Violence reaction

February 21, 2008

Julian Baggini in his review of Slavoj Zizek's Violence (Book of the Week, 14 February) accuses Zizek of over-egging the paradoxical pudding and being a living paradox. A further paradox missed by Baggini, however, was that of an editor of The Philosophers' Magazine heraldically failing to spot the irony of his own review's ad hominem tone in the context of the book being reviewed. As Baggini himself notes, the key theme of Violence is our systemic tendency to privilege the subjective over the objective, ironically a tendency amply borne out by his own review's overweening disparagement of Lacan and personalised comments about Zizek.

Baggini also complains that Zizek does not provide empirical evidence that George Soros has "ruined the lives of thousands". The subjective/objective distinction in Violence is used to argue that Soros's personal qualities do not absolve him from his objective complicity in the harm caused by the capitalist system in which he so profitably speculates. The empirical evidence of such harm is there to see for all who would care to look, but as just one example of the West's systematic myopia in the face of suffering, Zizek points out: "The Congo today has effectively re-emerged as a Conradean 'heart of darkness'. No one dares to confront it head on."

Paul A. Taylor
Senior lecturer in communications theory
University of Leeds

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