Steven Connor, in the Times Literary Supplement, sums up the major importance of Slavoj Žižek's ''everlasting gobstopper of a book" Less Than Nothing. In a single paragraph, Connor explains Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit as the 'engorgement' of Spirit through the dialectical movement of history (spirit meets its negative antagonist in the form of matter or the material world and responds by both preserving and overcoming both thesis and antithesis through the process of sublation), the principle of the postmodernist reaction to it (denouncing the Hegelian dialectic as one of several totalising conceptions of the world that it rejects) and finally Žižek's critical thrust that manages to:
both discredit postmodernist arguments in their dependence on a dishing of Hegel, and to endorse the objections to totality that are key to those postmodernist arguments.
Why? It’s ideology, stupid. After his 1,200-page Lacanese-Hegelian philosophical treatise, Žižek has returned to his other prism—popular culture. The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology, Director Sophie Fiennes new film with Žižek, premiered at the 56th BFI London Film Festival next week to a packed cinema. As I watched the 90-minute cinematic remix of various twentieth-century films including Zabriski Point, The Sound of Music, They Live, The Titanic, Seconds, Taxi Driverand more, Zizek in his characteristically witty style, expliained his concept of ideology.
Tonight at the Brooklyn Museum, Racecraft authors Karen Fields and Barbara Fields converse with Adolph Reed about inequality, class, and the distorted racial paradigms of American political life. The celebrated Fields sisters' new book, published this month, asks whether racism has bewitched Americans into misunderstanding inequality in our country. Their argument is a complex one, involving years of assiduous research and close collaboration, so we're pleased to have Mr. Reed present to tease the nuances from their perspective.
Of course, their book comes at a particularly important moment as we careen towards election day and, inevitably, the conversations about Obama lean not towards drone warfare, Libya, or Wall Street bailouts but continue to idle on the meaning of the president's race.
Fortunately both of Racecraft's authors and Adolph Reed have garnered reputations as cogent political analysts, each focusing in their way on the implications of a post-Obama, though certainly not post-racial, America. As the news cycle spins its wheels today a quick survey confirms what we've known all along: that whether they are claims of colorblindness, accusations of playing the race card, or questions of "how black" or "not black enough" the democratic nominee appeared during the recent debates, the discussion of the president's racial identity is never more than an arm's length from the political media machine.
Given all the framing of other countries as "opportunities" on both sides of last night's presidential debate, it may be difficult to remember a time before the rhetoric of global capitalism dictated our country's political language. But as late as 1975, a Time magazine cover asked: "Can Capitalism Survive?"
This week, Aaron Leonard interviews Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin on the subject of their recently released book The Making of Global Capitalism, in which they recount these moments of weakness and explain how the U.S.pushed past them to create the global economy as we know it. In the first installation of this three-part series, the two authors go back to World War II to trace the construction of the U.S. empire, moving from the context of a post-war nationalistic interest in free enterprise to the systematic push for an open global market, a market friendliest to multinational corporations and big banks.
Last month Doug Henwood, host of Behind the News, editor of the excellent Left Business Observer and a contributing editor of The Nation, spoke with authors Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin at Brecht Forum to celebrate the publication of their new book The Making of Global Capitalism.