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This article is taken from PN Review 203, Volume 38 Number 3, January - February 2012.

In Finesse of Fiddles Frederic Raphael
Slavoj Žižek was only one of the diagnosticians who rushed, with a satchel of words, to articulate (by which I mean write articles about) the riots following the shooting of a North London gangster by the metropolitan police.

Žižek is a post-Marxist, meta-Freudian cultural pundit. He began his analysis of recent discontents, in the London Review of Books, by citing Hegel: 'repetition plays a crucial role in history: when something happens just once, it may be dismissed as an accident... but when the same event repeats itself, it is a sign that a deeper historical process is unfolding'. Sherlock Holmes said something almost identical, as I remember, but Conan Doyle doesn't carry Hegel's cachet. 'When Napoleon lost at Leipzig in 1813,' we are reminded, 'it looked like bad luck; when he lost again at Waterloo, it was clear that his time was over.'

It is part of the style of over-viewers to assimilate like to unlike. Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo was definitive not because it followed Leipzig, but because it was definitive: Boney was bust. One losing battle is not 'the same event' as another. Žižek quotes Hegel both to remind us that he is writing a book on the old logic-chopper (Schopenhauer and Popper said what should have been enough about him, but has not been) and also because he wants to have authority to make the financial crisis of September 2008 into the world economy's Leipzig and that of this year into a culminatory (as ...


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