And by a prudent flight and cunning save A life which valour could not, from the grave. A better buckler I can soon regain, But who can get another life again? Archilochus

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

The Liberal Mistake - the Symptomatic Universality as a Hegemonic Universal

Julian de Medeiros
The lecture today is going to be dedicated to the idea of what Zizek calls symptomatic universality. And if you've followed this lecture Series so far, you'll know that the main theme is the idea of the spurious infinity.  And spurious Infinity is code for what Hegel calls a false Universal. And it's an accusation that he makes against ficta that Victor has spurious Infinities. As I already said in a previous lecture, Zizek also accuses certain post-modern thinkers and post-Marxist thinkers of falling into the Trap of what he calls spurious at Infinities within Identitarian politics. 

 So it's a really like interesting nut to crack and if that sounds abstract I'm going to try to like explain it in a way that is hopefully intuitive and enjoyable too. In fact, I thought that we should begin by addressing the elephant in the room. And we should talk about that Infamous Kanye interview that took place the other day on Infowars. You know what I'm alluding to, yes, so the infamous Kanye interview in which ye, formerly known as Kanye West, made the remark that he loves all people, especially Hitler. And of course this is a hugely offensive outrageous claim, and we should immediately say that we stand against all forms of anti-Semitism, no ifs, no buts. And yet what's interesting here is that in Kanye's statement that he loves Hitler and his other anti-semitic outbursts, we see a kind of spurious Infinity, a logical conclusion that is reached from within liberalism itself from within the false Universal of liberalism itself. 

Now, what is one of the false universals of liberalism is the idea of universalized love, the idea that we love everybody that you should love everybody. This is also how you should interpret Zizek's critique of love where he says that love, rather than being a universalizing agent, love is a very particularizing agent. That love differentiates. That if you were in love with somebody, and they said ,"what do you love about me?" And you say, "well I love everybody". That wouldn't be love. In fact, that would be precisely hate. That would not be love. Love is a particularizing differentiating affection: "I love you above other people". This is like something that I really like from Hana Arendt, where she says that one of the signs that you're in love is that you don't want to be with others, that whereas friendship blossoms in the company of others love Withers. That love fundamentally is something that isolates you. It's like a video I made a while back about the Hilkian maxim, that to be in love is to guard each other's Solitude. You become a world unto yourself.

Now those of you who followed my lecture on love have already heard of all about this, and yet the idea of a universalizing Love, a "Love of All", a love of everything, is thereby a false Universal. It means almost the exact opposite, which could be a kind of hate. And it's also why he never loves the world. That the ethical attitude of "loving the world" is disingenuous. That he fundamentally starts by saying "I hate the world I find, the world a miserable place of abject misery and suffering.  And it's precisely against the background against the Horizon of that kind of pain that you find something worth living for, something worth fighting for. That love is a kind of resistance against the abyss. It's how you crawl out of it. It's like a rope ladder. It's not something that is a universalizing substance as such.

Of course, what we see with Kanye, if you follow his argument (if you can call it that) is that he loves everyone, even and especially Hitler. Now why would Hitler, according to Kanye, be worthy of Special Love? Well according to Kanye, Hitler should be worthy of special love because he is hated by so many others, thereby Hitler, suddenly finds himself as the true minority, the person who is the voice of the voiceless. And we find near an incredibly sick and twisted inversion, what Hegel called difficult, or the world upside down, where Hitler suddenly presented as the lost soul who is deserving of our love.  It's interesting here because obviously what where Kanye is coming from is from what he believes to be a Christian ethic of universal love. And yet the Christian ethic is unconditional love, not Universal Love.  Now what is the difference between unconditional love rather than Universal love? isn't "I love everybody," but it's "I love you above everybody else, I love you no matter what against everybody else." It's a singular instance of particularized Love that therein becomes Universal. 

I'll give you an example here the famous passage where Christ says, or Jesus, at this point says "in order to love me you have to hate your family". It's an incredibly difficult passage to understand, and to grasp, because usually we would think loving your family would be something virtuous and something a good Christian would do. So why would Jesus pose it, that you should hate your family in order to love him? Well think about the Fast and the Furious series. Think about how in the Fast and the Furious,  the idea of family becomes elevated to a kind of spurious Infinity. In each and every movie we have additional cast members who are included in the family. In fact, even the villains are eventually wrapped back into the family. Family thereby is like the identitarian Plus (+) at the end of the lgbtq sequence, that if you expand the sequence long enough, everyone can be included.

