My rant (aka criticism) against the Marxist philosophy of Zizek
He sounds a lot like Ayn Rand in practice. Isn’t it ironic that hyper-skepticism results in the exact opposite political and ethical gesture that it attempts to accomplish.
Also, if capitalism is everywhere, the gesture of refusing capitalism is absolutely impossible and meaningless. Because that pretty much makes resistance futile.
His failure to acknowledge differences of capitalism between various capitalists is philosophically irresponsibility. Its philosophy devoid or nuance and distinction.
What does he say to his capitalist friends as he purchases goods and services which help him live? Or his capitalist collegues at the university? And how does he stand face to face with the person whom gives clear water or disease prevention to Africans–who helps them escape systemic suffering and prevents them from living a dehumanized life? Is the person who is charity just as capitalist as the person working at Starbucks as the CEO of one of the banks? Those kinds of distinctions and nuances are wholly missing from Zizeks theory here.
The gesture of assuming to understand the intent of a producer or consumer is at a minimum pretty essentialist….at its worst an attempt at reading millions of consumers minds and mindsets….a radical impossibility.
The idea that all charity is hypocrisy is hyper-generalization. And people who actually are capitalists and do both charity and abuse people with capitalism can be called to task without the tools or confines of marxism or whatever Zizek is peddling.
I’m not sure their is any higher principle in denigrating generosity and altruism. Again….he sounds far far far too maliciously like Ayn Rand than say MLK or any other social reformer who actually changed the status of people.
The gesture to say “but I’m not against charity” is pretty weak indeed. Why did you just waste my last 11 minutes then?
I’ll take the gut check that Bill Gates & Starbucks does more good for the world than Zizek’s philosophy every day of the week.
I’m saying that Zizek is shutting down the escape routes though.
And his analysis assumes all capitalists are equally guilty.
If he erases the gesture of ethics in capitalism–not only does he arbitrarily decrease choice (for reasons of perception)–but he also locks in the status quo.
He doesn’t provide any differentiation between:
1. corporations that do good versus do evil
2. individuals that do good versus do evil
Like those before him–in European philosophy–he collapses distinctions. But….to be politically effective, active, and alert….those distinctions are important.
Zizek’s move here is the ultimate push toward either:
1. paralysis or slackerdom
2. conservatism of capitalism (ala the earlier Ayn Rand reference)
But even the slacker participates in the system–even as he/she self-congratulates to himself/herself…..
1) texts on his/her iphone
2) Facebooks on his/her laptop
3) Pintrests his/her next brand name purchases
The urgency of now is saving people from unrelenting dehumanization. Then dealing with changing the trajectory & distortions of capitalism.
Waiting for the system to collapse or a crisis to come is hopeless. We’ve had too many crisises in the last two decades for this to be a viable modus operandi for any social movement.
The monopoly game isn’t something I’m a fan of–its a distortion of capitalism (I’m not really a fan of any of the distortions of capitalism which create systemic unfairness, poverty, or uneccessary suffering). Use the letter of the law against itself here (actually a Zizekian reference)–not some radical hoping for a future utopia OR conflating the intentions of people you don’t even know and have never seen or examined. Theres lots of diversity out there–saying that everything is banal sameness is to miss the point–is to miss the cracks and nuances of how the system operates. While Zizek, his readers, and followers continue to get more drunk on his rhetorical flourishes & tantalizing metaphors and asides. That sounds like a real revolution to me–brought to you by Starbucks. But see…..MLK said stand up…..and do something and he did it. Zizek is far more willing to pay lip service to such change and revolution. He’s much more willing for you to buy his books on Amazon.