[Marxism] Re: Zizek's Lenin and ours

Emrah Goker eg577 at columbia.edu
Sun Feb 1 09:27:32 MST 2004

Dear Louis,

I think you don't need to be so mad. As Lenin obviously talks about firing 
squads figuratively, Zizek is using Lenin's text figuratively, too. That's 
what he always does. He uses the whole world, extended temporally and 
spatially, as a huge encyclopedia, and copies this or that entry (it might 
be a cartoon, Stalin, a scene from Hitchcock, an elevator button) in his 
text to prove one of his witticisms. I guess you are angry at him for that, 
because he is disinterested in the truth-conditions of the things he copies 
from his encyclopedia. (And I guess he would agree with your historical 
correction, and still insist on his devastating critique of liberal 

He lays out his Lenin more thoroughly in the 180-page afterword that can be 
found in "Revolution at the Gates: Selected Writings of Lenin from 1917". 
The point appears to be about revolutionary faith (something lost to the 
likes of Habermas or Derrida and other liberals), about that the capitalist 
"here and now" can actually be liquidated to bring about a better future. 
That Lenin quote is supposed to demonstrate this faithful resolution.

He could also have quoted Georg Lukacs, with the same indifference. Lukacs 
was attached to the Fifth Division of the Budapest Red Army as a political 
commissar during the Czech-Romanian offensive of 1919, and he ordered the 
execution of eight members of a battalion who had deserted their posts 
without firing a shot. "By this means," he writes, "I more or less managed 
to restore order." [in "Record of a Life: An Autobiographical Sketch", 
Verso, 1983, p. 65]


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