Friday, September 30, 2011

Too Starkey

So instead of a consistent critique of anti-Semitism, racism and misogyny, we get from the Zizney crowd a constant stream of anti-Semitism, racism, Islamophobia, heteronormativity, homophobia and misogyny punctuated by isolated, ad hominem, ceremonial public whippings and pillory of individual sinners (often, like Atzmon, some or other sort of troll or provocateur*) whose material it is suggested ought to be suppressed as it taints pure environments like The London Review of Books or ZeroBooks imprint. These ceremonies serve not only to implicitly certify Zizney's own product as racism-free and ideologically fit for consumption, but they protect that product from the perils of proximity to the blueprints or specs that such product, when not wrapped in the Radical Left packaging and its alibis, can resemble. Zizek's "half ape blacks", "orangutan" cousin, or "incredibly painful birth of African-American consciousness" in Sethe's act of "killing what is most dear to her - her progeny", (not to mention all the prime time tv examples of this animalisation) are easier for Zizney fans to pretend are unobjectionable or even insightful and "philosophically important" if not seen beside R W Johnson's baboons and the like. The Zizney pillory obstructs in fact the most effective and well-established pedagogical method deployed against racism in the culture wars, which is the exposure of themes and motifs and patterns across different works and media. A sincere commitement to anti-racism and against anti-Semitism would certainly involve using the occasion of Atzmon's new book to teach about the resurgence of these themes, which would mean showing the themes and motifs and tropes which connect Atzmon, Zizek, Mearsheimer and others. Instead, naturally, Zizney takes action to preempt and disrupt such an enlightening discourse - the kind that achieved in the first place everything against the old supremacist mythology and in favour of genuine truthful and emancipatory historiography that Zizney is trying now to dismantle - by isolating one of the most heuristically useful examples of the Zizney ideology (Atzmon's), which could be a really effective tool in exposing the resurgent discourse across many genres and national media, and insisting on viewing it as the opposite and enemy of the more successful versions of the discourse (Zizek's mainly). This theatre preserves the legitimacy of the anti-Semitic mythology itself against the threat posed by careless or too obvious versions (or versions that aren't designed to serve the main purpose, which is apology for US empire including Zionist colonialism and the usual displacement of public anger onto scapegoats).

The right wing or mainstream version of these things may even often be more subtle and less lurid and baroque than the "radical left" versions, but they tend to be issued from a stable instead of a floated point of view, and this is key to the danger they pose to the new digimedia age postmodern racist ideological products. The newest stuff, that really works and is very popular, floats the point of view (Reckless Tortuga is a vivid example) to give the consumer, who is reluctant to declare himself racist, the means of evading challenge or criticism. The floating, in text product, is accomplished by such tactics as un-assigned quotation marks ("scare quotes" are only one type) or preamble labelling like "the typical liberal counter-proposal is..." or "my first anti-Semitic reaction was...". This is an important innovation; the kinds of product Zizney attacks don't have it - in that product the point of view is stable: R W Johnson is himself observing/asserting/concoting in his own voice an analogy between baboons and Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa, but Zizek offers his "half ape blacks" from an unidentified point of view that is actually several layers thick:

the innermost position of articulation is some imagined revolutionary soldiers in Saint Domingue during the Haitian war of independence. Zizek puts on a "you've-heard-this-all-before" voice which is intended to be the voice of soldiers: they are saying "you see we the primitive half-ape blacks..."

but he embeds this performance of those imagined revolutionaries within a caveat - in fact these imagined revolutionaries didn't say this. So what is he performing? This brings us the next layer of point of view in which the image is encased; there is another set of revolutionary black French soliders who are singing the Marseillaise and (Zizek informs us) "it didn't mean 'you see we the primitive half-ape blacks'". They sing the Marseillaise, like the soliders Zizek perfoms making some odd gesture, but they don't say what he performs them saying.

The speakers he does imitate are performed but disavowed; he shows them to us, he physically demonstrates some gesture of theirs, but denies they existed. What are they here for?

.... so whose point of view is this? Who is imagining soldiers singing the Marseillaise in order to say "you see we the primitive..."? The point of view of this subject, the subject who imagines the figures Zizek performs, is hazy.

