David Thompson
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December 08, 2014

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Joan

"Professor Žižek... is a professor at several universities at once, which proves that the world is either not as unjust as he thinks it, or perhaps a lot more unjust than he thinks it."

Snork.

David

Professor Žižek’s thinking, or his funhouse-mirror approximation of thinking, has been mentioned here before, twice at least. To catalogue all of his unearned conclusions and absurd assertions would be a life’s work and would probably take a toll on one’s sanity.

What’s remarkable, I think, isn’t his brand of chest-puffing claptrap, but the fact that he gets away with it among supposedly intelligent people and so-called “critical thinkers.” If you’ve the patience to poke through the rhetorical manoeuvring, what’s left is often glib and/or question-begging. If you don’t accept the premise - say, a tarted-up rehash of “false consciousness” or an antipathy towards capitalism - then what follows is at best unpersuasive or, more often, simply laughable. He doesn’t so much explain as mouth noises that appeal to a certain kind of person.

For instance, we’re told that fundamentalist Islam constitutes a “site of resistance” from which “one can deploy critical doubts about today’s society.” Yet “today’s society” - i.e., Western, socially liberal, capitalist society – is questioned openly, at length, and as a matter of routine - more so, I’d guess, than any other society in history. However, the societies envisioned by enthusiasts of fundamentalist Islam don’t seem likely to foster similar reflection or dissent; nor do they seem likely to equip their inhabitants with the tools of such endeavours. Žižek’s proposed “site of resistance” and source of “critical” reflection seems defined in reality by an abandonment of logic and a pathological narrowing of thought.

Yet these details don’t delay Žižek in his rush to assert.

The Sage

Not everyone on the left is on board with Žižek. For example this essay whose title speaks for itself -- https://www.jacobinmag.com/2011/07/the-power-of-nonsense/ -- which accuses him of "a species of linksfaschismus".

David

Not everyone on the left is on board with Žižek.

Yes, I remember Johann Hari and the late Norm Geras, among others, poking fun at the man and his cultish following. But those swooning at Žižek’s flimflam, or making excuses for it, are almost exclusively people who imagine themselves as leftist intellectuals. Which, I suspect, tells us something.

David

Oh, and then there’s the plagiarism. I like the fact that what gave him away was the relative clarity of the copied, uncredited passages.

Theophrastus

Žižek's love-based freedom would soon turn rather vicious and oppressive, if you wanted to do something that he or his acolytes disapproved of - such as insisting on the rule of law, property rights, separation of powers, representative democracy and other bourgeois notions.

And so many of these uncritically leftist "critical thinkers" give the strong impression of having been 'educated' way beyond the level of their intelligence.

RY

Re: Brendan O'Neill's piece on Columbia.

It would have been a brave student indeed who stood up at the Salem-like belief-fest at Columbia last week and said, "We have to prove accusations, not naïvely accept them."

This quote from an article by the assistant managing editor of the UVA's student newspaper - following the breakdown of the Rolling Stone rape story.

Ultimately, though, from where I sit in Charlottesville, to let fact checking define the narrative would be a huge mistake.

Nikw211

Are these things examples of mendacity and duplicity or more common-or-garden varieties of incompetence and stupidity?

I think this one is likely a case of stupidity …

    One group of female students said “the rapist” must be expelled. But he hasn’t been found guilty of committing rape, I said. “We know he committed the rape,” one said, …

… could so easily be mendacity.

This one, I'm pretty sure is detailing the consequences of duplicity:

    By racializing crime and the reactions to it, and by dismissing facts in lieu of racial stereotyping, the Al Sharpton school of racists has more or less redefined both race relations and criminal justice itself.

The one outlined here is a bit of a puzzler:

    Mathematics professor Abigail Thompson of the University of California – Davis has recently published a paper that tears Page’s work apart. She says that Page’s analysis is an example of the misuse of mathematics in the social sciences. It is something that merely gave “a scientific veneer to the diversity field,” she writes.

Page and Lu could after all be incompetent liars.

Still, as long as they're doing it in the name of a good cause ….

sk60

What media bias?

http://uk.businessinsider.com/charts-show-the-political-bias-of-each-profession-2014-11?r=US

Michael McCallion

The comment from Victor David Hansen probably brought to mind the no-go- zones evident in Britain and elsewhere in Europe. i recall commenting somewhere, maybe here, my thoughts of this being a politicized reaction of overt pandering to a very special interest group, Islam.

