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The philosopher discusses the momentous changes taking place in the global financial and political system.
Slovenian-born philosopher Slavoj Zizek, whose critical examination of both capitalism and socialism has made him an internationally recognised intellectual, speaks to Al Jazeera's Tom Ackerman about the momentous changes taking place in the global financial and political system.
http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/talktojazeera/2011/10/2011102813360731764.html Slavoj Zizek: The system has lost its self-evidence, its automatic legitimacy, and now the field is open. The way the protest looked, the way they acted there, repeatedly I spoke with participants there, with people on the streets there were no demands. They were not even able to formulate a cause wich can be utopian communism, wich can be religious, but just pure violence, and the only cause or however you call it agenda is imitate consumerism. That's very sad. Tom Ackermann: Here in the United States do you see any kind of coherent, ideological, demand? SZ: No, but I don't blame them, listen, I'm not a naive communist, I'm the first to say, -this really made me many enemies when I said-, the failure of the twentieth century communism was precisely bacause it started with such hopes and ended in a nightmare, was maybe the gratest ethical catastrophy in the history of humanity, more than fascism, you know why? Let me be very simple, in fascism we had bad guys who said: “our programs is to do this and this bad things”, and what a surprise, they took power and they did bad things, in communism you have authentic tragedy which is why you have dissidents, you have always inner struggles. But nonetheless it is over that. And this means that lets not bluff, we see the limitations of the existing system, I stand here in my basic position, which is, when people say “oh you are utopian”, sorry, the only true utopia for me is that things can be go on indefinetly the way they are. They way it looked at the beginning of the beginning of the 2008 financial brakedown. Concerning banks was not good enough, we change that a little a bit, everything will be ok, no.It is not. We change that. Something had to be done. But let face it openly, Something really have to be done. But let it face it openly, the tragedy is that I don't know, we don't know. What effective form can replace capitalist democratic system the way we have it now. Now I will quote someone to whom I'm of course totally oppose politically, but sometimes is not stupid, Ayn Rand, when in her her ridiculous Hymn to money, she says “money is in a way a mean of liberty”. In the sense that we have to divide things extends and so on. She says money means “we can do it peacefully”: I pay you, you sell it to me only if you want to. If not money then there has to be some kind of direct domination, brutal estorsion, whatever. I don't agree with her here. But doesn't she has clear a point in the sense that is it a big experience of 20th century communism that they wanted to abolish market money and direct brutal domination masterhood with vegeance. TA: But I've read some of what you said. You said: fascism of the left is that the means necessary so be it, right? SZ: This was to provoke my liberal friends who are... I like to provoke. There much worst in what I said... TA: So we don't take you literally. Is that what you say? SZ: Why not? The problem is the problem of violence. Of course I'm oppose to violence when by it we mean killing torturing people and so on.
not because. The whole State does not function.but it is not reported enough. at least in the West.. Look at Martin Luther King.. We should see violence which is invisible. Without getting this background you don't get the whole picture. slowly pushing Palestinians out. We live in a very strange Era where. legal rights. But my point was: what happens there when nothing happens. No one is killed bla bla. the whole problem here is what the term “ideology” means.. I'm not a paranoid. he never practically mentioned tolerance. by nothing happens I mean nothing big for the media. you have. because some bad media controlled but I don't know whom.. The same thing I wrote about in Guardian. Take average people today. Ghandi wanted to stop it.. it is something like “be true to yourself“. So this is for me the problem. It is not “sacrifice yourself for a big cause”. This is the reality. . demonization of violence. They were violent in the formal sense. Hitler's all violence was to make the system work. TA:But you are not talking about any ideological solution to for example this Plestinan conflict. ok I'm unambiguosly condemned violence of Palestinian of which ever terrorism there. this obsession with violence. people think they are outside ideology. which brought me so many enemies: the first parti is “the problem with Hitler it was that he wasn't violent enough”. what is the implicit injunction that you get from society. of course it should be demonized violence. they wanted the whole system to stop funcioning. Politics proper disappears here. the problem was economical exploitation. So people don't experience it as ideology but I think we are in ideology precisely because ideology for me is the way you see things and you don't see things so that you can function in our daily lives.. the Brithis Daily Newspaper about West Bank. SZ: We should see violence in that normal state. you want to talk about violence? Talk about republic of Congo today. what ever. Do you know that in India from time to time. for him the problem was not “oh white should more tolerate us black”.. SZ: You know. For me ideology is present more and more at the level of daily life. This is the violence which we don't notice too much because it is part of the system. “realize your potentials”. everyday racism and so on. China is the bad guy everyboy knows bad communism and so on terrorizing Tibet. This every day soffocating burocratic occupation of Israel poisoning wells. But then the second part in the sense in which: Gahndi was more violent then Hitler. It is a kind of what I call spiritualized hedonism. TA: Is there an ideological approach to responding to this rather than what looks to everyone else as a nationalistic or maybe a religious conflict. So all I'm saying is: let's extend our notion of violence. This is ideology. For example I was surprised.. aren't you SZ: What you mean by “ideological solution”? TA: You are talking about that when things does not change there is regarded as the norm. Or to give you another example. “have a full life”. Did you know this how today problems of racism and sexism which are very real problems are automatically translated into problems of tolerance.. but before doing that we should also see all the forms of violence. Millions dying.child warriors and so on. to actuazlized that? SZ: Things are slowly happening but our media are here not covering it enough.But for me true violence which I support is not phisical violence but violence when you say like the violence of demonstrators in Tahrir Square.. take how the media cover India and China. This is why my famous statement. TA: Do you see anywhere in the world where that concept of the left is actually trying to actuate. To perceive this problem as the problem of tolerance you already accept a certain vision of society where you know there are almost naturalized cultural differences and we should learn to tolerate each other and so on and so on. For example the fact that we cannot imagine a change means ideology.. in education. you have a mega Maoist naxalit rebellion according to most of the exstimates we are talking about. War lords dominate. burning trees. Just think for example.
