’s so-called fundamentalists really believe they have found their way to Truth, why should they feel threatened by non-believers, why should they envy them? When a Buddhist encounters a Western hedonist, he hardly condemns. He just benevolently notes that the hedonist’s search for happiness is self-defeating. In contrast to true fundamentalists, the terrorist pseudo-fundamentalists are deeply bothered, intrigued, fascinated, by the sinful life of the non-believers. One can feel that, in fighting the sinful other, they are fighting their own temptation.

If this were true, it would suggest that the fundamentalists possess the truth. As they possess a truth, they leave others alone. The argument raises the question of why Zizek is commenting on the situation. If he does possess a truth, his understanding of the pattern and the agenda, and he thinks, why is he concerned with how the West reacts to these killers, their pattern of these and their agenda?

It is here that Yeats’ diagnosis falls short of the present predicament: the passionate intensity of the terrorists bears witness to a lack of true conviction. How fragile the belief of a Muslim must be if he feels threatened by a stupid caricature in a weekly satirical newspaper?

In a curious and well played inversion, perhaps echoing Nietzsche’s transvaluation of values, Zizek turns passionate belief into fragility and emptiness. The Muslim is stupid if they are threatened. They fear words more than reality. He criticizes them for their fears in the way that false Leftists fear words in being labelled Islamaphobic. Zizek would have us forget fear as if it is only fear that holds us back. We have not thing to fear but fear itself. He will be brave for us and look into the abyss. Yet, he does not appear to understand the Muslims as they understand themselves. He understands them as he wants to understand them, which limits his advice.

The Muslim does not act out of fear or fragile beliefs. He acts out of love and belief. He loves Allah and believes in his teaching so much that he willing to live, kill, add die for those beliefs. The West is barely able to muster such beliefs. Socrates believed in philosophy enough to sacrifice his life for it. Would Zizek do that? Do we have similar beliefs in the West? Christianity and to a large extent Judaism have been hollowed out by modernity and exist largely as shells of their former selves. The Catholic Church, and Israel, remain as bastions of belief but they are under sustained and intense assault to drain them of such beliefs. In large part by “philosophers” such as Zizek who cannot muster belief in anything except nihilism.

The fundamentalist Islamic terror is not grounded in the terrorists’ conviction of their superiority and in their desire to safeguard their cultural-religious identity from the onslaught of global consumerist civilization.

How does Zizek know what are the ground for the Islamic terror? He understands them as he wants to understand them not as they understand themselves. He appears to indulge in a strange cultural historicism. He dismisses a possible ground because to him it seems unbelievable that someone could believe enough to live, kill, and die for their faith. Instead, the terrorists suffer from the same psychological malady as the Leftists, they secretly hate themselves.

The problem with fundamentalists is not that we consider them inferior to us, but, rather, that they themselves secretly consider themselves inferior.

Zizek the great psychologists now reduces the Islamic terror to a simple inferiority complex. If we could only build up their self-esteem they would stop believing in Islam and stop being so violent. How he knows their secret beliefs remains a mystery but his analysis has brought him to this great insight.

This is why our condescending politically correct assurances that we feel no superiority towards them only makes them more furious and feeds their resentment.

Strangely he believes that being tolerant and feeling superior are mutually exclusive. The magnanimous man tolerates the inferior out of his magnanimity. Just as the philosopher tolerates the stupid out of his superiority. More to the point, if we in the West gave them non-politically correct assurances or less condescending assurances, they would feel better. If we openly hate them, then they will love us, respect us, and no longer feel the secret self-loathing that comes from our apparent indifference if not tolerance. Except we do not even do that correctly. They resent our inability to insult them properly and recognize their inferiority for what it was. If we would only act as Masters they would assume their expected role as Slaves. Zizek’s masterful insight returns us to Hegel, except it is more insulting. They do not want recognition as equals. They want to be recognized as an inferior and resent our refusal to act as superior as we are. In his own way Zizek provides the necessary insult for Muslims (and the West).

