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EasternEuropean Liberalism its Discontents and
In the good old deconstructionist manner, I would like to begin by calling into question the hidden implications of the request made of me to give a report on recent ethnic conflicts in the exotic place I came from, Slovenia.' In an article for New LeftReview,2 I endeavored to describe why, a year or two ago, western Europe was so fascinated by events in the east: the true object of fascination was the supposed gaze of the east, fascinated by western democracy, still naively believing in it, a kind of "subject supposed to believe" - in the east, the west found a sucker still having faith in its values. The leftist demand to give a report on what is "really going on" in the east functions as a kind of mirror-reversalof this demand: we are expected to confirm suspicions, to say that people are alreadydisappointed in "bourgeois" democracy, that they slowly perceive not only what they have gained but also what they have lost (social security, etc.). In my article, I consciously walked into this trap and gave the left what it wanted: a vengeful vision of how now things are even worse, how the effective result of democratic enthusiasm is nationalist corporatism - in short, it serves us right for betraying socialism! Yet in accordance with the great guiding principle of socialism - self-criticismas the impetus of progress - this criticism of the demand, as I perceive it, is actually a criticism of myself as a member of the Slovenian liberal-democratic party and of its candidate in
1. This text is a revised version of the paper presented on Saturday,25 April 1992, at the conference on "The Re-emergence of Nationalism and Xenophobia in Germany and Central Europe," Deutsches Haus, Columbia University. 2. Slavoj Zizek, "Eastern Europe's Republics of Gilead," New Left Review 183 ed. Democracy, Chantal Mouffe (London: of (Sept.-Oct. 1990); repr. in Dimensions Radical Verso, 1992).
In short. obsession with national unity and with an imagined "threat to the nation. the opposition simply changed the charge and accused the communists of "unprincipled behavior" how can you trust someone who shamelessly betrayed his old revolutionary past and accepted democratic reform? The demand of the opposition that can be detected through this paradox is an ironic repetitionof the Stalinistdemand at work in the political monster trials. counting on them to endure the pressure of the truly antidemocratic forces (the Yugoslav . the public trembled for them. The paradox of this accusation emerged in its purest form when. the remainders of the old totalitarianforces that. we are totalitarian. although they lost the battle. a representative totalitarian of horrorswho has to be beaten. if it were not for two stains that mar the picture:on the one hand.26 Eastern Liberalism European the elections. Let me take as my starting point the liberal-democratic vision according to which. national corporatism. communists were expected to assume the impossible position of a pure metalanguageand to say. continue with their underground machinations. in the recent disintegration of the "real socialism" in Slovenia. the only good communist would be the one who first organized free multipartyelections and then voluntarilyassumed the role of the scapegoatin them. after a long period of accusations that their democratic commitments were not to be taken seriously. the more violent were the opposition's accusations of their "totalitarianism. where the accused were forced to admit their guilt and caim supreme punishment for themselves: for the anticommunist opposition. while actually engaged in demonic plots against it. nonviolent transition into pluralist democracy." If.like the victims of the Stalinisttrials." we would have a flourishing market economy and plural democracy in eastern Europe.The shift in the public perception of Sloveniandemocratic communists was truly enigmatic:up to the "point of no return"on the way to democracy. there were a political agent whose rule fully deserves the designation "tragic. "We confess. on the other hand. finally. it became clear that they "meant it": far from being perplexed."the more they were suspected of accepting democracy "in word" only. after the breakdown of "real socialism." this was the Slovenian communists who lived up to their promise to make possible the peaceful. From the very beginning they were caught in the Freudian paradox of the superego: the more they gave way to the demands of the (then) opposition and accepted democratic rules of the game.we deserve to lose the election!" .
of Do KnowNot WhatThey 4.in Kierkegaard'sterms. but because of a deeper structurallogic. undecided process that engendered it. it buried its detonators. the tension between possibility and necessity: the circle is closed when the new social pact establishes itself in its necessity and renders invisible its "possibility. its own myth of origin was likewise extinguished. committees for human rights. a few years ago. the New Left pulses suddenly and enigmatically lost ground and more or less disappeared from the scene. Who effectively triggered this process? New social movements. which literallybecame invisible the moment the new system established itself . Slavoj Zizek. . old hard-liners) and to organize free elections. things that were for a moment visible immediately became invisible. that is.and with it. when in Hegelese it "posits" its external presuppositions as its inherent moments and thus obliterates the traces of its traumatic origins. but before the new regime stabilized itself. not because of a simple usurpation and deception on the part of the present winners. yet once it became clear that free elections would take place. Culture itself. all these impunk. they suddenly became the Enemy.4 In between. Serbian populism. 5. 2. abused the new social movements from the position of party hardliners 3. "The Vanishing Mediator. Max Weber as Storyteller. we witnessed a kind of opening. The same people who. ForThey (London: Verso. those who triggered the process of democratization and fought the greatest battles are not those who today enjoy its fruits. 1988). Once the process of democratization reached its peak.after the victory of democracy. see ch. a chaotic story of punkers. FredricJameson. changed radically:from punk and Hollywood to national poems and quasi-folkloric commercial music (in contrast to the usual overshadowing of authentic national roots by universal American-western culture)."3A system reaches its equilibrium. the set of cultural preferences. What we had was a true "primitive accumulation" of democracy."The vol Ideologies Theory. The logic of this shift from the "open" condition before elections to its closure afterwardis illuminated byJameson's concept of the "vanishing mediator. 1991). What we have here is the tension between the open situation when a new social pact is generated and its subsequent closure . (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P." the open. and so on. or. As to this problematic. establishes itself as a synchronous totality. students with their sit-ins.SlavojZizek 27 army. . To put it bluntly. when the socialist regime was already in a state of disintegration.
even more surprisingly.and Althusserians . we're not Marxists. we could say that in the last two decades. but we are also not dangerous. suddenly pronouncing the same accusations. And. and they were left alone. So one would expect the main theoretical fight to take place between those two orientations.28 Liberalism Eastern European now. both orientations ferociously attacked the same author. it was the FrankfurtSchool that enjoyed a semi-official status in the seventies.Yet as soon as polemics broke out. two philosophical orientations dominated intellectual life in Slovenia: Heideggerianism among the opposition and FrankfurtSchool Marxism among "official" party circles. with the third block . but by leaving us alone you can even gain a reputation for allowing non-Marxism without risking your hold on political power. From the very beginning." This dialectics is especially interesting in its theoretical aspect. of a "little piece of reality" enabling his theoretical adversariesto repress the real trauma represented by his theory ("How can a theory of someone who strangled his wife be taken seriously?"). One is even tempted to suggest that the unfortunate event in Althusser's private life (his strangling of his wife) played the role of a welcome pretext.us. The analytic philosophers were sending the regime the message: "True.in the role of innocent bystanders. in Yugoslavia. our thought is pure apolitical professional apparatus. to the started speak samelanguage. whereas in Croatia and partly in . Lacanians. In the Republic of Bosnia. so not only do you not have to be afraidof us. are now both ruling members of the ruling anticommunist coalition. accused their representatives of "protocommunism. Althusser." The message was received. It is perhaps more than a mere curiosity that. all other philosophical schools at some point of other sold themselves to the regime.Althusserians (and more generally the structuralistand poststructuralistorientation) were the only ones who remained "pure" in the fight for democracy. a name apropos of which all the "official" adversaries. as members of the ruling anticommunist coalition. our starting point was this experience of how the name "Althusser" triggers an enigmatic uneasiness in all camps. praxis philosophers and central committee ideologues in Zagreb and Belgrade. the two main proponents of this polemics. Roughly. Heideggerians and FrankfurtSchool Marxists in Slovenia. In the seventies. a Heideggerian and a (then) Frankfurt School Marxist. Althusser actually functioned as a kind of symptomatic point.
