How the US rolls (post-Global Minotaur) – by SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK

Enduring FreedomIn this article, aptly subtitled It’s lonely being the global policeman, Slavoj evokes a parallelism between the age of extremes that began as the British Empire was losing its grip with the present moment in history. Now that the Global Minotaur (quoting my book) is mortally wounded, “…the American century is over and we are witnessing the gradual formation of multiple centers of global capitalism”.

Zizek’s verdict? Faced with increasing uncertainty and mounting insecurity, “…the solution is not to be very careful and avoid risky acts—in acting like this, we fully participate in the logic which leads to catastrophe. The solution is to fully become aware of the explosive set of interconnections that makes the entire situation dangerous. Once we do this, we should embark on the long and difficult work of changing the coordinates of the entire situation. Nothing less will do.” Hear, hear! 

To read the full article click here or read on…

How the United States Rolls

It’s lonely being the global policeman.

BY SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK

There is another unexpected parallel with the situation before the outbreak of World War I: In the last months, media continuously warn us about the threat of the World War III.

Towards the end of September, after declaring war on ISIS, President Obama gave an interview to 60 Minutes” in which he tried to explain the rules of U.S. engagement: “When trouble comes up anywhere in the world, they don’t call Beijing, they don’t call Moscow. They call us. … That’s always the case. America leads. We are the indispensable nation.”

This also holds for environmental and humanitarian disasters: “When there’s a typhoon in the Philippines, take a look at who’s helping the Philippines deal with that situation. When there’s an earthquake in Haiti, take a look at who’s leading the charge and making sure Haiti can rebuild. That’s how we roll. And that’s what makes this America.”

In October, however, Obama himself made a call to Tehran, sending a secret letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in which he suggested a broader rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran based on their shared interest in combating Islamic State militants.

When the news of the letter reached the public, U.S. Republicans denounced it as a gesture of weakness that can onlystrengthen Iran’s arrogant view of the U.S. as a superpower in decline. That’s how the United States rolls: Acting alone in a multi-centric world, they increasingly gain wars and lose the peace, doing the dirty work for others—for China and Russia, who have their own problems with Islamists, and even for Iran—the final result of the U.S. invasion of Iraq was to deliver the country to the political control of Iran. (The U.S. got caught in just such a situation in Afghanistan when their help to the fighters against the Soviet occupations gave birth to the Taliban.)

The ultimate source of these problems is the changed role of the U.S. in global economy. An economic cycle is coming to an end, a cycle that began in the early 1970s with the birth of what Yanis Varoufakis calls the “global minotaur,” the monstrous engine that ran the world economy from the early 1980s to 2008. The late 1960s and the early 1970s were not just the times of oil crisis and stagflation; Nixon’s decision to abandon the gold standard for the U.S. dollar was the sign of a much more radical shift in the basic functioning of the capitalist system. By the end of the 1960s, the U.S. economy was no longer able to continue the recycling of its surpluses to Europe and Asia: Those surpluses had turned into deficits. In 1971, the U.S. government responded to this decline with an audacious strategic move: Instead of tackling the nation’s burgeoning deficits, it decided to do the opposite, to boost deficits. And who would pay for them? The rest of the world! How?

By means of a permanent transfer of capital that rushed ceaselessly across the two great oceans to finance America’s deficits: The United States has to suck up a half-billion dollars daily to pay for its consumption and is, as such, the universal Keynesian consumer who keeps the global economy running. This influx relies on a complex economic mechanism: The United States is “trusted” as the safe and stable center, so that all others, from the oil-producing Arab countries to Western Europe to Japan, and now even China, invest their surplus profits in the United States. Since this “trust” is primarily ideological and military, not economic, the problem for the United States is how to justify its imperial role—it needs a permanent state of war, offering itself as the universal protector of all other “normal”—as opposed to “rogue”—states.

However, even before it fully established itself, this world system based on the primacy of the U.S. dollar as the universal currency is breaking down and is being replaced by … what? This is what the ongoing tensions are about. The “American century” is over and we are witnessing the gradual formation of multiple centers of global capitalism: the United States, Europe, China, maybe Latin America, each of them standing for capitalism with a specific twist: the United States for neoliberal capitalism; Europe for what remains of the welfare state; China for authoritarian capitalism; Latin America for populist capitalism. The old and new superpowers are testing each other, trying to impose their own version of global rules, experimenting with them through proxies, which, of course, are other small nations and states.

