[Update: Zizek has replied through the International Journal of Zizek Studies (PDF here.) It looks like he's putting this one on his publisher. Apparently he did not correct the galleys. His publisher finds that explanation plausible.]
I'll begin with the evidence and then provide some context. I already know what Zizek and his defenders will say, so I'll try to pre-empt them below. Here, in any case is part of a paragraph from Jean-Marie Muller's "Non-Violence in Education" (UNESCO [PDF], 2002, page 14):
Desiring property and power is legitimate insofar as it enables an individual to achieve independence from others. Adversaries in a conflict, however, each have a natural tendency always to demand more. Nothing is enough for them, and they are never satisfied. “They do not know how to stop themselves”; they know no limits. Desire demands more, much more, than need. “There is always a sense of limitlessness in desire,” [fn 18] writes Simone Weil. To begin with, individuals seek power so as not to be dominated by others. But if they are not careful, they can soon find themselves overstepping the limit beyond which they are actually seeking to dominate others. Rivalry between human beings can only be surmounted when each individual puts a limit on his or her own desires. “Limited desires,” notes Weil, “are in harmony with the world; desires that contain the infinite are not.”[fn 19]
And here is a paragraph from Slavoj Zizek's Violence (Profile,
20102008, page 54):
Desiring property and power is legitimate insofar as it enables an individual to achieve independence from others. Adversaries in a conflict, however, each have a natural tendency always to demand more. Nothing is enough for them, and they are never satisfied. They do not know how to stop themselves; they know no limits. Desire demands more, much more, than need. ‘There is always a sense of limitlessness in desire,’ [en 21] wrote the French religious thinker Simone Weil. To begin with, individuals seek power so as not to be dominated by others. But if they are not careful, they can soon find themselves overstepping the limit beyond which they are actually seeking to dominate others. Rivalry between human beings can only be surmounted when each individual puts a limit on his or her own desires. ‘Limited desires,’ notes Weil, ‘are in harmony with the world; desires that contain the infinite are not.’[en 22]
I have set the only differences between the two passages in bold type. Zizek adds a (to my mind unnecessary) biographical remark about Simone Weil and removes two quotations marks (which I think were intended by Muller to suggest ironic distance, not direct quotation.)
It's very clearly plagiarism, though I'm leaving out a bit of context that Zizek and his defenders will probably find mitigating. Before I get to that, I want to thank Nancy Taylor Porter for the leg work. She posted a comment on Hollis Phelps' apologia** for Zizek on the occasion of that recent instance of plagiarism, saying she knew of another example and asking how to proceed. She sent me her evidence when I emailed her about it; I'm posting it here with her permission.
Okay, let's look more closely at the context. Just before this paragraph (on page 53), Zizek has actually cited Muller's article (on page 11), providing a reference (albeit an incomplete one) and a properly marked quotation. But there is no way to tell in what follows that he's really just providing what I think he himself thought of as exegesis (what he's called a "resume" when defending himself from the earlier charge of plagiarism). In fact, as I read it, he's providing an argument that implicitly claims to move beyond Muller's position. Still, I'm sure Zizek will say this isn't so bad because he's not stealing Muller's ideas, just his words in order to dismiss the ideas (so who cares whose they are?), which is what seems to happen in the next paragraph when we discover that it's all so much [premodern] Aristotelianism
or Kantianism or modernism or whatever.
What irks me (and should irk Muller) is that Zizek is presenting Muller's argument as a very simple insistence on the absolute "badness" of violence. Zizek then presents himself as super-sophisticated, constructing an "easy" "terminological distinction" between violence and aggression, talking about "life-forces" and "death-forces", and then this high-brow literary invocation of Simone Weil on the desire for power and property. But all this is already in the Muller piece (which, like I say, I'm expecting Zizek to say should be obvious to everyone, though it's not**). Muller, in fact, addresses Zizek's position (that "struggle and aggression are a part of life"***) head on, which Zizek then doesn't just ignore but plagiarises to make it look as though Muller hadn't thought of it. And there's more: Zizek describes the rejection of any distinction between good and bad violence as Muller's "starting point". But the passage he then (accurately) quotes appears on page 22, eight pages after the material Zizek plagiarizes. That is, Muller's definition actually comes as the conclusion of an argument that includes the considerations Zizek pretends (my contention) to introduce to complicate Muller's simplistic rejection of violence.
