"Oi Zizek, stop saying there is no difference between the fascist Le Pen and Macron Listen up, Slavoj"

In a recent piece published in Huck Magazine, Eleanor Penny criticizes Žižek for his shortsightedness when he declares on The Independent that 'the choice between Le Pen and Macron in the upcoming French presidential election is no real choice at all'. Here is the excerpt from the piece:

The French Presidential race now has just two contenders. One of them is a fascist, the other is not. There should be no confusion about which is worse. Right? Left-wing intellectual Slavoj Žižek reckons both are as bad as each other, but he's wrong.

For a man who sees intractable political differences carved into the toilet designs of various European nations, academic, author and philosopher Slavoj Žižek displays a surprising level of shortsightedness when it comes to spotting differences between actual politicians.

In a recent article, he argued that the choice between Le Pen and Macron in the upcoming French presidential election is no real choice at all. He calls on the french electorate to reject the rigged terms of the vote: to abstain.

“The commonplace “enough talking, let’s act” is deeply deceiving – now, we should say precisely the opposite: enough of the pressure to do something, let’s begin to talk seriously, i.e., to think!”

The face off between Macron and Le Pen rings sickeningly familiar: a fight between a fascist, and an arch-defender of the system in which fascism is allowed to flourish. There’s little to argue with in this diagnosis: fascism takes flight when capitalist power recruits racism and nationalism to scapegoat migrants, queers and people of colour for the misery it causes.

Žižek characterises this battle between a hardline, anti-immigration right and a “party which stands for global capitalism as such, usually with relative tolerance towards abortion, gay rights, religious and ethnic minorities.”

Le Pen is openly Islamophobic, denies France’s role in the holocaust, rejoices in a family and party with active links to actual card carrying Nazis, and threatens to deport all migrants who “want to transform France into a giant squat”. Macron, whilst still complicit in Europe’s violent border policing, has come out against Islamophobia, and said that national security would “not be better served by closing national borders”.

For Žižek, this is a purely ornamental difference. That one political settlement openly declares its murderous intent towards some of its populace and the other does not is a light show that only serves to distract from realpolitik.

He does acknowledge that there are certain dangers promised by a Le Pen presidency: “But what [he] fear[s] no less is the assuagement that will follow Macron’s triumphant victory: sighs of relief from everywhere, thank god the danger was kept at bay”.

Echoing the terms of his tentative endorsement of Trump, he implies that, where a Macron victory allows those with progressive views to collapse into complacency, a Le Pen victory could ‘shock’ it into action. Le Pen’s victory would sharpen political differences, shaking us out of decades of pessimism and infighting.

Once again, Žižek happily coronates himself as latest champion in an illustrious line of white male accelerationists who glibly gamble on the lives of people of colour for the possibility of their pure revolution, while they kick back in comfort and wait for utopia.

Of course, for him the sigh of relief is exactly as dangerous as are the the vengeful howls of your average street fascist; neither pose the slightest threat to him. In his equivocation, Žižek appeals to the fact that the candidacies of both Le Pen and Macron are fuelled by fear. It seems to escape his notice that, for those people banding together to stop Le Pen, that fear might be entirely justified.

The difference between candidates actually matters if Le Pen’s brand of state fascism means you’re going to be deported, imprisoned, stripped of your rights, or attacked in the street.....more here


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