The Chapter Antimonies Of Tolerant Reason Philosophy
On page 106, He acknowledges the tolerance of the multicultural Western liberals but simultaneously discredits this by asserting that the Western outraged and impassioned responses to acts of violence (in this case, the Muslims violent protests) are uncalled for. He tries to convince the "tolerant" western liberals to step back from the illusionary reactive urgency of the present with its multiple injunctions and instead turn to the real causes of the global situation. How ?He does this by exemplifying the challenge that western liberals face in trying to perceive how the same levels of religious blasphemies (brutal and vulgar anti-Semitic and anti-Christian caricatures) are abound in in the press and schoolbooks of Muslim countries, but do not elicit the similar violent reaction from western societies (Zizek, 2008, p. 107). Foreshadowing is employed by Zizek in introducing the concept of paradox view or parallax which forms his basis of arguments when he describes the irony of the Muslim ideology as regards to rape incidents. (Zizek, 2008, p. 107). This concept of parallax states that:
"The apparent displacement of an object (the shift of its position against a background), caused by a change in observational position that provides a new line of sight. The philosophical twist to be added, of course, is that the observed difference is not simply "subjective," due to the fact that the same object which exists "out there" is seen from two different stances, or points of view"
It therefore means that the understanding of violence then touches upon the two formal aspects of violence, the subjective and objective, which cannot however be mediated; and hence the very irreconcilable nature of the two perspectives should be the focus of analysis.
The systemic form of violence is introduced with the mention of how the demonstrations by the Muslims extended from Denmark to all European countries. According to Zizek, this was symbolic that the protests were not really about the specific cartoons, but about the humiliations and frustrations associated with the West's entire imperialist attitude. He affirms that the noticeable attribute about the evil of this display of rage is not the classic parallax view, nor is it a claim of antimony - rather the resentment displayed by Muslim fanatics is to be perceived as their internalization of Western standards, against which they fall short. Of course one questions the Muslims' motives over some pieces of paper with cartoons on them yet there are other alternatives like verbal protests and dialogue. But this exactly facilitates Zizek's intent to provoke the reader. He reveals that the Danish Muslims tried for months the "European" path of dialogue with the government to no avail (Zizek, 2008, p. 108). Therefore, Zizek suggestively claims that this Government's refusal to dialogue with the Muslims was deliberate in order to depict these protests the way they should seen under Western Imperialism, that is, as signs of the impotence of the Islamic world and an expression of their resentment towards the "liberal" West.
Zizek, being the wild postmodern philosopher who embraces Kant's theory of Paradox view, picks a controversial example, and certainly it was for the intended effect. The Holocaust case exposes the multiple hypocrisies of the Israel/Palestinian or let's say "Israel/Arab" conflict. Whereas the first example of paradox view involved the objective and subjective views of violence, this case present all three fronts of violent views. Furthermore, it allows the reader to have a sideways reflection of each party involved; The European, the Jews and the Middle East community. Holocaust denial is used by Zizek to create tension which develops his thesis of the paradox view and eventually demonstrates that the antimony of tolerance can never be resolved other than to resort to another approach. Zizek, typical of many postmodernists, asserts his "Know-it-all "ideology to diagnose our blindness and ignorance, which by the way, in his view is voluntary and meant to put a blind curtain over the systemic and symbolic violence. The different interpretations, denials and justifications of the Holocaust serves to portray how the dim-sighted western liberals naively rail against what he calls subjective violence. The author successfully engages the reader with thought provoking rhetorical scenarios on how the concept of paradox views and antimonies of tolerances play out in the Holocaust case. However, I question his ambiguity in discussing David Irving. (Zizek, 2008, p. 109) The statement "At the very moment when the Muslim protests were raging, the British historian David Irving was in an Austrian prison serving a three-year term for expressing his doubts about the Holocaust in an article published fifteen years earlier" questions the basis under which he equates these two scenarios. Although he manages to question the Western Press in terms of its double standards, that is, they proclaim freedom of the press when publishing blasphemous articles about Muhammad but on the other hand can't tolerate any Holocaust doubt, he does not justify why he compares David Irving's case with the Muslim violent protest. David's case involved a long trial followed by imprisonment unlike the spontaneous Muslim incitement to violence against the creators of the Danish cartoons. However, I am restricted to judge him since, in postmodern philosophy, one is free to courageously and audaciously air his views in whatever creative manner he sees fit. His analogy's intention it is to make a point which it certainly makes. The case of notorious journalist Oriana Fallaci all the same reiterates this false tolerance and additionally exposes the real devil. (Zizek, 2008, pp. 113-114). She explicitly exposes the hypocrisy that although the liberal west is tolerant of the Muslim ideology, it is only is only a pretense to fit with the "politically correct mantra of respect for the other". Zizek does an elaborate job of illustrating further the levels at which each repressive regime justifies its social evils through antimonies of tolerance including the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the Joint US/ Israel war on terror, the terrorists actions against western nations among many other examples but his main goal is to prove the validity of Lacanian psychoanalytic framework that forms the basis of the paradox view. According to Urban:
"Whereas previously the thinking was that man adapts himself to reality, Lacan's thesis reverses things and in a gesture strictly homologous to Kant's transcendental idealist revolution, he proclaims that it is man who adapts reality to himself. More specifically, the ego creates a new adaptation to 'reality' and the subject then tries to maintain cohesion with this double."
(Urban 2010: p. 4)
Zizek provides a perfect example of where the letter allegedly written by Palestinian terrorist is revealed be of Israeli origin, only that some words have been changed to maintain the perception of western imperialism (Zizek, 2008, p. 120). Here, the Israelites have adapted the reality to suit their new double. When under the oppressive rule of the British, the Israelites advocated the use of terrorism but now are the fierce critics of Palestinian terrorists. Much more examples can be given but the observable conclusion of Zizek in highlighting the Holocaust denial is to show how western liberals conform to Lacanian's thesis of man adapting himself to reality. In this case, the liberal west deceptively organize their own legal frameworks and rights systems, including all the ambiguities or hidden contradictions, which are then used to morally reprimand other people for not respecting those same rights. How does he then propose a solution? By claiming that the western liberals who ideally represent Christians will always be in antimony with the fundamentalists, in this case Muslims, Zizek recommends that the atheist are the viable option because they openly unmask the tolerance pretense thus help appreciate the differences that exist between religions. He uses the example of Stalinist communists as the ultimate proof notwithstanding the contradiction he, himself brings out by pointing out that those same "godless" communists did whatever they wanted because they saw themselves as divine. Is he not accepting then, that they worship themselves which in essence is religion?
Interestingly, Zizek, after provoking the readers with his rhetoric seems to offer a faith based solution that only contradicts his argument all along. Though he validly proves that religions are the major drivers of conflicts, he offers a weak solution that also contradicts itself. Or maybe he is keeping in line with this chapter's title "Antimonies of tolerant reason"?
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