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March 28, 2005


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As someone who does work for a large corporation (Insurance and Investments), this is absolutely true. The few people who do "live the ideology" are completely marginalized, or they are high-level executives. For myself, the ironic stance is one of survival, that the only way I can participate is to be several steps removed from the corporate ethos. One of my co-workers has even appropriated the language of the "war on terror" to make fun of our corporate slogans and acronyms.

And the bit about the lack of responsibility is both functional and frustrating. Functional because it allows one to do their job with the minimum amount of frustration, but frustrating because there are times when the lack of accountability prevents one from accomplishing anything.

Given the size and function of the Mega-Corporation, I am not that this process is could be improved. Could large Multi-nationals function in any other way, given the current co-ordinates? What would another type of organization look like?


Some think that open source software projects provide a model for alternative modes of work. I'm not sure. I know that the computer imdustry in the late 70s and 80s emphasized that it was non-hierarchical and flexible. For the most part, this led to crazy work intensifications, forms of psychic brutality, and personality cults (I'm thinking primarily of Apple). I guess specialists in organizational behavior would have a lot more of value to contribute on this. I will say that one of my responses to student 'anarchists' is airports--like, how would airports and international flights and all that work if the US were a bunch of anarcho-syndicalist communes?



Your point about the functionality of hierarchical institutions is certainly true (airports, food distribution, manufacturing). But I also feel like the "ironic distance" that people employ (myself included) in order to function results in a holding pattern, or even a vegetative state. One becomes a sleep walker, if you will.

This ofcourse confirms Mark's point. When Zizek offers overidentification as more subversive than irony, I think he is on to something. But in terms of political activity, how would it work? When talking about a film, or evaluating a theory, it makes sense to demystify the ironic stance, showing how it functions to maintain the dominance of the current system. But when talking about praxis, how could it be employed?


Zizek likes to use the example of the band Laibach--they seem to be fascist but this is meant as an overidentification. I taught a law case on the rap group 2LiveCrew today. A supporting analysis emphasizes the performance of black male sexuality as a literalization designed to embody and thereby undercut racist assumptions. Now, I'm not sure if it really works this way in this example--why is it not just a celebration or reappropriation? This suggests to be that 'overidentification' is always necessarily context dependent.

The same act can be read different ways. the band Joy Division (named for Reich sex workers) had neo-nazi supporters. For some the group seemed to embody the Real anger of working class British youth. Others thought it was not neo-Nazi but an overidentified enactment to point out the problems with Thatchers conservative supporters.

So, for political action: it seems to me that what the Left should do is identify the most extreme elements of the right, those who really believe, and use those to disrupt that hegemonic formation. So, we emphasize Ann Coulter as a true right wing person, not letting right wing folks off the hook for this sort of extremism.

What do you think?



I forgot about Joy Division. You are definitely right, they were using overidentification as a strategy. An excellent example.

The democrats, liberals, leftists and everyone should use Ann Coulter as a conservative poster child. The only thing I am afraid of is that we are at the point where her psycho-hateful pronouncements do not shock anyone any more. What if we have already passed the point where her rhetoric of genocide and racism can offend anyone? Then what do we do?

But I definitely like the idea. By the way, I just received Publicity' Secret and I can not wait to read it. Thanks again for your blog. I really enjoy your work.


Yippee! A fourth person has purchased Publicity's Secret!! You've made my day! Thanks so much!

Alain, I fully share your anxieties about Coulter--has the country passed a point where it can work? I want to think about this. I also think it fits in well with the insights in your comment in the other thread.

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