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Slavoj Žižek Replies To His Critics

From 'The Philosophical Salon' by Slavoj Žižek.

To general observations about my numerous critics seem pertinent to me. First, the large majority of attacks on my text follow the rules of the tweet culture with short snaps, retorts, sarcastic or outraged remarks, and with no space for the multiple steps of a line of argumentation. One passage (a sentence, or even a part of it) is cut out and reacted to. For example, many critics countered my analysis of the anti-Semitic figure of the Jew as a foreign intruder who disturbs social harmony by accusing me of anti-Semitism and totally ignoring the fact that the claim about “Jews as foreign intruders” is for me the very claim I reject as the exemplary ideological operation of obfuscating social antagonisms. They simply cut those words out of the line of argumentation and used them to attack me… Even the “annotated” reply to my text by Virgil Texas and Felix Biederman is just a collection of tweet snaps, and I have neither the time nor the will to join that game and reply with my own annotations to annotations.

The stance that sustains these tweet rejoinders is a mixture of self-righteous Political Correctness and brutal sarcasm: the moment anything that sounds problematic is perceived, a reply is automatically triggered—usually a PC commonplace. Although critics like to emphasize how they reject normativity (“the imposed heterosexual norm,” etc.), their stance itself is one of ruthless normativity, denouncing every minimal deviation from the PC dogma as “transphobia,” or “Fascism,” or whatever. Such a tweet culture, combining official tolerance and openness with extreme intolerance towards actually different views, simply renders critical thinking impossible. It is a true mirror image of the blind populist rage à la Donald Trump, and it is simultaneously one of the reasons why the Left is so often inefficient in confronting rightwing populism, especially in today’s Europe. If one just mentions that this populism draws a good part of its energy from the popular discontent of the exploited, one is immediately accused of “class essentialism”…

This brings me to the second observation. One of the problems at the center of my preoccupations—the link between the struggle for sexual liberation and what was traditionally designated a “class struggle” in all its diverse dimensions (not just the workers’ struggle but Third World crises, the plight of immigrants and refugees, etc.)—is more or less totally ignored by my opponents. I insist on this topic because one of the greatest tragedies of progressive struggles is, for me, the lack of contact (antagonism even) between the two. Nancy Fraser has shown how the predominant form of feminism in the US was basically co-opted by neoliberal politics. And while the exploding animosity....more