“what do democratic socialists effectively want? The rightist reproach against them is that, beneath their innocent-sounding concrete proposals to raise taxes, make healthcare better, etc, there is a dark project to destroy capitalism and its freedoms. My fear is exactly the opposite one: that beneath their concrete welfare state proposals there is nothing, no great project, just a vague idea of more social justice. The idea is simply that, through electoral pressure, the centre of gravity will move back to the left.
But is, in the (not so) long term, this enough? Do the challenges that we face, from global warming to refugees, from digital control to biogenetic manipulations, not require nothing less than a global reorganisation of our societies?”
Link to an article by Slavoj Žižek:
“There is an even greater problem with the underlying premise of those who proclaim the ‘death of truth’: they talk as if before (say, until the 1980s), in spite of all the manipulations and distortions, truth did somehow prevail, and that the ‘death of truth’ is a relatively recent phenomenon. Already a quick overview tells us that this was not the case. How many violations of human rights and humanitarian catastrophes remained invisible, from the Vietnam War to the invasion of Iraq? Just remember the times of Reagan, Nixon, Bush… The difference was not that the past was more ‘truthful’ but that ideological hegemony was much stronger, so that, instead of today’s greater melee of local ‘truths,’ one ‘truth’ (or, rather, one big Lie) basically prevailed. In the West, this was the liberal-democratic Truth (with a Leftist or Rightist twist). What is happening today is that, with the populist wave which unsettled the political establishment, the Truth/Lie that has served as an ideological foundation for this establishment is also falling apart. And the ultimate reason for this disintegration is not the rise of postmodern relativism but the failure of the ruling establishment, which is no longer able to maintain its ideological hegemony.”
Bonus links: “Fake News: How to Watch the News, Episode 03” and “The World Is Returning to Pluralism After American Hegemony, Says German Philosopher” and “Why the Democratic and Republican Establishments Can’t Stop Insurgents” and “Centrists Are Pining for a Golden Age that Never Was”
“The arbitrariness of social hierarchy is not a mistake, but the whole point, with the arbitrariness of evaluation playing an analogous role to the arbitrariness of market success. Violence threatens to explode not when there is too much contingency in the social space, but when one tries to eliminate contingency. In La Marque du sacré, Jean-Pierre Dupuy conceives hierarchy as one of four procedures (‘dispositifs symboliques’) whose function is to make the relationship of superiority non-humiliating: hierarchy itself (an externally imposed order that allows me to experience my lower social status as independent of my inherent value); demystification (the ideological procedure which demonstrates that society is not a meritocracy but the product of objective social struggles, enabling me to avoid the painful conclusion that someone else’s superiority is the result of his merit and achievements); contingency (a similar mechanism, by which we come to understand that our position on the social scale depends on a natural and social lottery; the lucky ones are those born with the right genes in rich families); and complexity (uncontrollable forces have unpredictable consequences; for instance, the invisible hand of the market may lead to my failure and my neighbour’s success, even if I work much harder and am much more intelligent). Contrary to appearances, these mechanisms don’t contest or threaten hierarchy, but make it palatable, since ‘what triggers the turmoil of envy is the idea that the other deserves his good luck and not the opposite idea – which is the only one that can be openly expressed.’ Dupuy draws from this premise the conclusion that it is a great mistake to think that a reasonably just society which also perceives itself as just will be free of resentment: on the contrary, it is in such societies that those who occupy inferior positions will find an outlet for their hurt pride in violent outbursts of resentment.”
Link to an article by Ilan Kapoor:
I’m not sure I agree with the criticisms of Žižek this offers, partly because they seem conclusory and underdeveloped, even if intriguing. For instance, the notion that Žižek is overexposed seems to call for an explanation of what “overexposed” means, and why it applies. For example, a discussion of that concept in view of Žižek’s well-known critique of liberalism’s inability to cope with the destructive power of envy seems apropos. Or perhaps something out of Bourdieu or another branch of sociology?
