......• Leninism Today: Zionism and the Jewish Question •

.........Slavoj Zizek

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The fate of Joze Jurancic, an old Slovene Communist revolutionary, stands out as a perfect metaphor for the twists of Stalinism. In 1943, when Italy capitulated, Jurancic led a rebellion of Yugoslav prisoners in a concentration camp on the Adriatic island of Rab: under his leadership, 2000 starved prisoners single-handedly disarmed 2200 Italian soldiers. After the war, he was arrested and put in a prison on a nearby small Goli otok ("naked island"), a notorious Communist concentration camp. While there, he was mobilized in 1953, together with other prisoners, to build a monument to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 1943 rebellion on Rab – in short, as a prisoner of Communists, Jurancic was building a monument TO HIMSELF, to the rebellion led by him… If poetic (not justice but, rather) injustice means anything, this was it: is the fate of this revolutionary not the fate of the entire people under the Stalinist dictatorship, of the millions who, first, heroically overthrew the ancient regime in the revolution, and, then, enslaved to the new rules, are forced to build monuments to their own revolutionary past? This revolutionary is thus effectively a "universal singular," an individual whose fate stands for the fate of all. [1]

What makes the position of this revolutionary more than simply tragic is a kind of convoluted, second level, "reflexive" betrayal: first you sacrifice everything for the (Communist) cause, then you are rejected by (the bearers of) this Cause itself, finding yourself in a kind of empty space with nothing, no point of identification, to hold on. Is there not something similar in today’s position of those who, a decade and a half ago, when US was fully supporting Saddam in his war against Iran, were drawing attention to Saddam’s use of the WMD and his other horrors, and were ignored by the US state apparatus – and who now have to listen to the mantra of Saddam-a-brutal-criminal-dictator turned against themselves? The problem with the claim about Saddam being a war criminal is not that it is false, but that the US administration has no right to utter it without admitting its own responsibility in Saddam’s stay in power – the surprised late discovery that Saddam is a brutal dictator sounds like Stalin’s surprised discovery, in the late 1930, that Yezhov, the head of NKVD who organized the terror, was responsible for the death of thousands of innocent Communists...

The ultimate dimension of the irony of such a convoluted situation – that of being reduced to a prisoner building monuments to oneself - is nonetheless something inherent to Stalinism, in contrast to Fascism: it is in Stalinism only that people are enslaved on behalf of the ideology which claims that theirs is all power. The first thing one cannot but take note of apropos the Stalinist discourse is its contagious nature: the way (almost) everyone likes to mockingly imitate it, use its terms in different political contexts, etc., in clear contrast to Fascism. Not only this: in the last decade, we are witnessing in most post-Communist countries the process of inventing the Communist tradition. The Communist past is recreated as a cultural and life-style phenomenon, products which, decades ago, were perceived as a miserable copy of the Western "true thing" (the Eastern versions of cola-drinks, of hand lotions, the low quality refrigerators and washing machines, the popular music...) are not only fondly remembered and sometimes even displayed in museums – sometimes, they are even successfully put on the market again (like the Florena hand lotion in the GDR). The political aspect of the Communiust past – in its good and bad aspects, from the emancipatory dream to the Stalinist terror - is erased, replaced by everyday objects which evoke the vision of a simple and modest, but for this very reason more happy, content, satisfying life than the stressful dynamics of capitalism. The process of the creation of new Nation-States out of the disintegration of Communist "empires" thus follows the logic of what, with regard to the rise of capitalism, Marx described as the priority of the formal subsumption of the forces of production under the capital over the material subsumption: a society was first formally subsumed under the Nation-State, and then followed by elaborating its ideological content (fabricating the tradition that grounds this Nation-State). - In short, Stalinism is not prohibited in the same way as Nazism: even if we are fully aware of its monstrous aspects, one finds Ostalgie acceptable: Goodbye Lenin is tolerated, "Goodbye Hitler" not – why? Or, another example: in today's Germany, there are on the market many CD's with old DDR revolutionary and party songs, from "Stalin, Freund, Genosse" to Die Partei hat immer Recht - but we look in vain for a CD with the Nazi party songs...

