Slavoj Žižek loves humanity in general but doesn't like people. So, at any rate, he tells an interviewer from Harper's Magazine who has asked him about his visit to Zuccotti Park to talk to the Occupy Wall Street protesters:
I literally came there three minutes before I did it. I instantly disappeared. You know, this may be part of my character, but that's how I function. There is a certain cliché about communists or radicals. They usually say, you like humanity in abstract, but you don't like concrete people. You are even ready to kill them for humanity. Okay, fuck it. If this is it, then I am definitely a totalitarian. I like humanity, maybe great works of art, but the majority of the people I don't like. I like to be alone... I just have a couple of friends.
Let's discount that, shall we? If Žižek likes to be alone, it's his right, and his response here looks very much like he's trying to cause a stir. Much more interesting is his answer to the interviewer's second question: why continue to claim the communist 'brand' when it's now so devalued? Žižek offers several reasons in response - among them, that the labels socialism, democracy, justice, have been harmlessly absorbed by the dominant culture - but he eventually gets to this, that to claim the label of communism is to remind oneself of, precisely, the 'horrible things [that] were done in the name of communism', a reminder that we need given the fact that we don't have a good account of what went wrong to produce Stalinism. In particular, liberal accounts just reduce it all to the bad actions of bad people, whereas, of course, it was 'the system'.
If this were all being uttered by a clown, it would be hard to tell the difference. For, first, since he says there isn't one, Žižek himself might like to tell his interviewer what some of the elements of 'a good critique' of Stalinized communism would look like like. Yet he doesn't. Second, the claim that all we have to date is stuff about the bad actions of bad people is laughable. Žižek, one has to suppose, is unfamiliar with the following themes: that single-party government is incompatible with any effective reality of democratic self-rule; that a regime which abandons standard liberal safeguards for the individual endangers people's rights and, in some cases, their lives; that a respect for basic human rights is an important constituent of any decent society; that the separation of powers is a critical barrier against tyranny; that the independence of judicial insitutions is an important protection; and that some of the things that went wrong with communism as so far practised might have been due to a tendency among its leading adherents to make light of commitments to democracy, justice, liberal safeguards - in exactly the way Žižek himself does - as being merely the ideological property of... the dominant class.
We aren't still at square one on these matters, whatever the philosopher Žižek may be ready to give out. Not only liberals but also socialist critics of the Stalinist experience have gone some way beyond bad-people-type explanations.