Žižek: A (Very) Critical Introduction

Žižek: A (Very) Critical Introduction

Žižek: A (Very) Critical Introduction

Žižek: A (Very) Critical Introduction


Afterword by Slajov Žižek

It has been the brilliance of Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek (b. 1949) to uniquely weave theology, psychoanalysis, and politics together into stunning commentary on contemporary culture. Assuming little prior knowledge of this controversial (atheist, communist) philosopher, Marcus Pound provides the first comprehensive, systematic account of Žižek's work as it relates specifically to theology and religious studies.


When it comes to relations between church and state, today’s Christians find themselves in a strange reversal from the situation of their Roman counterparts. in the first century the problem arose because religious worship could always be directed toward the empire. This is clearly what Josephus recalls regarding Emperor Caligula. Caligula declared himself a god and ordered his statues placed in temples across Europe, a move that sparked the First Jewish Revolt. By contrast, the problem confronting Christians today is that they do not have the power to contest effectively the emperors when they extend the empire in the name of their God, a problem shared by Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike. the same may be said of the current theological turn within Marxism. in the old days Christians had to contend with the Marxist critique of religion, a confrontation that arguably led to one of the most radical theological revolts of recent times: liberation theology, a movement that continues to resonate. Today, however, atheist Marxists such as Slavoj Žižek appear only too happy to extend their project in the name of Christianity, thereby short-circuiting the possibility for a critical theological voice.

What results may be broadly called a “political theology,” somewhere in the tradition of Carl Schmitt; a political vision built upon secularized theological concepts. This is not a believing politics; Žižek does not ad-

1. Ward Blanton first makes this point in “Disturbing Politics: Neo-Paulinism and the Scrambling of Religious and Secular Identities,” Dialog 46, no. 1 (2007): 3-13, 6.

2. See, for example, Carl Schmitt, Political Sovereignty: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, trans. G. Schwab (London: mit Press, 1985).

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