...and yet further out from this hazy subject who imagines soldiers singing the Marseillaise to show that they, though primitive half-apes, "can also participate in your...' there is yet another subject, another point of view, making fun of that point of view. And with this other subject making fun of the unidentified subject who imagines soldiers singing the Marseillaise in order to show that they are primitive but still can participate in your [trails off] the "mocking voice" acquires a second layer. The sound of the mockery is doing double service. It is not only the tone indicating the attitude the unidentified misinterpreter of events assigns to the soliders singing the Marseillaise envisioning themselves as "half-ape blacks", it is the mockery directed at that unidentified subject who is mocking, by yet another unidentified point of view.

All this disguises the lack of sense or reason or excuse for the lurid racist imagery and permits the audience to enjoy it, but only if things like R W Johnson's baboons are not also part of this audience's diet of discourse.

The floated enunciating subject is a consistent feature of Zizney and it's key to its marketing to the audience it attracts: it allows that audience who takes pleasure in the symbolic racist violence to shift out of range when challenged and to present the racist discourse as a critique of itself. It evades all responsibility for the articulation by allowing the subject (Zizek and his audience, fashioned by this very complicity into a "we") to slip away into a labyrinth of perspectives built around the statements.

The operation is so convoluted the consumer can almost always avoid having to explain why such a critique of the figments of the critic's own imagination and obsessions would be necessary or what it accomplishes, because discussion gets diverted into chasing the position of the subject who articulates.

With this technique, which involves a heavy use of passive construction and generalisation, the text becomes interactive, malleable and immune to ordinary rebuttal (albeit not to rebuttal, although always the defender can accuse the critic of being "ungenerous", and this must almost always be for an evil, personal, possibly psychotic motive).

The danger then the old fashioned material poses is that the floated-pov articulations can be pinned down, at least to a point, by comparison and situating within the context of the older material and the old fashioned current material. And removing the context for the reassertion of racist and supremacist material that is presenting itself as radical, fresh and insightful is essential. Each sentence must be considered, as Rodney King assailants' defence lawyers understood each blow must be evaluated, in isolation. In isolation from the statement it is rebutting, "it was not the Holocaust which left Ljuljana almost without Jews" becomes an assertion one can (just barely) defend. For example, Richard Seymour defends the statement by removing it from the context in which it actually appears and supplying it a new context - to suggest it is rebutting a statement like "the Holocaust was the first instance of anti-Semitism in Slovenia" -- and also a foil, that which it nobly doesn't say, which is "the Holocaust had no effect at all on Jews." Seymour deploys highly competent Zizney technique, providing this new context for the statement he's defending and suppressing the actual context (the statement is put forward to prove that Kirsch's assertion "Zizek was born and raised in a town the Holocaust had left almost without Jews" is false and that stating it is "despicable".)

This is the same technique Seymour used in his defence of Zizek's proposal to discuss whether exterminating gays would protect "us" from Nazism:

There is a long tradition of the Leftist gay bashing, whose traces are discernible up to Adorno – suffice it to mention Maxim Gorky’s infamous remark from his essay “Proletarian Humanism” (sic! – 1934): “Exterminate (sic!) homosexuals, and Fascism will disappear.”(Quoted from Siegfried Tornow, “Maennliche Homosexualitaet und Politik in Sowjet-Russland,” in Homosexualitaet und Wissenschaft II, Berlin: Verlag Rosa Winkel 1992, p. 281.) All of this cannot be reduced to opportunistically flirting with the traditional patriarchal sexual morality of the working classes, or with the Stalinist reaction against the liberating aspects of the first years after the October Revolution; one should remember that the above-quoted Gorky’s inciting statement, as well as Adorno’s reservations towards homosexuality (his conviction about the libidinal link between homosexuality and the spirit of military male-bonding), are all based on the same historical experience: that of the SA, the “revolutionary” paramilitary Nazi organization of street-fighting thugs, in which homosexuality abounded up to its head (Roehm). The first thing to note here is that it was already Hitler himself who purged the SA in order to make the Nazi regime publicly acceptable by way of cleansing it of its obscene-violent excess, and that he justified the slaughter of the SA leadership precisely by evoking their “sexual depravity”… In order to function as the support of a “totalitarian” community, homosexuality has to remain a publicly disavowed “dirty secret,” shared by those who are “in.” Does this mean that, when gays are persecuted, they deserve only a qualified support, a kind of “Yes, we know we should support you, but nonetheless… (you are partially responsible for the Nazi violence)”? What one should only insist on is that the political overdetermination of homosexuality is far from simple, that the homosexual libidinal economy can be co-opted by different political orientations, and that it is HERE that one should avoid the “essentialist” mistake of dismissing the Rightist “militaristic” homosexuality as the secondary distortion of the “authentic” subversive homosexuality.

