Das Magazin, Zürich, 2010

Georg Diez, Christopher Roth

English version first, from Volume One 80*81 Book Collection

Ljubljiana.On the phone we tell Slavoj Žižek we’ll wait in the “Bar Platana” on Kongresni. “I must know where it is, I know everything!” he says and picks us up by taxi. We go back to his flat in Metelkova, Ljubljana’s artsy/anarchy/squatter quarter. Mr. Žižek is wearing a black t-shirt with a white hand-scrawled “J’aime le cinema” on the front and “J’aime Sarajevo!” on the back, designed by Agnès B for the famous film festival. We talk about the cover of “Zurnal 24” of that very day, a gratis newspaper with a picture of him on it and a quote from his introduction to a reprint of the “Communist Manifesto.” But the true scandal seems to be that Mr. Žižek admitted owning pirated DVDs[i].

“They hate me, this is a very bad paper. They hate me!”

Then we talk about the famous Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik who is admired as a proto-postmodernist, whose work is reminiscent of Italian Fascist architecture, who was claimed by the Yugoslavian Communists as well. As we stand in front of his apartment block, Mr. Žižek explains why nobody can find his address. He points in all directions. It is like a Borgesian map: most of the streets are called “Metelkova” and the social housing blocks seem impossible to tell apart anyway.

On the ground floor is a homeopath’s office. Mr. Žižek says that whenever any of the patients rings his bell by accident he shouts: “Why don’t you kill yourself!”

Two posters of Josef Stalin welcome us in the corridor of his flat. The furniture is basic. And yes, it is true: Mr. Žižek keeps his clothes in the kitchen cabinets. There is a huge flat screen and a small toy landscape of his son’s—green mountains and about 50 plastic soldiers in different sizes—to be taken care of before we sit on his somehow Socialist floral couch. It is now 9:15 on September 11th, 2009.
Q Mr. Žižek, what do you see when you open your eyes in the morning?

A            I have this nice obsessive ritual. If I am with my son I have to put the alarm clock on so he can go to school. Like I did today, at 7.25. And due to the beauty of obsessional neurosis I always wake up asking myself: Will the alarm clock really work? Can I rely on it? So I wake up and watch and wait to see if the alarm clock will ring. That is my first ritual.

Q            What does that tell you about yourself?

A            I will not analyze myself. I find that disgusting. I cannot even imagine doing  psychoanalysis of myself.

Q            And others?

A            You see me. A person would have to be in really serious trouble to go to a psychoanalyst like me. I would open the window and say, “Here, jump down!”

A            I went once because of a personal crisis. Just for a short time, when I was living in Paris 25 years ago. All I was doing was trying to sabotage it.

Q            Doesn’t everybody sabotage it?

A            Intelligent analysts know this. The first couple of months you are testing the analyst to find out how intelligent he is. Telling him fake dreams. For a really good analyst this does not change anything. Even if you invent your dreams you always betray yourself. But I was trying to play a dirty game playing with the desire of my analyst.

Q            What kind of crisis was that?

A            My god, some love crisis. I was really desperate. And then analysis saved me. Not in the sense that it enlightened me. It was pure bureaucracy. I wanted to kill myself and said, not today, I have an appointment at two. And tomorrow, I have again an appointment with the analyst. I played this game for a month.

Q            You wanted to kill yourself for love? Isn’t that demeaning or obscene, in a way?

A            It was really intense love. I was not reflecting about it. I was desperate. And also, why not? I am quite pathetic about this.

Q            You call yourself a monster.

A            But not in the sense of brutality. It was Wittgenstein who said there are two types of idiots in the world. One type is caught too much in cliché and just uses phrases and doesn’t have his own voice. And then there are the opposite monsters who take everything too literally. They don’t understand phrases. Like my friend, the Israeli writer David Grossman. Before 1967 people said Palestinians want to throw the Jews into the sea. You know what he did? He went to a swimming school. This type of madness is my madness.

Q            And this is why you don’t want to analyze yourself—because you think there is something monstrous in you?

A            Yeah, yeah, yeah. You say monstrosity. But take the lesson of Hannah Arendt. If you look at the great political monsters of the 20th century up to Hitler and Stalin—they were not monsters in this sense. They had all their weak human points. Stalin liked to play with his daughter, Hitler liked dogs.

Q            Stalin even sang with his dog.

A            He also forced other polit bureau members to sing with their dogs. Khrushchev went along and survived because he played the role of a fool and was not considered dangerous. But the guy who was closest to a monster as a private person was Lavrentiy Beria, the head of the secret service. On the other hand, it is now evident from the archives that Beria was politically the proto-Gorbachev. Immediately after Stalin’s death in 1953 he freed two million prisoners from the Gulag. He promised writers more freedom. He thought that Germany’s reunification would be possible, the condition being that Germany would be demilitarized and the Soviet Union included in the Marshall plan. That’s why he was arrested. Not as the last Stalinist. But the tragedy, the horror, was that privately he was the lowest. Kidnapping girls and raping them.

Q            Is it a personal dilemma for lacking empathy and being left?

A            If I see somebody who suffers, I help. What I try to sabotage is this charity empathy that makes you feel good. If you ask me what I mean by monster and what I really would like to be, I would tell you about this novel.

Q            Frankenstein?

A            Nonsense. This is stupid enlightened humanism! I am talking about the trilogy by Agota Kristof. There is the story of two boys living in a small town in Hungary in the forties. First the Nazis ruled, then the Communists. And these boys are, in a sense, total monsters. They are good, but without any self-reflection. They would do anything. Their grandfather tells them: I am old and suffering, I don’t want to live, can you kill me? And they say: Of course, grandfather, we will kill you. Then there is this poor girl who is starving. They go to the village priest and tell him: We will report you to the police and lie and tell them that you tried to rape that girl, if you don’t help her and keep her for a few months. The priest says: You are blackmailing me? They say: Of course, we want to help the girl. A year later the girl gets a job. They come to the priest and say: Thank you. I am talking about this type of ethical monstrosity which is at the same time absolutely ethical. I love it.

Q            You don’t like people, but cover this personal dysfunction as a philosophical concept. What a good trick!

A            Milan Kundera –I actually don’t like him very much– said, “It is one thing to say, ‘Let’s help the starving children.’ And another thing to say, ‘Isn’t it nice how good you feel when you help the starving children.’” That second element I hate. In the United States, Starbucks claims that when you buy a cappuccino, it is more expensive because you don’t just buy a cappuccino, you buy—their words—an ethics of life. They sound like social critics. We live in autonomized societies and they are trying to create a space of community.

Q            If you buy a box of beer from a certain brand in Germany you save a piece of the rain forest.

A            Great. You no longer have to counteract consumerism. Consumerism itself becomes a participant in the ecological, antiracist struggle. This is what I hate.

Q            On a more fundamental level, would you say that ethics in general is obscene?

A            No, oh, no no. I am a Lacanian psychoanalyst. Ethics yes, but ethics without morality.

Q            So morality is obscene.

A            Yes. Usually for philosophers, these immoral ethics mean a kind of abstract fidelity. To put it in old-fashioned existential terms, you choose your Entwurf and you remain faithful to it whatever the cost. But I don’t see the opposition between fidelity to yourself and good for others. For me, morality always has this element of narcissistic satisfaction in patronizingly imposing upon others. That you know better than the other what is good for the other.

Q            The feel-good Left.

A            I’ll give you an example. I have serious conflicts with feminists. When we debate rape, the eternal excuse is: but she wanted it, she provoked it. And their defense? The guy was dreaming. My idea is a provocative one: what if there are women who really dream about being a little brutally mistreated? Does this justify rape? No! But here comes my psychoanalytic excess of monstrosity—people have the right to dream about what they want. If you prohibit a woman from having masochistic dreams, you are in a way blaming the victim.

Q            This is a lesson from psychoanalysis.

A            One of the most disgusting things is when what you secretly dream about is brutally imposed on you from the outside. We have a nice name for a realized dream, it’s called a nightmare. My ethic theory is, in a way, Kantian. He was the great ethical revolution. He formulated beauty without some positive substantial supreme good and he freed and delivered it from this weight. It is not my right to know what is good for you—that is full autonomy. Kant is the great one for me, also as a psychoanalyst.

Q            Which means –

A            No wait, wait. This brings me back to Hannah Arendt. I don’t agree with all she said in the Banality of Evil. But she got the point right that you fall into an ideological trap if you imagine behind Nazi crimes some gigantic, demoniac but fascinating, sublime and evil personality. No, they were like Eichmann: Cowards. We should not treat great criminals like fascinating persons. Hitler was not the demoniac big hero!

Q            The devil of the 20th century.

A            Gandhi was more violent than Hitler.

Q            How?

A            Hitler had to kill millions of Jews so that things would basically remain the way they were. Gandhi really tried to undermine the basic functioning of the state. The true courage is not to kill millions but to change society.

Q            A psychoanalyst would say there is a pattern in what you do. Where does the anger come from? The biblical wrath of Slavoj Žižek ?

A            Are you asking a psychological question? Or a general question: Why should people revolt?

Q            A personal question.

A            Then I can give you only one very Christian answer: I am angry out of love. Kierkegaard is my teacher, the great dialectical materialist. In his masterpiece The Works of Love he wrote the wonderful phrase: “True Christian love for your neighbor means that you are ready to kill your neighbor for love.” I think Kierkegaard was one of the few who really took these words of Christ seriously: “I bring a sword, not peace. If you don’t hate your mother and father, you are not my follower.” If I really love you I am ready to fight for you against you. I accept you in your inner inconsistency. I don’t patronize you. This is why, for me, charity is not Christian. Love without cold hatred is not Christian love. It must not be pathological love. It must be this Kantian pure love, which needs hate.

