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Forum Post: Socialism in the USSR and China Was NOT a Failure: The Case Of Slavoj Žižek

Posted 6 years ago on Jan. 15, 2012, 6:37 p.m. EST by RedIsIn (1)
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Slavoj Žižek is an intellectual that is beginning to gain traction among the "reborn left" of the 21st century. If one reads his statements and work, it is clear that he is a proponent of some type of revolution and that he is also making an effort to bring Marx and Marxism back into the "mainstream."

Yet, his approach is ahistorical. He eagerly discounts the experience of socialist societies, which is something those involved with and supportive of Occupy certainly need to deal with in depth. If we are serious about changing the world, we have to have a deep foundation in the historical experience of societies that were working towards communism. Now, there are certainly things that must be criticized about the USSR while it was still socialist, which was until the death of Stalin and before the coup of Khrushchev, with an emphasis on understanding the complex situation the country found itself in. Yet, it would be irresponsible to not uphold the incredible strides this country took in creating a new society that was not based on the capitalist mode of production, and consequently, exploitation. The same approach of criticizing the negative while upholding the positive that I'm speaking about with regards to the Soviet Union should also be applied to China during the socialist era (1949-1976). If we continue to deeply get into history, we will find again and again that the positive far outweighs the negative and that we need to start working towards communism again.

We have to take back our history, the history that is, in many senses, written out and hidden from us. In a sense, we have to continue to understand the "people's history" that intellectuals like Howard Zinn have advocated for to varying degrees.

It is in this vein that I want to encourage everyone to engage with Žižek's work and question themselves. Why, if Žižek is really a Marxist, or communist, or whatever he might call himself, is he praising capitalism? In particular, why is he praising the development of capitalism and the "prosperity" of Western Europe (we should be asking "whose prosperity")? Does he not realize that the relative prosperity of many people in Western Europe, and the United States, and many other countries, is built on the backs of people around the world that are severely oppressed? Capitalism has allowed for some (and I mean some) prosperity in some countries, but for the vast numbers of people of the world, it means nothing more than oppression and enslavement. By not acknowledging this, among other important realities about capitalism and imperialism, Žižek is actually not really about revolution--he is rather upholding the capitalist-imperialist order through his work!

I really want to encourage everyone to check out this refutation of Žižek's ideas, written by Raymond Lotta. It goes into more detail than I have here on Žižek and his philosophies. Further, by looking at the other information on the website, you can engage in the work of Bob Avakian, who is leading the charge to evaluate the historical experience of socialist societies, understand how this experience applies to making revolution, and leading/building a revolutionary movement. I think we need to make a call for Žižek to debate Raymond Lotta. Read the article below and see for yourself. Shouldn't these huge issues be debated out? Imagine what this mean for building a better world!




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