Tavis: Sure, around the world, yeah.

Žižek: It’s all around the world and so on and so on. I just expect more of this.

Tavis: I guess the question, though is — let me just back up. I hear your critique, Slavoj. I hear your critique of American liberalism. I would make one distinction. The Democratic Party is hardly a bastion of American liberalism and it’s certainly…

Žižek: What about…

Tavis: And it has very little room for progressives and that was played out in this debate we just had about…

Žižek: But that’s my point. That’s my only goal.

Tavis: I hear that. I hear that as a goal. I guess the question is whether or not the ends justify the means, which is to say, in the first month or so of his presidency, have you started to rethink whether or not your initial thought was correct or incorrect, given what you’ve seen him do so far?

Žižek: No. I mean, I think…

Tavis: You still think giving him the keys was a good idea?

Žižek: Wait a minute. Things here are more complex. I think this idea, I don’t take it seriously that Trump is simply a madman who will, just as another of his narcissistic jokes, press the button.
There are arguments, so I will now show to you that I’m aware of them, of why I’m sincerely horrified by Trump. Let’s forget about all the content, but the style of how he talks. It’s an incredible degradation, vulgarization of public discourse, how we are allowed to publicly speak.
And here I am for — I’m sorry to say this — for good manners. Maybe you’ve had the same experience. When we were young — I’m older than you — I remember official politicians were talking this [inaudible] noble language and we leftists [inaudible], whatever.
But now it’s almost the opposite. The more you go to the right, Breitbart, and this is a unique change. We leftists should propose ourselves we are the true moral majority. We stand for the ordinary decency, good sense, of common people and so on and so on.
So that for me one among true catastrophes of Donald Trump, this incredible degradation of public discourse. And it’s not only Trump. How things that still some five or ten years ago were simply prohibited in public space. You couldn’t say them. Now we can tell them. I think that’s my pessimism.
Let’s say Hillary were to win. Of course, it would have been better in many domains, but isn’t it that it would be deceptive faction? Okay, we avoided the worst so we can go all the way with it. I’m too much of a pessimist for that, if you ask me. But I can be, again, I can be converted.
I mean, it was not a principal decision, again, always vote for the bad guy because the system will be in a crisis. I just hoped. Maybe I was wrong, but you know what’s my fear now? This may interest you and our public. I have now another fear and this would be a true argument against me.
My God, what if at least for a couple of years, Trump will succeed? Somehow he will manage and shock them. Economy, he will not totally break with Mexico, with Putin? He will do some dirty deals and so on and it may work for a couple of years, you know. This is the truth…

Tavis: I hear your point. In American politics, as you well know, there is always this notion that whether they’re Republicans or Democrats, no matter how left or right they might be, they always tack back to the middle. So my sense has always been that Donald Trump at some point is going to tack back to the middle and act with good sense in some measure and get something done.
What that looks like, I do not know, but I’ve always believed that from the very beginning. Here’s the question that you raised for me. I think you’re right.
If he has so degraded and demonized the very nature of how we engage in public discourse, assuming that it takes public discourse that we have to have some sort of conversation in the public square to get this thing right, if that well has been poisoned, how do you even have the conversation? If all the rules of how we engage in conversation with our leaders has changed, how do you have a conversation?

Žižek: My crazy hope, maybe I’m wrong, is that precisely as a reaction to Trump, there is a unique change that a little bit more radical progressives, they should shamelessly address also ordinary decent people who are otherwise afraid of the left and so on and so on. Our message should be, listen, Trump is a decadent.
We are the true voice of moral majority, Christian values and so on, even family values. This is already an excellent argument. I remember years ago when Reagan spoke about family values. And many of my leftist friends dismissed him as, no, these are conservative Christian values.
I told them no. The leftist answer should be if you mean anything minimally serious by family values, supporting family, children support and so on, then Reaganomics did more to destroy family values than all the LGBT leftists or whatever you want, all of them together.
I think, you see, that’s the crux of the matter. I think that just keeping Trump at bay and protecting this mainstream [inaudible] is not enough. Then we are still sliding towards a catastrophe, if you ask me.

Tavis: Let me read this. Your Lenin 2017 book is coming out later this year. I wanted to read a quote from Steve Bannon, who we all know very well, in the White House. This a quote from Bannon about Lenin. Bannon says, and I quote.

“I’m a Leninist. Lenin wanted to destroy the state and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

That’s what Bannon felt about Lenin and that’s what he feels about the establishment in the U.S. of A. What do you make of that comment?

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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