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Posts Tagged ‘CONartists’

Slavoj Žižek is Just Another CONartist aka Modern “Public Intellectual”

May 2, 2019 7 comments

Some time ago, a reader asked me about my thoughts on Slavoj Žižek. I believe this request was linked to a recent public debate between him and Jordan Peterson. As some might remember, I had previously written a short series about the another CONartist aka Jordan Peterson. And let me be upfront about something else.. I have always seen “public intellectuals” as nothing more than mountebanks, frauds and house slaves. To be clear, I am not implying that every famous intellectual is a fraud. People such as Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, Nassim Taleb etc achieved a lot in their fields of expertise before becoming famous intellectuals. Now contrast them to alleged “public intellectuals” such as Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Charles Murray and other TED-talker types.

But what really separates people such as Sagan, Feynman, Hawking or Taleb from mountebanks such Tyson, Dawkins, Harris and Murray. For starters, people in the first category derive most of their livelihood from being really good at whatever they do for a living. Sagan would have been an world-famous astrophysicist even if he never written a single popular science book or made a TV show. Feynman and Hawking would still be world-renowned physicists even if they hadn’t written a single popular book. Taleb had made tens of millions at least a decade before writing his first book. Those in the second category, in sharp contrast, derive most of their livelihood from being famous and known as “intellectuals- like how Kim Kardashian is famous for being famous.

Let us now move on to the topic of Žižek, or to be more precise- why he is a mediocre CONartist aka contemporary “public intellectual”. But before we go there, let me briefly describe how much of his content I went through before reaching that conclusion. The short version is that I viewed over 12 hours of his lectures (made over a period of at least 6 years) on YouTube. In addition, I read the transcripts of over a dozen interviews and other articles written by him over the past decade. Which is another way of telling you that I did not reach my conclusions about him lightly or because of the opinions of other people. While he is not as big a fraud as Peterson, Dawkins, Harris and Murray- he is a fraud, nonetheless. And here is why..

1] If you have watched more than a few minutes of Žižek talking in public, you will notice that he has some long-standing neurological issues affecting control of his upper body- especially hands. While there is no point in speculating on the likely cause, it is especially apparent when he is talking into a camera. After watching many of his videos, I noticed something even more peculiar- namely, that his movement disorder is far less pronounced when he is not looking at the camera. Also, his long-standing condition was under far better control before he became famous. While some of you might think that this might have something to do with aging or his underlying condition progressing, I think there is a different explanation.

Žižek’s audience until a few years ago was more local and European than it is today. But what could this possibly have to do with the public manifestation of his condition. Well.. audiences in Anglo and some Asian societies are far more likely to associate wisdom with an odd physical appearance and body language than continental European societies. This is why gurus, spiritual leaders and other assorted godmen with unusual or distinctive physical appearances are far more common in some societies than others. While he probably did not go down this road deliberately, Žižek seems to have realized that his persona gets a bigger reaction and audience if he lets his neurological condition manifest itself to the fullest extent.

2] If you have watched some of Žižek’s videos from start to end, you might have found out about his appointments at many ‘elite’ universities in the anglosphere. But why would these institutions, operating under the paradigm of neoliberalism, bother to acknowledge the existence of a self-described Marxist let alone pay for that association? While there are those who might attribute this to western universities appreciating free thought, a more likely explanation is that Žižek is harmless- like Noam Chomsky. In other words, their association with him carries no risk while simultaneously allowing them to pretend that they are intellectually tolerant.

You might have also noticed that his philosophical musings are about the pervasiveness of capitalism throughout the contemporary world. And while he points out the problems inherent in this setup- he artfully dodges any talk about how the status quo can be changed. In my opinion, this goes a long way towards explaining why so many ‘elite’ western universities are perfectly OK with inviting him as a speaker. Žižek is eerily reminiscent of all those public figures in pre-1860 USA who argued that slavery was inhumane and an abomination, but had no plans or desire on how to end it- largely because they were also profiting from its existence.

3] Another example of Žižek lazy and conventional thinking comes from his repeated insistence that China is a capitalist country managed by a tyrannical communist party. As any person, with some objectivity and more than half-a-brain, can figure out- the Chinese government is far more interested in improving the quality of life for its own people than contemporary democratic regimes in the west. While this might be for less than altruistic reasons, the end results are too hard to ignore- except perhaps for some white “public intellectuals” in west. And as mentioned in another post, the type of governance system one sees in China is common to many east-Asian countries, who have also done quite well. We can all see who has failed and who has prevailed.

Žižek’s description of the Chinese system as capitalist becomes even more laughable once you start appreciating how fundamentally different it is from anything in the west. For example- it is the government rather than capitalists who decide how things are run in China. Those foolish enough to believe that their riches protect them from the government in that country learn that is not the case, very swiftly. The Chinese government spends tens of billions on tons of seemingly unprofitable infrastructure projects, which almost always turn out to be profitable a decade or so after they were built. They invest tens of billions in acquiring competencies in multiple areas that are supposedly unprofitable for them, but which almost always become highly profitable in the next decade. And China is hardly alone in such policies.

