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July 09, 2017

I am a Fighting Atheist: Interview with Slavoj Zizek (2002)

"My opponent here is the widely accepted position that we should leave behind the quest for universal truth — that what we have instead are just different narratives about who we are, the stories we tell about ourselves. So, in that view, the highest ethical injunction is to respect the other story. All the stories should be told, each ethnic, political, or sexual group should be given the right to tell its story, as if this kind of tolerance towards the plurality of stories with no universal truth value is the ultimate ethical horizon.

"I oppose this radically. This ethics of storytelling is usually accompanied by a right to narrate, as if the highest act you can do today is to narrate your own story, as if only a black lesbian mother can know what it's like to be a black lesbian mother, and so on. Now this may sound very emancipatory. But the moment we accept this logic, we enter a kind of apartheid. In a situation of social domination, all narratives are not the same. For example, in Germany in the 1930s, the narrative of the Jews wasn't just one among many. This was the narrative that explained the truth about the entire situation. Or today, take the gay struggle. It's not enough for gays to say, "we want our story to be heard." No, the gay narrative must contain a universal dimension, in the sense that their implicit claim must be that what happens to us is not something that concerns only us. What is happening to us is a symptom or signal that tells us something about what's wrong with the entirety of society today. We have to insist on this universal dimension."

Posted by Ghost of a flea at July 9, 2017 07:09 AM