Top positive review
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A thoughtful and thought-provoking, and refreshingly original, analysis of the subject
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.