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34

Allegro moderato – Adagio:

FEAR THY NEIGHBOUR AS THYSELF!

10
terms
8
notes

Žižek, S. (2009). Allegro moderato – Adagio:. In Žižek, S. Violence. Profile Books, pp. 34-62

34

This is what separates a radical emancipatory politics from our political status quo. We’re talking here not about the difference between two visions, or sets of axioms, but about the difference between politics based on a set of universal axioms and a politics which renounces the very constitutive dimension of the political, since it resorts to fear as its ultimate mobilising principle: fear of immigrants, fear of crime, fear of godless sexual depravity, fear of the excessive state itself, with its burden of high taxation, fear of ecological catastrophe, fear of harassment. Political correctness is the exemplary liberal form of the politics of fear. [...]

I'm still quite wary of anyone who uses the term "political correctness" because their reasoning is usually quite steeped in fallacy and Othering, but I guess I can mostly get behind Zizek's take on it

—p.34 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 8 months ago

This is what separates a radical emancipatory politics from our political status quo. We’re talking here not about the difference between two visions, or sets of axioms, but about the difference between politics based on a set of universal axioms and a politics which renounces the very constitutive dimension of the political, since it resorts to fear as its ultimate mobilising principle: fear of immigrants, fear of crime, fear of godless sexual depravity, fear of the excessive state itself, with its burden of high taxation, fear of ecological catastrophe, fear of harassment. Political correctness is the exemplary liberal form of the politics of fear. [...]

I'm still quite wary of anyone who uses the term "political correctness" because their reasoning is usually quite steeped in fallacy and Othering, but I guess I can mostly get behind Zizek's take on it

—p.34 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 8 months ago

biopolitics: a term defined by Foucault (though not first) as the style of government that regulates populations through "biopower" (the application and impact of political power on all aspects of human life)

34

'bio-politics' designates the regulation of the security and welfare of human lives as its primary goal

—p.34 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 8 months ago

'bio-politics' designates the regulation of the security and welfare of human lives as its primary goal

—p.34 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 8 months ago
35

Today’s liberal tolerance towards others, the respect of otherness and openness towards it, is counterpointed by an obsessive fear of harassment. In short, the Other is just fine, but only insofar as his presence is not intrusive, insofar as this Other is not really other [...]

Post-political biopolitics also has two aspects which cannot but appear to belong to two opposite ideological spaces: that of the reduction of humans to ‘bare life’, to Homo sacer, that so-called sacred being who is the object of expert caretaking knowledge, but is excluded, like prisoners at Guantanamo or Holocaust victims, from all rights; and that of respect for the vulnerable Other brought to an extreme through an attitude of narcissistic subjectivity which experiences the self as vulnerable, constantly exposed to a multitude of potential ‘harassments’. Can there be a more emphatic contrast than the one between respect for the Other’s vulnerability and the reduction of the Other to mere ‘bare life’ regulated by administrative knowledge? But what if these two stances none the less spring from a single root? What if they are two aspects of one and the same underlying attitude? What if they coincide in what one is tempted to designate as the contemporary case of the Hegelian ‘infinite judgment’ which asserts the identity of opposites? What these two poles share is precisely the underlying refusal of any higher causes, the notion that the ultimate goal of our lives is life itself. This is why there is no contradiction between the respect for the vulnerable Other and the readiness to justify torture, the extreme expression of treating individuals as Homini sacer.

—p.35 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 8 months ago

Today’s liberal tolerance towards others, the respect of otherness and openness towards it, is counterpointed by an obsessive fear of harassment. In short, the Other is just fine, but only insofar as his presence is not intrusive, insofar as this Other is not really other [...]

Post-political biopolitics also has two aspects which cannot but appear to belong to two opposite ideological spaces: that of the reduction of humans to ‘bare life’, to Homo sacer, that so-called sacred being who is the object of expert caretaking knowledge, but is excluded, like prisoners at Guantanamo or Holocaust victims, from all rights; and that of respect for the vulnerable Other brought to an extreme through an attitude of narcissistic subjectivity which experiences the self as vulnerable, constantly exposed to a multitude of potential ‘harassments’. Can there be a more emphatic contrast than the one between respect for the Other’s vulnerability and the reduction of the Other to mere ‘bare life’ regulated by administrative knowledge? But what if these two stances none the less spring from a single root? What if they are two aspects of one and the same underlying attitude? What if they coincide in what one is tempted to designate as the contemporary case of the Hegelian ‘infinite judgment’ which asserts the identity of opposites? What these two poles share is precisely the underlying refusal of any higher causes, the notion that the ultimate goal of our lives is life itself. This is why there is no contradiction between the respect for the vulnerable Other and the readiness to justify torture, the extreme expression of treating individuals as Homini sacer.

