Žižek’s 360 Degrees of Liberal Hegemony - Bill Beech

Portrait of Slavoj Žižek

This essay is a critique of Slavoj Žižek's essay in Underground Theory (2023), and by extension, of a number of his statements regarding the war in Ukraine since February 2022.

Submitted by Bo de Ligt on June 8, 2024

Socialists, college professors, publicists, new-republicans, practitioners of literature, have vied with each other in confirming with their intellectual faith the collapse of neutrality and the riveting of the war-mind on a hundred million more of the world's people. And the intellectuals are not content with confirming our belligerent gesture. They are now complacently asserting that it was they who effectively willed it, against the hesitation and dim perceptions of the […] democratic masses. A war made deliberately by the intellectuals! […] And when they declared for war they showed how thin was the intellectual veneer of their socialism. For they called us in terms that might have emanated from any bourgeois journal to defend democracy and civilization, just as if it was not exactly against those very bourgeois democracies and capitalist civilizations that socialists had been fighting for decades. But so subtle is the spiritual chemistry of the "inside" that all this intellectual cohesion - herd-instinct - which seemed abroad so hysterical and so servile, comes to us here in highly rational terms. We go to war to save the world from subjugation!

Randolph S. Bourne, ‘War and the Intellectuals’ (1917)1

Hell-bent on progressing through the ranks of paramilitary philosophers, on his long climb as a non-commissioned officer, in the vain hope that one day he will replace Bernard-Henri Lévy, Slavoj Žižek has still only remained an Oberjunker. Nevertheless, his slithering sycophancy (peppered with radical leftist phrases which could have been generated by Chat GPT) maintains his position in the mainstream, on top of his cult status on the margins and in the meme-world. No surprise then that he pops up with a piece called ‘Living and Dying in a Mad World’ in the interesting and heterodox volume ‘Underground Theory’.2 In it, he unabashedly comes out as a footsoldier for Liberal Hegemony at the point of a gun (as long as that gun is pointed by others). What follows is an analysis of some of Žižek’s most telling statements. It was written in the spirit of exchange and solid critique that Underground Theory has been fostering across all sorts of faultlines.

Žižek starts by bemoaning the “ethical and political bankruptcy” of “a strong part of the Left” which is “more or less openly supporting a state which acts as an empire” (Russia) in its war on Ukraine3 It is very telling that he can’t find proponents of this Fallen Left anywhere in his Garden of Eden (Europe or NATO countries). Like EU apparatchik Josep Borrell, he fears the jungle outside4 , because that is where all sorts of threats are incubating: neutrality, pacifism, illiberalism. Like the US State Department spokespeople before him, the Oberjunker wags his fat white finger at Brasilian President Lula for daring to defy the US calls to sanction Russia, for announcing Brasil’s neutrality in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and seeking a diplomatic solution via the UN. He wags his finger at South Africa and India, countries “whose neutrality is strictly pro-Russian” – they are not part of the Fallen Left, merely part of the global majority that is refusing to comply with US Empire’s increasingly desperate demands to shore up its miscalculated proxy escapade in Ukraine.

How dare they, the Oberjunker fulminates, Ukraine is being colonised, and by tacitly supporting Russia, these countries will “forfeit the right to complain about the horrors of colonization anywhere.” Žižek wants to bring them to heel under the whip of Liberal Hegemony, the Rules-based Order of ‘my way or the highway’, because usually the finger-wagging is enough to signal that afterwards come the bombs and the bullets from one of the 800 US military bases which choke the globe. Like other shills, Žižek has failed to acknowledge that the rest of the world has had quite enough of virtue signalling which is used to cover up NATO gangsterism. The People of The Global Majority5 are mobilising to put an end to Unipolar Liberalism. This is why India and China participated in military drills on Russian soil in 2022, six months after the Russian troops crossed into Ukraine.6 Three nuclear powers with a joint population of more than a third of the world’s, demonstrating (not saying): we will fight you if we must. Žižek is so narcissistically wrapped up in the ideology he peddles, so craven to the imperial core7 , that he is unable to see this, let alone the threat this poses to us all.

