Slavoj Zizek – The Liberal Utopia: The Market Mechanism for the Race of Devils

As every close observer of the deadlocks of Political Correctness knows, the separation of legal Justice from moral Goodness – which should be relativized-historicized – ends up in a stifling oppressive moralism full of resentment. Without any “organic” social substance grounding the standards of what Orwell approvingly referred to as “common decency” (all such standards are dismissed as subordinating individual freedom to proto-Fascist organic social forms), the minimalist program of laws which should just prevent individuals to encroach upon each other (to annoy or “harass” each other) reverts into an explosion of legal and moral rules, into an endless process of legalization/moralization called “the fight against all forms of discrimination.” … It is thus for necessary structural reasons that this “fight against discrimination” is an endless process endlessly postponing its final point, a society freed of all moral prejudices which, as Jean-Claude Michea put it, “would be on this very account a society condemned to see crimes everywhere.”

The ideological coordinates of such a liberal multiculturalism are determined by the two features of our “postmodern” zeitgeist: universalized multiculturalist historicism (all values and rights are historically specific, any elevation of them into universal notions to be imposed onto others is cultural imperialism at its most violent) and universalized “hermeneutics of suspicion” (all “high” ethical motifs are generated and sustained by “low” motifs of resentment, envy, etc. – say, the call to sacrifice our life for a higher Cause is either the mask for a manipulation of those who need war for their power and wealth, or a pathological expression of masochism – and this either/or is an inclusive vel, i.e., both terms can be true at the same time). Fighting “patriarchal” culture is the consequence of these premises. What Marx and Engels wrote more than 150 years ago, in the first chapter of The Communist Manifesto “The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations.” – is still ignored by those Leftist cultural theorists who focus their critique on patriarchal ideology and practice….

We encounter here again a coincidence of the opposites: in our predominant ideology, radical historicism coincides with ruthlessly measuring all the past with our own standards. It is easy to imagine the same person who, on the one hand, warns against imposing on the other cultures our Eurocentric values, and, on the other hand, advocating that classics like Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer – Huck Finn novels should be removed from school libraries because they are racially insensitive in their portrayal of Blacks and Native Americans…

–Slavoj Zizek, The Liberal Utopia


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