Already at the anecdotal level, the difference between the Fascist and the Stalinist universe is obvious; say, in the Stalinist show trials, the accused has to publicly confess his crimes and to give an account of how he came to commit them – in start contrast to Nazism, in which it would be meaningless to demand from a Jew the confession that he was involved in a Jewish plot against the German nation. This difference points towards the different attitude towards Enlightenment: Stalinism still conceived itself as part of the Enlightenment tradition, within which truth is accessible to any rational man, no matter how depraved he is, which is why he is subjectively responsible for his crimes, [2] in contrast to the Nazis, for whom the guilt of the Jews is a direct fact of their very biological constitution; one does not have to prove that they are guilty, they are guilty solely by being Jews – why? The key is provided by the sudden rise, in the Western ideological imaginary, of the figure of the wandering „eternal Jew" in the age of Romanticism, i.e., precisely when, in real life, with the explosion of capitalism, features attributed to Jews expanded into the whole of society (since commodity exchange became hegemonic). It was thus at the very moment when Jews were deprived of their specific properties which made it easy to distinguish them from the rest of the population, and when the "Jewish question" was "resolved" at the political level by the formal emancipation of the Jews, i.e., by granting Jews the same rights as to all other "normal" Christian citizens, that their "curse" was inscribed into their very being – they were no longer ridiculous misers and usurers, but demoniac heroes of eternal damnation, haunted by an unspecified and unspeakable guilt, condemned to wander around and longing to find redemption in death. So it was precisely when the specific figure of the Jew disappeared that the ABSOLUTE Jew emerged, and this transformation conditioned the shift of anti-Semitism from theology to race: their damnation was their race, they were not guilty for what they did (exploit the Christians, murder their children, rape their women, or, ultimately, betray and murder Christ), but for what they WERE – is it necessary to add that this shift laid the foundations for the holocaust, for the physical annihilation of the Jews as the only appropriate final solution of their "problem"? Insofar as Jews were identified by a series of their properties, the goal was to convert them, to turn them into Christians; but from the moment that Jewishness concerns their very being, only annihilation can solve the "Jewish question."

It is none other than Nietzsche who proposed the correct materialist intervention destined to "traverse the /anti-Semitic/ fantasy": in No. 251 of Beyond Good and Evil, he proposed, as a way to "breed a new caste that would rule over Europe," the mixing of the German and the Jewish race, which would combine the German ability of "giving orders and obeying" with the Jewish genius of "money and patience." [3] The ingenuity of this solution is that if combines two fantasies which are a priori incompatible, which cannot meet each other in the same symbolic space, as in the English publicity spot for a beer from a couple of years ago. Its first part stages the well-known fairy-tale anecdote: a girl walks along a stream, sees a frog, takes it gently into her lap, kisses it, and, of course, the ugly frog miraculously turns into a beautiful young man. However, the story isn't over yet: the young man casts a covetous glance at the girl, draws her towards himself, kisses her - and she turns into a bottle of beer which the man holds triumphantly in his hand... We have either a woman with a frog or a man with a bottle of beer - what we can never obtain is the "natural" couple of the beautiful woman and man - why not? Because the fantasmatic support of this "ideal couple" would have been the inconsistent figure of a frog embracing a bottle of beer. This, then, opens up the possibility of undermining the hold a fantasy exerts over us through the very over-identification with it, i.e. by way of embracing simultaneously, within the same space, the multitude of inconsistent fantasmatic elements. That is to say, each of the two subjects is involved in his or her own subjective fantasizing - the girl fantasizes about the frog who is really a young man, the man about the girl who is really a bottle of beer. What modern art and writing oppose to this is not objective reality but the "objectively subjective" underlying fantasy which the two subjects are never able to assume, something similar to a Magrittesque painting of a frog embracing a bottle of beer, with a title "A man and a woman" or "The ideal couple". And is this not exactly what Nietzsche does in his proposal? Is his formula of the new race mixed from Germans and Jews not his "frog with a bottle of beer"?

