Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism?: Four Interventions in the (Mis)Use of a Notion

Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism?: Four Interventions in the (Mis)Use of a Notion

by Slavoj Zizek
     
 

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In some circles, a nod towards totalitarianism is enough to dismiss any critique of the status quo. Such is the insidiousness of the neo-liberal ideology, argues Slavoj Žižek. Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism? turns a specious rhetorical strategy on its head to identify a network of family resemblances between totalitarianism and modern

Overview

In some circles, a nod towards totalitarianism is enough to dismiss any critique of the status quo. Such is the insidiousness of the neo-liberal ideology, argues Slavoj Žižek. Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism? turns a specious rhetorical strategy on its head to identify a network of family resemblances between totalitarianism and modern liberal democracy. Žižek argues that totalitarianism is invariably defined in terms of four things: the Holocaust as the ultimate, diabolical evil; the Stalinist gulag as the alleged truth of the socialist revolutionary project; ethnic and religious fundamentalisms, which are to be fought through multiculturalist tolerance; and the deconstructionist idea that the ultimate root of totalitarianism is the ontological closure of thought. Žižek concludes that the devil lies not so much in the detail but in what enables the very designation totalitarian: the liberal-democratic consensus itself.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The ferociously productive Slovenian philosopher now takes up one of those heavy, predictable, unpromising topics—totalitarianism—and manages to produce a whirling carnival of political critique, cultural interpretations, and ornery bombast.”—New Political Science

“As an alternative to the current post-modernist cult of cynicism and retreat into islands of privacy and nihilism ... the five essays making up Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism? insist on the social link and offer the visionary strength for resistance against all forms of totalized explanations.”—World Literature Today

“This attempt to rethink the conditions of radical political action is one of a number of signs that, after the doldrums of the 1980s and 1990s, left-wing thought is beginning to revive. It will be fascinating to follow where the flood of eloquence and imagination next sweeps Slavoj Žižek.”—Times Literary Supplement

“Žižek is an entertaining writer who would command attention if he were just describing how to mix cement. He wastes no time in tilting at the taken-for-granted ... Žižek wants to find the cracks in the notion of totalitarianism and fill them with dynamite.”—Times Higher Education Supplement

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781844677139
Publisher:
Verso Books
Publication date:
08/01/2011
Series:
Essential Zizek Series
Edition description:
Second Edition
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
1,127,692
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.90(d)

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Meet the Author

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His books include Living in the End Times, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, In Defense of Lost Causes, four volumes of the Essential Žižek, and many more.

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