Slavoj Žižek, the famous
Slovenian continental philosopher and critical theorist steeped in the
traditions of Hegelianism, Marxism and Lacanian psychoanalysis, isn't exactly known for his American-style political punditry. Yet in his recent
In The End Times
, Žižek meandered into current events, seeking to situate the
one-woman political carnival Sarah Palin within Hegel's philosophical
project. The result is something that Tyler
at Marginal Revolution deems "what you would get if Andrew
Sullivan were a Lacanian and a Hegelian." Judge this excerpt for yourself:
Earlier generations of
women politicians (Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, up to a
point even Hillary Clinton) were what is usually referred to as
"phallic" women: they acted as "iron ladies" who imitated and tried to
outdo male authority, to be "more men than men themselves."
...Jacques-Alain Miller pointed out how Sarah Palin, on the contrary,
proudly displays her femininity and motherhood. She has a "castrating"
effect on her male opponents not by way of being more manly than them,
but by using the ultimate feminine weapon, the sarcastic put-down of
male authority -- she knows that male "phallic" authority is a posture, a
semblance to be exploited and mocked. Recall how she mocked Obama as a
"community organizer," exploiting the fact that there was something
sterile in Obama's physical appearance, with his diluted black skin,
slender features, and big ears. Here we have "post-feminist" femininity
without a complex, uniting the features of mother, prim teacher
(glasses, hair in a bun), public person, and, implicitly, sex object,
proudly displaying the "first dude" as a phallic toy. The message is
that she "has it all" -- and that, to add insult to injury, it was a
Republican woman who had realized this Left-liberal dream...No wonder
that the Palin effect is one of false liberation: drill, baby, drill!Sullivan
this means -- in Hegelese -- the class struggle encounters itself in
its oppositional determination (gegensätzliche Bestimmung), in its
distorted/displaced form, as one among many social struggles. And, in
exactly the same way, "anti-elitist" populism in architecture is the
mode of appearance of its opposite, of class differences.
himself an accomplished academic, responds to Cowens comparison.
"My problem with Palin is no longer Palin," responds Sullivan. "It is
the stench of media and political corruption that has enabled this total
phony to thrive." Ravi
at Gawker, on the other hand, simply gawks: "Of course, Palin
already knew this because she reads everything."
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