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The Salesmanship of Professor Žižek

[1]2,116 words

Disclaimer: This article arose out of a challenge posted to me by John Morgan that I couldn’t do a write-up of the Žižek-Peterson debate without having watched it, while completely blotto. Okay, not really, but John liked a comment in which I stated my intent to do exactly that. Proceed at your own risk.

I remember a time in my youth when my grandmother dismissed a politician’s arguments completely out of hand, refusing to even consider him. When someone – my mother, I think – asked why, grandma replied, “I know his kind.” There’s something that’ll become important later on in that sentence – specifically that someone reading it in English won’t feel the revulsion and disdain it communicates in its original Macedonian: „Сортата му ја знам (Sortata mu ja znam).“ This, friends, is more or less my general opinion of Slavoj Žižek.

For years, whenever someone brought up Žižek, I’d deride said person for paying attention to such a charlatan, and link to this excellent article by Theodore Dalrymple [2]. According to Dalrymple, Žižek is the ideal fraud, looking every bit the intellectual we imagine brings wisdom to an undeserving world. I’d reference this article and call it a day, dismissing Žižek out of hand, as well as anyone who took him seriously. Well, apparently, that’s not good enough.

Apparently, one has to listen to Žižek and his arguments, and address them. Now, I cannot do that for several reasons. First, I can only listen to Žižek for about five seconds before loudly shouting “Thuffering Thuccotatsh! [3]” in my most ostentatious Sylvester the Cat impression, complete with projectile saliva. Secondly, I cannot listen to Žižek without suddenly getting the urge to storm out of whatever room I’m in, drink, and hit on the nearest coed. This is because those were my exact coping mechanisms against Žižekite hot air when cruel fate saw fit to dispatch me to college, where I was lectured to by many mini- and wannabe-Žižeks. And thirdly, I don’t really have to listen to Žižek because, like my grandma before me, I know his kind. I was, as I mentioned before, stuck with his kind for the five long years that were my college education.

So lemme tell you about his kind – the old Yugoslav academic Left, which was left without much direction in the wake of the collapse of the Yugoslav project. To say that they are arrogant gasbags is an insult to arrogant gasbags. Accustomed to the high status which accompanied being the official spokesman of the regime, they approach everything with characteristic high-handedness and condescension. They are far more concerned with gatekeeping – which is to say, making sure that no serious dissident thinker can enter academia – than with educating the young or pursuing the truth. In fact, even ostensible goodthinkers can’t get in; mostly, their children get in, and each is more offensively stupid than the last. These people speak in an affectation of a language which is vastly more foreign to the land they occupy than the various anglicisms of germanisms which permeate everyday speech.

This might be difficult for an English-speaking audience to grasp, but many European languages are regulated by central bodies which set the parameters of the “official” language. Now, there are good reasons for having a unified language for the purpose of government work, but one of the hallmarks of this academic sort is insisting on using this more-or-less constructed language even in everyday contexts, and certainly those contexts which include academic work. In fact, this was my first bone of contention with this academic sort, as my intransigence on the legitimacy of regional dialects in learned discourse infuriated these types’ priestly sensibilities, who crave official everything: official language, official ideology, official thought patterns, official asswiping procedures, and so on. In fact, the very idea of discourse and of opposing viewpoints offends and wounds them deeply; these are people who prefer to lecture to a captive audience who’ve had their eyes glued open and their mouths sewn shut.

In contrast to their authoritarian approach in the universities, however, they are often dithering and indecisive as public intellectuals, though generally (and then explicitly) leaning to the Left. They’ll stand strongly against Rightism of any kind out of academic and personal principle, and then fold like cheap lawn chairs to the whims of Leftism – declaring, for example, violent overthrows of the legitimately elected government’s “expressions of democratic will.” Their first salvo against the intellectual Right is always an accusation of ignorance, followed by projection of their own academic authoritarianism onto the Right, and finally a call for a ban and crackdown on such anti-intellectualism. And they’ll always nitpick about the language used, delegitimizing the use of the various dialects, claiming that those who use them “do not know their own language,” as if the essentially constructed official languages were usable in an everyday context.

This dovetails with their own brand of what Anglos will call blank slate ideology – non-essentialism (or existentialism) – the Continent’s counterpart to the original sin of Anglo philosophy. This, of course, is not quite Camus’ big-balls existentialism, nor Sartre’s milquetoast existentialism of good deeds, but a tattered and patched version of Marxist determinism which has had some Lacan, some Derrida, a little bit of this, and a little bit of that tacked on. In the end, it comes out as neoliberal social democracy – sorta, kinda. It means that we liked the old Marxist system, and it was good, but we also like the current neoliberal globalist system, which is good. Especially the European Union. NATO, not so much, because war is bad and warriors are worse, which is why NATO needs to be an investors’ club with guns attached, or nothing else. Above all, physicality is bad: being in tune with your body, its rhythms and means is bad. To have red blood, to breathe, to be a creature of flesh, to desire flesh, to seek out conflict and challenge, to disrupt the stupor of modernity, that’s bad. Better to be overweight or thin as a rail – I’ve never seen one of these types who is in good physical condition – they come in Žižekian rotund and Chomskyite insufficient. The men look weak, yet are arrogant. The women are ugly, yet slatternly, and tend to grow a second surname around age fortyish.