Q            Hate?

A            “Hate your father” does not mean “Hate your father as a person.” It means, “Hate your father as a father,” as part of hierarchical structure. It all has to do with the question of the Holy Ghost. People don’t seem to see that Holy Ghost is one of the first names for the Communist Party. It is clear what Christ is aiming at, and it is a very contemporary problem. At his time there were two main forms of social life. There was the old conservative hierarchic life, the Jewish tradition – and there was Rome, which was more like today’s liberal empire and legal system. The Holy Ghost was a new type of collectivity. A link, not just individuals interacting in a liberal framework. But also not organic; an egalitarian link. Christ is not a father figure, he is a son.

Q            So when he says, “If you don’t hate your father, you are not my follower,” the same applies to him.

A            You can see this wonderfully illustrated in a Michelangelo drawing that has something mysterious about it. It shows Christ on the cross saying: “Father, why have you forsaken me?” His face is the usual, but if you look at the body there is another message. He tries to raise his hand in a pose of rebellion, or “fuck you father.”

Q            You are this son?

A            I am interested in this idea of an emancipatory collective, a community of believers that tries to suspend all these hierarchical, symbolic and authoritarian relations. This is something that happened for the first time in Christianity, the combination of love and hate.

Q            Has this interest in Christianity something to do with your growing distance from postmodernism? You want to take away the quotation marks.

A            I cannot stand the postmodernist jargon. I am against this internal self-distance and also against the epistemological historicist hermeneutic that is maybe best exemplified by a radical Foucaultian historicist refusing to say, “We are rational beings.” Instead he insists on saying, “In what episteme under what discursive power and conditions are you able to make a statement that we are rational beings?” Thereby totally dismissing and suspending any ontological commitment. Even in Habermas you find this – he probably hates me, we probably hate each other, I don’t know.

Q            What irritates you about Habermas?

A            His basic idea is clear, it is an a priori ethical communicational transcendental concept inscribed in the very functioning of language. And he always emphasizes how this ethics of communication is a transcendental a priori. You cannot in an evolutionary way deduce it from biology. He would not accept relativization. My question is: Where does he stand ontologically? Probably he would say that we humans developed out of nature. But then something is missing, an explicit ontological commitment is missing. And I think we should go back to that, we should break out of this hermeneutic self-doubt and start to ask fundamental ontological questions.

Q            But your real enemy is not postmodernism. It is democracy.

A            —In a way. It’s like this: When I was young, the usual argument of socialism’s defenders was: “Don’t dream about some ideal socialism, this is the real.” This is the way it works today with democracy: This is not true democracy, it is actually existing democracy. What interests me is how it functions. When people say representative democracy – what does it represent? It represents a certain idea of society where people have interests and articulate their interests in political partys. But the type of society it represents is not as neutral as it may appear.

Q            So you want to put an end to democracy.

A            I am not saying democracy doesn’t have its good points. Read Walter Lippmann,[ii] then you’ll know how democracy actually works. I don’t think people want to decide. They want to be told by an authority what to choose. People want the appearance of freedom, not real freedom. Democracy always has this moment of appearance. This is why I compare democracy and constitutional monarchy. The problem of a monarchy is: The King should appear sovereign, but it is parliament who decides. Still, the dignity of the King should be protected. We have exactly the same problem in democracy.

Q            People want to be governed.

A            Absolutely, but not always. There are moments of crisis when more active participation is needed. I don’t have a new model. It will happen when people decide to mobilize.
Q            And this is now?
A            Yes, that’s my idea.
Q            A collective movement.

A            It has to be universal. Problems are global. Of course I am ready to give to the devil what belongs to the devil: Never in the history of humanity has such a high percentage of people lived in safety or had this high standard of living like in the welfare states of Western Europe in the last 50 years. But this model is coming to an end.

Q            With the financial crisis of 2008?

A            No, no, no, no. I’m not a naïve Marxist. You could say that this crisis was invented or triggered by some Capitalist headquarters to show the impotence of the Left. As a radical Leftist I ask you: Do you remember, did you hear, see, read any serious Leftist proposal on how to react to the crisis in a radical, alternative way? The most radical Left was the ideology behind Barack Obama, which I find quite sympathetic. People like Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, who dream of some kind of modernized European welfare state with stronger state intervention.

Q            But this model is coming to an end.

A            The only other really interesting thing is basic income. In Brazil it is already the law, a nice idea of how to save Capitalism. Philippe Van Parijs[iii] came up with it. From the standard Marxist standpoint, you’ve got the crazy situation in which those who still work are not only exploited by Capitalists, but even more so by the unemployed. So obviously the old notion of exploitation no longer works.
Q            But there is no new paradigm.
A            Capitalism hasn’t overcome its antagonisms. Two things happened in the first decade of the 21st century. It started with 9/11 and ended with the financial crisis. This is the Fukuyama dream dying twice. I think Naomi Klein got something right with the idea of Shock Doctrine.[iv] An example from history: What was the result of the Cultural Revolution in China? Traditional structures were erased, tradition was taken from the people. One should not forget its emancipatory potential, even with Mao as the dictator. But his message to the young people was: “You have the right to rebel! Destroy old tradition!” A shock doctrine with the result of a tabula rasa upon which Deng Xiaoping could swoop in with his Capitalism. The main epic of this crisis will be to serve as a Shock Doctrine.

Q            And what will come?

A            New and more efficient Capitalism.
Q            Again?

A            Again. Look at the United States. I don’t have any great illusions, but we shouldn’t be too arrogant. Obama is doing something very important: he is rehabilitating the idea of great collective social acts. In the Fukuyama years, the 1990s, even the postmodern Left like Toni Negri participated in the Deleuzian metaphorical of molecular organic interaction. Big organized collective acts were considered to be the first step towards the Gulag. But there are basic elements like ecology, social solidarity, healthcare, education where the state is needed, where some kind of collective act is needed.
Q            You say the weak Left is engaging in moral masturbation.

A            Absolutely. If you ask me: How can art be progressive today? Rammstein are my heroes! And what reaction do you get from the crying, soft Leftist liberals? “I know Rammstein are just ironically imitating the rituals but what if young people don’t get this ironic distance and are seduced by it?” I remember Austria 20 years ago. The great tragedy… What was he called, the one who died in the car accident?
Q            Falco!

(Something collapses in Mr. Žižek as we say this.)
A            No, no, in Carinthia, in Kärnten.

Q            Haider?

A            Yes, yes, Jörg Haider. You know his slogan Kärnten bleibt deutsch (Carinthia stays German)? Because we, the miserable Slovenians, want to steal it from Austria. I would like to see that day! And instead of a critical analysis of his manipulation of national tensions, the Austrian Left did a very nice thing. They wrote a series of obscene permutations in big letters: “Kärnten deibt bleutsch, Kärnten leibt beutsch, Kärnten beibt dleutsch!” A kind of a Brechtian Verfremdung.

Q            What about Laibach?

A            You are touching a very sensitive topic because lately my relations with them are not too good. I still very much respect what they did 20 years ago, but now they are Staatsdichter.  They are fully supported and they contacted me and my friends just to get praises and we said: where is the old arrogance? They try to reinvent themselves, first with the NATO-songs,[v] then with Volkswagner which in my eyes totally missed the point. Rammstein is a much better example of how you influence from within. This is how proto-totalitarian ideologues function, they flirt with some obscene dimension which should remain just below the surface. For example, I was quite shocked how they dealt with homosexuality when I was in the army. They were extremely homophobic. If someone in the Yugoslavian army was discovered to be gay, he was beaten every night.

Q            By the soldiers?
A            Yes, out of obscene solidarity. But at the same time oppressed homosexuality was part of everyday life. In my unit we didn’t say “Good morning,” we said, “I smoke yours.” The entire metaphorical system was penetrated with homosexuality. You mimic the enemy at an oppressed level and all you have to do to bring it up, to make it explode, is to enforce it openly.

Q            The darkness.

A            Take the movie Die Welle.[vi] There is a guy organizing the movement. He is using phrases like: We must keep together! Solidarity. Sacrifice. Discipline. Sorry, but what’s wrong with this? I think liberals corrupted us. Imagine a progressive movement using the same phrases. We need this, my God! That is the problem of liberalism. The experiment is mystifying and makes us feel good. “Ahhh, in all of us, this fascist part is lurking.” No! It blurs the lie that the only choice is between liberal primitivism and the proto-fascist totalitarian. If we want to fight Capitalism there must be another form of discipline and solidarity, which is not fascist.

Q            You translate discipline with politeness.
A            I am for both.
Q            Discipline is rather military.

A            When I went into the army, I loved it. I learned the lesson of my life: discipline is only at the surface, above all the horrible chaos and obscenity. The Soviet Union was beneath the surface very chaotic, much less organized then a normal Western democratic society. This also disturbed me in the Yugoslavian army—not enough discipline.

Q            You want to teach people discipline.

A            A certain discipline.

Q            So you are for terror.

A            Wait a minute, I am for terror, but not in the simple sense. Of course I like freedom and democracy, it is not a question of organizing some dark Leninist party to introduce terror. But with all the current problems, our choice will be a brutal one between a new right wing apartheid society with gated communities and some kind of re-invention of Communism, both with elements of terror. What I am talking about is a more radical existential form of terror.

Q            In which sense?

