Did Marxist Philosophy Superstar Slavoj Žižek Plagiarize a White Nationalist Journal?

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Sahan Nuhoglu/Demotix/Corbis

Slavoj Žižek, one of the most widely known Marxist philosophers of the 21st century, has been accused of plagiarism by The American Renaissance, a conservative magazine focusing on race and racial conflict that the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a white nationalist hate group.

Žižek’s bombastic style and frequent forays into criticism of popular culture have earned him a large following. The International Journal of Žižek Studies, whose purported mission is “investigating, elaborating and critiquing the work of Slavoj Žižek,” called him “the Elvis of cultural theory.” The author of more than 70 books, Žižek is a frequent contributor to The Guardian and is the subject of three films: Žižek!, The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema and The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology.

Which makes Žižek a big scalp if you are a conservative commentator. On July 9 conservative blogger Steve Sailer called attention to a book review written by Žižek in 2006. “A Plea for a Return to Différance (with a Minor Pro Domo Sua)”, a review of The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements by Kevin MacDonald, was published in 2006 in Critical Inquiry by the University of Chicago Press.

Sailer wrote, “The superstar professor achieves a higher degree of clarity while expounding MacDonald’s message than in any other passage I’ve read by Žižek.”

Later the same day, a blogger writing under the name Deogolwulf posted a side-by-side comparison of passages from Žižek’s review and another review of MacDonald’s book by Stanley Hornbeck that appeared in the March 1999 issue of The American Renaissance. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, The American Renaissance “regularly feature[s] proponents of eugenics and blatant anti-black racists.”

Deogolwulf pointed out that the two reviews bear an uncanny resemblance.

Here's Žižek:

The main academic proponent of this new barbarism is Kevin MacDonald, who, in The Culture of Critique, argues that certain twentieth-century intellectual movements led by Jews have changed European societies in fundamental ways and destroyed the confidence of Western man; these movements were designed, consciously or unconsciously, to advance Jewish interests even though they were presented to non-Jews as universalistic and even utopian.

And heres Hornbeck:

In The Culture of Critique, Kevin MacDonald advances a carefully researched but extremely controversial thesis: that certain 20th century intellectual movements – largely established and led by Jews – have changed European societies in fundamental ways and destroyed the confidence of Western man. He claims that these movements were designed, consciously or unconsciously, to advance Jewish interests even though they were presented to non-Jews as universalistic and even utopian.

Again, Žižek:

MacDonald devotes many pages to The Authoritarian Personality(1950), a collective project coordinated by Adorno, the purpose of which was, for MacDonald, to make every group affiliation sound as if it were a sign of mental disorder; everything, from patriotism to religion to family—and race—loyalty, is disqualified as a sign of a dangerous and defective ‘authoritarian personality’. Because drawing distinctions between different groups is illegitimate, all group loyalties—even close family ties—are ‘prejudice’.

And Hornbeck:

Prof. MacDonald devotes many pages to an analysis of The Authoritarian Personality, which was written by Adorno and appeared in 1950.… The book’s purpose is to make every group affiliation sound as if it were a sign of mental disorder. Everything from patriotism to religion to family—and race—loyalty are signs of a dangerous and defective ‘authoritarian personality’. Because drawing distinctions between different groups is illegitimate, all group loyalties—even close family ties!—are ‘prejudice’.

When Newsweek contacted Critical Inquiry, James Williams, its senior managing editor, agreed that Žižek absolutely borrowed from Hornbeck’s review. Were very sorry it happened, he said. If we had known Žižek was plagiarizing, we would have certainly asked him to remove the illegal passages.

Newsweek then contacted Hornbeck, who writes under a pseudonym. “Anyone who has seen the side-by-side comparisons can have no doubt that Žižek is a plagiarist,” he said. “I know nothing about his writing habits. Maybe he does this all the time. Or it may be that as a prominent Marxist he didn’t want it known that he reads American Renaissance. In any case, what he did is contemptible, and his publisher...should certainly have a word with him.”

Newsweek emailed Deogolwulf and Sailer for comment, but they did not respond by publication time. Attempts to reach Žižek through The Guardian were also unsuccessful.

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