[Marxism] Zizek's Lenin and Ours?

Zivko Vukolaj zivko_vukolaj at hotmail.com
Sun Feb 1 15:54:38 MST 2004

> Comrade Vukolaj,
> He feels for you, he thinks he loves you: and if he is so bourgeois why
> does he have to write so many goddam books in English?  The answer is, of
> course, that we should focus on the figure that we are interested in
> during the heated barroom debate and if we are to have a Lenin worth
> having today I am not so sure there will be endless room for agency on
> textual grounds: i.e., that there is a covert reference in Lenin's
> *mature* critique of formal freedom to  Pavlov's paper "The Reflex of
> Freedom" and his definition of genuine negative liberty as non-intentional
> inaction, what the animal can't help not doing -- also the definition of
> natural slavishness as what Aristotle's slave wouldn't have any kind of
> inclination to do (i.e., cede comprehension of the dictates of economic
> rationality).  But, so much the relevant for Lenin *save for* the fact
> that his textual corpus as a whole betrays a certain application of this
> principle: i.e., easy people-pleasing inmixed with the usual revolutionary
> virtue (cf. the letter to Gorky).  Is this a model?  Oh my yes, but it is
> not a model for the consumer "manufacturing consent" (the Stalinist
> cultural items manufactured earlier are probably more instructive in that
> respect) and I am not sure that the time is not upon us for a study of
> "ordinary Leninism": *The Presentation Of Self In Extraordinary
> Circumstances*, perhaps.
> Rubard

> 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
> because he is disinterested in the truth-conditions of the things he
> from his encyclopedia. (And I guess he would agree with your historical
> correction, and still insist on his devastating critique of liberal
> democracy.)
> He lays out his Lenin more thoroughly in the 180-page afterword that can
> 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
> "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]
> emrah

Comrades Rubard and Emrah,

The figure and characteristic of Zizek's Lenin acquires its main meaning
solely within the bounds of the so-called "decision to act". This is
actually all that Lenin is worth, according to S. Zizek of course. Standing
in the tradition of orthodox Leninism, I would be first to theoretically
apprehend Mr. Zizek for this philistinism, but as I have said earlier,
within a more practical sense, this really isn't necessary. More so then
not, he should be effectively taken advantage of and carefully and
tactically manipulated.

In his postscript to G. Lukacs' recently discovered piece, titled, 'A
Defense of 'History and Class Consciousness' - Tailism and the Dialectic'
(Verso Books, 2002), Slavoj actually reproaches Lukacs for later abandoning
the utopian ultra-leftism that was so precisely exhibited in his early, but
seminal, 'History and Class Consciousness', and becoming a theoretical
darling of the Stalinist Thermidor. As with his treatment of Lenin, this has
far more to do with Zizek's flirtation with maximalism then any pretensions
at sober philosophy or theoretical examination. The old Bernsteinian maxim,
"movement is everything, the end result nothing," fits Mr. Slavoj Zizek
perfectly well.

Zivko Vukolaj

More information about the Marxism mailing list