“Theory is sacred and we need it more than ever”

Žižek sounds off on a variety of questions:  Is democracy a good-in-itself?  Is freedom of choice a good-in-itself?  How important is “legitimacy” of authority? Is Rawlsian liberalism naive and utopian?  What’s the value of Obama’s health care reform plans?  Žižek talks to John Derbyshire in the New Statesman.

Some nuggets:

I don’t despise democracy, but for me, although democracy, in the formal sense, is precious, it is not in itself a measure of ­ult­imate truth or authenticity. We shouldn’t fetishise democracy – after all, you can have democratic elections where the majority votes for a rightist populist, and when it does, you have the right to treat the government as illegitimate. I don’t think that this formal electoral procedure should be taken as equalling legitimacy.


A large majority of the left doesn’t question liberal democracy and capitalism as such. In the same way that when we were young we wanted socialism with a human face, what a large part of today’s left want is capitalism with a human face.

And (wisest of all):

In capitalist relations today, envy is crucial. Never underestimate the power of envy.

  1. #1 by Gregorio Hansellini on October 30, 2009 - 12:57 am

    Great link! My fav (other than the last line you already quoted): “facts are facts, and they are precious, but they can work in this way or that. Facts alone are not enough. You have to change the ideological background.”

    I completely agree. Its not that there are not facts (Zizek is against the postmodernist here) but that the facts are not enough. They are not. This is my main issue with much that falls under the banner of science, which tends to insist that the facts are enough, that they speak for themselves. They do not.

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