[Partial transcript below the video.]

Mehdi Hasan: Slavoj Žižek, thanks for joining me on UpFront. Leftist, socialist, liberals, progressives all over the world, even moderate conservatives, are mourning the victory of Donald Trump. And yet you, one of the world’s best-known leftist philosophers, best-known Marxists, said you wanted him to win and you would have voted for him if you could. What on earth were you thinking? Surely, you must regret saying that now.

Slavoj Žižek: No, I don’t regret saying this. Because for me, as really an old-fashioned leftist, the main task today is this one: how to get things moving to restructure the political space of the United States. And, for me, Hillary Clinton is the establishment candidate. She built an impossible coalition: Wall Street—Occupy Wall Street, Saudi Arabian money—LGBT+, and so on and so on. But somebody was excluded. Hillary won because she neutralized, to put it gently, Bernie Sanders – the more authentic …

Mehdi Hasan: I see you didn’t like Hillary Clinton, but what does Donald Trump bring? What positive good …

Slavoj Žižek: Nothing good …

Mehdi Hasan: [unintelligible]

Slavoj Žižek: … the spirit of urgency, all around the political spectrum …

Mehdi Hasan: Chaos!

'There is this order under the heaven, the situation is excellent.' Click To Tweet Slavoj Žižek: Chaos, and you know, I’m an old Maoist nonetheless. You know what is my favourite Mao Zedong saying? ‘There is this order under the heaven, the situation is excellent.’ Which means this one: in this chaos, I think it’s not as dangerous as sometimes people think …

Mehdi Hasan: You say it’s not as dangerous and you say chaos can help shake up the system, bring a sense of emergency.

Slavoj Žižek: Yeah, yeah.

Mehdi Hasan: But in order for that urgency, in order for – you’ve written ‘awakening of a more authentic left’ is your phrase – in order for that to happen, millions of people have to lose health care in the United States,  the Iranian nuclear deal has to be rewritten, the fight against what Trump called ‘the Chinese hoax of climate change’ has to be abandoned. Basically millions of people in the US and around the world have to suffer in the short and the long run …

Slavoj Žižek: I’m not so …

Mehdi Hasan: … in order for you to get what.

Slavoj Žižek: Frankly. I’m not so sure that all this will happen.

Mehdi Hasan: You don’t think 20 million people will lose health insurance in exterior when Donald Trump comes into power?

Slavoj Žižek: I don’t …

Mehdi Hasan: [interrupts, unintelligible] Is that the price worth paying for you, for your chaos?

Slavoj Žižek: I don’t buy this liberal left propaganda

Mehdi Hasan: It’s not liberal left, it’s scholars across the spectrum of

Slavoj Žižek: [interrupts, unintelligible]

Mehdi Hasan: Mick Romney is not a liberal, and he warned against Donald Trump.

Slavoj Žižek: [interrupts, unintelligible]

Mehdi Hasan: [interrupts, unintelligible] He’s a paper tiger in your view?

Slavoj Žižek: Paper tigers also can bite, you know? Click To TweetSlavoj Žižek: Paper tigers also can bite, you know?

Mehdi Hasan: [interrupts] It’s interesting you should say bite because you know some would say – look at you and say – ‘it’s easy for you, as a white male middle-class academic, to push for this chaos-inducing Trump presidency, because you’re not going to suffer as a result. Because you’re not a person of colour, you’re not a Muslim who might be banned from the US, you’re not a Latino who might be deported from the US. You’re speaking from a position of ‘white privilege’.

Slavoj Žižek: Maybe. But let me tell you first there are also differences between white people and so on and so on. I’m paying my own price for what was … for positions. But let’s drop that. It’s not important. I claim that – I know I’m, as they say, walking on a very thin ice – but I think my vision is even much more pessimistic than yours. I’m claiming that we are really, internationally, approaching a very difficult moment. Maybe we event in Eastern Europe, Ukraine, in Syria and so on, there is a serious chance of a new world conflict, ecological catastrophe, refugees and so on – all that. And my point is this one: I don’t think we can afford what Hillary Clinton stood for. You know all …

Mehdi Hasan: But we can afford what Donald Trump stands for?

Slavoj Žižek: Yes …

Mehdi Hasan: [interrupts, unintelligible] elect a climate change denier, that’s your logic?

Slavoj Žižek: Yeah, but thereby he opens up a space for radically reshuffling of the entire political space.

Mehdi Hasan: What’s your evidence for that? You say he opens up a space. Where in history has that actually ever happened, where it succeeded? You say that you’re a former Maoist, it didn’t work in Mao’s China, it didn’t work in Germany. People voted for the Nazis in 1932 to shake up …

Slavoj Žižek: [interrupts, unintelligible] I don’t think this is a good parallel.

Mehdi Hasan: Well, you give me your parallel, give me a parallel.

[unintelligible]

Slavoj Žižek: It worked with Mao. I think, and this is a very cynical Marxist interpretation that the true outcome of Cultural Revolution was Deng Xiaoping.

Mehdi Hasan: [interrupts] But how many millions of people died for that change?

Slavoj Žižek: Yeah, but I am not saying …

Mehdi Hasan: [interrupts] So to go back to my earlier question, millions of people have to suffer for your vision of a better world?

Slavoj Žižek: [interrupts] But wait a minute, do you think we are living now in an ideal world? Millions already suffer.

Mehdi Hasan: [interrupts] Ok,  so you want to add to the suffering of millions? I mean, millions already suffer, but you want to elect a climate change denier, someone wants to tear up health insurance, tear up the nuclear deal that could put …

Slavoj Žižek: [interrupts] No I …

[unintelligible]

Slavoj Žižek: No, you don’t get it.

Mehdi Hasan: [interrupts] No I don’t.

Žižek: If things go on the way they go now, we are approaching catastrophe ... Click To TweetSlavoj Žižek: If things go on the way they go now, we are approaching catastrophe and I’m ready to do whatever you want …

Mehdi Hasan: [interrupts] to shake up the system.

[All these interruptions become extremely tedious to transcribe. Without putting the blame solely on one person, I will stop transcribing now before I have lost my patience too much. This is, quite possibly, the worst interview I have ever watched and I am unlikely to continue with transcribing it further. Community contributions are welcome, contact me by email. Aired on November 16th 2016.]


Slavoj Žižek

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst, and a senior researcher at the Institute for Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London. He has also been a visiting professor at more than 10 universities around the world. Žižek is the author of many books; his latest are Against the Double Blackmail and Disparities.

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