Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Zizek on anarchism and its authoritarian elements

Asked about authoritarianism in modern anarchist movements in a 2002 interview conducted by Doug Henwood, everyone's favourite notorious Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek replied:
I have contacts in England, France, Germany, and more — and all the time, beneath the mask of this consensus, there was one person accepted by some unwritten rules as the secret master. The totalitarianism was absolute in the sense that people pretended that they were equal, but they all obeyed him. The catch was that it was prohibited to state clearly that he was the boss. You had to fake some kind of equality. The real state of affairs couldn't be articulated. Which is why I'm deeply distrustful of this "let's just coordinate this in an egalitarian fashion." I'm more of a pessimist. In order to safeguard this equality, you have a more sinister figure of the master, who puts pressure on the others to safeguard the purity of the non-hierarchic principle. This is not just theory. I would be happy to hear of groups that are not caught in this strange dialectic.
Given the spectre of the "secret master", I think it's no accident Henwood talks about Noam Chomsky in the preamble...

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