Eziezek and Politics: A Critical Introduction

Eziezek and Politics: A Critical Introduction

Eziezek and Politics: A Critical Introduction

Eziezek and Politics: A Critical Introduction

Synopsis

Slavoj Zizek was born in 1949 and is a Slovenian political philosopher, sociologist, and cultural critic best known for work with French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. Zizek writes on many topics, including the Iraq War, political correctness, globalization, human rights, and multiculturalism. His thought has received mixed receptions, from celebratory to deeply critical, but his politics are the element that most needs critical reassessment. This book introduces Zizek's primary areas of interest and the fields in which he has made his most influential contributions: ideology and political subjectivity; political totalitarianism; and contemporary culture. It explores political topics about which Zizek's interventions have been called partial or flawed, including liberalism, capitalism, the politics of religion, and political decisionism. A final section assesses Zizek and politics today. Each chapter considers the debates in which Zizek has intervened, his position, his positive contribution, and the limits of his position.

Excerpt

Žižek and Politics

Slavoj Žižek is without question one of the most important and provocative contemporary thinkers. Yet his work has radically divided critics and commentators, often along political lines. On the one hand, his work has been compared with the biggest names of French post-structuralist theory like Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida and Gilles Deleuze, for its scope, insights and significance. Although he began publishing in English only in 1989, by 2006 Žižek was already a highly influential figure in social theory, continental philosophy, cinema studies, literary and cultural studies. He is rightly celebrated for his introductions to the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, and his use of Lacanian psychoanalysis to interpret popular culture.

Beyond the academy, too, Žižek is well known as a cultural commentator, film critic and Marxist sociologist. He writes on an astonishing variety of topics, ranging from the Iraq war, fundamentalist terrorism and the global financial crisis to the questions raised by biotechnology or the films of Alfred Hitchock, James Cameron, David Lynch and Krzysztof Kieslowski.

On the other hand, Žižek demands that his work be taken seriously as a Lacanian intervention in political philosophy and social theory. He has always argued that his theoretical positions lead to radical political conclusions. His opening interventions in cultural and theoretical debates announced the need to significantly extend democratic politics through deep reforms. As of 2008, in a further radicalisation, Žižek declared himself a ‘Communist’ and ‘dialectical materialist’, and called for a sweeping cultural and political revolution. Not surprisingly, then, his work is often represented as not only fiendishly difficult theoretically, but highly controversial politically. For some, Žižek is to be celebrated for keeping open the possibility of an emancipatory political alternative, in defiance of the liberal-democratic consensus on the ‘end of history’. For others, Žižek deserves denunciation for serial offences, including . . .

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