It is precisely on account of the legacy of Enlightenment that, as Jean-Claude Milner put it, comparing Rousseau to the Stalinist show trials, "in the matter of confessions, Geneva does not necessarily win over Moscow." [4] In the Stalinist ideological imaginary, the universal Reason is objectivized in the guise of the inexorable laws of historical progress and we are all its servants, the leader included – which is why, after a Nazi leader delivers a speech and the crowd applauds, he just stands and silently accepts the applause, positing himself as its addressee, while in Stalinism, when the obligatory applause explodes at the end of the leader's speech, the leader stands up and joins others in applauding. [5] Recall the wonderful detail from the beginning of Lubitch's To Be or not to Be: when Hitler enters a room, all the Nazi officers in the room raise their hands into a Nazi salute and shout their »Heil Hitler!«; in reply to it, Hitler himself raises his hand and says: "Heil myself!" - in Hitler's case, this is pure humor, a thing which could not happen in reality, while Stalin effectively could (and did) "hail himself" when he joined others in applauding himself. For this same reason, on Stalin's birthday, the prisoners were sending telegrams to Stalin, wishing him all the best and the success of Socialism, even from the darkest gulags like Norilsk or Vorkuta, while one cannot even imagine Jews from Auschwitz sending Hitler a telegram for his birthday... Crazy and tasteless as this may sound, this last distinction bears witness to the fact that the opposition between Stalinism and Nazism was the opposition between civilization and barbarism: Stalinism did not cut the last threat that linked it to civilization. This is why the biggest war of the XXth century, the World War II, was the war in which Stalinist Communist AND capitalist democracies fought together against Fascism. [6] This is also why we do not find in Nazism anything that could be compared to the "humanist" dissident Communists, those who went even up to risking their physical survival in fighting what they perceived as the "bureaucratic deformation" of Socialism in the USSR and its empire: in the Nazi Germany, there were no figures who advocated "Nazism with a human face"… Therein resides the flaw (and the secret bias) of all attempts a la Nolte to adopt a neutral position of "objectively comparing Fascism and Stalinism," i.e., of the line of argumentation which asks: "If we condemn Nazis for illegally killing millions, why do we not apply the same standards to Communism? If Heidegger cannot be pardoned his brief Nazi engagement, why can Lukacs and Brecht and others be pardoned their much longer Stalinist engagement?" In today’s constellation, such a position automatically means privileging Fascism over Communism, i.e., more concretely, reducing Nazism to a reaction to - and repetition of - the practices already found in Bolshevism (struggle to death against the political enemy, terror and concentration camps), so that the "original sin" is that of Communism.

The proper task is thus to think the TRAGEDY of the October Revolution: to perceive its greatness, its unique emancipatory potential, and, simultaneously, the HISTORICAL NECESSITY of its Stalinist outcome. One should oppose both temptations: the Trotskyte notion that Stalinism was ultimately a contingent deviation, as well as the notion that the Communist project is, in its very core, totalitarian. In the third volume of his supreme biography of Trotsky, Isaac Deutscher makes a perspicuous observation about the forced collectivization of the late 1920s:


/…/ having failed to work outwards and to expand and being compressed within the Soviet Union, that dynamic force turned inwards and began once again to reshape violently the structure of Soviet society. Forcible industrialization and collectivization were now substitutes for the spread of revolution, and the liquidation of the Russian kulaks was the Ersatz for the overthrow of the bourgeois rule abroad. [7]

Apropos Napoleon, Marx once wrote that the Napoleonic wars were a kind of export of revolutionary activity: since, with Thermidor, the revolutionary agitation was quenched, the only way to give an outlet to it was to displace it towards the outside, to re-channel it into war against other states. Is the collectivization of the late 1920s not the same gesture turned around? When the Russian revolution (which, with Lenin, explicitly conceived itself as the first step of a pan-European revolution, as a process which can only survive at accomplish itself through an all-European revolutionary explosion) remained alone, constrained to one country, the energy had to be released in a thrust inwards… It is in this direction that one should qualify the standard Trotskite designation of Stalinism as the Napoleonic Thermidor of the October Revolution: the "Napoleonic" moment was rather the attempt, at the end of the civil war in 1920, to export revolution with military means, the attempt with failed with the defeat of the Red Army in Poland; if anyone, it was Tukhachevsky who effectively was a potential Bolshevik Napoleon.

