Siqueiros’ Machine Gun – Part II: White is the New Black, Intolerance is the New Tolerance

March 4, 2011

Given the dead weight of this legacy, embodied in the grey spam of Callinicos and his Army of Greyness, it seems impossible to believe that even the most Hermetically gifted cosmetic surgeon could make this hideous visage the life of any party other than the Party, or at least simply non-emetic. Calling Dr. Funky, bring 100 cc’s of zany intimidation, 1500 cc’s of pop culture cred and half a crate of Wild Turkey to the emergency room, stat! Slavoj Žižek, the self-appointed heir to the throne of Lacanian Psychoanalysis, whose staggering feats of amphibianism mean he can swim in the darkest pools of obscurantist theory and yet breathe the thin air of pop culture froth and bubble, come on down.

Žižek, so down with the kids he even married one

Žižek is the provocateur gadfly of cultural theory par excellence. His barbs are so stinging that they are basically ignored by the Cultural Studies queerternity…not because they don’t sting, oh no sir-y, it is just that they prefer to keep using Žižek without letting the substance of his attacks impinge on them in any way. There is nothing like cynical ignorance to anaesthetise a sore ass. As an example of this anti-political correctitude…look, I know this is just folklore and self-aggrandising promotion but, did you know that when Slav was in the army (which is fuckin’ hardcore enough. How many guns have Andrew Ross or Judith Butler fired, ay? I’ll tell you, none!) he used to actually tell jokes about race and stuff and it was cool with the wogs and darkies because they were witty and he gave as good as he got and we all grew a little together in that hot summer in Ljubljana.

In aid of this provocation he has made it his duty to ‘reactualise’ Lenin; you know, ‘cos, like, Lenin is really unfashionable ‘n stuff and ‘cos, like, he was the kind of guy who transcends the merely fashionable, not ‘cos he he’s not, I mean he could fuckin’ bust a move anytime and he fuckin’ knows where it’s at. It’s just, you know, he could, like, take it or leave it, he is that cool…one of those fucking boors, like me, at dinner parties who leans back in his chair, moves his tongue along the front of his teeth, and with a smug, disaffected look in his eye says: “Well I know it’s not fashionable to say so these days but…”

Even a cursory glance at the wordsmithing of Žižek’s Lenin’s Choice will make you wonder how Cultural Studies can keep going in the face of such scorching rhetoric (not content obviously, for when Zeus realised that Prometheus had gifted mortals with Olympian spin doctoring he created Pandora from clay and polyethylene, gave her a special box and ordered Epimetheus to marry her. Zeus had also given Pandora a box which, despite warnings on the label, she opened, thus releasing the maggots called Piss-weak Argument and Mere Appearance, which eat away at the content of any rebranding exercise leaving it so hollow and brittle that it falls apart if any attempt is made to go beyond the style.

Whew, smells like Kissinger’s dew flaps. Better open it all the way to see if it smells any better

HARDCORE ON THE OUTSIDE

Too Out-There for Liberals

Lesson one – use a time-honoured method certified by porn merchants, serial killers and caught-out politicians: make your vice appear cool and exotic by making the contested virtue anally puritanical. Thus Žižek talks about Lenin’s “bad reputation among liberals” making him sound like a misbehaving rock star (Lock up your daughters, liberals!). Having provided the necessary outlaw frisson Žižek makes Lenin even further beyond the liberal pale by making him unfashionable (ooh yeah, did I tell you that Lenin is ‘unfashionable’, huh, huh?!! Pretty fucking shocking, ay?):

The first public reaction to the idea of reactualizing Lenin is, of course, an outburst of sarcastic laughter: Marx – okay, even on Wall Street they love him today – the poet of commodities, who provided perfect descriptions of capitalist dynamics, Marx of cultural studies, who portrayed the alienation and reification of our daily lives…but Lenin, no, you can’t be serious!

Woooah, yeah, that’s just too out there, can’t touch that one, man! Of course the derisive laughter is really nervous tittering; these latte liberals are nervous and Slav can feel, indeed taste, their fear. Lenin is too hardcore; he cannot be grappled by the limp-wristed textual analysis of Cultural Studies, so these nonces guffaw in mock defiance, hoping their loud brays silence the swelling chorus of Truth closing in on them.

