Slavoj Zizek: Concrete Universality

‘Concrete universality’ means that there is no abstract universality of rules, there are no ‘typical’ situations, all we are dealing with is exceptions; however, a concrete totality is the totality that regulates the concrete context of exceptions. We should thus, on account of our very fidelity to concrete analysis, reject any form of nominalism. To the nominalist claim that there is no pure neutral universality, that every universality is caught up in the conflict of particular ways of life, one should reply: ‘No, today it’s the particular ways of life that do not exist as autonomous modes of historical existence, the only actual reality is that of the universal capitalist system.’ This is why, in contrast to identity politics, which focuses on how each (ethnic, religious, sexual) group should be able fully to assert its particular identity, the much more difficult and radical task is to enable each group to access full universality. This access to universality does not mean a recognition that one is also part of the universal human genus, or the assertion of some ideological values that are considered universal. Rather, it means recognizing one’s own universality, the way it is at work in the fractures of one’s particular identity, as the ‘work of the negative’ that undermines every such identity.

—Like A Thief In Broad Daylight: Power in the Era of Post-Humanity – Slavoj Zizek

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s