Friday, July 8, 2011

Zizek on Tolerance

Today I was messing around with ARGUNET and made the above map. I just tried to outline how I understood Slavoj Zizek's thoughts on tolerance, from his book Violence. I am quite positive that I mapped it out incorrectly, with all the arrows pointing aimlessly all over the place. Any way as you can see Zizek does not like the notion of tolerance, why? The map should explain most of it. If it doesn't then here is basically what Zizek thinks about it:
"Today's liberal tolerance towards others, the respect of otherness and openness towards it, is counterpointed by an excessive fear of harassment...My duty to be tolerant to the other effectively means that I should not get too close to him, intrude on his space. In other words, I should respect his intolerance of my over-proximity. What increasingly emerges as the central human right in late-capitalist society is the right not to be harassed which is a right to remain at a safe distance from others." (41)
(As you can see I shamelessly quote Slavoj in my map.) Is this a reasonable representation of "tolerance." Somewhat! For example it does seem as though an absurd frenzy erupts whenever someone says something that is ever so vaguely racist, and yet keep mum about more pressing issues. This  composes an atmosphere which greatest fear is the fear of harassment. By being tolerant, in this sense, one manages to leave the "other" alone, estranging them to their own sociocultural group. And when conflict erupts between different factions it is essentially because (in this framework) the factions aren't keeping to themselves. Because one faction intruded on the others space. Of course this only applies to the certain groups who don't get along (such as the West and Islam, during the cartoon riots). In order for these groups, with conflicting ideologies to get along, they must keep proper distance from each other. They must build up walls in order to tolerate one another.

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