—p.35 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 8 months ago
39

[...] Another subject (and, ultimately, the subject as such) is for Lacan not something directly given, but a ‘presupposition’, something presumed, an object of belief – how can I ever be sure that what I see in front of me is another subject, not a flat biological machine lacking depth?

The Neighbour Thing

This presupposed subject is thus not another human being with a rich inner life filled with personal stories which are self-narrated in order to acquire a meaningful experience of life, since such a person cannot ultimately be an enemy. ‘An enemy is someone whose story you have not heard.’ [...]

'subject' as in the tortured subject (esp by the US, post-9/11)

—p.39 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 8 months ago

[...] Another subject (and, ultimately, the subject as such) is for Lacan not something directly given, but a ‘presupposition’, something presumed, an object of belief – how can I ever be sure that what I see in front of me is another subject, not a flat biological machine lacking depth?

The Neighbour Thing

This presupposed subject is thus not another human being with a rich inner life filled with personal stories which are self-narrated in order to acquire a meaningful experience of life, since such a person cannot ultimately be an enemy. ‘An enemy is someone whose story you have not heard.’ [...]

'subject' as in the tortured subject (esp by the US, post-9/11)

—p.39 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 8 months ago

reminiscent of the works of George Gordon Byron, typified by gloomy Romantic themes and passionate, arrogant and self-destructive heroes

40

these figures were not personifications of sublime Byronesque demonic evil: the gap between their intimate experience and the horror of their acts was immense

—p.40 by Slavoj Žižek
confirm
2 years, 8 months ago

these figures were not personifications of sublime Byronesque demonic evil: the gap between their intimate experience and the horror of their acts was immense

—p.40 by Slavoj Žižek
confirm
2 years, 8 months ago

(noun) a eulogistic oration or writing / (noun) formal or elaborate praise

41

the official reports from the show trials, the attacks on enemies, the official panegyrics to Stalin and other leaders

—p.41 by Slavoj Žižek
confirm
2 years, 8 months ago

the official reports from the show trials, the attacks on enemies, the official panegyrics to Stalin and other leaders

—p.41 by Slavoj Žižek
confirm
2 years, 8 months ago

referring to Frankfurt School sociologist and philosopher Jürgen Habermas, best known for his theories on communicative rationality and the public sphere

41

To put it in Habermasian terms, they are involved in a pragmatic contradiction, since they violate the ethical norms which sustain their own speech community.

—p.41 by Slavoj Žižek
unknown
2 years, 8 months ago

To put it in Habermasian terms, they are involved in a pragmatic contradiction, since they violate the ethical norms which sustain their own speech community.

—p.41 by Slavoj Žižek
unknown
2 years, 8 months ago

1925–1995: French philosopher (has influenced literary theory, post-structuralism and postmodernism)

42

a more Deleuzian notion of a contingent series intersecting and generating totally disparate meanings

—p.42 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 8 months ago

a more Deleuzian notion of a contingent series intersecting and generating totally disparate meanings

—p.42 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 8 months ago
44

Those Western leftists who heroically defied anti-communist hysteria in their own countries and did so with the utmost sincerity provide other instances of the tragic produced by the Cold War. They were prepared to go to prison for their communist convictions and in defence of the Soviet Union. Isn’t it the very illusory nature of their belief that makes their subjective stance so tragically sublime? The miserable reality of the Stalinist Soviet Union gives their inner conviction a fragile beauty. This leads us to a radical and unexpected conclusion: it is not enough to say that we are dealing here with a tragically misplaced ethical conviction, with a blind trust that avoids confronting the miserable, terrifying reality of its ethical point of reference. What if, on the contrary, such a blindness, such a violent exclusionary gesture of refusing to see, such a disavowal of reality, such a fetishist attitude of ‘I know very well that things are horrible in the Soviet Union, but I believe none the less in Soviet socialism’ is the innermost constituent of every ethical stance?