The true victims of middle east conflicts..its depths or not.. This is the first one. I like to quote this methaphore. Now you will say he is a lone mad man... unfortunately Europe is regressing. Are the representative of the state of Israel aware of what they are doing. brasselrs vision organized ourselves with regard to global market to be copetitive.. There was recently in Split the southern croatian city a gay parade. The zionist politics is turning them just into another narrow landgrabing nation.. to put it in one of the possible ways: first it is that Europe. Do you know this summer there was in Istambul a big gay parade. try to do this in a post communist east european country which is part of Eurpean Union. It is very sad this is the only alternative I think that today the world is asking for a real alternative. one incident: you know that European union did not want to allow in Turkey for not being democratic enough or being too islamic. Over one million are not rebels.Ok India is big but nonetheless it is a numbereven for India. they basically sold their soul to the devil by this I mean this: they made a deal with those political forces in the west who are almost I would say by definition antisemitic . would you like.. I wouldn't. Europe cannot decide on the one we have this pure technocatic. Glenn Beck. would you notice that there was some (?) of real revolutionary change anywhere in the world then because you are lamenting that the fact that left really hasn't a global remedy approach to dealing with a lot of these problems? Where do you see the glimorus of some kind of a change there? SZ: I think that already what is happening now is reason for modest optimism Don't expect miracles in the sense that all of a sudden there will be magical solutions.. the false protectors of Europe against Islam and so on. look. I'm such a pessimist. to live in a world where the only alternative is either Anglosaxon neoliberalism vison or Chinese Singaporean as we poeticcally Capitalism with asian values which means authoritarian capitalism which is now turning even more effective then Western liberal capitalism? Something will have to be done and that's the tragedy of Europe.. It is basically. TA: What point do you think. then we have this national anti immigrant movements. no incidents. Horrible things are happening. I think the question now is: “What does Europe want?”. Anti semitic zionist. another of my provocation: yes I agree with right wingers european legacy Judeo christian legacy is in danger but they. I am saying to provoke my friends. Telling them: you can play your racial games there just allow us to to the same with the palestinians here. Did you noticed something about this Breivik the guy who went on shooting in Norway? It is the clear case of something which is emerging now. And even my Jewish friends I'm telling them: “be aware”. At the same time he was absolutely pro Israel pro zionist. of these catastrofic politics will be in any case I claim Jewish themselves. These things are very serious..this standard nations vision Jews are ok if they are negligiable. he was fired for antisemitic remarks but at the same time he absolutely was pro zionist and this for me is nightmare. So there is a rebellion there. ah ah. but this the basic attitude of american conservative christian fundamentalism. He says in western europe except England it is ok we don't have too many Jews so we can manage it.. something paradoxical. We simply dont see it. they will lose their uniqueness and greatness. you know how it looked? Seven hundred gays protected by two thousands policemen protecting them from ten thousands local people trying to linch them and so on. they are the danger I don't fear muslims in Europe. you know Sigmund Freud when he was old has this ridiculous naive question: “what does a woman want?”. Look. there are things happening now even in Europe. I fear protectors of Europe. The beginning is simply that people should become aware that the difficulties we are confronting are not just the difficulties caused by bad guys in an otherwise good sistem but that we have to ask certain questions about the system as such and this awareness is raising this is what all the protests here are about and I think . You remember the scandal at Fox News.. On the one hand he was clearly antisemitic. I'm really worry about Jews.. ten thousands of homosexuals demonstrating. “are you aware of what is happening?”.. I mean it literally. It is not just the superficial things we . Jews are a great nation. Indian new capitalism is triyng to extend into this trible areas to get access to . England especially United States too many Jews. The second one.