The scandal of Lenin to pluralist pillow biters resides philosophically in his exposure of the poverty of liberal notions of truth and freedom. In killing off his enemies with honest brutality[i] Žižek sees Lenin as creating the “possibility of true choice” as opposed to the farce of ‘formal freedom’ (formally, it’s your choice, truthfully, choose right or I will kill you). Rather than lying about the power relations that underpin all choice Lenin used brutal honesty to make these power relations very clear? What’s that you say? Wouldn’t it have been better to establish the basis of ‘true choice’ by removing the power relations that distort choice? Hey, Žižek said Lenin established the possibility not the reality! As any moralising torture pornographer will tell you, you have to grovel in shit before you can walk. Indeed the ‘truth’ of Lenin’s ‘true choice’ resides not just in the reactionary apologetics of sleazebags but in empirical, objective, irrefutable FACT.

The Awful Concrete Truth

In his guise as a rigorous Lacanian theorist Žižek would scoff at any arid empiricist who would simply claim that ‘n’ is ‘n’ because it is, you know, ‘n’. However in writing the fan mail mistaken as reviews of Lenin he turns weak at the knees, creams his jeans and all that pedantic critical thinking dribbles out the ears as Žižek talks unreflexively about ‘concrete situations’ and ‘concrete analysis’ as if their concreteness was self-evident and beyond discussion. With the Truth in our grasp we can, like Slav, talk about getting rid of patently “ridiculous narratives like those about the supremacy of some aboriginal holistic wisdom, or those that dismiss science as just another narrative on par with premodern superstitions”, or trusting a Jew or believing in global warming. With the Concrete Truth Detector we can finally see the world as it really is; see the obvious lies of capitalists and boong savages alike. No wonder Lenin is put down, if the world knew his Concrete Truth then all philosophy would crumble into dust, all the search for meaning would be over. The Great Human Project would be effectively over and thousands of philosophers, poets, priests and market researchers would be rendered useless, gut-shooting the economy. If any more evidence is needed – if – then Žižek quotes approvingly from anallickitall positivist extraordinaire Karl Popper, who wrote: “Lenin’s book on empirico-criticism is, in my opinion, truly excellent [dude].” Now all we need is Ayn Rand’s revealed commendation and we will know just how Objectively, Empirically True Lenin was. 

Behold, the Truth!

Hey, We Can Only Have So Much Democracy Anyway

Of course epistemology is all well and good, but Lenin’s Concrete Truth Bomb has decadent liberal politics most specifically encased in its precision targeting system. Žižek once remarked that the prevalence of apocalyptic imagery in film and literature showed that we can imagine the end of the world but not the end of capitalism. While Žižek can imagine the end of capitalism the end of the state is just plain loopy. Defending the autocracy of Lenin, Slav claims that, hey, we “cannot fully ‘democratize’ the state”. Before you rush out and condemn that childcare sniper, just remember that you cannot fully ‘de-weaponize’ a rifle. There, don’t feel so smug now do ya?! While he makes some pathetic efforts to distance himself from celebrating the state, Slav is mired in the naturalism of administration-as-centralised-power.

Though he has to deal with the ‘contradiction’ of Lenin’s cynical adoption of anarchist rhetoric in State and Revolution when it suited him[ii], Slav really feels more at home in sharing Lenin’s “road to socialism running through the terrain of monopoly capitalism” (wow, ‘socialism’ and ‘monopoly capitalism’, how daringly unfashionable is that!). Quoting Lenin, Žižek agrees that “[w]ithout big banks socialism would be impossible[iii]…Our task here is merely to lop off what capitalistically mutilates this excellent apparatus, to make it even bigger, even more democratic [wow, even more democratic than a big bank!], even more comprehensive”. While acknowledging that there is some “totalitarian potential” in Lenin’s formulation (gee, Slav, do you think so?), Žižek depoliticises Lenin’s ‘apparatus’ to make it become a model for Marx’s ‘general intellect’ and claims that this neutral, beige form of social organisation, with just a little nip and tuck, can become revolutionary. To further avoid the totalitarian taint he is quick to point out that, hey, it could be worse:

It is at this precise point concerning political terror that one can locate the gap that separates Leninism from Stalinism. In Lenin’s times, terror was openly admitted (Trotsky sometimes even boasted in an almost cocky way about the nondemocratic nature of the Bolshevik regime and the terror it used), while in Stalin’s times…terror turned into the publicly nonacknowledged.