[...]

[...] The question here is: does every ethics have to rely on such a gesture of fetishist disavowal? Is even the most universal ethics not obliged to draw a line and ignore some sort of suffering? [...] Would the watcher be able to continue going on as usual? Yes, but only if he or she were able somehow to forget – in an act which suspended symbolic efficiency – what had been witnessed. This forgetting entails a gesture of what is called fetishist disavowal: ‘I know, but I don’t want to know that I know, so I don’t know.’ I know it, but I refuse to fully assume the consequences of this knowledge, so that I can continue acting as if I don’t know it.

It begins to come clear that every ethics may well have to rely on just this gesture of fetishist disavowal. [...]

uses Kant's views on the French revolution as an example

—p.44 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 8 months ago

Those Western leftists who heroically defied anti-communist hysteria in their own countries and did so with the utmost sincerity provide other instances of the tragic produced by the Cold War. They were prepared to go to prison for their communist convictions and in defence of the Soviet Union. Isn’t it the very illusory nature of their belief that makes their subjective stance so tragically sublime? The miserable reality of the Stalinist Soviet Union gives their inner conviction a fragile beauty. This leads us to a radical and unexpected conclusion: it is not enough to say that we are dealing here with a tragically misplaced ethical conviction, with a blind trust that avoids confronting the miserable, terrifying reality of its ethical point of reference. What if, on the contrary, such a blindness, such a violent exclusionary gesture of refusing to see, such a disavowal of reality, such a fetishist attitude of ‘I know very well that things are horrible in the Soviet Union, but I believe none the less in Soviet socialism’ is the innermost constituent of every ethical stance?

[...]

[...] The question here is: does every ethics have to rely on such a gesture of fetishist disavowal? Is even the most universal ethics not obliged to draw a line and ignore some sort of suffering? [...] Would the watcher be able to continue going on as usual? Yes, but only if he or she were able somehow to forget – in an act which suspended symbolic efficiency – what had been witnessed. This forgetting entails a gesture of what is called fetishist disavowal: ‘I know, but I don’t want to know that I know, so I don’t know.’ I know it, but I refuse to fully assume the consequences of this knowledge, so that I can continue acting as if I don’t know it.

It begins to come clear that every ethics may well have to rely on just this gesture of fetishist disavowal. [...]

uses Kant's views on the French revolution as an example

—p.44 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 8 months ago

(adjective) of the same substance

46

What if such an exclusion of some form of otherness from the scope of our ethical concerns is consubstantial with the very founding gesture of ethical universality

—p.46 by Slavoj Žižek
confirm
2 years, 8 months ago

What if such an exclusion of some form of otherness from the scope of our ethical concerns is consubstantial with the very founding gesture of ethical universality

—p.46 by Slavoj Žižek
confirm
2 years, 8 months ago

physical or intellectual pleasure, delight, or ecstasy; the concept featured heavily in the psychoanalysis of Jacques Lacan's and was expanded on by Roland Barthes for literary theory, to contrast with mere "pleasure" derived from reading texts that don't challenge the reader as a subject. can also refer to pleasure that devolves into pain

49

Why the need to decaffeinate the Other, to deprive him or her of their raw substance of jouissance?

—p.49 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 8 months ago

Why the need to decaffeinate the Other, to deprive him or her of their raw substance of jouissance?

—p.49 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 8 months ago
50

[...] This fact confronts us with another, less attractive, aspect of globalisation: the ‘global information village’ is the condition of the fact that something which appeared in an obscure daily in Denmark caused a violent stir in distant Muslim countries. It is as if Denmark and Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Indonesia really were neighbouring countries. Those who understand globalisation as an opportunity for the entire earth to be a unified space of communication, one which brings together all humanity, often fail to notice this dark side of their proposition. Since a Neighbour is, as Freud suspected long ago, primarily a thing, a traumatic intruder, someone whose different way of life (or, rather, way of jouissance materialised in its social practices and rituals) disturbs us, throws the balance of our way of life off the rails, when it comes too close, this can also give rise to an aggressive reaction aimed at getting rid of this disturbing intruder. [...]

