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Where Should We Go Rather than Where We are Unavoidably Going from Here?

May 14, 2008

I FOR ONE find the non-sustainable (i.e. doomed) nature of our social/economic system troubling.

I also share Slavoj Žižek’s concern about the West adopting some Chinese authoritarian version of capitalism. Though being a United States of American, (I’m not a patriot, I was just born here,) Your Montag has the luxury of harboring this concern while already living under an authoritarian capitalism.

That said, Žižek graciously provides a sort of Stump Lane “mission statement,” if you will:

…what can the left do? What can you effectively do? … It’s fashionable to make fun of Fukuyama, End of History, but even the majority of today’s left is effectively, if I may make an adverb, Fukuyamaists. Basically, isn’t it that most of us leftists silently believe capitalism is here to stay, parliamentary democracy is what we have, so the problem is simply how to make it work better? Our ultimate horizon is, again, in the same way as we were talking about socialism with a human face, global capitalist democracy with a human face. And for me, the key question is, is this enough?

…the left, around thirty years ago, simply stopped [asking] certain questions. I remember when I was young, we were still debating: will capitalism last? Will the state go on? Now, we accept all this. Maybe … the time is coming to start asking these fundamental, tough questions again, but, of course, fully learning the lesson of the past.
[Democracy Now!: World Renowned Philosopher Slavoj Zizek on the Iraq War, the Bush Presidency, the War on Terror & More]

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9 Comments
  1. May 14, 2008 2:10 AM

    Is capitalism, something so widely pervasive that it colors every aspect of everything everywhere with it’s presence, is something so large and amorphous authoritarian? Certainly not sentient. Žižek hits on something here, “we accept all this.” That’s the bottom line.

  2. May 14, 2008 8:27 AM

    Hey, Frederick. I thought you guys from Area 51 might appreciate Žižek’s assessment of today’s left as consisting of conformist ‘Fukuyamaists,’ who stand for “…pragmatic social democracy—basically, Clinton here, Blair in the UK and so on…” and the “moralistic radical left, politically correct all the time,” and continues to say the groups “are like twin phenomena [where] the one is parasitic…”

    As to the first group, I have expressed, albeit in internet graffiti, that I really have trouble spotting the difference between “Neo-Liberalism” and “Neo-Conservatism.”

    As to the second group… well I have to admit to a certain amount of my own “abstract moralism,” but can’t we just chalk it up to the need to ask fundamental, tough questions and the attempt to fully understand the lessons of the past?

  3. May 14, 2008 12:49 PM

    The difference between neo-Liberalism and neo-Conservatism is akin to the difference between stabbing someone in the heart or shooting them with a gun.

    TI recognise the second group, but I wouldn’t like to think I entirely belong to it (though I very likely do – especially when it comes to moralising)

  4. MR Bill permalink
    May 15, 2008 5:20 PM

    It seems, after year of rightist propaganda, from the American Enterprise Institute and the phalanx of Total Capitalist opinion molders, that we as a country literally cannot think about alternatives or criticism to ‘Capitalism’.
    Our lack of any alternatives has left in in a condition where incredibly anti-capitalist actions and intervention into the Market (I didn’t want to put ‘Free’ in quotes there) such as the recent Bank bailouts are not recognized generally as ‘not Capitalist’.
    It’s sorta like Voltaire’s line about “If Satan should take the throne of God, he would have to assume the attributes of Deity”.
    Socialism for the ‘Capitalists’ and everyone else is at the mercy of the Market.

  5. May 16, 2008 12:20 AM

    MR Bill, you know full well your so-called “bank bailouts” would never have been necessary if all those deadbeats hadn’t lied about their income to get mortgages for artificially overpriced property they couldn’t afford!

    This way, the Capitalists get the property (foreclosures) and their money (bailout) back. They aren’t called Capitalists for nothing!

  6. Fehlleistungen permalink
    May 29, 2008 10:41 PM

    Try this Zizek piece on related topics: “Resistance is Surrender”

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