Without missing a beat, our Oberjunker then shakes his fat white fist at the Ugandan Parliament and its passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023. In its passing, Žižek sees that “[f]eminist, gay, and trans struggles are thereby denounced as an instrument of Western ideological colonialism and to undermine African identity.”8 Illiberal! Like ‘Orthodox (Christian) Fundamentalism’ in Russia, rages Žižek. Even worse, fellow Africans, Russia only pretends to be your ally against neo-colonialism.

Let’s look at what a real ally looks like: brave Sarah Ashton Cirillo, the trans spokesperson for the forces of the Ukrainian territorial defences.9 Sarah is originally from Florida and spent some months on a wokewashing mission for the bankrupt ethno-nationalist project of a pure-blooded, fascistic Ukraine. During this time, in September 2023, Cirillo made these public statements:

Russians are not Europeans… Russians are Asian, and ultimately, they do come from the Mongols. They do come from a grouping of people who want to be slaves and want to be led, just as it was from the days of Genghis Khan. I wish the rest of Europe and the Western world understood that Europe ends at Ukraine. We are protecting European values and Western values the same way those did hundreds and thousands of years ago when the Mongols came in… Every Russian that supports Vladimir Putin’s decisions are not human. These people are not human. They are enemies of humanity, in fact… we’ve been asking the Western world… to make certain they understood the threat of these non-humans.10

Proof, if it was needed, that you can be transgender and a genocidal racist, officially, as part of your job. Proof also, that if you want to be a genocidal racist, you should employ a transgender mouthpiece, because said mouthpiece emanates a miasma of universal liberal values. You can thereby be in the club of Liberal Hegemony, while at the same time pursuing a genocidal project in a strictly limited manner, against this one inhuman enemy you have. This is how Ukraine plays the same games that Israel does. It makes you wonder: are the Ugandans paranoid enough?

Like Ibram X. Kendi sees racism everywhere, our Oberjunker is surrounded by pacifism’s ugly face: “When I listen to endless pacifist declarations, I find them quite disgusting […]”. Firstly, I have no idea where Žižek hangs out, it would be quite nice for a change to hear a pacifist voice. Secondly, his definition of a pacifist includes Henry Kissinger, an imperial génocidaire, dripping with blood from head to toe.11 Even Kissinger’s Realpolitik is for our Oberjunker seen as wavering in the face of threats to Liberal Hegemony - no hesitation is allowed, nothing that would break our resolve on the march on Russia. Žižek is for total mobilisation (and total war), what he edgily terms “war Communism”12 , or “mobilisations that will have to violate the usual market and political rules.”13 And this is because in defence of Social Democracy14 , our paramilitary edgelord advises that we should “become aware that the existing multi-party parliamentary system is not effective enough to cope with the crises that beset us.”15 In holding this position, he is once again, one step behind the ruling technocracy: Žižek’s Leninism is the Leninism of von der Leyen.

In February 2024, European Union President Ursula von der Leyen (henceforth: Frau Genocide16 ) announced plans to “[turbocharge] our defence industrial capacity in the next five years”17 . This will involve the creation of a European Industrial Defence Strategy and moves towards a Defence Union, in other words an EU standing army with a €100bn defence fund, and its very own military-industrial complex, underwritten by war bonds18 . Here is Žižek’s War Communism fully formed. But we should remember how this coming tyranny was prepared.

In a parade of mediocre EU politicians (including the bank-teller Macron and the weathervane Scholz), merging with each other until they become indistinguishable, are Frau Genocide’s handmaidens: Andersson, Kallas, Marin and Baerbock. These Social Democrat, Green and Liberal-Democrat19 Angels of Death are the face of European satraps for US imperialism. The NATO hipster Sanna Marin, having proudly demolished Finnish neutrality, by going back on the promise of a referendum on joining NATO20 , promptly lost her next election. Being such a useful asset, she was immediately shot across into the Tony Blair Institute21 as a charming face for one of Europe’s most famous war criminals. Her Swedish counterpart Andersson, made a cute display of loyalty by welcoming General Mark Milley on a US warship22 . Kallas is another shill, wheeled out every so often to promote the dismemberment of Russia into small nations23 and say other quiet parts out loud.