Both Japan and South Korea implemented watered-down versions of these policies to great effect many years before China went down that path. It is telling that Žižek seems unable to imagine (privately or publicly) ways of doing things that are significantly superior to those prevalent in the west. Maybe he really likes the Kool-Aid of neoliberalism in spite of his vocal protestations to the contrary. Perhaps he has far more in common with people like Christopher Hitchens and Niall Ferguson than we (or him) would prefer to believe.

4] A further example of Žižek intellectual laziness can be seen in how he worships a lot of useless “technological” progress which has occurred in past 30-40 years and attributes it to capitalism. Let us face it.. there hasn’t been really improved that much over past 3-4 decades, and almost all of it has to do with stuff like reduction in rates of cigarette smoking, improvements in car design and occupational health, better drugs for hypertension and better management of heart attacks and strokes. Did I mention that rates of improvement in life-expectancy in developed countries since 1980 have no correlation with degree of technologification of healthcare in those countries.

Furthermore, vast majority of alleged technological breakthroughs made over past 3-4 decades from human genome sequencing, stem cell therapy, gene transfer therapies, new gene editing techniques, new drugs for most cancers have turned out be either outright failures or far less consequential than first thought. We still don’t have electric cars that can effectively compete with gasoline (or diesel) fueled ones outside major cities. Renewable energy is still an expensive joke. We don’t have anything better than chemical and a few piddly ion rocket engines for space exploration. Oh ya.. and integrated circuits, CPU design and the internet are the result of government spending money on seemingly impossible ideas.

In summary, Žižek is a secret worshiper of neoliberalism who has learned to maximize his earnings and popularity by pretending to be a Marxist and Hegelian (while accentuating his physical shortcomings in order to appear more authentic). Along the way, he keeps interpreting the world around him in ways meant to flatter the pre-existing biases and prejudices of his main audience. Then again, this is what most “public intellectuals” do and have always done.

What do you think? Comments?

Democratic Zeal for ‘Gun Control’ and ‘Mueller Report’ Has Same Root

April 9, 2019 3 comments

In previous posts, I have written about the obsession of democratic party with gun control, why it is doomed and futile in addition to being an important factor in them possibly losing the 2020 election. A couple of years ago, I started to notice similarities between obsession of establishment democrat with ‘Gun Control’ and the ‘Mueller Investigation’- which recently concluded to produce the ‘Mueller Report’. There are, of course, some obvious similarities between the two, such as the very high degree of overlap between strong supporters and peddlers of ‘Gun Control’ and the Mueller Investigation’. But the similarities between those who support and promote these two causes run far deeper and are deeply linked to their worldview.

Let me begin by pointing out the demographic similarities between those who support and peddle both causes. Their supporters are almost always from certain parts of coastal USA or aspiring to move there, often come from or are associated with families who made their money via legalized corruption and scams, were “credentialed” at a few “respectable” educational institutions, have first or second order connections with the now dying mass media and corporate entertainment sectors, tout themselves as social progressives but are (in reality) strong supporters of continued economic immiseration of all those ‘other people’ via neoliberalism. A certain ethno-religious minority is also represented at high levels in supporters of both causes. But why would support for ‘Gun Control’ and ‘Mueller Investigation’ co-localize with “woke” neoliberalism?

The answer is a bit complicated and requires us to first understand why ‘Gun Control’ in USA only became a thing after the 1970s. As I wrote in a previous post, the obsession of democratic party and moderate republicans with gun control is strongly associated with their upper ranks being filled by “credentialed” professional class types. Have you noticed the correlation between rigid social class structure and support for gun control in modern nation states? Ever wondered why dying nations with a rigid social class system such as UK, Japan, Mexico, South Korea and Brazil have much stricter gun laws than less socially stratified countries such as Lebanon, Finland, Switzerland and yes.. USA. The observant among you might have noticed that Mexico and Brazil have far higher rates of homicide by guns than countries with far more permissive laws. Also, South Korea and Japan have significantly higher rates of successful suicide than USA, in spite of civilian gun ownership being essentially illegal in those countries.

But what does any of this have to do with support for ‘Gun Control’ and the ‘Mueller Investigation’ in USA having the same root. The short answer is- a whole fucking lot! Have you noticed that a lot of people who were praying for Trump to be found guilty of “collusion with Russia and Putin” happened to live in coastal California, New York and DC? Isn’t it odd that this same group of “famous credentialed” people who rose to their current socio-economic status due to “meritocracy” happen to also be strong proponents of ‘Gun Control’? And why would they be concentrated in California, New York, DC, Massachusetts and New Jersey. Also, why is the ‘Gun Control’ movement much weaker in other coastal states such as Florida, the two Carolinas, Louisiana or even Maine? What is the real difference between coastal states such as NY, CA, MA and FL, SC, NC, LA and ME? And ya, I know DC is not a state.

