Slavoj Žižek’s slavish support of NATO

In a series of articles written over the course of the past year, the Slovenian “pop” philosopher, cynic and Stalin worshipper, Slavoj Žižek, has emerged as one of the most virulent advocates of the US and NATO’s proxy war against Russia.

Slavoj Žižek in 2015 [Photo by Amrei-Marie / CC BY 4.0]

In an article for Project Syndicate entitled The Dark Side of Neutrality (Feb 17, 2023), Žižek denounced the principled stance taken against the NATO war by Roger Waters who stated in a speech to the United Nations Security Council: “The Russian invasion of Ukraine was not unprovoked, so I also condemn the provocateurs in the strongest possible terms.... Not one more Ukrainian or Russian life is to be spent, not one, they are all precious in our eyes. So the time has come to speak truth to power.”

This is all too much for Žižek who, in an article in Die Welt (June 20), even went so far as to call for nuclear weapons for Ukraine. He wrote: “One should not forget that Ukraine gave up all nuclear weapons to Russia when the Soviet Union disintegrated, with the promise that its borders would be recognised by Russia - would it not now have the right to get nuclear weapons (again)? Why is this obvious solution dismissed with horror even by those paying lip service to defending Ukraine?'.

Now, just a week ago, in an article in Britain’s right wing New Statesman magazine (14.08.2023) titled “Ukraine must go to war with itself” Žižek openly articulates his fears that the much heralded, spring military offensive by Ukraine is failing badly. According to Žižek, European powers, including what he describes as the European left, must redouble their efforts to prevent a shattering defeat for the Ukrainian forces. As is usually the case with his work, Žižek’s article is a combination of distortions, dissimulations, non-sequiturs and lies.

Žižek complains that “Those of us who stand firmly behind Ukraine worry about the fatigue of the West: as the war drags on, will the countries which support Ukraine gradually tire of the permanent emergency state and the material sacrifices demanded of them?”

The problem, according to Žižek, is an unholy alliance of the “extreme right and extreme left” (which he never properly identifies) espousing propaganda arguing in favour of: “abstract pacifism (we need peace, the suffering has to stop at any cost); a “balanced” view of the war (NATO’s eastward expansion provoked Russia and forced it to counterattack); and the need to protect our own national welfare (why should we give billions to Ukraine, a country run by corrupt oligarchs, when we have deep economic and problems of our own).”

Even more serious than the war weariness of the west, Žižek complains, is growing fatigue on the part of the Ukrainian population, which has paid the highest price in the war. Having been bombarded with propaganda by NATO and western politicians that Ukraine is conducting the good fight against corruption and for democracy, the Ukrainian working class observes on a daily basis how corruption continues to flourish while the country’s wealthy elite and their families flee abroad to protect their fortunes and avoid military service.

To counteract these problems and “avoid collapse in the war” Žižek calls for the building of “a truly united front against the common enemy”. Žižek demands that “leftists” and also female recruits who have encountered discrimination as members of the Ukrainian military fully subordinate themselves to the nationalist and fascist elements leading the army. Appealing directly to identity politics he declares that “only a wide popular front in which there is a place for everyone – from LGBT+ individuals to the leftists who oppose the Russian aggression – can save Ukraine.”

Sitting in the comfort of his academic lodgings in London and his flat in Ljubljana, Žižek is quite content to justify the slaughter of tens of thousands of Ukrainian and Russian recruits in a war which was incontestably provoked by the US and NATO in a land which, prior to the war, stood high in the world list of most corrupt countries and remains wracked by corruption. At the same time Žižek turns a blind eye to the various parties and groupings in Ukraine which have valiantly opposed the war and have been subsequently ruthlessly censured and repressed by the Zelensky government.

Acknowledging in his latest article that his own political trajectory is coming under increasing scrutiny, Žižek lies about his past in Slovenia, claiming that he was a victim of the “the nationalist right” which had “always castigated secular left opponents of the communist regime, as suspect, secret agents of the old communists.”

Far from being a “secular left opponent of the communist regime” Žižek quit the Slovenian Communist Party in 1988 and joined the pro-capitalist, secessionist Liberal Democracy of Slovenia (LDS) prior to the collapse of the Stalinist bloc. In 1990 Žižek ran as LDS candidate in elections to fill the four-person presidency of Slovenia, finishing fifth and losing a position by a narrow margin. The LDS led coalition governments from 1992 to 2004 and were instrumental in implementing capitalist shock therapy economic policies in Slovenia following its secession from Yugoslavia. Žižek continued to support the party throughout this period as he developed his relations with Stalinist and pseudo-left forces in Paris.

Žižek ends his article with the ludicrous claim that NATO’s war in Ukraine can be compared to the French Revolution and European partisans opposing fascism in the Second World War. Žižek turns history on its head. Not least because the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, is an acolyte of the Ukrainian fascist leader Stepan Bandera.

His latest screed for the Statesman confirms Žižek’s role as an opportunist shill for NATO. Offering his services to the Zelensky government, Žižek urges his dwindling band of supporters to take up arms for a final battle which can only end in the deaths of many more thousands.

Žižek’s political lurch to the right and emergence as a slavish supporter of NATO’s proxy war against Russia is a direct response to the developing mass mobilisations of the working class world-wide. His response in the past to clashes between working-class youth and the forces of the state has always been to line up with the state. Against a background of intensifying conflict across the globe, past experience indicates that Žižek’s passage into right-wing and extreme right politics will only accelerate in the coming period.