Thursday, September 29, 2011

Good form

[I]s it not that, in the “post-modern” global empire, what was hitherto the “Jewish exception” is increasingly becoming the stardard rule: a particular ethnic group which participates fully in the global economy while simultaneously maintaining its identity at the level of Milner’s Fourfold, that is to say, through its founding cultural myths and rituals, which are transmitted from generation to generation? Milner misses this key point insofar as he fails to grasp the actual functioning of the emerging global pastout empire: in it, all particular identities are not simply “liquefied,” rendered fluid, but maintained – Empire thrives on the multiplicity of the particular (ethnic, religious, sexual, lifestyle…) identities which form the structural obverse of the unified field of Capital.

This is the deepest irony that escapes Milner: he fails to notice the radical ambiguity about his thesis of the Jewish exception as resisting modern universality. When Milner posits the Jews as insisting on the Quadruple of the familiar tradition, against the dissolution of this tradition in the non-All of modernity, he thereby repeats [that is, he embodies] the standard anti-Semitic cliché according to which the Jews themselves [Milner himself being the representative Jew in this case] are always in the first ranks of the struggle for universal mingling, multi-culti, racial confusion, liquefaction of all identities, nomadic, plural, shifting subjectivity – with the exception of their own ethnic identity. The passionate appeal of Jewish intellectuals to universalist ideologies is tied to the implicit understanding that Jewish particularism will be exempt, as if the Jewish identity cannot survive when Jews live side by side with other people who also insist on their ethnic identity – as if, in some kind of parallax shift, the contours of their identity can become clear only when the identity of others is blurred. The alliance of the USA and the State of Israel is thus a strange cohabitation of two opposed principles; if Israel qua ethnic state par excellence stands for the (Quadruple) tradition, the USA – much more than Europe – stands for the non-All of society, the dissolution of all fixed traditional links. The State of Israel thus, in effect, functions as the small a of the US big A, the ex-timate core of tradition that serves as the mythic point of reference of the chaotic non-All of the USA.

...Does not the idea of the Jews forming a nation-state imply the end of Judaism – no wonder the Nazis supported the plan! The Jews stood for the “Fourfold” precisely in order to maintain their identity without a Nation-State. The only consistent position (theoretically and ethically) is to reject such alternatives, and recognise both dangers: “The critique of anti-Semitism or the critique of Zionist politics? Yes, please!” – far from being exclusive opposites, the two are connected by a secret link. There really is anti-Semitism in much of the contempotaty Left, for instance, in the direct equating of what the State of Israel is doing in the occupied territories with the Nazi Holocaust, with the implied reasoning: “The Jews are now doing to others what was doing to them, so they no longer have any right to complain about the Holocaust!” And there actually is a paradox in that the very Jews who preach universal “melting-pot” are all the more insistent on their own ethnic identity.

- Zizek, the Parallax View

So the Atzmon theatre reveals conclusively that in fact the Zizney members do understand after all that this is anti-Semitic propaganda and have understood this perfectly all along; they are entirely familiar with the themes and can recognise them even when they are packed in various distracting ornaments and paired with declarations of benevolence and left commitments.

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