Which brings me to their philosophy, which is made flesh in their flesh. It is a rejection of all things martial and military – except such as they can use as eunuch slave soldiers. These are the kinds of people who consider self-defense to be an aspect of anarchy. They’ll use their poison tongues to bar anyone healthy – which is to say not physically and spiritually deformed – from intellectual discourse, thus framing that discourse in such a way that no dissident voice can be heard.

Now, from all that has been heretofore mentioned, it is quite clear that these people are the establishment – but no, no, no, a thousand times no. In fact, they are beleaguered dissidents in a sea of ignorance which threatens to drown them. The moneyed oligarchs which tremble at their feet are actually forces of capital set on crushing them. The emasculated military and police are in fact vectors of fascism set upon disappearing them in the middle of the night and gathering them in soccer stadiums in preparation for ideological extermination – the aforementioned sentence was uttered almost word for word by one particularly paranoid such intellectual. The forces of Rightism – which is of course military capitalist clero-fascist military authoritarian anti-democracy fascist neocolonialist and euroskeptical military authoritarian fascism – surround the camp of the sorta-kinda Marxist, sorta-kinda democratic liberal saints in academia. Poor them – even when they are the President of the republic or Minister of Internal Affairs, which is to say in command, respectively, of the army and the police.

If this sounds like Chomskyism, it’s because it is essentially Chomskyism. In fact, from what I can tell, Chomsky quite dislikes Žižek (and for that matter, Lacan), mostly because Žižek is flanking Chomsky from the left. Chomsky is not used to taking fire from his left. If ol’ (((Noam))) sympathizes with Al Qaeda and the Taliban, Žižek can disparage ISIS for not being extreme enough [4]. Žižek and the other gasbags whom I was forced to endure as a young adult are essentially gentile Marxists LARPing as Jewish academics. They’re able to practice entryism due to the clannish nature of the Balkan nations, and this clannishness is even more pronounced in the priestly-professorial caste; but they also get to take advantage of naïve Westerners who cannot tell a good-faith argument from a bunch of dishonest pulp. In that sense, I have a certain admiration for Professor Žižek, for he is the Steve Jobs of selling polished turds to Western rebels without a cause for whom Chomsky makes a bit too much sense.

If postmodernism contributed anything of substance to serious thought, it’s the notion that translation is near-impossible, and that we are prisoners of language, in a certain way. The same way that “I know your kind” won’t communicate the depths of revulsion and disdain contained in the Macedonian original, nor the sense that somehow, your intelligence is insulted by the other guy’s implicit assumption that he has successfully fooled you when, in fact, you know his kind. This is the same way that “charlatan” doesn’t even begin to capture the essence of the Žižekite intellectual. Apparatchik doesn’t cover it, because these men and women really believe at least some of the garbage they spew.

If they were Jews, you’d chalk this behavior up to their Jewishness, but these are pure-blooded gentiles, and besides, there’s no clear tribal interest to rally around – that they muddy the waters is as much to their detriment as is to everyone else’s. They’re not the classic postmodern intellectuals – they’ll often retreat into classical Marxism or even neoliberalism when it suits them, and they’re more than capable of operating on the Right, feigning religiosity and reason. Their relationship with language is complex, whereas a Western academic – and especially (((academic))) – would attempt to undermine language itself. These people rally against linguistic pluralism in order to limit the diapason of expressible opinion and delegitimize anyone who doesn’t use conlangs as a shibboleth – which is to say anyone who won’t debase his speech with obvious absurdities.

I believe that this is the unique ecology of the former Yugoslavia which produced this strange species. Yugoslavia was officially a Marxist-Leninist country, which in 1948 broke with the Warsaw Pact and drifted closer to NATO, and especially the United States. Its Jewish population was mostly destroyed in the Second World War, but the few Jews who remained were part of the government and societal elite. Intellectualism was a rarity in pre-war Yugoslavia, the societies it contained being very agrarian, and those intellectuals that did arise tended to be strongly folkish in their disposition (see Tesla, Kočić, and Racin). The Yugoslav regime therefore needed a caste of repeaters of official truths to staff its universities, and lacked the Jews to do so, so it bred this caste of half-literate apparatchik-charlatan-bullshitters out of the ambitious, yet servile, lesser intelligentsia.

Three generations on, regression to the mean has done its thing, and we have some pretty stupid fucking grandchildren of deans staffing universities around here. Worse yet, whereas they once served the socialist regime in Belgrade, these intellectuals are now slaves primarily of Brussels, but a lucky few report directly to Washington. However, typical Balkan clannishness has not been bred out of them, so they still practice cronyism and entryism. The system makes it impossible to find employment without going through the gauntlet of the universities, so they have a cozy existence collecting rents and kvetching about impending tyranny while singing the praises of the EU, NATO, globohomo, and neoliberalism.

Žižek, bless his entrepreneurial little heart, has found an alternative means of sustaining his voracious appetites. Instead of forcing captive populations to purchase his blue pills, as those other guys are doing, he’s selling it to willing Westerners. Genius. And now he’s come across a different type of goyish grifter LARPing as a Jewy intellectual in the form of Jordan Peterson. The many problems with Peterson have been addressed by people with much bigger brains than mine, of whom I think the best is Vox Day [5]. What I find interesting is that Žižek and Peterson have started cross-pollinating. These two blue pill salesmen probably have significant audience overlap. If I were part of the (((chosen))), I’d look into options of shutting “it” down. It’s worse than the goyim knowing; the goyim are – oy vey! – Jewing even harder than the hardcore Jews. One could credibly claim that this is anudda shoah.