Žižek and Imperialism

Slavoj Zizek

Žižek’s idealistic political philosophy that apparently endorses revolutionary terror stands side by side with a generous use of counterrevolutionary clichés when discussing actual revolutionary experiences or contemporary events.

A “radical” who chooses to close his eyes to prevailing social conditions is only delusional. A “radical” who proves incapable of arriving at the roots of the fundamental problem is a charlatan. But a “radical” who markets utopian fantasies and reactionary fallacies as revolutionary is a dangerous demagogue. In the US-based online forum Kasama Project I was criticized for writing a supposedly “wooden critique” of Slavoj Žižek.[1] Singled out as an example of a captive of “theories of orthodoxy,” I was chastised for being blind to the “contribution of theory produced by people like Žižek.”[2] Apparently, some fellows in the Kasama Project took offense to my calling “comrade” Žižek an apologist of the ruling order.[3]

But is there anything wrong with criticizing this so-called “Academic Rock Star” for his whimsical pronouncements on the nature of the world capitalist system? Are assertions of the supposed “total failure” of 20th Century revolutionary experiments now beyond reproach? Is this not the same kind of “unwritten Denkverbot (prohibition against thinking)” that Žižek himself complained about in reference to the liberal dread of the so-called “totalitarian threat”?[4]

In some of his works, Žižek – following Alain Badiou – has insisted on the “eternal” Idea of Communism, namely “strict egalitarian justice, disciplinary terror, political voluntarism, and trust in the people.”[5] Following his very own injunction for such a politics, should we not take Žižek to task for statements that promote wrong readings of the present conjuncture and misleading assessments of the great revolutionary upheavals of the past?

While it may indeed be more fruitful to read Žižek as a philosopher that can provide an unorthodox account of consciousness via a reworking of the notion of ideology through Lacanian psychoanalysis,[6] would it do to simply leave him to present himself as a worthy “radical” even as he rehashes some of the vilest anti-communist propaganda and propagate pessimism and defeatism?

One of the charges levelled against me in the Kasama Project is my clinging to Lenin’s theory of imperialism as opposed to Žižek’s own formulations. Changes in the way the globalized capitalist order is organized, particularly “the increasing integration and penentration [sic] of capitalism,”[7] has supposedly made Lenin’s prognosis of imperialism as the highest and last stage of capitalism obsolete.

Žižek’s Multinational Capitalism

In “Multiculturalism, or the Cultural Logic of Multinational Capitalism,”[8] Žižek presents the world capitalist system as having gone beyond imperialism with its opposition between imperialist countries on the one side and the subjugated colonies and semi-colonies on the other side.[9] For Žižek the entire world has become the colony of multinational corporations: “there are only colonies, no colonizing countries—the colonizing power is no longer a Nation-State but directly the global company.”[10] He makes this argument in order to provide the basis for his corollary point that “the ideal form of ideology of this global capitalism is multiculturalism.”[11]

While it is not directly stated in Žižek’s In Defense of Lost Causes, the same premise informs his characterization of the slum dweller in the book as living in blank spots “from which the state has withdrawn its control.”[12] The rise of a global urban poor “excluded” from the so-called “normal functioning of capital” is presented as the consequence of the new dynamics of multinational capital.

Of course, this argument is offered as his own sequel to the old Western Marxist fixation with the search for the new revolutionary subject that will replace the working class after it supposedly failed to deliver the promised revolution envisioned by Marx. For Žižek, “the new proletarian position is that of the inhabitants of slums in the new megalopolises.”[13]

But in his 2009 response to the outbreak of the global financial crisis of 2008, which continues today as “the worst economic depression since the Great Depression,”[14] Žižek reverts to the more “old-fashioned” idea of the US and European powers keeping developing countries “in a state of  postcolonial  dependence” through the International Monetary Fund-World Bank structural adjustments.[15]

For sure, he makes this contention in First as Tragedy, Then as Farce in order to make a case for the introduction of his own brand of “communist utopia” as an alternative to the subjugation of the underdeveloped countries in the world capitalist peripheries to the whims of “market fluctuations” as a result of their full integration into the global market.[16]

Is Imperialism Passé?

First, it is interesting to catch a glimpse of the same Žižek who declared “Whatever I say, you can make me say the opposite!”[17] in these passages where he tackles the nature of the capitalist order. Often fanciful, this is symptomatic of the way Žižek superimposes the imperatives of an eclectic metaphysical dialectic robed as “a blizzard of ideas” over an actual analysis of concretely existing conditions. It simply varies according to the “philosophical” provocation that Žižek wants to emphasize in a given text.

