Holbo on Zizek

In The Valve [dot] org, John Holbo reviews Zizek’s The Parallax View:

I count myself as pretty thoroughly hostile to Zizek. Maybe my antipathy is elective. I encountered Zizek first when he was at a low intellectual ebb, with works like On Belief. What revolted me was the strident Leninism, plus inaccurate Kierkegaard exegesis. This political mind, dripping blood; these conceptual fingers, dripping butter—this Slovenian frame, churning it together; distasteful. The bloody-mindedness is on view in Parallax:

It is easy to fall in love with the crazy creative unrest of the first years after the October Revolution, with suprematists, futurists, constructivists, and so on, competing for primacy in revolutionary fervor; it is much more difficult to recognize in the horrors of the forced collectivization of the late 1920’s the attempt to translate this revolutionary fervor into a new positive social order. There is nothing ethically more disgusting than revolutionary Beautiful Souls who refuse to recognize, in the Cross of the postrevolutionary present, the truth of their own flowering dreams about freedom. (p. 5)

It is easy to fall in hate with the crazy restiveness of this failure to notice that if the horrors are implications of the dreams, then the dreams were not true but false. Also, it’s sloppy. Suprematists, Futurists—Filippo Marinetti, say—were not ‘Beautiful Souls’. In On Belief, Zizek complains about liberal leftists who “want a true revolution, yet they shirk the actual price to be paid for it and thus prefer to adopt the attitude of a Beautiful Soul and to keep their hands clean.” Zizek prefers a Leninist—someone who, “like a Conservative, is authentic in the sense of fully assuming the consequences of his choice, i.e. of being fully aware of what it actually means to take power.”