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on 7 June 2009
Zizek's analyses and observations are delightfully refreshing and thought-provoking. This is evident from the beginning of this book when he neatly quotes both Kant and Chesterton to highlight the anti-democratic potential of the principle of freedom of thought: only our minds are allowed to be free! One of his basic ideas is that global capitalism is in itself fundamentalist and so-called Islamic "fundamentalism" is actually modernist as it is an Arab response to that same global capitalism. Zizek observes that it is the clash of economic interests which underpins the so-called "clash of civilisations": for or against terrorism being a false choice. One can simultaneously both condemn the WTC attacks and appreciate the socio-political causes of such extremism, and we should have "unconditional solidarity with all victims" irrespective of where in the world they might be. Zizek posits the crucial choice as between global capitalism and its "other", which he identifies with currents like the anti-globalisation movements.
Zizek is also a good critical discourse analyst. One of many examples of this is his critique of Spielberg's "The Land Before Time" in which he points out how the hegemonic liberal multiculturalist ideology is legitimised together with its inherent injustices, inequalities and cruelties. His critique of democracy as a fetish which seeks to disavow fundamental social antagonisms is great, and his comment that "every campaign against corruption ends up being co-opted by the extreme Right" rather interesting in current times! The creation of the "homo sucker" term to refer to our contemporary practice of both ridiculing and following ruling ideology, is wonderfully both irreverent and insightful. And Zizek also offers a perceptive and insightful analysis of the Israel-Palestine conflict and its relationship to the US war on terrorism against Osama bin Laden.
The problem for many potential readers however is that Zizek presupposes a grounding in psychoanalysis, plus acquaintanceship with Lacan, on the reader's part, and also a knowledge of philosophy, Hegel in particular, but also Nietzsche and Habermas, to name but a couple. OK, much of this is justified, as when, for example, he makes interesting observations by taking psychoanalytic theories (usually) applied to individual psychic life and applying them to group behaviours. But there is nonetheless the question of whether, if Zizek's ideal is a "new collectivity", and if he plans to play a role in it, he should not make more effort to be accessible. Be this as it may, I feel that the stimulating nature of his observations and analyses reward the reader's patience in this respect.
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on 28 January 2004
There's been so much nonsense written about September 11th, it's refreshing to read something on the subject which is not dragged along in the emotional currents unleashed by the US state and its allies. Zizek portrays the attacks as an inadvertent wake-up call for the west to recognise that the world in which we live is awash with atrocities and that we don't live in an isolated sphere, innocent and separated from this world. He emphasises the eerie similarities between the attacks and imagery which has abounded in American cinema for some time, likening the attacks to Morpheus's announcement to Neo when he escapes from the illusory world in the original Matrix film: "welcome to the desert of the real".
A few words of warning are in order, however. Firstly, for all his criticisms, Zizek does not really have much to offer as an alternative to the present world order; he oscillates frustratingly between nihilism and reformism without ever making many serious suggestions about what we should do once we "wake up". Secondly, only a small portion of the book is actually about September 11th - although Zizek sticks to the subject of the book more closely than is usually the case. Thirdly, the Lacanian ontology underpinning his positions is not very tenable, especially when he tries to combine it with revolutionary posturing. If (as Lacan claimed) we're always necessarily in the desert of the Real, the subversive force of this revelation in terms of changing the world is largely lost. In any case, this is a worthwhile read and certainly far better than most of what I've come across about September 11th.
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on 31 August 2014
If you have the time and can grasp what this man is telling us...I found this by chance. Zizek is brilliant. I would vote for him if he ran for PM in the UK.
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on 18 September 2007
"A reader's" paraphrase below is wrong, a little bitter and somewhat stupid. This is a very good introduction to the author, full of insight, witticism, analysis, and enjoyable digression. Whilst not necessarily agreeing with all of his conclusions, this has certainly taken to my mind to some new areas.

Highly recommended.
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on 24 June 2010
I bought this while cresting a wave of socialist feeling. I ploughed my way painfully through the first half before giving up. What I understood of it I think I liked, but the problem is that it's too hard to understand! I'm not illiterate, I'm a well read graduate, but this book beat me. Probably only suited to academic political scientists who would eat this for breakfast. I wish I understood Zizek, cause from what little I got of the book he sounds like an interesting man.
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on 24 October 2004
from the fictional state who sold his soul for rock 'n' roll.
To papraphrase massively "if it happened on TV, then it didn't happen".
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