Žižek's blind spots:
A) Hollywood. As we all know, Žižek is a prolific film critic. His love of the film genre sometimes makes him oblivious to the nature of the movies he discusses. In a very endearing and surprisingly naive gesture, Žižek "discovers" that there is ideology in Hollywood movies:
Nobody, of course, is surprised that "even" Hollywood is ideological. I don't think that anybody who'd even think of picking up a book by Žižek would see Hollywood production as "innocent" or "post-ideological." The entire statement betrays a certain childish fascination with Hollywood on the part of the philosopher, a fascination that is punctured by the need to recognize that "even" cartoons promote regressive ideas.
When even products of an allegedly 'liberal' Hollywood display the most blatant ideological regression, is any further proof required that ideology is alive and kicking in our post-ideological world? It should not surprise us, then, to discover ideology at its purest in what may appear to be products of Hollywood at its most innocent: the big blockbuster cartoons. (66)
B) Hedonism. For some inexplicable reason, Žižek has convinced himself that we live in a culture of "hedonostic permissiveness." For the life of me, I can't imagine where he has seen all that hedonism. I beleve he is conflating consumerism and hedonism, which, in my opinion, is a mistake. There is nothing hedonistic about consumerism. Just the opposite, it is deeply masochistic. While satisfying one need, buying any object immediately awakens five other needs, and so on. I don't know about Žižek but I live in a culture that is deeply suspicious of any kind of enjoyment, where people are terrified of sex that isn't "goal-oriented", where people work themselves into the ground even when there is absolutely no objective need to do so, where people punish themselves for every instance of enjoyment. I am all for hedonism but it's hardly hegemonic, unlike what Žižek wants to believe.
C) Patriarchy. According to Žižek, patriarchy is dead. The definition of patriarchy is "control by men of a disproportionately large share of power." Obviously, the percentages of men in Congress, boardrooms, leading positions in the media, the academia, etc. tell us that patriarchy is alive and well. Žižek, however, asks:
What becomes of patriarchal family values when a child can sue his parents for neglect and abuse, or when the family and parenthood itself are 'de jure' reduced to a temporary and dissolvable contract between independent individuals?If anybody should know that the probability of abused children actually exercising their right to sue their parents is pretty much nil, it's a psychoanalyst. Still, Žižek grasps at this improbable scenario as an excuse for his statement that patriarchy is dead. It is a sad reality that a male philosopher who is not a male chauvinist as well is pretty much impossible to find, so Žižek's misogyny is not unexpected.
A) Social bond. As a Marxist, Žižek needs to believe in the unsustainable idea that humans are collective rather than individualistic beings. As a result, he promotes the idea that social bonds are good at any cost. This leads him to make some pretty outlandish statements. He even goes as far as praising the practice of potlatch simply because as a result of it
we are all linked together by the bonds of debt. (41)Of course, if one were to take this line of reasoning any further, one would arrive at a conclusion that the best relationships we can ever have are those we establish with our credit card companies.
B) Stalinism. One of the issues that Marxists today haven't been able to address convincingly is Stalinist terror. Žižek, of course, is way too intelligent to recur to the silly argument some people have used that Stalinism is the result of a perverted Marxism. He attempts to provide a more honest response but ends up providing an answer that he himself must perceive as pretty impotent since he hides it in a footnote:
The standard liberal-conservative argument against Communism is that, since it wants to impose on reality an impossible utopian dream, it necessarily ends in deadly terror. What, however, if one should nonetheless insist on taking the risk of enforcing the Impossible onto reality? Even if, in this way, we do not get what we wanted and/or expected, we nonetheless change the coordinates of what appears as "possible" and give birth to something genuinely new. (38)At least, Žižek is honest enough to recognize that forcing upon people a collective existence that is so alien to the human nature will result in terror. He obviously has no argument to oppose to this self-evident fact. But he cannot give up on his Marxist dream either. Yes, there will be terror, Žižek says, but let's do it anyways. While I admire the honesty, I find it hard to see such a statement as intellectually convincing.
C) Love. Žižek 's revolutionary fervor leads him to discuss love in a way that sounds very childish:
But the hard lesson to be learned is that . . . when one confronts the choice between love and duty, duty should prevail. . . Perhaps there is no greater love than that of a revolutionary couple, where each of the two lovers is ready to abandon the other at any moment should the revolution demand it. (109)And this is somebody who has written beautifully about love before. Knowing Žižek 's origins, one can't but wriggle in vicarious shame when confronted by such a blatant instance of the cheapest Soviet-style propaganda being spouted by a great philosopher.