A            To really experience the ecological crisis you need to experience terror, which is the terror of losing ground. This is why I am against the simplistic idea of Mother Earth, which presupposes that we still have some ground to return to by restoring natural balance. In Lacanian terms, “No big other.” The true terror appears when you realize that there is nowhere to return to. In biogenetics, Habermas touches upon this terror but pulls back. He admits that one of the consequences of biogenetic manipulation is that it can ruin the very basic elements of the free and responsible human being. His solution is very conservative. Habermas co-edited this book with Joseph Ratzinger.[vii] He just says, “Let’s not do it.” It’s too simple.

Q            How does terror function in regards to ecology?

A            Like Stephen Jay Gould[viii] said, “Nature in itself is one big catastrophe.” I’m not saying we shouldn’t do anything. But we should be aware of the extent of the catastrophe. And to counteract we need an authority, even with some elements of terror.

Q            Where does this authority come from?

A            The state will not be enough, it is too corrupt. Some kind of self-control has to be reinvented.

Q            Self-control, as in “politeness”?

A            No, no. Measures, punishment.

Q            Secret police?

A            No, public pressure. Imagine a society which is starving…

Q            But we are not.

A            Not yet, but don’t be too optimistic. There might be catastrophes!

Q            So something has to happen?

A            Yes, but not from the outside.
Q            And then Capitalism will end?

A            It will not end. Capitalism will create antagonisms, which it will not be able to solve within its present liberal democratic framework. I’m here just following Peter Sloterdijk, of all people. When asked which leader of our times will have a monument in a hundred years, he proposed Lee Kuan Yew, the Prime Minister of Singapore. Because he invented what we call, poetically, “Capitalism with Asian values,” meaning authoritarian Capitalism. I remember seeing Deng Xiaoping visiting Singapore on TV 25 years ago. [ix] This is showing Asia where to go, he said, and China will follow.

Q            You distinguish between objective and subjective violence –in your mind, the objective is much more dangerous.

A            I don’t say that explicitly! That would bring us to the totally boring pseudo-Marxist view, that we should understand people throwing bombs. No, people are responsible! If you talk about terror, take (Jean-Bertrand) Aristide[x] in Haiti, he stood for democratic terror. But it was fashionable to compare him to the Sendero Luminoso (The Shining Path[xi]). No, he just saw that in such a brutal situation he must mobilize people who exert additional pressure. I’m not saying that can be done here. Or let’s go back to biogenetics. Habermas should go crazy about what is happening in China instead of giving polite comments. I was disgusted when he said, “I mentioned the problems of democracy to the Chinese and they replied: Yes, we will look into it.”


Q            Like Angela Merkel.

A            Yes, yes, yes. I know that the Chinese already have plans to genetically control the population. And they unite with private capital, building mega-clinics in Shanghai where, if you have the money, you can go to correct your child before it is born. Can you imagine what new space for state terror or individual terror is opened here? Imagine this problem confronted without a new discipline. Without some terror.

Q            But isn’t China a perfect model for social discipline?

A            A negative paradoxical model of the Communist elite saving itself by becoming the servants of exploding Capitalism. There is a good argument for Capitalism: in a dictatorship, Capitalism does generate a push towards democracy in the long term. But successful Capitalism isn’t possible without democracy. I wonder what that means for the future of China. It is much safer there at the moment to be a conservative sociologist than a critical Marxist. A dissident friend in China told me that they censored the role of the party in the 1920s when organizing strikes in the Shanghai area. They think it might be too dangerous, so they censor their glorious past. I’m pessimistic about China. I’m not saying we need terror living in a democracy, but I think we need terror to combat terror. We should be ready. Globally, we are moving towards new totalitarian forces.

Q            You talk about insiders and outsiders. When the outsiders become the insiders, how do you implant this immune system of “politeness”?

A            Well, listen, you give me this basic Leftist lesson to which I totally agree: all the revolutions go wrong, they even generate worse authoritarian terror than before. I buy all of that, but the great task will be to reinvent terror and discipline. Don’t laugh—to make it a popular, authentic democratic terror.

(Mr. Žižek is laughing)

I’m not afraid of this.

Q            Political correctness is a kind of terror.

A            And to combat these forms of terror we need a different one. Maybe you think too much –excuse my bad joke– in the old paradigms of the Stasi and so forth.

Q            I’m wearing my blue FDJ-Shirt[xii] especially for you today!
A            Does Mielke[xiii] have a son?

Q            Many.

A            He was that model, “Love through hatred.” I remember the historical moment: “Aber ich liebe euch alle” (But I love you all).[xiv]

Q            He was in tears.

A            My reproach is that they were too soft. Take the film The Lives of Others.[xv] The director von Donnersmarck comes from Prussian nobility and the film is his revenge on bad Communists taking away his family estate – but he also is too soft. What’s the story of the film? In a totalitarian Communist country, one of the ministers wants to fuck a big writer’s wife. In order to achieve this he has to get rid of the husband. So he orders the police to find something to incriminate him. Blah blah blah. Are you crazy? What is he talking about? Don’t you think in the real GDR this guy would have been under total control all the time? Even if nobody wanted to fuck his wife? That is what they don’t get. They are thinking liberal! (shouting) They don’t see the evil inscribed into the system itself. They think there must be a ridiculous ugly fat guy (cracks up laughing) who wants to fuck the wife to justify all the Stasi. It’s so naïve!

Q             Disney Stalinism.
A            Steven Weinberg,[xvi] the great cosmologist, said something very nice against religion, it is a bit one-sided cynical but I like it: “Without religion good people would do good things, bad people bad things. But you need something like religion to make good people do bad things.” You need something stronger. That’s the true enigma of Stalinism, not why bad people were doing bad things, but why up to a point even relatively good people participated. People claim that the other German Stasi movie Good Bye, Lenin! is more soft, more nostalgic. But it is much more honest. If you are honest, you have to go crazy.

Q            If you want to be honest you have to lie.

A            Ja, ja, ja! It is a much more honest film.

Q            Back to the present.

A            The shitty present.

Q            The slums are, for you, a starting point for hope and change.

A            I try to redefine the notion of the proletarians today. To call them simply “exploited workers” no longer works. I have a lot of differences with Giorgio Agamben, but he is on to something with his idea of the Homo Succer.

Q            Did you say Homo Succer?

A            This is my bad taste. When there is a small window, I make a bad joke. You know Oscar Wilde: “I can resist anything but temptation.” But seriously, we have to think along these lines: Homo Sacer as the “Living Dead,” excluded from some dimension of public life. This category I think is getting more and more important today.

Q            As a starting point to organize a collective?

A            Who am I to organize it? They will have to do it.

Q            You observe calmly.

A            Now wait a minute. I’m much more desperate than it may appear. I’m not saying: Ooohh, all the favela guys will come together with all of us to form a new global Leninist party. I’m just looking for places where people are clearly on the edge. Not on the edge in the way of being in the gulag, but with the space to do something.

Q            There are hierarchies. It seems to work.

A            “Excluded” is already in some way “included.” This is the lesson I learned in Congo. For me, it’s the ultimate humanitarian tragedy today. A cover story for Time Magazine[xvii] said that in the last ten years, at least four and a half million people died of unnatural causes there. The state doesn’t function. There are simply local warlords who have deals with foreign companies for the mines. Congo is not a black hole, but fully integrated into the Western economy. And China will invest more than a hundred billion dollars, to basically rebuild the entire infrastructure, universities, hospitals, and railways to make Congo a minimally functioning country—for the rights to exploit it.

Q            Is Hugo Chávez a model for you?

A            That idiot? No. He is turning into Fidel Castro with dollars, the typical populist money-trap. But he politically mobilized the excluded. He and (Evo) Moralis. Everybody should be grateful to them because it’s the only way to prevent a long-term civil war.

Q            And Lula (Luiz da Silva)?

A            The miracle is how well his compromise formula works. Many Leftist friends told me that the lot of ordinary people improved enormously. That is quite something. Even though I am a radical, I nonetheless have a certain respect for that. I hate simplistic Marxists who say, “Oh he still kept the basic bourgeois relations!” Well fuck it!

Q            You are called “the most dangerous philosopher of the West.”

A            Of the world, don’t limit me, of the world! But let’s go back to Chávez. Jean Claude Milner[xviii] – a French Lacanian who is now a political opponent but not a stupid guy – claimed that the Left suffers from what he calls “Zenonism,” referring to Zeno’s paradox of the tortoise and Achilles who just jumped around the big turtle but did not want to reach it. In this manner the intellectual Left likes to dream about some place and it is very good for this place to be somewhere far away, where the really authentic thing is happening. The Soviet Union in the thirties, China’s Cultural Revolution, Cuba.

Q            Nicaragua.
A            And Venezuela today. I’m skeptical about it. And even some of my Leftist friends told me Chávez can’t resist the temptations of being just another populist.

Q            It is very carnivalesque.

A            I hate the idea that in carnival all laws are suspended. Boris Groys –again a political opponent but sometimes he does some interesting things in Germany– wrote on Mikhail Bakhtin’s Rabelais and His World from the 1930s.[xix] He said that the secret model for the carnival was Stalinist politics! There is something suppressing in carnival. (Silvio) Berlusconi is carnival, he is his own carnival. He said: “It is clear that I am the greatest leader Italy ever had.” What other carnival do you need?

Q            Is your Euro-skepticism a product of your dissident experience?

A            We were very lucky here. Me, I’m not a very bright guy, but I was in the right place at the right time. The Frankfurt School was dominating our thinking, Hegelianism was the main dissident orientation. And when in the mid-60s French Structuralism exploded– Althusser, Foucault, Derrida– dissident and party officials started to talk the same language against the common enemy. This awakened us from our dogmatic thinking.

Q            How was life then?

A            We didn’t have any illusions about Yugoslavian Communism, it was the real thing but a slightly more liberal version.