To defend this he isolates the statement What one should only insist on is that the political overdetermination of homosexuality is far from simple, and he supplies it a new context, one in which it is a rebuttal to a statement like "is the 'gay libinial economy' inescapably left wing?" and a foil to "all gays are necessarily Nazis."

So the individuals who must be pilloried and ostracised by Zizney interfere with this kind of evasion. They are those who produce the old low-tech type of discourse which do not have the wheels and gears that allow the defence against straightforward challenges - "Jews are plotting" not "this typical liberal position misses the irony that the paradox is that the very same Jews who are plotting once embodied what Kant called the public use of Reason" - the juxtapositon of which with the floated type can expose its effects.**

So the latest is Atzmon who, wishing to be as brutally clear with his "shocking" remarks as possible, instead of saying, as Zizney does, "the paradox is" that the very same "Jewish intellectuals" who demand "all others" give up "their ethnic particularity" are Jewish tribalists (with despotic powers comparable to Stalin's with which they persecute their critics like Mel Gibson, etc), merely states this without the "theoretical analysis" regarding "the paradox" which effectively creates the illusion that the enunciator recedes a slight distance from the fact he is offering as fact, which then allows for the whole apparatus of interactive flexibility to be initiated.

Atzmon delivers many of the assertions that Zizney promotes regarding "the Jews" but without the Lacanian packaging (the psychoanalytic-flavoured "explanation" for example of why anti-Semitic and racist discourses are truths uttered for naughty pleasure, and indeed have "performative efficiency", so at least in the case of those advanced by "whites", must be true). He is to Zizek's anti-Semitism (whom he really likes) as Starkey is to Zizney's white supremacism. Zizney/Zizek is actually more lurid, and the Zizney oeuvre (leader and acolytes) partakes of more of the fantastical and fabulous, while Atzmon's is closer in "realism" of setting to Mearsheimer, but Atzmon's discourse, especially when he evokes Zizek's psychoanalytic "theories" for support, is a danger to the carefully constructed but fragile inner mechanism of the Zizney versions which are intended to persuade not outrage. If you put the two side by side, the former serves to clarify the latter too visibly - like a drawing of an animal's skeleton placed next to the drawing of the great ball of fat and fur it appears from the outside - but also to halt its motion, to lock the gears. Atzmon, like Starkey, shows the bones if the apology for imperialism and the civilising mission of white supremacy of which the Zizney output consists, but he also contributes to a context that is difficult to ignore and therefore impacts the way the Zizney fables of "the Jews" - unique nation, ancient tribe, collective neurotic psyche - appears.

Starkey really offered the clearest fixed-pov example of the Zizney story of the perils of multiculturalism. Zizney tells us frequently of the "universal mingling, multi-culti, racial confusion, liquefaction of all identities, nomadic, plural, shifting subjectivity" allegedly foisted by "the Jews" who are "the original multiculturalists" on Europe even while these same Jews "ironically" or "paradoxically" (for this is "the paradox of Jewish Identity") preserving their own tribal particularity, is easily identified when placed next to a unabashed "right wing" statement:


There's been a profound cultural change...the whites have become black...a particular sort of violent, destructive nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion...and black and white, boy and girl, operate in this language together, this language which is wholly false, which is this Jamaican patois which has been intruded in England, and this is why so many of us have the sense of literally a foreign country...this is the text sent by the young woman who was the olympic ambassador: "pigs shouldn't of killed dat guy last night innit, den dey wouldn't get blown up."


Alain Badiou replaced by Angela Davis...women, race, what feminism did to communism, the proliferation of radical standpoints,.thinking with worms, alas poor Marx! communism from below, interspecies communism, weak communists, bell hooks: "Ain't I a commiunist?"

The list of Jewish corruption of Europe is all checked off - the White Male became the Black Female, the all white male elite was infiltrated by women and people of colour, and what flows from this is "universal mingling, multiculti, racial confusion, liquefaction of all identities, nomadic, plural, shifting subjectivity" and of course the finale which exhibits this loss with the most sentimental alarm that the true Europeans have become foreigners in their own land and foreign speakers of their own tongue.

