(New) [In Defense of Lost Causes] author Slavoj Žižek

  • Hardcover
  • 504
  • In Defense of Lost Causes
  • Slavoj Žižek
  • English
  • 07 June 2019
  • 9781844671083

Slavoj Žižek æ 1 REVIEW

Slavoj Žižek æ 1 REVIEW REVIEW ☆ In Defense of Lost Causes Authoritarianism and the valorization of soft consensual decentralized politicsŽižek claims that particularly in light of the forthcoming ecological crisis we should reinvent revolutionary terror and the dictatorship of the proletariat in the struggle for universal emancipation We need to courageously accept the return to this Cause even if we court the risk of a catastrophic disaster In the words of Samuel Beckett ‘Try again Fail again Fail better’. While Zizek s key weaknesses a tendency to embark on page long meanderings from one topic into analogous but wholly different spheres of thinking cannibalization of earlier bookstalks the reliance on a few crutch anecdotes etc again make their appearance in the very political In Defense of Lost Causes it is one of his better works by far Seeking to comprehensively judge and learn from the history of communismradical egalitarianism Zizek gathers and connects texts from all throughout history and political spectra like a beardy katamari if not laying bare hidden frontiers and tensions himself then at least mapping the ones others have demonstrated before For this he mostly relies on the work of Laclau Badiou Heidegger Benjamin and DeleuzeGoing into it the chapters on Stalin and Mao are an especially weird experience echoing Badiou s assertion that Mao thinks in an almost infinite way the trenches in the battlefield of ethics and ideology moves away from the value of lives as the things to be preserved one of the main points of critiue against the structural violence inherent in capitalism but rather towards the survival of the possibility of communism Zizek s assertion that Mao s doctrine was no longer fundamentally Marxist is most definitely instructive in this regards The big ultra left uestion which these days is best formulated within the communalization discourse namely how can communism as a real movement that abolishes the state of things be established if the historic attempts are so indebted to capitalist criteria such as commodity production and the centring of production for growth over production for maintenance peeks around the corner here again Zizek s discussion of divine violence is supremely interesting and important in this regard although one has to ask his ultimate assessment of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution being that its extreme violence was a symptom of its failure to articulate the radically new and it thus having been a failure is this not a major strike against the self legitimacy of divine violence Or does he like Badiou see the GPCR along with the Paris commune as a necessary failure that furthered the science of revolution the results of which would still indicate the clear failure of the Marxist Leninist doctrine as a whole After the initial expanding bloom of tactics and strategies discussed in part III Zizek starts whittling down the option tree until he finally somewhat anticlimactically arrives at the model of the dictatorship of the proletariat Chavez style This is not to a state to be achieved through violent overthrow but through patient hegemonic build up of communist power he simply juxtaposes this dictatorship to the parliamentary system controlled by the bourgeoisie the dictatorship of the bourgeoisieAs with much of what Zizek produces the book could do with some editing the freuent lacanian digressions often only serve as reinforcing analogies but don t support the frameworks on their own terms but is nonetheless focussed drawing strength from a logical narrative theory arc Recommended reading for whoever finds themselves getting complacent around their own revolutionary theories and formulas

