Žižek: The Lenin I like and he miserably failed is the Lenin after the revolution and civil war when the Bolshevikan power faced this simple problem. Okay, now we won the war. How do we reorganize the daily life?
The big misery of today’s left for me from Venezuela to everywhere, even in Greek cities and so on, they’re big at bringing together one million people. We all cry with them, but, you know, for me the true test of progressive forces is what I call this post-alcoholic nightmare, the morning after. It’s easy to gather one million people, but at some point…

Tavis: For a rally, sure, sure.

Žižek: Yes. At some point, things return to normal.

Tavis: That’s right, that’s right.

Žižek: How will ordinary people then feel the difference? That’s the problem. Does the left have an actual answer here? They protest, okay. How to reorganize society and so on? I will give you an example. Did you see the movie — maybe many of our viewers did see it. It was popular a couple of years ago with Natalie Portman, V For Vendetta.
You remember, at the end, people penetrate the British Parliament. People take over and what happens then? The end. As I like to say — sorry for tasteless metaphor — I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery, God bless her. She is dead, so I can say it.
To see a movie called V For Vendetta, Part Two, but what happens then when the people take over? What measures do they do? Do they nationalize what they do? I think this is really the crux of the matter, the big problem of today’s left.

Tavis: But there are a lot of people on the left who would ask you — and I will stand in their stead and ask you — what do they do? If the Republicans control the House, the Republicans control the Senate, they’re about to control the Supreme Court, they control the White House, the average ordinary citizen doesn’t feel empowered.
They don’t feel that they have the agency to actually do anything about this until there’s another election in a couple of years. What do people do?

Žižek: Okay. My first counterpoint would have been that people already felt that they are not in power under previous democratic administrations, and that’s why Trump won. That’s why I’m only saying that’s my mantra. A deeper change is needed. It’s not just enough to swing it back. That’s why I was horrified by what Nancy Pelosi said a couple of weeks ago. I think she basically renormalized the situation.
She said, “Listen, it happens from time to time. We had Reagan for eight years. We had Bush, the younger, for eight years. Our time will come back.” No, it will not. I want to see cornered in a tight political Democratic Party — maybe it will not happen — and realizing it has to move more to the left…

Tavis: But here’s the problem. When Bernie tried that, who you and I both like, he failed.

Žižek: Almost failed. But he began something.

Tavis: He began something.

Žižek: It was the first mass mobilization that got the workers…

Tavis: And the next test was for the Democratic Party just days ago when they had…

Žižek: And they failed, yes.

Tavis: And they failed again. So the point is, I’m all for fighting. I’m with you and Samuel Beckett. Try again, fail again, fail better. Try again, fail again, fail better. I’m with Beckett on that.
But when people keep having these fights and they keep trying to use the agency that they do have and, at this level, they keep getting beaten down because Nancy Pelosi normalizes or the DNC fight doesn’t come out in their favor or Bernie gets picked on by the Democratic Party, they lose hope. And that’s your real problem. Hopelessness is the real problem.

Žižek: Yes, but still I agree with you. I’m basically a pessimist, but what’s your solution? We have to — if we are condemned to Democratic Party, the way it is this party, as the only alternative to Donald Trump, then we are lost.

Tavis: I agree with you. I agree, yeah.

Žižek: We should go on, Bernie. The crucial thing now, I think, is to bring Bernie, what Bernie stands for, our revolution or whatever, together with all Black movements and so on. We have to do a great long-term pedagogic work here. For example, another point that may interest you. Remember Black Lives Matter? And then the answer of Donald Trump and some others, not just Black lives. All lives matter.

Tavis: Blue lives matter, all lives matter, yeah.

Žižek: Yes. That’s a dirty lie. You know why? Because in general, this is of course true, but the specific violence of the system, you can grasp it only in that case of Black lives. And I will give you another example here so that you will not think that I have any respect for Donald Trump.
You remember when it was the debate about who is more guilty, either Black demonstrators where some madman also shot a couple of policemen, or white policemen who overstepped their limit? And Trump, he actually physically talked about it. Trump’s idea was no. The ultimate crime is when people are shooting policemen because they attacked the law.
No, I claim. The ultimate [inaudible] is policemen shoot ordinary — you know why? Because if an ordinary guy shoots a policeman, it’s deplorable. It shouldn’t be done. But it’s still somebody outside the law attacks the agent of the law. But if an agent of the law…

Tavis: Attacks you…

Žižek: Attacks, the whole law and order disintegrates. The state agent acts as a common criminal. That’s the true horror. That’s why there is no symmetry here. You see, this is one of those nice situations where it’s too easy to say they are both wrong. Demonstrators attacking policemen? No, they are not wrong in the same way. The true catastrophe is police doing it and so on and so on.
Let me give you — this may be of some interest to your viewers. What is happening now in Europe? I consider it so ridiculous that, if it wouldn’t be the ultimate horror, I would be laughing. You know, it’s now — and the tragedy is this is no longer some marginal nut. This is a theory reported in white media.
They claim that the conflict between Arabs or Palestinians and Israelis is a fake. It is made to cover up the fact that immigrants who are invading Europe are organized by Jews to do in Christianity. So it’s this totally crazy idea. Now you will say, but this is marginal. What has this to do with Trump?
It has a lot because with some people around Trump, I detect a tendency which is terrifying. It’s not a paradoxical notion. It’s a reality. Zionists, anti-Semites, the same people who are against Jews here, they’re exploiting cause, blah-blah-blah, are absolutely for Israel there.
And this is what people around Trump are doing and so on. The whole political — how shall I put it — political mapping is changing. With Trump, something really new emerged. Again, my point is, bless this one. I repeat it again. We cannot beat this by simply remaining faithful to liberal values…

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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