The present situation thus bears an uncanny resemblance to the situation around 1900 when the hegemony of the British empire was questioned by new rising powers, especially Germany, which wanted its piece of the colonial cake. The Balkans were one of the sites of their confrontation. Today, the role of the British empire is played by the United States. The new rising superpowers are Russia and China, and the Balkans are the Middle East. It is the same old battle for geopolitical influence. The United States is not alone in its imperial stirrings; Moscow also hears calls from Georgia, from Ukraine; maybe it will start hearing voices from the Baltic states …

There is another unexpected parallel with the situation before the outbreak of World War I: In the last months, media continuously warn us about the threat of the World War III. Headlines like “The Russian Air Force’s Super Weapon: Beware the PAK-FA Stealth Fighter” or “Russia Is Ready for Shooting War, Will Likely Win Looming Nuclear Showdown with U.S.” abound. At least once a week, Putin makes a statement seen as a provocation to the West, and a notable Western statesman or NATO figure warns against Russian imperialist ambitions. Russia expresses concerns about being contained by NATO, while Russia’s neighbors fear Russian invasion. And on it goes. The very worried tone of these warnings seems to heighten the tension—exactly as in the decades before 1914. And in both cases, the same superstitious mechanism is at work, as if talking about it will prevent it from happening. We know about the danger, but we don’t believe it can really happen—and that’s why it can happen. That is to say, even if we don’t really believe it can happen, we are all getting ready for it—and these actual preparations, largely ignored by the big media, are mostly reported in marginal media. From the Centre for Research on Globalization’s blog:

America is on a war footing. While a World War Three Scenario has been on the drawing board of the Pentagon for more than 10 years, military action against Russia is now contemplated at an ‘operational level.’ We are not dealing with a ‘Cold War.’ None of the safeguards of the Cold War era prevail. The adoption of a major piece of legislation by the U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 4, 2014 (H.R. 758) would provide (pending a vote in the Senate) a de facto green light to the U.S. president and commander in chief to initiate—without congressional approval—a process of military confrontation with Russia. Global security is at stake. This historic vote—which potentially could affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people worldwide—has received virtually no media coverage. A total media blackout prevails.  On December 3, the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation announced the inauguration of a new military-political entity which would take over in the case of war. Russia is launching a new national defense facility, which is meant to monitor threats to national security in peacetime, but would take control of the entire country in case of war.

To further complicate matters, the competing new and old superpowers are joined by a third factor: the radicalized fundamentalist movements in the Third World, which oppose all of the superpowers but are prone to make strategic pacts with some of them. No wonder our predicament is getting more and more obscure. Who is who in the ongoing conflicts? How to choose between Assad and ISIS in Syria? Between ISIS and Iran? Such obscurity—not to mention the rise of drones and other arms that promise a clean, high-tech war without casualties (on our side)—gives a boost to military spending and makes the prospect of war more appealing.

If the basic underlying axiom of the Cold War was the axiom of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction), the axiom of today’s War on Terror seems to be the opposite one, that of NUTS (Nuclear Utilization Target Selection), i.e., the idea that, by means of a surgical strike, you can destroy the enemy’s nuclear capacities, while your anti-missile shield protects you from a counter-strike. More precisely, the United States acts as if it continues to trust the MAD logic in its relations with Russia and China, while it is tempted to practice NUTS with Iran and North Korea. The paradoxical mechanism of MAD inverts the logic of the “self-fulfilling prophecy” into the “self-stultifying intention”: The very fact that each side can be sure that, in the case it decides to launch a nuclear attack on the other side, the other side will respond with full destructive force, guarantees that no side will start a war. The logic of NUTS is, on the contrary, that the enemy can be forced to disarm if it is assured that we can strike at him without risking a counter-attack. The very fact that two directly contradictory strategies are mobilized simultaneously by the same superpower bears witness to the phantasmagoric character of this entire reasoning.

How to stop our slide into this vortex? The first step is to leave behind all the pseudo-rational talk about “strategic risks” that we are required to assume. We must also jettison the notion of historical time as a linear process of evolution in which, at each moment, we have to choose between different courses of action. It is not just a question of avoiding risks and making the right choices within the global situation, the true threat resides in the situation in its entirety, in our “fate”—if we continue to “roll” the way we do now, we are doomed, no matter how carefully we proceed. We have to accept the threat as our fate. So the solution is not to be very careful and avoid risky acts—in acting like this, we fully participate in the logic which leads to catastrophe. The solution is to fully become aware of the explosive set of interconnections that makes the entire situation dangerous. Once we do this, we should embark on the long and difficult work of changing the coordinates of the entire situation. Nothing less will do.

