Slavoj Žižek: Political Correctness is a More Dangerous Form of Totalitarianism | Big Think

Slavoj Žižek: Political Correctness is a More Dangerous Form of Totalitarianism | Big Think


Slavoj Zizek: Of course I have nothing against
the fact that your boss treats you in a nice way and so on. The problem is if this not
only covers up the actual relationship of power but makes it even more impenetrable.
You know, if you have a boss who is up there, the old fashioned boss shouting at you, exerting
full brutal authority. In a way it’s much easier to rebel than to have a friendly boss
who embraces you or how was the last night with your girlfriend, blah, blah, all that
buddy stuff. Well then it almost appears impolite to protest. But I will give you an example,
an old story that I often use to make it clear what do I mean by this. Imagine you or me,
I’m a small boy. It’s Sunday afternoon. My father wants me to visit our grandmother.
Let’s say my father is a traditional authority. What would he be doing? He would probably
tell me something like I don’t care how you feel, it’s your duty to visit your grandmother.
Be polite to her and so on. Nothing bad about this I claim because I can still rebel and
so on. It’s a clear order. But what would the so called post-modern non-authoritarian
father do? I know because I experienced it. He would have said something like this. You
know how much your grandmother loves you but nonetheless I’m not forcing you to visit
her. You should only visit her if you freely decide to do it. Now every child knows that
beneath the appearance of free choice there is a much stronger pressure in this second
message. Because basically your father is not only telling you you must visit your grandmother
but you must love to visit it. You know he tells you how you must feel about it. It’s
a much stronger order. And I think that this is for me almost a paradigm of modern permissive
authority. This is why the formula of totalitarianism is not – I don’t care what you think,
just do it. This is traditional authoritarianism. The totalitarian formula is I know better
than you what you really want and I may appear to be forcing you to do it but I’m really
just making you do what without fully knowing what you want and so on. So in this sense
yes, I am horrified by this. Also another aspect this new culture of experts where an
injunction is presented just as a neutral statement. For example, one example that I like and let’s
not have a misunderstanding here. I don’t smoke and I’m for punishing tobacco companies
and so on and so on. But I’m deeply suspicious about our phobia about smoking. I don’t
buy it that this can be really justified just based on scientific knowledge how cigarettes
hurt us and so on and so on. Because my first problem is that most of the people who oppose
smoking then usually are for legalization of grass and so on and so on. But my basic
problem is this one. Look, now they found a more or less solution – e-cigarettes,
electronic cigarettes. And I discovered that now big American airline companies decided
to prohibit them. And it’s interesting to read the reason why. The reason is not so
much that it’s not yet sure are they safe or not. Basically they are. The idea is that
if you smoke during the flight e-cigarette you publicly display your addiction and that
is not a good pedagogical example for others and so on and so on. I mean I find this a clear example of how
a certain ethics which is not just neutral ethics of health but basically I think it’s
ethics of don’t fall into it, don’t have a too passionate engagement. Remain at the
proper distance, control yourself and so on. And now I will shock you to end. I think even
racism can be ambiguous here. You know once I made an interview where I was asked how
do we find reactionary racism. You know what was my answer. With progressive racism. Then,
ah, ah, what do you mean? Of course I didn’t mean racism. What I meant is the following
things. Of course racist jokes and so on can be extremely oppressive, humiliating and so
on. But the solution I think is to create an atmosphere
or to practice these jokes in such a way that they really function as that little bit of
obscene contact which establishes true proximity between us. And I’m talking from my own
past political experience. Ex-Yugoslavia. I remember when I was young when I met from
other – when I met with other people from ex-Yugoslavia republics – Serbs, Croat,
Bosnians and so on. We were all the time telling dirty jokes about each other. But not so much
against the other. We were in a wonderful way competing who will be able to tell a nastier
joke about ourselves. These were obscene racist jokes but their effect was a wonderful sense
of shared obscene solidarity. And I have another proof here. Do you know
that when civil war exploded in Yugoslavia, early nineties and already before in the eighties
ethnic tensions. The first victims were these jokes, they immediately disappeared. Because
people felt well that, for example, let’s say I visit another country. I hate this politically
correct respect, oh, what is your food, what are your cultural forms. No, I tell them tell
me a dirty joke about yourself and we will be friends and so on. It works. So you see
this ambiguity – that’s my problem with political correctness. No it’s just a form
of self-discipline which doesn’t really allow you to overcome racism. It’s just
oppressed controlled racism. And the same goes here. I will tell you a wonderful story,
a simple one. It happened to me a year ago around the corner here in the bookstore. I
was signing a book of mine. Two black guys came, African Americans, I don’t like the
term. My black friends also not, because for obvious reasons it can be even more racist. But the point is and they asked me to sign
a book and seeing them there I couldn’t resist the worst racist remark. When I was
returning the books to them I told them you know, I don’t know which one is for whom,
you know, you blacks like yellow guys, you look all the same. They embraced me and they
told me you can call me nigga. You know when they tell you this it means we are really
close. They instantly got this. Another stupid problem I had. At some talk there was a mute
and deaf guy and he asked if a translator can be there. And I couldn’t resist it.
In the middle of the talk in front of 200-300 people I said what are you doing there guys.
My idea was that if you watch the gestures of the translator it looked to me as if some
obscene messages or what. The guy laughed so much we became friends. And some old stupid
lady reported me for making fun of crippled people. It was so didn’t she see that’s
how I became friends with the guy. But I’m – wait a minute. Now I’m not an idiot.
I’m well aware this doesn’t mean we should just walk around and humiliate each other.
It’s a great art how to do it. I’m just saying that’s my hypothesis. Without such
a tiny exchange of friendly obscenities you don’t have a real contact with another. It remains this cold respect and so on, you
know. We need this. We need this to establish a real contact. This is what is lacking for
me in political correctness. And then you end up in madness like it’s not a joke.
I checked with my Australian friend. You know what happened in Perth, the west coast Australian
city. It’s not a joke I repeated. The opera house there prohibited staging of Carmen.
Opera Carman, you know why? Because the first act takes place in front of a tobacco factory.
I’m not kidding. I’m not kidding. I’m just saying that there is something so fake
about political correctness. It’s – I know it’s better than open racism of course.
But I wonder if it works because, you know, I never for example bought all these permanent
replacement, you know. Niggers are Negros. Negros are black. Okay, black are African
Americans. Maybe – it’s up to them to decide. The only thing I know is that when
I was in Missoula, Montana, I got engaged in a very friendly conversation with some
Native Americans. They hate the term and they gave me a wonderful reason. They told me Native
American and you are a cultural American so what, we are part of nature. They told me
we much preferred to be called Indians. At least our name is a monument to white men’s
stupidity who thought they are in India when they come here. And they had such a wonderful
insight into how all this new age bullshit, you know, we white people technologically
exploit nature while natives relate to nature in a dialogic way like before they dig into
earth they ask the mountain for permission if they are mining blah, blah. They don’t
mean that – research shows that Native Americans, Indians, killed much more buffalos and burned
much more forests than white people. You know why this was the correct point. Like the message
was the most racist thing is to patronizingly elevate us in that, you know, primitive, organic,
living together with mother nature. No, their fundamental right is to be evil also. If we
can be evil, why shouldn’t they be evil and so on. So again even with racism, one
has to be very precise not to fight racism in a way which ultimately reproduces if not
directly racism itself at least the conditions for racism.

