A Ticklish Subject? Žižek and the Future of Left Radicalism

Andrew Robinson, Simon Tormey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The work of Slavoj Žižek has become an essential reference point for debates concerning the future of left radical thought and practice. His attacks on identity politics, multiculturalism and ‘radical democracy’ have established him as a leading figure amongst those looking to renew the link between socialist discourse and a transformative politics. However, we contend that despite the undeniable radicality of Žižek's theoretical approach, his politics offers little in the way of inspiration for the progressive left. On the contrary, his commitment to Lacanian categories reasserts the primordial character of alienation, hierarchy and domination, and his proposed schema for confronting the status quo, the model of the Act, serves to reaffirm rather than contest the given. We suggest that a genuinely transformative politics should (contra Žižek) stress the necessity for the prefiguration of alternatives, of linking and radicalizing ‘petty’ resistances, of encouraging critical and utopian forms of thought and activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-107
Number of pages14
JournalThesis Eleven
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005


  • Act
  • Lacan
  • Slavoj Žižek
  • socialism
  • transformation

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