Q            Meaning?

A            In a wonderfully cynical way, the Yugoslav regime taught me some lessons about how ideology works. You had a regime where it was dangerous to take the official ideology too seriously. Those in power perceived this as the first step towards dissidence. That is the origin of all wisdom on how the ruling ideology must not be taken too seriously. Distance is needed.

Q            Does Communism teach you more about the human condition than Capitalism, because it is a kind of laboratory situation?

A            It was a very moral education. You had this constant ethical dilemma: do you oppose it or not? There was no third way out, so even if you made a compromise it was very difficult to convince yourself that you didn’t make a compromise.
Q            Everything is much clearer.

A            Yes. And this explains why you had Solidarnoscz in Poland. Despite Gomułka[xx] returning to power in 1956, it was more an authoritarian than a totalitarian regime. You had your own space, it was just a question of limits. Which meant that you were exposed to ethical temptations, but you were also given a chance to make the right ethical choice without risking your life. If you said “no” you didn’t disappear in a Gulag. You were just jobless for two years.

Q            Is suppression good for artists?

A            When it comes to this I am a cynical pessimist. Look at the Soviet Union’s great victim, (Andrei) Tarkowski. Fuck it! Do you think in the West he would have been given the money to do Stalker?[xxi] What was he allowed to do in the West? Nostalghia in Italy and than he went to Sweden, because he didn’t get money anywhere else. Or look at Andrzej Wajda,[xxii] the great Polish director. The most interesting movies he made are from the 50s. Now there is Pan Tadeusz,[xxiii] this nationalist epic. Or the kind of Polish politically correct movies like Katyń .[xxiv] The conclusion is that for really great art, too much freedom is not good.


No, let’s be frank. I doubt we will get a great writer from North Korea.


And someone like Zhang Yimou[xxv] who did Hero[xxvi] and House of Flying Daggers? He totally sold out to power and will do the big public spectacle of about 60 years of the Communist state.

Q            Hero was quite a good film.

A            It was quite good. But he secretly had the support of party hardliners. For the big spectacle scenes, he got the People’s Army for free. 30,000 soldiers! He’s a total Staatsdichter because he is positive about the King, the unifier.[xxvii] Speaking of terror, this is what the King once did: There was a big discussion among philosophers and the Confucianists who opposed him, so the King called a big meeting. 700 leading Confucianists came and he buried them all alive and the debate was over.

Q            Speaking of terror: You were in Prague during the Soviet invasion?

A            I was 19 years old. It was pure coincidence. I hitchhiked there with a friend and we arrived the day before.

Q            Because you knew?

A            No, unfortunately my Soviet comrades forgot to tell me!
Q            How was it?

A            Very funny. Funny in a tragic sense. I remember being in some kind of hostel in the center of Prague. At around one in the morning somebody entered and said: The Russians are coming, all the Czechs please leave. And we thought, there must be some Russian tourists coming and there is not enough space maybe. So we kept on sleeping. At around five or six in the morning we thought we dreamed machine gun sounds. But than we were in a real panic for two hours because there were rumours of street fighting and even that the Soviet army had attacked Yugoslavia.

Q            How long did you stay?
A            All communication broke down for about a week. It had this touch of the real! I discovered on the main square ”Václavské námestí” a patisserie which was still operating. They had beautiful strawberry cakes. And I was sitting there eating strawberry cake with Schlagsahne (cream) and watching demonstrations against Russian tanks. A perfectly intellectual position, enjoying the strawberry cake in deep solidarity. I have the same feeling now—I am a Senator, it is my proudest title thanks to the Miles & More credit cards. And I was deeply hurt when I discovered that it is not the highest level, there is some HON Circle level.

Q            From the school of Lufthansa back to the school of Prague.
A            The Soviet invasion saved the Prague Spring. Let’s be realists. If the Warsaw Pact hadn’t intervened, either the local Communists would have had to set some limit like they did in Poland after 1956. Or the regime would have fallen apart and Czechoslovakia would simply have joined the West. In both settings nothing of the dream of democratic socialism would have remained, the dream itself would have been destroyed. So by crushing reality, the dream was saved.
It’s the same as in Titanic. You know why the ship had to hit the iceberg? You remember when it happens? Minutes after they fuck! Kate Winslet says to Leonardo di Caprio: “I will live as a poor but happy wife with you.” That would have been a total catastrophe. So to save the dream, the ship had to go down.

Q            What is the lesson for today?

A            I think we have a relatively good life. Are people aware of what was going on in pre-modern times? Of course Capitalism introduced re-vitalized slavery when it needed it in America. But at the same time Capitalism itself developed an ideology to condemn slavery. I am not Roland Emmerich, I am not saying we are approaching a catastrophe. But it is relatively clear to me what will happen if things just go on the way they are destined to go on. I can imagine a new apartheid society.

Q            Therefore you want to plant this kind of discipline or politeness into a collective movement.
A            Why not? Politeness is a popular thing.

Q            Yes, yes, yes. That’s very good.

A            I don’t think people are brutal.

Q            The Grand Narrative. But how do you plant the virus?
A            Of course it is not a new Leninist party. My answer is very modest: By feeling more and more the ethics of the crises, people will have to be moved somehow to do something. I don’t want to play this game of Critical Theory and the Frankfurt School, you know: people living happily in a consumerist society until a philosopher comes along and says, “You think you are happy? It is false, it is one dimension! You live in the worst possible world.” Again, it’s a very comfortable intellectual position. People are happy, but the idiots don’t know it’s a catastrophe.

Q            But you propose measures for an eco-dictatorship. There is the authoritarian father who says: “Do this thing.” And the liberal father who says, “I want you to want to do this thing.”

A            Our consumerist society is more and more evolving into the latter. But to me, discipline means that authorities should be rehabilitated. It leaves you much freer in the end.

Q            You want to commit yourself.

A            I want to commit myself not really knowing what the commitment is.
Q            A paradox. The question remains what the WE is…

A            We need a big WE. I fully accept that. We need a big WE. We need a big WE, which is not simply this kind of a liberal union of individuals but also not an old kind of archaic, organic, totalitarian WE, we need a new form of WE. If you ask me where I see the models, now you will laugh, but I see some nice tendencies. Maybe I’m too romantic here, you know which TV series I like? This will be very naïve, but did you see Heroes? You know, some individuals have some supernatural ability, which makes them freaks. One can move in time, the other can throw out fire. They are all excommunicated and this is their kind of strange community. A confederation of freaks. I recently wrote a text on Kafka as a theorist of Communist culture. Kafka wrote “Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk”[xxviii] when he knew he was dying. You know what is so wonderful? He knew in the end, “this is the last thing I’m writing.” And it has nothing of the standard Kafka boldness; you know, authority, angst, whatever. It is just a story of poor mice who have a singer to amuse them and when she wants some privileges they say “no.” A very beautiful story. It is a kind of poor Communist society held together by a popular artist.

Q            Your dream.

A            If someone still thinks, in the Fukuyama way, that our society is slowly progressing, than this person is more of a dreamer than me. No, my dream is that we will be gradually pushed to do something. If there is a lesson of the last decade, the post-Cold War world was lacking clear rules in international relations. A World Police? Sure, why not? If you have a relatively liberal President like Clinton, and millions of people are killed in a place like Congo, I wouldn’t even care if the devil goes in to introduce some minimal order. Fuck it!

Q            The by-gone dream of American Imperialism.

A            I hate those Leftists who think that anyone who opposes America is a good guy. Saddam is good, Ahmadinejad is good. So even from the interest of American Capitalist Imperialism, George Bush’s true tragedy was that he totally ruined it. An American liberal, the big Hegelian Robert Pippin ,wrote this wonderful book on the novels of Henry James.[xxix] The typical Henry James situation is that people are lost and find themselves in a situation where they can’t rely on old rules. The only thing that saves them from chaos is superficial politeness. I deeply agree with that. The problem with Bush was he wasn’t polite.

Q            What is the difference between politeness and respect? Or kindness?

A            When you are kind to me my first reaction is: (Mr. Žižek makes a face, laughs)

Q            What do you want to sell me?

A            And respect is the same, but not precise enough.

Q            Respect is not superficial.

A            It is also not enough. You can say: “I respect you, so let’s fight honestly.” In politeness, I like the aspect of alienation. If we would meet somewhere on a street, we would say: “Hello, nice to see you! How are you?” And who knows, maybe I am in a bad mood and think: “Why did I encounter that idiot?” Politeness for me is this sincere lying. When I say: “Nice to see you,” the point is not whether I really mean it. When I ask: “How are you?”, you are even glad that I don’t really mean it. It is a lie which, as a ritual, establishes some space. And only within this space can respect and all that stuff function effectively. There is no freedom without politeness. Freedom without politeness is homo homini lupus.

Q            Did the birth of your son change anything for you?

A            The strange thing is, it didn’t change anything. I love my child, I play with him, I corrupt him in all possible ways. When he was five he started to play Grand Theft Auto, a highly educational game. But my substance is work. I cannot imagine how I would survive without theory.

Q            You once said: “Love is evil.”

A            Where is the paradox? Imagine living a nice life, you drink with friends, you have a flirt, fuck a little bit here and there, a girl, a boy, a dog, a pork. You know I am from 68, we had manuals on how to arouse a pork. And then you fall in love! It’s horrible, the whole of life is out of balance, a permanent state of emergency. In this formal sense, love is evil. You become partial. You cannot even judge things anymore.

Q             And after a while?

