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Slavoj Žižek on Kevin MacDonald's "Culture of Critique"

Slavoj Žižek is perhaps the highest-grossing Marxist continental philosopher.

Slavoj with the lucky 4th(?) Mrs. Žižek *

But there’s always been the suspicion that the purported Communist is a bit of a prankster and put-on artist.

Here’s the Slovenian critical theorist pointing and sputtering at Kevin MacDonald’s book The Culture of Critique. Still, a reader inclined toward deconstructionism might note that Žižek summarizes MacDonald’s controversial argument quite lucidly. In fact, the superstar professor achieves a higher degree of clarity while expounding MacDonald’s message than in any other passage I’ve read by Žižek:

The main academic proponent of this new barbarism is Kevin MacDonald who, in The Culture of Critique, argues that certain 20th century intellectual movements led by Jews have changed European societies in fundamental ways and destroyed the confidence of Western man; these movements were designed, consciously or unconsciously, to advance Jewish interests even though they were presented to non-Jews as universalistic and even utopian. [2] One of the most consistent ways in which Jews have advanced their interests has been to promote pluralism and diversity—but only for others. Ever since the 19th century, they have led movements that tried to discredit the traditional foundations of gentile society: patriotism, racial loyalty, the Christian basis for morality, social homogeneity, and sexual restraint. MacDonald devotes many pages to The Authoritarian Personality (1950), a collective project coordinated by Adorno, the purpose of which was, for MacDonald, to make every group affiliation sound as if it were a sign of mental disorder: everything, from patriotism to religion to family—and race—loyalty, is disqualified as a sign of a dangerous and defective “authoritarian personality.” Because drawing distinctions between different groups is illegitimate, all group loyalties—even close family ties—are “prejudice.” MacDonald quotes here approvingly Christopher Lasch’s remark that The Authoritarian Personality leads to the conclusion that prejudice “could be eradicated only by subjecting the American people to what amounted to collective psychotherapy – by treating them as inmates of an insane asylum.” However, it is precisely the kind of group loyalty, respect for tradition, and consciousness of differences central to Jewish identity that Horkheimer and Adorno described as mental illness in gentiles. These writers adopted what eventually became a favorite Soviet tactic against dissidents: anyone whose political views were different from theirs was insane. For these Jewish intellectuals, anti-Semitism was also a sign of mental illness: Christian self-denial and especially sexual repression caused hatred of Jews. The Frankfurt school was enthusiastic about psychoanalysis, according to which “Oedipal ambivalence toward the father and anal-sadistic relations in early childhood are the anti-Semite’s irrevocable inheritance.” In addition to ridiculing patriotism and racial identity, the Frankfurt school glorified promiscuity and Bohemian poverty: “Certainly many of the central attitudes of the largely successful 1960s countercultural revolution find expression in The Authoritarian Personality, including idealizing rebellion against parents, low-investment sexual relationships, and scorn for upward social mobility, social status, family pride, the Christian religion, and patriotism.” Although he came later, the “French-Jewish deconstructionist Jacques Derrida” followed the same tradition when he wrote: “The idea behind deconstruction is to deconstruct the workings of strong nation-states with powerful immigration policies, to deconstruct the rhetoric of nationalism, the politics of place, the metaphysics of native land and native tongue… The idea is to disarm the bombs… of identity that nation-states build to defend themselves against the stranger, against Jews and Arabs and immigrants…” As MacDonald puts it, “Viewed at its most abstract level, a fundamental agenda is thus to influence the European-derived peoples of the United States to view concern about their own demographic and cultural eclipse as irrational and as an indication of psychopathology.” This project has been successful: anyone opposed to the displacement of whites is routinely treated as a mentally unhinged “hate-monger,” and whenever whites defend their group interests they are described as psychologically inadequate – with, of course, the silent exception of the Jews themselves: “the ideology that ethnocentrism was a form of psychopathology was promulgated by a group that over its long history had arguably been the most ethnocentric group among all the cultures of the world.” We should have no illusions here: measured by the standards of the great Enlightenment tradition, we are effectively dealing with something for which the best designation is the old orthodox Marxist term for “bourgeois irrationalists”: the self-destruction of Reason. The only thing to bear in mind is that this new barbarism is a strictly post-modern phenomenon, the obverse of the highly reflexive self-ironical attitude—no wonder that, reading authors like MacDonald, one often cannot decide if one is reading a satire or a “serious” line of argumentation.

I’m guessing that the last two sentences are Žižek’s denunciation of the preceding argument he quite ably recounted. But it’s striking how much more opaque Žižek’s prose suddenly becomes when he switches to elucidating what are, presumably, his own ideas, such as they are.

———

* Update, 7/11/14: Other sources suggest this wedding picture is of the second of the now three Mrs. Žižeks.

 
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