The twists of contemporary politics render palpable a kind of Hegelian dialectical law: a fundamental historical task that "naturally" expresses the orientation of one political block can only be accomplished by the opposite block. In Argentina a decade ago, it was Menem, elected on a populist platform, who pursued tight monetary politics and the IMF-agenda of privatizations much more radically than his "liberal" market-oriented radical opponents. In France in 1960, it was the conservative de Gaulle (and not the Socialists) who broke the Gordian knot by giving full independence to Alger. It was the conservative Nixon who established diplomatic relations between the US and China. It was the "hawkish" Begin who concluded the Camp David treaty with Egypt. Or, further back in Argentinean history, in 1830s and 1840s, the heyday of the struggle between "barbarian" Federalists (representatives of provincial cattle-owners) and "civilized" Unitarians (merchants etc. from Buenos Aires interested in a strong central state), it was Juan Manuel Rosas, the Federalist populist dictator, who established a centralist system of government, much stronger than Unitarians dared to dream. The same logic was at work in the crisis of the Soviet Union of the second half of the 1920s: in 1927, the ruling coalition of Stalinists and Bukharinists, pursuing the policy of appeasement of the private farmers, was ferociously attacking the Left united Opposition of Trotskists and Zinovievists who called for the accelerated industrialization and the fights against rich peasants (higher taxes, collectivization). One can imagine the surprise of the Left Opposition when, in 1928, Stalin enforced a sudden "Leftist" turn, imposing a politics of fast industrialization and brutal collectivization of land, not only stealing their program, but even realizing it in a much more brutal way they dared to imagine – their criticism of Stalin as a "Thermidorian" Right-winger all of a sudden became meaningless. No wonder that many Trotskytes recanted and joined the Stalinists who, at the very moment of the ruthless extermination of the Trotskist faction, realized their program. Communist parties knew how to apply "the rule which permitted the Roman Church to endure for two thousand years: condemn those whose politics one takes over, canonize those from whom one does not take anything." [8] And, incidentally, there was the same tragic-comic misunderstanding in Yugoslavia of the early 1970s: after the large student demonstrations, where, along the calls for democracy, accusations that the ruling Communists pursue the politics which favors the new "rich" technocrats were heard, the Communist counter-attack that stifled all opposition was legitimized, among others, by the idea that Communists heard the message of the student protests and were meeting their demands… Therein resides the tragedy of the Leftist Communist opposition which pursued the oxymoron of the anti-market "radical" economic politics combined with the calls for direct and true democracy.

So where do we stand today? Is the deadlock complete? A century ago, Vilfredo Pareto was the first to describe the so-called 80/20 rule of (not only) social life: 80 % of land is owned by 20 % of people, 80 % of profits are produced by 20 % of the employees, 80 % of decisions are made during 20 % of meeting time, 80 % of the links on the Web point to less than 20 % of Web-pages, 80 % of peas are produced by 20 % of the peapods… As some social analysts and economists suggested, today’s explosion of economic productivity confronts us with the ultimate case of this rule: the coming global economy tends towards a state in which only 20 % of the workforce can do all the necessary job, so that 80 % of the people are basically irrelevant and of no use, potentially unemployed.

This 80/20 rule follows from what is called "scale-free networks" in which a small number of nodes with the greatest number of links is followed by an ever larger number of nodes with an ever smaller number of links. Say, among any group of people, a small number of them know (have links to) a large number of other people, while the majority of people know only a small number of people – social networks spontaneously form "nodes," people with large number of links to other people. In such a scale-free network, competition remains: while the overall distribution remains the same, the identity of top nodes changes all the time, a late-comer replacing the earlier winners. However, some of the networks can pass the critical threshold beyond which competition breaks down and the winner takes it all: one node grabs all the links, leaving none for the rest – this is what basically happened with Microsoft which emerged as the privileged node: it grabbed all the links, i.e., we have to relate to him in order to communicate with other entities. The big structural question is, of course: what defines the threshold, which networks tend to pass the threshold, above which competition breaks down and the winner takes it all? [9]

If, then, today's "postindustrial" society needs less and less workers to reproduce itself (20 % of the working force, on some accounts), then it is not workers who are in excess, but the Capital itself. – However, unemployed are only one among the many candidates for today’s "universal individual," for a particular group whose fate stands for the injustice of today’s world: Palestinians, Guantanamo prisoners… Palestine is today the site of a potential event precisely because all the standard "pragmatic" solutions to the "Middle East crisis" repeatedly fail, so that a utopian invention of a new space is the only "realistic" choice. Furthermore, Palestinians are a good candidate on account of their paradoxical position of being the victims of the ultimate Victims themselves (Jews), which, of course, puts them in an extremely difficult spot: when they resist, their resistance can immediately be denounced as a prolongation of anti-Semitism, as a secret solidarity with the Nazi "final solution." Indeed, if – as Lacanian Zionists like to claim – Jews are the objet petit a among nations, the troubling excess of Western history, how can one resist them with impunity? Is it possible to be the objet a of objet a itself? It is precisely this ethical blackmail that one should reject. [10]

