i like that he doesn’t ever let people get away with easy answers. he can take something that seems perfectly obvious and dismantle it and show that actually the opposite it true. there are countless times when i’ve been reading his books that i agree completely with the setup he gives as a reasonable view and i follow along and then agree with his demolition of that setup and the opposite conclusion. it terrifies me in some ways because i can imagine any given belief i hold as obvious may in fact be completely wrong, but feels empowering in some ways because i start to feel comfortable pointing out absurdities and reversals in others arguments and i’ve started tolerating ambiguities a bit better
i agree with a lot of stuff he says i guess
- the left needs to reconstitute itself without nostalgia for the 20th Century
- the left still needs to be aware at a deep level of the trauma and closed liberatory possibilities of the 20th century to move forward, though
- theory can be mined from all sorts of historical left experiments, it’s important to read both trotsky(ists) and stalin(ists)
- liberal-democracy presents a false choice, increasingly that has led to right-wing “capitalism with asian values”, but it’s up to the left to offer a new choice
- the left isn’t really offering a new choice yet, it’s all recycled 20th Century stuff.
- the state is a contingent historical apparatus but it needs to be engaged with critically by a new left that is willing to transform it from within until new forms of power are able to directly assert themselves within the shell of the old.
- ideological critique may end up transforming the state without some storming of the winter palace: the same people may end up in power, but they will be doing “left” things and using “left” logic. zizek doesn’t use gramsci because he associates it with eurocommunism and laclau, i think, but some sort of “cultural hegemony” argument makes sense here.
- however, retreat into cultural theory without reference to the principal contradiction (class/economics) is dangerous because it concedes ground (zizek would much rather be reading about hegel than talking about leftist politics, he only really talks about cultural stuff because it is symptomatic of ideological presuppositions)
- laclau’s post-marxist position is untenable because he can’t explain history. that is, if everything is shifting sands of cultural positioning, then why wasn’t that obvious throughout all of history? how do you explain the persistence of ideology without reference to some sort of distorting but determining fundamental base that projects a superstructure?
one thing i think i disagree with is i don’t think the rawlsian difference principle is horrifying like he does. zizek says that people would be trapped in rawls to never question their subordinate position because it is officially to their advantage. but you could easily then say that they will dislike being subordinate or being told that it is to their advantage when it is not and therefore be worse off and therefore equality would be a better alternative. but zizek can’t allow this because he thinks equality is based on envy anyway (he’s a leftist because he thinks there are objective historical problems that can only be resolved this way, he probably doesn’t support equality as some sort of categorical vallue)