From a reader:
Slavoj Zizek’s observation of political correctness as a liberal version of the politics of fear is interesting, but his conclusions are downright fascist–he presents a twist on the End of History argument that the end of ideological clashes and the triumph of democracy and capitalism throughout the world has turned us in the West into nihilistic Last Men, concerned only with our own comfort and security. This is expressed as a liberal dysfunction through fear of racial or homophobic harassment and the desire to regulate written and spoken language through anti-discrimination codes and hate speech laws.
Liberals accept the strange and alien “other” by accepting the positive attributes, while ignoring the malignant properties. This could be global Islamism as a peaceful, organic New Age mythology absent the awful reality of forced marriages, honor killings, or suicidal terrorism; or its related tendencies like smoking without inhaling or male homosexuality as a charming cosmopolitan “lifestyle” without the narcissism, indulgence and body worship of gay culture (same goes for hip-hop music).
Now he’s snagged the audience. The answer to this problem? Zizek proposes extreme intolerance and violence that would bring out the hidden reality of the world. Religious fundamentalism is one source of legitimate resistance, but as Adam Kirsch points out, Zizek’s ideal alternative – presented in a rather insidious manner at that – is nothing less than a Stalinist state of terror.
Kirsch quotes Zizek explaining that even if Jews really did the things accused of them by the Nazis, the hatred would still be pathological. Even if reports of rapes in New Orleans during Katrina were true, reporting such things would still be motivated by “racist prejudices…we would be dealing with what could be called lying in the guise of truth: Even if what I am saying is factually true, the motives that make me say it are false.” Truth becomes false. Your other reader response hit the nail on the head, I think. That liberals would be tricked by this is probably the result of an inability to process real totalitarianism. It gets a little crazier if you process Zizek’s view that Stalinism, unlike Nazism, is equal opportunity. No need for a Nazi to put a Jew on trial, a Jew is by definition guilty. If one is put on trial in the Stalinist system, you can plead guilty and be shot, or you can plead innocent. But if you do, then you must be guilty! You’re expressing an individualistic mentality! That everyone is at risk of being murdered exposes the system’s authentic revolutionary nature.
With much respect,