Neues Forum consisted of groups of passionate intellectuals who took socialism seriously and were prepared to put all at stake in order to destroy the compromised system and replace it with the utopian "third way" beyond capitalism and "really existing" socialism. This disappearance of the "vanishing mediator.that is. I should correct the Marxist Vulgate: contrary to the commonplace according to which an ideology becomes "cynical" (accepts the gap between words and deeds. in the universitypurges. however.). especially in the army circles." and is not longer experienced as truth but treats itself as purely instrumental means of legitimating power).SlavojZizek 29 Serbia there were "offical" Heideggerians. not "inner"conviction." etc. someone lost his job for not understanding the subtleties of negative dialectics (as it was put in the justification after the fact). Is not the most spectacularcase of this the role of in NeuesForum East Germany? There is an inherently tragic ethical dimension in its fate: it presents a point at which an ideology takes itself literally and ceases to function as an "objectively cynical" (Marx) legitimation of existing power relations. of course. The resistanceto Althusserindicated that it was preciselyAlthusserian theory .that served as a kind of "spontaneous"theoreticaltool for the effectiveundermining of the communist totalitarian regimes:his theory of ideological state apparatusesassigned the crucial role in the reproduction of an ideology to "external" ritualsand practiceswith regardto which "inner"beliefs and convictions are strictlysecondary." to underof mine the appearance its ideological consistency. we could say that precisely this (a thorough illusion without substance) made it stricto sensu non-ideological: it did not "reflect" in an inverted-ideological form any actual relations of power. and cases of the apology of socialist armed forces written in the purest Heideggerian style ("the essence of the self-defense of our society is the self-defense of the essence of our society. no longer "believes in itself." of course. obedience coincided with the semblance obedience. At this point. There were cases where. is not peculiar to Slovenia."to make the system "eat its own words.And is it necessaryto call attention to the central place of such ritualsin "realsocialism"?What counted in it was external obedience. in the period of the "decadence" . Their sincere belief and insistence that they were not working for the restoration of western capitalism.often defamed as proto-Stalinist. which is why the only way to be truly "subversive" of was to act "naively. proved to be nothing but an illusion.
the Christian religion opposes feudalism as its social basis. was Therein is one of the tasks of the "postmodern" criticism of ideology: to designate the elements . Why? The conformist adoption of the West German model implied the ideological belief in the unproblematic. by means of its scandalous and exorbitant position of enunciation attested to an awarenessof the antagonism that pertains to late capitalism.30 Eastern Liberalism European of a social formation. the same with Neues which opposes existing socialism in the name of a "true" socialForum.was doubtless illusory. they are "overrun by history" Forum obtained three percent of the vote in the elections). This is one way to conceive the Lacanian thesis according to which truth has the structureof fiction: in those confused months along the passage from "reallyexistpoint ing" socialism into capitalism. although illusory as to its factual content (its "enunciated"). To put it another way: a political standpoint can be quite accurate ("true") as to its objective content and yet thoroughly ideological. to has with distorted representation of its social content. and vice versa: the idea it gives of its social content can prove totally wrong. NeuesForum was opposed by the forces who put their bets on the quickest possible annexation to West Germany. A new (Neues "scoundrel time" sets in. With regard to the "factualtruth. the fition of a "third way"was theonly at which socialantagonism notobliterated. that is. destruction: once their job is done. unknowingly. nonantagonistic functioning of the late-capitalist"social state. it unleashes the forces of its own final ism). for them." the position of NeuesForum of conceiving the disintegration of the communist regime as the opening up of a possibility to invent some new form of social space that would reach beyond the confines of capitalism . it could be said that precisely that period opens up to the ruling ideology the possibility of "takingitself seriously" and effectively opposing its own social basis (with Protestantism. This position proved accurate. people are in power who were mostly silent during the communist repression and nonetheless now abuse Neues Forum "crypto-communist. the people around Neues Forumwere nothing but a bunch of heroic daydreamers.yet it is nonetheless thoroughly ideological." a false." whereas the first stance. and yet there is absolutely nothing "ideological" about it." as The general theoretical lesson to be drawn from this illustration is that the concept of ideology must be disengaged from the "representationalist" problematic:ideology nothing dowith"illusion. In this way. on the inclusion of their country in the world capitalistsystem.
which opens up the space for "fundamentalism. of the "utopian" narrativesof possible but failed alternative histories . even afterthe fall of communism. the implicit demand to a criticalintellectual from eastern Europe is at its strongest:he or she is expected to decry this dark reverse of eastern European democracy." that is. to depict all the dirty details that belie the image of eastern Europe's nations bathing in freedom and democracy . It is precisely here that. one has to gather the strengthto repeat the exemplary heroic gesture of Freud who answered the threat of fascist anti-Semitismby targetingJews themselves and depriving them of their founding father:Moses Monotheism Freud'sanswer to Nazism. or is it possible effectivelyto institute its inherent limitation? The standardneoconservativeanswer here is to bemoan the "lack of roots" that allegedly pertains to liberal democracy..antifeminism. the second stain that disturbs the idyllic image of pluralistdemocracy. there is ultimately only one question that confronts political philosophy today: is liberal democracy the ultimate horizon of our political practice. liberal democracy's impotence in the face of this return to tribalism.SlavojZizek 31 within an existing social order that . usually qualified (and by the same token disqualified)as "fundamentalism": the end of cosmopolitanism. one has to detect the flaw of liberal democracy. is nationalism. we cannot start to live in peace and true pluralist democracy because the disintegration of communism opened up the space to the emergence of nationalist obsessions.in short. yet what is deeply suspicious about this attitude. about the attitude of an antinationalist liberal eastern European intellectual. anti-Semitism. mock it. yet at the same time stareat it with powerless fascination...xenophobia. for the sake of democracy itself.The intellectual pleasure procured by the denunciation of nationalism is uncannily cose to the satisfactionof successfullyexplaining one's own impotence and failure (which always was the specialty of western Marxism)." this point. The western gaze upon the east encounters here its own uncanny reversal."That is to say. One usually stateswith regret how. and is In a similar move. ideologies about national security. to this kingdom of . The second monster that haunts the liberal.. provincialism.is the obvious fascination that nationalism exerts upon him: liberal intellectualsrefuse it.point toward its antagonistic character and thus "estranges" us from the self-evidence of its established identity.in the guise of "fiction.. and I in no way intend to disown it. a postsocialistMoral Majoriin ty inclusive of the prolife movement . enjoyment its entire At "irrationality.