—p.50 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 8 months ago

[...] This fact confronts us with another, less attractive, aspect of globalisation: the ‘global information village’ is the condition of the fact that something which appeared in an obscure daily in Denmark caused a violent stir in distant Muslim countries. It is as if Denmark and Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Indonesia really were neighbouring countries. Those who understand globalisation as an opportunity for the entire earth to be a unified space of communication, one which brings together all humanity, often fail to notice this dark side of their proposition. Since a Neighbour is, as Freud suspected long ago, primarily a thing, a traumatic intruder, someone whose different way of life (or, rather, way of jouissance materialised in its social practices and rituals) disturbs us, throws the balance of our way of life off the rails, when it comes too close, this can also give rise to an aggressive reaction aimed at getting rid of this disturbing intruder. [...]

—p.50 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 8 months ago
52

What if, however, humans exceed animals in their capacity for violence precisely because they speak? As Hegel was already well aware, there is something violent in the very symbolisation of a thing, which equals its mortification. This violence operates at multiple levels. Language simplifies the designated thing, reducing it to a single feature. It dismembers the thing, destroying its organic unity, treating its parts and properties as autonomous. It inserts the thing into a field of meaning which is ultimately external to it. When we name gold ‘gold’, we violently extract a metal from its natural texture, investing into it our dreams of wealth, power, spiritual purity and so on, which have nothing whatsoever to do with the immediate reality of gold.

connects it to Lacan's idea of the Master-Signifier

—p.52 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 8 months ago

What if, however, humans exceed animals in their capacity for violence precisely because they speak? As Hegel was already well aware, there is something violent in the very symbolisation of a thing, which equals its mortification. This violence operates at multiple levels. Language simplifies the designated thing, reducing it to a single feature. It dismembers the thing, destroying its organic unity, treating its parts and properties as autonomous. It inserts the thing into a field of meaning which is ultimately external to it. When we name gold ‘gold’, we violently extract a metal from its natural texture, investing into it our dreams of wealth, power, spiritual purity and so on, which have nothing whatsoever to do with the immediate reality of gold.

connects it to Lacan's idea of the Master-Signifier

—p.52 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 8 months ago

(adjective) of, relating to, or characteristic of Hegel, his philosophy, or his dialectic method / (noun) a follower of Hegel; an adherent of Hegelianism

55

There is the elementary matrix of the Hegelian dialectical process here: the external opposition (between law and its criminal transgression) is transformed into the opposition, internal to the transgression itself, between particular transgressions and the absolute transgression which appears as its opposite, as the universal law.

—p.55 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 8 months ago

There is the elementary matrix of the Hegelian dialectical process here: the external opposition (between law and its criminal transgression) is transformed into the opposition, internal to the transgression itself, between particular transgressions and the absolute transgression which appears as its opposite, as the universal law.

—p.55 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 8 months ago
57

The same principle applies to every political protest: when workers protest their exploitation, they do not protest a simple reality, but an experience of their real predicament made meaningful through language. Reality in itself, in its stupid existence, is never intolerable: it is language, its symbolisation, which makes it such. So precisely when we are dealing with the scene of a furious crowd, attacking and burning buildings and cars, lynching people, etc., we should never forget the placards they are carrying and the words which sustain and justify their acts. [...]

(the previous example relates to anti-Semitism being based on one's personal image of "the Jew")

he connects this to Heidegger's idea of "essencing" (Wesen) later on in the paragraph but idk if I really care about the specifics

—p.57 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 8 months ago

The same principle applies to every political protest: when workers protest their exploitation, they do not protest a simple reality, but an experience of their real predicament made meaningful through language. Reality in itself, in its stupid existence, is never intolerable: it is language, its symbolisation, which makes it such. So precisely when we are dealing with the scene of a furious crowd, attacking and burning buildings and cars, lynching people, etc., we should never forget the placards they are carrying and the words which sustain and justify their acts. [...]

