[Marxism] Hamid Dabashi vs. Zizek

Matthew Russo russo.matthew9 at gmail.com
Fri Sep 2 15:29:33 MDT 2011

I believe we are on the cusp of a new wave of world revolution as a result
of the outbreak of a capitalist crisis since 2008 that is the most profound
such crisis since the 1930s, one that still lingers and shows every sign of
deepening. However, unlike the period 100 to 50 years ago, this new wave is
not led by revolutionary socialists and communists, thanks to the success of
counterrevolutionary politics from within their own ranks stemming from that
same period.  Therefore two things appear to be going on right now, whether
it is Libya or philosophy, or the "riots" in Britain:

OTOH, there is the keen desire to be done with all the old rubbish,
particularly that leftover from the 20th century, by partisans of the new
revolutionary wave.  This is an absolutely healthy impulse, as there is
indeed quite a bit of rubbish, "socialist" or otherwise, that does need
dispensing with.  At the same time, there is also a tendency to subjectively
idealize the various forms taken by the new revolutionary wave, forms that
are in actuality experiments seeking the most effective ways forward in the
struggle.  Both sweeping away the old and groping towards the new are really
one and the same process, and I am convinced that the value of some key
elements of the "old" will be rediscovered, among them the classical
principles of revolutionary Marxism, before it was overlaid with "all the
old crap" of that cursed century.  We are entering the time when the wheat
really will be sorted from the chaff.

That OTOH; on the other, the present-day avatars of the old crap
themselves.  I think Dabashi correctly sees this in Zizek, even as he
engages in his own idealization of the Arab Spring;  it can also be seen
behind the veil of phony "anti-imperialism" in the attitude of certain
sectors of the Left towards that same event, as it takes aim at "their crap
*and* ours"**; and again in the apparent irrelevance of much of the
socialist left in Britain in connection with the so-called "riots", an
irrelevance certain to be repeated in the USA.  Here the perspective is that
of a gloomy pessimism, occasionally punctuated by hysterics as with all true
depressive states.  Why the glum face at the cusp of a New Dawn, one that
some of us have waited decades for?  To put it simply, it's the intimation
of one's own doom, of being swept away forever by these new events.

For the remainder of us, whose brains are still living yet keenly recall the
nightmare, it will be our duty to be a part of that new wave, not as
idealists, but materialists: the "turn" of 1848.

"Zizek then turns his attention to the Arab Spring: ?But weren?t the Arab
uprisings a collective act of resistance that avoided the false
alternative of self-destructive violence and religious fundamentalism??
This should have given the European philosopher a sign of hope in what
appeared to be a worldless world filled with absolutist religious
meanings thrown like grenades by terrorist Hegelians. But it did not.
The European philosopher has lost all hope: ?Unfortunately, the Egyptian
summer of 2011 will be remembered as marking the end of revolution, a
time when its emancipatory potential was suffocated.?"

And so forth...

** Yes, the allusion to Trotsky's book title is deliberate.


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