100 thoughts on “Slavoj Žižek: Political Correctness is a More Dangerous Form of Totalitarianism | Big Think

  1. I like Zizek, because unlike many of his fans, he doesn't act like he's manning the barricades in the Paris commune while living a comfortable first world existence. Plus he is entertaining.

  2. Indeeeed, all conspiracy theories concocted by the extreme right, contain the danger of totalstaat re-enacting

  3. See, I think this is on track despite my knee jerk reaction to deny PC as being a thing.

    At the same time to rebel against PC, which (seems to me) mostly only people with an authoritarian, totalitarian, hierarchical schema that think authoritarians are pushing these belief and attitudes down their throats. I mean to some point they are right, some people are authoritarians and push it down their throats. Many of us actually are more considerate, accommodating and just have some genuine respect and regard for our peers. There are so many institutions, army, corporations and other traditional organizations are organized and operated in a totalitarian manner. It is no wonder it's a common mental frame, and that does make PC more about manipulation to gain compliance. (Compliance is objective term but to those with an authoritarian like mental frame on reality compliance means something different which is another long conversation). We need to deconstruct the automatic tendency to frame stuff in this top down authoritarian manner and along with that, PC phenomenon is kind of diminished. The goal behind PC, which is about consideration and compliance being framed as just yes or no, not rejection/defiance or acceptance of someones demands/authority/power which itself is inconsiderate and comes from a place of disregard in the first place, is sort of let free or expressed instead of repressed.

