… I guess we might as well discuss this Zizek thingy.
However, even if Lacan’s inversion [If there is no God, then all is forbidden] appears to be an empty paradox, a quick look at our moral landscape confirms that it is a much more appropriate description of the atheist liberal/hedonist behaviour: they dedicate their life to the pursuit of pleasures, but since there is no external authority which would guarantee them personal space for this pursuit, they get entangled in a thick network of self-imposed “Politically Correct” regulations, as if they are answerable to a superego far more severe than that of the traditional morality. They thus become obsessed with the concern that, in pursuing their pleasures, they may violate the space of others, and so regulate their behaviour by adopting detailed prescriptions about how to avoid “harassing” others, along with the no less complex regime of the care-of-the-self (physical fitness, health food, spiritual relaxation, and so on).
Today, nothing is more oppressive and regulated than being a simple hedonist.
This is, I take it, Goldberg’s thesis, minus the Lacan – we’ll see! Namely, the godlessness of liberalism produces an idiot tick-tock between authoritarianism and relativism. The proof: liberal bumper-stickers/slogans oscillate between fatuously broad gestures of total freedom and orthodoxy sniffery re: racism and sexism and a few other things. QED.
I predict it will be at stage two that we discern daylight between the Goldbergian and Zizekian positions:
But there is a second observation, strictly correlative to the first, here to be made: it is for those who refer to “god” in a brutally direct way, perceiving themselves as instruments of his will, that everything is permitted. These are, of course, the so-called fundamentalists who practice a perverted version of what Kierkegaard called the religious suspension of the ethical.
So why are we witnessing the rise of religiously (or ethnically) justified violence today? Precisely because we live in an era which perceives itself as post-ideological. Since great public causes can no longer be mobilized as the basis of mass violence – in other words, since the hegemonic ideology enjoins us to enjoy life and to realize our truest selves – it is almost impossible for the majority of people to overcome their revulsion at the prospect of killing another human being.
Goldberg and Zizek agree that there is a problem with liberal delusions of post-ideologism. See above: the master-argument from ‘liberal slogans are not so smart’, as we might call it. But I fear that, past this point, they will no longer see eye to eye. Let’s call the master-argument, in the mouth of a conservative, ‘the goose’ and the self-same argument, in the mouth of a left-of-liberalism critic of liberalism ‘the gander’.
I predict that Goldberg will maintain that what’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander – because that’s just cliched thinking! Like “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter!” Zizek will argue, to the contrary, that Lacan and Hegel showed that the thing that conservatives think is good for the goose is actually not good for the goose. (Only a perversion of Kierkegaard could make it seem otherwise., See also, this parable, perhaps.) But it would be good for the gander. Alas, there are none. Damned liberals!
But I could be wrong. Possibly I underestimate one or the other or both authors. But this much is for sure: they both have new books coming out tomorrow. Neither of which I have read, nor shall I, in all likelihood. (I’ve read a lot of Zizek, but Less Than Nothing is more than a 1000 pages. I’m off the bus.) [whoops! looks like I was wrong about Zizek’s book. Saw a ‘May’ release somewhere and assumed May Day, which seemed Zizekian. Not actually available until mid-month. Apologize for inconvenience.]
Happy May Day!