Zizek on Foucault in Tehran

A transcript of a talk Zizek gave last year in London:

“Just like Heidegger with Nazis, Foucault has been heavily criticized for supposed lapse, error in his thought, over his engagement with Iranian revolution. But again, my thought here is that – just like Heidegger – he did the right thing, only again, in wrong direction.”

So you the see the logic here – three withdrawals. First, Foucault claims is event is absolutely new, and that whatever reactionary aspect it might seem to have belongs entirely to outside subjective perceptions. Then he says, in fact, split between new aspect and reactionary aspect inherent in event itself, but that the pure event comes first. Then, he withdraws even further, and says that actually it was reactionary aspect that came first, which generated event in the first place.”

“So you see the point here – and it is charge very often levelled against Badiou, but unfairly in his case, that criteria of Badiou mean that Nazism is event – this is actually not true of Badiou, but it is, I think true of Foucault – what Foucault theorizes with Iranian Revolution applies exactly to Nazism!”

I don’t know much about Zizek (although his positive review of 300 seems to be well circulated) but isn’t he just another personality that will come and go? Someone should let us know what he is talking about here.


8 Responses

  1. The link to Zizek transcript doesn’t seem to be working.

  2. That’s odd, it works for me. You do have to scroll down a bit to the section headed “Foucault in Tehran.”

  3. Yes, there must be something strange happening! I have tried from two different computers (and two different connections) and it still doesn’t work. Anyway, if some one has any other link to Zizek transcript please let me know.

  4. I too have been unable to get the link to work.

  5. Their site appears to be down.

    Try the google cached version in the meantime

  6. Zizek, I know him for being an occastionally absurt post(?)-lacanian/derrida follower, seems to be on some sort of Badiou kick, which I must admit to not being incredibly familar with.

    It seems like he’s after foucault for changing his mind as events unfolded, which though perhaps not ideal is perfectly reasonable…

    As for Zizek’s future.. I dunno, he’s a bit younger than the earlier all of the master theorists, many of whom have died recently (Ricour, Derrida, Baudrillard, Deleuze). Foucault died a long time ago, but was in this cohort. Zizek fits along side Butler, maybe Spivak, in my mind. Unlike other folk, he doesn’t have something “grand” to his name (butler’s conenction to queer theory, spivak’s connection to post-colonial theory.,) so I don’t know how that will effect how the cards fall…

    anyway, cheers,

  7. maybe you guys should much wider than you currently do. How do you not know of Zizek. I am not saying this in the sense of “How dare you not know about this great thinker”, but rather the more modest if you are not familiar with Zizek maybe you should pay attention to new currents of thought. Zizek’s main background is Lacanian/Hegelian Marxist.

    And in those passages quotes above he is talking two things: 1- how today intellectuals are meant to keep their distance from real politics: the notion that any theorizing of real politics is one step away from fascism etc. and 2- how Foucault’s position during the Iranian Revolution was correct, even though he fundamentally misunderstood what was really happening and he at the end succumbed to the pressures by taking back his support. For Zizek affirms these movement and is a Yes sayer to any politics that tries to imagine a space outside of democratic capitalism that is everywhere.

  8. “Zizek, I know him for being an occastionally absurt post(?)-lacanian/derrida follower,”

    My God no! He is certainly no Derrida follower! In fact the current of much of his thought flows strongly against decnonstruction and post-structuralism in general, as does Badiou’s. Zizek will certainly not be rapidly forgotten, he currently enjoys the rare status of being the only living philosopher to have a journal devoted entirely to him! (International Journal of Zizek Studies). .. In terms of Foucault’s thought, there is not a great deal of commonality between him and Zizek apart from a shared anti-humanism. In fact one of Zizek’s key projects is to rehabilitate the concept of idealogy critique in preference to Foucaultian discourse analysis. Zizek claims that Foucault’s geneologies are flawed in that Foucault is never able to adequetely account for the position of his enunciation (the classic critique of historicism). He uses a reformulated Lacanian triad of Symbolic Imaginary Real to try and get out of the classical pickle of idealogy critique, that is, that is presupposes and uncomplicated truth to which the critic has priveldged access to etc

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