As the world’s foremost Leftist intellectual Slavoj Žižek is occasionally required to stir himself a bit and pull something out of the hat for his doting and easily impressed followers. The case of the Charlie Hebdo massacre is just such an occasion.
The key on these occasions is to let the most obvious things be said, and then deal your trump card on top of that pile. In recent days we’ve all heard a variety of opinion pieces and editorials in the mainstream media running along these rails:
The killers were not bad Muslims, just bad people.
The real tragedy would be if we didn’t double down on our great multicultural experiment.
Perhaps some things should be held sacred after all.
Then, when all that fluff has been kicked up and subsided, [along comes Žižek] to knock all that nonsense into a top hat and pull out his bunch of roses with this set up:
It effectively may appear that the split between the permissive First World and the fundamentalist reaction to it runs more and more along the lines of the opposition between leading a long satisfying life full of material and cultural wealth, and dedicating one’s life to some transcendent Cause. Is this antagonism not the one between what Nietzsche called ‘passive’ and ‘active’ nihilism? We in the West are the Nietzschean Last Men, immersed in stupid daily pleasures, while the Muslim radicals are ready to risk everything, engaged in the struggle up to their self-destruction. William Butler Yeats’ Second Coming seems perfectly to render our present predicament: ‘The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
Yes, his audience of comfortable cultural leftists, sipping their Chablis at dinner parties, have all felt that. But then along comes the cavalry and the coup de grace, delivered by their slobbish secular saint, telling them that their jadedness and passivity are the surest proofs of their moral authenticity:
However, do the terrorist fundamentalists really fit this description? What they obviously lack is a feature that is easy to discern in all authentic fundamentalists, from Tibetan Buddhists to the Amish in the US: the absence of resentment and envy, the deep indifference towards the non-believers’ way of life. If today’s so-called fundamentalists really believe they have found their way to Truth, why should they feel threatened by non-believers, why should they envy them? When a Buddhist encounters a Western hedonist, he hardly condemns. He just benevolently notes that the hedonist’s search for happiness is self-defeating. In contrast to true fundamentalists, the terrorist pseudo-fundamentalists are deeply bothered, intrigued, fascinated, by the sinful life of the non-believers. One can feel that, in fighting the sinful other, they are fighting their own temptation.
There you have it. The Kouachi borthers went to all that trouble to wipe out Charlie Hebdo’s editorial meeting and then die in a hail of lead because they lacked the conviction of the average comfortable leftist telling his Facebook friends that he, too, is Charlie. In the world of the hashtag, the warrior who lays down his life for his cause is merely a fake, his fanaticism a mere show to cover up the vacuum of doubt howling away beneath his avowed convictions. And the evidence of this? The nihilism of the Buddhists and the self-seclusion of the Amish!
If these Muslims really believed their shit, Zizek implies, they would be centred, confident individuals, able to laugh off insults to their Prophet—and possibly even rub themselves in bacon fat and swill Chablis. They might even be able to pen [little self-help books] like the Dali Lama, or teach classes of Islamic basket weaving while cracking jokes.
This kind of nonsense shows a marked misunderstanding of essential religious differences, not surprisingly as it is simply Leftist cultural relativism writ large; the soft totalitarianism of the present misunderstanding the hard totalitarianism of the past and the future. It also shows a complete ignorance of violence, seeing it as an isolated essence rather than as something that interpenetrates other aspects of reality.
Violence by its very nature has to be economical. Used indiscriminately, it loses its value and utility—in other words, it always exists in symbiosis. Only those who have used violence will understand this. To Zizek and his leftist coterie, you may as well be speaking a different language. If there is one thing that Islam understands, however, it is violence. This is because not only was Islam’s founder a violent man, but the religion itself grew and flourished through violence, not endless indiscriminate violence, but its economical and judicious application.
Unlike the West, where we have made a practice of cloaking our violence by denying it, exporting it, mechanizing it, or medicalizing it (as in executions of murderers), the Islamic world knows how to extract the most from it by tying it to terror. For the Muslim, violence without terror is wasted violence.
The key use of violence is to cow potential opponents, not kill them, as there are too many of them at any one time, and the more violence you use the more resistance you ultimately encounter.
To understand how violence works, you have to watch a sheepdog at work, shooting in to nip the heels of just the right recalcitrant sheep to drive the herd in the right direction. This was the purpose of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, to let a certain part of the establishment know—in particular that segment that had been placing its hopes in the [cultural genocide of Islam]—that the Muslims were not their sheep—to the contrary, they were the sheep of the Muslims.
Some will continue to bleat on that these terrorists—just like all the other terrorists we have seen—were not representative of Muslims in general. They can even produce examples of Muslims disowning these brutal acts. Yes, consciously, that may be possible, but there is also a subconscious level where the collective will manifests itself, where those that run together, even if they know nothing of each other, run together. Violence always exists in symbiosis. For Muslims, the acts of fanatics create a subtle glow of power that invests the entire group, and in which the temptation to bask is strong, especially for those in colonizing lands that they initially came to as underlings and inferiors.