Why Israel is an Anti-Semetic State, What can we teach ourselves about Racism by being Racist, and Other Controversial Topics

13 03 2011

…This type of ‘full speech’ and honesty is championed by Žižek. He shares a number of ‘weaknesses’ with Nietzsche; one being his anti-Semitism. It has been argued that Nietzsche is not an anti-Semite. However, I would argue, on the basis of my own interpretation, that he is. Not in that he actually hates the Jews as a race and wants to exterminate them but rather on the basis of a self-recognized symptomatic antagonism towards them. True, a project similar to Oppel’s could be undertaken to prove once and for all that Nietzsche is not an anti-Semite. However, this I believe would undermine the value of honesty in Nietzsche’s thought. Žižek, for instance, is obsessed with the character of ‘the Jew’ to the point of creating bizarre Levi-Straussian/Lacanian diagrams and mathemes to describe anti-Semitism and its execution in all its nuances. In one notable instance in his book In Defense of Lost Causes he describes an industrious Jew rising out of a destitute economic situation by selling overstocked human blood and enriching it with nutrients. He recalls his first reaction: “Typical Jews! Even in the worst gulag, the moment they are given a minimum of freedom and space for maneuver, they start trading –in human blood!”. This starts a chain of associations and a rigorous analysis of anti-Semitism that he continually comes back to. The anti-Semitism he is critiquing is obviously his own (which he believes is representative of his backwater upbringing in the former Yugoslavia). The fruit of this analysis is not only in the therapeutic value of the expression of his racism but, through its full articulation and expression, a rigorous theory and the emergence of a nimble mind that is able to identify patterns and executions of anti-Semitism (and racism in general) in all of its forms. This can be found in his critique of multiculturalism, which for him is the site of a repressed politically correct racism. For instance, in The Fragile Absolute, Or, Why Is the Christian Legacy worth Fighting For? he states:

Since the Balkans are geographically apart of Europe, populated by white people, racist cliché’s which nobody today, in our Politically Correct times, would dare apply to African or Asian people can be freely attributed to Balkan people: political struggles in the Balkans are compared to ridiculous operetta plots; Ceauşescu was presented as a contemporary reincarnation of Count Dracula…”

In his critique of Israel in The Parallax View, for instance, he isolates a kernel of anti-Semitism in the state of Israel: it only wants certain types of Jews that can be integrated into a homogenized nation-state while certain other Jews that do not fit this category are excluded and denounced as stateless individuals with no substantial identity (even to the extent of being called ‘rogue elements’: a threat to the cohesiveness and legitimacy of their state). Calling the nation of Israel anti-Semitic is precisely the type of analysis that a Nietzschean would appreciate: it is a transvaluation of racism. When racism is repressed or ignored it finds its symptomatic expression as violence or is displaced. Žižek encourages us to examine our prejudices and articulate them fully. His argument stems from psychoanalysis: our orientation towards the object of our racist hatred may well be our fundamental orientation towards the Other finding its expression in a repressed form. Further, Nietzsche argues this point himself in the quote at the start of this essay: it offers the opportunity for self-knowledge. If Neitzsche’s anti-Semitism is not identified as such and investigated than the opportunity for a new orientation towards race is elided in his theory. Nietzsche offers us a way of navigating the universal stereotypes and tropes of nationality and race by playing with them, re-signifying them, de and then re-hierarchizing them until we have a conception of an ideal transnational subject that is a particularity in their Otherness (not being viewed as a race or nationality) and an unsublimated execution of the will-to-power (I am referring here to the “Peoples and Fatherlands” section of Beyond Good and Evil).

Learning transforms us: it acts as all nourishment does, doing more than just ‘keeping us going’ –as physiologists know. But at the bottom of everyone, of course, way ‘down there’ there is something obstinately unteachable, a granite like spiritual Fatum, predetermined decisions and answers to be selected, predetermined questions. In addressing any significant problem an unchangeable ‘That is I’ has its say; for example, a thinker cannot learn to change his ideas about man and woman, but can only learn his way through to the end, only discover to the limit what is firmly ‘established’ in his mind about them. Very soon we solve certain problems with solutions that inspire strong belief distinctively in us; perhaps we will go on to call them our ‘convictions’. Later –we see in them only footprints on the way to self-knowledge, signposts to the problem that we are –more correctly, to our unteachable essence way ‘down there’.

After paying myself such a generous compliment, perhaps I may be allowed to enunciate some truths about ‘women’, assuming that henceforth people will know from the start how much these are simply –my truths.




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