… one should distinguish between short-term battles worth fighting and short-term battles where your protest is of the kind that those in power like. There was a little bit of that in the marches against the Iraq war. Everyone was satisfied. Those who organised the protests knew they wouldn’t change anything. Blair like the protests – he or Bush said, you see, this is what we want in Iraq: a society in which people will be able to protest like we do. So, one should be very careful when doing something which appears as a protest measure. How does it really function? And it’s not difficult. If you look closely, you always know what you are doing.
NS: You’re talking about the ideological function of protest.
SZ: More than ever, the battle to be won is ideological. I don’t mean in any obscure, pseudo-Marxist sense – it’s a very spontaneous ideology. But isn’t it interesting that the most influential public intellectual in political matters is Noam Chomsky, who knows practically nothing about political theory. I met a guy who recently had lunch with Chomsky and he told me that Chomsky said something very sad: Chomsky said that today we don’t need theory. Power is cynical and all we need to to do is tell people, empirically, what is going on. Here, I violently disagree. I don’t think you just have to tell the truth in this factual sense. Truth in the sense of facts – facts are facts and they are precious, but they can work this way or that. A nice example here: there is a new generation of Israeli historians who are much more open about Jewish violence against Arabs before independence. And people say, “my god, they are telling the truth!” But this truth was easily appropriated by zionists, who say, “you see, that’s how you fight wars – we had to do it.” If you don’t change the ideological background, facts alone don’t do the job.”
Žižek’s interview with Jonathan Derbyshire – Uncut
October 30, 2009 by versouk