In a weird precursor to President Obama’s “that’s how we roll,” when the passengers of the United Airlines Flight 93 attacked the hijackers on 9/11, the last audible words of Todd Beamer, one of them, were: “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.” That’s how we all roll, so let’s roll, we may say—and bring down not only a plane, but our entire planet.

Slavoj Žižek, a Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst, is a senior researcher at the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities, in Essen, Germany. He has also been a visiting professor at more than 10 universities around the world. Žižek is the author of many other books, including Living in the End Times, First As Tragedy, Then As Farce, The Fragile Absolute and Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism?He lives in London.

http://inthesetimes.com/article/17437/how_the_united_states_rolls

14 Comments

    • I have no view on the matter, while happy to post your comment – and the link. From my perspective, Zizek is one of our generation’s top intellectuals whose articles are lucid, engaging and always insightful. Looking forward to hearing his side of the story.

  • Zizek is a wonderful rhetorician and has his heart in the right place, but his grasp of post-American geopolitics is more than a bit nebulous. (1) China is a rising power, yes — but so are India (1.2 billion people), Indonesia (245 million), Nigeria (177 million) and a raft of other populous industrializing nations. The neoliberal world-system has numerous national centers, and will never again be run by a single nation. (2) Russia is in no way, shape or form a rising power. It’s a deeply corrupt, mostly uncompetitive energy-rent economy whose GDP is smaller than Australia. (Russia also compounded its problems by launching an idiotic war of imperial aggression against Ukraine. Hopefully the current ceasefire will stand, and Ukraine and Russia can start solving their respective problems peacefully.) (3) Social and digital media have fundamentally changed our planet. Today, 64% of all human beings on our planet live in electoral democracies, and another 36% live in nations which have significantly democratized or have vast digital audiences.

    Obviously, the world urgently needs a post-Minotaur world economy, and just as obviously, this can only happen through massive transnational democratic mobilizations. I’m no prophet, but I suspect we Leftists need to forge a new utopian vision of transnational integration — one based on a vision of a socially just and democratic European Union, a democratic and integrated South America, a democratic and integrated South Asia, etc. etc.

    • Hi Dennis,

      As a former citizen of Ukraine (during the Soviet period) now living & working in Australia I want to respond to Point No2. Take it from me that the current Russian society & economy as well as the people of various cultures & languages who live & work there is still dealing with issues of Russia’s Imperial & Soviet past, like Greece, Russia has modernised somewhat in the last 20 years but as you may know there were numerous internal issues to deal with before the Ukraine Crisis and I would agree that Russian national income is highly dependent on Gas & Oil exports (that’s why both Medvedev & Putin were keen on inking a deal with China to build the infrastructure & export Siberian Gas to China). Like Greece, Russians respond well when they see a “Politi” make rational & progressives moves…they don’t respond well and are willing to take to the streets when they see the Oligarchs & Cleptocrats influencing government decisions!

      The decision taken by the executive to “Get Involved in Ukraine” was a calculated & well thought move to protect Russian national interests in Ukraine, to provide a degree of protection to Russian people living & working in Central & Eastern Ukraine…who didn’t agree with the outing of Yanukovich and his corrupt government together with the so called “Ukrainian National Army” using their soldiers & weapons to bombard & kill citizens of Eastern Ukraine. The overthrow of Yanukovich was also unconstitutional as Ukraine’s constitution doesn’t permit a bunch of hooligans to bring in their private army into Kiev and stage a coup because they are mad at Yanukovich for NOT signing a worthless treaty with EU in 2013! The result of the last year of conflict is that Ukraine’s social economy is now Totally Stuffed, thousands of Ukrainians & Russians are dead or seriously injured, the best & brightest minds have left for Russia, Europe, US and even Australia – there is no end to the madness in sight. There has been a consistent message from Putin, Medvedev, Lavrov that NO military solution will work, that Russian will maintain support for Russian people in Eastern Ukraine no matter what – these are people who share a common history, language, culture and will not be forsaken because of pressure from US & Europe. So STOP listening to western lies & propaganda…I can go into more detail, but I will stop here.

  • Academic diplomacy and solidarity among top intellectual TV stars of “our generation”, Yani, should not let you fall into the same contradictory trappings that has caused Slavoj so much embarrassment (and profuse apologies).

    How can you have any view on the matter, if you won’t read the Slate article which John Zacharopoulos has so kindly made available to us?