But it is Baerbock, Germany’s Foreign Minister, who might prove the most impressive in the history books, since she crowns her militarist zeal with eye-watering stupidity. It was Baerbock who, in passing, exposed the truth of NATO’s proxy war with Russia, when she plainly stated in a Council of Europe Meeting in January 2023: “We are at war with Russia and not against each other.” This forced the German government to issue a statement clarifying that Germany is not a party to the conflict. It was Annalena Baerbock who also famously declared that Vladimir Putin would have to “change his course by 360 degrees” in order for Ukraine to be safe. And it is Baerbock’s Green Party of Germany that Žižek takes inspiration from. Here is a revolution that Žižek can get behind: one where you return to the point of departure! The hope is that in the spinning you’ve made people so dizzy that they are puzzling over your faux-radical chatter, while you impose policies on populations which are not subject to any democratic scrutiny or decision-making.

The Green Party of Stabsunteroffizieren Baerbok and Oberjunker Žižek is one totally purged of its antimilitarist past. It’s led Germany not merely to sending tanks named after large cats to the Ukrainian frontline24 (like the Nazi state did in WWII), but fostering joint ventures, like the one between Rheinmetall and Ukraine’s State Defence Industry25 which usher closer integration between proxy armies and their funders. (Note: only one people does the dying here.) And we know that German generals are actively directing assaults on Russian military and civilian targets.26 Žižek is thrilled with these “mobilisations that violate the usual market and political rules”:

So, in Germany, I fully support the stance of the Green Party which not only advocates full support for Ukraine but also proposes to use the ongoing oil and gas crisis as a unique opportunity to make our industries greener. The Greens thus go in the exactly opposite direction with regard to the predominant Western politics which struggles with the problem of how to help Ukraine while limiting the impact of this help on our established way of life: the German Green party’s plan is to use the Ukrainian war in a positive way, not just as an obstacle but as an incentive for a general reorientation of our economy and social life.27

After the USA blew up the Nord Stream pipelines decoupling Germany from Russia, the German government ‘temporarily’ reopened coal and nuclear power plants, and in an Abracadabra! move from Žižek’s Leninist EU, gas and nuclear investments were promptly relabelled as green28 . This Leninist change in taxonomy resulted in a law suit from Greenpeace.29 It was a blip, rest assured, the Leninists say, we will close the coal plants.30 We will manage this by reorienting ourselves to oil from (vile, neutral) India. The only problem is that this is Russian oil, which the Leninists are paying for through the nose.31 It’s hard to see any consistency in this scramble, let alone “a general reorientation of our economy and social life.” We finger-wag at India, then buy their oil. We are totally decoupled from Russia, but we remain dependent. We are green, but covered it soot. We virtue signal liberalism as we march towards tyranny. Clear as mud. As materialist as the tooth fairy.

This Leninism isn’t just contained to the EU, in the UK (also fully captured by NATO), where I am writing this from, we’ve also seen a Žižekian bending of reality. The response from the UK to the Russian invasion was to declare on 8th March 2022: “The UK will phase out imports of Russian oil in response to Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine by the end of the year.”32 Two years later, the Prime Minister stated: “when Putin cut off the gas supplies it had a devastating impact on people’s lives and threatened our energy security.”33 Are we attacked or attacking, setting the agenda or scrambling for survival, are we at war or not? This is the sort of clownface mobilisation towards total war that Oberjunker Žižek promotes.

