Jaocobin Interviews Slavoj Žižek
Published by marco on
Just one day later: another interview with Slavoj Žižek; another wonderful, intelligent, open, wide-ranging, and funny/friendly interview. It’s about 140 minutes long. Ariella Thornhill and Nando Vila did a great job, with Ariella in particular “translating” some of Slavoj’s more convoluted formulations with aplomb and accuracy.
“Žižek: Did we notice how the fight against racism is usually in the liberal center, reformulated in the terms of tolerance, which I think is already an ideological mystification. Because tolerance tends to turn it into psycho-ideological problem. Like, let’s say that I hate you black […jokes with Nando Vila about what he is…] my idea is: be aggressive, humiliating, but this should be a sign of friendship. This means we trust each other. With enemies? I never talk like this. It’s cold politeness.
“I talk too much. Please ask me a question.”
It was nice how he gave an example of ragging on Nando to illustrate that he would only talk like that to someone he admired.
Ariella addressed his point about formulating everything in terms of tolerance.
“Ariella: No, I see what you mean. When you frame something as an issue of tolerance, what you’re saying is (1) that’s an affective thing, it’s about emotion, it’s about behavior….
“Žižek: It psychologizes it! In the end, it becomes, why do I? (which I don’t) Why do I feel ill-at-ease with you (black people)? The problem, all of a sudden, is not ideologic tradition, economic exploitation, but, ‘what is my psychological trauma?’
“[…] Go to a psychoanalyst. I should look deep into myself. That’s why I am here for the — and I really mean it — if we really want to be against racism, our practice should be that of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which is: ‘fake it til you make it.’”
He then notes that “fake it til you make it” is pretty much a re-framing of Pascal’s Wager.
Žižek addresses what he called the “carnival” in Washington on January 6th. I’d though “storming” (Wikipedia) or “tantrum” a decent term, but “carnival” covers it almost better—it looked like a right-wing Burning Man had come to town.
“I think it was meant more like a carnival, which does not mean that it was not serious. You know, Marx said ‘first as tragedy, then as farce.’ You remember, though, what Marcuse said about Nazism: it began as a carnivalesque farce in the 1920s, in Germany. Remember that the experience of fascism tells us: first as a farce, then as a tragedy. You had the farce, let’s wait and see.”
In another great segment, he argues to beware anyone speaking with a forked tongue—especially the democrats, whose message is much seductive to exactly those people who could be doing something much better with their time, energy, and intellect than providing unquestioning, full-throated support for anything that the media hasn’t waved a red flag at for them.
“Would you agree here? The best reaction til now was AOC, who said, til now for strategic reasons, we’ve supported Biden. Now the fight begins again, immediately, against the Democratic establishment. And the big danger I see […] is that Biden will try to blackmail you—you, the American Left—by saying that if our minority is now lower in the Congress, if you want to pass that measure, we should all join to defeat the Republicans and so on and so forth.
“No! Here, we should—the so-called democratic socialism or whatever we call them—we should take some risks now. Because, literally, we stand for the future.
“Biden is—as I put it in another text, slightly provocatively—Trump with a human face. Although I was wrong there because, at the same time, in some vulgar sense, Trump is Biden with a human face.
“Biden is big-capital establishment but, with all his obscenities, dirty jokes, Trump—who stands for the same [as Biden, capital]—gave, in the vulgar sense—in the sense that it’s human to be vulgar—gave a human face to it.”
In closing, he can’t help telling a dirty joke, telling how when someone on Twitter had commented to him that they’d like to screw AOC’s brains out, he’d recently riposted: “Maybe, but she has such a big brain, I think I am too old to screw all of it out.”
As with the recent Red Scare interview, he jokes at the end:
“Is this live? Oh my God, no. Then you cannot censor out all that I’ve said.”
↩“After all, what is Pascal’s wager but a recommendation to larp? Go through the motions, wear the decorations, and you will get points — that’s the history of religion in a nutshell.”