or not very exemplary in the way you see this breaking open. and now the field is open.. its automatic legitimacy. The time has come to raise this more fundamental question. who's gonna fill that vacuum. TA: So if China is not a good example. even in China you have an attempt to organize civil society in the sense of social movements.at this stake what is again important is not so much to offer fast solutions but to break this I call it ironically Fukuyama tabu. How even if world wide economy east somehow progressing. But nonetheless we have to take the chance. demanding more social justice. maybe the final outcome will be a kind of perverse pact between muslim brotherhood and the army. Do you see any place where you can get beyond that? SZ: Again. at low level incredible things are happening in China you know what can give you a hint of the explosive situation in china? Remember at the last session of parlament. this arab spring. they redubled the budget for internal security. (I'm getting universal pessimism). the opening is in a way imopsed on us that's my answer to those who tell me: “why dont you just keep quiet and we silently go onthe way it is?”. This brings its own risks. we'll have a capitalism much more efficient. but the army in exchange what it keeps all the privileges its corruption and so on and so on. is it is not a question of: shalll we take the risk or not. No. is. is there anywhere else? Because your complaint is in all these cases that consumerism is the driving force of the ambition and the discontent. even radical left is we're not thinking what can replace capitalism. people there who live in favelas or slums elsewhere are not simply poor it is something much more radical. This is a very important achievement. In Europe: people first thought: make fun of Greece. why? Because we see it more and more through a series of pehnomena like economic crisis becoming a kind of a permanet emergency state. we got exactly that. dinamic then. they are simply excluded from public space political egagement and so on and so on. then I think a phenomenon which we should be very attentive to. 20 years South Corea. but what I'm afraid is that with this capitalism with asian values: Singapore. because we in the west were. there was one good argument for capitalism: sooner or later it brought a demand for democracy. So again there are protests there. China is now the only big country which spends mor for internal security than for the army. . as we always are. with the arabs all you can get if you want to mobilize people is kind of racist antisemitic nationalist or religious fundamentalist movement. China. SZ: Fukuyama is not an idiot like in a way we all were til now F. Like in exemplay way in Latin America. this maybe be even more important sometimes then western democracy. it will not be an old fascism we have to very specific here. what happens after? And this is the saddest thing: I pray it will not happen but some signs do point out in this sad direction that maybe. you cannot get a nice secular movement for democratic opening”. it looks at least.but Berlin wall fell but but there are new walls new divisions rising cap everywere within most of the state you have stronger divisons not just between rich and poor.. no.. Now comes the crucial part. So again. you know why I liked it so much. but we are not worst than others.. our western capitalism but I don't share the hope of my liberal friends like: “give them 10 years. Let's not forget that we know very well who filled in the opening in 1930s in Europe and so on. and so on and I think especially in China for example. everyone expected they will redubled their defense budget. like for ecology. the marriage between capitalism and democracy is over. Again things are happening. I hope not. the cliche was “oh. Cile. Til now. Yes. let's be frank.. TA: The end of history. oh Greece. Well. I clam if we do nothing we will gradually approach a kind of a new. for workers rights. You can have dictatorship for 10. than. but a new tipe of authoritarian society here I see the world hostorical importance of what is happening today in China. more right for women within the system. those lazy primitive mediterranean people. TA: The field is open. The system has lost its self-evidence. to put it in very in simplify terms: muslim brothers who get a much stronger ideological role controlling school. give them ten years [and there will be] another Tienanmen Square demonstration”. Is gonna be somebody from above? SZ: It is always a danger here. of if you take it in Europe. spontaneus racism.
even here in US there is a great energy of protest but til now it was appropriated by the parties. Here it will be the struggle And it is a tough struggle. But you know what Chinese people say when they really hate you: may you live in interesting times. we are exploited. I have no illusions. they sing: we are ordinary working people.No. you have England. There are great dangers. The battle now is not: will things go on or there will there be a revolution? What we should do is fight the most difficult struggle for who will (to put it naivly) appropriate this energy of protests. bad people in Wall Street exploited us and so on and so on. Are we aware how if you look at how they formulate their stuff the parties look like workers protests 50 years ago. Look. TA: Thank you very much for speaking with us. if you listend to their songs: I listen to one song of a pop singer who support them. It will spread I claim. And as you said. you have Spain. I agree this is crucial. . We certainly approaching interesting times.
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