齐泽克In the Wake of Paris Attacks the Left Must Embrace Its Radical tern Roots
作者: 转载 / 6705次阅读 时间: 2015年11月18日

Ritualized violence and fundamentalism  暴力仪式和原教旨主义

Along these lines, in his attack on me, Sebastian Schuller raises the question: “Is Zizek now going over to PEGIDA [Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident]?”

Schuller's blog post even attributes a statement to me that, of course, I never made: “I no longer know any classes, only Europeans.” What we must do is move beyond the cliché of refugees as proletarians with “nothing to lose but their chains” invading bourgeois Europe: There are class divisions in Europe as well as in the Middle East, and the key question is how these different class dynamics interact.

This brings us to the reproach that, while I call for a critique of the dark underside of the Islamic right, I remain silent about the dark underside of the European world: “And what about Crosses in the school? What about the church tax? What about the diverse Christian sects with absurd moral ideas? What about the Christians who announce that gays will be barbecued in hell?” This is a weird reproach—the parallel between Christian and Muslim fundamentalism is a topic over-analyzed in our media (as well as in my books).

Be that as it may, let’s recall what happened in Rotherham, England: At least 1,400 children were subjected to brutal sexual exploitation between 1997 and 2013; children as young as 11 were raped by multiple perpetrators, abducted, trafficked to other cities, beaten and intimidated; “doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone, as the official report put it.” There had been three previous inquiries into these goings on that led to nothing. One inquiry team noted a fear among council staff that they’d be labelled “racist” if they pursued the matter. Why? The perpetrators were almost exclusively members of Pakistani gangs and their victims—referred by the perpetrators as “white trash”—were white schoolgirls.

Reactions were predictable. Mostly through generalization, many on the Left resorted to all possible strategies in order to blur facts. Exhibiting political correctness at its worst, in two Guardian articles the perpetrators were vaguely designated as “Asians.” Claims were made. This wasn’t about ethnicity and religion but rather about domination of man over women. Who are we with our church pedophilia and Jimmy Saville to adopt a high moral ground against a victimized minority? Can one imagine a more effective way to open up the field to UKIP and other anti-immigrant populists who exploit the worries of ordinary people?

What is not acknowledge is that such anti-racism is in effect a form of covert racism since it condescendingly treats Pakistanis as morally inferior beings who should not be held to normal human standards.

In order to break out of this deadlock, one should begin with the very parallel between the Rotherham events and pedophilia within the Catholic Church. In both cases, we are dealing with organized—ritualized even—collective activity. In the case of Rotherham, another parallel may be even more pertinent. One of the terrifying effects of the non-contemporaneity of different levels of social life is the rise of systematic violence against women. Violence that is specific to a certain social context is not random violence but systematic—it follows a pattern and transmits a clear message. While we were right to be terrified at the gang rapes in India, as Arundhati Roy pointed out, the cause of the unanimous moral reaction was that the rapists were poor and from lower strata. Nonetheless, the world-wide echo of violence against women is suspicious, so, perhaps, it would be worthwhile to widen our perception and include other similar phenomena.

The serial killings of women in Ciudad Juarez at the border are not just private pathologies, but a ritualized activity, part of the subculture of local gangs and directed at single young women working in new assembling factories. These murders are clear cases of macho reaction to the new class of independent working women: The social dislocation due to fast industrialization and modernization provokes a brutal reaction in males who experience this development as a threat. And the crucial feature in all these cases is that the criminally violent act is not a spontaneous outburst of raw brutal energy which breaks the chains of civilized customs, but something learned, externally imposed, ritualized and part of the collective symbolic substance of a community. What is repressed for the “innocent” public gaze is not the cruel brutality of the act, but precisely its “cultural,” ritualistic character as symbolic custom.

The same perverted social-ritual logic is at work when Catholic Church representatives insist that these intercontinental cases of pedophilia, deplorable as they are, are the Church’s internal, problem, and then display great reluctance to collaborate with police in their investigation. Church reps are, in a way, right. The pedophilia of Catholic priests is not something that merely concerns the persons who accidentally (read: privately) happened to choose the profession of a priest. It is a phenomenon that concerns the Catholic Church as an institution, and is inscribed into its very functioning as a socio-symbolic institution. It does not concern the “private” unconscious of individuals, but the “unconscious” of the institution itself. It is not something that happens because the institution has to accommodate itself to the pathological realities of libidinal life in order to survive, but something that the institution itself needs in order to reproduce itself. One can well imagine a “straight” (not pedophiliac) priest who, after years of service, gets involved in pedophilia because the very logic of the institution seduces him into it. Such an institutional unconscious designates the disavowed underside that, precisely as disavowed, sustains the public institution. (In the U.S. military, this underside consists of the obscene sexualized hazing rituals that help sustain the group solidarity.) In other words, it is not simply that, for conformist reasons, the Church tries to hush up the embarrassing pedophilic scandals: In defending itself, the Church defends its innermost obscene secret. Identifying oneself with this secret side is key for the very identity of a Christian priest: If a priest seriously (not just rhetorically) denounces these scandals he thereby excludes himself from the ecclesiastic community. He is no longer “one of us.” Similarly, when a US southerner in the 1920s denounced the KKK to the police he excluded himself from his community by betraying its fundamental solidarity.

We should approach the Rotherham events in exactly the same way since we are dealing with the “political unconscious” of Pakistani Muslim youth. The kind of violence at work is not chaotic violence but ritualized violence with precise ideological contours. A youth group, which experiences itself as marginalized and subordinated, took revenge at low-class girls of the predominant group. It is fully legitimate to raise the question of whether there are features in their religion and culture which open up the space for brutality against women without blaming Islam as such (which is in itself no more misogynistic than Christianity). In many Islamic countries and communities one can observe consonance between violence against women, the subordination of women and their exclusion from public life.

Among many fundamentalist groups and movements strict imposition of hierarchical sexual difference is at the very top of their agenda. But we should simply apply the same criteria on both (Christian and Islamic fundamentalist) sides, without fear of admitting that our liberal-secular critique of fundamentalism is also stained by falsity.

Critique of religious fundamentalism in Europe and the United States is an old topic with endless variation. The very pervasiveness of the self-satisfactory way that the liberal intelligentsia make fun of fundamentalists covers up the true problem, which is its hidden class dimension. The counterpart of this “making-fun-of” is the pathetic solidarity with the refugees and the no less false and pathetic self-humiliation of our self-admonition. The real task is to build bridges between “our” and “their” working classes. Without this unity (which includes the critique and self-critique of both sides) class struggle proper regresses into a clash of civilizations. That’s why yet another taboo should be left behind.

The worries and cares of so-called ordinary people affected by the refugees are oft dismissed as an expression of racist prejudices if not outright neo-Fascism. Should we really allow PEGIDA & company to be the only way open to them?

Interestingly, the same motif underlies the “radical” leftist critique of Bernie Sanders: What bothers his critics is precisely his close contact with small farmers and other working people in Vermont, who usually give their electoral support to Republican conservatives. Sanders is ready to listen to their worries and cares, not dismiss them as racist white trash.


«拉康在哪一点上是黑格尔主义者? 齐泽克 Slavoj Zizek
《齐泽克 Slavoj Zizek》