We can easily see when these are set beside one another the contours of the trope at work, and from then on we can recognise it everywhere it appears. It is not a static image, but a narrative of corruption and degeneration which, typically, culminates in this performance of the hideously disfigured English, the national essence defiled in the comically inept, contemptible but disturbing mimicky of the sacred tongue.


(I found it amazing at first that anyone would miss the tone of a guy who is suggesting we need to look into whether there is any truth to the blood libel, but then it occurred to me this must be perceived very differently by these hayseed devotees of the Slobbering Slovitzian who have had that thought actually pass through their heads and so are struck with panic and horror when everyone else is laughing.)


Zizek himself puts his propagandistic mechanism through all its paces, showing how to deny what he has said by shfting the position of the articulation.

Adam Kirsch reads this: "To put it succinctly, the only true solution to the 'Jewish question' is the 'final solution' (their annihilation), because Jews ... are the ultimate obstacle to the 'final solution' of History itself, to the overcoming of divisions in all-encompassing unity and flexibility" as representing the position of Alain Badiou (Zizek's sincere straightforward paraphrase of Badiou).

Zizek then claims, in high dudgeon, that it is not a paraphrase of Alain Badiou and does not represent his point of view, but he will not say whose thoughts he is advancing there. Instead he says, "what I do is provide a résumé of how the French Zionist critics perceive contemporary Europe."

What does this mean? The proposal about the 'final solution' (a phrase he does not quote but has introduced himself in quotes, to seem as if quoting, as if the term forced itself on his text from without, and then protests innocence of the suspicion it would be perceived as evocative of anything) cannot be accepted as the point of view of "French Zionists". Is he suggesting that "contemporary Europe" believes "the only true solution to the Jewish question is 'the final solution'..." or that French Zionists believe this is "contemporary Europe's" belief?

Let's look at it marking the point of view as we go:

[There] is an interesting struggle which has been going on recently (not only) among Lacanians (not only) in France.

That's Zizek informing us from his knowledge.

The struggle concerns the status of the "One" as the name of a political subjectivity, a struggle which has led to many broken friendships (say, between Badiou and Jean-Claude Milner).

Still Zizek speaking.

The irony is that this struggle is taking place among ex-Maoists (Badiou, Milner, Lévy, Miller, Regnault, Finkielkraut), and between "Jewish" and "non-Jewish" intellectuals.

Who is being quoted as labelling the intellectuals Jewish or non-Jewish? Or are these scare quotes? What do these words mean?

The question is, is the name of the One the result of a contingent political struggle, or is it somehow rooted in a more substantial particular identity?

This at first glance appears to be Zizek himself characterising a question that some unidentified intellectuals have asked. But it may be that it is Zizek's interpretation of the debate between the "Jewish" and "non-Jewish" intellectuals that some or all would not accept.

The position of Jewish Maoists is that "Jews" is such a name which stands for that which resists today's global trend to overcome all limitations, inclusive of the very finitude of the human condition, in radical capitalist "deterritorialiszation" and "fluidification" (the trend which reaches its apotheosis in the gnostic-digital dream of transforming humans themselves into virtual software that can reload itself from one hardware to another).

Zizek himself is speaking his opinions about what the Jewish Maoists believe about someone else's idea. Who has the idea that "Jews is such a name which..."? It may be the Jewish Maoists own view that "Jews" is such a name, but it may be the Jewish Maoists idea of how other people perceive Jews. Or, it may be Jewish Maoists idea of how other people believe Jews perceive themselves or how other people believe Jews believe other people percieve Jews. That floated position means what follows has no definite point of view assigned but can be assigned as convenient to the defence of the text against challenge. Who is quoted as using "deterritorialization"? Is it that same subject who asserts that the trend of fluidication reaches its apothesosis in the gnostic-digital attitude? Who is the gnostic-digital attitude attributed to? Is it assumed to be correctly attributed? Is it the Jewish Maoist assigning attitudes to a subject with a gnostic-digital perspective? Is the Jewish Maoist reliable on this? Is it even the Jewish Maoist who assets this?

It continues:

The name "Jews" thus stands for the most basic fidelity to what one is.

Who is speaking? Is this the gnostic-digital thinker, according to The Jewish Maoist or to Zizek? Is it the Jewish Maoist's idea of what the name "Jews" stands for? Is it Badiou's idea of what the name "Jews" stands for for the Jewish Maoist? Is it Zizek's idea of what the digiera gnostic thinks the name "Jews" stands for for the Jewish Moaist? Or what Zizek thinks the name "Jews" stands for for the digignostic? Or is it for Zizek himself that the name "Jews" stands for the most basic fidelity to what one is?


