, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 259-297

Slavoj Žižek and the Real Subject of Politics

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

Slavoj Žižek's refusal to sketch an alternative to the global liberal-capitalist order, combined with his claim that there is an urgent need for a repolitization of, most of all, the economy, raises the question of the possibility of radical political thought and action. Considering fundamentalisms and politically correct multiculturalism not as oppositional, but as correlative to the “depolitization” of post-modern societies, Žižek invokes the emancipatory legacy of Europe in an attempt to reinvent Marxism in a way similar to what Lenin, thrown into an open situation, had to do in 1917 between the revolutions. A single question confronts political philosophy today: is liberal-capitalist democracy the ultimate horizon of our political practice, or is it possible to open up the space for another political articulation? The key to a repolitization is to identify with the “symptom” of the existing global order's false claim to Universality, with the excluded “part of no part” who politicizes it's predicament by claiming to stand for the real universal. In order not to discard political struggle as “unrealistic”, today's cynical “realist” consensus must be broken. Taking things as they “really are” has become the dominant ideological mode that keeps people from thinking about alternatives. The remedy is to show that things never are “really” as they are.