Philosophical materialism in all its forms – from scientific naturalism to Deleuzian New Materialism – has failed to meet the key theoretical and political challenges of the modern world. This is the burden of philosopher Slavoj Žižek’s argument in this pathbreaking and eclectic new work. Recent history has seen developments such as quantum physics and Freudian psychoanalysis, not to speak of the failure of twentieth-century communism, shake our understanding of existence.
In the process, the dominant tradition in Western philosophy lost its moorings. To bring materialism up to date, Žižek – himself a committed materialist and communist – proposes a radical revision of our intellectual heritage. He argues that dialectical materialism is the only true philosophical inheritor of what Hegel designated the “speculative” approach in thought.
Absolute Recoil is a startling reformulation of the basis and possibilities of contemporary philosophy. While focusing on how to overcome the transcendental approach without regressing to naïve, pre-Kantian realism, Žižek offers a series of excursions into today’s political, artistic, and ideological landscape, from Arnold Schoenberg’s music to the films of Ernst Lubitsch.
How are we to think the anthropocene? Slavoj Zizek, in his review of McKenzie Wark’s Molecular Red below, offers a comment on one of the most pressing questions of our time. For Žižek, Molecular Red provides some answers to the major fallacies of ecological discourse: "If there is one good thing about capitalism it is that under it, Mother Earth no longer exists."
On November 28, 2008, Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, issued a public letter titled “Climate Change: Save the Planet from Capitalism”. Here are its opening statements:
Sisters and brothers: Today, our Mother Earth is ill. … Everything began with the industrial revolution in 1750, which gave birth to the capitalist system. In two and a half centuries, the so called “developed” countries have consumed a large part of the fossil fuels created over five million centuries. … Under Capitalism Mother Earth does not exist, instead there are raw materials. Capitalism is the source of the asymmetries and imbalances in the world.
The right to demonstrate is non-negotiable. But in towns and cities across France, society is being reordered in a way that criminalises social and political struggles.
In Madrid, the opponents of the new Internal Security Act organized a demonstration of holograms in the Spanish Parliament.