However, there is a privileged site in this series: what if the new proletarian position is those of the inhabitants of slums in the new megalopolises? The explosive growth of slums in the last decades, especially in the Third World megalopolises from Mexico City and other Latin American capitals through Africa (Lagos, Chad) to India, China, Philippines and Indonesia, is perhaps the crucial geopolitical event of our times. [11] The case of Lagos, the biggest node in the shanty-town corridor of 70 million people that stretches from Abidjan to Ibadan, is exemplary here: according to the official sources themselves, about two thirds of the Lagos State total land mass of 3.577 square kilometers could be classified as shanties or slums; no one even knows the size of its population – officially it is 6 million, but most experts estimate it at 10 million. Since, sometime very soon (or maybe, given the imprecision of the Third World censuses, it already happened), the urban population of the earth will outnumber the rural population, and since slum inhabitants will compose the majority of the urban population, we are in no way dealing with a marginal phenomenon. We are thus witnessing the fast growth of the population outside the state control, living in conditions half outside the law, in terrible need of the minimal forms of self-organization. Although their population is composed of marginalized laborers, redundant civil servants and ex-peasants, they are not simple a redundant surplus: they are incorporated into the global economy in numerous ways, many of them working as informal wage workers or self-employed entrepreneurs, with no adequate health or social security coverage. (The main source of their rise is the inclusion of the Third World countries in the global economy, with cheap food imports from the First World countries ruining local agriculture.) They are the true "symptom" of slogans like "Development," "Modernization," and "World Market": not an unfortunate accident, but a necessary product of the innermost logic of global capitalism. [12]

No wonder that the hegemonic form of ideology in slums is the Pentecostal Christianity, with its mixture of charismatic miracles-and-spectacles-oriented fundamentalism and of social programs like community kitchens and taking care of children and old. While, of course, one should resist the easy temptation to elevate and idealize the slum dwellers into a new revolutionary class, one should nonetheless, in Badiou’s terms, perceive slums as one of the few authentic "evental sites" in today’s society – the slum-dwellers are literally a collection of those who are the "part of no part," the "surnumerary" element of society, excluded from the benefits of citizenship, the uprooted and dispossessed, those who effectively "have nothing to loose but their chains." It is effectively surprising how many features of slum dwellers fit the good old Marxist determination of the proletarian revolutionary subject: they are "free" in the double meaning of the word even more than the classic proletariat ("freed" from all substantial ties; dwelling in a free space, outside the police regulations of the state); they are a large collective, forcibly thrown together, "thrown" into a situation where they have to invent some mode of being-together, and simultaneously deprived of any support in traditional ways of life, in inherited religious or ethnic life-forms.

Of course, there is a crucial break between the slum-dwellers and the classic Marxist working class: while the latter is defined in the precise terms of economic "exploitation" (the appropriation of surplus-value generated by the situation of having to sell one’s own labor force as a commodity on the market), the defining feature of the slum-dwellers is socio-political, it concerns their (non)integration into the legal space of citizenship with (most of) its incumbent rights – to put it in somewhat simplified terms, much more than a refugee, a slum-dweller is a homo sacer, the systemically generated "living dead" of global capitalism. He is a kind of negative of the refugee: a refugee from his own community, the one whom the power is not trying to control through concentration, where (to repeat the unforgettable pun from Ernst Lubitch’s To Be Or Not to Be) those in power do the concentrating while the refugees do the camping, but pushed into the space of the out-of-control; in contrast to the Foucauldian micro-practices of discipline, a slum-dweller is the one with regard to whom the power renounces its right to exert full control and discipline, finding it more appropriate to let him dwell in the twilight zone of slums. [13]

What one finds in the "really-existing slums" is, of course, a mixture of improvised modes of social life, from religious "fundamentalist" groups hold together by a charismatic leader and criminal gangs up to germs of new "socialist" solidarity. The slum dwellers are the counter-class to the other newly emerging class, the so-called "symbolic class" (managers, journalists and PR people, academics, artists, etc.) which is also uprooted and perceives itself as directly universal (a New York academic has more in common with a Slovene academic than with blacks in Harlem half a mile from his camps). Is this the new axis of class struggle, or is the "symbolic class" inherently split, so that one can make the emancipatory wager on the coalition between the slum-dwellers and the "progressive" part of the symbolic class? What we should be looking for are the signs of the new forms of social awareness that will emerge from the slum collectives: they will be the germs of future.


[1] What this means is that, precisely on account of the unbearable horror of Stalinism, any direct moralistic portrayal of Stalinism as evil misses its target – it is only through what Kierkegardian called "indirect communication," by way of practicing a kind of irony, that one can render its horror.

[2] Another sign of the Enlightenment legacy: if there is one proposition which condenses Stalinist politics, it is the "anti-essentialist" motif, repeated endlessly in his works: "Everything depends on circumstances."

