I’m incredibly busy this week (more on that later) but people keep clamoring for a post on Slavoj Zizek and his attitude towards the #Occupy movement. I can never deny anything to my readers, so I decided to read and analyze Zizek’s most recent article in the Guardian titled “Occupy First. Demands Come Later.”
Zizek’s article is, in my opinion, very symbolic of the entirety of his work. He offers a sentence or a paragraph that starts well but then fizzles out on a tremendous platitude. The article in the Guardian is full of this kind of sentences. Here are a few examples:
So the first lesson to be taken is: do not blame people and their attitudes. The problem is not corruption or greed
I was very glad to see this statement. Every time, I see protesters hold placards denouncing greed I feel vicarious shame for people who don’t manage to realize that protesting a character flaw is not a legitimate political act. Then, however, Zizek continues this sentence:
the problem is the system that pushes you to be corrupt.
Even though the philosopher begins the article by being somewhat critical of the hippyish tint of the protests, he slips into the fully 60ies rhetoric of the bad system that causes all ills. The statement that “the” system pushed people into corruption is probably the most inane thing I have read for a while. Is anybody aware of any system that existed at any point in the history of humanity where corruption did not exist? Isn’t that proof that people don’t need to be pushed into being corrupt by systems?
A little later in the article, Zizek says the following:
The solution is not “Main Street, not Wall Street”, but to change the system where Main Street cannot function without Wall Street.
I agree wholeheartedly that the Main St. vs Wall Street binary is simplistic and useless. However, the problem is not that Main Street cannot function without Wall Street. The real issue is that the White House cannot. In their zeal to blame the greedy banksters, protesters are forgetting to mention the real culprit: the politicians who have sold us all down the river. This is where real corruption is located. This is the true problem that needs to be addressed.
Zizek slips into sheer ridiculousness when he attempts to mimic the Christian rhetoric in order to make the #Occupy cause more attractive to the conservatives:
When conservative fundamentalists claim that America is a Christian nation, one should remember what Christianity is: the Holy Spirit, the free egalitarian community of believers united by love. It is the protesters who are the Holy Spirit, while on Wall Street pagans worship false idols.
Zizek is forgetting that it is always a mistake to adopt a language of which you only have a smattering and hope to be convincing to the native speakers. A Christian can only feel compassion towards the ultra-rich who have even less chance of getting into heaven than. . . well, I’m sure that even Zizek has to be aware of this. In his attempt to employ Christian terminology, Zizek sounds as silly as a Christian would who’d try to tell a Marxist that the fair distribution of the means of production awaits us all in the Kingdom of God.
(To be continued. . .)