This letter is in response to the following article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/01/egypt-tunisia-revolt
I thought the article in The Guardian you sent me was pretty weak. Here, Zizek sets up a straw man to knock over:
The cynical wisdom of western liberals, according to which, in Arab countries, genuine democratic sense is limited to narrow liberal elites while the vast majority can only be mobilised through religious fundamentalism or nationalism, has been proven wrong.
Hunh? Who is making this argument? Certainly not me. I never claimed that the demonstrators are being mobilized by religious fundamentalism, nor has anyone else who is talking about the possibility of an Islamist threat here. The demonstrators are clearly motivated by some kind of yearning for a hazy democratic alternative to Mubarak’s autocracy, but sincerity is not enough. But in the neo-Anarchist imagination, sincerity is everything. Sincerity is a hell of thing to die for. All of a sudden, in Zizek’s phrase, liberals, among whom I do not number myself, are an elite in cahoots with other elites. Do we hear an echo of Chomsky here?
He has completely misunderstood what happened in Iran. The democratic component of the Iranian revolution was only able to express itself fully after 35 years of brutal Islamist fascism, and even then was not organized enough to topple a weakened regime. Again, sincerity is the only important thing for Zizek. He misses his own point that sincerity can open the door for fascism.
His comments on the Taliban exactly supports my argument about neo-Anarchists not understanding that fascism always contains an anti-Capitalist component and that not all anti-Capitalism is progressive:
Even in the case of clearly fundamentalist movements, one should be careful not to miss the social component. The Taliban is regularly presented as a fundamentalist Islamist group enforcing its rule with terror. However, when, in the spring of 2009, they took over the Swat valley in Pakistan, The New York Times reported that they engineered "a class revolt that exploits profound fissures between a small group of wealthy landlords and their landless tenants".
Great! Let’s all support the Taliban. Are they merely “presented” as ruling through terror? How can this argument be effective against anyone who has been so bamboozled by liberal elites that they might believe that the Taliban actually rule through terror? Zizek’s “However,” in that passage, shows that he doesn’t understand the false opposition he has created. Is the Taliban really an ally in the struggle against elites? Here is strong support for my argument that the neo-Anarchists see Islamists as allies in an international anti-Capitalist coalition and are blind to their fascism. Zizek’s piece is exactly the Chomskyite nonsense I was arguing against. I can’t help but notice that elsewhere on that web page, Chomsky himself is quoted approvingly.
From: Jacob Berezin [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, February 01, 2011 9:29 AM
To: Chuck Berezin
Subject: good zizek article on egypt