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Zizek: In Defense of Lost Causes

it seems to me that this is the promised magnum opus that Parallax View was not. The idea is, as the title says, to revive old notions of revolutionary terror from the shambles of Stalinism, the Cultural Revolution & al. This takes up the first half of the book that dwells quite a lot on China. There is too much duck-pond discussions between Z and his critics in the second half of the book, but otherwise most of the text is solid fireworks. What is most surprising is that in the end – where there is a wonderfully clear discussion on why class antagonism as Marx described has dissoluted – Zizek very straightforwardly lists the four antagonisms that, according to him, are going to be unsolvable in terms of Capitalism. Lo and behold, the first one of those is – the ecological crisis. (The other three are the notion of property – shades of Hardt & Negri commonism here –, techno-science in the guise of biogenetics, and new forms of apartheid). In calling for “large scale collective  decisions” like global & universal CO2 emission standards and their enforcement even by “terrorist” means Zizek is starting to sound like a militant green (like Pentti Linkola, for example). This makes him also surprisingly reasonable.

A note on rhetorics. Zizek likes to make jabs at Buddhism in which he sees as the religion par exellance of the contemporary global elite – whether they themselves know it or not. In In Defense of Lost Causes he repeatedly says that the inward-looking & individualistic Buddhist doctrine is discredited by the fact that it is easily transformed into a tool of the most ruthless military doctrine (meaning the zen-buddhism of samurai warriors). (Empirically, one might wonder how easy that transformation really is; it took, after all, several centuries and three major cultures before “original” buddhism was transformed into warrior-zen). What if someone were to claim that one reason to suspect Zizek’s doctrine of “collective decisions and discipline” in the socialist vein is the ease with which it is transformed into a tool of the most ruthless military doctrine that sees in it a method for power-politics… (And does not that transformation happen with a consistency far surpassing that of the transformation from buddhism-of-compassion to buddhism-of-warrior-elites…)

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