which is why the moral Law must be reduced to the pure Form. Kant is forced to accept the hypothesis of "radical Evil. The ultimate proof of the positive existence of this counterforce is the fact that the subject experiences moral Law in himself as an unbearable traumaticpressure that humiliates his self-esteem and self-love. the founding gesture. is the problem of "radical Evil" as it was articulated by Kant in Religion withintheLimitsof Reason Alone.as a case of "real" opposition." to quote Saint-Just. evacuation. and so on: within this perspective.By conceiving the relation between good and evil as contrary. fills out the empty place of the Thing opened up by Kantian formalism. Hence there must be something in the very nature of the Self that resists moral Law.The elementary operation of democracy is also the evacuation of the locus of Power: every pretender to this place is by definition a "pathological" usurper: "nobody can rule innocently. The Kantianterm for this filling out of the void. is the fanaticism of Schwdrmerei: not nationalism epitomize fanaticism in politics? does What we come across here.And the crucial point is that "nationalism" as a specifically modem. I cannot simply objectify that which in me resists the . "pathological" leanings over our adherence to the Law. The structural homology between Kantian formalism and formal democracy is a classical topos: in both cases. of the presence in humans of a positive counterforce to the tendency toward Good. consists in an act of radical emptying. of course. conceived in its philosophical founding gesture. With Kant. the national Thing." that is. a perverted yet desperate search for new roots in an organic community. usurps. Yet this neoconservative answer falls short in its failure to demonstrate how the very project of formal democracy. opens up the space for fundamentalism. Kant emphasizes the a prioricharacter of this propensity toward Evil (the moment that was later developed by Schelling): insofar as I am a free being. where we are more and more submerged in the idiotic routine of everyday life regulated by the pleasure principle. post-Kantian phenomenon designates the moment when the Nation.32 Eastern Liberalism European Nietzsche's "last man" where there is no place left for ethical heroism. what is evacuated and left empty is the locus of the Supreme Good: every positive object destined to occupy this place is by definition "pathological. which would then bestow on our acts the characterof universality. of course. by his reduction of every "pathological" content. fundamentalism is a simple reaction to this loss of roots. the starting point." marked by moral contingency. that gives preference to the egotistical.
one is compelled to go a step further and to conceive of radical Evil as something that ontologically precedes Good by way of opening up the space for it. That is to say. does evil consist? Evil is another name for the death drive. evil introduces the radical reversal of a "natural" . then it is not sufficient to conceive of radical Evil as something that pertains to the very notion of subjectivityon a par with disposition toward Good. from the uncanny domain of those acts that. The very fact that I feel morally responsible for my evil bears witness to the fact that. the thing to do would be to accomplish the formal gesture of penance: Don Giovanni knows that death is close. Don Giovannirefuses to do penance.propensity of human nature toward Evil. Their sole motivating ground is Evil as a principle. It is as if his tenacity mockingly reverses Kant'sown example from the Critique Practiof calReason. he accomplishes something that can only properly be designated as a radical ethical stance. By rejecting the hypothesis of "diabolical Evil. where the libertine is quickly prepared to renounce the satisfaction of his passion as soon as he lears that the price to be paid for it is the gallows: Don Giovanni persists in his libertine attitude at the very moment when he knows very well that only the gallows awaithim. thoroughly fulfill the formal criteria of an ethical act . so that by atoning for his deeds he does not stand to lose anything but only to gain (i. and yet "out of principle" he persists as a defiant libertine." however. e. for the fixation on a Thing that derails our customary life circuit. notwithstandingits "evil" content? If we accept the possibility of such an evil ethical act. In what. in a timeless transcendental act. to save himself from posthumous torments). How can one avoid experiencing Don Giovanni's unyielding "No!" to the statue. in the final confrontation with the statue of the Commendatore. which is why they can involve the radical abrogation of one's pathological interests. that it is part of my nature for which I am not responsible). humans wrest themselves from instinctual animal rhythms. Kantrecoils from the ultimate paradox of radical Evil.. although evil in their content. to the living dead.SlavojZizek 33 Good (by saying. to renounce his sinful past.they are not motivated by any "pathological" consideration. from the standpoint of pathological interests. This is how Kant conceives "radical Evil": as an a priorinot simply empirical-contingent . up to the point of sacrifice of one's life. precisely. By way of evil. Let us recall Mozart'sDon Giovanni: when. as the model of an intransigent ethical attitude. for example. I had to choose my eternal characterfreely by giving preference to Evil over Good.
and is more penetrating in his analysis: the possible space for Good is opened up by the original choice of radical Evil. sin." which constitutes a kind of ultimate phantasmatic . of passage from animal into human. if paradoxical: what prevents him is the very logic that compelled him to articulate the thesis on radical Evil in the first place. (In this sense. therefore. as the Fall into becoming human. Evil is Good itself "in the mode of becoming" . which disrupts the pattern of the organic substantialWhole. The thesis according to which the possibility to choose evil pertains to the very notion of subjectivity has therefore to be radicalized as through a kind of self-reflectiveinversion: thestatusofthesubject suchis always evil. in Kierkegaard'sterms. is one of the personifications of evil: a sexual relationship becomes impossible the moment woman is elevated to the dignity of the Thing.34 Eastern Liberalism European relationship. an act of suicidal egotism that "makes place" for the Good. namely the logic of "real opposition. derails the man's daily routine. on conceives the very act of of Hegel. that is. by which humans may invert the "normal" relation between universal principles of Reason and their pathological nature by way of subordinating his suprasensible nature to his egotistical inclinations) reveals its insufficiency. original choice: the actual first choice is that between (what will later be perceived as) yielding to one's own pathological natural leanings and radical Evil. its ultimate paradigm in the social sphere is the corporatist endeavor to (re)constructsociety as a harmonious." This is how "the wound can be healed only the by the spear that smote you" (as Wagner puts it in Parsifal): wound is healed when the place of Evil is filled out by "good" content. we have always alreadychosen evil. Why then does Kant hold back from bringing out all the consequences of the thesis on radical Evil? The answer here is cear. in the film noir universe. Or. Good qua "the mask of the Thing" (TIcan) that is.) Here. nonantagonistic edifice.it "becomes" as a radical disruption of the life circuit. insofar as we are human. organic. in Lessons thePhilosophy Religion. the femmefatale who. that overcomes the domination of pathological natural impulses by way of a purely negative gesture of suspending the life circuit. The choice between Good and Evil is thus in a sense not the true. of radical Evil is an ontologically supplementary attempt to reestablish the lost balance. The difference between them is a matter of purely formal conversion from the mode of "becoming" into the mode of "being. Kant's and Schelling's standard formulation (that the possibility of evil is founded in freedom of choice.
