I recently had a fascinating conversation with Slavoj Žižek hosted by @bigthink.

The famed cultural critic and philosopher talked about state of emergency, why he ran for the Slovenian presidency, and more! You can read the transcript below.


Žižek gives an insightful analysis of political events. When something impactful happens in the world, ideologies move to give it meaning.

But we seem to live in a time when things happen too fast to be contextualized. Who remembers Greta, or the Australian wildfires?

Rather, our experiences of events have become intense, but always in flux. I’ve talked about ideology as needing a worldview, a set of actions, and membership. When events move this fast, ideology itself loses its power to make sense of things.

Žižek points out that populism itself seems paralyzed by a self-replicating virus, as opposed to a human opponent such as ‘elites’. I suspect that populists are skilled at human psychology, but not at sustained mobilization.

I asked Žižek about his experience in electoral politics. It was a strange time in Slovenia. With the establishment trying to mint new authority off of democratic dissidents, it had become difficult to actually be persecuted.

Žižek: “Some of my friends were violent in their critique of Yugoslav Communist Party...Nothing. A friend of mine got an invitation for debate of the Central Committee. He went there, said the same things. And they told him, so nice that you came to talk to us, come again.”

Slovenia’s opposition had patrons within the power structure itself. In America, we think of uprisings as getting rid of a corrupt elite. In reality, there is often continuity of certain live players even through radical political reform.


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