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.
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.
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.
October 07, 2014
Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre