Sunday, December 5, 2010

Žižek on Al Jazeera

I think Zizek does reasonably well in this venue. He sets himself apart from facile crisis-mongering, and he handles the questions about greed and tolerance very well. Al Jazeera, as far as I can tell, seems to be the best mass TV station on the planet. Their programming has more substance and, unheard of in the West, a certain amount of sympathy for oppressed and exploited peoples, particularly in the global South. I'm not saying their politics are perfect, but, as I say, for mass commercial TV, they are reasonably good.


JM said...

But what about his view on Roman Gypsys and multiculturalism?:

t said...

Zizek is, to be sure, prone to saying some rather exaggerated and, in some cases, reprehensible things. I've criticized him for some of what he says about the violence of the Nazis. And I don't endorse what he says about the Roma in that bit you link (in fact, I think he botches his own point there, insofar as the "example" of the Roma doesn't even illustrate what he's purporting to say).

But the broad contours of his critique of liberal multiculturalism are sound. Even in that essay which the linked-blog quotes, Zizek makes some convincing critical points re: the 2006 French Presidential election. I think he's right that the "anti racist" views coming from Chirac and the mainstream media in France were nothing of the sort. As he correctly puts it, the way that venom was directed at the fascist Le Pen, though obviously warranted, actually obscured the "everyday civil" racism and made it invisible.

And I think he's right about the hypocrisy of liberal multiculturalism, viz. that sort of faux-tolerant attitude which professes to love the "good Other", but expresses rage and venom when confronted with someone of a genuinely different culture to whom they should be accountable. This kind of "multiculturalism" is rightly rebuked for being what Zizek calls "food court multiculturalism" in which we interact with a "decaffeinated Other". This is to fundamentally refuse to see the other as an equal, to whom we're accountable, from whom we could actually encounter claims that might cause us to revise our own beliefs, etc. One sees this often with the "good Muslim/bad Muslim" disjunction. It's anti-egalitarian through and through, and should be condemned as such. Anti-racism isn't about "tolerance"; it's about smashing a systemic form of oppression.

I have plenty of problems with Zizek, but the points he makes about greed, moralizing systemic problem, tolerance, and the need for an alternative to capitalism are sound.

Anonymous said...

Richard Seymour of Lenin's Tomb on Zizek's recent work:

Jack Crow said...

Gods Jenny - you do get around with the "but buts."


Good read on Al Jazeera.

Thanks for the link.

JM said...

Qatar is also using them as a bargin chip, apparently:

JM said...

And what was Zizek trying to say about Roman Gypsies?

fwoan said...

Finally, I know how to correctly say his name!