9781844677146-revolution-at-the-gates-ne

Revolution at the Gates: Zizek on Lenin: The 1917 Writings

How to reinvent Lenin in the era of “cultural capitalism.”

The idea of a Lenin renaissance might well provoke an outburst of sarcastic laughter. Marx is OK, but Lenin? Doesn’t he stand for the big catastrophe which left its mark on the entire twentieth-century?

Lenin, however, deserves wider consideration than this, and his writings of 1917 are testament to a formidable political figure. They reveal his ability to grasp the significance of an extraordinary moment in history. Everything is here, from Lenin-the-ingenious-revolutionary-strategist to Lenin-of-the-enacted-utopia. To use Kierkegaard’s phrase, what we can glimpse in these writings is Lenin-in-becoming: not yet Lenin-the-Soviet-institution, but Lenin thrown into an open, contingent situation.

In Revolution at the Gates, Slavoj Žižek locates the 1917 writings in their historical context, while his afterword tackles the key question of whether Lenin can be reinvented in our era of “cultural capitalism.” Žižek is convinced that, whatever the discussion—the forthcoming crisis of capitalism, the possibility of a redemptive violence, the falsity of liberal tolerance—Lenin’s time has come again.

Reviews

  • “A return to Marx may be acceptable today ... But a repetition of Lenin? ... Perhaps Žižek’s return to Lenin is merely tactical, figurative even. He can’t be serious, can he? ... Žižek claims that Lenin’s act, ‘his choice,’ continues to speak to those of us on the left today. Faced with our current conceptual deadlock, we must have the courage, the nerve, to risk isolation, self-annihilation even, in order to offer a real alternative to the false oppositions recuperated by and churned out for our consumption by the image industry of late capitalism ... The postmodernists and liberal multiculturalists, today’s Bernsteins and Kautskys – our contemporary Plekhanovs and Martovs, beware!”

Blog

  • A Library for #Occupy: Part 3

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    Here is the third part, with contributions from Gar Alperovitz, Mike Davis, Enrico Donaggio, Ann Ferguson, Shabnam Hashmi, John Holloway, Sandro Mezzadra, Douglas Rushkoff, Felix Stalder.


    The fourth part of the reading list will be online next week.

     

  • Occupy first, make demands later—Slavoj Žižek

    Slavoj Žižek writes in the Guardian on the Occupy movement, its taboo-breaking nature, and why hard and patient work is now required.

    Carnivals come cheap - the true test of their worth is what remains the day after, how our normal daily life will be changed. The protesters should fall in love with hard and patient work - they are the beginning, not the end. Their basic message is: the taboo is broken; we do not live in the best possible world; we are allowed, obliged even, to think about alternatives.

    He goes on to respond to some of the criticisms of the Occupy protests: 

    Are the protesters violent? True, their very language may appear violent (occupation, and so on), but they are violent only in the sense in which Mahatma Gandhi was violent. They are violent because they want to put a stop to the way things are - but what is this violence compared with the violence needed to sustain the smooth functioning of the global capitalist system?

    Continue Reading

Other books by V. I. Lenin Edited by Slavoj Žižek