Along these lines

What lines? This is the final erasing of the trail, reaching the maximum ambiguity, before a new assignment of pov:

Along these lines, François Regnault claims that the contemporary Left demands of Jews (much more than of other ethnic groups) that they "yield with regard to their name" -- a reference to Lacan's ethical maxim "do not yield with regard to your desire"...[elipsis in original] One should remember here that the same shift from radical emancipatory politics to the fidelity to the Jewish name is already discernible in the fate of the Frankfurt School, especially in Horkheimer's later texts.

A point of view briefly emerges clearly Regnault says the "contemporary left" demands - only to vanish at once in the reference to some previous "shift from radical emancipatory politics to fidelity to the Jewish name". Who is recommending one remember here? We have a purported previous instance (to no specific later instance) of Jews repudiating universalism for Jewish particularism, but who thinks this appropriate to remember "here"? Regnault? Or Zizek? If Regnault, does Zizek agree? Is he suggesting that Regnault is making an insightful case for some intrinsic Jewish particularism? Or is he himself making that case?

Now all the shifting gears are set in motion to unmoor the text entirely with the next statement:

Jews here are the exception: in the liberal culturalist perspective, all groups can assert their identity - except Jews, whose very self-assertion equals Zionist racism...[elipses in original]

Who is saying Jews here are the exception? Is what follows a complaint from Regnault? Or an observation of Zizek's? And where is here? Is this again the Maoist Jews as a group attributing views to the liberal multiculturalists? Is it Zizek attributing views to the liberal multiculturalists? Is the attribution accurate? Is Zizek himself declaring that Jewish self-assertion is Zionist racism or endorsing that view? Is he endorsing the Jewish Maoists perception of the liberal multiculturalists as correct but not the content of the view the former attribute to the latter? Is he identifying a new party who holds the view that liberal multiculturalists insist (only) Jews can't assert their identity because it is Zionist racism? Is he interpreting the (disavowed) implications of the liberal multiculturalists or is he paraphrasing their assertions? Where is Zizek's own point of view here?

In contrast to this approach

What approach? The approach of the Jewish Maoists complaining about the liberal multiculturalists complaining about the Jewish Maoists? Or the approach of the liberal multiculturalists complaining about the Jewish Maoists? Or the approach of the Jewish Maoists to Jewishness and Zionism?

In contrast to this approach, Badiou and others insist on the fidelity to the One which emerges and is constituted through the very political struggle of/for naming and, as such, cannot be grounded in any particular determinate content (such as ethnic of religious roots).

In contrast to liberal multiculturalists who claim that Jewish self-assertion is Zionist racism but everyone else can assert their own identity, someone (Zizek or the Jewish Maoists or someone else) claim Badiou and others insist on something. What does Badiou insist on? Or are we still listening to Zizek's account of what the Jewish Maoists think? (This will all be characterised later as a résumé of French Zionists perceptions of contemporary Europe, recall). Is this statement regarding what Badiou insists on in fact the false accusation of the Jewish Maoists?

Anyway, either Badiou insists on fidelity to the One which emerges in political struggle for naming and has no ethnic or religious roots, or Badiou is accused of this wrongly by someone.

At this point I would say the text leans toward inviting the interpretation that Badiou is being accurately characterised by Zizek and not slandered by the Jewish Maoists, (but in his self-defense against Kirsch he will claim it is clearly the latter, and that this characterisation of what Badiou insists on is spoken from the point of view of Jewish Maoists and articulates their erroneous fantasy of what Badiou insists on.)

From this point of view

That is, from either Badiou's point of view or the point of view Badiou is falsely attributed by the Jewish Maosists, (this is important as we are nearing the Kirsch selection)

From this point of view, fidelity to the name "Jews" is the obverse (the silent recognition) of the defeat of authentic emancipatory struggles.

Someone may think fidelity to the name "Jews" is associated with the defeat of authentic emancipatory struggles. Then again, Zizek may be suggesting that nobody thinks this, that "this point of view" - which is another instance of refusing commitment to content ("this point of view" could say "JM's pov" or "Badiou's pov" or "this approach" could say "the liberal multiculturalist approach" or "my approach" or "Regnault's approach"; "along these lines" could say "the lines of Badiou's reasoning" or "the linbes of Jewish Maosist's contentions"; the ambiguity is deliberate and necessary for the text's equivocations and malleability) -- is the non-existent point of view that the Jewish Maoists wrongly believe is Badiou's.