In other words. when one determines the Thing as "an object of nonsensible intuition. Do. Lafolie dans la raison pure (Paris:Vrin. apropos of the trial againstthe monarch in the doctrine of law). ch. it by endeavoringto annihilateit. sensible and nonsensible intuition. without being posited in an implicit 5. oddly.SlavojZizek 35 frame of Kant'sthought.the domain of nonsensible intuition . Negative judgment is thus not only limiting." The grammaticalform should not deceive us here: the positive meaning is expressed by the negativejudgment and the negativemeaning by the indefinite judgment. KnowNot WhatThey Cf.5If moral struggleis conceived as the conflict of two opposing positive forces strivingfor mutual annihilation.it also delineates a domain beyond phenomena where it locates the Thing .Evil . againstthis background. Whenever Kant approaches this possibility ing formof (aproposof "diabolicalEvil"in practicalphilosophy. it is "a thing insofar as it is not an object of our sensible intuition. Monique David-Menard."whereas in the negativemeaning. 1990). Kant introduces in the second edition of the Critique PureReasonthe distinction between positive and negative of is of noumenon: the positive meaning of the term.it becomes unthinkablefor one of the forces . of radical Evil is opened up by the distinction between negative become) and indefinite judgment. "The soul is not mortal". Kant does not use the standard "unsterblich. that is. Cf." (The difference in German hinges on Kant's orthography: "Die Seele ist nicht sterblich" or "Die Seele ist nichtsterblich". 6. the Thing is excluded from the domain of our sensible intuition. noumenon in meanings "an object of a nonsensible intuition. Zizek.he quicklydismisses it as unthinkable. ForThey . wayofassumthevery its opposite. the indefinite judgment by whose means we affirm a certain non-predicate. the negative judgment by whose means a predicate is denied to the subject. 5.6 this space for (whatwill later Already in Kant's Critique PureReason. ratherthan negating a predicate. the copula that ascribes it to the subject.not only to oppose the other. "The soul is non-mortal. "The soul is mortal"." one accepts intuition as the unquestioned base or genus. The very example that Kant uses to illustrate this is tell-tale:the positive judgment by whose means a predicate is ascribed to the (logical) subject. but to underminefom within. as an object of ultimate abhorrence.one opposes its two species.whereas in the case of the negative determination. It is only with Hegel's logic of negative self-relatingthat this step can be accomplished.") Along this line of thought.
projection.they are nothing but an inverted presentation. Or." the as of the judgment remains the same (the "object of an intuisubject tion"). of his effort to supply economic theory with the form of speculative dialectics!)This is what the chimera of "nonsensible intuition" is about: instead of ordinary objects of sensible intuition. of the very content of sensible intuiton in the form of another. a wholly negative definition that excludes it from the phenomenal domain. so that it is ultimately Kant's own notion of Thing-in-itself remains too "reified. this judgment is "infinite" since it does not imis ply any conclusion as to where. What Kant calls "transcendental illusion" ultimately consists in the very (mis)readingof infinite judgment as negativejudgment: when we conceive the noumenon an "object of a nonsensible intuition. we get the same ordinary objects of intuition. we get this same ordinary way of speech and thought. phenomenal determinations) A Hegelian corollary to Kant here is that limitation is to be conceived as prior to what lies "beyond" it." that is. negative determination saps the very genus common to affirmation and negation of the predicate. without the individual. what changes is only the character(nonsensible instead of sensible) of this intuition. in the domain. the noumenon located. whereas in the second case." (The double irony of it." Hegel's position vis-A-vis this position is subtle: what he claims by stating that the Suprasensible is "appearance qua appearance" is precisely that the as Thing-in-itself is the limitation thephenomena such. a non-predicate affirmed. The only "legitimate" defiis nition of the noumenon that it is "not an object of our sensible intuiis tion. Therein also lies the difference between "is not mortal" and "is nonmortal": what we have in the first case is a simple negation. This subtle difference between negative and indefinite judgment is at work in a certain type of witticism where the second part does not . so that a minimal "commensurability" between the subject and the predicate (in this case. that is. between the noumenon its and is still maintained. of course. nonsensible intuition.36 Eastern Liberalism European way as the object of a nonsensible intuition. is that Marx intended these lines as a mocking rejection of Proudhon's Hegelianism. to recall Marx's ironic critique of Proudhon in ThePoverty Philosophy: "Instead of the ordinary individof ual with his ordinaryway of speech and thought. minus their sensible character. "Suprasensible of of suprasensible intuition)" belong to the chimerical objects (objects "topsy-turvyworld" . By leaving in suspense the positive status of the Thing.
The mention of the "living dead" is by no means accidental here: in our ordinary language." for example." Yet its negation can also be given in the form "He has many idiotic features without being an individual. without for that reason locating them in the domain of the living (as in the case of the simple negation "he is not dead").): once he or she gets rid of the old cliches that were still able to sustain the dialectical tension between "themselves" and the "personality" behind them. . can be negated in a standard manner: "He is an individual with no idiotic features. was right:what we really need are some new. they are clearly not alive like we ordinary mortals." This displacement of the negation from the predicate onto the subject provides the logical matrix of what is often the unforeseen result of our educational efforts to liberate the pupil from the constraints of prejudices and ciches: not a person capable of expressing himself or herself in a relaxed. In short. In short. but an automatized bundle of (new) cliches behind which we no longer sense the presence of a "real" person. are referred to as "the undead." Samuel Goldwyn. we resort to indefinite judgments precisely when we endeavor to comprehend these borderline phenomena that undermine established differences like that between living and being dead: in the texts of popular culture. yet it is not one of us. etc. the difference between the vampire and the living person is that between indefinite and negativejudgment: a dead person loses the predicates of . a kind of "living dead. Recall the usual outcome of psychological training intended to deliver the individual from the constraints of his/her everyday frame of mind and to set free his/her "true self. The fact that vampires and other "living dead" are usually referred to as "things" has to be rendered in its full Kantian sense: a vampire is a Thing that looks and acts like us. . the uncanny creatures that are neither alive nor dead. the "living dead" (vampires and the like). original cliches. he or she becomes a true monster. The judgment "he is undead" is therefore an indefinite-limiting judgment in the precise sense of a purely negative gesture of excluding vampires from the domain of the dead. unconstrained way. the Hollywood mogul." Although they are not dead. what take their place are new cliches that abrogate the very "depth" of personality behind them.SlavojZizek 37 immediately invert the first part by negating its predicate but repeats it with the same negation displaced onto the subject. The judgment "He is an individual with many idiotic features." its authentic creative potentials (transcendental meditation.