Nonetheless it is easy to see that it is not merely a case of Žižek simply blurting out “stupid shit” about the nature of contemporary capitalism “for shock value.” Žižek’s interview with Ahmed and Cutrone wherein he states that the whole world has become “colonies” of a multinational capital that is not anymore connected to any national base[18] simply rehashes the pronouncement he makes in his “primary texts.” I singled out this interview because Žižek’s views about the world surpassing the stage of imperialism are quite simply crystallized in a brutally intense fashion in this particular piece.

But is Lenin’s theory of imperialism really passé? Writing in Zurich in 1916, Lenin defined imperialism as the monopoly stage of capitalism, the highest and last stage of capitalism. In this era, monopolies have fully dominated the economy, politics, and the entire social field of the wealthiest capitalist nations. The crisis of overproduction in these imperialist centers has reached gargantuan proportions that it can only be alleviated through “the oppression and exploitation of other nations and peoples abroad through the export of surplus products and surplus capital.”[19] The nations and peoples of the world have become divided between a few imperialist powers on the one side and many colonies, semi-colonies, and dependent nations on the other side.

But the rise of imperialism, Lenin noted, is also the death knell of the world capitalist system which has already reached its moribund stage. By intensifying the basic contradictions of capitalism, imperialism ushers in a period of never-ending inter-imperialist rivalries, wars of national liberation, and revolutionary upheavals. It is, as Lenin declared, “the period of the eve of the socialist revolution.”[20]

Are these observations not truer today than it was when Lenin was still alive? If anything the massive rise of an enormous speculative economy and the rapid development of information and communication technologies have only made these features of contemporary monopoly capital all the more intense.[21]

Imperialist “Globalization”

As opposed to the abovementioned analysis, many trendy “radicals” agree with the popular concept of “globalization” as a supra-class and universal process of inevitable flattening of the world into a “global village” governed by a borderless and stateless global capitalist octopus through transnational corporations and multilateral agencies like the UN, IMF-WB, and WTO.[22]

But is this really the case? Are we now really seeing the homogenization of the world capitalist system with its collection of a few monopoly capitalist powers and a far larger majority of dependencies and semi-colonies into a single seamless international capitalist mode of production operating at a truly global scale?

By the end of the 19th century, free competition capitalism has transformed into monopoly capitalism. The economic division of the world was achieved mainly in the form of cartels, organizations, agreements, and partnerships of the most powerful monopolies. Direct colonial subjugation of the backward nations was the preferred mode of the territorial division of the world.

This arrangement was eventually replaced by the rise of the multinational corporation (MNC) as the new form by which the world is divided economically by the international monopolies after the Second World War. This came alongside the use of neo-colonialism as the imperialist response to the powerful national liberation movements that defeated old-style direct colonialism. Instead of directly subjugating them, the imperialist powers keep backward nations as semi-colonies that are indirectly dominated politically, economically, and culturally despite formal trappings of independence.[23]

The crisis of overproduction has constantly fired the struggle to re-divide the world among the imperialist powers as in the First World War and the Second World War in the first half of the 20th Century and after this, the Cold War between US imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism. However, in the mid-1980s, the collapse of the revisionist states and the success of neo-colonialism in subverting many movements of national liberation led to a condition where the monopoly capitalists on a grand scale have united against the oppressed peoples and nations of the world.

This led directly to the present period of imperialist globalization[24] marked by the ascendancy of neoliberal market fundamentalism as the dominant economic paradigm. With the fall of the former Soviet Union, the US has emerged as the sole world superpower that functions in the main “to guarantee, with armed forces, the reproduction of the world capitalist system.”[25]

Nevertheless, the national character of monopoly corporations and banks persist as the imperialist powers continue to reinforce their own economic domination, compete with each other, and struggle to economically re-divide the world through the agency of these multinational firms. MNCs destroy the national industrial base of other countries, avail of cheap labor that can be relocated at the flick of the finger once wage levels increase, while keeping the knowhow and core processes of the latest high-technology advancements in their own home countries.[26]

The ravages of the Great Depression of the 1930s led to the rise of the welfare state as a means of containing the working classes in the metropolitan centers. Against this, the neoliberal doxa that rose to prominence in the mid-70s and 80s orders the reduction of the role of the government to that of the pure ground zero level of reproducing the conditions for the consolidation and expansion of private property, free markets, and free trade.[27]