Whose point of view is it? one is forced to wonder fruitlessly. (In fact, we the readers know from material outside this text that this is the position Badiou has taken and which Zizek has reiterated often in a cruder racialised way that Badiou daintily avoids. So we can assume Zizek knows that's how most of his readers will interpret the sentence. But Zizek will claim that he is not paraphrasing Badiou at the crucial passage, and that this is obvious.).


No wonder that those who demand fidelity to the name "Jews" are also those who warn us against the "totalitarian" dangers of any radical emancipatory movement.

Jeez, who is this now? Now we have a sudden proliferation of layers of subjectivity, as if a prism had been placed on the text. Is this sentence:

a) Zizek informing us the Jewish Maosists falsely claim Badiou says "no wonder that those who demand fidelity to the name "Jews" are also.."? (That is, is Zizek still characterizing "this point of view" and is it Badiou's as seen by the Jewish Maoists? Could one accurately quote it "From this point of view [which Jewish Maoists attribute to Badiou]...[it's] No wonder that those who demand fidelity to the name "Jews" [Badiou's wrong idea of the Jewish Maoists according to the Jewish Maoists' paranoid fantasy] are also those who warn us against the "totalitarian" dangers of any radical emancipatory movement"?)

b) Zizek informing us Badiou says "no wonder that those who demand fidelity to the name "Jews" are also those who warn us against the "totalitarian" dangers of any radical emancipatory movement"? (Is if "from this point of view" that is Badiou's actual point of view as far as Zizek understands it?)

c) Zizek himself saying, given what he has learned from Badiou that it is no wonder to him that those who demand fidelity to the name Jews are also those who warn us etc? (Is it not "from this point of view" at all but a resumed direct statement from Zizek's own point of view after the digression into ventriloquism?)

d) Zizek himself saying that given the way the Jewish Maoists misconstrue Badiou it is no wonder to him that they also warn us against "totalitarian" dangers of any radical emancipatory movement?

All of these possibilities are made available for the convenience of the defender of this anti-Semitic screed.

Their politics consists in accepting the fundamental finitude and limitation of our situation, and the Jewish Law is the ultimate mark of this finitude, which is why, for them, all attempts to overcome Law and tend towards all-embracing Love (from Christianity through the French Jacobins and Stalinism) must end up in totalitarian terror.

Now we are getting very close to Kirsch's excerpt, and where are we? Who is speaking? Zizek will claim to Kirsch that this is not his own voice or assessment, but that it is obvious that Kirsch has maliciously construed it as such, though he cannot say precisely what the quoted passage means and to whom it's contentions are attributed. What Zizek, under challenge for the exterminationist dreams offered by the text, will claim the sentence says:

"I Zizek claim that the Jewish Maoists falsely accuse Alain Badiou of believing falsely that their politics - the politics of the Jewish Maoists - consists in accepting the fundamnetal finitude..."

That is, contrary to what appears to be the dominant reading invited (but not unequivocally - the whole text is equivocal and this is one of the cagier sentences regarding the enunciating position) this stuff about finitude and Christian love and Jewish Maoists and Badiou and the One is all nonsense, is all air, senseless stuff referring to nothing, the bizarre phantasmagoria that is the content of the slanderous paranoiac minds of the Jewish Maoists now Zionists, and it has no relevance to anything but a personal spat between them and Badiou and unnamed other "non Jewish" Maoists, a spat about exactly nothing. That is Zizek's reply to Kirsch - this is a résumé of the meaningless nonsense in the heads of French Zionists who think Alain Badiou said something or other; what he may or may not have said Zizek won't waste time on.

And then, once this is asserted, Kirsch is scolded as despicable for supposing otherwise.

Yet we have seen these topics in Zizek over and over, even offered sometimes unequivocally in his own voice, and celebrated by his fans as brilliant radical Lacanian whatever and important philosophical insights.

But in defence of his loathsome and incoherent propaganda image barrage, Zizek will claim to Kirsch that his claim is that nobody's politics "consists in accepting the fundamental finitude and limitation of our situation, and the Jewish Law is the ultimate mark of this finitude, which is why, for them, all attempts to overcome Law and tend towards all-embracing Love (from Christianity through the French Jacobins and Stalinism) must end up in totalitarian terror." Rather this is the insane vision that Jewish Maoists have of what Alain Badiou and "others" think the Jewish Maoists own beliefs are.

