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A vile logic—Slavoj Žižek on Anders Breivik and antisemitism

Tamar Shlaim11 August 2011

Slavoj Žižek writes for the Guardian on the disturbing logic behind Anders Breivik's justfications for his actions in Norway. Comparing Breivik's ideology to that of Pim Fortuyn, Žižek argues that Breivik 'manifesto' fits into the growing intersection between right-wing populism and liberal political correctness. 

Breivik's self-designation shuffles the cards of radical rightist ideology. Breivik advocates Christianity, but remains a secular agnostic: Christianity is for him merely a cultural construct to oppose Islam. He is anti-feminist and thinks women should be discouraged from pursuing higher education; but he favours a "secular" society, supports abortion and declares himself pro-gay.

His predecessor in this respect was Pim Fortuyn...a paradoxical figure: a rightist populist whose personal features and even opinions (most of them) were almost perfectly "politically correct". He was gay, had good personal relations with many immigrants, displayed an innate sense of irony - in short, he was a good tolerant liberal with regard to everything except his basic stance towards Muslim immigrants...

Indeed, he was the living proof that the opposition between rightist populism and liberal tolerance is a false one, that we are dealing with two sides of the same coin: ie we can have a racism which rejects the other with the argument that it is racist.

Žižek goes on to explore the paradox of Breivik's apparent antisemitism, which sits alongside support for Israel (as "the first line of defence against Muslim expansion"). Žižek compares this growing phenomenon amongst the far right to the "weird accommodation between Christian fundamentalists and Zionists in the US."

There is only one solution to this enigma: it is not that the US fundamentalists have changed, it is that Zionism itself has paradoxically come to adopt some antisemitic logic in its hatred of Jews who do not fully identify with the politics of the state of Israel. Their target, the figure of the Jew who doubts the Zionist project, is constructed in the same way as the European antisemites constructed the figures of the Jew - he is dangerous because he lives among us, but is not really one of us. Israel is playing a dangerous game here: Fox News, the main US voice of the radical right and a staunch supporter of Israeli expansionism, recently had to demote Glenn Beck, its most popular host, whose comments were getting openly antisemitic.

Visit the Guardian to read the full article. 

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