    Because even a cursory glance over that article would let you see, not only that Slate’s education columnist, Rebecca Schuman, is quite sympathetic to Slavoj’s “side of the story” but that she also quotes Žižek’s written public apology verbatim:

    “A friend told me about Kevin Macdonald’s theories, and I asked him to send me a brief resume,” says Žižek. “The friend send [sic] it to me, assuring me that I can use it freely since it merely resumes another’s line of thought. Consequently, I did just that – and I sincerely apologize for not knowing that my friend’s resume was largely borrowed from Stanley Hornbeck’s review of Macdonald’s book. As any reader can quickly establish, the problematic passages are purely informative, a report on another’s theory for which I have no affinity whatsoever. In no way can I thus be accused of plagiarizing another’s line of thought, of ‘stealing ideas’.
    I nonetheless deeply regret the incident.”

    After quoting Žižek’s statement, Schuman goes on to give her own sympathetic – albeit critical – opinion about it:

    “Although Žižek’s defense—that lifting Hornbeck’s “purely informative” summary does not count as real plagiarism — is not correct, I understand his predicament. Famous academics have their minions do their dirty work all the time. And most of these minions are legitimate scholars who would not steal someone else’s words (especially not someone who writes for a white supremacist rag). So when one of them says, “Sure, you can use this verbatim,” Žižek has no reason not to do just that.
    However, in the wake of this scandal, everyone might want to be a little more careful.”

    But even the astute Schuman fails to explain and draw the right conclusions from the fact that some ‘plagiarism-watchdogs’ were so keen on exposing Žižek’s moral slip eight years after the fact, insinuating that Žižek’s plagiarism reflected his “affinity” with Professor Kevin Macdonald’s theories, which are often branded “anti-semitic”.

    My explanation hinges on the fact that the article in which the plagiarism occurs is anything but “lucid, engaging and insightful”.

    Žižek’s article A PLEA FOR A RETURN TO DIFFÉRANCE (WITH A MINOR PRO DOMO SUA), published in the Lacan adoration site “JL”: http://www.lacan.com/essays/?page_id=2
    was a sloppy, incoherent and pretentious 10,000-word rant, in which the “author” shows abysmal disrespect for his potential readers, by refusing to change paragraphs, using no sub-headings between the disparate topics he messes with, and worst of all, for Slavoj’s prestige as an author, by failing to be absolutely clear where a long set of quotes ends and his own comments begin.

    In fact Hornbeck’s “brief resume” of Macdonald takes up an 820-word block of text in which a comprehensive, succinct and balanced summary of the book “The Culture of Critique” is provided. The problem at the end of this long chain of plagiarised quotes is that Žižek’s two sentences of “comment” can be read as if Slavoj endorses Macdonald’s magisterial critique of the Frankfurt School.

    Here is the relevant section of the article for Yanis and his readers to decide about the merits of Žižek’s writing style and the conceptual clarity of his views:

    As MacDonald puts it, “Viewed at its most abstract level, a fundamental agenda is thus to influence the European-derived peoples of the United States to view concern about their own demographic and cultural eclipse as irrational and as an indication of psychopathology.” This project has been successful: anyone opposed to the displacement of whites is routinely treated as a mentally unhinged “hate-monger,” and whenever whites defend their group interests they are described as psychologically inadequate – with, of course, the silent exception of the Jews themselves: “the ideology that ethnocentrism was a form of psychopathology was promulgated by a group that over its long history had arguably been the most ethnocentric group among all the cultures of the world.” We should have no illusions here: measured by the standards of the great Enlightenment tradition, we are effectively dealing with something for which the best designation is the old orthodox Marxist term for “bourgeois irrationalists”: the self-destruction of Reason. The only thing to bear in mind is that this new barbarism is a strictly post-modern phenomenon, the obverse of the highly reflexive self-ironical attitude—no wonder that, reading authors like MacDonald, one often cannot decide if one is reading a satire or a “serious” line of argumentation.

    So, is Macdonald right or wrong according to Žižek?

    • I am pleading ignorance. Seriously! I just have not had the time to read all this. But, over the years, I have read Slavoj’s books and LRB articles and found them enlightening and, in fact, brilliant. That he may have slipped into plagiarism on this occasion, I do not doubt. But I have neither the energy nor the inclination to delve into the matter. Am I wrong?

