First As Tragedy, Then As Farce

From the tragedy of 9/11 to the farce of the financial meltdown.

Billions of dollars have been hastily poured into the global banking system in a frantic attempt at financial stabilization. So why has it not been possible to bring the same forces to bear in addressing world poverty and environmental crisis?

In this take-no-prisoners analysis, Slavoj Zizek frames the moral failures of the modern world in terms of the epoch-making events of the first decade of this century. What he finds is the old one-two punch of history: the jab of tragedy, the right hook of farce. In the attacks of 9/11 and the global credit crunch, liberalism dies twice: as a political doctrine and as an economic theory.

First as Tragedy, Then as Farce is a call for the Left to reinvent itself in the light of our desperate historical situation. The time for liberal, moralistic blackmail is over.


  • “Zizek leaves no social or cultural phenomenon untheorized, and is master of the counterintuitive observation.”
  • “The Elvis of cultural theory.”
  • “One of the most innovative and exciting contemporary thinkers of the left.”
  • “Zizek is an influential thinker, and this short book offers an excellent entry into his thought.”
  • “[A] great provocateur and an immensely suggestive and even dashing writer... Zizek writes with passion and an aphoristic energy that is spellbinding.”
  • “The most dangerous philosopher in the West.”


  • The Idea of Communism in South Korea

    Following three incredibly successful conferences in London, Berlin and New York on The Idea of Communism, Platoon Kunsthalle Seoul is presenting a new conference featuring some of the most influential thinkers and theorists on the contemporary left, including Slavoj Žižek, Alain Badiou and Wang Hui. The 4th Idea of Communism Conference runs from September 24th to October 2nd at Kyung Hee University. The conference organisers promise an intense critical examination across a number of fields:

    What is that this is the issue of utmost urgency? What is this subject matter which requires not the suggestion nor participation of an impetuous alternative, but the brake pedal to the metal by the foot of a most sincere contemplation? As Zizek stressed, it is projecting the tomorrow of global capitalism that governs our today. The cause of systemic substitution lies in hostile relations which are unsolvable by old criteria. 

    While Zizek's fatal four threats – ecological catastrophe, the inappropriateness of the concept of private property in the discourse of intellectual property, the socio-ethical implications of contemporary scientific development, and newly generated apartheids and slums – to the sustainability of global capitalism, "the commons" meets the eyes of insight: the ecosystem as a common human habitat, knowledge as a common, scientific aspects as a common, and humanity as a common. A global resistance to prevent the privatization of these commons is in action, with the proliferation of a trans-strata collective comprehension that disregard means dispossession in the plot of this dramatic demonstration.

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  • Some Bewildered Clarifications: A Response to Noam Chomsky by Slavoj Žižek

    Since Noam Chomsky’s "Fantasies" (July 21, 2013) present themselves as a reaction to my reply to his interview with a critical dismissal of my work, a brief clarification is needed. What Chomsky refers to as my "reply" is a non-authorized and not accurate transcription of my answer to a question from the public during a recent debate at Birkbeck college in London. As it would be clear from a full transcription, at that moment I didn’t even know about Chomsky’s attack on me—I was just asked what do I think about his total dismissal of my work (together with that of Lacan and Derrida) as a case of fanciful posturing without any foundation in empirical facts and scientific reasoning, and I improvised a reaction on the spot. Chomsky’s remark that I "cite nothing" to justify my claim about his inaccuracies is thus ridiculous—how could I have done it in an improvised reply to an unexpected question? Probably to illustrate my disrespect for facts, Chomsky also dwells on the characterization of Obama that I wrongly attributed to him; there is no mystery about it, upon learning about my mistake, I unambiguously apologized—here is the text of my apology (from Harper’s magazine):

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  • Smashing the Spinning Plates – Slavoj Žižek and Syriza

    In a recent piece for In These Times Slavoj Žižek reflects on the outcome of the Greek elections on the 17th of June, analysing how Syriza, the radical left coalition, came close to smashing the entire set of the European Union’s crockery. Dismissing the EU’s austerity measures as nonsense, Žižek says:

    So why does Brussels impose these plans? What matters in contemporary capitalism is that agents act upon their putative beliefs about future prospects, regardless of whether they really believe in those prospects. And, as we also all know, the true aim of these rescue measures is not to save Greece, but to save the European banks.

    To illustrate the mistake of enacting austerity measures as the main strategy to combat the crisis, Paul Krugman often compares them to the medieval cure of blood-letting. That’s a nice metaphor that should be radicalized even further. The European financial doctors, who are themselves not sure about how the medicine works, are using the Greeks as test rabbits and letting their blood, not the blood of their own countries. There is no blood-letting for the great German and French banks—on the contrary, they are getting continuous and enormous transfusions.

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Upcoming Events

  • 07_slavoj_zizek-max_141

    October 07, 2014

    United Kingdom

    Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre

    The Myth of Western Liberty

    Join Slavoj Žižek and Paul Mason in this lead event at the London Literature Festival

Other books by Slavoj Žižek