If we just insulted them more they would relax and accept that we hate them which would make them not want to kill us as their resentment would be sated. As we have asked them to meet our standards (derived from Nature and Nature’s God) and we judge them by those standards, they will feel relieved to avoid having to carry the internal burden of their self-loathing.

The problem is not cultural difference (their effort to preserve their identity), but the opposite fact that the fundamentalists are already like us, that, secretly, they have already internalized our standards and measure themselves by them.

Here we find a difficulty. If the fundamentalists already act like us or at least rely on our standards and measures are they different from us in a material way? It would appear that Zizek is saying there is no material difference of ends only of means. Where the liberal democratic acts moderately, the fundamentalist acts aggressively or violently; but there is no difference between them fundamentally on the ends they pursue. Are we to now understand there is only a difference in means and not ends? Even if we abstract to the most extreme level, there is a material difference between the two options. If they are the same or at least similar, is it that the fundamentalists are on the same journey but only less developed or as advanced along that journey to nihilism? However, there is a twist to his statement.

Paradoxically, what the fundamentalists really lack is precisely a dose of that true ‘racist’ conviction of their own superiority.

The fundamentalists are not yet supremacists. They are just as extreme but do not yet act as supremacists. Once they do, then they would be the same as a liberal democrat and lose their self-loathing as an inferior but obtain it as a superior unable to embrace it as the Leftists seem unwilling or unable to embrace it. The western liberal acts with an air of false superiority in his zealotry while the fundamentalist acts with an air of inferiority complex in their zealotry. Moreover, Zizek has argued that the liberals are racists and the fundamentalists have just not yet understood that they too are racist supremacists, but they do not know it yet. One almost imagines that the fundamentalists act with a false consciousness and brave Zizek is going to help them with their psychological condition (see Nietzsche’s lament about psychologists) so that they too can be open about their racism. All of this, though, is prelude to what Zizek wants to champion as his insight drawn from Walter Benjamin.

The recent vicissitudes of Muslim fundamentalism confirm Walter Benjamin’s old insight that “every rise of Fascism bears witness to a failed revolution”[2]: the rise of Fascism is the Left’s failure, but simultaneously a proof that there was a revolutionary potential, dissatisfaction, which the Left was not able to mobilize. And does the same not hold for today’s so-called “Islamo-Fascism”? Is the rise of radical Islamism not exactly correlative to the disappearance of the secular Left in Muslim countries?

Leaving aside the fact that despite extensive searches I cannot find Benjamin making that statement in his published works  (this suggests that Zizek made it up and tries to pass it off as Benjamin’s) we return to the theme that it is all about the Left. Now, we are told that the fundamentalists emerge because the Left failed. Perhaps it is that the fundamentalists emerged in response to the Leftists? Or it might be that the fundamentalists never went away and that no revolution was possible so could not fail. Instead, Islam faces liberalism’s global challenge. It cannot escape the corrosive power transmitted through technology and popular culture and it is the last attempt to resist liberalism’s totalitarian embrace. The Left never attempted to reform Islam as Islam have never had a Left beyond those hidden or esoteric philosophers. Perhaps we could suggest that some rulers were secular and they chose to import ideas and beliefs that challenged the pre-existing, if latent, fundamentalist ideas so that they could retain their power and control. Yet, that does not suggest a Leftist revolution was ever considered so it could not fail.

We also must question whether Walter Benjamin is appropriate. His insight proves superficial when we consider the wider world. Perhaps it fits for Germany’s history but it hardly reflects the religious regimes or the wider, global, tension between Left and Right however understood. We would forget that Nationalist Socialism began as a revolution on the Left. It opposed the Left and was not a revolution on the Right as it was not interested in restoring throne or altar even as it claimed as such or assumed those symbols. Leaving aside the problem with Benjamin’s analytical term, we still face another issue with Zizek’s choice of the word fascist. Zizek chooses the word Islamo-Fascism in an apparent or conscious echo of Christopher Hitchen’s term. The term appears useful. The closer we examine it, though, we see that it reflects the originator’s attempt to project his views onto Islam and what he understands as the Islamic threat. By this term he hoped to frame the debate in way that the public would understand and respond to appropriately. The term, though, keeps us from thinking. We use it as a shorthand to avoid an attempt to understand Islam, the radical movement, or what either seeks to achieve. We are reduced to the belief that Islam is bad and Islam can only manifest itself in a fascistic political system. Moreover, we are reduced to the idea that Islamic movements reduce to fascism or the current Islamists who carried out the shootings reduce to fascistic thinking. Yet, Islamic movements have not been fascistic. They are less interested in a state or a government and more interested in a regime that shapes the way of life on their religious beliefs. If a political order allowed that and enabled it, then would they resist that order? Perhaps we see that Zisek is the one caught within the state system, within fascistic thinking, as he no longer understands or considers the state’s origin is not in itself but occurs from an earlier thought that he has rejected.