[3] Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Oxford: OUP 1998, par. 251.

[4] Jean-Claude Milner, Le periple structural, Paris: Editions du Seuil 2002, p. 214.

[5] The mutual fascination between Stalin and the Russian writers who are today perceived as "dissidents," displays not only Stalin’s belief in the secret wisdom of poets but, even more, the weird conviction of the writers themselves that Stalin, this total Master, a kind of Freudian primordial father (Ur-Vater), detains a mysterious insight into the ultimate secrets of life and death. In April 1930, Stalin unexpectedly phoned Bulgakov to convince him not to emigrate; after assuring him that he will get a job at the Art Theater, he added: "We should meet, to talk together." Bulgakov immediately replied: "Yes, yes! Iosif Vissarionovich, I really need to talk to you." After this, Stalin unexpectedly cut the conversation. (Quoted from Solomon Volkov, Shostakovich and Stalin, New York: Little, Brown 2004, p. 90.) A similar thing happened to Pasternak in June 1934, when he got a phone call from Stalin, asking him about Mandelstam who was at that time out of mercy and in exile: "This is Stalin. Are you interceding on behalf of your friend Mandelstam?" Fearing a trap, the confused Pasternak replied: "We were never actually friends. Rather the reverse. I found it difficult dealing with him. But I’ve always wanted dreamed about talking to you. About life and death." Stalin cut here the conversation short, reprimanding Shostakovich for not standing for his friend: "We old Bolsheviks never deny our friends. And I have no reason to talk to you about other things."(Volkov, op.cit., p. 106.) The same ambiguous fascination is clearly discernible in Shostakovich and Meyerhold, and even in Mandelstam.

[6] One of the standard arguments of rabid anti-Communists concerns the number of secret agents in, respectively, Communist countries and the Nazi Germany: the ex-GDR, with its ten million inhabitants, had 100.000 fully employed secret police agents to control its population, while Gestapo covered ENTIRE Germany with cca 10000 fully employed agents... However, what this argument demonstrates is rather the opposite: the degree of participation of the "ordinary" Germans in the political terror – there was no need of a larger number of agents for the massive network of denunciations to function, since Gestapo could rely on the cooperation of the wide circles of civil society. In other words, the massive moral corruption was much stronger in Nazism than in Communism.

[7] Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Outcast, London: Verso Books 2003, p. 88.

[8] Jean-Claude Milner, Le periple structural, p. 213.

[9] See Chapters 6 and 8 in Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, Linked, New York: Plume 2003.

[10] Elie Wiesel sees the holocaust as equal to the revelation at Sinai in its religious significance: attempts to 'desanctify' or 'demystify' the Holocaust are a subtle form of anti-Semitism. In this type of discourse, holocaust is effectively elevated into a unique agalma, hidden treasure, objet a of the Jews – they are ready to give up everything except holocaust... Recently, after I was attacked by a Jewish Lacanian for being a covert anti-Semite, I asked a common friend why this extreme reaction? His reply: "You should understand the guy – he does not want the Jews to be deprived of the holocaust, the focal point of their lives..."

[11] See the excellent report of Mike Davis, "Planet of Slums. Urban Revolution and the Informal Proletariat," New Left Review 26 (March/April 2004).

[12] Are then slum-dwellers not to be classified as that what Marx, with barely concealed contempt, dismissed as "lumpen-proletariat," the degenerate "refuse" of all classes which, when politicized, as a rule serves as the support of proto-Fascist and Fascist regimes (in Marx’s case, of Napoleon III)? A closer analysis should focus on the changed structural role of these "lumpen" elements in the conditions of global capitalism (especially large-scale migrations).

[13] The precise Marxian definition of the proletarian position is: substanceless subjectivity which emerges when a certain structural short-circuit occurs - not only producers exchange their products on the market, but there are producers who are forced to sell on the market not the product of their labor, but directly their working force as such. It is here, through this redoubled/reflected alienation, that the surplus-object emerges: surplus-value is literally correlative to the emptied subject, it is the objectal counterpart of $. This redoubled alienation means that not only "social relations appear as relations between things," as in every market economy, but that the very core of subjectivity itself is posited as equivalent to a thing. One should be attentive here to the paradox of universalization: market economy can only become universal when working force itself is also sold on the market as a commodity, i.e., there can be no universal market economy with the majority of producers selling their products.

Slavoj Zizek's Bibliography

Slavoj Zizek's Chronology

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