The 2016 US presidential election has turned out to be a disappointing one for the left (qualification: all elections eventually turn out to be disappointing for the left). Bernie Sanders is now stumping for Clinton, while Julian Assange, one time hero of anti-imperialists and open democracy advocates, has placed his quest to escape extradition to the US above all other concerns, risking the election of a man with a cavalier attitude to global nuclear war in order to satisfy his personal vendetta against Hillary.
For armchair revolutionaries it might be tempting to sit this election out, however two of the leading lights of the left, Slavoj Žižek and Noam Chomsky, have now staked out their places on opposing sides of the debate: Slavoj is with the Donald and Noam is for Hillary. Obviously they both do so with a private email server worth of qualifications, but choices have been made. This splits the radical left down the middle, with Chomsky being one of the world’s best known anarcho-syndicalists (well let’s be honest, really the only one with a significant public profile since the Spanish civil war), while Žižek is the flagbearer for the Lacanian Leninists (feared and respected for their conquest of at least two ex-Yugoslavian philosophy departments).
Like most things in 2016, none of this makes much sense at first glance. We’ve ended up with Chomsky, renowned critic of capitalism and US imperialism, supporting a candidate who has longstanding links to Wall Street and has already backed a coup in Latin America and an invasion in the Middle East before even becoming president. As for Žižek, picking Trump is a classic contrarian, headline grabbing position on his part, though it’s hard to know whether he believes his own argument here or is just trying out a terrifying practical joke on everyone.
For Chomsky it’s a case of choosing the lesser evil, whereas Žižek is keen to shake things up, by whatever means necessary. The clearest connection between Clinton and Chomsky is that they both tend to use dry lists of facts to back up their claims, while Žižek and Trump prefer showmanship and comedy. So not only is this now an election for the anarchists versus the communists, it’s one for the nerds versus the performance artists, the statisticians versus the class clowns!
Decisions must be made. Take the quiz below to find out who you should support!
- How do you prefer your political analysis?
- a) Plodding, interminable screeds of empirical evidence denouncing US imperialism.
- b) Two parts Hegel, one part Michael Douglas, with a sprinkling of dirty jokes.
- Your ideal Friday night would be spent:
- a) Drinking tea while comparing data sets on 20th century genocides.
- b) Punking lameass liberals
3. What’s your preferred model of revolution?
- a) The formation of an international Federation of workers’ collectives which will render the nation-state system redundant (timeline for completion unspecified).
- b) Guillotine, Gulag, Lols, repeat.
4. Aren’t you against voting in capitalist elections?
- a) Definitely, as an anarchist… but… Trump’s nuts! We have to stop him!
- b) Definitely, but… Trump’s nuts! It’s going to be wild! The system will crumble, and communism will rise from the ashes! Maybe. And if not, at least it’ll have been a fun ride.
- Jacques Lacan is:
- a) A pretentious fraud
- b) So daddy!
- Where do you stand on the Syrian revolution and civil war?
- a) Well the Kurdish revolutionaries should be supported, but the US shouldn’t be involved. And it’s bad what Russia’s doing too. It’d be good if they’d all just stop fighting.
- b) It’s a pseudo struggle against an allegedly murderous dictator– the liberal multiculturalists are really to blame.
- Where’s Aleppo?
- a) In northern Syria, why are you asking such a stupid question?
- b) You’re not going to suck me in with Gary Johnson jokes, buddy.
- c) What’s a leper?
- What do you think about Eurocentrism?
- a) It’s not US-centric enough.
- b) It’s great! Edward Said can kiss my ass!
- c) Euro what now?
- Lady Gaga Y/N
- a) Can we get back to the substantive policy questions please?
- b) We were never dating ok!
- What’s more important, the survival of humanity or having some lols?
- a) The survival of humanity, not that we really deserve it.
- b) Defs the lols.
If you got more A’s, you’re on Team Chomsky, and you should vote for Hillary!
If you got more B’s, you’re on Team Žižek, and you should vote for Trump!
If you got more C’s, you should vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and/or stop smoking so much weed.