Another heated debate on theory, ideology and reality has just recently flared up in The Left Hemisphere. During a recent panel at Birkbeck College in London Slavoj Žižek picked up on a statement made by Noam Chomsky in an interview with Veterans Unplugged in December 2012, and now the ball is rolling… Writing for the Guardian, Peter Thompson declares that this “spat deserves a ring side seat”.
Noam Chomsky, the professional contrarian, has accused Slavoj Žižek, the professional heretic, of posturing in the place of theory. This is an accusation often leveled at Žižek from within the Anglo-Saxon empirical tradition. Even those like Chomsky who are on the proto-anarchist left of this tradition like to maintain that their theories are empirically verifiable and rooted in reality.
Žižek, addressed by Razmig Keucheyan as “the unavoidable star of contemporary critical thinking”, “has countered with the side-swipe that nobody had been so empirically wrong throughout his life as Chomsky,” Thompson continues.
Chomsky, who according to Keucheyan “pertains to the category of ‘resisters’”, concludes his latest contribution by stating that “The remainder of Žižek’s comments has no relation to anything I’ve said or written, so I will ignore them.”. One wonders if this blow will strike hard enough to bring the debate to an end…
Perhaps it is so that the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk claim that our era is one of general cynicism, which has succeeded the age of ideologies holds true, or we are facing the contrary: to articulate the most poignant strategy to move away from the prevailing political climate, critique’s raison d’être is stronger than ever.
The story continues.
Visit the Guardian to read the article in full.
For a greater insight in the theoretical strands represented by Chomsky and Žižek check out Razmig Keucheyan's extensive new work The Left Hemisphere: Mapping Critical Theory Today