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Paranoid Reflections

Slavoj Žižek: What’s going on?, 3 April 2003

... Everyone fears the possibility that the US attack on Iraq will have a catastrophic outcome – an ecological disaster of gigantic proportions, high American casualties, a terrorist attack in the West. If the war is over quickly (perhaps even by the time this is published) and if Saddam’s regime disintegrates, there will be a general sigh of relief, even among many critics of US policy ...

The Military-Poetic Complex

Slavoj Žižek: Radovan Karadzic’s Poetry, 14 August 2008

... Now that Radovan Karadzic has finally been arrested it is time to recall that Karadzic, a psychiatrist by profession, was not only a ruthless political and military leader, but a poet. His poetry should not be dismissed as ridiculous: it deserves a close reading, since it tells us something about the way ethnic cleansing works. Here are the first lines of an untitled poem, identified by its dedication, ‘For Izlet Sarajlic’: Convert to my new faith crowd I offer you what no one has had before I offer you inclemency and wine The one who won’t have bread will be fed by the light of my sun People nothing is forbidden in my faith There is loving and drinking And looking at the Sun for as long as you want And this godhead forbids you nothing Oh obey my call brethren people crowd A leader who offers his subjects ‘inclemency and wine’ stands for the obscene call of the superego: all prohibitions should be suspended so that the subject might enjoy a destructive orgy without end ...

Lenin Shot at Finland Station

Slavoj Žižek: Counterfactuality and the conservative historian, 18 August 2005

What Might Have Been: Imaginary History from 12 Leading Historians 
edited by Andrew Roberts.
Phoenix, 208 pp., £7.99, May 2005, 0 7538 1873 6
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... Why is the flourishing genre of ‘what if?’ histories the preserve of conservative historians? The introduction to such volumes typically begins with an attack on Marxists, who allegedly believe in historical determinism. Take this latest instalment, edited by Andrew Roberts, who has himself contributed an essay on the bright prospects that would have faced Russia in the 20th century had Lenin been shot on arriving at the Finland Station ...

Between Two Deaths

Slavoj Žižek: The Culture of Torture, 3 June 2004

... Does anyone still remember ‘Comical Ali’, Saddam’s information minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, who, in his daily press conferences, heroically stuck to the Iraqi line in the face of the most glaring evidence? (He was still claiming that TV footage of US tanks on the streets of Baghdad were just Hollywood special effects when the tanks were only a few hundred yards from his office ...

Save us from the saviours

Slavoj Žižek: Europe and the Greeks, 7 June 2012

... Imagine a scene from a dystopian movie that depicts our society in the near future. Uniformed guards patrol half-empty downtown streets at night, on the prowl for immigrants, criminals and vagrants. Those they find are brutalised. What seems like a fanciful Hollywood image is a reality in today’s Greece. At night, black-shirted vigilantes from the Holocaust-denying neo-fascist Golden Dawn movement – which won 7 per cent of the vote in the last round of elections, and had the support, it’s said, of 50 per cent of the Athenian police – have been patrolling the street and beating up all the immigrants they can find: Afghans, Pakistanis, Algerians ...

Post-Wall

Slavoj Žižek: Neo-Anti-Communism, 19 November 2009

... It is commonplace, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, to hear the events of that time described as miraculous, a dream come true, something one couldn’t have imagined even a couple of months beforehand. Free elections in Poland with Lech Walesa as president: who would have thought it possible? But an even greater miracle took place only a couple of years later: free democratic elections returned the ex-Communists to power, Walesa was marginalised and much less popular than General Jaruzelski himself ...

Parallax

Slavoj Žižek: Henning Mankell, 20 November 2003

The Return of the Dancing Master 
by Henning Mankell, translated by Laurie Thompson.
Harvill, 406 pp., £14.99, October 2003, 1 84343 058 4
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... Henning Mankell’s recent series of police procedurals set in the southern Swedish town of Ystad, with Inspector Kurt Wallander as their hero, is a perfect illustration of the fate of the detective novel in the era of global capitalism. The main effect of globalisation on detective fiction is discernible in its dialectical counterpart: the specific locale, a particular provincial environment as the story’s setting ...

The Two Totalitarianisms

Slavoj Žižek: Stalin applauded too, 17 March 2005

... A small note – not the stuff of headlines, obviously – appeared in the newspapers on 3 February. In response to a call for the prohibition of the public display of the swastika and other Nazi symbols, a group of conservative members of the European Parliament, mostly from ex-Communist countries, demanded that the same apply to Communist symbols: not only the hammer and sickle, but even the red star ...

Nobody has to be vile

Slavoj Žižek: The Philanthropic Enemy, 6 April 2006

... Since 2001, Davos and Porto Alegre have been the twin cities of globalisation: Davos, the exclusive Swiss resort where the global elite of managers, statesmen and media personalities meets for the World Economic Forum under heavy police protection, trying to convince us (and themselves) that globalisation is its own best remedy; Porto Alegre, the subtropical Brazilian city where the counter-elite of the anti-globalisation movement meets, trying to convince us (and themselves) that capitalist globalisation is not our inevitable fate – that, as the official slogan puts it, ‘another world is possible ...

Over the Rainbow

Slavoj Žižek: Populist Conservatism, 4 November 2004

... In Kansas and other states in the American heartland, economic class conflict (poor farmers and blue-collar workers versus lawyers, bankers, large companies) has been transposed into an opposition between honest, hard-working, Christian Americans on the one hand, and decadent latte-drinking liberals who drive foreign cars, mock patriotism and advocate abortion and homosexuality on the other: so Thomas Frank argues in What’s the Matter with America? The main economic interest of populist conservatism is to get rid of the strong state, which taxes the population in order to finance regulatory interventions, and to introduce an economic programme whose slogan might be ‘less tax, fewer regulations ...

Resistance Is Surrender

Slavoj Žižek: What to Do about Capitalism, 15 November 2007

... One of the clearest lessons of the last few decades is that capitalism is indestructible. Marx compared it to a vampire, and one of the salient points of comparison now appears to be that vampires always rise up again after being stabbed to death. Even Mao’s attempt, in the Cultural Revolution, to wipe out the traces of capitalism, ended up in its triumphant return ...

Sinicisation

Slavoj Žižek: Sinicisation , 15 July 2015

... When​ Alain Badiou claims that democracy is our fetish, this statement is to be taken in the precise Freudian sense, not just to mean that we elevate democracy into an untouchable Absolute. ‘Democracy’ is the last thing we see before confronting the ‘lack’ constitutive of the social field, the fact that ‘there is no class relationship,’ the trauma of social antagonism ...

The Non-Existence of Norway

Slavoj Žižek, 9 September 2015

... The flow​ of refugees from Africa and the Middle East into Western Europe has provoked a set of reactions strikingly similar to those we display on learning we have a terminal illness, according to the schema described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her classic study On Death and Dying. First there is denial: ‘It’s not so serious, let’s just ignore it’ (we don’t hear much of this any longer ...

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