There you go, terror and oppression is as natural as taking a shit, but even if it isn’t, well, at least Lenin and Trotsky were honest terrorists.

This is not to downplay the deep angst that Žižek goes through trying to reconcile how Stalinism could have emerged from something as wondrous as Leninism. He states that “the very constellation that rendered the revolution possible (peasant dissatisfaction, a well-organized revolutionary elite) led to the ‘Stalinist’ turn in its aftermath. Therein resides the proper Leninist tragedy.” Indeed, how heart rending and what a complex contradiction, as you cannot have a revolution without a vanguard[iv] and vanguardism can possibly (where naughty people take advantage) lead to totalitarianism. What a dilemma!

Anyway, you can’t make a revolution sitting back comfortably on your human rights declarations. You cannot have politics without what Žižek calls the “political sting”. I mean if you just want to vote for some politician in the pocket of the bosses, who will, at best, favourably tweak the conditions of your wage slavery, just to avoid the odd atrocity that comes with real change, well that’s fine, you spineless liberal! “[P]olitics without the organizational form of the party is politics without politics”; politics is obeying orders and adopting protocols and procedures, it is following leaders and enacting policy. Žižek uses the old Leninist three-card trick as he claims “that there are two ways open for socio-political engagement”; clearing all other players off the deck so that there is only Leninism and liberal reformism. Sure, Lenin made some mistakes and there will be the inevitable odd purge or fifty and there may be some ‘totalitarian potential’, but it’s either this or the Body Shop!

Thus Žižek’s ‘provocative’ love of structuralist, totalising theory, draped in utopian radical potential, in the shape of Lacan, Hegel [v], St. Paul[vi], as well as Lenin. Apart from the superior explanatory power of these Grand Narrativists, they contain subtle and not-so-subtle message that justice and revolutionary change can only occur through centralism, Unity, the Absolute. If this just happens to mean that justice and revolutionary change equals centralism, Unity and the Absolute well, what are we to do? Hey, I wish that revolutionary change could occur and be maintained through libertarian means, I really, REALLY do, but we ran the figures through the Hegelian Dialectic and the Pauline Calculator and I’m afraid it’s just not feasible. Look, I was just as shocked as anyone, which is why I ran the figures through again, but fuck me it if didn’t turn out the same! The idea that there may be other means of revolutionary politics involving affinity groups working against the authoritarianism of both capitalism and state capitalism…well that is just gay-tarded.

This Revolution is Beyond Your Infantile Comprehension, But Just Be Grateful We Have Lenin as A Guide

Having already linked Lenin to the Greats like Hegel, Lacan and himself, Žižek lays out the question we are all thinking: “In what, then, resides Lenin’s greatness?” Ahh, Slav what a wondrous question, that is pleasurable just to ponder of itself without recourse to the sweaty positivism of an answer. Yet Žižek cannot hold his wad long enough, so we must settle for the slightly diminished ecstasy of his answers.

To start with, there is the fact that while everyone was towing the ‘patriotic line’ during World War I only one saw beyond this. “How many great minds (inclusive of Freud) succumbed to the nationalist temptation, even if only for a couple of weeks!” Not our boy Vlad, so tolerant (not liberal tolerant of course, a more unfashionable dialectical tolerance) was he of other nations that he sold out the Ukraine to the Kaiser under the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, to teach the Ukrainians not to be so patriotic. Indeed this lesson extended to all the imperial colonies of Russia that he kept under the yolk, so that they would not fall into the weakness of nationalism.

“And only Lenin was the one at the level of this opening, the one to articulate the truth of this catastrophe.” Yes, while weak liberals only saw the human tragedy of World War I, Lenin was the only one amongst the puny-minded mediocrity of the herd to smell political opportunity (crisi-tunity!) and, with his trusty deputy[vii] by his side, make the Revolution[viii].

Like all geniuses he had his fair share of drab nay-sayers, even within his own party, who lacked his dialectical imagination. “Far from being opportunistic, flattering and exploiting the prevailing mood of the populace, Lenin’s views were highly idiosyncratic.” Indeed, the very idea that he would offer manipulative platitudes like, say, ‘Bread and Peace’ to the masses to get them to join his party against Kerensky’s provisional government and their unpopular involvement in the war is just absurd. Žižek highlights Lenin’s “stance against economism” and it is here that Lenin’s refusal to pander to the masses is most keenly felt, as Lenin refused all forms of economism, particularly the economism of basic human needs; transvaluating such a reductionism in many Nietzschean famines and executions.