One the other hand. not as members of particularestates. Kant presents a unique point: by discerning the empty place of the Thing. on the contrary. for example)." In this sense. "nationalidentity"must appeal to the contingent materialityof "common roots." that is.their place is constituted by the very break from modernity. what we get with the vampire is "the same ordinaryway of speech and thought. the illusion of a direct access to the Thing. family. In other words. opens up the space for the "undead" and similar incarnations of the monstrous radical Evil. the very "formalism" of Kant. it epitomizes the principle of fanaticism in politics. of evil as an ethical attitude." In short. the status of nationalism is ultimately that of the transcendental illusion. at the same time prohibiting us from accomplishing the crucial step into it (this was done later by way of "aestheticization" of the Kantian ethic. "nation" designates both the instance by whose means . As to this link between philosophical formalism (the emptying of the "pathological" content) and nationalism. Kant remains a "cosmopolit" precisely because he was not yet ready to accept the possibility of "diabolical" evil. and so on. for example. This paradox of filling out the empty place of the Supreme Good defines the moder notion of Nation. a community in which the premoder links that connect the individual to a particularestate. religious group. one should refer to the dream of the undead monsters to explain nationalism: the filling out of the empty place of the Thing by the Nation is perhaps the paradigmatic case of the inversion that defines radical Evil. he so to speak circumscribes the space of nationalism.retainsall the predicatesof a living being without being one as in the above-quoted Marxianjoke. today. "nation" of course designates moder community delivered of the traditional"organic"ties. It was already the "precritical"Kant who used the dreams of a ghostseer as the model to explain the metaphysical dream. On the one hand. The ambiguous and contradictory nature of the moder nation the same as that of the vampires and othis er living dead: they are wrongly perceived as "leftoversfrom the past" ." of "blood and soil. "nation" can never be reduced to a network of purely symbolic ties: there is alwaysa kind of "surplus of the Real" that sticksto it. an undead. yet she or he remains the same person. are broken: the traditionalcorporate community is replaced by the moder nation-statewhose constituents are "citizens. without the individual. to define itself. as such. by way of its distinction between negative and indefinite judgment. in Schiller. people as abstractmembers.38 Eastern EuropeanLiberalism a living being.
" the form "organic inveteracy" acquires within the moder post-traditional universe. the rule of Slavic hordes begins. This opposition . We are on their side.it cannot be universalized a priori. apply) and the others." those to whom the rules of human rights. now that the illusion of the third way has evaporated:who will be admitted "inside.defines the contemporary constellation: the "socialist" bloc was the true "third way. Hegel said that the moment of victory of a political force is the very moment of its splitting: the triumphant liberal-democratic "new world order" is more and more marked by a frontier separating its "inside" from its "outside.SlavojZizek 39 traditional "organic" links are dissolved and the "remainder of the premoder in modernity."the disengagement from traditional organic ties. the form organic substance acquires within the universe of the substanceless Cartesiansubjectivity. the excluded (the main concern of the "developed" with regard to them is to contain their explosive potential. separatingSlovenia from Croatia:we Slovenians are Mitteleuropa. this imaginary frontier is Karavanke." a desperate attempt at modernization outside the constraints of capitalism. etc." integrated into the developed capitalist order.. even if the price to be paid is the neglect of elementary democratic principles).for structural reasons . this frontier is the river Kolpa. What is effectivelyat stake in the present crisis of postsocialist states is the struggle for one's place.the mountain chain between Austria and Slovenia: beyond it. This pathological "stain" also determines the deadlocks of today's liberal democracy. as an inherent impetus to its progress. involved in the irrational ethnic feuds that reallydo not concern us. we sympathize . The problem with liberal democracy is that . For the nationalist Slovenes. The crucial point is again to conceive both aspects in their interconnectedness: it is the new "suture" effected by the Nation that renders possible the "desuturing. social security. "Nation" is a premodern leftoverthat functions as an inner condition of modernity itself." a frontier between those who succeeded in remaining "within" (the "developed.and not that between capitalist and socialist "blocs" . and who will remain excluded from it? Ex-Yugoslaviais perhaps the exemplary case: every actor in the blood-play of its disintegration endeavors to legitimize its place inside by presenting itself as the last bastion of European civilization (the current ideological designation for the capitalist "inside") in the face of oriental barbarism. For the right-wing nationalist Austrians. while Croatians are already Balkan.
within former Yugoslavia. excluded from all other groups .40 Liberalism Eastern European with them.In what precisely does the "shining path" of the Senderistasconsist? In the idea of reinscribing the construction of socialism within the frame of the . and for this very reason delivered from responsibility toward it . Serbians. effectively behaves in the civilized "European" way: those at the very bottom of this ladder. then movements like the Shining Path enact an "infinite judgment" on it. yet in the same way one sympathizes with a third world victim of aggression. which cannot grasp the values of western individualism. the crucial frontier is the one between them and the Serbians.) The traditionalliberal opposition between "open" pluralist societies and "closed" nationalist-corporatistsocieties founded on the exclusion of the Other has thus to be brought to its point of self-reference: the liberal gaze itself functions according to the same logic.Hegel of conceives of the "rabble" (Pibel)as a necessary product of modern society: a segment not integrated into the legal order. In Philosophy Right.with the political forces that paradoxicallyunite the most radical indigenist antimodemism (the refusalof everythingthat defines modernity:market. individualism)with the eminently modem project of effacing the entire symbolic tradition and beginning from a zero point (in the case of the Khmer Rouge. that this notion of "rabble" has achieved its adequate realization in social reality. It seems as if it is only today.a necessary structuralsurplus excluded from the closed circuit of social edifice. money. Sendero Luminoso.Albanians and Muslim Bosnians. between the western catholic civilization and the eastern orthodox collective spirit. prevented from participatingin its benefits. For Croatians. as an inherent negation of the universalist claim of liberal capitalism. with the advent of late capitalism. of course. finally. and so on. conceive of themselves as the last line of defense of Christian Europe against the fundamentalist danger embodied in Muslim Albanians and Bosnians. the abolition of the entire system of education and the physical liquidation of intellectuals). (It should now be clear who. that is. This antagonistic splitting inherent to capitalism as a world-system opens up the field for the Khmer Rouge. insofar as it is founded upon the exclusion of the Other to whom one attributes fundamentalist nationalism. and other similar movements that seem to personify the "radical evil" in today's politics: if "fundamentalism" functions as a kind of "negative judgment" on liberal capitalism.