A             There is mature love. But of course, this is not the same thing. You live in memories, in old nostalgic things. In a way, it’s horrible. You feel you are not yet fully in love, but you are already sliding down into the abyss. My point is not to avoid love, but to accept it. On the other hand I don’t believe in transgressive love. I’m against this Tristan und Isolde-style Liebestod (love-death). True love is everyday love; I’m an everyday romantic. True love is not when you screw like crazy all night in a trance. True love is when you go and buy Brötchen in the morning.
Q            And if it doesn’t work, like with your wife? Is there anger?

A            No, no no. This is maybe a monstrous aspect of mine: I function as a living computer, I have an extremely developed ability to delete the past that I don’t like.

Q            So one last classical question.

A            Did I lose my virginity?


Q            From Hannibal Lector: What do you see when you close your eyes?

A            (long pause, silence) Oh it’s very dark. I must be very catastrophic in my dreams. I’m usually repressive, I very rarely remember. Only vaguely.
A horror, a nightmare, a couple of scenes.
I’m so afraid of the monstrosity coming up, the moment when I know I am falling asleep is terror for me. I have different catastrophic visions. For example, some kind of Soviet fiasco, a big round atomic bomb, all rusty, rising above the city. I go out to the street and I look at it and there is this immobility. We know that it will explode in a couple of seconds. Then we’ll all be dead and – you can’t do anything.
Very dark.

(Mr. Žižek looks out of the window. Bells are ringing. It is noon in Ljubljana.)
Very dark.
Unfortunately there is no nice naked woman.
I really mean it: My whole effort is to remain at the surface.
I don’t believe in depth. If you deeply look into a person –in everyone– you find shit.

I believe in surface. I think true metaphysics is the metaphysics of surface.
(The bells are still ringing loudly at this moment.)
This is why I like that shitty movie with Jim Carrey, The Mask. The magic power comes from the surface. If you take the mask off, you just see a stupid face. I believe in masks. What Freud calls Todestrieb (death instinct)[xxx] is a mask. It is not deep in your biology. It is something you put on, and than you are caught in this crazy repetition.

Q             Who are you?

A             I’m a progressive Communist who is a radical cultural pessimist. The best argument for democracy is a contradictory one. There are two good arguments for democracy. The first one is that you can trust people, so you have elections. The second one is that you shouldn’t trust anyone, so all should be re-elected and put under control. My sympathy is much more with the second argument. What Mozart says in Così fan tutte, the famous lines by Da Ponte: “Trust women but nonetheless control them.” Not only women.

Q            But you said that people are good.

A            No, I think people are basically evil. You shouldn’t trust anyone. Being a political Leftist automatically involves a happy view of human nature as basically good. You are good by mistake. A miracle that is totally against your character. Like the guy who turned against Hitler. He was a top anti-Semitic, conservative officer. And all of a sudden he felt disgusted and started to resist Hitler and was caught and shot. The mystery is that it was totally outside of his character. Something in him said: “That’s enough.” With Giordano Bruno[xxxi] it was the same. He was an extreme compromiser. His idea was to go to a city, give a speech and then escape. But all of a sudden he sad: “Fuck it now!” That is ethics, here I am a materialist theologian. For me, ethics is a moment of grace. You know, materialist grace, it happens out of nowhere. If you do something great. It’s not deep within you. There is no undiscovered pearl. No! That pearl is always shit.


Q            We need a new ontology.
A            We have it in psychoanalysis. Lacan!

[i] “When I was asked in China what monuments I wanted to see, I told them, only one: A big illegal pirate DVD-store. And they kept their word. I bought around 1000 DVDs for something like 600 USD. They took up only so much space. And, surprise, surprise, they all work! For five dollars I bought the complete [Carl Theodor] Dreyer works. And also some 300 operas, an extremely good selection, like the Heiner Müller one, the famous Tristan from Bayreuth. But I will tell you a nice story: I was at Criterion in New York, I dropped by because at the end they always take you into their stock room and invite you to take something. And I opened my bag. They told me this story: They are relatively disorganized and lost one of the master copies of one of their old films. Then they heard that somewhere near Nanjing, not even in Shanghai, there is a guy who has excellent copies of all their films, a more complete stock than they have themselves. So they got the address, emailed the guy, and he responded: ‘Yes, I am proud to help you!’ So they copied their own pirate copy! And the guy was extremely polite. ‘If you have any problems in the future…’”

[ii] Walter Lippmann (September 23, 1889 – December 14, 1974) was an American writer, journalist (Pulitzer Prize, 1958) and political commentator who tried to reconcile the tensions between liberty and democracy in a complex and modern world, as in his 1920 book “Liberty and the News.”

[iii] Philippe Van Parijs (Brussels, 23 May 1951) is a Belgian philosopher and political economist. His book is called Real Freedom for All: What (if anything) can justify capitalism? See also: basicincome.org/bien/

[iv] Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, 2007.

[v] NATO, October 1994, includes covers of Edwin Starr’s “War” from 1970 and Europe’s “The Final Countdown.”

[vi] The Wave was a short, made-for-TV movie based on Ron Jones’ “The Third Wave” experiment. It debuted October 4th, 1981, before being featured in the “Afterschool Special” series. Todd Strasser novelized The Wave under the pen name Morton Rhue and won the 1981 Massachusetts Book Award for Children’s/Young Adult literature. Die Welle is a German film remake, which was quite successful in the cinemas. Directed by Dennis Gansel and starring Jürgen Vogel.

[vii] The Dialectic of Secularism: On Reason and Religion, Jürgen Habermas and Joseph Kardinal Ratzinger, 2005.

[viii] Stephen Jay Gould (September 10, 1941 – May 20, 2002) was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, historian of science and one of the most influential writers of popular science.

[ix] Under Deng’s leadership, China embarked on a new policy of reform and opening-up in 1978. It was also the year Vietnamese forces crossed the Mekong to get rid of the Khmer Rouge government in Cambodia, becoming a threat to Thailand and the rest of Southeast Asia. Late that year, Deng Xiaoping visited Singapore and asked Lee Kuan Yew how China could work with ASEAN countries against Vietnamese aggression.

[x] Jean-Bertrand Aristide (born July 15, 1953), a former Roman Catholic priest, was briefly President of Haiti in 1991, prior to a military coup in September of that year, and again from 1994 to 1996 and from 2001 to 2004. He was ousted in a February 2004 rebellion. Aristide stated that France and the US had a role in what he termed a kidnapping that took him to South Africa. In 2000, Aristide published The Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization, specifically pointing out the role of the World Bank and the IMF in creating larger problems. In South Africa, Aristide became an honorary research fellow at the University of South Africa, learned Zulu, and in 07 received a doctorate in African Languages. On December 21, 2007, a speech was broadcast marking Haiti’s Independence Day. Aristide criticized the 06 presidential election as a “selection” in which “the knife of treason was planted” in the back of the Haitian people.

[xi] The Sendero Luminoso is a Maoist guerrilla organization in Peru. When it first launched the internal conflict in 1980, its stated goal was to replace the bourgeois democracy with “New Democracy.” By imposing a dictatorship of the proletariat, inducing Cultural Revolution, and eventually sparking a world revolution, “Pure Communism” would arrive. It is known for its brutality, including violence against peasants, trade union organizers, elected officials and the general civilian population, and is regarded in Peru as a terrorist organization.

[xii] The Free German Youth (Freie Deutsche Jugend) was the official socialist youth movement of the German Democratic Republic.

[xiii] Erich Mielke (December 28, 1907 – May 21, 2000) was the Minister of State Security (MfS, or Stasi) of the German Democratic Republic from 57 to 89, a hard-line Stalinist who had spent some time in the Soviet Union. In 93, he was convicted of the murders of two police officers in 1931.

[xiv] On the 13 November 1989, six days after he had resigned, Mielke addressed the members of the parliament Volkskammer as “comrades,” as he always did, but some non-SED members asked him not to. Mielke’s response was: “That’s a question of formality” and then: “But I love – I love all – all people…” which was met with laughter from the crowd.

[xv] Das Leben der Anderen, 2006, was the debut film of writer and director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. With Ulrich Mühe as Stasi Captain Gerd Wiesler, Ulrich Tukur as his chief Anton Grubitz, Sebastian Koch as the playwright Georg Dreyman, and Martina Gedeck as Dreyman’s lover, a prominent actress named Christa-Maria Sieland.
“The Dreams of Others. By tying the drama to a mere personal whim, The Lives of Others fails to capture the true horror of the GDR.” Slavoj Zizek, May 18, 2007. See: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/3183/

[xvi] Steven Weinberg is an American physicist and Nobel laureate in Physics for his contributions to the unification of the weak force and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles. There is current interest in Weinberg’s 1976 proposal for the existence of new strong interactions–a proposal dubbed “Technicolor” by L.Susskind –because of its chance of being observed in the LHC as an explanation of the hierarchy problem. Weinberg was a major participant in the “Science Wars,” arguing for the hard realism of science and scientific knowledge and against the constructionism proposed by Stanley Aronowitz, David Edge, Steve Fuller or Bruno Latour.  He has also said: “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it seems pointless.”

[xvii] Simon Robinson, “The Deadliest War In The World,“ Time, 28 May 2006: “In Congo, a nation of 63 million people […] The International Rescue Committee (IRC) estimates that 3.9 million people have died from war-related causes since [conflict] began in 1998, making it the world’s most lethal conflict since World War II.“

[xviii] Jean-Claude Milner, linguist, philosopher and French essayist. Influenced by Louis Althusser and Jacques Lacan, a student of linguistics alongside Roland Barthes, friend of Jacques-Alain Miller, and later the son-in-law of Lacan. Affiliated with the Maoist movement of the proletarian Left from 1968 to 1971.

