Back in the 1980s, Žižek was a member of the liberal opposition in the Slovenian part of Yugoslavia, pushing hard for the break-up of the country and even running for the presidency. Every now and then those old political colours show themselves once again, as in this recent interview with Al Jazeera:
I claim if we do nothing we will gradually approach a kind of a new type of authoritarian society. Here I see the world historical importance of what is happening today in China. Until now there was one good argument for capitalism: sooner or later it brought a demand for democracy…
What I’m afraid of is with this capitalism with Asian values, we get a capitalism much more efficient and dynamic than our western capitalism. But I don’t share the hope of my liberal friends – give them ten years, [and there will be] another Tiananmen Square demonstration – no, the marriage between capitalism and democracy is over.
This little piece of bluster is interesting on at least two counts. First, it gives voice to a rather unsubtle Eurocentric nostalgia and arrogance over against Asia. At least, ‘we’ knew how to shape a capitalism that had democracy, but those unsophisticated Asians simply don’t know how to be so clever. Second, it reminds one of a statement from Richard Dawkins a little while back:
Given that Islam is an unmitigated evil … should we be supporting Christian missions in Africa? … Could our enemy’s enemy be our friend?
Translated into Žižekese:
Given that capitalism with Asian values is an unmitigated evil … should we be supporting anglo-saxon neoliberalism? … Could our enemy’s enemy be our friend?
A return of the old liberal? To be fair, Žižek also said:
I think today the world is asking for a real alternative. Would you like to live in a world where the only alternative is either anglo-saxon neoliberalism or Chinese-Singaporean capitalism with Asian values?
The problem, my dear Slavoj, is that your belated effort to promote a communism with Žižekian values is a bit rich, especially in light of your earlier political efforts.