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[liberationtech] Reflections on Slavoj Žižek’s book "Absolute Recoil: Towards a New Foundation of Dialectical Materialism“

Christian Fuchs christian.fuchs at
Tue Oct 21 15:15:57 PDT 2014

Fuchs, Christian. 2014. The dialectic: Not just the absolute recoil, but 
the world’s living fire that extinguishes and kindles itself. 
Reflections on Slavoj Žižek’s version of dialectical philosophy in 
“Absolute recoil. Towards a new foundation of dialectical materialism“. 
tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique 12 (2): 848-875.

Slavoj Žižek shows in his book "Absolute Recoil" (and previous Hegelian 
works such as "Less than Nothing") the importance of repeating Hegel’s 
dialectical philosophy in contemporary capitalism. Žižek contributes 
especially to a reconceptualisation of dialectical logic and based on it 
the dialectic of history. The reflections in this paper stress that the 
dialectic is only the absolute recoil, a sublation that posits its own 
presuppositions, by working as a living fire that extinguishes and 
kindles itself. I point out that a new foundation of dialectical 
materialism needs a proper Heraclitusian foundation. I discuss Žižek’s 
version of the dialectic that stresses the absolute recoil and the logic 
of retroactivity and point out its implications for the concept of 
history as well as Žižek’s own theoretical ambiguities that oscillate 
between postmodern relativism and mechanical materialism. I argue that 
Žižek’s version of the dialectic should be brought into a dialogue with 
the dialectical philosophies of the German Marxists Hans Heinz Holz and 
Herbert Hörz. Žižek’s achievement is that he helps keeping alive the 
fire of dialectical materialism in the 21st century. Such a dialectical 
fire is needed for a proper revolutionary theory.

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