Editor’s Page

Slavoj Žižek, the brilliant and prolific social theorist, named his book Iraq: the
Borrowed Kettle after a joke analysed by Freud. Josh Cohen finds an ‘undeniably
seductive charge’ in Žižek’s prose, but also, in his arguments, ‘a certain theoretical
and political decadence, a will to gratuitous scandalising that borders on
the louche.’ He refers to Žižek’s call for a strategic opening to Political Islam to
keep open the possibility of transformative political action in the face of the
attempt by the USA to close that space. Cohen argues instead for political action
to ‘advance uncompromisingly the primacy of the universal political good against
destructively narrow self-interests, be they Western, Ba’athist or Islamist’ on the
grounds that, ‘support for grassroots political reconstruction in Iraq, far from
involving capitulation to some nefarious Western agenda, is an exemplary claim
for popular control of political space against all the ideological interests seeking to
appropriate it.’

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