Žižek disagrees with the Marxist notion that: “ideology equals false consciousness.” Ideology for Zizek is consciousness. Ideology does not veil the real—people cannot achieve true consciousness. For Zizek post-ideological postmodern “knowingness” i.e. the cynicism and irony of postmodern cultural production do not reveal the truth. The deconstructionists et al., may know that reality is an “ideological construction” but caught up in an apparently unalterable world of exchange-values (capital), they do their part to sustain that construction in any case. As Marx would say, it is their very life process that is ideological, what they know, or what they think they know, being neither here nor there. The postmodern cultural artifact—the “critique,” the “incredulity”—is itself merely a symptom/commodity fetish. Thus has capital commodified even the cynicism that purports to unmask its “reality,” to “emancipate.”

The true postmoderns already knew that.

Zizek does not escape the postmodern in any way.

Just ask Linda Hutcheon.


I would call the position Zizek is attacking the illusion of transcendence. That irony extricates them from, well, anything.

And then follow the body to find out what they really believe.

It’s like they believe their hairstyle is who they are.

Postmoderns are not transcendental.

I agree. I think the claim that they are is implicit in many of their stances however.

Ooh the irony of a posturing postmodern appearing typically transcendental is almost too much to bear.

I want to send the postmodernist back to this groundwork, but in morals also. Not so they become ‘good like me’, but so they become honest. People so often confuse ideas of the self and ideas in general they think are ‘right’ with who they are. They think their official positions are what they actually believe. They think they live from their official beliefs and rarely consider how much they are trying to balance against what they think is the extreme position of some other group who has official positions they also do not fully or only believe.

You can watch this like watching popcorn: the ironic transcendant stance is the sizzling sound - like some quantum sort of in one place but not activity - and then when the damn kernal pops and you see the real person, suddenly manifest in world they seem to wish they did not believe in and as a specific person, with hard and fast beliefs like everyone else, they wish they were not - but much less do they wish this than they would need to for it to be effective. Politicians! I say with scorn.

The essence of ‘ideology is false consciousness’ lies in the manner in which this particular sort of consciousness thinks and exists. Sure, we can reduce all conscious human activity and thinking to the status of “ideology” if we define ideology in a particular manner, especially if we elevate economic (or otherwise) values-transaction and commodification (capitalist or otherwise) to the status of Master-Signifier which are allowed to entirely determine the possible nature and scope of the conversation; but the real meaning here is: to what extent can we call ideology an example of sound thinking? Or phrased more exactly: what sort of thinking, what nature of conscious activity, is possible outside the domain of the ideological? (And of course ideological thinking needs a definition, which is provided below).

The answer, of course, is radical thinking which ceaselessly questions the given and the status quo, which is continuously inserting degrees of separation and violent destruction into its ideas in order to discern from this chaos the more essential truths which form the basis of the ground and logic of these phenomena, either in themselves or in what manifests as a consequence of them. Real thought is radical in the extreme, but this does not mean it accepts nothing: it means it accepts only what has been forged in the fire of its severe, testing reason, what has survived the test of itself, what has become able to be united within the sphere of its comprehension and understanding, which is also to say of course, its utility and value. When nothing is accepted without intense scrutiny that appeals to the totality of a thinker’s consciousness, of his ideas, of his values and truth, then we have left ideology behind. Ideology is thinking (critically or not) within the given.

Zizek succeeds here at caricaturizing “postmodern consciousness” in order to do away with the need to acknowledge the basic distinction between what we can call ideological (common) and non-ideological (uncommon, philosophical) thinking. Or at least, that is the impression you give with your OP. I would like a broader quote and context from Zizek here, if indeed we are really to understand what in fact he is saying (not that I am saying you are taking him out of context, necessarily, since Zizek does love this method, to caricaturize a position in order to generate a novel take on its antithesis and opposition. But he usually does this in “good conscience”, as far as I can tell).