Now comes the passage Kirsch supposedly misreads:

To put it succinctly, the only true solution to the Jewish question is the "final solution" (their annihilation), because Jews qua objet a are the ultimate obstacle to the "final solution of History itself, to the overcoming of division in all-encompassing unity and flexibility.

Who thinks they are putting some succinctly? Is the speaker Zizek and is he putting his own views succinctly? Or Zizek putting the views of the Jewish Maoists succinctly. Or the Jewish Maoists putting their own views succinctly? Or the Jewish Maoists putting Badiou's view succintly?

Kirsch thinks it's Zizek putting Badiou's views succinctly. Why is that less plausible than the other possibilities? It would seem to be the most plausible in fact.

But in defence of his text, Zizek suggests (without stating or claiming clearly) this is a paraphrase of the paranoid fantasy the Jewish Maoists entertain regarding Alain Badiou's beliefs about Jews. It is part of "a résumé of how the French Zionist critics perceive contemporary Europe". But then who is speaking the next sentence?:

But is it not rather the case that, in the history of modern Europe, those who stood for the striving for universality were precisely atheist Jews, from Spinoza to Marx to Freud?

Kirsch is accused of engaging in "a pure manipulation to read my [Zizek's] praise of the “universalist” Jews as an argument for exempting them from annihilation." (Of course the reply has the same ambiguity as the original - to whom is Zizek attributing the belief in "universalist" Jews? If he is suggesting that the "annihilation" of "the Jews" means the the transformation of particularists (Jews) into universalists, what could annihilation have to do with universalists? How is there such a thing as a universalist "Jew"? Why does Zizek refer to Spinoza and Freud as "Jews"? Or to whom does he attribute this description?)

Who then is being quoted without quotation marks as saying "But is it not rather..."? Is this Zizek suddenly answering the Jewish Maosists? Or is he engaging a mock battle with their imaginary Badiou for their entertainment? Or is it still the Jewish Maoists speaking, now pleading with their imaginary Badiou not to exclude all Jews racially from the community of Christian and Stalinist universal love which they wrongly think he believes in and wished to exclude them from on the basis of his false belief in their fidelity to the name "Jews"?

The irony is...

- continues whoever, or interjects someone else -

The irony is that in the History of anti-Semitism Jews stand for both these poles: sometimes they stand for the stubborn attachment to their particular life-form which prevents them from becoming full citizens of the state they live in, sometimes they stand for a "homeless" and rootless universal cosmopolitanism indifferent to all particular ethnic forms.

Who is talking (the Jewish Maoists notice an irony? They attribute the noticing of an irony to Badiou? Badiou notices this irony? Zizek notices the irony?) and about whose perceptions of what "the Jews" "stand for" (who have the anti-Semitism as a point of view? Zizek himself? Badiou? The Jewish Maoist's imaginary Badiou? Someone else? All?) And what has this to do with what came before?

The first thing to recall

-- says the Jewish Maoist, or their paranoid imaginary Badiou, or someone new, or Zizek --

The first thing to recall is that this struggle is also inherent to Jewish identity.

And so this assertion, against his critic, Zizek claims as his own:

all I do in the passage from which Mr. Kirsch has torn out a couple of words ("fidelity to the Messianic impulse,” etc.) is to point out the debt of political and theoretical universalism (of what Kant praised as the “public use of reason”) to the Jewish experience, claiming that the conflict between the defenders of and skeptics about the State of Israel is inherent to the Jewish identity.

Or does he? Who is "claiming" this about Jewish Identity?

And in all this of course what becomes impossible is to challenge all the many assertions, (since first one must figure out if they are asserted or reported, then evaluate whether they are reported accurately, etc) the refreshed anti-Semitic themes, imagery, motifs, the statements of pseudo-fact, etc.

The upshot of all this is Zizek had made no assertions or observations on his own account; he is not responsible for the content of the text. He has merely set up the text like a tent and watched in dismay as it was invaded by unruly chattering hordes of other assertions made by people wearing masks he was unable to penetrate to positively identify who said what. The text was transformed into a record of this cacaphony and he watched this helplessly.

