The Dialectic: Not just the Absolute Recoil, but the World’s Living Fire that Extinguishes and Kindles Itself. Reflections on Slavoj Žižek’s Version of Dialectical Philosophy in "Absolute Recoil: Towards a New Foundation of Dialectical Materialism".

  • Christian Fuchs University of Westminster, Communication and Media Research Institute
Keywords: Slavoj Žižek, Hegel, dialectic, dialectics, absolute recoil, Karl Marx, Heraclitus, Hans Heinz Holz, Herbert Hörz, fire, dialectical materialism, capitalism, history, dialectic of history, Immanuel Wallerstein


Slavoj Žižek shows in his book Absolute Recoil (and previous Hegelian works such as Less than Nothing) the importance of repeating Hegel’s dialectical philosophy in contemporary capitalism. Žižek contributes especially to a reconceptualisation of dialectical logic and based on it the dialectic of history. The reflections in this paper stress that the dialectic is only the absolute recoil, a sublation that posits its own presuppositions, by working as a living fire that extinguishes and kindles itself. I point out that a new foundation of dialectical materialism needs a proper Heraclitusian foundation. I discuss Žižek’s version of the dialectic that stresses the absolute recoil and the logic of retroactivity and point out its implications for the concept of history as well as Žižek’s own theoretical ambiguities that oscillate between postmodern relativism and mechanical materialism. I argue that Žižek’s version of the dialectic should be brought into a dialogue with the dialectical philosophies of the German Marxists Hans Heinz Holz and Herbert Hörz. Žižek’s achievement is that he helps keeping alive the fire of dialectical materialism in the 21st century. Such a dialectical fire is needed for a proper revolutionary theory.

Author Biography

Christian Fuchs, University of Westminster, Communication and Media Research Institute
Christian Fuchs is professor at the University of Westminster's Communication and Media Research Institute. He is editor of tripleC: Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society. He holds a venia docendi in the field of ICTs and society.
His research interests are: critical theory, social theory, Internet and society, social media and society, media and society, ICTs and society, information society theory/research, political economy. He is author of many publications in these fields.
Reflections (Non Peer-Reviewed)