Slavoj Žižek: biography of the Slovenian philosopher and politician

Slavoj Žižek he is known to explain psychoanalytic theory using examples from popular culture and cinema. He also became famous for being very harsh in criticizing the current state of politics.

Her new vision of Lacan and Hegel and her way of violently attacking other philosophical and cultural positions that have emerged in recent decades, such as the third wave of feminism, cognitivism and New Age beliefs, have earned her the nickname of the most dangerous. philosopher in Europe.

  • You might be interested in: “20 Slavoj Žižek Phrases That Will Make You Think”

Biography of the Slavs Žižek

Let’s take a closer look at the exciting life and work of this Slovenian philosopher.

first years

Slavoj Žižek was born in Ljubljana, present-day Slovenia, March 21, 1949, in a bourgeois Yugoslav family.

Žižek spent most of his childhood in Portorož, where he had the opportunity to learn about Western theories, popular culture and films.

In his teenage years, Žižek’s family returned to Ljubljana, where young Slavoj studied at the Bežigrad Institute.


During the 1960s, Yugoslavia embarked on a series of measures imposed by President Josip Broz Tito which allowed certain airs of liberalization in the socialist country.

Thanks to this, Žižek had the opportunity to study philosophy and sociology at the University of Ljubljana.

During his university years, Žižek had the opportunity to make contact with intellectual dissidents, as well as to publish in alternative journals such as Praxis, Tribuna and Problemi.

In 1971 he was accepted to work in the research field on a permanent basis, but was ultimately rejected because authorities considered his master’s thesis to be a deviation from Marxism.

Later he served in the Yugoslav army in Karlovac.

professional career

Žižek had a prolific intellectual life translating into Slovene the works of great thinkers such as Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan and Louis Althusser.

In 1979 he joined the sociology department of the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Ljubljana.

In the late 1970s, he co-founded the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis with other Yugoslav psychoanalytic colleagues.

In 1985, Žižek obtained his doctorate in philosophy of psychoanalysis from the University of Paris VIII.

His last name became known worldwide in 1989 with the publication of his first book in English: The Sublime Object of Ideology.

He has also contributed to various newspapers such as the American Lacanian Ink and In These Times, The New Left and The London Review of Books in the UK, as well as to several magazines in his native Slovenia.

In 2007 the International Journal of Žižek Studies was founded, an open access research journal that became the inspiration for the creation of four operas based on publications by the Slovenian philosopher, published by the British Royal Opera House in 2013 .


From the late 1980s, Žižek rose to prominence as a columnist for the alternative youth magazine Mladina., In which a critical vision has manifested itself with the measures of President Tito and, above all, with the militarization of society.

Žižek was a member of the Slovenian Communist Party until 1988, but this year he resigned along with 32 other Slovenian intellectuals to protest the political trial of the JBTZ, in which he convicted four newspaper editors for having had criticism racist with the Yugoslav army.

At the end of the 1980s, he participated in various social and political movements calling for the arrival of democracy in the Slavic country, participating in the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights.

In the first free elections held in Slovenia, Žižek stood as the candidate of the Liberal Democratic Party for the presidency of the country.

One of the reasons he enlisted in this party and not in others closer to communism, according to Žižek, was to prevent Slovenia from becoming a country like Croatia or Serbia, where nationalism was winning. from the field, a great hegemony.

Although he was involved in liberal projects, he was always very critical of ideologies located mostly on the right side of the political spectrum, such as nationalism, conservatism and liberalism in its most classic version. In fact, Žižek himself considers himself a “radical Stalinist philosopher”.

As early as 2000, he moved away from parliamentary activity, but published several analyzes of the political situation, showing his support, not always in the most politically correct way, for left-wing parties at European level, such as Syriza and Podemos. .

private life

Slavoj Žižek has a son and has married a total of three times: first to a Slovenian philosopher, Renata Saleci, then to a model Analia Houlie and finally to Jela Krecic. He is fluent in Slovenian, Serbo-Croatian, French, German and English.


Let’s find out below what are the keys to understanding Slavoj Žižek’s ideas in different fields.

1. Critique of multiculturalism and nationalism

Žižek was very critical of current political ideologies. Their point of departure is that nationalism and liberalism should not be conceived as if they are two completely autonomous worlds that do not interact, but rather act as extremes of the same logic.

Thus, these two ways of seeing the world must be analyzed not only at the economic level but also at the libidinal level, i.e. how the interactions between them are in turn the creators of other political ideologies that they attempt. to obtain maximum pleasure / satisfaction from the person.

On this basis, Žižek’s conclusions are that multiculturalism, that is, the idea that promotes tolerance of any social movement, is in turn the cause of what he seeks to resolve.

Žižek rejects hybrid ideologies which he believes are the result of the liberal left, which he believes are nothing more than the politically correct way in which the fiercest capitalism is shown.

This vision of Žižek can be found more fully explained in several works:

  • The permanence of the negative (2016)
  • Who said totalitarianism? 5 interventions on the (mis) use of the concept (2002)
  • Gaudi’s metastases. Six Essays on Women and Causation (2003)
  • The new class struggle. Refugees and Terror (2016)
  • Cultural studies. Reflections on Multiculturalism (1998)
  • In Defense of Intolerance (2008)

2. Vision of the State and politics in general

Žižek sees the state as a system that regulates the behavior of its citizens and shapes it to the image and likeness of their ideal view of the behavior of society.

Sadly, for this same philosopher, political decisions have been turned into something normal and indisputable rather than properly contextualized as they are made.

One example is the way some ideologies, especially those on the right, advocate cutting back on basic services, treating them as though they are something objective and extremely necessary.

Although greater participation in government decisions, whether through elections or referendums, has been given in Western societies, many of these decisions are made in favor of capital rather than social welfare.

Bibliographical references:

  • Kotsko, A. (2008). Politics and perversion: locate Paul de Žižek. Journal of Cultural and Religious Theory. 9 (2): 48.
  • Boyle, K. (2016). “The four fundamental concepts of psychoanalytic Marxism by Slavoj Žižek”. International Journal of Žižek Studies. Flight 2.1.
  • Žižek, S. (1989). The sublime object of ideology. New York: Verse.
  • Sinnerbrink, R. (2008). The Hegelian “night of the world”: Žižek on subjectivity, negativity and universality. International Journal of Žižek Studies. 2 (2).
  • Holbo, J. (2004). In Žižek and Trilling. Philosophy and Literature. 28 (2): 430-440.

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