By Ian Parker
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Extra resources for Slavoj Zizek: A Critical Introduction
These irrevocably divided subjects then witness the return of the repressed from what has been constituted in these new conditions of impossibility as something ‘unconscious’ to them. 56 The same point about the role of theory applies to readings of Hegel, for which the distinction between three main classes would appear to provide an almost perfect ideological image and a good deal of solace to bureaucrats administering the buffer states in Eastern Europe. 57 We know how seductive it is to portray society as bringing together workers and employers as if they had common interests,58 and it was exactly this shared interest between the two components of the ‘business class’ that was contested by Marx.
105 When we read Zizek telling a journalist from the West, ‘Do not forget that with me everything is the opposite of what it seems’,106 we should take him at his word. Zizek is contradictory, and my analysis of the contradictoriness of life at the edge of Yugoslavia is a way of mapping that. Tactical collusion with the Stalinist bureaucracy in order to make a living in the 1970s, and open support for the Slovenian state after the restoration of capitalism in the 1990s, do not at all serve to discredit what Zizek writes; but when he claims to be a Marxist we can respond with some comradely Marxist assessment of the political strategies he has adopted.
The reinvention of capitalism in Yugoslavia was also, as Zizek pointed out in his 1990 article for New Left Review, a reinvention of ‘democracy’ which the West has enjoyed immensely, and when the Left gazes with such avid desire it is, of course, implicated in the scene. 101 The fascinated gaze of Western liberals on ‘victims’ in Sarajevo during the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was, as he pointed out, a gaze that could not contemplate supporting the victims if they started to fight back. 102 It should be pointed out, however, that Zizek himself plays to those audiences.