Žižek and Liberal Democracy

Slavoj Zizek

Fabio Vighi and Heiko Feldner write:

[Slavoj] Žižek believes that, today, any genuine and legitimate anticapitalist stance must be complemented by an attack on liberal democracy, on the grounds that holding on to the latter functions as a blackmail against the implementations of radical political projects.  (Vighi and Feldner, 291)

Žižek’s point here is worth pondering, as it disturbs the fundamental boundaries of the standard leftist position today.  If the Left continues to adhere to the current democratic parameters (liberal democracy alied with global capitalism), it will face the same political deadlock ad infinitum-which means the Left will keep advocating a distributive justice that systematically fails to engender political passion whereas the Right will keep mobilizing various forms of obscene enjoyment (racism, proto-Fascist nationalisms, etc.).  (292)


Vighi, Fabio and Heiko Feldner.  “Pathological Attachments: Slavoj Žižek on Anticapitalism and Liberal Democracy.”  Rethinking Marxism 21, no. 2 (April 2009): 290-97.

5 Responses to “Žižek and Liberal Democracy”

  1. 1 lettrist July 4, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    But the standard “leftist” if you can call them that, is someone who for example campaigned for Obama. Yet they did get pretty passionate about it.

    But it is totally deadlocking. The american left never pushes very much compared to other places. it’s too sterile and pc.

  2. 2 Jack Stephens July 5, 2009 at 3:41 am

    True that homey, but when Žižek is talking about “Left” he means it as radical left in the tradition of anarchism, Marxism, and socialism. So he’s challenging them more than the standard center-left and centrist Democrats.

  3. 4 Jack Stephens July 5, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    No, not necessarily. He’s more talking about how the radical Left needs to challenge the views of liberal democracy because the Left has a hard time coming out against the concept of liberal democracy. They tend to either beat around the bush using concepts of “human rights” and “democracy” or they skirt the issue all together when it is brought up, thus forfeiting any challenge to it.

    The article gets into more detail.

  1. 1 Žižek and Liberal Democracy « The Mustard Seed Trackback on July 3, 2009 at 7:36 pm

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