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Zizek on the impossibility of anarchism 

My commitment to anarchism is something which ended with sociology, more specifically when I realised that I understood anarchism to entail the overcoming of social structure. Seeing that as a conceptual impossibility, I came to see anarchism as untenable. But I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, not least of all because it’s become clear to me that it was my conception of anarchism that was untenable. 

There’s an interesting section in Zizek’s Trouble In Paradise in which he discusses the ‘triple impossibility’ of a social order constituted through nothing more than free association. He doesn’t use the term anarchism, but I think he is effectively talking about the aforementioned conception of it. From pg 126:

The idea of organizing society in its entirety as a network of associations is a utopia which obfuscates a triple impossibility: 39 –there are numerous cases in which representing (speaking for) others is a necessity; it is cynical to say that victims of mass violence from Auschwitz to Rwanda (and the mentally ill, children, etc., not to mention the suffering animals) should organize themselves and speak for themselves; –when we effectively get a mass mobilization of hundreds of thousands of people self-organizing themselves horizontally (Tahrir Square, Gezi Park …), we should never forget that they remain a minority, and that the silent majority remains outside, non-represented (This is how, in Egypt, this silent majority defeated the Tahrir Square crowd and elected the Muslim Brotherhood); –permanent political engagement has a limited time-span: after a couple of weeks or, rarely, months, the majority disengages, and the problem is to safeguard the results of the uprising at this moment, when things return to normal.

Categories: Fragile Movements and Their Politics Cultures Thinking

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