Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Zizek on "liberal democratic freedom" and its inherent limitations

Yes, more Zizek, but this paragraph from a new essay in the London Review of Books underlies a key point in modern democratic socialist theory:
Only a politics that fully takes into account the complexity of overdetermination deserves to be called a strategy. When we join a specific struggle, the key question is: how will our engagement in it or disengagement from it affect other struggles? The general rule is that when a revolt against an oppressive half-democratic regime begins, as with the Middle East in 2011, it is easy to mobilise large crowds with slogans – for democracy, against corruption etc. But we are soon faced with more difficult choices. When the revolt succeeds in its initial goal, we come to realise that what is really bothering us (our lack of freedom, our humiliation, corruption, poor prospects) persists in a new guise, so that we are forced to recognise that there was a flaw in the goal itself. This may mean coming to see that democracy can itself be a form of un-freedom, or that we must demand more than merely political democracy: social and economic life must be democratised too. In short, what we first took as a failure fully to apply a noble principle (democratic freedom) is in fact a failure inherent in the principle itself. This realisation – that failure may be inherent in the principle we’re fighting for – is a big step in a political education.
Go read the whole thing, which in parts I quite deeply disagree with and find hyperbolic (the paradox with Zizek is that he's at his most banal/wrong/perverse when he's *too* Leftist, too much of a standard line-follower), but his opinion is almost always worth your while.

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