I belatedly recognize this use of no-go zones is just good policing in a practical response by Policing Management to protect the front line officers from weak politicians and the second-rate media. Cheers;

The Phantom

Mr. Hanson's article mentions circuitously something I've been expecting to happen, namely a police strike in the USA.

They'll show up for work and take the money as they usually do, but they'll stop arresting Blacks. Black people will be allowed to go off and do whatever the hell they want even more than they already are. Which is a lot, going by the statistics.

The other thing that's going to happen, rapidly, is the emptying of large East Coast US cities. Something caught my eye on Drudge Report yesterday, Hartford Connecticut school district is having difficulty "integrating" their schools. The reason is all the white people moved out of Hartford decades ago, and now they have all moved out of the suburbs too.

http://news.yahoo.com/demographics-complicate-hartford-desegregation-140702273.html

In ten years, if this racial policy is pursued to its conclusion, there will be zero white people left in the cities where blacks make up any sizable proportion of the population. Segregation will be back on, with a vengeance, except this time it'll be the black people enforcing it.

Detroit writ large. Might want to think about ditching those muni bonds in your portfolio.

Or we could just go back to "do the crime, do the time" and avoid all that. It'll be hard on Al Sharpton, but the rest of us will be better off.

Tim Newman

In ten years, if this racial policy is pursued to its conclusion, there will be zero white people left in the cities where blacks make up any sizable proportion of the population. Segregation will be back on, with a vengeance, except this time it'll be the black people enforcing it.

With the extreme irony that this process has accelerated while America's first black president is in the White House. The great uniter, indeed.

Rafi

The great uniter, indeed.

"53 percent said race relations had gotten worse since Obama, the nation's first black president, took office in 2009. That figure included 56 percent of white respondents and 45 percent of black respondents."

http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/199349/

DH

A rather credulous piece here by our state broadcaster.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-30323682

"I'd love to be able to afford some vegetables, I really would," says 19-year-old Yasmin.

"Being a qualified cook, I'd love to make myself a nice risotto or something. But I'm not rich; I'm not posh. I can't afford nice food."

I feel her pain. Carrots are about 8p each, onions an astonishing 15p a throw and a whole cauliflower is a whopping 60p. The Mrs and I often remark on how rich and posh we've become whilst turning £2 worth of veg and stock cubes into six generous helpings of soup.

She also tells us: ...when I'm not eating my body stores the fat and makes me fatter.

Which, I'm sure, is precisely what prisoners liberated from concentration camps at the end of the Second World War told the allied soldiers as they were being rescued.

wtp

David, Actually three times. Nik211 linked his annoying ear-worm and acid eyewash inducing video here:

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2014/11/your-children-are-in-good-hands.html?cid=6a00d83451675669e201bb07afecb7970d#comment-6a00d83451675669e201bb07afecb7970d

The dancing. It hurts worse than the iambic heptameter.

David

David, Actually three times.

I stand corrected. It’s hard to keep track of close to 40,000 comments.

Hal

Hipsters require champagne

Bold emphasis mine . . .

Berkeley business owners were assessing the damage early Monday after protesters vandalized and looted stores, set fires and clashed with police on a freeway during the second straight night of demonstrations in the city against police killings of unarmed black men in Missouri and New York.

. . . .

Carol West, 64, a Berkeley resident for more than 30 years, surveyed the damage while walking her dog.

“I think they have valid points, but all the destruction doesn’t have anything to do with it,” West said. “I was here for the Free Speech Movement. It was never this bad.”

. . .

All the windows were smashed at the shuttered Wick’s appliance store on Shattuck, which Reza Valiyee, 81, said he plans to turn into a general store. The damage will cost him $4,000, he said.

“My suggestion is if they are going to protest, fine,” Valiyee said. “Ninety-five percent are not the problem, but 5 percent are hurting the cause.”

Valiyee, who was a UC Berkeley student during the Free Speech Movement, added, “We know most (protesters) are good people. But they need to stop the vandals.”

. . . .

At one point, the Radio Shack at Shattuck and Dwight Way was ransacked for the second time that evening. When it was hit earlier, a man threw boxes of looted electronic gear into the crowd but several protesters tossed the gear back inside.

