“Is it OK to punch a Nazi?” is a question that has ricocheted around Twitter ever since Jan. 20, when “alt-right” provocateur and American white supremacist Richard Spencer got slugged on video by a masked protester during Donald Trump’s US presidential inauguration. Footage of the punch spread quickly around the internet, where it became a topic of much debate, a website and even a meme.
Quartz: So, is it OK to punch a Nazi?
Žižek: No! If there is violence needed, I’m more for Gandhian, passive violence.
I once made a statement, maybe you know it, which cost me dearly. I said the problem with Hitler was that he wasn’t violent enough. Then I said, in the same statement, that Gandhi was more violent than Hitler. All Hitler’s violence was reactive violence. He killed millions, but the ultimate goal was basically to keep the system the way it was—German capitalism and so on—while Gandhi really wanted to bring down the British state. But his violence was symbolic: peaceful demonstrations, general strikes and so on.
What do you think Trump will do?
Žižek: You know what my fear is? Not that Trump will fail and there will be chaos, but for some real period of time, what if he succeeds? You know what happened in Poland? The Law and Justice party, they did such a tremendous social transfer to the poor that no elected European government would dare to do it. They lowered retirement age, they made better conditions for health care, more help for mothers with children and so on. No wonder that people like them. My God! They did something that no left government dares to do. And for me this is the sad truth of Europe: it’s a paradox.
In these desperate times, I’ve begun to look at old Hollywood musicals. Now everybody’s seen it, but I found a good pirate copy of La La Land. And then I saw one of the old musical masterpieces: [from 1935], Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire. Top Hat. And it occurs to me, I want to write something in defense of these old musicals, where they tend to act without psychological depth. They just move like puppets. It’s too psychological for me, La La Land. I prefer the total puppets of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. Maybe I will write something.
[Extract. Appeared on QZ.com on January 27th 2017.]