“Hegel’s Luther”?

Near the end of a two-hour presentation at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on November 10, 2006, Slavoj Zizek confesses that, in terms of the intellectual ambitions nearest to his heart, “my secret dream is to be Hegel’s Luther” [“Why Only an Atheist Can Believe”]. But this leaves me wondering, if Zizek is Luther, then what is the analogical place of Hegel? If Luther rebelled against the decadence of the institution of the Catholic church, then I have to figure Zizek sees himself as the rebel against the tradition-become-decadent of continental European philosophy and critical theory from Nietzsche up to the French post-structuralist philosophy of difference (i.e. post-modernism) which continues to be main (if not always realized) intellectual influence over the academic humanities, especially in the United States. Zizek sees this tradition having become decadent like the Catholic church of Luther’s time because it has fallen into the temptations of bourgeois self-indulgence and frivolity, withdrawing from the concrete critical and emancipatory project from which its whole trajectory began in Hegel and Marx. At least this is the way Zizek seems to see it through his revolution-colored spectacles.

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