A protester who tried to stop the looting was attacked and hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, police said. The exchange was captured on video.

Later Sunday night, the Whole Foods Market on Telegraph was looted, with people taking and passing around bottles of Champagne.

. . And, what I noticed at home around midnight was a helicopter nearly permanently hovering way overhead, and multiple sirens racing about somewhere nearby, where when looking online I could find the freeway shutdown---'bout 2 miles south of me---and the meandering around that had been described so far---'bout a mile or so north of me---and had no idea why any attention in my general area . . . and once up this morning, I finally found the report of the midnight Whole Paycheck market looting that had taken place about a half mile East of me . . .

Perhaps among the issues is that hipsters weren't involved in the Free Speech Movement and related occurrences, adults were, and as adults, they were actually focusing on the actual issues of concern---and how best to show that concern.

dicentra

He doesn’t so much explain as mouth noises that appeal to a certain kind of person.

Naked Emperor Syndrome. I saw it quite a bit at Cornell. Some people just have a talent for picking up jargon and spewing it forth in clever-sounding ways, exactly as those po-mo generators do.

The undisciplined mind is dazzled by the apparent complexity and assumes that because they find it incomprehensible, it must be really, really deep.

As soon as you unpack the assertions and attempt to find a logical thread — assertion, argument, conclusion — you find instead that multiple interesting assertions are made at regular intervals but instead of getting into the argument phase, a new interesting assertion is made, which derails whatever track the previous assertion might have been on.

It's worse than stream-of-consciousness because there's no underlying anything that's being communicated: it's like the word salad of a schizophrenic with the crazy edges burnished off.

Once again it's the pose that's important, not the substance, of which there is none.

What fools we mortals be. That we should permit any of these people near a lectern — much less political office — is a good indication of how eagerly we embrace our own destruction, as long as we can feel warm, holy, and clever in the process.

mojo

Oh dear:

One of my constituents once complained to the Beeb about a report on the repression of Mexico's indigenous peoples, in which the government was labelled Right-wing. The governing party, he pointed out, was a member of the Socialist International and, again, the give-away was in its name: Institutional Revolutionary Party. The BBC’s response was priceless. Yes, it accepted that the party was socialist, “but what our correspondent was trying to get across was that it is authoritarian”.

from here

David

Once again it’s the pose that’s important, not the substance,

Geoffrey Galt Harpham pointed out that Žižek’s ‘scholarly’ essays typically avoid the structures of logical argument. What you get instead are rhetorical effects and lots of bald assertion:

Even the earnest reader who begins at page one has the constant impression of having opened to a page somewhere in the middle. This sense of an endless middle is achieved by reducing the conventional middle to almost zero. The typical Žižekian unit of discourse - a wittily-titled passage of between five and fifteen pages - begins abruptly with the kind of confident assertion commonly associated with the conclusion; there is no phase of doubt, no pretence of unprejudiced inquiry, only a series of demonstrations, exemplifications, and restatements.

And this disregard for evidence and logic doesn’t appear to trouble Žižek’s admirers. What matters, it seems, is a “provocative” conclusion, not how it was arrived at or whether it’s remotely justified. And even setting aside the dismal standard of Žižek’s ‘philosophy’, the endless begged questions and basic logical errors, you’d hope a few of his groupies might at least register just how much time the man spends defending totalitarianism and leftist power fantasies. But given the subject’s prominence in his output and how often it crops up, it seems that many of his readers find totalitarian apologia either congenial or titillating.

Hal

What you get instead are rhetorical effects and lots of bald assertion:

Once Again, or, yeah, here's the shortcut, or something like that . . .

JL

Writes an editor at UVA's student magazine:

I am drained. I am confused. But I keep returning to one question. If everyone here believed Jackie’s story until yesterday — a story in which she is violently raped by seven men at a fraternity house as part of a planned initiation ritual — should we not still be concerned? There was something in that story which stuck. And that means something.

What it means is that they wanted to believe it.

sackcloth and ashes

'If everyone here believed Jackie’s story until yesterday — a story in which she is violently raped by seven men at a fraternity house as part of a planned initiation ritual — should we not still be concerned? There was something in that story which stuck. And that means something'.