In other words.SlavojZizek 41 return to the ancient Inca empire (much as the Khmer Rouge saw their regime as the return to the lost grandeur of the old Khmer kingdom). . The result of this desperate endeavor to surmount the antagonism between tradition and modernity is a double negation: a radicallyanticapitalist movement (the refusal of integration into the world market) coupled with a systematic dissolution of all traditional hierarchicalsocial links.the infinitejudgment on it." allowing for no possible forms of mediation: rather. beginning with the family (at the level of "micropower. one must take into account its inherent negation. far from presenting a case of exotic barbarism."as well as its absolute negation . the leader of the movement is an intellectualwell-skilled in the subtleties of western culture (prior to becoming a revolutionary.There is more than a contingent idiosyncrasyin the fact that. known for his subtle readings of Rimbaud and Mallarme. For that reason. The truth articulatedin an inverted form in the paradox of this double negation is that capitalism cannot reproduce itselfwithout the support of precapitalistforms of social link. is for that reason ultimatelya pervertedinstrumentof modernization). an integralpart of its notion: if one wants to constitutecapitalismas a world system.they representa desperateattempt to break out of the vicious circle of the constitutiveimbalance of capitalism. modernization. The Khmer Rouge and the Senderistasas the "infinite judgment" on late capitalismare therefore. the "radical Evil" of the Khmer Rouge and the Senderistasis conceivable only against the background of the constitutive antagonism of today's capitalism. In other words. Antonio Guzman." the leader of the Senderistas. the "presidente Gonzalo. behind Sendero Luminoso's attempt to erase the entire traditionand to begin again from scratchin an act of creative sublimation is the correctinsight into the complementaryrelationshipof immodernity and tradition:any true return to traditiontoday is a priori its role is simply to serve as a shock absorberfor the process of possible.without seeking support in some previous traditionsupposed to enable us to master this imbalance (Islamic fundamentalism.in Hegelese. it is too simple to conceive of these movements as the last embodiments of the millenarianradicalismthat structuresthe social space as the exclusive antagonism between "us" and "them. is a philosophy professor whose preferred authors are Heidegger and Jaspers). in both cases. Pol Pot was a teacher at a French lycee in Phnom Penh." the Khmer Rouge regime incited adolescents to denounce their parents:an anti-Oedipal regime at its purest). within this logic. "fundamentalism.
their specific mode of enjoyment. Yet all this effort should not deceive us. The weak point of the PC position is thus the weak point of the neurotic compulsion: the problem is not that it is too severe. and other communities.the renunciation of everything reminiscent of sexism and racism. Or. on the condition that it is not too close to us. the "backwardness"of the Polish. the PC attitude seems to involve extreme self-sacrifice.but what? The very gesture of self-sacrifice." since this is.patronizes native Americans. the PC attitude implies the same antagonism between the enunciated content and the position of the enunciation that Hegel denounced apropos of ascetic self-humiliation: it conceals a patronizing elevation over those whose discriminations are allegedly compensated. to put it in straightforward.42 Eastern Liberalism European The exotic story of eastern Europe's nineteenth-century nationalism thus changes into a story about the west itself: for western liberal intellectuals. etc. a site of populist protofascism (for example. the unending effort to unearth traces of it in oneself.whereas they are always ready to hail the autochtonous ethnic communities of the other (blacks. it retains it as a universal form of subjectivity. in the United States. The problem here is simple: How can one be a white heterosexual male and still retain a clear conscience? All other positions can affirmtheir specificity. must sacrificeits enjoyment. the alleged brood of "authoritarianpersonalities" and similar liberal scarecrows). the PC attitude is the main . Puerto Ricans. too fanatical. the affirmation of their own autochtonous tradition is a redneck horror. native Americans). first approach. an effort not unworthy of the early Christian saint who dedicated his life to discovering in himself ever new layers of sin. ever more refined forms of racial and/or sexual domination and violence (it is not PC to say that the president "smoked a peace pipe. but quite the contrary that it is notsevere On enough. The positive expression of this ambivalencetoward the other's enjoyment is the obsessive attitudethat one can easily detect in what is usually referredto as "PC. Italian. In other words. it is ultimately a stratagem whose function is to conceal the fact that the PC type is not ready to renounce what really matters: "I'm prepared to sacrifice everything but that" ."political correctness:the compulsive effortto uncover ever new. and only the white-heterosexualmale position must remain empty. Enjoyment is good.old-fashioned political terms: far from being a disguised expression of the extreme left. In the very act of emptying the white-male-heterosexual position of all positive content. on the condition that it remains the other's enjoyment.).
but a master he of ple of the female hysteric in search a Good whom he would dominate. This attitude provokes a hysterical reaction. the fact that the most effective scene of the film is the collective building of a new barn testifies again to what FredricJameson calls the "utopian" potential of contemporary mass culture. this classic examMaster: wants a master. For that reason. for example. yet without falling prey to a paranoiac logic of the "theft of enjoyment"? In other words. The hystericalcounterpoint to this American obsessional attitude is the position of the traditional European "criticalintellectual" tormented by the question: Which is the legitimate power that I would be allowed to obey with a clear conscience? In other words. of course. And. the paradox of the Amish is that. while they live according to the highest standards of the Moral Majority. a phenomenon that is not in itself "racist" (as liberals themselves admit through their fascination with exotic "modes of life" of others8). up to its FrankfurtSchool 7. especially where busing was externally imposed by the "enlightened" liberal state bureaucracy:to destroy the enjoyment of the closed ethnic communities by abrogating their boundaries. which takes place mostly in an 8. who would follow his advice. that is. Against this background we should conceive the ambiguous consequences of the politics of school busing in the United States. the traditional European left is . they are as far as possible trom the Moral Majority'sparanoiac logic of envy. Yet inextricably intermixed with this was another logic. See the success of Peter Weir's thriller Witness. up to the signs of protofascist nationalism!). was to surmount racist barriers:children from black communities will widen their cultural horizons by partakingin the white way of life. What one should do here is call into question the entire theoretical apparatus that sustains this liberal attitude.insofar as it was experienced by the affected communities as imposed from the outside .7 What truly disturbs liberals is therefore enjoyment organized in the form of self-sufficientethnic communities. incidentally. busing . a reaction of "This is not that!"whenever his side comes to power: a desperate search for reasons that would legitimate his continuing disobedience (an exemplary case is that of the French left intellectuals after the electoral victory of Mitterand's socialists in 1981: they were quick to discover in the socialist government features that made it even worse than the preceding liberal-conservativegovernment. children from white communities will experience the nullity of racial prejudices by way of contacts with blacks. Amish community: are not the Amish an exemplary case of a closed community that persists in its way of life. of aggressive imposition of its standards onto others.Slavoj Zizek 43 ideological protective shield of bourgeois liberalism against a genuine leftist alternative.they have absolutely nothing to do with the Moral Majorityqua politico-ideological movement. .even more thanJane Eyre.reinforced or to some extent even generated racism where previously an ethnic community maintained a relative closure in its way of life. Its principal aim.
