Slavoj Žižek, one of the most widely known Marxist philosophers of the 21st century, has been accused of plagiarism by The American Renaissance, a conservative magazine focusing on “race and racial conflict” that the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a white nationalist hate group.
By the way, it would be wise for the media to stop assuming that the Southern Poverty Law Center is a disinterested authority, and instead notice that the SPLC has a very lucrative gig organizing the expression of hate toward targets of its choice. You might almost say it is America’s most successful hate group. That’s one of those huge ironies that deconstructionists never to seem to get around to deconstructing. But, let’s get back to poor old Žižek.
Žižek’s bombastic style and frequent forays into criticism of popular culture have earned him a large following. The International Journal of Žižek Studies, whose purported mission is “investigating, elaborating and critiquing the work of Slavoj Žižek,” called him “the Elvis of cultural theory.” The author of more than 70 books, Žižek is a frequent contributor to The Guardian and is the subject of three films: Žižek!, The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema and The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology.
Which makes Žižek a big scalp if you are a conservative commentator. On July 9 conservative blogger Steve Sailer called attention to a book review written by Žižek in 2006. “A Plea for a Return to Différance (with a Minor Pro Domo Sua)”, a review of [more of a broad essay touching upon] The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements by Kevin MacDonald, was published in 2006 in Critical Inquiry by the University of Chicago Press.
Later the same day, a blogger writing under the name Deogolwulf posted a side-by-side comparison of passages from Žižek’s review and another review of MacDonald’s book by Stanley Hornbeck that appeared in the March 1999 issue of The American Renaissance. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, The American Renaissance “regularly feature[s] proponents of eugenics and blatant anti-black racists.”
When Newsweek contacted Critical Inquiry, James Williams, its senior managing editor, agreed that Žižek “absolutely” borrowed from Hornbeck’s review. “We’re very sorry it happened,” he said. “If we had known Žižek was plagiarizing, we would have certainly asked him to remove the illegal passages.”
Newsweek then contacted Hornbeck, who writes under a pseudonym. “Anyone who has seen the side-by-side comparisons can have no doubt that Žižek is a plagiarist,” he said. “I know nothing about his writing habits. Maybe he does this all the time. Or it may be that as a prominent Marxist he didn’t want it known that he reads American Renaissance. In any case, what he did is contemptible, and his publisher…should certainly have a word with him.”