Social services like education and health are cut down while government interventions to increase wages or control prices in favor of the toiling majority are proscribed – all in accordance with the neoliberal tenet teaching that the social good will be maximized by maximizing the reach and frequency of market transactions.[28]

But notwithstanding these neoliberal “reforms,” the nation-state continues to be central to the reproduction of capital. Far from simply disappearing, the state continues to play a decisive role in ensuring the steady flow of superprofits from the global peripheries to the metropolitan centers by repressing social movements, instituting programs favorable to the wealthy, reinforcing the military-industrial complex, and as we saw in the wake of the 2008 financial crash, “bailout” the monopolies from difficulties which they find unable to manage by themselves.[29]

The existence of the UN, IMF, WB, WTO, and so on does not at all mean the elimination of national loyalties or the end of monopoly rivalry between competing imperialist powers since these multilateral agencies are precisely controlled by the imperialist states according to their relative strengths and at the expense of the rest of the world.[30] These global institutions are the deadly weapons used by the imperialist powers to retain their domination wherein “the process of deepening international economic integration actually increases some aspects of fragmentation and inequality between nations.”[31]

Economic policies imposed on the backward nations as conditionalities for the renegotiation of loans and official aid “transforms countries into open economic territories and national economies into ‘reserves of cheap labor and resources.”[32] Far from homogenization, the main trend is towards the worsening of uneven development under the world capitalist system:

So far, without losing their national basing and instrumentation of their states, the monopolies have “globalized” most such aspects as finance capital, trade and the use of high-tech communications rather than productive capital. There is no such thing as the limitless internationalization of the capitalist mode of production as to dissolve the far more numerous semifeudal economies and the lesser number of dependent capitalist economies and the so-called newly-industrializing economies.[33]

Indeed, under a world capitalist system beset by an ever-worsening crisis of overproduction, the monopoly capitalists cannot expand their markets without “concurrently undermining or destroying the domestic productive base of developing countries, – i.e. through the disengagement of domestic production geared towards the internal market.”[34] As Panitch and Gindin points out, the imperialists have “used their advantages in new sectors of production, as well as in research and development, design, marketing, business services, and finance, to sustain their overall place in the global hierarchy”[35]:

Despite the enormous volume of manufacturing production taking place in [the “Third World”] by the first  decade of the twenty-first century , the advanced capitalist countries, with one-sixth  of the global population, still accounted for over 70 percent of world manufacturing production  by  value, and  over  60  percent  of  the  value  of manufactured  exports. Most MNC production and sales still took place in the developed world, which in 2007 was still the recipient of 70 percent of FDI.[36]

The export of surplus capital and the placing of the backward countries in the orbit of international capital, Lenin perceptively anticipated, do not improve their forces of production to the level of making them potential competitors. Foreign direct investments are at the outset predicated on the prevention of a backward country’s full development into a national capitalism.

“Ultra-Imperialism” Revisited

The concept of “globalization” as promoted by the imperialists, the multinational firms and banks, bourgeois academicians, and today’s trendy “radical” intellectuals is but a rehash of Karl Kautsky’s theory of “ultra-imperialism” which postulated “the joint exploitation of the world by internationally united finance capital in place of the mutual rivalries of national finance capitals.”[37]

In essence, this “ultra-imperialism” thesis glosses over the fundamental contradictions inherent in capitalism and misrepresents imperialism as a benevolent force that brings industrialization to the backward nations. In fact, present-day imperialist globalization is characterized by the intensification of the same lust for domination that characterized the rudimentary monopolies and finance capital from the time of Lenin.

Far from peacefully transforming the entire world into industrialized urban enclaves, imperialist globalization has only hastened the concentration of capital in a limited number of industrial capitalist cores while destroying the forces of production in the rest of the world in order to cope with the ever worsening crisis of overproduction.[38]

For sure, the astronomical expansion of the speculative economy, the enormous growth of the service sector, and rapid advancements in information technology has modified the way imperialism operates today. In fact, finance capital has reached an unprecedented level of concentration that is perhaps unimaginable during Lenin’s day. This has as its corollary the rise of a “casino economy” that is propelled by “the ups and downs of the speculative gambling in financial instruments, a sector of the economy that is no longer reflective of the real economy.”[39]

Yet a meticulous investigation of present-day capitalism would show that changes in its particular forms and methods has not actually led to a transformation of its general content as imperialism, which essentially remain the same. We are still in the era of imperialism at the turn of the 21st Century with the US remaining the most powerful military superpower and the main enemy of all the oppressed and exploited peoples of the world.

