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Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle Hardcover – July 17, 2004


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As Slovenian public intellectual and provocateur Zizek puts it in his pungent sequel to Welcome to the Desert of the Real, a major motivational problem with the U.S.'s Iraq adventure has been "too many reasons for the war." As each pretext collapsed in the face of events, another rose to take its place. Thus, he says, the "war" has been as much on logical consistency as on Iraq. As piercing as Zizek can be about the rhetorical excesses of the Bush administration—his Lacanian reading of Rumsfeld's infamous "known knowns" speech is a tour de force—he doesn't spare what he sees as the smug complacencies of "Old Europe" and the left, putting them under the general rubric of convenient pacifism and selective outrage. Structured as an essay with two long appendixes, Zizek's book is consistently funny, engaging and accessible whether discussing Hitchcock or Heidegger. If some of the philosophical excursions in the book's second half threaten to derail the cogency of its arguments, they generally reward patience. And if the sheer exuberance of Zizek's biting invective acts as something of a tonic, the sobriety of his basic message—that we have entered a permanent, Orwellian "state of emergency" that threatens the very freedoms we are supposedly defending—is never lost. Simultaneously invigorating, depressing and maddening, Zizek's book reveals him to be an intellectual made for these times, a mixed blessing if ever there was one.
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Review

“Hopping from peak to peak, and periodically descending into the valley of present-day culture for refreshment, Žižek outlines a topology of activity that recovers revealed truths.”—Counterpunch

“Žižek will entertain and offend, but never bore.”—The Stranger
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Product Details

  • Series: Wo Es War Series
  • Hardcover: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; First Edition edition (July 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844670015
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844670017
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,373,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"The most dangerous philosopher in the West," (says Adam Kirsch of The New Republic) Slavoj Zizek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His books include "First as Tragedy, Then as Farce;" "Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle;" "In Defense of Lost Causes;" "Living in the End Times;" and many more.

Customer Reviews

So yes put down the New York Times, and read this book.
Samuel A. Stern
So the line of arguments and facts he follows are always placed within this Lacanian context and it makes for interesting reading.
scarecrow
For anyone who has read Zizek before - this book is classic Zizek.
Robert Pluto

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Samuel A. Stern on January 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I think its interesting to note that the irony of the two comments above, who claim that Zizek is actually wrong in the book since now they found those old shells with sarin residues, perfectly reinforces the logic of the book. The War was not about the weapons, and neither is book, as its focus was rather the pretexts under which modern war can be waged. The actual weapons here were irrelevant (plus finding a few artillerly shells with expired toxins surely dont qualify as the thousands of liters of deadly chemicals that were promiced to us before the invasion)- and yes Saddam did have WMDs at one point, we should know, we sold it to him - the focus of the book is on the status of "reality" and "truth" in the modern media culture, which are very disturbing.

Rather the book explores the implications and fallout of what might be considered a grand political experiment that was tried by the Bush administration on America and the world: make up a fake reason for war and handouts, break international law, put the media machine to reinforce your claims, see it be proven false, dont even bother covering ass but just change the topic (WMDs > Freeedom), refuse to talk about a blatant lie, get reelected, and then watch the world leaders come to make amends. This is what the Left is ignoring, and this is the challenge to "reality" that needs to be addressed.

So yes put down the New York Times, and read this book.
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19 of 27 people found the following review helpful By scarecrow VINE VOICE on September 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The real value of Zizek is he stimulates a discussion in a certain direction that you will never find within the establishment media press,(Michael Moore included here) for they own and control the discourse. Zizek is independent enough (and he knows he's an intellectual supported by the system) where he need not simply fall like sheep into line with the various/nefarious propaganda machines as practiced by The Heritage Fnd.Wm.Kristol,Thom.Freidman, Wm.Safire. They all have easy jobs simply make some nice waverings from Right to Left,Neoliberal is the buzz these days(you needn't be consistent either)summoning the time honored icons of truth,justice,civilization,terror where is it? etc. or in Safire's case simply Right-Wing all the way, no swinging allowed!, there is simply evil out(The "Other" or today "Islam"(those who have oil) (it was communism) there to be extinguished or made docile, so the discourse is further made one-dimensional.

So let's turn to the real world and that's where Zizek begins. Zizek uses Lacan's conception of reality where what is real is never really really "real" because it is "tainted" or "diseased" with the imaginary and the symbolic. So the line of arguments and facts he follows are always placed within this Lacanian context and it makes for interesting reading.
It is fairly commonplace now that Bush and Company always knew that Saddam had no weapons(WMD) otherwise why would Washington send over 150,000 troops ready to be slaughtered by these weapons. (We are talking about, well they, Washington etc. talked about weapons of MASS destruction, what does that mean?) Well weapons that can be sent to New York,intercontinental?
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By W. Jamison VINE VOICE on February 13, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An early book by the most dangerous philosopher in the world. Much smaller than Less than Nothing this book requires less capital to purchase and much less strength to tote around. This was a timely piece then and serves mostly as a historical reference to the ongoing dialog that occurred. Does it still have relevance other than a brief expose of how human we all are?
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By Robert Pluto on December 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought this book for an essay I had to write in school. For anyone who has read Zizek before - this book is classic Zizek. Love it or hate it, his style is provocative and incredibly insightful. As he admits in the first few pages, this book is not exactly about Iraq. Rather, it is about everything that happened around Iraq. Expect a lot of psychoanalysis, Hegelese, and and Zizek's jokes from the Soviet era.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Paul Pope on February 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
...A long yarn consisting of provisional conclusions about the state of global politics from a critical theorist's perspective. The first part of the book directly relates to the war in Iraq, introduced by the very appropriate question "They Control Iraq, But Do They Control Themselves?" ... A question that only a theorist schooled in psychoanalysis would ask, perhaps, but a very interesting question nonetheless.

In addressing this question, Zizek observes that "the problem... was that there were TOO MANY reasons for the war," and goes on to say "I should emphasize that Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle is not a book about Iraq - but the Iraqi crisis and war were not really about Iraq either" (but rather about the stakes of international politics).

The first third of the book (first 66 pages) is interesting and thought-provoking, although some of Zizek's analyses of the global context of war become superficial after a few pages. The second two parts ("appendices"), which comprise the majority of the book, don't really have anything to do with the war per se. Zizek takes the opportunity of the Iraq war to go off on a psycho-marxist rant about ethics and global affairs for 110 pages in these two appendices. A few thought-provoking ideas, here and there, but the profound conclusions that the reader expects never arrive.

Again, the conclusion of the book is quite interesting, but how and why the reader has arrived there is so osbscured by the morass of allegories that Zizek employs that it is not clear whether a such a path even exists. As a work of political theory, this book is testament to the vain, undisciplined character of much contemporary "critical" thought. Are there no rigorous taskmasters at Verso? Zizek needs one.
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