9 The impasses around busing enable us also to delineate the inherent limitation of the liberal political ethic as articulated in John Rawls's theory of distributive justice. human desire. theory of so-called authoritarian personality. Within this space.The Rawlsianliberal-democraticidea of distributivejustice ultimately relies on a "rational" individual who is able to abstracta particularposition of enunciation. 1971). insofar as it is always already mediated by fantasy." This individual is the supposed subject of the social contract that establishes the coordinates of justice. School theoreticaledifice:it is based on supactuallya foreign body within the Frankfurt positions undermined by Adomo-Horkheimer's theory of late-capitalist subjectivity. which ultimately designates the form of subjectivity that "irrationally"insists on its specific way of life and. including those deemed to profit most by it.10That is to say. somehow felt cheated and wronged. in this way." The theory of "authoritarianpersonality" is nothing but an of expression of the ressentiment the left-liberal intellectuals apropos of the fact that the "unenlightened" working classes were not prepared to accept their guidance: an expression of their incapability of offering a positive theory of this resistance. so that what "we" desire may turn out to be the very destruction of our object of desire (if. we deal a blow to the other's desire). In other words. resists liberal evidence of what are its supposed "true interests. The notion of fantasy thus designates the inherent limitation of distributive As already noted by numerous critics. the theory of"authoritarian personality" is . What is thereby a priorileft out of consideration is the realm of fantasy in which a community organizes its "way of life" (its mode of enjoyment).is to act againstour Good. 10. Cf. to look upon himself or herself and all others from a neutral place of pure "metalanguage" and thus perceive all of their "true interests. Why? The dimension infringed upon was precisely that offantasy. John Rawls. busing fully meets the conditions of distributivejustice (it stands the trial of what Rawls calls the "veil of ignorance"): it procures a more just distribution of social goods.1' 9. in the name of its own enjoyment. 11. what "we" desire is inextricably linked to (what we perceive as) the other's desire. etc. can never be grounded in (or translated back into) our "true interests":the ultimate assertion of our desire sometimes the only way to assert its autonomy in the face of a "benevolent" other providing for our Good . A Theory ofJustice(Cambridge: Harvard UP. Yet the paradox is that all.44 Eastern Liberalism European the psychoanalyticpiecede resistance. it equalizes the chances of success of the individuals from different social strata.
Enjoy (New York: Symptom! Routedge. somehowmiraculously What ganically rooted in their landscape." than the usual "enlightened" liberal-leftist criticism of it. The reverse thisresistance a desireto maintain "other"in its specific. As such it was perhaps more "postmoder." Even such a dearcut issue as the Moral Majority prolife movement is in this respect more ambiguous than it may seem: one aspect of it is also the reaction to the attempt of the upper-middledass ideology to pervade lower-class community life." and "expression of an outdated working-class fundamentalism. the presupposed measure of the "normal" state of things.the other'sfantasyis tells wronged. (See his Repetition/Wiederholung. logicof theirnational functionsas a mythical Slovenia wasSlovene. see ch. country where people are still orbypassingcommodification. SlavojZizek." the recentcaseof Peter as) he doubtsaboutSloveneindependence. form to his privatemyth and hence disturbsthe balanceof his artistic ." and while all this was undoubtedly true." count of the very features that its critics perceived as "regressive. 1992). Market. etc. with the disintegration of "really existing" socialism.even if I were to occupy the lowest place in the community. jects. the is of 12. and so on.and withinhis artistic universe.) ul- does not conbothershim is therefore simplythe factthatthe actualSlovenia timately universe. was not the same attitude at work in the uneasiness of a wide circle of English left-liberal intellectuals apropos of the long and traumatic miner's strike in 1988? One was quick to denounce it as "irrational. 3.In otherwords.who expressed notion of Sloveniaas an independentstateis somethingimposed on Slovenesfrom mother Handke's outside. alsoclaimedthatthe Handke.when the trialby "veilof ignorance" me that. the neutral. is organized around the notion of capitalist democracy (Media.12 The liberal horror of "fundamentalist" overidentification thus epitomizes today's spontaneous ideological perception of the threats to the existing world order: today. I move withinmy own fantasy-frame what if the otherjudges withinthe of criticism Fora moredetailedLacanian frameof an absolutely fantasy? incompatible Your Rawls'stheory of justice. Pluralism." "fundamentalist fanatics"). On another level. whereas those who oppose it are more and more reduced to "irrational" marginal positions ("terrorists.). pointof to wherewordsstillreferdirecdy oba a reference. the fact remains that this strike was also the desperate form of resistance of a certain traditional workingon accass way of life. As soon as some political justice:althoughthe other's interestsare takeninto account.I would still acceptmy ethical choice. kindof maternal paradise.Slavoj Zizek 45 Every "enlightened" political action legitimized by reference to some form of "true interests" encounters sooner or later the resistance of a particular fantasy space: in the guise of the logic of "envy." of the "theft of enjoyment. universal medium.not partof the inherent development. In limitedformof (whatour gaze perceives "authenticity.
when the media bombard us with shocking revelations about different versions of madness that threaten the normal course of our everyday lives. from serial killers to religious fundamentalists. plural. the subject who undermines every performative mandate by way of its parodic repetition. and to see "late capitalism" as the epoch in which the traditional fixity of ideological positions (patriarchalauthority. Where then are we to look for the way out of this vicious circle? Needless to stress. one has to rely more than ever on Hegel's dictum that thetruesource of Evil is the veryneutral thatperceives all around.it is instantly labeled "terrorist.46 Eastern EuropeanLiberalism force threatens too much the circulation of capital . Themorethelogicof the its will universal. an inherent reaction to it.""irrational. In short: the elated "deconstructivist" logomachy focused on "essentialism" and "fixed identities" ultimately fights a strawman. from Sadam Hussein to narco-cartels.simply designates the that to Perhaps the time has form of subjectivity corresponds late capitalism. for example. Perhaps our very survival depends on our capacity to perform a kind of dialectical reversal and to locate the true source of madness in the allegedly neutral measure of "normality. Far from containing any kind of subversive potentials. the subject prone to particular. Evil gaze The fear of "excessive" identification is therefore the fundamental feature of late-capitalist ideology: the Enemy is the "fanatic" who "overidentifies"instead of maintaining a proper distance from the dispersed pluralityof subject-positions. etc. the subject hailed by postmodern theories .even if it is. inconsistent modes of enjoyment .) becomes an obstacle to the unbridled commodification of everyday life. come to resuscitate the Marxian insight concerning capital as the ultimate power of "deterritorialization"that undermines every fixed social identity. there is no way out as long as the universal dimension of our social formation remains defined in terms of capital. I am here far from advocating fundamentalist overidentification as "anticapitalist": point is exactly that the contempothe forms of "paranoiac" overidentification are the inherent reverse rary of capital's universalism.the dispersed. The way to break out of this vicious circle is not to fight "irrational" ethnic particularism but to invent forms of political practice . constructed subject."and so on. more opposite assume features "irrational of capitalbecomes In fundamentalism."which enables us to perceive all opposition to it as "irrational. a benign ecological protest against the destruction of oldgrowth forest ." other words."Today. fixed sex roles.
