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

Monday, January 30, 2023

Zizek on the Poetico-Military Complex: The Actuality of Plato's Critique of Poetry, et al


Peter Jungblut, "Slavoj Žižek calls for "democratic militarisation" of the West" (Google translate from German)
The prominent Slovenian philosopher is once again pugnacious and provocative: In order to defeat Putin, the West must not only rely on the free market, but needs something like a "war communism": "That's how real, good leftists think."

Thus, the philosopher Slavoj Žižek (73) will probably bring even more opponents in the political left. Speaking to the Russian exile medium Meduza, he settled accounts with all those who oppose arms deliveries to Ukraine and called their point of view "incredibly stupid," not for moral but for "logical" reasons. In particular, he attacked his professional colleague Noam Chomsky (94): "The old left still thinks that the US and Western Europe are the most important imperialists. Accordingly, 'their enemy is my friend'. They still cling to the belief that Russia is fighting global imperialism." In fact, however, "neo-fascism" prevails in Russia under Putin.

"State intervention is needed"
Žižek praised the German Greens for their "pragmatism" because they used the detachment from Russia's oil and gas supplies for the ecological turnaround: "That's how real, good leftists think." In order to "annoy and provoke the people," the intellectual called for the introduction of "elements of war communism," meaning greater possibilities for state intervention, for example in health care and the environment: "Of course, the West does not need a communist dictatorship."

However, Žižek speaks of "democratic militarization": "Of course I don't mean handing over power to the army. But during the war you must not surrender yourself to the chance of the market, it needs state intervention." The political and economic crisis caused by the war must be combated with "military measures". On the other hand, Žižek called the disputes over LGBT+ people "pseudo-conflicts" that "strongly divided" people. Unfortunately, many leftists are "obsessed" with it.

"Every critique must begin with self-criticism"
"Western ideology works in such a way that the system constantly criticizes itself but does not change anything. If this is not remedied, the West will lose," the philosopher said. He accuses "progressive" intellectuals of secretly expecting a quick triumph for Putin, the Ukrainian resistance having surprised them: "This is a real miracle - they believe in their freedom and fight for it."

He called Russia a "very traumatized, divided country" whose undesirable development was also the responsibility of the West: "That will sound a little Stalinist, but any criticism must begin with self-criticism. The tragedy of Russia is that in the 1990s the West tried to impose a neoliberal model on it by force. The direct result is Putin and the war." Even more important than a victory over Putin is to preserve Ukraine's independence. In the long term, it could advance the democratization of Russia.

"Dangers of procrastination are growing"
Žižek is not alone with his radical demands: In the journal "Foreign Affairs", the former US ambassador in Moscow, Michael McFaul, called for a much tougher approach by the West. Specifically, he cites "more and better weapons, tougher sanctions, new economic aid, greater public diplomacy efforts, and a credible commitment to post-war reconstruction." The roughly $300 billion seized from Russia's central bank's reserves abroad was to be "transferred to the government of Ukraine."

McFaul fears that a protracted war risks losing public support in the West. Above all, US President Joe Biden will then have "difficulties" in putting together new aid packages for Ukraine, because he will lack the approval of Congress: "The dangers of a policy of procrastination grow over time."

"Signs of irresponsibility"
Indian-born columnist Pankaj Mishra takes a completely different view of the role of the West in the Washington Post. He criticizes that "in the absence of public debates" it is by no means certain whether a majority of the Western population supports an intensification of the confrontation with Russia. There is only a "consensus between think tanks and mainstream media". In any case, the balance sheet of recent years is "unpleasant" as far as interference attempts are concerned: "All the major countries of the Western alliance were involved in military fiascos that devastated entire regions of Asia, the Middle East and Africa."

Mishra criticises a "bizarre forgetfulness" because Germany is once again sending "equipment to the old battlefields" after two world wars: "Ukraine's future as a democracy is also getting bleaker when you consider the recent fate of countries that have been showered with weapons and dollars. Ukraine, one of the most corrupt countries in the world before the war, seems further away from the prospect of an honest and accountable elite."

The columnist sees "signs of irresponsibility" among Western institutions that have strengthened their military presence abroad while battling economic crises: "This is the clearest warning that we are facing a broader conflagration."

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