    • Yani, you are right not to get dragged into this discussion. First of all, plagiarism is rife in the academic world. In some cultures (and Greek is one) it even extends to entire books being translated (stolen, in other words) and used to get a university post. In the case of UK academics, I have found paragraphs and even entire pages of my published work that have been plagiarised — but with very slightly altered phrasing! Nor is it confined to junior academics; on the contrary, many established names steal others’ ideas — but again, they play a little game with wording.

      The second point is that the substantive issue is whether the author in question has stolen others’ original ideas en masse, and is incapable of original thought himself; or, if he is respected for originality and innovation, but is guilty of a limited degree of plagiarism. Without spending an inordinate amount of time researching this, it looks to almost everyone that we are dealing with the latter case.

      For these two reasons, you are correct in your response. I am sure that you are not condoning (or even tolerating) plagiarism, but this is not a central issue. Those who claim it is, doubtless have a specific agenda in claiming such.

  • And from my humble perspective, Yanis, you yourself are one of today’s top intellectuals as well.

  • Academic diplomacy and solidarity among top intellectual TV stars of “our generation”, Yani, should not let you fall into the same contradictory trappings that has caused Slavoj so much embarrassment (and profuse apologies).

    How can you have any view on the matter, if you won’t read the Slate article which John Zacharopoulos has so kindly made available to us?

    Because even a cursory glance over that article would let you see, not only that Slate’s education columnist, Rebecca Schuman, is quite sympathetic to Slavoj’s “side of the story” but that she also quotes Žižek’s written public apology verbatim:

    “A friend told me about Kevin Macdonald’s theories, and I asked him to send me a brief resume,” says Žižek. “The friend send [sic] it to me, assuring me that I can use it freely since it merely resumes another’s line of thought. Consequently, I did just that – and I sincerely apologize for not knowing that my friend’s resume was largely borrowed from Stanley Hornbeck’s review of Macdonald’s book. As any reader can quickly establish, the problematic passages are purely informative, a report on another’s theory for which I have no affinity whatsoever. In no way can I thus be accused of plagiarizing another’s line of thought, of ‘stealing ideas’.
    I nonetheless deeply regret the incident.”

    After quoting Žižek’s statement, Schuman goes on to give her own sympathetic – albeit critical – opinion about it:

    “Although Žižek’s defense—that lifting Hornbeck’s “purely informative” summary does not count as real plagiarism — is not correct, I understand his predicament. Famous academics have their minions do their dirty work all the time. And most of these minions are legitimate scholars who would not steal someone else’s words (especially not someone who writes for a white supremacist rag). So when one of them says, “Sure, you can use this verbatim,” Žižek has no reason not to do just that.
    However, in the wake of this scandal, everyone might want to be a little more careful.”

    But even the astute Schuman fails to explain and draw the right conclusions from the fact that some ‘plagiarism-watchdogs’ were so keen on exposing Žižek’s moral slip eight years after the fact, insinuating that Žižek’s plagiarism reflected his “affinity” with Professor Kevin Macdonald’s theories, which are often branded “anti-semitic”.

    My explanation hinges on the fact that the article in which the plagiarism occurs is anything but “lucid, engaging and insightful”.

    Žižek’s article A PLEA FOR A RETURN TO DIFFÉRANCE (WITH A MINOR PRO DOMO SUA), published in the Lacan adoration site “JL”: http://www.lacan.com/essays/?page_id=2
    was a sloppy, incoherent and pretentious 10,000-word rant, in which the “author” shows abysmal disrespect for his potential readers, by refusing to change paragraphs, using no sub-headings between the disparate topics he messes with, and worst of all, for Slavoj’s prestige as an author, by failing to be absolutely clear where a long set of quotes ends and his own comments begin.

    In fact Hornbeck’s “brief resume” of Macdonald takes up an 820-word block of text in which a comprehensive, succinct and balanced summary of the book “The Culture of Critique” is provided. The problem at the end of this long chain of plagiarised quotes is that Žižek’s two sentences of “comment” can be read as if Slavoj endorses Macdonald’s magisterial critique of the Frankfurt School.

    Here is the relevant section of the article for Yanis and his readers to decide about the merits of Žižek’s writing style and the conceptual clarity of his views:

    As MacDonald puts it, “Viewed at its most abstract level, a fundamental agenda is thus to influence the European-derived peoples of the United States to view concern about their own demographic and cultural eclipse as irrational and as an indication of psychopathology.” This project has been successful: anyone opposed to the displacement of whites is routinely treated as a mentally unhinged “hate-monger,” and whenever whites defend their group interests they are described as psychologically inadequate – with, of course, the silent exception of the Jews themselves: “the ideology that ethnocentrism was a form of psychopathology was promulgated by a group that over its long history had arguably been the most ethnocentric group among all the cultures of the world.” We should have no illusions here: measured by the standards of the great Enlightenment tradition, we are effectively dealing with something for which the best designation is the old orthodox Marxist term for “bourgeois irrationalists”: the self-destruction of Reason. The only thing to bear in mind is that this new barbarism is a strictly post-modern phenomenon, the obverse of the highly reflexive self-ironical attitude—no wonder that, reading authors like MacDonald, one often cannot decide if one is reading a satire or a “serious” line of argumentation.

