Christian Atheism: How to Be a Real Materialist
By Slavoj Žižek 
Bloomsbury, 312 pages, $17.95

Slavoj Žižek, the wild Slovenian exponent of already wild French psychoanalytic theory, is now a notable voice of sanity. Over the past decade, most commentators have been drawn into either liberal or populist excesses. But Žižek, a contributing editor of this journal, stalwartly opposes ultra-liberal woke-ism, while insisting that what is best in the Western liberal legacy retains universal relevance. He may be an unrepentant communist who believes that liberal democracy is ultimately to be surpassed, but he defends democratic values like free speech and due process. That may have something to do with both his age—he is a fellow Boomer—and his experience of a totalitarian regime. 

“Žižek is in some respects an upholder of common sense.”

Despite being steeped in Hegel and Lacan, Žižek is in some respects an upholder of common sense. He asserts that the denial of biological sex is both illusory and oppressive to women, and he is clear-headed in resisting the left-wing tendency to celebrate every form of anarchic disorder as legitimate revolutionary protest. The law may serve capitalism, and be ultimately grounded in state crimes and hidden “obscene” modes of self-preservation, but nevertheless the substitution of mafias or vigilantes for coercive force under state control is still a regression. What is more, he not only defends the modern legacy of emancipation and enlightenment, but rightly insists that this emerged specifically in the West, and not for accidental reasons: As Hegel saw, these developments were rooted in Christianity. By seeing this, Hegel, as far as Žižek is concerned, at once fulfilled and surpassed the Enlightenment. But at the same time, he fulfilled and surpassed the religious form of Christianity.

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