So, aside from the fact that fortunately no one has actually been strung up from a tree, perhaps someone would care to explain what the difference is between the attitude that was described here, and the custom a century or so ago which inspired the Billie Holiday song 'Strange Fruit'.

Nikw211

Brendan O'Neill makes some interesting comments here:

    No human beings are being harmed in the world of Grand Theft Auto because that world does not exist. [A Feminist campaigner] says that if she was in GTA’s fantasy world, she would be abused – well, if I was in Middle Earth I might be attacked by Orcs; if any of us human beings had the misfortune to live on the Planet of the Apes, we’d be screwed; if we lived in Oceania, we wouldn’t be able to think and say and fantasise as we saw fit in our own homes because of the Telescreen on the wall watching our every word… oh wait, that’s a bad example – that world does increasingly exist.
Vince N

Žižek is a Hegelian, and L. Ron Hubbard had a firmer grip on reality than Hegel. 'Nuff said.

David

Here’s a good one. Ed Driscoll on the idiocy and/or mendacity of Elizabeth Warren (and a “community organiser” named Barack Obama). I don’t think these are people one should trust with an economy.

rjmadden

At least 46 of Obama’s 186 clients have declared bankruptcy since 1996, often multiple times. That’s a far higher bankruptcy rate than the rate for all Americans, for Chicagoans and even for African-Americans in Chicago.

Hope and change.

Mags

"Friedrich Engels' beard inspires climbing sculpture in Salford."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-30375063

David

Friedrich Engels’ beard inspires climbing sculpture in Salford.

It’s “audacious,” apparently. “A symbol of wisdom and learning.” The millions killed in the name of communism could not be reached for comment.

Nikw211

Who knew the Arts Council in England was suffering a lack of diversity ?

David

Who knew the Arts Council in England was suffering a lack of diversity?

But of course. Because the British public just can’t get enough of funding racial favouritism and people like Mr Kholeif here, a professionally ethnic “queer film theorist” who intimates that he’s oppressed and therefore deserves £15,000 of taxpayers’ money a year. Though oppressed by what he doesn’t say.

RY

Really good post by Rick Wilson at Ricochet:

'The second, and more dangerous fault line on display in each one of these stories is the Left's desire for separate standards and systems across every domain, from the judicial system to public behavior to acceptable speech. It's not just the old liberal hypocrisy. It's more explicit now.'

https://ricochet.com/fault-lines/

Shiggz

While we pick apart their narratives, the international left is leaving their bubbles they hid out in during the soviet collapse and are now focusing on building mass movements. Here is thoughts from the guy from Spains newest leftist party:

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/12/pablo-iglesias-podemos-left-speech/

Shiggz

Thanks, that fault lines article was great and I have not been to richochet before.

David

thoughts from the guy from Spain’s newest leftist party:

Is it me, or does Pablo Iglesias sound staggeringly vain and a tad neurotic?

shiggz

Thats putting to put it nicer then i would have. Most of these sorts ive run into are similar to him.

Hal

Here is thoughts from the guy from Spains newest leftist party:


Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, wannabe bureaucrat:
I know very well that the key to understanding the history of the past five hundred years is the emergence of specific social categories, called “classes.”

David Cannadine, rather published historian:

. . . we might usefully turn to Montpellier in 1768, when a bourgeois citizen set out to "put his world in order" by describing the social structure of his town.

He concluded that there was no single comprehensive or authoritative way in which this could be done. Instead, he offered three very different yet equally plausible accounts of the same contemporary ,social world. The first was Montpellier as a procession: as a hierarchy on parade, a carefully graded ordering of rank and dignity, in which each layer melded and merged almost imperceptibly into the next. The second was Montpellier divided into three collective categories of modified estates: the nobility, the bourgeoisie, and the common people. And the third was a more basic division: between those who were patricians and those who were plebeians. Clearly, these were very different ways of characterizing and categorizing the same population. The first stressed the prestige ranking of individuals and the integrated nature of Montpellier society. The second placed people in discrete collective groups that owed more to wealth and occupation and gave particular attention to the bourgeoisie. And the third emphasized the adversarial nature of the social order by drawing one great divide on the basis of culture, style of life, and politics.

Thus Montpellier in 1768, and thus Britain during the last three hundred years. . . . .

. . . and anywhere and anywhen else else, for that matter.

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