Ideology according to Slavoj Zizek

Veröffentlicht: 29. Januar 2015 in Oberstufe
Schlagwörter:, , , , , , , , ,

Zizek no thought

>>> Vermittlung und Manipulation – Vergleich von Theorien und Ideologien:_Marx und Lenin vs._Antisemitismus als PDF

Slavoj Žižek; born 21 March 1949, is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a senior researcher at the Institute for Sociology and Philosophy, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia; Professor of German at New York University, and international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities in London. He writes widely on a diverse range of topics, including political theory, Marxism, film theory, cultural studies, theology, and psychoanalysis.
Žižek achieved international recognition as a social theorist after the 1989 publication of his first book in English, The Sublime Object of Ideology, which argued for ideology as an unconscious fantasy that structures reality. Žižek considers himself a political radical and critic of neoliberalism. Many hundreds of academics have addressed aspects of Žižek’s work in professional papers. In 2007, the International Journal of Žižek Studies was established for the discussion of his work.

“Freedom hurts”
The sunglasses discovered by John Nada in the Film „They live“ are functioning as „critique of ideology glasses“ that uncover the hidden messages behind the texts in newspapers or on billboards. On the dollar notes in the movie it reads: „This is your God“ Other phrases Nada can read while wearing the glasses are: “Obey, Consume, Marry and reproduce, No thought, Submit, Stay asleep”. The glasses allow Nada to see the hidden, invisible order which sustains our apparent freedom.
In our modern „post-ideological“ society we do no longer have the duty „sacrifice ourselves“ (for our fatherland), but we are asked to „Realize our true potentials“, we are asked to „Be yourself“ and „Lead a satisfying life“. According to our common sense we think that ideology is something that is imposed on us, that ideology functions like glasses which distort and confuse our straight „natural“ view and when we take off the glasses we can finally see the way things are really. Ideology is not simply imposed on us, Ideology is our spontaneous, „natural“ way of seeing and perceiving meaning in our world.
Even if we are well aware that we live in a lie, ideology is something we „enjoy“. This is why we are frightened to „step out of ideology“ in order to see the truth because this truth can be painful as it may shatter many of our illusions. Thus, to step out of ideology is a painful experience – “Freedom hurts”.

Consumerism: the “capitalist ideology”
According to Zizek, Coke is the perfect capitalist commodity (= Ware) – Why? A commodity is not only an object that we simply buy and consume. A commodity has „something more“, it is „the real thing.“ “The real thing” is not another positive quality of coke, it is desire itself that we enjoy. “Enjoy Coke”: In capitalism it is our duty to enjoy. The desire to enjoy Coke is not only the desire for a certain drink with a certain flavor, it is always the desire for desire itself. The ultimate horror is the loss of desire itself. When Coke gets warm though, it is no longer the „real” Coke – it suddenly changes from its sublime dimension to shit.

Cynical ideology
Ideology is the fact that “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I am still doing it.” Cynical ideology means: “I know what I’m doing (wrong) but I am still doing it.” In a Song from West Side Story titled “Inspector Krupke, the members of the gang explain the reasons why they turned into delinquents: They were treated in a bad way when they were kids.
London riots of August 2011: Rioters simply adopted to capitalist, consumerist ideology. It was the reaction of people who have “limited ways to realize what this ideology demands from them”. It means they have not enough money for buying and enjoying commodities. Accoring to Zizek, the British Prime Minister David Cameron expressed his feelings, that the truly horrible thing was that the rioters took commodities without paying for them.

Stephen Spielberg’s movie „Jaws“ – What does the shark stand for? There Many answers to this NS_Jude_Rasseschänderquestion. The Shark can equally stand for natural disasters, hurricanes or immigrants threatening the ordinary Americans, taking away their jobs. According to Fidel Castro, the shark is a metaphor for brutal big capital “exploiting ordinary Americans”.
Ordinary people have a multitude of fears: We might fear natural disasters like hurricanes, some of us might fear immigrants who might “take away their jobs”, we might fear that our children might be raped, we might fear big corporations who have enormous power over our lives – all these fears are projected into the shark, all the multitude of fears is replaced by the one fear of the shark alone. In this way our experience of reality gets much simpler.
Nazi fascist ideology used anti-Semitism in the same way. How was the situation of an “ordinary, middle-class” German in the late 1920s and early 1930s: Nothing functions, everything is going wrong, newspapers lie to him, politicians lie to him, he lost his money, he fears that his small business might go bankrupt because there are not enough costumers, he might lose his job,… – What is the cause of this all? The multitude of fears is replaced with one clear figure: the Jew, comparable to the shark in “Jaws”. Fascism generates an ideological narrative which explains how and why things went wrong in a society. The problems are not a result of the inherent tensions in the – capitalist development of economy and society. The problems are presented as the result of a foreign intruder, the Jews who penetrated our social body (Volkskörper) and this is why so many things are going wrong. The solution suggested by the Nazis: Eliminating the Jews and thus “restoring the health of our social body”.
British Prime minister John Major’s conservative narrative in the early 1990s functioned in a similarRassismus_Torys_1964 way: All evils of society are embodied in the figure of the unemployed single mother: she is getting social benefits, she causes budget deficit, disintegration of society because she is unable to raise her children properly and so on.
Fascism can be understood as a “conservative Revolution”. Fascism says yes to economic NS_Propaganda_Jude_Unersättlichdevelopment, modern technology and industry and a modern, efficiently administered society, but at the same time wants the re-establishment of a traditional hierarchical society without class conflict or other antagonisms. The problem is: Antagonisms, class struggles and tensions are inherent to capitalism. Capitalism comes along with instability, social conflicts and the disintegration of old stable social relations. Instability is the way capitalism functions.
The anti-Semitic image of the Jew as presented by Nazi ideology has some interesting aspects. “Jews” are at the same time „extra intellectual“ (for example: Einstein) and „extra vulgar“, for example Jews in the Eastern ghettos not washing regularly, living in desolated homes etc. Plus: Jews try to „steal enjoyment“ from us. The most eminent “danger” comes from assimilated Jews. They are more difficult to “detect”, they “look like Germans”, they are “seducing our innocent German girls”. “The Jew” is always presented as a male, very rarely as a woman.


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