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Revolution at the Gates: Zizek on Lenin, the 1917 Writings Paperback – June 17, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-1859845462 ISBN-10: 1859845460

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (June 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859845460
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859845462
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“A return to Marx may be acceptable today ... But a repetition of Lenin? ... Perhaps Žižek’s return to Lenin is merely tactical, figurative even. He can’t be serious, can he? ... Žižek claims that Lenin’s act, ‘his choice,’ continues to speak to those of us on the left today. Faced with our current conceptual deadlock, we must have the courage, the nerve, to risk isolation, self-annihilation even, in order to ofeer a real alternative to the false oppositions recuperated by and churned out for our consumption by the image industry of late capitalism ... The postmodernists and liberal multiculturalists, today’s Bernsteins and Kautskys—our contemporary Plekhanovs and Martovs, beware!” —Bad Subjects

About the Author

Slavoj Žižek 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 Living in the End Times, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, In Defense of Lost Causes, four volumes of the Essential Žižek, and many more.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Andrew M. Ascherl on October 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This review is in response to Žižek's latest call for a return to Lenin (specifically the material collected in the introduction and afterword to Revolution at the Gates).
Zizek's exhortation is explicitly aimed not at resurrecting a mythical "lost" revolutionary past, to continue, as if without interruption, the legacy of Lenin the Soviet institution. Rather, Žižek instructs us to repeat the "revolutionary spark" of Lenin circa 1917, when the Bolsheviks recognized the unique Augenblick of their contingent geopolitical situation and seized the moment, thus reinventing the Marxist project. Žižek claims that the left is today at a crossroads similar (indeed, homologous) to that of Lenin just before the October revolution: imperialist war rages on, colonialism (whether disguised as "post" or not) is rampant, global ecological catastrophe looms...and the current political coordinates offer no viable solution to these disastrous conditions. In this sense, returning to Lenin means reclaiming the freedom to engage in politics that extend beyond the borders of the liberal parliamentary-democratic consensus in order to authentically address today's most pressing social and political concerns. I can but only enthusiastically agree with such a rejection of the prohibitions on thought imposed by "post-ideological" liberal-democratic hegemony.
Now, this is obviously merely scratching the surface of Žižek's argument, and for all the theoretical nuancing involved in delimiting it as a call to repeat the revolutionary impulse of Lenin in today's political constellation, calling for a "return to Lenin" most certainly brings up a host of questions and problems.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By scarecrow VINE VOICE on November 27, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's always fascinating why an intellectual might be drawn toward a persona, well here one of the greatest political strategists of the century, the last one. Lenin is not one one can warm up to with the vagaries of history for his succession the monstrous detour from Trotsky to Stalin.
Marx yes with his early philosophical searchings of humanism, creating a new science of historical man/woman, and then his work on capital exposing the whys and wherefors for greed, profit,work, distribution and circulation, even Wall Street Sharks find Marx interesting if detestable. But Lenin (so we are told) failed to ignite a revolution that sustained itself, and won, like it is a game of soccer!, the deep complexities of Mother Russia transforming itself after centuries of barbarism was more than formidable.

Lenin for Zizek represents a way out of the impasse of the present, the current digitalization and virtualization of reality of the consumer of the culture of un-change,(to have a revolution, you need a revolution) The neo-liberal order it is clear still requires escape valves the World Bank and the IMF, wars famines,death squads,corruption, massacres, poverty and environmental rape to sustain itself. For there is a man at the end still waiting for surplus value. Lenin's work represents a way out of the impasse of subjectivity of change. Now that deconstruction, and structuralisms, postmodernities vigours haven't produced tangible change we have returned to the Badiou-ian "truth-event" for which Lenin is a guide to action of sorts.

Lenin for Zizek was one who worked his way out of the impasse he always found himself in as best he could, where he bewildered many of this comrades adopting positions few could see the immediate results.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Sparky on March 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
Zizek audaciously republishes Lenin's works which were penned on the eve of the Russian Revolution. He points out that this leader was alone among the revolutionaries of his time in being able to clearly identify the emergence of a revolutionary situation and then lead a revolutionary movement to seize upon it. Zizek calls on people to see the genius of Lenin and study his works, especially in these times of great tumult. He challenges people who want to change the world to go beyond activism against oppression, or mere reflections or descriptions of what is. His book is a plea for the necessity of studying, and the importance of developing, revolutionary theory* in order to transform the world with an alert, dreaming eye toward what could be. A better world is possible....

*I noticed with pleased surprise (given that Zizek is no Maoist) that Professor Zizek has written the preface of an exciting new book by Bob Avakian and Bill Martin called Marxism and the Call of the Future. But then it makes sense in light of Zizek's thirst for elevating the discourse of radical politics and philosophy.
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4 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
With 'Revolution at the Gates' Zizek affirms that he past his zenith nearly a decade ago.
Far from the rigour of 'Sublime Object,' this collation of half-ideas traces the impotent gestures of the proto-Left's most recent failures.
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