Did you notice that degree of economic inequality in a given state correlates rather well with the number and extent of ‘Gun Control’ laws passed and enforced in it. Yes.. that is correct. Economic inequality rather than absolute wealth or poverty of a state correlates far better with its effete elites pushing for ultimately ineffective ‘Gun Control’. And there is one more interesting tidbit about ‘Gun Control’ in USA, namely that almost all initial attempts to pass modern ‘Gun Control’ laws were made by old money WASPs living in certain parts of coastal USA. The ethno-religious minority often associated with ‘Gun Control’ in contemporary USA did not get into that game until the 1970s and 1980s, which is oddly enough when they overtook old money WASPs as elites.

But what does this to do with support for the ‘Mueller Investigation’ and why were a majority of establishment elites in USA so incensed by Trump winning the 2016 election. While we can all agree that orange buffoon is a pathetic human being, what makes him worse than any previous person elected to that office? Think about it.. Nixon was responsible for millions of deaths in Vietnam, Las and Cambodia and he still lost the Vietnam War. Carter was a sad wimp whose term saw the rise of neoliberalism. Reagan presided over beginning of american de-industrialization. Bush41 and Clinton42 were responsible for a lot of deaths in Iraq during the 1990s. Clinton42 also oversaw financial deregulation, rise of mass incarceration and many other neoliberal policies. Bush43 oversaw beginning of the end for American empire by getting involved in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama44 got us involved in many unnecessary conflicts in Africa and bailed out the 1% while fucking over everybody else in 2009.. so like a black Clinton42 or Reagan40.

My point is that a lot of people elected to the presidency in living memory have been disastrous fuckups- at least for the majority of those who voted for them. In that respect, Trump is no worse than Obama, Clinton or the two Bushes. So why are establishment elites getting their panties in a knot over the orange buffoon. Haven’t most of his policies and actions, thus far, been faithful to standard Republican-style neoliberal bullshit? Tax cuts for the rich, continuous increasing the military budget, bellicose behavior on the international stage, hiring racists and religious zealots- you know, the works. But for not starting a new major war or two, the Trump presidency is remarkably close to that of Bush43. And yet, establishment types never went after that retarded loser.. I mean Bush43.. like they did to Trump. But why is that so?

Well.. it comes down to a few simple facts about the composition of elites in USA and to be fair, elites throughout human history. The thing is.. elites almost never reach their position because they are hard workers, honest, intelligent, competent or any of the other bullshit things they like others to believe about themselves. Almost every single person who became an elite achieved that by being born to the right set of parents or being at the right place at the right time aka luck. In other words, the became elites by getting lucky. So how do they try to maintain their position? Well.. by trying to con other people that they became rich and powerful because they were deserving, somehow special, super-intelligent, chosen by god etc.

So how does this play out in the real world? Once again.. that depends on circumstances beyond human control. Non-elites will tolerate and even trust elites as long as things are generally getting better. That is why average British people looked up to their elites between the early 1800s and end of WW1, and is also why the aftermath of WW2 saw large changes in the role of hereditary elite in that society. The same is true for american society where the power of WASPs declined once it became obvious by the 1960s that they were nowhere as competent and smart as they portrayed themselves. Did you notice a trend? If not, let me spell it out for you. The ability of elites to remain in their positions is totally dependent on all those ‘other people’ willing to go along with the charade. This is also why elite replacement is often abrupt and almost total.

Now let us talk about the post-1960s elites of USA. As some of you might have guessed, it does include a rather large number of people from a certain ethno-religious minority. But there is much more to this story than that fact. See.. unlike pre-1960 era elites, their post-1960s era equivalents are different, and not just as far as their skin color and last names are concerned. Let me put it this way.. unlike their older equivalents, they are a much more atomized group. It is far easier to fall out of being an elite today (for most) than it was as late as the 1950s. So how does one maintain their social position in such a precarious and competitive marketplace.

For starters- they can marry among themselves, attend the same schools and universities, hang out with the same groups of people and build networks of mutual patronage. But all of this is no longer enough. They have to do something else.. something at which they suck. Today’s elites have to cosplay as hard-working, supremely competent and well spoken geniuses. That is a huge problem- because they have none of the qualities they pretend to possess. The only way they can partially achieve that goal is via institutional capture and trying to remove any threats to the status quo. This is why these new elites are so obsessed with ‘Gun Control’, censoring ‘Hate Speech’, promoting “woke” neoliberal ideology etc. The world however keeps evolving and what these idiots though would last forever does not. Even worse, events such as Brexit in 2015 and the election of Trump in 2016 demonstrate their utter impotence.

And that, you see, is the underlying connection between establishment democratic zeal for ‘Gun Control’ and the ‘Mueller Investigation’. Real world events have exposed them to be stupid, greedy, short-sighted, incompetent and impotent. However they lack the willingness, let alone ability, to change their modus operandi. They simply double down on the only things and pathways they have ever known. This is also why so many establishment democrats pretended (even to themselves) that Trump could be impeached by evidence uncovered by the ‘Mueller Investigation’. That is also why they delude themselves into believing that voter support for ‘Gun Control’ is far stronger than it is, or how they imagine that all those new voters are going to vote for ‘Gun Control’. Some of you might think they can change, however everything we know about the behavior of elites throughout human history suggest otherwise. There is a reason why the phenomena of almost total elite replacement exists.. you know.

What do you think? Comments?