REVIEW In Defense of Lost Causes

In Defense of Lost Causes

Slavoj Žižek æ 1 REVIEW REVIEW ☆ In Defense of Lost Causes Politics of the pastExamining Heidegger’s seduction by fascism and Foucault’s flirtation with the Iranian Revolution he suggests that these were the ‘right steps in the wrong direction’ He argues that while the revolutionary terror of Robespierre Mao and the Bolsheviks ended in historic failure and monstrosity this is not the whole story There is in fact a redemptive moment that gets lost in the outright liberal democratic rejection of revolutionary. OK but where is your hamster the fetish which enables you to pretend to accept reality the way it isOne may say we live in a world of contradiction A struggle of multicultural tolerance vs hateful fundamentalism Zizek disagrees seeing both as the underside of the global capital They are rather paranoiac attempts to find resolution in a world which is popularly understood to level off all differences between cultures Yet despite the bickering between these various interests none pose a true challenge to global capital while the silent majority of the world population is not just merely marginalized they are the subjects erased from history the invisible inhuman subjects of our world which allows us to enjoy the first world comforts of both Wonderbread and Identity PoliticsWhat all these approaches of resistance have in common is a binding of identity which always also functions as exclusion the excluded often being the reason for the fall of the true society in conservatism or the bonds which hold back unfettered progress in liberalism Zizek identifies this as the Humanist core of these political movements movements which are limited in their scope in so far as a sense of Justice is rendered exclusive by its privileging of the human the properly human meaning those with culturalhistorical currency in the larger framework of society Therefore the inhuman act would be an act which violates a specific sphere of cultural coherency of human The inhuman subject is the subject stripped of all individuality or all personality After all even what we call character traits are defined only in relation to a larger symbolic order and is therefore reliant on it there is no real me In a basic sense it is the non historical subject a center of pure negativity In a real political sense it is the marginalized in our society The true have nots are those who by rights according to that of the ruling classes mostly those in first world nations have no story to be told those who have essentially been written out of history Yet with any positive knowledge comes negative space that which has to be denied in order to come to an understanding of something However this is crucial this rather Kantian antinomic impasse may not be crossed no matter how we may seek to understand othersIn terms of the inhuman we may call the properly inhuman dimension of the subject in our society the Neighbor What did it mean when Christ said love thy neighbor It is those who Zizek calls the part of no part In broader terms the only consistent ethics is an inhuman ethics one which will acknowledge the non historical core of pure subjectivityInhuman ethics is a call to employ the violent conseuences of imagination in figuring Justice no not trying to understand people We should be wary most of all of those projects which claim to engage with or speak to the minds of real people with their real worries which is the most common manipulation of our time but risking terror It is not just a revolution but a reformation which remains faithful to the revolutionary event Too often does dissent result in what Robespierre called a revolution without reformation Zizek is not interested in the obscene carnival of the revolutionary moment Instead he asks us to move forward in our revolutionary assessment knowing that there will be no big Other or enlightened administrator to catch us when we fall Instead we must reject the conditions of anonymous ethics and take full responsibility for our actions Paradoxically this taking responsibility which involves assuming responsibility for our history is the very thing which will cause us to act In such a way we may redeem various lost causes mentioned in the bookAs for terrordon t banish it completely from the cityWhat mortal man is truly righteouswithout being afraid Those who sense fearrevere what s right With citizens like theseyour country and your city will be safestronger than anything possessed by men Athena in Aeschylus EumenidesA free subject in this dictatorship of the proletariat will understand that there is no master Instead there is only culpability Civility and justice will be recognized as creative processes as feigned obligations of a nevertheless divine character a divine choice made against regarding action as the result of natural processes think behavioral science classical Marxism liberal progressSo what do I think I liked it a lot There is so much to digest in this work that It ll take some time for me to register it all 463 dense pages I can t say whether I ve grasped the entirely of his argument nor can I say whether I am totally convinced by his dictatorship of the proletariat but parts of what make up the staggering sum of Zizek s arguments are tremendously inspiring and incredibly thought provokingZizek s infuriating style of writing and his vagueness at points which I found weren t so prevalent in The Sublime Object of Ideology makes me take a point off Still there is something special here in this forest of philosophical giants and pop culture And it s worth your time I ll leave you with this passage The standard liberal counter argument to those who warn about the invisible hand of the market that controls our destinies is if the price of being freed from the invisible hand of the market is to be controlled by the visible hand of new rules are we still ready to pay it The answer should be yes if this visible hand is visible to and controlled by the part of no part