When, back in the Spring of 2009, Taliban took over the Swat valley in Pakistan, New York Times reported that they engineered “a class revolt that exploits profound fissures between a small group of wealthy landlords and their landless tenants”. If, however, by “taking advantage” of the farmers’ plight, the Taliban are “raising alarm about the risks to Pakistan, which remains largely feudal,” what prevents liberal democrats in Pakistan as well as the US to similarly “take advantage” of this plight and try to help the landless farmers?

Here an issue emerges clearly that reveals the paucity of Zizek’s thinking or ability to understand the world in practical terms. Zizek wants revolution in the same way that the Taliban want revolution. The difference though is that Zizek wants liberal democrats to become revolutionaries. The Taliban are already revolutionary. The problem, though, is that the liberal democrats do not believe in revolution. They want to change regimes and encourage them to become liberal democratic through non-violent means such as ballots and elections. Taliban wants to destroy them and rule. The Taliban only want to rule, they have no interest in the farmers aside from using them to overthrow the land owners so they can exploit them. The farmers would change one master for another. Strangely, Zizek does not see this. His view is that the liberal democrats need to become liberal democratic imperialist and encourage the famers to overthrow the land owners. Moreover, this would somehow help the US in its fight against the Taliban and appear to spread liberal democracy.

If the US were to follow his ruthless analysis, the United States would depose a friendly regime that was helping them fight a common enemy and replace it with an unstable regime that would be unable to fight the common enemy and suffer from subsequent instability that comes with any regime founded in a revolution. In effect, Zizek would destroy the alliance in pursuit of liberal democratic purity. Perhaps Zizek is a brilliant philosopher but he is an incompetent geopolitical strategist. His ruthless analysis would undermine the US’s ability to fight the Taliban and it would also remove its ability to encourage changes towards liberal democracy. Moreover, Zizek’s lesson does not learn from the Vietnam War in which the North Vietnamese were fighting to impose their rule on all of Vietnam and had some sympathy among the Southern population. By contrast, the Taliban are not indigenous and seek to impose their rule. They are not seeking to unify the country so much as to take it over for their own purposes that do not match the indigenous population’s purposes.

The sad implication of this fact is that the feudal forces in Pakistan are the “natural ally” of the liberal democracy…

In the specific circumstances, the answer is yes. Yet, this is the nature of politics. It is never a pure activity in which there are clear choices without consequences. Politics requires compromise where one has to work with the practical even if it is done in the ideal’s light.

So what about the core values of liberalism: freedom, equality, etc.? The paradox is that liberalism itself is not strong enough to save them against the fundamentalist onslaught.

Here Zisek appears to offer us another insight. Yet, we find he only returns us to Nietzsche with his criticism of men without chests. If this is true, why was it such flabby liberalism found a way to defeat a more virulent, focused, and vicious form of fascism in the form of the Soviet Union? Moreover, he assumes that the liberal democratic effect will never occur without revolution.

Fundamentalism is a reaction – a false, mystifying, reaction, of course – against a real flaw of liberalism, and this is why it is again and again generated by liberalism.

