Monday, October 04, 2010

Zizek's shoddiest op-ed yet

A good method for analysing things is, start with what is really happening.

Some British workers get that the point of immigration is to keep wages low. Those that are both self interested and economically literate tend to be opposed to immigration for this reason. The media and government apparatus responds to this constituency by shrilly accusing them of racism, and offering them various ways of expressing this purely economic grievance, involving shrill expressions of racism, in various strengths, and no programme for improving their economic circumstances. The notion that British workers are seeking to preserve a pure British race, or a pristine British culture, is part of this process of recuperation, by which the plutocracy seek to defame or divert people critical of its policies. But this imposture is absurd, because Britain has been racially diverse for a long time, and its culture is capitalism.

Dr Zizek’s shoddiest op-ed yet basically rehashes the British plutocracy’s propaganda, in an attempt to convince Guardian reading “progressives” that the working class are “a paranoid multitude”, subject to violent racist fantasies, with the inference that the “progressive” middle class ought to rally round the oriflamme of plutocratic “liberalism”.

I realise this simple explanation doesn’t account for all of Zizek’s rhetoric: his nonsensical history, his neglected fascist “thinkers”, his collages of disparate ideas dressed up as an argument, and his media personality, apparently delighted to talk about “half-Jews” “and so on“. I’m not sure that Zizek “ironically” represents the true spirit of European plutocracy, while posing as its adversary, or anything like that. Really, I think he’s just a bit of a cock.


catmint said...

I argue elsewhere that popular opposition to immigration is predicated on the absence of effective political representation. For this reason, these attitudes are somewhat unreal. Why shouldn't working people forget about the political traction employed in their name - in the name of the British People - by the Daily Mail, and hold libertarian views? Why shouldn't working people hold libertarian views?

Anyway, there is a popular opposition to immigration, mainly on economic grounds, which Zizek misrepesents; not efficacious because "popular" - inefficacious; not driving government policy; not more despotic than our present government.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

he's trying to promote this same fascistic kvetch of the victim white ethnic nationalism in the UK and US as he did in Slovenia. The imigration "issue" is just convenient; his "immigrant" is just a racial other, no matter the nationality or where born or where residing.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

He even made black people in New Orleans into "immigrants" and foreigners:

"This brings us back to rumours and “reports” about “subjects supposed to loot and rape:” New Orleans is one of those cities within the United States most heavily marked by the internal wall that separates the affluent from ghettoized blacks....

... It is thus becoming clear that the solution is not “tear down the walls and let them all in,” the easy, empty demand often put forth by soft-hearted liberal “radicals.”
Rather, the real solution is to tear down the true wall, not the police one, but the social-economic one: To change society so that people will no longer desperately try to escape their own world."

catmint said...

There is racism in the Uk, in all classes. There is certainly a lot of kvetching. My point is that bourgeois politicians and journalists, of right and left affiliation, have shown a tendancy to paint their less fortunate compatriots like the mob from the Gordon riots. Zizek exemplifies this trend. Some British workers are racist, as are some bourgeois. Ordinary people, as a whole, have not supported their governments really inhumane excesses - torture, bombing, show trials, grand larceny. In this, they've shown more sense, and more humanity, than the class of hack journalists, and hack politicians.

A significant number of workers still have union representation, and the unions are all very anti-racist.

The "in these times" piece comes from what I want to call Zizek's heroic period, because he's much worse now. It's still awful. The anecdote is about an incompetent, racist civil servant, and the payoff is that poor blacks should somehow be given happier lives on their side of the fence, and stay there.

"To change society so that people will no longer desperately try to escape their own world."

To most people writing about politics your political representatives, whose salaries you ultimately pay, would be part of your world.

Zizek is certainly an unusual man. I can never decide if he is merely a provincial bourgeois, or sort of Flaubert characer, or if he's moved by some stranger compulsion.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

stranger compulsion! he's got a shtick and it sells --

he is a minstrel but the character is probably partly himself; he has developed his personal fascism as a satire to suit (neo)liberals...much like Slovene nationalism generally.

and yes of course there is racism, but Zizek's fascistic shtick means he only addresses and only allows the pov of the master race...the white "native" English have a problem with these others...he doesn't even allow the possibility these "others" read newspapers and have needs and aims too. He can't even imagine that immigration also effects the livelihood of immigrants even though he no doubt is more concerned with his own income than with the competitiors he's deprived of all the public money he takes in in the UK. This is the most profoundly not marxist thing about him - this single divine pov. "Immigrants" are considered only with regard to how their existence affects "natives"; women in the workforce are considered not at all with regard to their own needs but only to the extent that their behaviour affects men; that the player of loud rap music might have some complaints about the culture and moeurs of Slavoj Zizek and not feel like tolerating him is just unthinkable. And he encourages his readers to feel it is only natural to consider only the pov of the ressentimental, invented-to-kvetch aryans.

catmint said...

Zizek isn't any kind of Marxist. His schtick isthat he's at the cutting edge of "thought". Sartre wassomething in the world of "thought", and he had a Marxist afiliation. Derrida and Foucault were held to be radicals. It makes sense for Zizek, for his business, to position him self along these lines. It's traditional. To most people Marxism means something complicated and counterintuitive. This is how Zizek's books are sold, and they really are like this, although maybe convoluted more than complicated.

catmint said...

I completely agree about Z's failure to grasp the agency of people he doesn't relate to.

catmint said...

Strange compulsions -

Charlie Chaplin's son writes:

My father [Charlie Chaplin] was born April 16, 1889, at 3 Parnell Terrace, Kennington Road, London... Both my father's parents were British subjects. My grandfather was a mixture of French and Irish--the Chaplin name is of French origin. My grandmother [Charlie Chaplin's father] had Gypsy blood--French or Spanish--inherited from her mother. My father has always been inordinately proud of that wild Romany blood.

Why, in an article ostensibly about discrimination against Roma, include an incongruous quote from R Brasillach about Chaplin being a "half Jew" not part Roma?

And The Guardian has plenty of neo-liberal writers, some more succesful than S-Z, what other writer, in this or any other mainstream newspaper would have used this quote about "half Jews"?

Anonymous said...



Qlipoth said...

what other writer, in this or any other mainstream newspaper would have used this quote about "half Jews"?

exactly, and then the punchline about "our" regression from christian love to tribalism. It's so stark; it's not that the fans don't get it, there is this naughty little delight in the forbidden articulations but behind this little veil, a mere gesture to denial. Like pig latin.

catmint said...

it seems as if he gloats over his own mistakes - which would be unusual

but maybe they are just mistakes