Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Fri Nov 19 08:00:07 PST 1999

Sam Pawlett wrote:

>Doug Henwood wrote:
> >
> > Actually I was using "Zizekian" as a shorthand for taking collective
> > fantasy seriously as a political category. That applies to the day
> > care scandals and to the body-part thieving stories that Maureen
> > mentioned - I don't think the kinds of political analyses our more
> > hardheaded members subscribe to are up to the task.
>What task and why not? What is it exactly that needs explaining and what
>is Zizek analyzing and what he does he think needs explaining?

People believe, often passionately, things that seem "irrational." Why is that? Why do people believe that immigrants are "stealing" "our" jobs, or that finance is a conspiracy of Jews? (I picked these two examples because they're persistent and powerful and because Zizek has good analyses of both.) You can call these "prejudices," which they are in a sense, but where do they come from and why do they persist? I think questions like that are very important for understanding politics, but some people don't. For those who don't, it's enough to label the phenomenon "mass hysteria," or to blame the ruling class for stuffing bad ideas into the heads of the masses. Even if you accept the head-stuffing argument, you have to wonder why some ideas stick in those massy heads and others don't.


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