The theme staged was The Jew and the motifs:

  • Jewish tribalism as an obstacle to Christian universal love and communism
  • that Christian universal love and communism require the annihilation of the Jews, which alone is a final solution to the Jewish question
  • the Jewish tribalists manipulate the desire of European others for Christian universal love for the purpose of fostering capitalist alienation while they preserve their ethnic cohesion and collective identity to achieve supremacy
  • the "liberal multicultural left" who fall under the sway of the self-styled "universalist" Jewish intellectuals is anti-Semitic in resenting Jewish tribalism while promoting the tribalism of the inferior races (those whose "very being "is inferior as Heidegger explained)
  • the rootless cosmospolitan "uncanny Jew" continues to operate and live in the "interstices" of nations, and is the object of the anti-Semitism of the National Jew (this Jew and that Jew are then the secret sinister forces behind both the "old" and the "new" anti-Semitism)
  • this Jewish tribalist particularism matched to the fomenting of a pseudo-universalism which renders the gentes vulnerable to capitalist exploitation and prevents Christian love and communism is an historically demonstrable pattern of which the Jew Horkheimer is an example before the Jew Milner

These motifs are paraded back and forth before the reader throughout the text but the author takes no responsibility for them appearing there. When challenged he suggests in fact the Jews are to blame for them - they are the figments of the imagination of Jews which have been forced into his book by mysterious powers.

Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities
"It’s just the simple thing that’s hard, so hard to do" (B. Brecht)
(Updated programme!)
13th/14th/15th March 2009
Logan Hall, Institute of Education
20 Bedford Way London WC1H 0AL
"The intellectual impulses of the 90s will come from women"
Annette Frick. Action with Gaby Kutz in front of Gerhard Richter's 48 Portraits
Ludwig Museum, Cologne, 8.8.1990
Communism in the 2010s: a world where many worlds fit?
In solidarity,
riverside cells
Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities
(Updated programme!)
13th/14th/15th March 2009
Logan Hall, Institute of Education
20 Bedford Way London WC1H 0AL
Friday March 13
Registration opens at 11.30am
Costas Douzinas Welcome to the people
2pm Stuart Hall Opening Remarks
Alain Badiou Introductory remarks
Angela Davis "Women, race and class"
Michael Hardt "The REproduction of the Common"
Lynne Segal "What Feminism did to Communism"
Bruno Bosteels "The Postcolonial Hypothesis: Frightened Communism?"
Nancy Hartsock "The Proliferation of Radical Standpoints"
Peter Hallward "Communism of the Intellect, Communism of the Body"
Jean-Luc Nancy, Christine Delphy and members of migrant and feminist groups will be
present throughout the conference and will intervene in the discussions.
6 pm End
Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities
(Updated programme!)
13th/14th/15th March 2009
Logan Hall, Institute of Education
20 Bedford Way London WC1H 0AL
Saturday March 14
Registration opens at 8.30am
10am Starhawk "Thinking with worms: Reclaiming the communist soil"
Alessandro Russo "Did the Cultural Revolution End Communism?"
Subcomandante Marcos "Intergalactic Decentralized Communism"
Alberto Toscano "Communist Power / Communist Ignorance"
Toni Negri "Communisme: reflexions sur la pratique"
Silvia Federici "Creating Communities of Care"
1pm Lunch
3pm Vandana Shiva "Ecofeminism and the challenge to Western Communism"
Terry Eagleton "Communism: Leontes or Paulina?"
Jacques Ranciere "Communism without Communists?"
Sheila Rowbotham and Huw Beynon "Communists without Communism"
Alain Badiou "Communism: an empty name"
Hilary and Steven Rose "Alas, Poor Marx"
6pm End
Drinks Reception and Street Party – Jeffery Hall and outside
Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities
(Updated programme!)
13th/14th/15th March 2009
Logan Hall, Institute of Education
20 Bedford Way London WC1H 0AL
Sunday March 15
10am Slavoj Zizek "The view from up here: Communism from above is
no communism at all"

Sandra Harding "Communisms from below"
Donna Haraway "On Interspecies Communism"
Gianni Vattimo "Weak Communists"
Judith Balso "Communism: a hypothesis for philosophy, an impossible
name for politics?"
bell hooks "Ain't I a Communist?"
12am Skill sharing workshop: Alter-communisms!
Bring your experiences and visions from local and transversal struggles
Concluding Collective Trance: Channelling Karl Marx
2pm End

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.