Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Slavoj Zizek, Facebook, and the Echo Chamber

I'll try to keep this short, although I certainly have more to say about it than just a few paragraphs.  Yesterday, I reposted Slavoj Zizek's article "The Sexual is Political", highlighting a few points in the article that I thought were particularly insightful.  And then my post was either reported or algorithmically culled, and I lost posting privileges for an hour or more.

Essentially (and my interpretation could be incorrect), Zizek is saying that the social justice movement that aims to eliminate or expand our ideas about sexuality and gender contains its own antagonist, meaning it reinforces that which it intends to destroy.  The Ouroboros.  That is, that the argument will continue ad infinitum, or it will collapse in on itself.  In creating an ever-expanding list of categories to define gender (LGBTQQIAAP+), it props up the male/female dichotomy as the antagonist.  It cannot exist by itself without that other point of departure.  So, the solution that he seems to advocate is creating a general category for gender, or an un-category.

The part that people seem to take issue with is that he points out, in the infinite regress of categorization, we are setting a foundation for the recognition of even further divisions, almost speaking into existence a problem that didn't exist before.  He uses the analogy of bestiality to accomplish this.  Knowing Zizek as a "pervert" and provocateur, this isn't shocking.  He isn't conflating gender identity and sexuality with bestiality at all; rather, he is stating that a foundation for infinite regress is being established.

This brings me to my censorship.  I was in no way supporting or advocating Zizek's argument as a whole.  I just found aspects of the article interesting, particularly the idea that the more marginalized and excluded the new Left categorizes you, the more they support your assertion of identity.  This is an example of the ideology curving in on itself, and thus performing the job of the Far Right (which I think is a valid point to make).  Since this is critical of new Left ideology, they are quick to label it fascist and eligible for censorship.  There's the problem.  In trying to cleanse the general living space for these marginalized identities, the Left is advocating a type of social privilege where everyone is able to live in their own proverbial bubble, as if the rest of the world does not exist.  The fact is, however, that these "aberrations" in thought will never disappear, and trying to remove them from the discourse is simply immature at best...  and of course, it is totalitarian at its worst.  The only way to clean and homogenize an entire discourse is through the suppression of dissident thought, of which the inevitable outcome is a marginalized subculture (real or perceived).

This is why the alt-right exists.  This is why otherwise intelligent young white males are voting for Trump.  

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