Žižek’s defense of terror and violence, his call for a new Party organized on Leninist principles, his celebration of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, the countless deaths notwithstanding and, indeed, lauded as part of the meaning of a politics of action—all this might have served to discredit Žižek among more moderate left-wing readers, were it not for the fact that it is never possible to be sure that he is serious. Maybe he is laughing—not only at himself and his readers but at an academic establishment that can seriously include Žižek alongside Kant and Hegel on the philosophy curriculum, with a Journal of Žižek Studies now in its fourth year of publication. Maybe he is cheering us all on in a holiday from thinking
Roger Scruton continues:
Reading Žižek, I am reminded of a visit I once made to the cemetery of Devichye Pole in Moscow, in the days of Gorbachev. My guide, a dissident intellectual not unlike Žižek in appearance and manner, took me to the grave of Khrushchev, on which stood a monument designed by Ernst Neizvestny. The sculptor had been singled out for particular denunciation by Khrushchev, when, following a visit to an exhibition of modernist art, the Soviet leader had decided to attack the entire artistic community. My guide regarded this particular tantrum of Khrushchev’s far more seriously than his destruction of 25,000 churches and found nothing wrong in his burial here, in what was once consecrated ground.
The monument shows Khrushchev’s head, mounted on two intersecting trunks of stone, one black, one white, symbolizing the contradictions in the leader’s character. After all, my guide insisted, it was he who denounced Stalin and showed himself thereby to be the friend of the intellectuals, just as it was he who denounced artistic modernism, and so declared himself to be the enemy of the intellectuals. It was brought painfully home to me that the Russian people have counted for nothing in the intellectual history of Russian Communism, either in the minds of its champions or in the minds of its critics, for whom the entire modern period has been a kind of dialogue—conducted at the top of the voice and with every available weapon—between the Party and the intelligentsia.