The constitutive tension of Žižek’s thought?

I sidled up to it in my chapter on the pudgy Slovenian in Criticism of Heaven and Adam Kotsko narrated its passage to and fro in the man’s thought in his Žižek and Theology, but I wonder whether anyone has argued that Žižek’s thought is actually caught in this irresolvable tension – irresolvable at least for him. It is the tension between the argument (most forcefully put in Lacanian terms) that any revolution will run into the mud, since it still operates with the same coordinates as that which it seeks to overthrow, and the desire for a genuine revolution, which is cast in various terms, whether theological, Leninist, good old communist or what have you. In short: the tension between signing up for the Cause or refusism. And I wonder whether this tension, to which Žižek returns again and again, marks the trauma of the failed revolution in Slovenia, in which he was a full participant?


8 thoughts on “The constitutive tension of Žižek’s thought?

  1. I agree with you but I disagree with your singular choice of revolution. It was not just the 1989-90 Slovenian revolution but also the entire Titoist Experiment in Yugoslavia as well as the other Communist revolutions. Zizek’s In defense of Lost Causes is an exploration of Marxist and Left failure. Zizek is the traumatized Marxist, both true believing party member (1917 and 1945) and dissident (1968 and 1989) of all the Soviet Bloc. I see Zizek as important for understanding the failure of “really existing socialism” (like Chistopher Hill sees John Milton and his Paradise Lost, as an expression of defeat of the Puritan revolutionary period from 1649-60). People in central Europe lived in, or at least were indoctrinated into believing they lived in, revolutionary states. Zizek’s political confusion is the region’s dilemma. — I have heard that in 1989, Wolfgang Fritz Haug wrote a work on the collapse of communism from the perspective of Augustine’s City of God view of the fall of the Pagan Roman Empire. — Badiou’s commitment to 68’s defeat from Mitterand to today as expressed in his philosophical work is eerily similar to Zizek’s party membership and his dissident status. No wonder they are close intellectually and personally. — Sorry if this is not clear.

  2. Though I can’t quite articulate it in more precise terminology, I had a similar thought when I was reading your “Novel Histories.”

    I had the image of a space-ship approaching the light-speed barrier. Though it continues to exert more and more energy, it also becomes more and more massive, and the entire scenario simply dissolves into an infinite and unresolvable static tension.

    1. The only catch with that argument is that you take on board the widespread assumption that communism in eastern europe was/is a failure. I have spoken with too many (former) Yugoslavs to realise that it was not always a failure. So Zizek’s trauma is that he had a strong hand in dismantling Yugoslavia, believing it to be a revolutionary moment but just playing into the hands of a capitalist takeover. But then, as I have argued elsewhere, the centripetal forces in Yugoslavia will assert themselves again after the centrifugal tendencies have run their course.

      1. Agreed, although some would argue that the argument for ambivalence is a conservative that counsels against changing the status quo. I think the answer is to take sides – as I’ve argued on a number of occasions in relation to the Bible.

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