The weakening of US power due to the sheer insolubility of the severe economic crisis suggests a turn towards a multipolar world and a resumption of more intense inter-imperialist rivalry.[40] But the imperialist system will not collapse by itself unless it is smashed to pieces by a victorious proletarian revolution.[41] As the Indian revolutionaries stress:

The worst impact of imperialist globalization is on the backward countries of the world thereby intensifying the contradiction between imperialism and the people of the backward nations and countries of the world. It is this contradiction that continues to be the principal contradiction in the world arena with the backward countries being the storm centres of the world revolution.[42]

In short, the Kautskyites work precisely to prevent such an upheaval from happening by peddling “a most reactionary method of consoling the masses with hopes of permanent peace being possible under capitalism…”[43] By embracing this thesis of a transnational capitalist mode of production, a “global state,” or any such variant, they are floating the illusion of the impossibility of radical social change by the toiling masses in the backward nations. By accepting such a proposition, it is only a matter of time before overtures are made to the powers that be in the guise of fine-tuning strategy and tactics.

The experience of the Communist Party of the Philippines-led revolutionary movement in the 1980s proves to be instructive here. A wavering in the analysis of the dynamics of imperialism led to some elements within the movement to imagine that the US-Marcos dictatorship has developed the Philippine forces of production to an extent that it has shed off its backward, foreign-dominated, agrarian and essentially semi-feudal character to become semi-capitalist or even industrial-capitalist already. Forgetting the fundamentally rapacious and parasitic character of the imperialist system, they fancied that foreign direct investments by monopoly capital in the country have led to the industrialization and the extensive urbanization of the country.[44]

This subjectivist misreading of the objective situation prevailing in the international and national field was used to push for “Left” opportunist lines of premature urban insurrectionism and military adventurism and Right opportunist lines of purely legal struggle and reformism as opposed to the strategic line of encircling the cities from the countryside wave upon wave in a protracted people’s war.[45] These grave errors led to serious setbacks and immense disorientations. It was only the launching of the Second Great Rectification Movement from 1992 to 1998 that thwarted the total disintegration of the revolutionary movement and its recent revitalization and resurgence.

Against Empty “Radical” Rhetoric

Indeed, it is of great importance for all partisans of radical social change the world over to stand for active ideological and political struggle against incorrect views and counter-revolutionary remarks. Avoiding this, as the great revolutionary leader Mao Tse-Tung saw, “stands for unprincipled peace” and only gives “rise to a decadent, philistine attitude and bringing about political degeneration…”[46]

Žižek is exemplary of the currently fashionable petty bourgeois obsession with wishful thinking about “eternal communist Ideas,” “communist hypotheses,” and “communist desires” as one form of response to the worsening crisis of the world capitalist system. What we have in Žižek’s concept of revolution is the taking of categories from psychoanalysis and Continental philosophy followed by the superimposition of these eclectic notions on readings of concrete social conditions or phenomenon:

In place of the economic contradictions that force changes in capitalist relations of production, Žižek emphasizes an ideological impasse or double bind from which escape is only possible through a violent “passage à l’acte,” that is, a destructive or self-destructive outburst through which one attempts to break out of a restricted, unbearable situation.[47]

Following this logic, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is conceived as an eternal Idea that “survives its defeat in socio-historical reality” and “haunts the future generations” with the spectre of recurrence.[48] But what seems like a spirited defence of the legacy of the Cultural Revolution is actually a bankrupt rehashing of the idealist notion of the material world and historical experiences simply as the concrete embodiment of an “absolute idea.”

