Monday, 22 July 2013

Zizek: How to Use Theory to Avoid Looking at Facts.

Zizek has written an LRB article on global protests and revolt entitled 'Trouble in Paradise'. It appeared on 18 July and did not consider the obvious fact that on July 2 the army gave a 48 hour ultimatum to Morsi that proceeded to turn into what it widely regarded as a military coup d'etat by July 4.

Zizek is rather like other radical theorists and revolutionary enthusiasts who seem to have remained silent about how the military takeover has affected the revolution. Chomsky has said nothing on this major development either because it is clearly popular in Egypt and this provides problems for positioning himself

Basically, these thinkers seem to be hedging their bets as they cannot be seen to back a military coup, regarded the Muslim Brotherhood as reactionary and having failed to deliver any real change and do not want to be seen as not backing the will of the people in the streets.

Zizek is in a pickle now because he has consistently and mechanically wrote off any attempt to separate the Islamist concept of radical change from the secular ones in Egypt. Back in 2011 he declared,
'The uprising was universal: it was immediately possible for all of us around the world to identify with it, to recognise what it was about, without any need for cultural analysis of the features of Egyptian society.'
Nothing has dimmed that enthusiasm for dismissing reality. Nor the fact Egyptian society is deeply divided culturally between protesters on the streets who support the Muslim Brotherhood and those who radical secularists who regard it as counter revolutionary.

The fallback option now in 2013 is to switch attention away from these awkward facts and repeat the theory that those who insist that the Egyptian revolt did reflect Egypt's particular history are effectively being the dreaded reactionaries.

So Zizek writes,
'In 2011, when protests were erupting across Europe and the Middle East, many insisted that they shouldn’t be treated as instances of a single global movement.'
' It is easy to see how such a particularisation of protest appeals to defenders of the status quo: there is no threat against the global order as such, just a series of separate local problems.'
Still there is no attempt to look at the obvious fact that in Egypt the street fights between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and those wanting him out was used by the army as a pretext to intervene on the side of those against Morsi to boot out an elected president.
'The general rule is that when a revolt against an oppressive half-democratic regime begins, as with the Middle East in 2011, it is easy to mobilise large crowds with slogans – for democracy, against corruption etc. But we are soon faced with more difficult choices.'
True, such as what challenge is posed by the fact that many in Egypt clearly think the revolution has been saved by the intervention of the military whereas others who went on the streets two years before are now back on them fuming that their revolution has been stolen from them.

No comments:

Post a Comment