This Guy Is So Smart, He’s Got His Own Academic Journal

Slavoj Žižek is part philosopher, part international phenomenon. And if that seems impossible in this day and age, consider: Žižek, a Slovenian cultural theorist, has published more than 40 books in English, has starred in four films, and even has an academic journal (International Journal of Žižek Studies) dedicated to his work. Renowned for his gymnastic thinking and mastery of counterintuition, Žižek has been called “the most dangerous philosopher in the West” by the New Republic[ …]

The Non-Existence of Norway

The flow of refugees from Africa and the Middle East into Western Europe has provoked a set of reactions strikingly similar to those we display on learning we have a terminal illness, according to the schema described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her classic study On Death and Dying. First there is denial: ‘It’s not so serious, let’s just ignore it’ (we don’t hear much of this any longer). Then there is anger – how can[ …]

The Un-Shock Doctrine

The Left today faces the difficult task of emphasizing that we are dealing with political economy—that there is nothing “natural” in the present crisis, that the existing global economic system relies on a series of political decisions—while simultaneously acknowledging that, insofar as we remain within the capitalist system, violating its rules will indeed cause economic breakdown, since the system obeys a pseudo-natural logic of its own. So, although we are clearly entering a new phase[ …]

Iraq’s False Promises

If you want to understand why the Bush administration invaded Iraq, read Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, not the National Security Strategy of the United States. Only the twisted logic of dreams can explain why the United States thinks that the aggressive pursuit of contradictory goals — promoting democracy, affirming U.S. hegemony, and ensuring stable energy supplies — will produce success. To illustrate the weird logic of dreams, Sigmund Freud used to evoke a story about[ …]

The Disturbing Sounds of the Turkish March

On September 16, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Kouchner warned the world that when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program: “We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst is war.” The statement, predictably, caused great uproar, with criticism focused on what Sir John Holmes, head of the U.N. refugee agency, called the “Iraq taint.” After the scandal about Weapons of Mass Destruction as the excuse for invading Iraq, evoking such a[ …]

Denying the Facts, Finding the Truth

ONE of the pop heroes of the Iraq war was undoubtedly Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf, the unfortunate Iraqi information minister who, in his daily press conferences during the invasion, heroically denied even the most evident facts and stuck to the Iraqi line. Even with American tanks only a few hundred yards from his office, he continued to claim that the televised shots of tanks on the Baghdad streets were just Hollywood special effects. In his very[ …]

The Not-So-Quiet American

The Iraqi elections appear to authenticate the statement George W. Bush made in his January inauguration speech: “America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains or that women welcome humiliation and servitude.” It is difficult to disagree with Bush here: He effectively did touch the Achilles’ heel of many Western progressives, who were often disarmed by the one good argument, repeatedly evoked by Christopher Hitchens, for the war against Iraq: The majority of[ …]

The Liberal Waterloo

The first reaction of progressives to Bush’s second victory was that of despair, even fear: The last four years were not just a bad dream. The nightmarish coalition of big business and fundamentalist populism will roll on, as Bush pursues his agenda with new gusto, nominating conservative judges to the Supreme Court, invading the next country after Iraq, and pushing liberalism in the United States one step closer to extinction. However, this emotional reaction is[ …]

Between Two Deaths

Does anyone still remember ‘Comical Ali’, Saddam’s information minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, who, in his daily press conferences, heroically stuck to the Iraqi line in the face of the most glaring evidence? (He was still claiming that TV footage of US tanks on the streets of Baghdad were just Hollywood special effects when the tanks were only a few hundred yards from his office.) He didn’t always fail to make sense, however. Confronted with claims[ …]

What Rumsfeld Doesn’t Know That He Knows About Abu Ghraib

Does anyone still remember the unfortunate Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf? As Saddam’s information minister, he heroically would deny the most evident facts and stick to the Iraqi line. Even as U.S. tanks were hundreds of yards from his office, al-Sahaf continued to claim that the television shots of the tanks on Baghdad streets were Hollywood special effects. Once, however, he did strike a strange truth. When told that the U.S. military already controlled parts of Baghdad,[ …]