On the other hand, Žižek also endorses the slander about Mao’s Great Leap Forward supposedly “causing the greatest famine in history by exporting food to Russia to buy nuclear and arms industries” in order to paint Maoist China as the realization of the “industrial production of corpses.”[49] Jung Chang and Jon Halliday’s biography of Mao which forms the basis of this fantastic account is, of course, a complete hoax refuted even by bourgeois scholars who are unsympathetic to Mao.[50]

To argue that it is not a matter of stand but of an “uncomfortable style of writing” is to forget about the dialectical relation between motive and effect. Claiming that his intentions are good but his mode of expressions leads to a bad turn out is to forget that the question of effect is in fact already a question of stand. As Mao points out: “A person who acts solely by motive and does not inquire what effect his action will have is like a doctor who merely writes prescriptions but does not care how many patients die of them.”[51]

We have already noted Žižek’s apologia for imperialism before.[52] We have also seen how he explicitly judges the socialist revolutions in Mao’s China and the former Soviet Union under Stalin as purely negative episodes: “The lessons are only negative: We learn what not to do.”[53] This goes to show that Žižek’s idealism in his theoretical edifice is complemented by an aversion for the revolutionary upheavals of the past Century and present-day revolutionary movements in more practical discourse.

Žižek’s idealistic political philosophy that apparently endorses revolutionary terror stands side by side with a generous use of counterrevolutionary clichés when discussing actual revolutionary experiences or contemporary events. In short, what we have in Žižek is the shunning of scientific analysis, of historical materialism, of social investigation and class analysis to uphold a nebulous but “hip” philosophizing that is presented as a “fresh,” “non-dogmatic,” and “creative” application of Marxism.

But if what we aim for is the overthrow of the present ruling order then what is needed is a real understanding of the historical circumstances and characteristics of the present juncture. What is needed are not “conceptions of justice and injustice held by an armchair philosopher” but “a revolution which will put an end to all class distinctions.”[54]

For this we need to grasp firmly Marx and Engel’s summation of the proletarian dialectical materialist vantage point, its extension to the study of society and history as historical materialism, and its application to the study of political economy. We need to identify the contours of imperialism as defined by V.I. Lenin and how its particular features continue or cease to operate into the present era.

Regardless of Žižek’s seemingly “revolutionary” phraseology that calls for a demystification of violence[55] and an open endorsement of “concrete terror,”[56] we must as Lenin warns remain wary: “judge people, not by the glittering uniforms they don or by high-sounding appellations they give themselves but by their actions and by what they actually advocate.”[57]


Notes

[1] Mike Ely, “Zizek is wrong: Previous socialism was not just failure,” in Kasama Project, January 25, 2013, http://kasamaproject.org/threads/entry/on-zizek-previous-socialism-was-not-just-failure.

[2] Mike Ely, “Should we debate bad ideas,” in Kasama Project (January 27, 2013), http://archive.kasamaproject.org/theory/4385-why-debate-bad-ideas.

[3] Karlo Mikhail Mongaya, “Slavoj Žižek: A Radical Apologist for Imperialism,” in Hello.Lenin, February 15, 2012, http://karlomongaya.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/slavoj-zizek-a-radical-apologist-for-imperialism.

[4] Slavoj Žižek, Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism: Five Interventions in the (Mis)use of a Notion (London: Verso, 2001), 3.

[6] Slavoj Žižek, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce (London: Verso, 2009), 125.

[5] See Slavoj Žižek, The Sublime Object of Ideology (London: Verso, 1989), Žižek, For They Know Not What They Do: Enjoyment as a Political Factor (London: Verso, 1991), and Jodi Dean, Žižek’s Politics (New York: Routledge, 2006).

[6] Ely, “Zizek is wrong,” in Kasama Project, January 25, 2013.

[7] Slavoj Žižek, “Multiculturalism, Or, the Cultural Logic of Multinational Capitalism,” in New Left Review, 225 (1997): 28–51.

[8] For all his caveats against Antonio Negri’s theory of the world capitalist system transforming itself into transnational “Empire” centered on multilateral institutions like the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, Žižek’s own framing of global capitalism runs very close to Negri’s “imperialism without an address.” This view is thoroughly debunked in Atilio Boron, Empire and Imperialism: A Critical Reading of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Trans. by Jessica Casiro (London: Zed Books, 2005).

[9] Žižek, “Multiculturalism, Or, the Cultural Logic of Multinational Capitalism,” 44.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Slavoj Žižek, In Defense of Lost Causes (London: Verso, 2008), 426.

[12] Ibid., 424. Yet far from being “liberated territories,” slums are increasingly subjected to violent intrusions by the state from demolitions of shanties to make way for big business and the conscious dispossession of its inhabitants of basic social services. Far from being sites where “the reign of the system is suspended,” the existence of the slums is precisely the condition for the normal functioning of the system.