Being surrounded by banality often meant Lenin

basically stood alone, struggling against the current of his own party. When, in his ‘April Theses’ from 1917, Lenin discerned the Augenblick, the unique chance for a revolution, his proposals were first met with stupor or contempt by a large majority of his party colleagues.

The lone dreamer, like Idi Amin or Hitler or a serial killer, who sees nothing around him but ovine incomprehension. Small wonder then that

in the years after the October Revolution, Lenin’s loss of faith in the creative capacities of the masses led him to emphasize the role of science and the scientists, to rely on the authority of the expert.

Shame on all of you, you let Lenin down! If the masses had possessed the requisite creative capacity Lenin would not have had to repress them. Like the true visionary he was Lenin was constantly veering towards the edge of reason itself. “Bogdanov characterized the April Theses ‘the delirium of a madman,’ and [Lenin’s wife] Krupskaya herself concluded that ‘I am afraid it looks as if Lenin has gone crazy’”. Fancy that, the very idea of an elite group seizing control of the state apparatus! Sheer lunacy! Thank Zoroaster he was proved sane by achieving his insane vision!

Crazy like a fox...with rabies

Just Like You and Me Only More Powerful and Privileged

Yet, in keeping with his dialectical majesty, Lenin was both a towering genius amongst human molluscs and a Rockwellian figure of modest, ineffable humanity. “When, on the evening of 24 October 1917, Lenin left his flat for the Smolny Institute to coordinate the revolutionary takeover, he took a tram”. What a wonderful common touch, like British Prime Minister David Cameron flying a normal commercial plane to a summit with the U.S President, or an unassuming CEO not even wearing a tie. No doubt about it, class is attitude and whatever prole credibility Lenin may have lacked as a middle-class intellectual it was more than made up for in his everyman ‘tude.

But of course Lenin was more everyman than any man. Indeed Žižek makes much of Lenin’s prolier-than-thou asceticism, as if it were an act of saintly martyrdom: “The standard meal in the Kremlin cantina in 1918 was buckwheat porridge and thin vegetable soup. So much for the privileges of the nomenklatura!” Of course petty liberals may claim that this heroic sacrifice was really just the sign of pathetic male who couldn’t cook and who needed a mother-wife to wipe his own ass. They would whine in their pluralist, latté way that Lenin’s busy, estranged wife, Nadya Krupskaya had a slightly different spin on Lenin’s ascetic ways: “Lacking a woman to organise his domestic affairs, Lenin – according to Krupskaya’s memoirs – lived from hand to mouth” (Service, Lenin: A Biography: 326). Trust a pooffy Whig to nag like a reformist Thai lady-boy about the Great Self Denial that was Lenin’s private life[ix]. Cynics may question how his ‘ascetic puritanism’ actually benefitted those starving under his iron heel. They may also say that it was all an ostentatious show of frugality, like Pope Maledict praying to God as a humble servant. In truth Lenin, like Warren Buffett after him, knew that the symbolism of egalitarianism (eating plebeian muck, not wearing a tie etc.) was much more important to the People than any ‘real’ egalitarianism in the relations of production. Of course there are some PR coups you just cannot stage-manage: “When Lenin was shot on 30 August 1918, he was engaged in a conversation with a couple of complaining women in front of a factory he just visited[x]. Gil [Scott Herron, his bodyguard] drove the bleeding Lenin to the Kremlin, where there were no doctors, so his wife…suggested someone should run out to the nearest grocer’s shop for a lemon [a useful first aid tip for gunshot victims].” Even while bleeding, Lenin healed the wounds of seventeen waifs and helped build twenty-four homeless shelters. This points to an oft-ignored side of Leninism, the non-rational, hair-tousling affection it promoted for each little up-turned, dirt-caked face. Could this be the feeling you liberals call ‘love’?