  4. He describes instances of "friendly obscenities" to dismantle political correctness then goes on to correct himself.

  5. >You love your grandma very much, you should go visit her, but only if you desire of course, which you should.
    There is another problem here which he didn't touch on, one that relates to children's psychology and not political correctness. When asked in this manner, I can always decide that I do not love my grandma any more. If my love for grandma is used as a leverage to control me, I can always declare "No. I do not love my grandma. And I do not love you. I hope you all die." It creates a toxic situation where loving your relatives is a liability, and you learn that you should not love other people, lest someone try and take advantage of that.

  6. he gives so amazing speech about what is actually dangerous in political corectness, but instead of having even just a minute or two of thinking, most of us (including me at the first watch) prefer to laugh at how he behaves because of his sickness

    we are terrible people, however there is a hope 😀 rewatch it and focus on content, not the form. cheers to you all

  7. Western civilization is based on personal responsibility(logos). that is being erased with political correctness. the choice to be responsible or not is leaving. no more, our authority will take care of it. the 20th century called, asked for their failed ideas back.

  8. the funny thing is that Žižek mocks leftist millennials about all that PC crap and he is considered as a superstar among them 🙂

  9. The Zizekian mysteries and revelalation of The Method, but did they tell him to call them Ni- ger as he said, or nigga? Ah the mysteries of the Zizek.

  10. I'm 💯% anti-Marxist, but he does actually seem somewhat reasonable, at least on this point. I believe we're now at a stage similar to the 80s in Yugoslavia. And we know what comes next…

  11. I'm from Wales but lived in Serbia for a couple of years & I can confirm what he says about the one-upmanship thing in ex-Yugoslavian people & telling dark jokes. I thought I had a pretty dark sense of humour but the Serbs beat me hands down every time. Hilarious joke-tellers & some of the warmest people I've ever met.

  12. I don't understand the people kvetching about oppression everywhere. Humankind needs oppression by and of the right people to function. Power to the powerful is needed. There must always be betters to rule and lessers to be ruled. Best you can do is try to be one of the betters. Otherwise we get chaos, or deeply dysfunctional systems that reward mediocrity, like democracy. It's tragic how in the long history of mankind, the "oppressed" have never thought that perhaps they're being oppressed for a very good reason. And, who knows, for their own good.
    That said, capitalism sucks as well. Take a third position.

  13. Couldn't agree more. Leftists today are self righteous egotistss without real joy of the human spirit.. Loving to find fault with a person's words above any context those words might have. It's why "huck Finn" is banned from certain libraries. The character "nigger jim" is a good man being hunted down for some lawlessness he's been accused of unfairly. It's uncomfortable to be calling a man , a grown ass man "nigger jim", and it's supposed to be. This is a story of what is wrong with society. Modern leftists are so blind to any kind of subtlety and actual thought that they want to ban this book because it says nigger and that's wrong by them. You see they don't get the bigger picture of the book being an illustration on just how ugly and dehumanizing racism is. But it says "nigger" so ban it right? Well they have banned the book on several occasions. You hear the lack of actual thought in the lingo of buzz words that substitute for original thought that is philosophically inconsistent. Whites are racist where anyone else can't be based on privilege. It's a rationalisation where things should be viewed equally amongst ppl but it doesn't fit the propaganda, the correct way of thought. So they come up with privilege (as if all racial groups are equal in their privilege of lack thereof) to justify identifying the enemy and a reason to hate them. They are hateful, they are privileged, it's ok to hate them for what they have and continue to do. It's ok to stand out and stop traffic against racism or climate change. We are right, we are woke whereas others are privileged and hateful. We must lead for change because we're woke, we know we're right!" Arrogance is stupidity. U may be right about something , but know that there's more u don't know then know. Be kind to ppl, question yourself in your words and deeds . don't judge (tho we all must make judgements)based on group affiliation of race or class but on the individual.

