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Zizke: 'It’s totally wrong to say Trump is really a dangerous right-wing fundamentalist. No. He is nothing. He is an opportunist.' Click To Tweet Slavoj Žižek: I think it’s totally wrong to say Trump is really a dangerous right-wing fundamentalist. No. He is nothing. He is an opportunist, the way I see it.
Narrated: Slavoj Žižek is Slovenian philosopher, Marxist, and celebrity intellectual whose sharp criticism of mass culture and politics have made him the ‘Elvis of cultural theory’. But while on tour promoting his most recent book, he appeared to have become a Trump supporter. He lefty friends weren’t pleased. Mary H.K. Choi met up with Žižek to try and find out what he really believed.
Mary H.K. Choi: You said that Clinton was dangerous.
Slavoj Žižek: You know why she was dangerous? Because Trump—is what?—an expression of the populist rage and so on and so on. Hillary didn’t win because she was too much for the left. The paradox is that she lost because she got rid of Bernie Sanders, which was paradoxically then at the … the same rage as the Trump element. She stands much more for this interventionist Republican tradition. The inertia of status quo should somehow be broken and open space for new political reconfiguration. I think this is the only chance for the left.
Mary H.K. Choi: But you are saying that any disruption is better than the status quo.
Slavoj Žižek: No no no no, I am not saying that fascism is better.
Mary H.K. Choi: Yes, exactly.
Slavoj Žižek: What I am is that this fear that Trump is fascism—this is typical leftist stupidity. It’s so easy to use this old label – it’s fascism. I think it’s absolutely crucial, to put it in this old-fashioned Marxist terms, what happened with Trump is, I am sorry to use this prohibited word, is class struggle. There is a clear element in Trump victory of lower white classes who feel exploited and so on and so on. Liberals failed again and again to resolve racist tension—why? Because they translated them in a typical liberal way …
Mary H.K. Choi: Which was how?
Slavoj Žižek: … multicultural tensions …
Mary H.K. Choi: What do you think how it should have been interpreted? How it should have been?
Slavoj Žižek: Here I am classical Marxist. Linking it with economic struggle and so on, global capitalism and so on. I don’t expect any communist revolution. What I expect is just a slightly more, still very moderate, radical left – what Bernie Sanders stood for, along those lines. What America needs is, I think, not some communist party level, but …
Mary H.K. Choi: Just more Bernie Bros?
Slavoj Žižek:… What in Europe we call normal social democracy.
Mary H.K. Choi: What do you think of Trump’s presidency for women?
Slavoj Žižek: I think that Trump would, really, leave things the way they are and wouldn’t care about it. The problem is how much right-wing pressure there would be on Trump.
Mary H.K. Choi: But right-wing pressure can dictate …
Zizek: 'You know, it’s easy to play populism ... Now Trump will have to deliver.' Click To TweetSlavoj Žižek: Yeah, but there will be other counter forces and so on. Listen, I still think that, at least in the basic economic policy and all that, what I wrote a year ago when Trump phenomenon began. Trump does all these scandalous provocations, or whatever, to mask the fact that there is nothing special about it. We live in very strange times. Never in the last decades was there such great public discontent. You know, it’s easy to play populism when …
Mary H.K. Choi: Before you are in power.
Slavoj Žižek: … before. Now he will have to deliver.
[Appeared on vice.com on November 30th 2016.]