(the previous example relates to anti-Semitism being based on one's personal image of "the Jew")

he connects this to Heidegger's idea of "essencing" (Wesen) later on in the paragraph but idk if I really care about the specifics

—p.57 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 8 months ago

(adj) relating to entities and the facts about them; relating to real as opposed to phenomenal existence (philosophy)

60

the essence of violence has nothing to do with ontic violence, suffering, war, destruction, etc.; the essence of violence resides in the violent character of the very imposition/founding of the new mode of the Essence – disclosure of communal Being – itself

—p.60 by Martin Heidegger
notable
2 years, 8 months ago

the essence of violence has nothing to do with ontic violence, suffering, war, destruction, etc.; the essence of violence resides in the violent character of the very imposition/founding of the new mode of the Essence – disclosure of communal Being – itself

—p.60 by Martin Heidegger
notable
2 years, 8 months ago
62

[...] She is aware that Beauvoir’s claim about the factual inferiority of blacks aims at something more than the simple social fact that, in the American South of (not only) that time, blacks were treated as inferior by the white majority and, in a way, they effectively were inferior. But her critical solution, propelled by the care to avoid racist claims on the factual inferiority of blacks, is to relativise their inferiority into a matter of interpretation and judgment by white racists, and distance it from a question of their very being. But what this softening distinction misses is the truly trenchant dimension of racism: the ‘being’ of blacks (as of whites or anyone else) is a socio-symbolic being. When they are treated by whites as inferior, this does indeed make them inferior at the level of their socio-symbolic identity. In other words, the white racist ideology exerts a performative efficiency. It is not merely an interpretation of what blacks are, but an interpretation that determines the very being and social existence of the interpreted subjects.

We can now locate precisely what makes Sandford and other critics of Beauvoir resist her formulation that blacks actually were inferior: this resistance is itself ideological. At the base of this ideology is the fear that, if one concedes this point, we will have lost the inner freedom, autonomy and dignity of the human individual. Which is why such critics insist that blacks are not inferior but merely ‘inferiorised’ by the violence imposed on them by white racist discourse. That is, they are affected by an imposition which does not affect them in the very core of their being, and, consequently, which they can (and do) resist as free autonomous agents through their acts, dreams and projects.

about Stella Sandford's response to Simone de Beauvoir saying:

many racists, ignoring the rigors of science, insist on declaring that even if the psychological reasons haven’t been established, the fact is that blacks are inferior. You only have to travel through America to be convinced of it.

—p.62 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 8 months ago

[...] She is aware that Beauvoir’s claim about the factual inferiority of blacks aims at something more than the simple social fact that, in the American South of (not only) that time, blacks were treated as inferior by the white majority and, in a way, they effectively were inferior. But her critical solution, propelled by the care to avoid racist claims on the factual inferiority of blacks, is to relativise their inferiority into a matter of interpretation and judgment by white racists, and distance it from a question of their very being. But what this softening distinction misses is the truly trenchant dimension of racism: the ‘being’ of blacks (as of whites or anyone else) is a socio-symbolic being. When they are treated by whites as inferior, this does indeed make them inferior at the level of their socio-symbolic identity. In other words, the white racist ideology exerts a performative efficiency. It is not merely an interpretation of what blacks are, but an interpretation that determines the very being and social existence of the interpreted subjects.

We can now locate precisely what makes Sandford and other critics of Beauvoir resist her formulation that blacks actually were inferior: this resistance is itself ideological. At the base of this ideology is the fear that, if one concedes this point, we will have lost the inner freedom, autonomy and dignity of the human individual. Which is why such critics insist that blacks are not inferior but merely ‘inferiorised’ by the violence imposed on them by white racist discourse. That is, they are affected by an imposition which does not affect them in the very core of their being, and, consequently, which they can (and do) resist as free autonomous agents through their acts, dreams and projects.

about Stella Sandford's response to Simone de Beauvoir saying:

many racists, ignoring the rigors of science, insist on declaring that even if the psychological reasons haven’t been established, the fact is that blacks are inferior. You only have to travel through America to be convinced of it.

—p.62 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 8 months ago

(adjective) keen, sharp / (adjective) vigorously effective and articulate / (adjective) caustic / (adjective) sharply perceptive; penetrating / (adjective) clear-cut, distinct

62

the truly trenchant dimension of racism: the ‘being’ of blacks (as of whites or anyone else) is a socio-symbolic being

—p.62 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 8 months ago

the truly trenchant dimension of racism: the ‘being’ of blacks (as of whites or anyone else) is a socio-symbolic being

—p.62 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 8 months ago