The Left Is Too Focused on Trump

In a recent interview with Owen Jones, Slavoj Žižek had constructive criticism for the Left. Žižek, a philosopher and critic of capitalism, said liberals focus too much on Trump and the new right or are focused too much on cultural issues like feminism and racism and have lost touch with ordinary working class people. He also warns against the kind of populism which constructs an enemy on behalf of the people.

“The crucial event today is not the rise of the new right,” Žižek said. “The crucial thing is the disintegration of the central-left welfare consensus. This is why the crucial battle in the U.S. today, it’s not against Trump, it’s what happens within the Democratic Party.”

What the Left should examine, according to Žižek, are policies preserving global capitalism pushed by both Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Republicans like Donald Trump. The left can’t stop questioning the fundamentals of the system. “Capitalism is changing, but we simply don’t notice this in front of our eyes,” Žižek said. “It’s crucial to bear in mind that Trump is, to use  terms, a reaction–a consequence–of the new processes in global capitalism, which brought about the disintegration of this welfare state, liberal capitalist consensus.” He doesn’t feel the Left is required to “end capitalism,” but they need to propose new possibilities and concrete measures.

Slavoj Žižek pointed out how Democratic Socialists are considered radical by contemporary US culture. And the Democratic Socialism proposed by Bernie Sanders is more center left, mainstream even when comparing to European Democracy from over 50 years ago. “Maybe we will not succeed but we will trigger a process. Officially, Occupy Wall Stress was a failure. But they laid the foundation, they fertilized the ground,” Žižek said.

Žižek said a similar movement to Occupy, but a new movement could arise as a result of Trump’s presidency. “I see a possible positive function of Trump,” he said. “He from, the wrong side, nonetheless unsettled this liberal consensus and opened up a space also in this sense, for a more radical left. My idea is that, in some deeper sense, [there’s] no Bernie Sanders without Trump.”



“Slavoj Zizek in Liverpool cropped” by Andy Miah is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0