Here we find exactly the accusation that Hegel made. Remember what I said in the previous lecture, that Hegel accused Ficht of being someone who "embraced Spurious Infinities" because, he said, "the ideal lies Beyond the Horizon like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow". And that as long as we simply keep searching for it, we thereby find an infinite progress, an infinite "Arc towards Justice", towards the absolute good.  And Hagel said that as soon as you elevate the idea of the infinite into this this never reachable space, you don't have a true Universal, you simply have a delayed Universal, a universal that will never arrive. Here we also have a difference, for example, between Judaism and the Abrahamic faith, or not Abraham, okay, the Christian faith. Sorry, within Judaism the event of Christianity hasn't taken place. In a sense, it's disavowed Judaism is in a Perpetual state of waiting, of anticipation, of setting the table, as it were, for the arrival of the Messiah. It's within Christianity with that we have the much more traumatic encounter, that the event has already happened, that it has already taken place. The revolution within the logic of the Old Testament that now is the New Testament. Namely, the idea of the community of the faithful, the Trinity spirit, and so on has already taken place. It's like you're not setting the table, it's you've had the dinner party and now you're cleaning up afterwards. This puts Christianity in a fundamentally different position. Ironically, it's the Doom mongers, the apocalyptic evangelicals, who thereby revert to the less traumatic stance of the judaic faith. Namely, Christ wasn't the real event, Christ was simply the warm-up act for the true event which will be. The resurrection is the the real Reckoning. Exactly and thereby, we find ourselves within this Evangelical moment in a kind of Spurious infinity. Right, you can live in a sort of Perpetual preparation for the apocalypse thereby lending a kind of infinite immediacy to your present moment, and therein lies a certain false Universal again, or spurious Infinity.

Now to go back to Kanye, when Kanye thereby argues that Hitler is deserving of love because he is so universally hated, we find The Logical trap that lies within liberalism.  Namely the idea that everyone is equally deserving of Love, thereby we should love, in particular, those who are considered by the majority as being not worthy of love and so, in a totally messed up contrarian fashion, it's Kanye who represents himself as the figure of universalized love. That he has the courage to love the very sad thing to watch unfold of course how these contradictions that are imminent and implicit to liberalism themselves come into fruition here 

We should look a little bit closer at which it calls a symptomatic Universal.  And in order to do so, we could look at how Zizek critiques liberalism. So Zizek essentially argues that the two dominant polls of liberalism today tend to be what you might call the "liberalism of Democrats of the United States" and the "liberalism of Republicans." The liberalism of Republicans usually tends to be economic liberalism, with emphasis on free markets, emphasis on individual liberty, resistance against tyranny, government control, and so on and so forth. Democratic liberalism, which also Embraces the tenets of the free market, however argues that you require a government that ensures the rights and the Civic Liberties of individuals, and of minorities. In other words, we tend to have an egalitarian emphasis within the idea of "democratic liberalism," if you will, which for some is "Progressive liberalism", and which can also be "identitarian liberalism", versus the Republican, more conservative and sometimes reactionary emphasis on the idea of a anti-government liberalism, of something that easily becomes a kind of libertarianism.

Now Zizek argues that rather than trying to discern which side of this divide is the true liberalism, whether it is the liberalism of ensuring the equality of individuals through government action, or whether it is the liberalism of protecting the sovereignty of the individual against government. That, rather than trying to decide who on which side of this divide has the "truer liberalism" we should argue, or we should conclude that the central identity of liberalism is precisely that it cannot be reconciled except by abstracting into these dual polls, that these two sides of irreconcilable liberalism is the truth of liberalism. That there is no "true liberalism" behind the mask of these two antagonistic versions, hence also, why we should go back to one of the liberal platitudes today namely the complaint about tribalism. And we realized that this complaint about tribalism falls prey to the exact same as the spurious infinite, namely, the problem with Society is that we don't get along. If only we could find a universal frame through which we could experience Society thereby not succumbing to two tribes. And yet, the Logical Paradox implicit in this argument is that it's the very same.  Liberals who argue against tribalism, who insist on the infinite of the spurious infinite of particularizing identity whether it's sexual identity, ethnic identity, religious identity, and so on and so forth. And so thereby we have this Melting Pot of identities in which everyone is supposed to be able to exercise their own individual lifestyle through the lens which is thereby the disavowed symptomatic lens. Namely of a liberalism that is underpinned by global capitalism. 

And here we can see again, to go back to Kanye.  Where Kanye veers in the wrong direction what starts as a critique of capitalism ends up in an Anti-semitic tirade against the idea of a Jewish scientist plot meant to undermine the virility of men, and the engagement in society through true family values and so on and so forth.  This is the pseudo-revolution that is always offered by fascism. The idea that there is an enemy 'other' that thereby is trying to undermine the true Universal of the nation, of the Fatherland, of the faith of the family, and that as long as we fight this enemy through reactionary, namely anti-liberal means, we will return to the true Universal. 

Here you see again the problem with this idea of a false Universal masquerading as a true one.  The idea of the family, the idea of the faith, the idea of the Fatherland that has to be protected against an enemy, that is thereby elevated to a universal substance, namely the idea of the Jew, capital J. When the reality is, of course, that the Jew doesn't exist, that and this, is to argue over, over, and over again is the Anti-semitic fantasy. And the accusation about the Jew has nothing to do with lived, real Jewish experience. It is entirely a universalizing of an abstract reactionary fear predicated upon upholding the empty core, the ontological Emptiness, within the idea of the nation, which is itself a false Universal, and so in order to mask, or uphold this false Universal, it requires the antithesis of another false Universal of the idea of the Jew, the enemy the enemy of the people, and so on and so forth. And so here we have the problem with what Heil calls a "spurious Infinity" is that in order to sustain the illusion that it is not in fact a false Universal, but a true one, it requires a kind of reactionary positing of either something that cannot be reached, that lies perpetually Over the Horizon some Arc of justice that will never end, or the positing of an antithetical reactionary enemy that will thereby eliminate your "true Universal" unless you eliminate it first. And that is a trap, that we find within the the link from liberalism towards Kanye's Outburst about "loving Hitler."

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