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Public Intellectual Needs A Better Fantasy Life


Slavoj Zizek’s recent trolling is ridiculous even by the standards of Slavoj Zizek trolling, but this is my favorite part:

Another example is a text by Bernie Sanders and a piece of news about him which just hit the press. Recently, Sanders wrote an incisive comment on the Republican budget where the title tells it all: “The Republican budget is a gift to billionaires: it’s Robin Hood in reverse.” The text is clearly written, full of convincing facts and insights – so why didn’t it find more echo?


Lurking beneath this outrage was, of course, the reaction of the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party to Sanders: its uneasiness with Sanders’s leftist critique of today’s global capitalism. When Sanders emphasises economic problems, he is accused of “vulgar” class reductionism.

Yes, Bernie’s radical and idiosyncratic position that the Republican tax bills represent a massive giveaway to the upper-class is a genuine threat to the Democratic establishment, which thoroughly rejects this position. Why, Hillary Clinton is surely outraged at Bernie’s break from Democratic establishment orthodoxy:

And the Democratic congressional leadership is equally outraged and threatened by Bernie’s radically outlying class appeals:

You might think it can’t get any dumber than accusing most Democrats of supporting what virtually all Democrats oppose, perhaps because you get all of your information about American politics from Mark Lilla columns and maybe Doug Henwood’s twitter feed, but we’re dealing with a master here:

What makes the Trump movement minimally interesting is its inconsistencies – recall that Steve Bannon not only opposes Trump’s tax plan but openly advocates raising taxes for the rich up to 40 per cent, plus argues saving banks with public money as “socialism for the rich” – surely not something Pence likes to hear.

Steve Bannon recently declared war, but against whom? Not against Democrats from Wall Street, not against liberal intellectuals or any other usual suspects but against the Republican Party establishment itself.

There are not, in fact, any meaningful or interesting substantive inconsistencies in the Trump movement. And on taxes, Trump didn’t even lie — he ran as an orthodox Republican upper-class tax cutter and has governed this way. Bannon’s empty and wholly uninfluential gestures aside, the candidates who are part of his “revolt” are as bad or worse on domestic policy as the establishment incumbents. All of which makes the title wish — “Alt-right Trump supporters and left-wing Bernie Sanders fans should join together to defeat capitalism” profoundly embarrassing. (Christ, most Sanders supporters don’t want to “defeat capitalism,” and the alt-right shows zero signs of abandoning Trump despite his embrace of upward wealth distraction because economic policy wasn’t what motivated the alt-right to support Trump.)

While I’m sure there are people trying to convince themselves that there are many layers of irony that make this argument much more clever that it appears, the brutal truth is that it’s exactly what it appears to be: witless trolling by somebody who doesn’t actually know anything about American politics.

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