[13] Communist Party of the Philippines (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) Central Committee, “Seize the initiative in all forms of struggle and intensify the offensive against the enemy: 44th Anniversary Message of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines,” in Ang Bayan, December 26, 2012, 2, http://www.philippinerevolution.net/publications/ang_bayan/archives/2012/original/20121226en.pdf.

[14] Žižek, First as Tragedy, 82.

[15] Ibid., 85.

[16] Jodi Dean, Žižek’s Politics (New York: Routledge, 2006), xi.

[17] Haseeb Ahmed and Chris Cutrone, “The Occupy Movement, a renascent Left, and Marxism Today: An Interview with Slavoj Žižek,” in The Platypus Review, December 1, 2012, http://platypus1917.org/2011/12/01/occupy-movement-interview-with-slavoj-zizek

[18] Amado Guerrero, Philippine Society and Revolution, Fourth Edition (Central Luzon, Philippines: Central Publishing House, 1996), 66.

[19] V.I. Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism: A Popular Outline (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1975), 7.

[20] The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (SFIT), incidentally also in Zurich, conducted a computer-based study and found out that of 43,060 multinational corporations worldwide, there is a global core consisting of only 1,318 companies that siphon 80 percent of global revenues.[22] In the same study, the researchers discovered that 147 gigantic corporations, which were mostly banks and financial institutions like Barclays PLC, Capital Group Companies, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Merrill Lynch & Co, Deutsche Bank AG, etc., control 40 percent of the wealth of this global core. What is this if not the intensifying domination of monopolies and finance capital to an extent unseen in Lenin’s days? See Stefania Vitali, James Glattfelder, and Stefano Battiston, “The Network of Global Corporate Control,” September 19, 2011.

[21] CPP (MLM) Central Committee, “Hinggil sa Monopolyo-Kapitalistang ‘Globalisasyon,’” in Rebolusyon, No. 4 (October-December 1996): 11-39, http://www.philippinerevolution.net/publications/rebolusyon/archives/1996/original/199610-12pi.pdf?1344848612.

[22] See Communist Party of China, “Apologists of Neocolonialism: Fourth Comment on the Open Letter of the Central Committee of the CPSU,” in The Polemic on the General Line of the International Communist Movement (Peking: Foreign Languages Press), 185-219, http://www.marx2mao.com/Other/ANC63.html.

[23] CPP (MLM), “Hinggil sa Monopolyo-Kapitalistang ‘Globalisasyon,’” in Rebolusyon, 18.

[24] Francois Houtart, “The Functions of US Imperialism in the Global System”, in International Festival for Peoples’ Rights and Struggles: A Reportage, July 2-6, 2011, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City (Quezon City: IBON International, 2011), 139.

[25] CPP (MLM), “Hinggil sa Monopolyo-Kapitalistang ‘Globalisasyon,’” in Rebolusyon, 27-28.

[26] David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1-4.

[27] Ibid.

[28] See John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff, The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2009).

[29] CPP (MLM), “Hinggil sa Monopolyo-Kapitalistang ‘Globalisasyon,’” in Rebolusyon, 19.

[30] Kim Moody, Workers in a Lean World: Unions in the International Economy (London: Verso, 2001), 6.

[31] Michel Chossudovsky, The Globalization of Poverty: Impacts of IMF and World Bank Reforms (Manila: Institute of Political Economy, 1997), 37.

[32] CPP (MLM), “Hinggil sa Monopolyo-Kapitalistang ‘Globalisasyon,’” in Rebolusyon, 18.

[33] Chossudovsky, The Globalization of Poverty, 17.

[34] Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin, The Makings of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire, (London: Verso, 2012), The Makings of Global Capitalism, 327.

[35] Ibid., 326.

[36] Lenin, Imperialism, 59.

[37] Karl Kautsky, Quoted by Lenin in Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism: A Popular Outline (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1975), 109.

[38] CPP (MLM), “Hinggil sa Monopolyo-Kapitalistang ‘Globalisasyon,’” in Rebolusyon, 18.

[39] Antonio Tujan, “RESIST Forum Keynote Speech”, in International Festival for Peoples’ Rights and Struggles: A Reportage, July 2-6, 2011, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City (Quezon City: IBON International, 2011), 139.

[40] CPP (MLM) Central Committee, “Further Strengthen the Party to Advance the People’s War: 43rd Anniversary Message of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines,” in Ang Bayan, December 26, 2011, 5, http://www.philippinerevolution.net/publications/ang_bayan/archives/2011/original/20111226en.pdf?1324730259.

