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Žižek and Badiou, Id and Ego of the Left Academia

Hélène Barthélemy 9 October 2013

Žižek and Badiou. The inseparable duo of leftist philosophers has been sharply characterized by John Eperjesi in an article published yesterday in the Huffington Post:

If we were to apply Freud's model of the psyche to left academia, Zizek would be the id, twitching, telling dirty jokes, uttering obscenities, promiscuously combining comments on sex, politics, art, science and popular culture. Badiou would be the ego, offering a calm, steady defense of communism, universality and truth. Which means that the superego would have to be Noam Chomsky, struggling to repress the id with his prohibitions on theory and abstraction.

In this article, John Eperjesi discusses the September 2013 "Žižek/Badiou Event of Philosophy" held a week ago in Seoul in the infamous Gangnam neighborhood, an uncanny site to discuss the contemporary state of communism. In the same city ten years ago, students had been arrested for the possession of Marx’s Capital, George Katsiaficas’ Imagination of the New Left, and Verso’s very own For Marx by Althusser, while now it hosts "conference communism" at its best. As Eperjesi remarks, despite being set in a "zone of gaudy consumerism" the conference was appropriately held 35 miles away from the DMZ, with the shadow of the Cold War looming to the north.

In that line, Žižek observed that Korea was "the clearest imaginable, almost clinical case of where we stand today after the end of the Cold War." Alain Badiou perhaps perceived this as the ideal setting for a new departure, as he called for the redefinition of communism, seeking to move away from its burdensome legacy and reassert its fundamental values. As Eperjesi sums up, Badiou declared that,

The communist hypothesis simply refers to a political conviction and passion for egalitarianism and human life. Courage is needed in order to invest new meanings in this old word. Only then would it become possible to separate the word, "communism," from its 20th-century baggage.

Visit The Huffington Post to read the article in full.