Zizek offers us nothing new. He wants us to follow his well established, if tired, Hegelian trope that liberalism creates fundamentalism. The insight appears fresh, even urgent in light of the context, but stale, if not empty of meaning when considered against history. Zizek appears to avoid the question of whether liberalism itself cannot be fundamentalist. Perhaps the deeper irony is that we are to accept Liberalism as a fundamentalism without knowing why or how it is or has become such a fundamentalism. Is the deeper joke that Zizek is ready to introduce us to our deeper truth, our fundamentalism, and poses himself as our guide, our Imam?

Left to itself, liberalism will slowly undermine itself – the only thing that can save its core values is a renewed Left. In order for this key legacy to survive, liberalism needs the brotherly help of the radical Left. THIS is the only way to defeat fundamentalism, to sweep the ground under its feet.

We retreat from that precipice to find that the goal is not fundamentalism so much as a resurrection of what we had believed we had rejected—the radical left. We now have a solution prepared earlier, we return to where we began. We need to reinvigorate the Left, not just any part of the left or any variety, but the radical left. We need the radical left for that will help us understand that it is time to awaken our inner Cromwell to defeat the fundamentalists. What is left unanswered, though, if this strategy is required—“What will save liberalism from itself?”

To think in response to the Paris killings means to drop the smug self-satisfaction of a permissive liberal and to accept that the conflict between liberal permissiveness and fundamentalism is ultimately a false conflict – a vicious cycle of two poles generating and presupposing each other. What Max Horkheimer had said about Fascism and capitalism already back in 1930s – those who do not want to talk critically about capitalism should also keep quiet about Fascism – should also be applied to today’s fundamentalism: those who do not want to talk critically about liberal democracy should also keep quiet about religious fundamentalism.

Here we find that Pogo was right. We have found the enemy and he is us. After all the analysis, all the bravado, we only get to where we started if we have begun to think. Unless we become fundamentalists, we cannot defeat fundamentalists. We must become like a beast to defeat a beast, but once we become that beast, how, or even why, should we return to liberal democrats? Zizek must have enjoyed himself writing this piece given the joke it tells. Liberalism must become fundamentalist, which may be true from a political perspective but it can never be true from a philosophical perspective. Moreover, it makes us believe that the one people who cannot talk about liberal democracy’s flaws are liberal democrats. If anything is clear from the history of liberal democracy, is that liberal democrats cannot *stop* talking about its flaws.

So the conflict between liberal permissiveness and fundamentalism is a false conflict since liberal democracy is a fundamentalism that is as dangerous the Islamo-Fascists. What then is the conflict, but two armies clashing in the night unaware that they serve each other? If the whole analysis reverts to Liberal fundamentalism vs Islamic fundamentalism where does that leave philosophy which has always distinguished the West? We can only see liberal democracy as an inferior way of life if one knows of a superior way of life. It may be that Zizek wants us to think this through so that we can see that the deeper conflict is between philosophy and fundamentalism without making the case for philosophy, yet there has never been a society founded upon philosophy. At best, we have a city in speech as our guide or a destination, but never one that will sustain non-philosophers. The City of God can take non-believers, but the City of Philosophers cannot accept non-philosophers. In the end, he settles for ideology, for politics over philosophy, without being able to resolve the choice of fundamentalisms except by the amount of violence they use. If Zizek’s thinking leads us to this point, perhaps it is best if hr did less of thinking or better yet, if he has to keep think if, then he just kept it to himself.

[1] http://www.newstatesman.com/world-affairs/2015/01/slavoj-i-ek-charlie-hebdo-massacre-are-worst-really-full-passionate-intensity

[2] I have searched in vain for this phrase within Benjamin’s work. Google searches and text searches have returned only Zizek’s quotation. This suggests that it is made up by Zizek and does not exist. If this is correct, it is a shameful, but unsurprising.

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About lawrence serewicz

An American living and working in the UK trying to understand the American idea and explain it to others. The views in this blog are my own for better or worse.
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2 Responses to A commentary on Zizek: either stop talking or stop thinking

  1. Dean Esmay says:

    What Zizek and others need to be dong is spending their energy either attacking the Muslim radicals so the moderate–who by the way do indisputably exist–can also be emboldened. If they will not do this in greater numbers, then islam gets the rep it deserves.

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