[Marxism] Passion: Regular or Decaf? By Slavoj Zizek

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Mar 3 07:39:31 MST 2004

Zivko Vukolaj wrote:
> Could we please get a follow up on any further comments by Slavoj Zizek on
> the "Passion" controversy. Thank you.

Zizek's piece is replete with his bravura obscurantist mixture of pop 
culture and political pontificating. He manages to weave together Ex-Lax 
and torture in the same paragraph. One wonders about his bowel habits.

For me the most interesting paragraph is the concluding one:

 >>But there is a third position, beyond religious fundamentalism and 
liberal tolerance. One should not put forth the distinction between 
Islamic fundamentalism and Islam, a la Bush and Blair, who never forget 
to praise Islam as a great religion of love and tolerance that has 
nothing to do with disgusting terrorist acts. Instead, one should gather 
the courage to recognize the obvious fact that there is a deep strain of 
violence and intolerance in Islam—that, to put it bluntly, something in 
Islam resists the liberal-capitalist world order. By transposing this 
tension into the core of Islam, one can conceive such resistance as an 
opportunity: It need not necessarily lead to “Islamo-Fascism,” but 
rather could be articulated into a Socialist project. The traditional 
European Fascism was a misdirected act of resistance against the 
deadlocks of capitalist modernization. What was wrong with Fascism was 
NOT (as liberals keep telling us) its dream of a people’s community that 
overcomes capitalist competition through a spirit of collective 
discipline and sacrifice, but how these motives were deformed by a 
specific political twist. Fascism, in a way, took the best and turned it 
into the worst.<<

A couple of thoughts. First of all, it is not "intolerance" that 
characterizes Islam. As Juan Cole points out, Jesus Christ was seen 
positively in the Quran. Plus, Jews never had it so good in Europe as 
they had under Islamic rule under North African and Ottoman dynasties. 
It is more specifically political resistance to imperialism that takes 
an atavistic turn in the absence of more secular and scientific 
currents--socialism in particular.

The other error is seeing fascism as an act of "resistance against the 
deadlocks of capitalist modernization." Clearly Zizek has not studied 
Italian fascism, which was very much involved with Futurism. The essence 
of fascism is not a rejection of capitalist modernization, but rather a 
belief in blood/nation ties that supersede class. It is a bastardization 
of socialism that very much posits a belief in progress, 
industrialization and all the other values of bourgeois society. I think 
that Zizek is confused with the pre-Raphaelites or something.


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