To understand the violence, if you will, of Zizek's scholarship here, imagine that you write a paper that arrives at an important, if arguably "simple", conclusion. Knowing that you have a sophisticated readership, you write a paper that takes a long series of nuances and objections into consideration. Someone then cites your conclusion as your "starting point" and offers a partial plagiary of the argument you had constructed as a more nuanced and sophisticated treatment of the issue, finally arriving at the opposite conclusion you did. I hope it's clear why that would be wrong.
It's interesting to note, finally, that Muller cites Weil in the French edition, and Zizek steals those footnotes too (converting them into endnotes). This means Zizek is implicitly claiming to have translated the Weil quotes, though he's obviously just stolen them too.
One excuse that I think we should dismiss in advance is that this is the work of some anonymous "friend". Zizek has explicitly said that he only availed himself of that kind of help once, and doesn't even use paid assistants. So he's going to have to own this one. My question to his supporters is this: I know you're going to say, "Big deal! Two cases of a paragraph that should have been in quotation marks." What I want to know is how many examples I have to find before you'll stop taking his prose seriously? I'm going to assume that if every other paragraph is actually an unmarked quotation, you'll lose as much respect for him as I already have. But less ought to do it, right? What's your limit?
Now, if Zizek had just owned his earlier mistake, acknowledged that it was huge and embarrassing and something he will work hard to avoid in the future, then I might not have thought too much of finding another case. People do make mistakes. But I hope this one, taken together with the previous one, will let us get beyond the "It's only an isolated instance" bullshit and start talking about those lowered standards that Hollis Phelps was reminding us of. I think way too many academic areas have lowered their standards to Zizek's level. It's time to turn things around.
*I should acknowledge that Phelps has denied that his piece is an apologia. Like a few other people I know, however, I can't find another way of reading it.
**This is similar to the problem in the Hornbeck case, where Zizek uses a plagiary of a clearly positive review as though it is a neutral exegesis that sets him up to dismiss the views thus summarised. It's baffling to read.
***Update (08/10/14): It's worth looking at this in detail. Here's Zizek (page 54):
But how can one wholly repudiate violence when struggle and aggression are part of life? The easy way out is a terminological distinction between the 'aggression' that effectively amounts to a 'life-force' and the 'violence' that is a 'death-force': 'violence', here, is not aggression as such, but its excess which disturbs the normal run of things by desiring always more and more. The task becomes to get rid of this excess.
And here's Muller (page 10-11):
But many writers tackling the issue of violence give the impression that it is inherent in life and that those seeking to eliminate it are merely deluding themselves. Hence the emergence of phrases such as these: “life demands violence”, “life is violent”, “life needs violence”, “violence is part of human nature”, “resorting to violence can be good”, “violence is a sudden sense of being alive”, “there is a hierarchy of violence and it takes judgement to draw the line between normal violence and pathological violence”, “violence is a thirst for life”, “violence brings both life and death”, “human beings need violence, for without it they have no life-force”, and so forth.
These two sides of the debate are utterly contradictory and cannot help but bewilder the teachers. So the concept of violence in use tends to be confused, uncertain, blurred, muddled, vague, ill-defined, indistinct and, ultimately, unintelligible. And the confusion strips the concept of “non-violence” of any relevance. The second of the above sets of slogans largely serves to maintain the total confusion between the “aggression” that effectively amounts to a “life-force” and the “violence” that is a “death-force”. The word “violence” would, according to our working hypothesis, need to be replaced with the word “aggression” in each slogan for everything to fall into place. Slogans aimed at vilifying violence in the eyes of youth can then be taken literally. The concept of “non-violence” recovers all of its meaning and it becomes possible to “mobilize people to combat violence”.
This is a pretty good example of what Rebecca Moore Howard calls "patchwriting". If he had attributed this line of thinking directly to Muller (instead of pretending to raise a question Muller hadn't considered) it would count as a (slightly too close) paraphrase. E.g. "Muller knows what his critics will say. How can one wholly repudiate violence when... His solution is too easy. He would have us distinguish between..."