 WITH A SOFT AND GOOEY CENTRE

U.N Member for Hearts and Flowers



Thus, just as Žižek’s Leninism starts to go beyond the very compass of human morality[xi], where mortal hearts and minds cannot travel lest they break apart in the X-treme gravity, Slav pulls another dialectical trick:

However, one should treat Lenin in an objective, critical, and scientific way, not in an attitude of nostalgic idolatry [no way!], and, furthermore, from a perspective firmly rooted in the democratic political order, within the horizon of human rights.

Awwww, ‘aint that sweet. For all Slav’s gruff anti-PC bluster he’s just a big ol’ UNICEF ambassador at heart. You can just see Slav and Vlad handing out the teddy bears to photogenic spastic black kids with Nicole Kidman and Gerri Halliwell.

Yeah, But What is Truth? If You Follow Me

Furthermore, for all of Žižek’s desire to align Lenin’s soft human-rights heart with his rigid ‘objective, critical, and scientific’ brain, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Lenin’s brain could be just as spongy and elastic (the dialectic between the two obviously leading to his stroke of genius). Vlad the Impaler was also Vlad the Implier. “When Lenin said ‘The Marxian doctrine is omnipotent because it is true,’ everything depends on how we understand ‘truth’ here.” Žižek here provides a sterling example to schoolkids everywhere that where differences of opinion occur you should always try and see the other side’s point of view, indeed you should just hypocritically adopt it whenever you like without apology or explanation. Having flayed the PC relativists on the rack of Leninist Concrete, Žižek turns around in the latter part of Lenin’s Choice and, in true pomo fashion, simply reads what he likes into the ‘text’ of Lenin. ‘Polyvocality’ replaces the usual Leninist apologia of tendentious selectivity and outright fabrication (though there is plenty of that in Žižek).

Thus Lenin’s ‘unfortunate’ use of large banks as a normative social model is solved with rhizomatic ease:

Lenin was effectively developing the theory of the role of the World Wide Web [which, as we know, is the very acme of democracy uncontaminated by power], but, [wait for this] since the net was unknown to him, he had to refer to the unfortunate central banks.

Oh, well that’s O.K then. In a beautiful Derridean move Žižek reads into Lenin what Lenin wants to say; the Samsonian differánce struggling to free itself from the chains of Philistine phallologoocularcentrism. The fact that Lenin actually ran his Gaia Consciousness General Intellect like a secret police central bank (can I cash this Cheka, please), rather than an open source web master, could be seen as a problem. But hey, fuck it! When Hitler wrote about the writhing maggot of Judaism he was effectively developing a theory of transgender Viagra equality, which was unknown to him at the time.

Yet, lest the effort of writing liberation into the didactic bold type of Lenin on every little issue lead to RSI, Žižek makes it clear that he is interested in the Kierkegaardian ‘Lenin-in-becoming’[xii], the Either/Or Lenin of the Impossibility of the Impossible Impossibilitude, rather than the Lenin of vulgar, sweaty actualisation.

Hey kids, the new model Lenin-in-becoming now comes with four points of ambiguity and is guaranteed to never disappoint, because after you order him he is always-coming, so that you never have to face the letdown of his shitty plastic manifestation, which will fall apart and die, just like your best friend Billy, who is no fun since he fell off the shed and is disappointingly falling apart in the hole you dug for him. The Lenin-in-becoming is the Lenin-just-for-you, where you add whatever elements you like to make him fit your libertarian epic poem (personally I prefer the Giddens-Nietzschean-Lenin-of-fluid-spam). If Lenin has to stand for something then “‘Lenin’ stands for the compelling freedom [you are compelled to be free] to suspend the stale, existing (post)ideological coordinates, the debilitating Denkverbot in which we live.” In the same way, “‘Beria/Derrida/Buttman/Ren & Stimpy/[Add Name Here]’ stands for the compelling freedom to suspend the stale, existing (post)ideological coordinates, the debilitating Denkverbot in which we live.”

Utopian Sparks and Genocide as a Practical Joke: The All-Party State

Completing the pomo bacchanal that is Lenin, Slav next moves from Derridean finesse to Bahktinian carnival. Not only is Žižekian Leninism a textual flux, it is also a fucking good time. Denigrating those who see revolutionary politics as a present hardship to pay off some future happiness (maybe, possibly, any moment now), Žižek points to all the elements of pure creamy jouissance in Leninism. Sure, Lenin had the sense of humour and élan of a morbidity statistician and didn’t even come without thinking about whether the ejaculation would harm his career, but…er, hey look at that interesting thing over there!

