Slavoj Žižek on His Favourite Plays, Interview with Liza Thompson

Can you tell us a little bit about why you’ve chosen each of these plays? At first, the five plays look like a jumbled heap lacking any common feature—what could they have in common? The bitter end of the old Oedipus who cannot reconcile himself with his fate; Richard II’s descent into madness after he is deprived of royal prerogatives; the meaningless self-sacrifice of a woman married to a man she despises; the ruthless killing[ …]

The Hillary Clinton consensus is damaging democracy

Alfred Hitchcock once said that a film is as good as its villain—does this mean that the forthcoming U.S. elections will be good since the “bad guy” (Donald Trump) is an almost ideal villain? Yes, but in a very problematic sense. For the liberal majority, the 2016 elections represent a clear-cut choice: the figure of Trump is a ridiculous excess, vulgar and exploiting our worst racist and sexist prejudices, a male chauvinist so lacking in decency[ …]

Clinton, Trump and the Triumph of Global Capitalism

Roger Ebert once said that a film is as good as its villain. Does this mean that the forthcoming U.S. elections will be good since the “bad guy” (Donald Trump) is almost an ideal villain? Yes, but in a very problematic sense. For the liberal majority, the 2016 elections represent a clear-cut choice: Trump is ridiculous, excessive and vulgar. He exploits our worst racist and sexist prejudices such that big-name Republicans are abandoning him in[ …]

Could Brexit Breathe New Life Into Left-Wing Politics?

Late in his life, Freud asked the famous question “Was will das Weib?”, “What does a woman want?”, admitting his confusion when faced with the enigma of the feminine sexuality. A similar perplexity arouses today, apropos the Brexit referendum—what does Europe want? The true stakes of this referendum become clear if we locate it into its larger historical context. In Western and Eastern Europe, there are signs of a long-term re-arrangement of the politica. Until recently,[ …]

The Spectre Is Still Roaming Around! (Introduction)

The first, automatic reaction of today’s enlightened liberal reader to The Communist Manifesto is: Is the text not simply wrong on many empirical accounts, with regard to the picture it gives of the social situation, as well as with regard to the revolutionary perspective it sustains and propagates? Was there ever a political manifesto that was more clearly falsified by subsequent historical reality? Is The Communist Manifesto not, at best, an exaggerated extrapolation of certain tendencies discernible in the[ …]

Democracy’s Fascism Problem

Sometimes faces become symbols of the anonymous forces behind them. Was not the stupidly smiling face of Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem the symbol of the European Union’s brutal pressure on Greece? Recently, the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP)—the European cousin of the Trans-Pacific Partnership—acquired a new symbol: the cold face of E.U. trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström, who responded to massive public opposition to TTIP this way: “I do not take my mandate from the[ …]

Explaining the Panama Papers; or, Why does a dog lick himself?

The only truly surprising thing about the Panama Papers leak is that there is no surprise in them: Didn’t we learn exactly what we expected to learn from them? Yet, it’s one thing to know about offshore bank accounts in general, and another to see concrete proof. It’s like knowing that one’s partner is fooling around on you—one can accept the abstract knowledge of it, but pain arises when one learns the steamy details. And[ …]

The Fright of Real Tears (Preface)

This book out of a series of lectures that Slavoj Zizek delivered at London’s National Film Theatre in the summer of 1998. My invitation to give these lectures had a very precise purpose. I wanted Slavoj to address the weaknesses and insularity of film studies as they had developed in the university sector over the previous two decades. The lectures were intended to mark the end of a cycle of work in which at every[ …]

Stranger Danger: To Resolve the Migrant Crisis We Must Recognize the Stranger Within Ourselves

The big news of the last week was the deal between Turkey and European Union on how to contain and regulate the flow of refugees. It brought a sigh of relief: The crisis is over. Europe succeeded in stemming the Muslim invasion without betraying humanitarian compassion. But did it? To see clearly what is wrong with this deal, let us reach back to one of our great classics. In Canto VI of Inferno (lines 77-89), Dante[ …]

A crisis in manufacturing consent

The reactions of both party establishments, Republican and Democrat, to Donald Trump’s and Bernie Sanders’s unexpected success in the U.S. primaries is basically the same: Their success demonstrates the crisis of our democracy; it is an abnormality that we should somehow control and contain. This reaction tells us a lot about how our democracy effectively functions: It is tolerated if properly controlled by political establishment, or, as Noam Chomsky noted years ago, “it is only when[ …]