Slavoj Žižek æ 1 REVIEW REVIEW ☆ In Defense of Lost Causes Is global emancipation a lost cause Are universal values outdated relics of an earlier age In fear of the horrors of totalitarianism should we submit ourselves to a miserable third way of economic liberalism and government as administrationIn this major new work philosophical sharpshooter Slavoj Žižek takes on the reigning ideology with a plea that we should re appropriate several ‘lost causes’ and look for the kernel of truth in the ‘totalitarian’. i ek is a hyperkinetic entertaining writer who seems to bounce off of the walls in his enthusiasm to make his points This was my first exposure to the Slovene philosopher and I ran into somewhat of a brick wall when the Lacanian dialect became thick and heavy I ran out of steam just after the chapters on Heidegger when I realized that I was losing my grasp on where exactly this confusing but tantalizing thinker was heading There were some interesting points being scored off of examinations of such curious fare as Michael Crichton s Prey Kafka s Letter to His Father and Shelley s Frankenstein but before I return to his writing I will have to have come to a greater understanding of the Lacanian terms and ideas that the author relies upon and works into so many of his themesSome of the early digressions on postmodernism and its linkage with fundamentalism showed promise i ek staking the claim that both share in the victory of knowing to be over belief Postmodernism tears down the Master Signifier making the world Atonal that is lacking a centre for reference An Atonal society is one in which all points of view have validity the only sure virtue being the pursuit of happiness personal gratification Fundamentalists on the other hand pretend their Real obscene desires are an illness when it is actually taken from their core beliefs Such a state of affairs is one in which this modern evolution of nihilism leads to Transgression becoming the moral with i ek s favorite example being the acceptance of torture in the War on Terror So when personal gratification is deemed the only sure virtue in a society what will happen to the latter s politics They will become one predominantly of fear This is a reasonable conclusion I suppose but as with his earlier take on postmodernism and fundamentalism there follows a slew of film titles mated with the psychiatric trope they represent and then an exegesis of the Crichton and Shelley books It is all very plausible when presented to a reader such as myself unfamiliar with most of these psychoanalytic terms but even accepting its plausibility when you actually process the non stop flow what have you learned Several interesting analogies and discoveries some catchy phrases but not much that seems tangible or relevantIt was a similar case with his subseuent chapter on Heidegger i ek proclaims that Heidegger worked a variation upon Hegel s writings on the state how monarchy is the best realization of the ontological the State with the ontic the Individual because the State s totality will be hidden from the Individual necessitating a Monarch to act as the Thing the will of the people With Hitler fulfilling the role of this Monarch i ek can state that Heidegger is great because of his Nazi involvement not in spite of it This involvement gave him insights apart from those forced upon whoever receives the embrace of Liberal Capitalism However such insights were wasted because Heidegger was not up to the task not the man for it ie improving Nazism Without this guidance Germanic fascism wasted violence in the service of what it despised Liberal Capitalism It s greatest flaw was that it did not go far enough in its violent nihilism There then follows a weaving of Heidegger s understanding of Being its manner of reaching into the future to discern possibilites and returning to the past in order to draw upon existing structures and potentialities all in order to enact the present and discussions of Heidegger s understanding of tools and technologyIt may all be true but to what end As far as I can tell the entire peculiar defense is predicated upon this loathsome outgrowth of postwar resentment being immanent with the possibility of ultimately providing a valuable service to this planet we all exist upon and outside of murderous aggression what exactly would this have been I cannot see how if Heidegger managed to man up and steer the Nazi ship of state to a less capitalistic orgy of violence it would have made him a successful person I cop to lacking an understanding of the finer points and theory that i ek brings to the discussion but it all seems to be in the service of saying that anything that would bring down Liberal Capitalism possesses itself of a value regardless of the body count Not being a sociopath such a position is not copacetic to my way of thinking and truth be told I sensed that i ek was just playing silly buggers I wasn t really in the mood for the gabbling goofiness to continue and so it was at this point that I moved on to something different I will read him again because there are those moments when he pops out a line that seems to ring very true and promises to lead somewhere important and perhaps I need to better arm myself with the relevant theories and terms if I am to find out not only where it is he is going but why he wishes to take one there