Slavoj Zizek tells an old Russian joke

In the good old days of really existing socialism, a joke was popular among dissidents – a joke used to illustrate the futility of their protests:

In 15th century Russia, occupied by Mongols, a farmer and his wife walk along a dusty country road. A Mongol warrior on a horse stops at their sight and tells the farmer that he will now rape his wife. He then adds: “But since there is a lot of dust on the ground, you should hold my testicles while I’m raping your wife, so they’ll not get dirty. After the Mongol finishes his job and drives away, the farmer starts to laugh and jump with joy. The surprised wife asks him: “How can you be jumping with joy when I was just brutally raped?!” The farmer answers: “But I got him! His balls are full of dust.”


This sad joke tells of the predicament of dissidents. They thought they were dealing serious blows to the Party Nomenklatura [higher officials of the Soviet Union], but all they were doing was getting a bit of dust on the Nomenklatura’s testicles. Is today’s critical left all too often not in a similar position? We think we are doing something terribly subversive, but we are just… Our task is to discover how to make a step further. Critical leftists have hitherto only dirtied with dust the balls of those in power. The point is, to cut them off.”