[xix] “Between Stalin and Dionysus” (1989): “One should not even speak of democracy here: no one is given the democratic right to shirk carnival, to not take part, to remain on the sidelines. On the contrary, precisely those who try to do so are the first to be subject to well-deserved ‘cheerful vilifications and beatings.’ According to Bakhtin, this nightmare is transformed into carnival thanks to the laughter that accompanies it.”

[xx] Władysław Gomułka (1905-1982), First Secretary of the Polish United Workers’ Party (56-70). Initially very popular for his reforms, seeking a “Polish way to socialism,” and beginning an era known as “Gomułka’s thaw,” he came under Soviet pressure. He participated in the Warsaw Pact intervention in Czechoslovakia. He also incited an anti-Zionist propaganda campaign in 1968, as a result of Soviet bloc opposition to the Six-Day War and thinly veiled anti-Semitism, that was designed to keep him in power. In 1970, several dozen shipyard workers were fatally shot in a bloody clash which forced his resignation (officially for health reasons).

[xxi] Stalker, Soviet Union (1979); Nostalghia, Italy (1983); The Sacrifice, Sweden (1986).

[xxii] Recipient of an honorary Oscar, Andrzej Wajda is the most prominent member of the “Polish Film School” (1955 to 1963). Wajda is known especially for the trilogy of war films: A Generation (1954), Kanal (1956) and Ashes and Diamonds (1958). Four of his movies were nominated for Best Foreign Language Film: Land of Promise (1975), The Maids of Wilko (1979), Man of Iron (1981), and Katyń (2007).

[xxiii] From 1999. Based on the epic poem by Adam Mickiewicz, “The History of the Nobility in the Years 1811 and 1812 in Twelve Books of Verse,” first published in Paris in June 1834, and compulsory reading in Polish schools.

[xxiv] Katyń is about the 1940 “Katyn massacre” a mass execution of Polish POW officers and citizens ordered by the Soviet authorities. During their occupation of Poland (39-45), the Nazis used it for propaganda against the Soviets.

[xxv] Zhang directed the Beijing portion of the closing ceremonies of the 2004 Olympics in Athens, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Zhang was a runner-up for “Time Magazine Person of the Year” in 2008. Steven Spielberg, who withdrew as an adviser to the Olympic ceremonies to pressure China into helping Darfur: “At the heart of Zhang’s Olympic ceremonies was the idea that the conflict of man foretells the desire for inner peace. This theme is one he’s explored and perfected in his films, whether they are about the lives of humble peasants or exalted royalty. This year he captured this prevalent theme of harmony and peace, which is the spirit of the Olympic Games. In one evening of visual and emotional splendor, he educated, enlightened and entertained us all.”

[xxvi] Hero (2002) is a Chinese martial arts film by Zhang Yimou, starring Jet Li as the “nameless” protagonist. The movie is loosely based on the legendary Jing Ke and the King of Qin. The film received extremely good reviews, nevertheless The Village Voice compared its justification for ruthless leadership to Triumph of the Will and deemed it to have a “cartoon ideology.”

[xxvii] The King of Qin became Qin Shi Huangdi, the First Emperor during the Warring States Period of unified China in 221 BC. He undertook gigantic projects, including the first version of the Great Wall of China and a massive national road system, all at the expense of numerous lives. The Qin Dynasty ruled between 221 and 206 BC and introduced several reforms; weights and measures were standardized, and in an attempt to purge all traces of the old dynasties it burned all books and buried scholars. Despite its rapid end, the Qin Dynasty influenced future Chinese regimes, particularly the Han Dynasty, and the modern name for China is derived from it.

[xxviii] “Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk” (1924), by Franz Kafka, primarily describes a community and its relationship to a renowned singer named Josephine: “When we are in a bad way politically or economically, her singing is supposed to save us, nothing less than that, and if it does not drive away the evil, at least it gives us the strength to bear it.”

[xxix] Henry James and Modern Moral Life, (Cambridge University Press, 2000).

[xxx] Jacques Lacan: “The death instinct is only the mask of the symbolic order.”

[xxxi] 1548 – February 17, 1600, Italian philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, and occultist best known as a proponent of heliocentrism and the infinity of the universe.



Q            Was sehen Sie, wenn Sie morgens die Augen öffnen?

A            Was ich sehen will, oder was ich tatsächlich sehe? Ich habe dieses nette, zwanghafte Ritual: Wenn mein Sohn bei mir ist, wie heute, stelle ich den Wecker auf 7 Uhr 25, damit er rechtzeitig in die Schule kommt. Aber dann, ach, wenn das nicht die ganze Schönheit einer Zwangsneurose zeigt, wache ich immer auf, weil ich mich frage: Wird der Wecker wirklich funktionieren? Also bin ich wach, beobachte und warte…

Q            Was sagt Ihnen das über sich selbst?

A            Ich will mich nicht analysieren, das finde ich widerlich.

Q            Und andere?
A            Sie haben mich gesehen, man muss wirklich ziemlich ernste Probleme haben, um zu einem Analytiker wie mir zu gehen. Außerdem würde ich sofort das Fenster aufmachen und sagen: Hier, spring!

Q            Waren Sie nie in Therapie?

A            Einmal in einer persönlichen Krise, für ganz kurze Zeit, als ich vor 25 Jahren in Paris lebte. Aber alles was ich getan habe, war die Analyse sabotieren.

Q            Macht das nicht jeder?

A            Klar, in den ersten paar Monaten testet man den Analytiker, um herauszufinden, wie intelligent er ist. Erfindet Träume und so einen Quatsch. Für einen wirklich guten Analytiker ändert das aber nichts, man verrät sich immer. Aber ich habe versucht, mit den Wünschen meines Analytikers ein schmutziges Spiel zu spielen.

A            Was war das für eine Krise?

A            Oh Gott, es war Liebe! Ich war völlig verzweifelt. Und dann hat mich die Analyse gerettet. Nicht, dass sie mich aufgeklärt hätte, nein, sondern im Sinne reiner Bürokratie. Ich wollte mich umbringen, sagte mir jedoch: heute nicht, ich habe noch einen Termin um zwei. Und morgen, da habe ich wieder einen Termin. Mit dem Analytiker. Dieses Spiel ging einen ganzen Monat lang.

Q            Sie wollten sich aus Liebe umbringen? Ist das nicht erniedrigend und in gewisser Weise obszön?

A            Das war wirklich intensive Liebe, ohne zu reflektieren. Und ich war verdammt verzweifelt. Außerdem: Warum nicht? Da bin ich ziemlich pathetisch.

Q            Aber Sie nennen sich ein ‘Monster’.

A            Monster, nicht im Sinne von Brutalität. Wittgenstein hat zwischen zwei Arten von Idioten unterschieden: Der Eine ist zu sehr gefangen in Klischees, benutzt nur Phrasen und Floskeln und hat keine Meinung. Und auf der anderen Seite gebe es die Monster, die alles zu wörtlich nehmen. Die die Phrasen gar nicht verstehen, wie mein Freund, der israelische Schriftsteller David Grossman: Als vor 1967 gesagt wurde, die Palästinenser wollten die Juden ins Meer werfen, hat er schnell einen Schwimmkurs gemacht. Diese Art von Wahnsinn ist mein Wahnsinn.

Q            Sie mögen Menschen nicht, verbergen diese Fehlfunktion aber hinter einem philosophischen Konzept. Ganz guter Trick.

A            Milan Kundera, den ich eigentlich auch nicht besonders mag, meinte, eine Sache sei es zu sagen: ‘Lasst uns hungernden Kindern helfen.’ Etwas ganz anderes aber: ‘Ist es nicht wunderbar, wie gut man sich fühlt, wenn man hungernden Kindern hilft?’ Das zweite hasse ich. Wenn Starbucks verkündet: ‘Wenn Sie bei uns einen Cappuccino kaufen, ist er teurer, weil Sie nicht nur den Cappuccino kaufen, sondern auch die Ethik, denn ein Teil des Gewinns geht an…’

Q            Wenn Sie in Deutschland einen Kasten Bier kaufen, retten Sie ein Stück Regenwald.

A            Schön, dass wir nicht mehr gegen Konsum sein müssen. Konsum selbst wird zur Beteiligung am ökologischen, antirassistischen und was immer Sie wollen Kampf. Das ist das, was ich hasse.

Q            Würden Sie etwas grundlegender sagen, dass Ethik im Allgemeinen obszön ist?

A            Oh nein, nein. Da bin ich Psychoanalytiker im Sinne Jacques Lacans: Ethik ja, aber Ethik ohne Moral.

Q            Also ist Moral obszön?

A            Ja. Für gewöhnlich halten Philosophen unmoralischer Ethik die Treue, auch wenn sie längst missbraucht wird. Altmodisch ausgedrückt: Sie wählen Ihren existentiellen ‘Entwurf’ und bleiben ihm treu, was immer es koste. Aber für mich liegt der Widerspruch nicht zwischen Treue zu sich selbst und dem, was für den Anderen gut ist. Moral hat für mich immer dieses Element narzisstischer Befriedigung, indem sie herablassend anderen auferlegt wird. Was man besser weiß als der Andere, ist gut für den Anderen.

Q            Die Wohlfühl-Linke.