Of course if Leninism was so easy to describe in terms of fun and enjoyment then it would be non-dialectical, infantile, bourgeois consumerism. The fact that it takes effort to find a skerrick of joy within ‘socialist’ authoritarianism is what makes it so revolutionary: “In spite of all its horror, the great Cultural Revolution in China undoubtedly did contain elements of…an enacted utopia.” See, with the right dialectical rigour you can find libertarian dance parties everywhere; Kristallnacht contained ludic elements that must not be overlooked in the rush to condemn. Fuck, everything has what Žižek calls a ‘utopian spark’, why I just took a shit that had utopian sparks flying out of my ass (the ludic surrender to embodied immanence, the great scatological levelling, the Revolution lies in here like a piece of carrot), not to mention the utopian sparks coming from Charles Manson, Jim Jones and other charismatic visionaries.

Suddenly Lenin’s regime is just bursting with actually-existing-jivin’! Žižek is adamant that revolutionary moments should be their “own ontological proof” of utopia and who could not see such utopia in a Party conference or prison camp. But Žižek’s most poignant moment of nascent utopianism was a performance of the Storming of the Winter Palace to celebrate the third anniversary of the October ‘Palace’ Revolution:

Tens of thousands of workers, soldiers, students, and artists worked round the clock, living on kasha (tasteless wheat porridge), tea, and frozen apples [what non-ascetic joy!]…[.] Although this was acting and not reality, the soldiers and sailors were playing themselves[xiii].

Quoting the formalist theoretician Shklovsky, Žižek notes that through such performances “some kind of elemental process is taking place where the living fabric of life is being transformed into the theatrical.” The utopian joy and magic of Leninism was manifest in this staged event and many observers pointed out golden fairy dust floating up from the stage and filling the night sky. Indeed others witnessed this dust float down to feed starving peasants and waft in through prison windows to salve the wounds of those being interrogated by the Cheka.

While this might seem like an enactment of a mythological coup to pump up the esteem of the ruling elite, like Fourth-of-July fireworks at the Whitehouse, or the Nuremberg Rally, any comparison with these bad ejaculations of nationalist/fascist Spectacle are just plain wrong.

We all remember the infamous self-celebratory First of May parades that were one of the supreme signs of recognition of the Stalinist regimes. If one needs proof of how Leninism functioned in an entirely different way, are such performances not the supreme proof that the October Revolution was definitely not a simple coup d’etat by a small group of Bolsheviks but an event which unleashed a tremendous emancipatory potential?

Indeed, the ‘supreme proof’ that the October Palace Revolution was not a stage-managed, vanguardist coup comes from the fact that it had a stage-managed re-enactment conducted with wide-eyed enthusiasm by the participants. Of course there was no such enthusiasm at Nuremberg, as Hitler has special microchips implanted in everyone there to make them feign wide-eyed adulation and fervour.

With a glorified school play as the exemplar this rather unconvincing attempt to get the party started demonstrates that Reactualised Leninism lacks x-treme dialectical hardness. Žižek’s Lenin may take us to the last train stop before the Abyss of Dialectical Immanence, but he wusses out with his cuddly, humanist Lenin for liberals when we ask him to take out the luggage and guide us to the actual precipice (as well as asking about accommodation and tours). His disavowal of the ‘actual’ Lenin for some fudge-packin’ pomosexual Lenin-in-waiting-to-do-something-maybe-but-not-in-these-shoes shows that for all his anti-liberal tough talkin’ Žižek is too reformist-gay to push the dialectical beat beyond fuck-all BPMs (Balls Per Manifesto). To take the next step we need someone cooler, harder and even more prolier-than-thou.


[i] This ‘brutal Lenin’ not only scares liberals it annoys the shit out of ‘serious’ Leninists who want to highlight Lenin’s ‘not that bad’ side. Louis Proyect, the ‘Unrepentant Marxist’, worries that Žižek “can only confuse the young radical deciding to check out Lenin” (http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2009/05/11/Žižek-lenin-and-firing-squads/) with his emphasis on Lenin’s ruthlessness. Indeed Proyect goes to great pains to distinguish between Lenin’s ‘Red Terror’ and Stalinist ‘totalitarianism’, especially during Lenin’s NEP period, when comments about ‘firing squads’ were merely figurative and not to be taken seriously…just like the notion that NEP was a step towards radical socialism. Proyect even has the gall to call Žižek’s Leninism mere épater le bourgeois, as if any Leninist would stoop to this.

