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To begin with, it is important to [[recall]] how the fallacy of economism usually proceeds. As is well known, one of the primary conceptual limits of orthodox Marxist thought (much like [[liberal]] thought, surprisingly) was its mistaken [[belief]] that the field of economics represented a [[rational]], self-sufficient field of social existence, whose objective laws would inevitably lead to capitalism’s eventual demise. For orthodox [[Marxism]], the economy (“the base”) acts as the determining force upon which all other social facts are founded, reducing the “merely cultural” realm (the superstructure) to an epiphenomenal, even [[illusory]], existence. As [[Karl Marx|Marx]] puts it in his ''[[Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy]]'': “The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, ''the real foundation'' [italics mine], on which arises a legal and political superstructure” ([[Marx]] 1977: 7). In Marx’s description, only the economy is “real” and historically decisive, a positive force of social existence whose “real foundation” upholds the illusory realm of [[culture]] ([[ideology]]).
Employing the insights of Lacanian [[psychoanalysis]], however, Žižek follows the reverse strategy by de-substantializing the economy of its [[ontological]] integrity and by materializing ideology, turning economy into a [[contingent]] type of social relation and the realm of ideology into a material site of real abstraction. So while the economy might not be real as in an [[object]] one can touch, taste or feel, it is very much Real in Lacanian terms. This is because [[the Real]] is not a positive existent for [[Lacan]], but the very gap – [[lack]] or [[absence]] – that separates the [[symbolic]] order from itself (“not all”). Hence, “the economic”, Žižek claims, “is thus doubly inscribed in the precise sense which defines the Lacanian Real: it is simultaneously the hard core ‘expressed’ in other struggles through displacements and other forms of [[distortion]], and the very struggling principle of these distortions” (''LC'': 291). Against liberal and vulgar Marxist theories of economics, then, there is no “economy” in itself, according to Žižek. The economic is “always already” distributed in culturally symbolic terms, making the political reality of culture a mediated form of [[Class Struggle|class struggle ]] “in a [[displaced]] mode” (''PV'': 359–65). Hence, the economic sphere is defined by its “[[Extimacy|ex-timate]]” [[relationship]] to the [[multiplicity]] of social relationships that articulate the economic relation itself. The modern subject encounters its economic [[position]] in a distorted, “parallax” fashion: that is, in terms of sexuality, race, religion, nationality, and so on. Indeed, as Žižek describes it in ''[[The Parallax View]]'': “the relationship between economy and [[politics]] is ultimately that of the well-known [[paradox]] of ‘two faces or a vase’: you see either two faces or a vase, never both – you have to make a choice” (''PV'': 271). [[The Subject|The subject]], for Žižek, is never ''[[homo economicus]]''.
It is precisely this specific [[understanding]] of the political, as marking the distance of the economy from itself, that keeps Žižek’s understanding of capitalism from [[repeating]] the “myth of a self-enclosed economic space”, which [[Ernesto Laclau|Laclau]] claims is the [[case]]. ''Pace'' Žižek:<blockquote>What we are dealing with here is [[another]] version of the Lacanian “il n’y a pas de rapport …”: there is ''no relationship between economy and politics'', no “metalanguage” that enables us to grasp the two levels from the same neutral standpoint, although – or, rather, because – these two levels are inextricably intertwined. (''Ibid''.)</blockquote><blockquote></blockquote>This problem of [[choice]] apropos the subject of the economic is why, since ''[[The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology|The Ticklish Subject]]'', Žižek has staunchly advocated the “repoliticisation of the economy”: namely, “to bring [[about]] a society in which risky long-term decisions [with [[regard]] to the economy] would ensue from [[public]] debate” (''TS'': 353). Thus, as opposed to the orthodox Marxist view, in which “the economy” and “the [[working]]-class” represent two positively defined terms in an enclosed [[space]], Žižek’s work shows how the antagonistic site of economy likewise de-ontologizes the very [[nature]] of the social itself.
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