Many analytic philosophers, liberals and conservatives have considered Slavoj Žižek their opponent for a long time. Nevertheless, as a popular philosopher, Žižek has many followers and fans. On Facebook alone there are groups such as Žižek Studies with more than 34.000 members and Žižek and the Slovenian School with more than 13.000 members. These groups are also the platforms where people share texts and videos of Žižek and the two other important figures of the Slovenian School: Mladen Dolar and Alenka Zupančič. Members of these groups may sometimes operate like –in Žižekian sense– the holy spirit, helping each other in solidarity to reach and to understand the work of these thinkers. Moreover, these groups are also the platforms where one can find texts and videos criticizing thinkers from the analytic school, such as Noam Chomsky, or conservative thinkers such as Jordan Peterson.
However, lately, Žižek is being criticized not only by his traditional opponents but also by some of his followers and fans. These criticisms seem to have accelerated during Covid-19. The coronavirus has shattered our realities. While we are trying to reconstruct our realities, we are also trying to cope with the extra uncertainty and depression. The anxiety in which we are all fundamentally caught up is peaking due to the pandemic. Describing philosophy as “just one form of therapeutic filling of the unfillable void” (Reshe, 2020, p. 144), Julie Reshe (2020) rightly argues that philosophy does a good job when it comes to the interpretation of historical events but fails to analyze the present situation. In this sense, along with the crises of health and economy, we are witnessing the crises of philosophy as well.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Žižek has released 2 books entitled “Pandemic 1” and “Pandemic 2″. Unlike Giorgio Agamben, Žižek is against treating Covid-19 like an ordinary flu. In this sense, Pandemic 2’s dedication is remarkable: “To all those whose daily lives are so miserable that they ignore Covid-19, regarding it as a comparatively minor threat.” Many Žižek followers who are critical of wearing masks do not like his position regarding masks at all. According to some of his followers, Žižek is as an obsessive neurotic, who believes that things will be okay if we follow the rules and this is what he has failed to take into consideration. In other words, they claim that Žižek failed to see how his own desires and pleasures shape his arguments regarding the pandemic measures.
Criticism towards Žižek by his followers and fans are not only limited to his support of mask wearing. Despite receiving many reactions by the people advocating identity politics for not being politically correct, some of his Lacanian fans dislike Žižek calling himself a feminist. Žižek is explicitly against identity politics and hence, he is not an identity politics feminist. He, rather, underlines the “female not-all position” where (unlike the masculine subject who denies castration and believes that he is complete) the feminine subject is aware of her lack. Žižek’s position regarding the feminine and masculine subject is in line with Zupančič’s definition: “Man is the subject who believes he is man” (Zupančič, 2017, p. 56) whereas “the essence of femininity is to pretend to be a woman” (Zupančič, 2017, p. 55). Nevertheless, Žižek has lost a lot of followers and fans in feminist discussions.
Lately, more and more Žižek followers have started to express the deficiencies that they see in his work. His texts and talks are being criticized in Žižekian social media groups, in which once his work was shared with great excitement and joy. In a sense, we are experiencing a strange Freudian time, in which Žižek is like a big Daddy who must be killed by his children. Žižek (2017) argues that one can not directly reach freedom; one needs the guidance of a master. “A Master is needed because we cannot accede to our freedom directly—to gain this access we have to be pushed from outside.” (Žižek, 2017, p. 211). The master that Žižek (2017) wants to develop, though, is a vanishing mediator that will go away or will be got rid of, when the time comes. Hence, if the time has come, perhaps, Žižek himself would not mind vanishing as a master. After all, Žižek is also the name of a fantasy that must be traversed.
Evren İnançoğlu has a Master’s degree in behavioral sciences. He currently lives in Nicosia, Cyprus. He writes essays and reviews.
Reshe. J. (2020 ) “Talking in the Void.” Full Stop. Volume: Winter2020. pp. 141-145
Žižek. S. (2017) Incontinence of the Void. London: The MIT Press
Zupančič. A. (2017) What is Sex? London: The MIT Press
Note: This text is a response to this invitation letter.