    So, is Macdonald right or wrong according to Žižek?

    • What exactly is the point of this bit of flatulence you have out on Yanis blog here? I don’t see how it relates to the article at all, except it is about Zizek. If you want to discuss this issue, go someplace where it is being discussed, don’t leave your droppings here where it is clearly not.

      Yanis, there is no need to cower from such silly bullies and “plead ignorance” as you did in this post’s second appearance. This is obviously just a smear job, and I say this as someone with no great love of Zizek’s often fanciful to the point of inaccurate theses.

  • On a sidenote, Yanis. The trouble with the always witty Zizek is that he sometimes is wrong. I can completely understand that many people in exile like Alex_68 above are deeply worried about what we call russian expansionism. Yet Russia is economically weak, and the west, Zizek too, seems unable to see that. (The USA and EU would be happy to replace Putin without war, in a kind of ecconomic fight, neoliberalism loved Yelzin, who was a nightmare for the poor in Russia. ) Now take this article, where Zizek writes about Ukraine. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/10/ukraine-slavoj-zizek-lenin
    It is as usual witty, and for fans always convincing.Yet Zizek, and this is often the case, completely leaves out things. It is in this case unbelievable that Zizek, in romantising the at the beginning indeed brave and against corruption-fighting Maidan-movement, completely leaves out – the USA…( the EU, by the way, Zizek also ignores this, wanted to deal with Ukraine in a “we OR Russia”-way. “We associate you, but only if….” It was not very intelligent, this fight, many in eastern Ukraine have to work in Russia and panicked, of course; and what did the EU promise? Not even membership for Ukraine…) The USA are, thanks to their economical and geostrategic aims, in the game here against Russia. EU is at best “junior partner”.
    You would never write such a one-sided, yes, witty article, Yanis. You would never forget the USA, the Nuland-talks in which she told the USA had put 5 billions of Dollars for regime change into Ukraine since 1991. All the institutes with which George Soros supports regime change, also in Ukraine, because he believes neoliberal capitalism was the “open society”.(thoughts which Zizek does not share).
    You would take into account that the USA wanted Jazenjuk as a leader in February, and got him, EU was for Klitschko. (Still not clear who shot and killed people of Yanukovich’s police and of the Maidan-folks. And Zizek does not speak about that of course there are fascists everywhere, but the only ones really in power February 2014 were fascists in Ukraine…. This is of course not in the least saying the russian propaganda was right, Zizek writes black and white here, if you read the short Guardian-article.. But Zizek spreads propaganda here too, from Maidan-enthusiasm, ignoring the influence of the USA and of, indeed, the EU too.)

    You would see the whole picture. Zizek, too often, does not. His wonderful jokes, I always like the tales he tells like in the article above, are in fact a part of what you would wisely see in others, take your Piketty-review. Zizek cannot see the whole picture, he gets carried away, and he is in that way at the same time a great, but always one-sided star of the western media. Too often he was wrong. Would he be an economic, I tend to think you would admit that, but he’s your friend, and you are milder and do think he lived up to your standards. Maybe I’m wrong, but all in all he does not. It can even be dangerous to act like the Pikettys and Zizeks, it relieves people from the horrible difficulty to see the whole picture in a “I know it all”-simplification. Intellectuals have a hard time getting that, as Zizek is all for Lacan and others, so nobody would think he would simplify things. Yet he does… Just my opinion, I’m happy if people do at least try to think about it. That’s the point of telling it here, not to disregard Zizek or Piketty.

  • Just to defend Zizek here, Yanis, his responses to these accusations (and responses to the responses to these responses) can be found here, toward the bottom of the page:
    http://zizekstudies.org/index.php/ijzs/issue/view/35

    While I agree with criticisms that his geopolitical analyses leave much to be desired, it has been my experience that everyone who dismisses Zizek as an “entertaining public intellectual” has never actually read his books or seriously engaged with his work, as he is one of the greatest philosophers (not “cultural theorists”) alive today.

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