Link to a video produced by Zero Books:
Bonus Links: “Woke Hollywood? The Marketing of Black Panther” and “The Politics of Batman” and War and Revolution: Rethinking the Twentieth Century and “Making Greater Possibilities Inconceivable: Another Thought or Two on the Logic of Lesser Evilism” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War”
“one should . . . admit how problematic it is to anchor one’s political demands to status of victimhood. Is the basic characteristic of today’s subjectivity not the weird combination of the free subject who believes themselves ultimately responsible for their own fate and the subject who bases their argument on their status as a victim of circumstances beyond their own control? Every contact with another human being is experienced as a potential threat – if the other smokes, if he casts a covetous glance at me, he already hurts me; this logic of victimization is today universalized, reaching well beyond the standard cases of sexual or racist harassment.”
“Social valorization of affects basically means that we pay the plaintiff with her own money: oh, but your feelings are so precious, you are so precious! The more you feel, the more precious you are. This is a typical neoliberal maneuver, which transforms even our traumatic experiences into possible social capital. If we can capitalize on our affects, we will limit out protests to declarations of these affects — say, declarations of suffering — rather than becoming active agents of social change. I’m of course not saying that suffering shouldn’t be expressed and talked about, but that this should not ‘freeze’ the subject into the figure of the victim. The revolt should be precisely about refusing to be a victim, rejecting the position of the victim on all possible levels.
…this bind derives precisely from the subjective gain or gratification that this positioning offers. (Moral) outrage is a particularly unproductive affect, yet it is one that offers considerable libidinal satisfaction. By ‘unproductive’ I mean this: it gives us the satisfaction of feeling morally superior, the feeling that we are in the right and others are in the wrong. Now for this to work, things must not really change. We are much less interested in changing things than in proving, again and again, that we are in the right, or on the right side, the side of the good. Hegel invented a great name for this position: the ‘beautiful soul.’ A ‘beautiful soul’ sees evil and baseness all around it but fails to see to what extent it participates in the perpetuation of that same order of things. The point of course is not that the world isn’t really evil, the point is that we are part of this evil world.”
Bonus links: “The Politics of Identity” and “Who Gets Ownership of Pain and Victimhood?” and “Art and Exploitation: Ai Weiwei, Dissidence and the Refugee Crisis” and “What’s Wrong With Identity Politics (and Intersectionality Theory)? A Response to Mark Fisher’s “Exiting the Vampire Castle” (And Its Critics)” (“The upshot [of intersectionality theory] in political practice is a static pluralism of reified social categories, each vying for more-subaltern-than-thou status on a field of one-downsmanship.”) and “On Sex Without Identity: Feminist Politics and Sexual Difference” (“The way things stand now, this kind of [victimhood] assertion comes with a certain social capital, and this tends to stop emancipatory movements before they even start to develop their emancipatory potential.”) and “Die Dreigroschenoper [The Threepenny Opera]” (Notes to the Threepenny Opera: Jonathan Peachum “is undoubtedly a villain . . . . his crime consists in his conception of the world . . . ; yet he is only following the ‘trend of the times’ when he regards misery as a commodity.”) and “Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder [Mother Courage and Her Children]” and Safe and “Who Gets Ownership of Pain and Victimhood?” and The Holocaust Industry and Hate, Inc. (“People need to start understanding the news not as ‘the news,’ but as . . . an individualized consumer experience — anger just for you. This is not reporting. It’s a marketing process designed to create rhetorical addictions and shut down any non-consumerist doors in your mind.”) and “Amuse-Bouches II – Testimony and the Pass”
Link to an article by Timothy Bryar:
“Preferring Zizek’s Bartleby Politics,” International Journal of Žižek Studies, Vol 12, No 1 (2018).
Bonus quotes: “When the self ceases to exist, the world exists.” Alejandro Jodorowsky, The Finger and the Moon: Zen Teachings and Koans and “The Sunrise Movement seems much more positive to me. I love that [students] are not going to school and are calling for people to not go to school. I think that’s awesome. Because young people’s job . . . is to reproduce the society that exists. So if they say, ‘No, we’re not going to do that, we have to stop right now. Reproducing this society is the thing we can’t do…’ To step back and say, ‘No, we want to do something different’ — I think that’s really powerful and very smart on them.” Malcolm Harris, “The Millennial Condition: History, Revolution, and Generational Analysis”