my sisters and brothers over at OrgTheory have long since posted this, and it went a round or two around Facebook, I really feel compelled to share the Al Jazeera hosted (the Riz Khan show) discussion of democracy in Egypt between Tariq Ramadan and Zizek. As was said there:
The main point: no outcome—whether it be the mythic Western-style liberal democracy, the feared Islamic theocracy, or something altogether different—is predestined in Egypt.
A few notes:
1. Notice the “stats boards” that pop up first next to Zizek and then Ramadan, listing their….qualifications? Credentials? Zizek must wither under the curious back-handed compliment of being “the Elvis of Philosophy” while Ramadan’s personal academic achievements are topped by “Grandfather started Muslim Brotherhood” (I assume this is meant to cause American viewers to squeal in fear, as the Muslim Brotherhood serves as a kind of Boogieman ’round here) and bookended with “banned in six Muslim countries.” Without further comment, I must assume he has been banned for copyright violation of that Blue Steel (TM) look he’s got going.
2. Notice when the news reader reports that witches and sorcerers in Saudi Arabia are being supplied with military weapons by the U.S.? No? Well, then you’ll never make it as an American newscaster. I’m just saying. That’s how this works. And in America, we’d for sure follow our journalistic ethics and find some wackjob who was willing to present the “alternative viewpoint” which, in this case, is an argument that Arabs aren’t ready for democracy. Except that Tony Blair basically already made that argument.
3. Zizek (around the 12 minute mark) claims that Americans paid Iraqis to tear down the Hussein statue. If you want a journalist’s personal view, having been present on that day, read the Maass article “The Toppling” in the New Yorker. It differs from what Zizek has been told, and chooses to believe.
4. Zizek means Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner, not Tom and Jerry, at the 21 minute mark. And he’s right–it’s a marvellous analogy for how some forms of power are dissembled. However, it is an analogy without a specification of causes–certainly, not all power, once its foundationlessness is revealed, must fall.