Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"The Year of Dreaming Dangerously" and On the Politics of Lost Causes: Slavoj Zizek on the Occupy Movement -- Quo Vadis ?

Missed Slavoj Zizek at the NY Public Library speaking last week in advance of his new book, The Year of Dreaming Dangerously, published later this year by Verso Books. Happily, an article also appeared by SZ last week in The Guardian on the Occupy Movement. While Zizek is a popular philosopher, he is probably (I would hope) first to acknowledge that his own ruminations and conceptualizing are subject to argument and counter arguments. As I walked out on Court Street to sense the zeitgeist of the Professional and Working Classes while the Occupy Movement was brawling with NYPD and marching on the Williamsburg Bridge, in Times Square, Washington Square, and Lower Manhattan, as well as around the world, the zeitgeist, of course, was one of quiet rectitude. My daughter, who works in midtown reported the streets were filled with protestors and cops in heavy riot gear.  Just as the OWS movement seems to function in its own vacuum, so do the middle and professional working classes, glad to have and to hold onto our day jobs, we all function at unconscious cross purposes, OWS and the working folk, each seeking our own form of survival. Meanwhile, we stare into a mirror that we may mistake for the abyss.  That is why Zizek seems such an important social and political critic, mashing up psychoanalysis and political economy. If Zizek did not exist, on May Day, 2012, it would be necessary to invent him.

--Anthony Napoli, Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Zizek in The Guardian, an excerpt:

"One should avoid the temptation of the narcissism of the lost cause, of admiring the sublime beauty of uprisings doomed to fail. What new positive order should replace the old one the day after, when the sublime enthusiasm of the uprising is over? It is at this crucial point that we encounter the fatal weakness of the protests: they express an authentic rage which is not able to transform itself into a minimal positive program of socio-political change. They express a spirit of revolt without revolution.


"Reacting to the Paris protests of 1968, Lacan said:

"What you aspire to as revolutionaries is a new master. You will get one."

"It seems that Lacan's remark found its target (not only) in the indignados of Spain. Insofar as their protest remains at the level of a hysterical provocation of the master, without a positive program for the new order to replace the old one, it effectively functions as a call for a new master, albeit disavowed.

"We got the first glimpse of this new master in Greece and Italy, and Spain will probably follow. As if ironically answering the lack of expert programs of the protesters, the trend is now to replace politicians in the government with a "neutral" government of depoliticized technocrats (mostly bankers, as in Greece and Italy). Colorful "politicians" are out, grey experts are in. This trend is clearly moving towards a permanent emergency state and the suspension of political democracy."

Read the full article in The Guardian here

Slavoj Zizek's next book, The Year of Dreaming Dangerously here



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