The Fright of Real Tears (Introduction)

The Strange Case of the Missing Lacanians If this book had been published twenty-five years ago, in the heyday of ‘structuralist Marxism’, its subtitle, undoubtedly, would have been ‘On Class Struggle in Cinema’. Let me begin by stating the obvious, with what in France they call une vérité de la Police’. to put it in good old Maoist terms, the principal contradiction of today’s cinema studies is the one between the deconstructionist/feminist/post-Marxist/psychoanalytic/sociocritical/cultural studies etc. approach,[ …]

“The Big Other Doesn’t Exist”

In the “Oedipus complex,” parricide (and incest with the mother) is the unconscious desire of all ordinary (male) subjects, since the paternal figure prevents access to the maternal object, disturbs our symbiosis with it, while Oedipus himself is the exceptional figure, the One who effectively did it. In T&T [Freud’s Totem and Taboo], on the contrary, parricide is not the goal of our unconscious wish, but, as Freud emphasizes again and again, a prehistoric fact[ …]

Rotherham child sex abuse: it is our duty to ask difficult questions

The outline of what happened in Rotherham is now more or less clear: at least 1,400 children were subjected to brutal sexual exploitation between 1997 and 2013; children as young as 11 were raped by multiple perpetrators, abducted, trafficked to other cities, beaten and intimidated. The perpetrators were (almost exclusively) of Pakistani origin, and their victims were often white schoolgirls. Reactions were predictable. The left exhibited the worst of political correctness, mostly via generalisations: perpetrators[ …]

Fat-free chocolate and absolutely no smoking: why our guilt about consumption is all-consuming

During a recent visit to California, I attended a party at a professor’s house with a Slovene friend, a heavy smoker. Late in the evening, my friend became desperate and politely asked the host if he could step out on the veranda for a smoke. When the host (no less politely) said no, my friend suggested that he step out on to the street, and even this was rejected by the host, who claimed such[ …]

What does Europe want? Beyond the multiculturalist deadlock

Back in the 1930s, Hitler offered anti-Semitism as a narrative explanation for the troubles experienced by ordinary Germans – from unemployment to moral decay and social unrest. Simply evoking the “Jewish plot” made everything clear by way of providing a simple “cognitive mapping.” Does today’s hatred of multiculturalism and of the immigrant threat not function in a similar way? Strange things are happening, financial meltdowns occur which affect our daily lives, but these events are[ …]

Anti-immigration politics: barbarism with a human face

Recent incidents – such as the expulsion of Roma, or Gypsies, from France, or the resurgence of nationalism and anti-immigration sentiment in Germany, or the massacre in Norway – have to be seen against the background of a long-term rearrangement of the political space in western and eastern Europe. Until recently, most European countries were dominated by two main parties that addressed the majority of the electorate: a right-of-centre party (Christian Democrat, liberal-conservative, people’s) and[ …]

Europe must move beyond mere tolerance

When, a decade ago, Slovenia was about to join the European Union, one of our Eurosceptics offered a sarcastic paraphrase of a Marx brothers joke about getting a lawyer: Do we, Slovenes, have troubles? Let us join the EU! We will have even more troubles, but we will have the EU to take care of them! This is how many Slovenes now perceive the EU: it brings some help, but it also brings new problems[ …]

Best of 2010: Barbarism with a Human Face

A month ago, a book entitled Germany Does Away With Itself by Thilo Sarrazin – a bank executive who was considered politically close to the Social Democrats – caused an uproar in Germany. Its thesis is that German nationhood is threatened because too many immigrants are allowed to maintain their cultural identity. Although the book was overwhelmingly condemned, its tremendous impact suggests that it touched a nerve. Incidents like these have to be seen against[ …]

Liberal multiculturalism masks an old barbarism with a human face

The recent expulsion of Roma, or Gypsies, from France drew protests from all around Europe – from the liberal media but also from top politicians, and not only from those on the left. But the expulsions went ahead, and they are just the tip of a much larger iceberg of European politics. A month ago, a book by Thilo Sarrazin, a bank executive who was considered politically close to the Social Democrats, caused an uproar[ …]

The Violence of the Liberal Utopia

[Appeared in Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 9-25 (pdf – paywall/subscription)] [Abstract:] While liberal capitalism presents itself as anti-utopia embodied, and today’s neoliberalism as the sign of the new era of humanity, which left behind the utopian projects responsible for the totalitarian horrors of the 20th century, it is now becoming clear that there is a utopian core in the liberal project itself- the violence that accompanies the victories of[ …]