" that is.falls short. of its suspension (in psychoanalyticterms." the desire for a moment when one is so to speak allowed to break the Law in the name of the Law itself. ." to pass in silence over lynching parties. of course. since it fails to take into account their interconnection. periodic transgressions are inherent in the social order.or. also."as "transgressive. that is. as the crucialform The deepest idenof the "carivalesque suspension of social hierarchy. Thereby it repeats the mistake of the classic liberal opposition of "open" liberal and "closed" authoritarianpersonality:here. for a brief moment. rather. 13.the view sustained by the hope that "true" liberal-democratic society will arise once we get rid of the protofascist nationalistic constraints .(The mistake of Bakhtin. What we encounter here is perversionas a sociallyconstructiveattitude: one can indulge in illicit drives. superegotisticalreverse." the universal framework of liberal-democratic capitalism . but its hidden "truth" and presupposition. a simple distortion of it. And where does this leave us with regard to eastern Europe? The liberal point of view. and so forth.they function as a condition of the latter'sstability.as it was done.was to present an idealized image of these "transgressions. with the specific form of enjoyment).SlavojZizek 47 that contain a dimension of universalitybeyond capital:the exemplary case today. This perversionrelies on the split of the field of Lawinto Law qua "Ego-Ideal. the liberal perspectivefails to notice that the authoritarianpersonalityis not an external opposite to the "open" tolerantliberal personality. symbolic order that regulates social life and maintains social peace.As numerous analyses from Bakhtin onward have shown.of some of his followers .") tificationthat holds together a community is not so much an identification with the Lawthat regulatesits "normal"everydaycircuitas identification with the specific form of transgressionof the Law. is ecology. which opposes liberal-democratic "openness" to nationalist-organic "closure" . and into its obscene. The general theoretical lesson to be drawn from this second part is that a cynicalnonidentificationwith the ruling ideology's explicit content is a positive condition of its functioning:the ideological apparatuses"run smoothly" preciselywhen subjects experience their innermost desire as as "oppositional. torture and kill for the protection of law and order. by the "vanishing mediators" in the passage from socialism into capitalism.13The only way to prevent the emergence of protofascist nationalist hegemony is to call into question the very standard of "normality. the way the supposedly neutral liberal-democratic framework produces nationalist closure as inherent opposite.
that is. the . The same holds for. the Donor must appear as the Malefactor. the beatings of political opponents "everybody knew. Yet he will be effectivelyexcommunicated. of course. all that night pogroms. or even reports them to the Law (which."really existing" socialism: nationalism. public law is accompanied by its shadowy double.the community still recognizes him as "one of us" (legendarycases of solidaritywith the transgressorabound in southern white communities). where official. perceived as "not one of us. A white man is easily forgiven at least minor infringements of the Law. Nationalism is what one obtains after the public proclamation that the socialist emperor is naked.in short. under her mask of the evil impediment to . to use the terms of Propp's structuralanalysis of fairy tales. yet did not want to speak of aloud. the democratic communists and new social movements in general present the moment of the "vanishing mediator. In this way. so that what we are left with now." The truly subversive gesture is therefore to undermine the fundamental identification with the "transgressive"mode of enjoyment that holds a community together. does not want to hear about them.The agent who actuallytriggered the process must be perceived as its main impediment.say. the mothat ment he refuses to partakein the ritual lynchings by the Ku Klux Klan. the attachment to the national Thing. The Nazi community relied on the same solidarity-in-guilt adduced by the in a common transgression:it ostracized those who were participation not ready to assume the dark inverse of the idyllic Volksgemeinschaft.its inherent transgression." of what must disappear. for the new order to establish its identity-with-itself. since they exemplify its own hidden inverse). or. the final question is already answered:Wherein consists the link between the two surpluses that disturb the liberal-democratic gaze? On the one hand.like Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Jane Austen's Prideand Prejudice who. the nightly terrorof the Klan. after one assumes the nullity of the socialist ideological fabric.48 Eastern Liberalism European Let us recall small-townwhite communities in the American South of the twenties. to contaminate the stuff of which the ideological dream is effectively made. when the symbolic network intertwined around this Thing dissolved. especially when they can be justified by a "code of honor" . is simply the always already present fantasy-support in its nakedness. devoid of its symbolic clothing. must become invisible. was from the very beginning its fantasy-support." in the moment he disowns the specific form of transgression pertains to this community .
"Adam's Navel. only 5. 1985). Smile(Haxmondsworth: 14.000 years ago. what the new ruling ideology seesso that it can notsee." to conceive of this traumatic disorientation not as a problem but as a key to the solution: the recourse to nationalism itself emerged in order to protect us from the traumaticdisorientation. which resolves the contradiction between the literal meaning of the Scripture (according to which the universe was created about 5. Here one must learn the materialist lesson of antievolutionist creationism. but with built-in false traces thepast (God created fossils to give humans a false perspective of of infinite openness14).000 years ago) and irrefutableproofs of its greater age (million-year-old fossils and the like) not via the usual indulging in the delicacies of the allegorical reading of the Scripture ("Adam and Eve are not really the first couple but a metaphor for the early stages of humanity") but by sticking to the literal truth: the universe was created recently. from the loss of the ground under our feet caused by the disintegration of the social order. Nation as the substantial support is. instead of marvelling in a state of traumatic disorientation at the shocking swiftness of the emergence of nationalism in eastern Europe. it would perhaps be more appropriate to accomplish a kind of Hegelian reversal and to transpose this shock into the "thing itself.The past is always strictly synchronous. is effectively the hand of Destiny who enables the happy outcome. Cf. it is the thinks antagonism. StephenJay Gould. .SlavojZizek 49 Darcy and Elizabeth's marriage. overlook "vanishing mediator": "nation" is a fantasy entity that fills the the void of the vanishing mediator. suffices to recall the infaits It universe waya synchronous mous role of the "remnants of the past" in accounting for the difficulties of the "construction of socialism. of the Lacanian"big Other" epitomized by "reallyexisting" socialism. the tale of ethnic roots is from the very beginning the "myth of Origins": what is "national heritage" if not a kind of ideological fossil created retroactively by the ruling ideology in order to blur its presentantagonism? In other words." TheFlamingo's Penguin." In this sense. on the other hand.
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