Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Coming Totalitarians

The exercise of authority is an “irrational” act of contingent decision which cuts short the endless chain of enumerating reasons pro et contra. Is this not the very rationale of Hegel’s defense of monarchy? The State as a rational totality needs at its head a figure of “irrational” authority, an authority not justified by its qualifications: while all other public servants have to prove their capacity to exert power, the king is justified by the very fact that he is a king. To put it in more contemporary terms, the performative aspect of state acts is reserved for the king: the state bureaucracy prepared the content of state acts, but it is the signature of the king which enacts them, enforcing them upon society. Hegel was well aware that it is only this distance between the “knowledge” embodied in state bureaucracy and the authority of the Master embodied in the king which protects the social body against the “totalitarian” temptation: what we call “totalitarian regime” is not a regime in which the Master imposes its unconstrained authority and ignores the suggestions of rational knowledge, but the regime in which Knowledge (the rationally justified authority) immediately assumes “performative” power – Stalin was not (presenting himself as) a Master, he was the highest servant of the people legitimized by his knowledge and abilities.
- Slavoj Zizek, "King, Rabble, Sex, and War in Hegel"

6 comments:

Ed Bonderenka said...

Huh?

Joe Conservative said...

The difference between a monarchy and totalitarian state.... if you're into the 'finer' distinctions.

Joe Conservative said...

btw - Godard is the duck's favorite director.

WomanHonorThyself said...

listening now FJ...Perhaps our so ca called leaders should study Hegel as well!

Happy Valentines Day sweet friend! xoxoxo :)

FreeThinke said...

Bah! HUMBUG!

-FJ said...

Skepticism is always welcome... ;)