A            Zum Beispiel bei Vergewaltigung hört man immer die Ausrede: ‘Aber die Frau wollte es, sie hat es provoziert.’ Und die verteidigt sich: ‘Der Typ hat sich das eingebildet.’ Aber was ist, wenn es Frauen gibt, die wirklich davon träumen ein wenig misshandelt zu werden? Rechtfertigt das Vergewaltigung? Nein! Ich sage, Menschen haben das Recht zu träumen über was immer sie wollen. Wenn ich einer Frau verbiete masochistische Träume zu haben, gebe ich in gewisser Weise dem Opfer die Schuld. Wenn wir von der Psychoanalyse etwas lernen können, dann das: Eines der abscheulichsten Dinge ist, dass das, was man heimlich träumt, einem brutal von außen aufgezwungen wird. Die demütigenste Erfahrung, die man sich vorstellen kann. Lassen Sie mir meine Träume! Es gibt einen schönen Namen für einen verwirklichten Traum: Albtraum.

Q            Ein Psychoanalytiker würde sagen, hinter dem was Sie sagen, verbirgt sich ein Muster. Wo kommt die Wut her, der biblische Zorn des Slavoj Žižek?

A            Ist das eine psychologische Frage oder warum Menschen im Allgemeinen rebellieren sollten?

Q            Eine persönliche Frage.

A            Gut, darauf habe ich nur eine sehr christliche Antwort und das ist jetzt kein Scherz: Aus Liebe! Kierkegaard ist hier mein Lehrer, der große dialektische Materialist. In seinem Meisterwerk ‘Die Taten der Liebe’ schreibt er diesen wunderbare Satz: ‘Wahre christliche Nächstenliebe bedeutet, dass Du bereit bist, deinen Nächsten aus Liebe zu töten.’ Ich glaube, Kierkegaard war einer der wenigen, der diese Worte Christi wirklich ernst nahm: ‘Ich bringe das Schwert, nicht den Frieden. Wenn Du deine Mutter und deinen Vater nicht hasst, bist Du nicht mein Jünger.’ Das heißt, wenn ich dich wirklich liebe, bin ich bereit, für dich gegen dich zu kämpfen! Ich akzeptiere dich in deiner inneren Widersprüchlichkeit, ich bevormunde dich nicht. Deshalb ist für mich Wohltätigkeit oder Charity nicht christlich. Liebe ohne kalten Hass ist nicht christliche Liebe. Es muss nicht pathologisch sein, sondern es ist die Kantische reine Liebe, die den Hass braucht. Ich meine, ‘Hasse deinen Vater’ bedeutet nicht, Du solltest ihn als Person hassen, sondern als Vater, als Teil der hierarchischen Struktur. Das hängt für mich alles mit dem Heiligen Geist zusammen. Die Menschen scheinen nicht zu verstehen, dass ‘Heiliger Geist’ der erste Name für die Kommunistische Partei war.

Q            Sie kämpfen gegen das Konzept der Postmoderne. Mit einem gewissen Ernst. Sie lassen die Anführungszeichen weg.

A            Allerdings, ich kann den Jargon nicht leiden, bin aber auch gegen diese innere Distanz und gegen die erkenntnistheoretische Auslegung, die sich im Sinne Michel Foucaults weigert zu sagen: ‘Wir sind vernünftige Wesen’, sondern darauf besteht zu erklären, in welcher Episteme, unter welcher Bedingung und welcher diskursiven Potenz sie in der Lage wäre, eine Erklärung abzugeben, dass wir vernünftige Wesen sind.

Q            Der wahre Feind in dem Buch ist aber nicht die Postmoderne, sondern die Demokratie.

A            Vielleicht bin ich da etwas weit gegangen. Als ich jung war, wurde der Sozialismus üblicherweise mit dem Argument verteidigt: ‘Träum nicht vom idealen Sozialismus, das hier ist der wirkliche’. Genauso wie jetzt, das ist die wahre Demokratie, die real existierende Demokratie. Doch die Art von Gesellschaft, die sie repräsentiert, ist nicht so neutral wie es scheinen mag.

Q            Menschen wollen regiert werden.

A            Absolut, aber eben nicht immer. Es gibt Krisenzeiten in denen eine aktivere Beteiligung erforderlich ist, so etwas wie… Okay, jetzt nageln Sie mich nicht fest, ich bin der erste, der zugibt, dass er kein neues Modell hat, aber ich meine, wenn die Leute sich dann doch mobilisieren und zusammentun…

Q            Sie sagen aber auch, dass es nicht um kleinteiligen, politischen Aktivismus geht, sondern um die eine kollektive Bewegung.

A            Universell ja, das sollte es sein. Ich habe nicht ‘eine’ gesagt, sondern ‘universell’, weil die Probleme global sind. Das ist meine Antwort auf die große Frage, wo wir stehen. Ich bin aber absolut bereit, dem Teufel zuzugestehen, was dem Teufel gehört: Niemals in der Geschichte der Menschheit hat ein solch großer Prozentsatz von Menschen auf diesem hohen Standard gelebt, wie während der letzten 50 Jahren in den Wohlfahrtsstaaten Westeuropas. Mein Problem ist vielmehr, dass dieses Modell zu Ende geht .

Q            Aber nicht mit der Krise?

A            Nein, nein, ich bin kein naiver Marxist… Eher würde ich behaupten, die Krise sei in irgendeiner kapitalistischen Machtzentrale erfunden worden, um die Ohnmacht der Linken bloßzustellen.

Q            Sie zeigt also nicht die Schwäche des Kapitalismus, sondern die Ohnmacht der Linken?

A            Beides. Der Kapitalismus kann seine Gegner nicht besiegen. Der Traum von Francis Fukuyama ist im 21. Jahrhundert schon zwei Tode gestorben. Am 11. September und jetzt in der Krise.

Q            Und was kommt danach?

A            Neuer und effizienterer Kapitalismus.

Q            Schon wieder?

A            Schon wieder. Wenn wir den Kapitalismus bekämpfen wollen, brauchen wir neue Formen der Disziplin und der Solidarität, die eben nicht faschistisch sind.

Q            Sie wollen den Menschen Disziplin beibringen?

A            Eine gewisse Disziplin, ja …

Q            Geben Sie es zu, Sie sind für Terror.

A            Halt, warten Sie, warten Sie. Ich bin für Terror, aber nicht im herkömmlichen Sinne, dass die Geheimpolizei an die Tür klopft und Sie abholt. Aber ich bin für eine radikal existentielle Form von Terror. Oh mein Gott, wie soll ich das sagen…? Alle die Dinge, die ich am Ende meines Buches aufzähle… Okay, am Ende ist es die Ökologie. Um die ökologische Krise wirklich zu erfahren, müssen wir Terror verspüren, den Terror, den man spürt, wenn man den Boden unter den Füßen verliert. Deshalb bin ich gegen die simple Vorstellung von ‘Mutter Erde’, weil es uns vormacht, dass da noch etwas an Boden ist, wenn wir nur das natürliche Gleichgewicht wieder herstellen. Der wahre Terror jedoch zeigt sich, wenn wir feststellen, dass da nichts ist, wohin wir zurückkehren könnten. Wir müssen uns das Ausmaß der Katastrophe bewusst machen und wir brauchen eine Autorität um zu reagieren, sogar mit gewissen Elementen des Terrors.

Q            Und woher soll diese Autorität kommen?

A            Der Staat wird nicht ausreichen, er ist zu korrumpiert. Irgend eine Art von Selbstkontrolle muss neu erfunden werden…

Q            Selbstkontrolle wie in ‘Höflichkeit’?

A            Nein, nein, Maßnahmen, Strafe. Ich meine schon ein bisschen Terror.

Q            Doch ein bisschen Geheimpolizei?

A            Nein, Druck der Öffentlichkeit. Stellen Sie sich eine Gesellschaft vor, die am Verhungern ist…

Q            Aber das sind wir nicht.

A            Noch nicht, aber seien Sie nicht zu optimistisch. Katastrophen könnten passieren…

Q            Also muss etwas geschehen?

A            Ja, aber es kommt nicht von außen.

Q            Und dann ist der Kapitalismus am Ende?

A            Nein, da bin ich ehrlich. Aber der Kapitalismus wird Gegensätze schaffen, mit denen das liberal-demokratische System nicht fertig wird. Klar bin ich für Freiheit und Demokratie, es geht nicht um die Organisation einer dunklen leninistischen Partei um Terror einzuführen. Aber mit all den Problemen werden wir vor eine brutale Wahl gestellt werden, zwischen einer neuen rechten Apartheid-Gesellschaft mit sich abschottenden Gated Communities und einer Art Neuerfindung des Kommunismus. Beide mit Elementen des Terrors.

Q            Aber ist nicht China das perfekte Modell für soziale Disziplin?

A            Ein negatives Modell, in dem die kommunistische Elite sich zum Diener des explodierenden Kapitalismus gemacht hat und sich damit selbst rettet. Ich weiß nicht, was sich da genau entwickelt. Sehen Sie, eigentlich bin ich kein so schlechter Kerl, weil ich habe noch ein Argument für den Kapitalismus: In einer Diktatur, wie vor 20 Jahren in Korea, hat der Kapitalismus langfristig Demokratie erzeugt. Erfolgreicher Kapitalismus war ohne Demokratie nicht möglich. Aber mit China bin ich pessimistisch.

Q            Aber die Slums sehen sie als Ausgangspunkt für Hoffnung und Wandel?

A            Der Begriff ‘Proletarier’ als ‘ausgebeutete Arbeiter’ funktioniert heute nicht mehr, aber ich glaube, wir können verschiedenen proletarische Positionen lokalisieren. Eben nicht nur als Arbeiter verstanden, sondern…

Q            Als Ausgangspunkt um ein Kollektiv zu organisieren?

A            Wer bin ich, um das zu organisieren? Die müssen es tun, vielleicht aber auch nicht. Nein, nein…

Q            Nicht organisieren, sondern politisieren?

