Zizek Interviews

July 10, 2008

I am a Fighting Atheist

Enjoy Your Zizek

Civil Society, Fanaticism, and Digital Reality

Part of an article on Zizek’s Marxism:

It’s The Political Economy, Stupid!: On Zizek’s Marxism

The Good Terror: Zizek’s Negative Ethics

and, an interview with Paul A. Taylor, editor of IJZS…


In his paper on narcissism, Freud describes the movement of object-libido and ego-libido as an “antithesis” (SE 14, 76), an antithesis which is the “corollary to an original hypothesis which distinguished between sexual instincts and ego instincts” (77). These of course get re-labled as Eros and Thanatos, love and death drives (the latter sometimes attributed to the Id, other times to the Ego… I haven’t settled that question for myself yet.. the closest I’ve come is that the Ego, of course, comes from the Id… But I need to re-read The Ego and the ID). In Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud notes that these two would be indistiquishable in most cases, which is why he didn’t see the death drive for so long. This is an echo of a comment he makes in “On Narcissism,” where he writes “that a real happy love corresponds to the primal condition in which object-libido and ego-libido cannot be distinguished.” The observation I want to make on all this is that here the drives appear as Kantian antinomies: the two exist as antithetical and cannot be reconciled with each other; they merely reach a point where they “cannot be distinguished,” not one in which they dissolve into each other. Hence the “Battle of the giants” in Civilations and its Discontents – two forces rage ceaselessly within us, never to be reconciled.

Further, Freud notes in his encyclopedia entry on the libido theory that the “sexual instinct turns out to be of a highly composite nature and is liable to disintegrate once more into its component instincts” (SE ?, 256). That is, the sexual drive is really just made up of the oral, anal and phallic drives, coming together as one in the genital stage.

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To the Left…

July 4, 2008

If we’re going to waffle, I’d rather waffle to the left than waffle to the right. – Ed Broadbent.

If we had to chose between an excess of patriotic fervour and the total absence of civic spirit, or the stagnation of mederantism, there would be no hesitation. A vigourous body, tormented by an excess of sap, leaves more resources than a corpse. – Robespierre, “On the Principles of Revolutionary Government”

It is here that one has to make the choice: the ‘pure’ liberal stance of equidistance towards leftist and rightist ‘totalitarianism’… is a priori false, one has to take sides and proclaim one fundamentally ‘worse’ than the other – for this reason, the ongoing ‘relativization’ of fascism, the notion that one should rationally compare the two totalitarianism, etc., always involves the – explicit or implicit – thesis that fascism was ‘better’ than Communism, an understandable reaction to the Communist threat. – Zizek, In Defese of Lost Causes, 262.

The other day in a reading group on The Parallax View the topic of the constant fragmentation of the left came up. Why, for example, did the Waffle movement arise in the NDP, to later get kicked out? Why did the International Socialists (which members of the waffle joined) later split into the New Socialist Group? (etc, etc). Somewhere (perhaps in Parallax…) Zizek notes that the various institutional dissolutions that Lacan was behing were a ‘Leninist move,’ an attempt to keep the movement from solidifying and stagnating. The ‘factioning’ of the psychoanalytic movement from Freud (Jungian psychoanalysis; Kleinian psychoanalysis; ‘culturalism’…) to the divisions in the Lacanian movement in France, to perhaps even the two psychoanalytic societies here in Toronto, resemble the splitting of the Left. Why doesn’t this happen with, say, the Liberals? You get factions of loyalties – the Cretien/Martin split a few years back, and perhaps even now a Dion/Ignatieff split; Or you get Wajid Khan crossing the floor the join the Conservatives. But it all happens within the party. Why don’t you get a splitting of the Liberal party? Even with the Conservatives, you see Reform and PC joining, not further breaking themselves apart. I think part of the answer can be discerned in the fifth chapter of Sherry Turkle’s history of the Lacanian movement (where ‘another part’ would be to look at how the Liberal or Conservative parties deal with their internal; and still another would be to look at how the Canadian Commonwealth Federation was able to bring a large section of the Left together).

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