[41] Communist Party of India (Maoist) Central Committee, “Paper Presented by the Communist Party of India (Maoist) on the Occasion of the International Meeting of Maoist Parties & Organisations,” in The Worker, No. 11 (July 2007): 39-47, http://www.bannedthought.net/India/CPI-Maoist-Docs/Nepal/CPIM-Paper2007W11.htm.

[42] CPI (Maoist), “Paper Presented by the Communist Party of India (Maoist) on the Occasion of the International Meeting of Maoist Parties & Organisations,” in The Worker, No. 11 (July 2007): 39-47.

[43] Lenin, Imperialism, 110.

[44] Jose Maria Sison, “Ang Ikalawang Dakilang Kilusang Pagwawasto,” in Josemariasison.org, December 13, 2012, http://www.josemariasison.org/?p=11675.

[45] Jose Maria Sison, “Development, Current Status and Prospects of Maoist Theory and Practice in the Philippines,” in Josemariasison.org, September 5, 2012, http://www.josemariasison.org/?p=11334.

[46] Mao Tse-Tung, “Combat Liberalism,” in Selected Works of Mao-Tse Tung, Volume 2 (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1967), 31-33, http://www.marx2mao.com/Mao/CL37.html.

[47] Dean, Žižek’s Politics, 187.

[48] Žižek, In Defense of Lost Causes, 207.

[49]Slavoj Žižek, “Introduction: Mao Tse-Tung, The Marxist Lord of Misrule,” in Slavoj Žižek Presents Mao On Practice and Contradiction (London: Verso, 1997), 10.

[50] See Was Mao Really a Monster? The Academic Response to Chang and Halliday’s Mao: The Unknown Story, Eds. Gregor Benton and Lin Chun (New York: Routledge, 2010).

[51] Mao Tse-Tung, “Talks at the Yenan Forum on Art and Literature,” in Selected Works of Mao-Tse Tung, Volume 3 (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1967), 93, http://www.marx2mao.com/Mao/YFLA42.html.

[52] Mongaya, “Slavoj Žižek: A Radical Apologist for Imperialism,” in Hello.Lenin, February 15, 2012.
 
[53] Ahmed and Cutrone, “The Occupy Movement, a renascent Left, and Marxism Today,” in The Platypus Review, December 1, 2012.

[54] Frederick Engels, Anti-Dühring: Herr Eugen Dühring’s Revolution in Science (Peking: Foreign Language Press, 1976), 201.

[55] Slavoj Žižek, “Foreword: The Dark Matter of Violence, or Putting in Terror in Perspective,” in Sophie Wahnich, In Defence of the Terror: Liberty or Death in the French Revolution (London: Verso, 2012), xi-xxix.

[56] Žižek, In Defense of Lost Causes, 175.

[57] V.I. Lenin, What is to Be Done? Burning Questions of Our Movement (New York: International Publishers, 1969) 10-11.

5 thoughts on “Žižek and Imperialism

  1. A major problem with Slavoj Zizek is that he is influenced by post-modernism, which shows up clearly in his continual pop-culture references. He likes to throw out a blizzard of ideas, enough that many are brilliant formulations and many others are simply inane or, as you point out, reactionary and backward.

    The very idea that there is no more imperial rivalry, that we are all “colonies” of multi-national corporations, defies all we see around us. Just why does Zizek think the U.S. and its imperial junior partners repeatedly invade other countries to create markets for its corporations? The hundreds of examples of this are somehow insufficient?

    Blind abstractions like these are what lead some people to think that either the world will peacefully glide into a multi-polar power structure or that the U.S. will idly sit by as China takes over the mantle of world hegemon. China’s military and economy are both far too small to be able to supplant the U.S. as the capitalist center, and the behavior of the U.S. capitalist state gives us no reason to believe that the U.S. won’t use very tool at its disposal to maintain its status at the apex — and thus keep in place the system that enable its capitalists to hoard such enormous wealth.

    I’ve read two of Zizek’s recent books and, for me, that is enough. I, too, would rather wrestle with concrete reality than toss off revolutionary-sounding phrases, even if analyzing concrete reality is more difficult.

  2. Pingback: Karlo Mikhail Mongaya: A Rejoinder on Slavoj Žižek and Imperialism | Anti-Imperialism.com

  3. Pingback: Žižek weighs in on Chávez: A heart larger than life | Senselogi©

  4. Pingback: A to Z Book Survey | Hello.Lenin!

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