Nader Doing Well in Florida

Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Mon Sep 25 09:35:20 PDT 2000

Speaking of polls, everyone's favorite political psychoanalyst, Slavoj Zizek, said this in a recent talk:

>An act is thus the intervention which goes against the predominant
>opinion; to put it in the old Platonic terms, it asserts Truth
>against the mere doxa. Here, however, the gap that separates us from
>Plato, i.e. the absence of the dimension of subjectivity in Plato,
>becomes palpable: to put it in (inappropriate) modern terms, in
>Plato, opinions are "merely subjective," while Truth is "objective,"
>it renders the actual state of things. In the space of modern
>subjectivity, however, the relationship is inverted: doxa is
>"objective," it registers how things "really are," opinion polls
>tell us what people think, while the act intervenes into this actual
>state of things with a subjective wager. Let us imagine a situation
>in which one has to take a radical measure which may appear
>"unpopular" according to the opinion polls. The mistake of the
>opinion polls is that they forget to comprehend the impact on the
>opinion of the "unpopular" gesture itself: AFTER this gesture is
>accomplished, the opinion is not the same as BEFORE. The clear
>negative examples is the candidacy of Edward Kennedy for American
>Presidency: before he formally announced it, he was a sure winner in
>the polls, but the moment he formally proclaimed his candidacy, i.e.
>the moment voters had effectively to take into account the ACTUAL
>FACT of his candidacy, his support quickly vanished. Another
>imagined case would have been that of a popular charismatic leader
>who blackmails his party: if you do not follow my politics, I'll
>drop you, and the opinion polls show that, if I drop you, you will
>loss half the votes... Here, the act would have been to do PRECISELY
>THIS, to take the leader at his word and provoke him to quit: such a
>gesture MAY change the whole public perception of the party from a
>bunch of compromisers kept in check by the leader to a political
>body with a consistent principled stance, and thus turn around the
>opinion itself.

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