  14. This claim he makes (with such fluidity) that the native tribes of North America "killed more buffalos and cleared more forests" than the white colonisers, is totally unwarranted and bogus. Writers like Howard Zinn, David Stannard and Roxanne Ortiz have documented and written about the savagery and destruction of the New World in great detail. As brilliant and clear Slavo is, as bogus some of the claims made by him.

  15. In Germany:
    Arab is changing the wheels in his car. Pole coming and breaking the window. Suprised Arab looking at Pole that respond:
    -Wheels for you, radio for me.

  16. My Mom used such manipulation with us – it drived me mad – not only do something, but you should love doing it

  17. Zizik just told the same story about the Native Americans preferring to be called Indian in another video – except last time it was one guy— here it's all NAs.

  18. I like this guy so much. He can do the abstract smarty-pants stuff, but when he argues he uses everyday examples and stories to illustrate his ideas.

  19. I don't agree with everything Zizek says, but he's such an enduring thinker. I think what I love about him the most is his zany imaginative way of framing the topics he discusses. Whether you agree with him or not, he helps us envision the issues in ways only he can.

  20. Damn zizek has a way of explaining concepts in the most understandable manner. When I’m more verses in philosophy i should pick up his books

  21. As an Anglo Canadian that grew up multicultural as you can get, I couldn't possibly imagine making racist jokes with my friends. This is definitely a cultural distinction though, and one that is hard to grow out of if you got used to it.

  22. Only two minutes into the video and I'm convinced I must beat up my kids and shout at them. I fear this man's ideas

  23. No, he's not saying you can n-word every black person you see, or call homosexuals the f-word or trans people, well you get the idea. He's not advocating for bigotry.

  24. What he’s basically saying that totalitarianism has become from patriarchal to matriarchal (in a metaphorical sense). It used to be “I don’t care if you hate it I’m going to make you do it” to “I’m gonna make you do it and I’m gonna make you like it too”

  25. Telling two unknown black men that you can't tell them apart "because all black people look alike" is only funny when they look obviously very different, like one is short and heavy and the other is tall and thin. Because then it should be clear (to any non-idiot) that you are making fun of the stereotype itself, and not the people to whom the stereotype purports to apply.

  26. He criticizes political correctness with his story about the off-color joke but it doesn’t seem relevant. If you know a person well enough that there’s a consent understood between you, political correctness isn’t really applicable. It’s only really applicable where that consent can’t be presumed.

  27. The ultra woke Current Affairs cancelled Zizek!

    Racism, bad philosopher etc etc

    There needs to be a revolt against wokeness.

  28. yeesh really gets weak when he has to support himself with the "I have black friends" achievement. Identity is of course a complex subject, and intimacy is to be gauged on a personal level, and as such, a public forum is not the place to discuss whether or not dodgy jokes as a concept are more appropriate than "political correctness" as a concept. the two are not mutually exclusive and shouldn't be discussed that way. Zizek's stories, this time, come off as a little panicky, like he's excusing himself pre-emptively for a bad joke he is about to make in a room that he knows won't receive it. I would love to hear someone talk about humour in a more thoughtful way.

  29. Political correctness is one small step for a single man but a giant leap for common decency in humanity. A misplaced good intention is always superior to any self-righteous "norm".

  30. “In god we trust” … the entire system is about stroking the ego, feeding the ego! So that’s what political correctness is doing, it’s avoiding the confrontational reaction of ego in order to keep the ego compliant with its position in the hierarchy, that’s why they give us food, water, shelter, clothes, entertainment, travel, access to paid slave laver(oops I meant “employees” they are definitely not slaves, that’s their job, right?) etc. all of the privileges and benefits of the system are designed and engineered to keep everyone performing the fantasy of the system life, which is the ego in itself, the identity, the “I am” is a fictional construct of alphabets, and the system is in place to validate the fantasy of who we think we are… but everything we perceive to be, has been forced onto us by everyone else around us, DEFINING reality!

  31. What if second father just gives his child a choice? He didnt exactly tell the child to love visiting grandma 🤔

  32. Despite making for a good joke, your indigenous friends may not represent
    every indigenous person, Zizek. https://youtu.be/siMal6QVblE?t=37

  33. Despite making for a good joke, your indigenous friends may not represent
    every indigenous person, Zizek. https://youtu.be/siMal6QVblE?t=37

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