By Ian Parker
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Extra info for Slavoj Zizek: A Critical Introduction
37 In contrast, Zizek’s reading of Hegel retrieves the two dialectically interrelated aspects of human activity and experience. As we have already noted, for Zizek the role of the ‘critical intellectual’ is to keep things open, not to close up gaps. The master–slave dialectic could be read as an anthropological fairy-tale and reduced to the story of self-consciousness in each individual subject, and the dialectical unfolding of spirit in history could be read as an account of the development of civilisation and of the progressive achievement of human community.
In this light, Derrida’s deconstruc- Parker 01 intro 1/29/04 12:32 PM Page 39 ENLIGHTENMENT – WITH HEGEL 39 tion is not as radical as it seems, for it repeats the moves of mainstream philosophy, and respect for the otherness of the other seems condemned to repeat quite traditional forms of religious argument. We will see how Zizek uses old Hegel to open up a space between these two positions, between Derrida and Hegel. 12 The puzzle for some as to why Kojève referred to himself as a ‘Stalinist of the strictest obedience’13 was only to be cleared up many years later, after his death, when it transpired that he had actually been working then as a Soviet agent.
On the one hand, Zizek insists that the notion ‘theft of enjoyment’ does not only apply to the ‘backward’ Balkans but is also applicable to political processes exemplified by patterns of US ideology in the 1980s. In this respect, the clustering of ideological fantasy around our own special national ‘Thing’ that is felt to be under threat is portrayed as something that will explode into life – life as deathly hatred of others – whenever capitalism goes into crisis. One of the key features of capitalism, of course, is that it is always in ‘crisis’.
Slavoj Zizek: A Critical Introduction by Ian Parker