A Sly Defense of Muslim Grooming Gangs
As a Marxist revolutionary, Slavoj Žižek has his cake and eats it: he believes in violent revolution as well as in “taking over the institutions” (in the Gramscian manner).
Currently Žižek is a senior academic at the following institutions: the Institute for Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia; Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities (London); the European Graduate School; and Kyung Hee University, South Korea.
So it seems that Marxism isn't dead after all. It's certainly not the case that Žižek is dead. In fact he's been called the “Elvis of cultural theory”. The journal Foreign Policy listed him in its Top 100 Global Thinkers list in 2012. Žižek has also appeared in films and documentaries, including the 2005 film, Žižek! And it's even the case that there's a journal dedicated entirely to his work: the International Journal of Žižek Studies.
To be honest, I was expecting an unmitigated apologia on Muslim sexual-grooming gangs from Slavoj Žižek (even if a theoretical and canny one) in his most recent article for the Guardian: 'Rotherham child sex abuse: it is our duty to ask difficult questions'. After all, we're talking about a Marxist philosopher (if with non-Marxist trimmings) and the Guardian here. However, it isn't quite as bad as I thought it would be.
Having said that, yet another Guardian article with the usual deceit and apologetics on Islam and Muslims simply wouldn't have washed in the severe and in-your-face case of Rotherham's Muslim gangs -- not even with theory-intoxicated Guardianistas.
But hold on to your horses a minute!
In the end, even though Žižek says things like “we are dealing with the 'political unconscious' of the Pakistani Muslim youth” (note the word 'political', not 'religious'), he never once goes into detail about either Islam or Pakistani Muslim culture. And as I did expect, Žižek goes into more detail about Catholic priests, Jimmy Savile and serial rapes by white men (in Canada) than he does about Muslim grooming-gangs.
In fact Žižek may be deceitfully trying to sell himself as an honest Leftist/Marxist simply in order to make the same old Leftist points he does make about Jimmy Savile, white Canadian rapists and the Catholic Church. And all this despite the fact that he writes that
“anti-racism is effectively a barely covert racism, condescendingly treating Pakistanis as morally inferior beings who should not be held to our standards”.
As well as:
“[I]t is fully legitimate to raise the question of whether there are features in their religion and culture that open up the space for the brutality against women.”
Indeed Žižek himself does “raise the question”. The problem is: he doesn't attempt to answer it.
There are -- at most -- two (of thirteen) paragraphs specifically on Muslim grooming-gangs (i.e., less than 170 words of a 1129-word article). And even those two paragraphs are vague and very general in that Žižek is actually talking about religion generally, not Islam. He spends two paragraphs, on the other hand, on the sexual abuse cases of the Catholic Church and one more paragraph on “a group of white rapists” in Canada.
The funny thing is (unless he's playing games) that Žižek does say that the
“left exhibited the worst of political correctness, mostly via generalisations: perpetrators were vaguely designated as 'Asians', claims were made that it was not about ethnicity and religion but about the domination of men over women”.
Though after saying that, Žižek goes straight ahead and more or less does what he has just said “the left” has so far done. That is, he spends more time talking about religions generally -- as well as “ritualised” male sexism and violence -- than he does talking about the specifics of Muslim grooming-gangs in England.
So perhaps this ostensible openness and honesty from Žižek is simply a strategic move (politically speaking). Or, to use Žižek's own words, not being honest and open about Muslim grooming-gangs is
“a more effective way to open up the field to Ukip and other anti-immigrant populists who exploit the worries of ordinary people...”
In other words, if the Left doesn't allow more articles like Žižek's to be written, then UKip - and other “populists” - will find it even easier to “exploit the worries of ordinary people”. (The words “exploit the worries of ordinary people” is Žižek's tangential use of the Marxist notion of “false consciousness”; which is apparently something which “ordinary people” - i.e., all non-Marxists -- suffer from.)
All Religions -- Except Marxism -- are Bad
In the entire article, Slavoj Žižek only has one thing to say about Islam itself. This:
“Without blaming Islam as such (which is in itself no more misogynistic than Christianity).”
Now that's precisely what you would expect from the Guardian and Slavoj Žižek.
Žižek, as a Marxist, thinks that all religions have a problem with what he calls “ritualised violence” in which religious males take “revenge on vulnerable women of the predominant group”.
Here Žižek is simply reiterating the mindless Marxist position that -- basically -- all religions are the same. (All religions have certainly been analysed in the same way by Marxists.) And if all religions are the same, then it must follow that any concentration on Islam simply must be racist or “Islamophobic” in some way -- by Marxist definition. After all, Žižek himself is at pains to tell is about white rapists in Canada and sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.
Zizek's also offers a Marxist analysis of male violence against women; which also conveniently fits into his Marxist analysis of religion. And, yes, you guessed it, that violence is all about socioeconomic “exclusion”, “social dislocation” and the like.
For example, it terms of the “serial rapes” by “a group of white men” in Canada, this is all about “the social dislocation due to fast industrialisation and modernisation” which “provoked a brutal reaction from males who experience this development as a threat”. (This yet another example of Marxist reductionism which, in this instance, simply disregards such activities as they are carried out by affluent or politically/socially powerful men.)
Of course saying that all religions are the same (or that all religions are, in Marxist-speak, “mere epiphenomena of socio-economic realities”) is about as subtle and sophisticated as saying that “all politicians piss in the same bucket”.
Slavoj Žižek's Marxism is perhaps at its most pure when he says that at the heart of the matter of Muslim grooming-gangs (believe it or not) isn't the
“conflict between cultures, but a conflict between different visions of how different cultures can and should co-exist”.
Now that statement -- despite Žižek's hints at a “critique” of multiculturalism -- is one of the best descriptions of the ultimate vice of multiculturalism that I've ever read. In addition, Žižek sums up the essence of multiculturalist theory and then goes right ahead and fully endorses it...
Except that Žižek does add his own little something to plain-old multiculturalism: a multiculturalism than should be (more?) Marxist in nature. (Since when has multiculturalism theory not been largely Marxist in nature, Slavoj?)
Like the beliefs of all those Dead and Living White Males of the various capitalist and imperialist empires, Marxists have always seen Marxism as a “universal” religion or ideology. Or as Žižek himself puts it:
“The only way to break out of this deadlock is to propose and fight for a positive universal project shared by all participants.”
That “universal project” is one which includes the “fight for emancipation” and the “struggle against neocolonialism” (as Žižek puts it). In other words, that Grand Narrative and universal ideology is Marxism. In other words, what will tie the so-far warring tribes, religions and even classes together -- within a multicultural society -- is a joint commitment not to patriotism or shared civic, social and political values and traditions, but to Marxist theory, ideology and causes.
In the end, then, Slavoj Žižek delivers more of the same Marxist/Leftist theory; despite the promising hints and half-criticisms of Muslim grooming-gangs. In fact he offers us a Marxist rationale (or apology!) for so much as mentioning (though not analysing) the Muslim grooming-gangs and their misogyny and racism.
Yes, Slavoj Žižek predictably – and despite my initial surprise -- spends much more time indulging in yet more ritualistic criticisms of various Leftist bêtes noires than he does criticising -- let alone analyzing -- the Muslim grooming-gangs of Rotherham and beyond.