A            Nein, nein… Halt. Ich bin viel verzweifelter als es wirken mag. Ich sage nicht: Ooohh, all die Favela-Typen werden sich mit uns zusammentun und eine globale leninistische Partei gründen. Ich suche verzweifelt nach möglichen Orten, wo sich Menschen deutlich am Rand befinden, aber dennoch nicht so sehr am Rand, dass sie auf dem Weg in den Gulag wären. Also Ausgeschlossene, die noch Raum haben, um etwas zu tun.

Q            Ist Hugo Chávez ein Modell für Sie?

A            Chávez wird zu einem Fidel mit Geld, mehr und mehr verfällt er in diese üblichen populistischen Verteilungsstrategien des Staates… Die Geld-Falle! Aber er hat wirklich die Ausgeschlossenen politisch mobilisiert. Er und Evo Moralis. Es bleibt für ewig ihr Verdienst und alle sollten ihnen dankbar sein, weil so langfristig ein Bürgerkrieg verhindert wird.

Q            Und Lula nicht?

A            Nein, ich habe nichts gegen Lula, aber die Ausgeschlossenen hat er sicher nicht mobilisiert. Aber es ist ein Wunder, wie gut in Brasilien der Kompromiss funktioniert, wie enorm sich das Leben der Menschen verbessert hat. Obwohl ich ein Radikaler bin, habe ich dafür einen gewissen Respekt. Ich hasse die vereinfachenden Marxisten, wenn sie sagen: ‘Oh, er hat aber die grundlegenden, bürgerlichen Verhältnisse beibehalten!’ Verdammt, na und?

Q            Man nennt Sie den ‘gefährlichsten Philosophen des Westens.’

A            ‘Der Welt!’ Machen Sie mich nicht kleiner, ‘der Welt!’

Q            Und jetzt wollen Sie Disziplin und Höflichkeit in eine kollektive Bewegung schleusen?

A            Warum nicht? Höflichkeit ist eine beliebte Sache…

Q            Ja, ja, das ist sehr gut.

A            Ich glaube nicht, dass Menschen grundsätzlich brutal sind.

Q            Wir sind dafür! Sehr sogar, wir sind für die ‘Grosse Erzählung’. Aber wie wird das Virus verbreitet?

A            Na ja, auch hier ist meine Antwort sehr bescheiden: indem wir mehr und mehr die Ethik der Krisen spüren. Der Ökologie, der Konflikte in den Städten wie Paris… Menschen müssen irgendwie bewegt werden, um etwas zu tun. Dies ist die einzige Antwort. Jetzt fragen Sie: Und wenn nichts passiert? Das würde bedeuten, dass der Wohlfahrtsstaat irgendwie weitergeht, das wäre auch nicht allzu schlecht. Aber ich fürchte, so wird es nicht kommen.

Q            Das heißt wir werden nach und nach dazu gedrängt, Regeln aufzustellen?

A            Genau, im Kalten Krieg gab es unausgesprochene Regeln, die von allen respektiert wurden, die sind jetzt verschwunden. Als ich eine Art Welt-Polizei vorschlug, waren die Leute schockiert. Nehmen Sie einen relativ liberalen Präsidenten wie Clinton und ein Land wie Kongo. Warum nicht? Wenn Millionen von Menschen getötet werden, wäre es mir auch ziemlich egal, wenn der Teufel da reinginge um die minimale Ordnung wieder herzustellen.

Q            Also müssen Regeln, Disziplin und Höflichkeit her?

A            Erinnern Sie sich an den Krieg in Südossetien? Das war das Ergebnis schlechter Manieren. Die Regeln waren nicht klar und die Amerikaner wollten sehen, wie weit sie gehen können.

Q            Mit Michail Saakaschwili?

A            Der Idiot hat mit dem Angriff alles aufs Spiel gesetzt. Das war so dämlich… Was sollten die Russen seiner Meinung nach tun? Sie gaben die einzig vernünftige Antwort: ‘Entschuldigung, aber: No!’

Q            Was ist der Unterschied zwischen Höflichkeit und Respekt? Oder sogar Güte?

A            Ach, Güte, wenn Sie gütig zu mir sind, ist meine erste Reaktion…

Žižek schneidet eine Grimasse und lacht laut.

A            Respekt ist nicht präzise genug.

Q            Es ist nicht so vordergründig.

A            Und auch nicht genug, im Sinne von: ‘Ich respektiere dich, also lass uns ehrlich kämpfen.’ An Höflichkeit mag ich diesen entfremdeten Aspekt. Zum Beispiel treffen wir uns irgendwo zufällig auf der Straße: ‘Hallo, schön Sie zu sehen! Wie geht’s?’ Der Punkt ist nicht, ob wir es so meinen. Im Gegenteil, wenn der Andere es wirklich meint, wäre meine spontane Antwort: ‘Hau ab, es geht dich gar nichts an, wie es mir geht!’ Aber die Lüge schafft als Ritual Raum, und in diesem Raum behaupte ich, können Respekt und all das Zeug effizient funktionieren. Es gibt keine wirkliche Freiheit ohne Höflichkeit, Freiheit ohne Höflichkeit ist homo homini lupus.

Q            Höflichkeit, Disziplin und Respekt, okay. Aber für ein WIR brauchen wir noch Solidarität. Wo kommt die her?

A            Wir brauchen ein großes WIR. Das akzeptiere ich ganz und gar. Wir brauchen ein großes WIR, aber nicht nur diese Art von liberalem Zusammenschluss von Individuen, und auch nicht das alte archaische, organische, totalitäre WIR. Wir brauchen eine neue Form des WIR. Wenn Sie mich fragen, wo ich Modelle sehe,… Jetzt lachen Sie gleich, aber ich sehe ein paar schöne Tendenzen, vielleicht bin ich da zu romantisch. Wissen Sie, welche Fernsehserie ich mag? Das wird jetzt sehr naiv, aber kennen Sie ‘Heroes’? Es geht ungefähr so: Einige Leute haben übernatürliche Fähigkeiten, was sie zu Freaks macht, einer kann in der Zeit reisen, der andere mit Feuer werfen. Sie sind alle exkommuniziert und das macht sie zu einer seltsamen Gemeinde. Eine Solidarität der Freaks. Ich mag diese Idee sehr.

Q            Sie sind gerade 60 geworden und unsere letzte Frage…

A            Ob ich meine Jungfräulichkeit verloren habe?

Er lacht.

Q            Hannibal Lector, was sehen Sie, wenn Sie die Augen schließen?

Eine lange Pause, Stille.

A            Oh, da ist es sehr dunkel. Meine Träume müssen voller Katastrophen sein. Ich bin in der Regel repressiv, erinnere mich also nur selten, und wenn, nur vage, an ein Grauen. Manchmal behalte ich ein paar Szenen… Ich habe solche Angst vor dem Grauen, was da hochkommt, dass Einschlafen für mich Terror ist. Im Wesentlichen sind es Szenen einer Katastrophe. Eine Art sowjetisches Fiasko, mit einer riesigen runden und rostigen Atombombe, die über der Stadt hängt. Und ich gehe auf die Straße hinaus und schaue sie an und sie hat dieses… Unbewegliche. Wir wissen, dass sie in ein paar Sekunden explodieren wird. Und wir werden alle tot sein… Wir können nichts tun. Es ist sehr, sehr finster!

In diesem Augenblick sieht Slavoj Žižek aus dem Fenster. Glocken läuten ziemlich laut. Es ist 12 Uhr in Ljubljana.

Dummerweise taucht da keine hübsche nackte Frau auf. Und deshalb meine ich das wirklich ernst: Mein ganzes Bestreben ist es, an der Oberfläche zu bleiben. Ich glaube nicht an Tiefe. Wenn man tiefer in eine Person blickt, egal in wen, finden man Dreck. Ich glaube an die Oberfläche. Ich denke, wahre Metaphysik ist die Metaphysik der Oberfläche.

Die Glocken läuten immer noch sehr laut.

Deshalb mag ich auch ‘Die Maske’, den doofen Film mit Jim Carrey. Die magische Kraft kommt von der Oberfläche. Nimmst du die Maske ab, siehst du nur ein dummes Gesicht. Ich glaube an Masken.

Q            Aber Sie sind ein Linker?

A            Ein progressiver Kommunist, aber gleichzeitig radikaler Kulturpessimist. Politisch links sein beinhaltet immer automatisch diese unbeschwerte Sicht auf die menschliche Natur als etwas grundsätzlich Gutes. Nein, ich glaube, die Leute sind grundsätzlich böse, also traue niemandem! Wenn jemand gut ist, dann aus Versehen. Es kommt über einen wie ein Wunder, völlig dem Charakter widersprechend. Ich habe mal diese wunderbare Geschichte über einen Mann gehört, der sich gegen Hitler gestellt hat. Einer der antisemitischen, konservativen Offiziere, der ganz oben stand und plötzlich war er so angewidert und fing an, Hitler Widerstand zu leisten. Dann wurde er erwischt und erschossen. Etwas in ihm sagte: ‘Jetzt ist es genug!’ Ganz plötzlich, völlig ohne Bezug zu seinem Charakter, eine Art göttliche Gnade. Mit Giordano Bruno war es das gleiche. Das ist Ethik! Ethik ist für mich immer ein Moment der Gnade, sie kommt aus dem Nichts. Materialistische Gnade, verstehen Sie? Wenn man etwas Großes tut, dann ist es nicht tief in einem drin. Die unentdeckte Perle gibt es nicht. Die Perle ist immer Dreck.

Q            Also brauchen wir eine neue Ontologie?

A            Die haben wir. In der Psychoanalyse: Lacan!