Sexuality in the Posthuman Age

[Appeared in Stasis 2016, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 54-69 – pdf] It is the profound distrust of sexual love that is the main feature of Platonov’s work throughout the 1920s. His great novels from this period—Chevengur and especially The Foundation Pit—are usually interpreted as a critical depiction of Stalinist utopia and its disastrous consequences. Such a view of his work is deeply misleading. Why? The utopia Platonov stages in these two works is not[ …]

Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, with Stephen Kotkin

Books by Kotkin STEPHEN KOTKIN: I think there are a lot of people out there, but I can’t see anyone. Which is fortunate. I get stage fright. I have to thank Jean Strouse again for the year at the Cullman Center. There are many pages of this book that would not be in there had it not been for the New York Public Library’s collection, and I am very grateful. In fact, we were just[ …]

Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, with Stephen Kotkin (podcast)

[Video version available here.] http://media.nypl.org/audio/LIVE_2015-3-31_Kotkin_and_Zizek.mp3 Books by Kotkin STEPHEN KOTKIN: I think there are a lot of people out there, but I can’t see anyone. Which is fortunate. I get stage fright. I have to thank Jean Strouse again for the year at the Cullman Center. There are many pages of this book that would not be in there had it not been for the New York Public Library’s collection, and I am very grateful.[ …]

A modest rejoinder

Josh Cohen’s review of my last two books misrepresents my position so thoroughly that I think a short clarification is required. I prefer to disregard his resumé of my reading of Hegel which begins with a total nonsense: “Where, in the standard reading of Hegel, one element comes into conflict with another external to it, in Žižek’s reading, conflict is internal or ‘immanent’ to the first element.” It is precisely in the standard reading of[ …]

Barbarism with a Human Face

Again and again in television reports on the mass protests in Kiev against the Yanukovich government, we saw images of protesters tearing down statues of Lenin. It was an easy way to demonstrate anger: the statues functioned as a symbol of Soviet oppression, and Putin’s Russia is perceived as continuing the Soviet policy of Russian domination of its neighbours. Bear in mind that it was only in 1956 that Lenin’s statues started to proliferate throughout[ …]

When the Party Commits Suicide

[Extract. Appeared in New Left Review I/238, November-December 1999] Finally, in the deluge of the conservative-liberal ‘Black Books’ on Stalinist ‘totalitarianism’, a work which not only meets the highest standards of historical research, but also enables us to grasp the unique social dynamics that culminated in the great purges of the 1930s: J. Arch Getty’s and Oleg V. Naumov’s The Road to Terror. Based on the archives of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party, which[ …]

How to Begin from the Beginning

[New Left Review 57, May-June 2009 – pdf] In his wonderful short text ‘Notes of a Publicist’—written in February 1922 when the Bolsheviks, after winning the Civil War against all odds, had to retreat into the New Economic Policy of allowing a much wider scope to the market economy and private property—Lenin uses the analogy of a climber who must backtrack from his first attempt to reach a new mountain peak to describe what retreat means[ …]

The Two Totalitarianisms

A small note – not the stuff of headlines, obviously – appeared in the newspapers on 3 February. In response to a call for the prohibition of the public display of the swastika and other Nazi symbols, a group of conservative members of the European Parliament, mostly from ex-Communist countries, demanded that the same apply to Communist symbols: not only the hammer and sickle, but even the red star. This proposal should not be dismissed[ …]

An Interview with Slavoj Zizek, Interview with The Believer

Slavoj Žižek is as paradoxical as his world-renowned work, as much a serious intellectual as a comedian. Were it not for his vivid examples drawn from popular culture, the tangential though insightful ideas in his many books would be lost on the world and limited to a select few. He is an expert in Lacan, Stalin, Hitchcock, and Christianity, and coming from Slovenia has a fresh, surprising response to Western consumer products. He is a[ …]