The one thing which sets our paramilitary philosopher off more than anything else is the mention of Ukraine as a proxy war:

[…] the obvious other side of the cold statement that Ukraine cannot win the war is a deeper fear and prohibition: Ukraine SHOULDN’T win the war, because this might provoke Russia too much. So, if we cut the crap, the pressure on Ukraine is: make a compromise, cede to Russia more or less what it already occupied… The problem is that, for Ukraine, this is not a proxy-war, it is a war in which they are fighting for their survival as a nation. Are they really so stupid to get engaged in a proxy war, fighting for others?34

I am pleased to say that Ukrainians aren’t stupid. An estimated 6.4 million of them have fled the country (mostly to the EU, as they had originally aspired to become its citizens) and an estimated 650,000 men of a fighting age are among them.35 The remaining men continue to dodge the draft in huge numbers, hunted by army police to be pressed into the Zelensky/NATO meat grinder. The average age at the frontline in February 2024 was 43 – fathers and grandfathers, the working class who can’t bribe their way out of conscription.

As we know, from the infamous interview with Zelensky’s spinmeister Oleksiy Arestovych in 2019, the NATO plan for Ukraine was to win a quick war with Russia, which would collapse under the economic sanctions: “Ukraine's price for joining Nato would be large-scale war with Russia."36 It was a gamble that backfired. A brief reminder of the history may be useful. NATO has been involved in training and provisioning the Ukrainian Army since 1991.37 Ukraine was an important contributor to NATO missions, specifically in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo, as George Bush highlighted in 2008, when making a case for Ukraine joining NATO.38 The CIA installed 12 secret bases facing Russia, after the Maidan coup.39 The pursuit of NATO membership was etched into the Ukrainian constitution in 2019, ripping up Ukrainian neutrality.40 We now know that in the weeks preceding the invasion, in talks with Russian officials, US Secretary of State Blinken insisted that medium-range NATO missiles would be installed in Ukraine41 , thereby precipitating the conflict. We also know that rather than being stupid, Ukrainians were lied to by Zelensky’s government:

[…] Zelensky cited his fears that Ukrainians would panic, flee the country and trigger economic collapse as the reason he chose not to share the stark warnings passed on by U.S. officials regarding Russia’s plans.42

The answer to the real question: is Zelensky really so stupid to get engaged in a proxy war, fighting for others? is sadly affirmative. He is merely a satrap for US Empire, enacting long-term US strategy. Consider this thumbnail sketch for a limited war between Ukraine and Russia outlined in the RAND report ‘Overextending and Unbalancing Russia - Assessing the Impact of Cost-Imposing Options’, published in 2019:

Providing lethal aid to Ukraine would exploit Russia’s greatest point of external vulnerability. But any increase in U.S. military arms and advice to Ukraine would need to be carefully calibrated to increase the costs to Russia of sustaining its existing commitment without provoking a much wider conflict in which Russia, by reason of proximity, would have significant advantages.43

And to make matters worse, Zelensky’s government is cheered on by veteran propagandists like Žižek, saying that this is a war they can win. As if the reconquest of Crimea and Donbass, with or without NATO boots on the ground could result in anything other than Russia deploying nuclear weapons. This has nothing to do with Putin or the Russian government, it is simply Russia’s Military Doctrine. And if there isn’t a massive escalation, Russia has shown every determination to destroy any proxy army NATO can assemble. The pile of dead Ukrainians is likely 500,00044 , with possibly at least as many maimed for life. The price for tearing up Ukrainian neutrality is likely to be its death as a nation. We have recently entered the most insane part of this war, where the US State Department has granted permission for Ukraine to use US-supplied weapons to strike Russian territory directly.45 This is the first time in history that a NATO proxy army has received this authorisation.46 Žižek will not flinch.

I won’t bore you by going through the remaining pages of Oberjunker’s essay, they contain much edgy inconsistency, a smearing of phrases and quotes on the main skeleton of his argument which is the need for defending Liberal Hegemony at all costs. The frontline of that conflict is the war in Ukraine, which is the Cause of our times. Like the other loyal servants of US Empire, Frau Genocide, Stabsunteroffizieren Baerbok and the Method Actor Volodymyr Zelensky, Oberjunker Žižek is helping to push us along a course, the tragic outcome of which he has not computed. It’s easy to say: to hell with Žižek. The problem is that he’ll be waiting for us there, because if his unhinged cult of Liberal Hegemony remains in its revolutionary loop of 360 degrees, that’s where we’re all heading.