[ii] ‘Cos Lenin tried soooo hard to promote freedom and he took anti-state politics to the absolute limit possible at that time. There is no way that State and Revolution was a cynical mouthing of anarchist pleasantries to suit his political ends. Why, that would make him a cynical politician! Another funky neo-Leninist, John Hutnyk, similarly invokes “the Leninist project which required of revolutionaries that they first of all smash the state apparatus.” (Critique of Exotica: 132) In what way could this be called the ‘Leninist project’? Is this the same Leninist project that used the state apparatus to repress and kill anarchists?

[iii] This was more than just a statement of organisational affinity. Once safely in power Lenin was keen to develop links with financiers and investors, such as the American tycoon Armand Hammer. Depending on who you believe this was either a cunning trick by Lenin to get international capitalists to ‘hang themselves by their own noose’, through investing in a soviet economy that would then turn on the capitalists, or it was a business deal between two comparable systems of accumulation. Either way The Great Revolutionary Leader let it be known that Hammer was there to facilitate foreign capital investments in the Soviet Union.

[iv] The notion that the February (that is the – cough, cough – real) Revolution arose from loosely organized discontent and that the soviet cells were enacted by people and not Warrior Vanguards is just plain silly. Why, they could not even blow their noses without Trotsky to organise the wiping. That is why revolutionary vanguards are catalysts and definitely not opportunists.

[v] Hey, Hegelian dialectics could take us beyond the liberal authoritarian state that Hegel saw as the necessary political Absolute and this gun could be used to stir porridge, or maybe we should just grow up and face the fact that you cannot be truly radical without authoritarianism.

[vi] As opposed to Sloterdijk’s (Critique of Cynical Reason: 162) ‘kynical’, anarchist Christ, who is obviously too infantile-left.

[vii] Even if he cannot aspire to True Greatness of Lenin, Slav makes sure that his most trusted crony is also accorded the honour of Unfashionable Visionary. Noting the fact that many Bolshevik mediocrities and hangers-on have been ‘rehabilitated’ in post-Stalinist Russia, Žižek crows: “Significantly, however, one figure was never rehabilitated, excluded by the communists as well as by the anticommunist Russian nationalists: Trotsky, the ‘wandering Jew’ of the Revolution.” If he ever tires of academic self-promotion there is a job waiting for Slav as an artist’s agent. Mastering the key points of marketing genius, Slav adds a tweak to the tried and tested formula: not only was Trotsky unappreciated in his own time, he continues to be and if you were never rehabilitated it proves how radical you are! Oh, yes and let’s not forget that he was also Jewish, ugly, shrill, unpleasant, vain and arrogant. Wow, what an outsider, livin’ on the edge, playing by his own rules!

[viii] A revolution-maker, in the same way entrepreneurs are ‘wealth-creators’.

[ix] Service (p. 382) goes on to bleat that Lenin “could count on personal assistants and secretaries to do whatever he wanted of them, and he never wanted for food, clothing and shelter. He did not live sumptuously in the Kremlin; but by the standards of party, government and army officials outside Moscow he was a pretty protected, not to say pampered leader.”

[x] What a nice guy to listen to whining harridans, and near a factory of all places!

[xi] You know, like the genius serial killers in Seven and Saw who stun us all with their philosophical depth and measured, slightly camp, cool and thus throw all humanist moral certainty into flux. Wow, I mean if you condemn crime how can you condemn someone who skull-fucks a litterer? You can’t!!! But for your own safety don’t think about this too hard as it will lead you to reject all social mores and the very fabric of existence will unravel like a jaywalker’s muscle fibre!

[xii] Not the Lyotardian, Derridean or Baudrillardian, no sir, this ‘aint no faggy, pomo shit, no! ‘Cos, like, Kierkegaard was like a nineteenth-century thinker, so he couldn’t have been pomo-gay and he never wore a skivvy or beret or was FASHIONABLE!!!

[xiii] While being “simultaneously involved in the real battles of the civil war that were raging in the vicinity of Petrograd”, just to prove how real and authentic the soldiers and sailors were. ‘Civil war’ is a technical term that means the crushing of internal anarchist resistance.

 



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