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Badiou and Zizek against democracy

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  • Jim
    Returning to Zizek s In Defense of Lost Causes , I find myself reading that Zizek follows Alain Badiou in opposing democracy. Zizek seems to be saying that it
    Message 1 of 8 , Dec 31, 2010
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      Returning to Zizek's "In Defense of Lost Causes", I find myself reading that Zizek follows Alain Badiou in opposing democracy.

      Zizek seems to be saying that it is the ordinary citizen's preference for democracy over any form of totalitarianism which is the foundation stone which keeps capitalism in place. For Zizek, the only way to get rid of capitalism seems to be through the left campaigning for the end of democracy.

      Consider this passage from his book:

      "Alain Badiou, a true Maoist here, applies [Mao's ideas] to the contemporary constellation, avoiding the focus on the anti-capitalist struggle, even ridiculing its main form today (the anti-globalization movement), and defining the emancipatory struggle in strictly political terms, as the struggle against (liberal) democracy, today's predominant ideologico-political form. "Today the enemy is not called Empire or Capital. It's called democracy." What, today, prevents the radical questioning of capitalism itself is precisely the belief in the democratic form of the struggle against capitalism. Lenin's stance against "economism" as well as against "pure" politics is crucial today, apropos the split attitude towards the economy in (what remains of) the Left: on the one hand, the "pure politicians" abandon the economy as the site of struggle and intervention; on the other hand, the "economist," fascinated by the functioning of the contemporary global economy, preclude any possibility of a political intervention proper. With regard to this split, today, more than ever, we should return to Lenin: yes, the economy is the key domain, the battle will be decided there, one has to break the spell of global capitalism – but the intervention, should be properly political, not economic. Today, when everyone is "anti-capitalist," up to and including the Hollywood "socio-critical" conspiracy movies (from `The Enemy of the State' to `The Insider') in which the enemy are the big corporations with their ruthless pursuit of profit, the signifier "anti-capitalism" has lost its subversive sting. What one should problematize is the self-evident opposite of this "anti-capitalism": the trust in democracy by honest Americans who break up the conspiracy. This is the hard kernel of today's global capitalist universe, its true Master-Signifier: democracy itself." (pp. 183-4)

      I disagree with a number Zizek's claims in this passage.

      First I don't agree "that everyone is anti-capitalist". In fact I cannot think of one prominent politician in the UK or the US who is currently calling for the end of capitalism. Admittedly lots of people think there is much wrong with capitalism, but my perception is that only a very small minority of ordinary people (and no famous people outside of academia) are actually calling for the complete overthrow of capitalism.

      Surely an "anti-capitalism" demonstration is likely to get more people turning up than an "anti-democracy" demonstration.

      Secondly, I am not convinced that democracy and capitalism are Siamese twins joined at the hip so they always go around together. Isn't China an example of a capitalist state which is non-democratic? And isn't what Zizek says here an insult to those Chinese dissidents who are risking their lives campaigning for democracy in China?

      Thirdly, whilst some imaginative thinkers can conceive of an alternative political system to capitalism (the Green Party's manifesto here in the UK suggests ways of living outside of capitalism), I am not sure if any political thinkers have put forward a blue print, in recent years, for a form of non-democratic or totalitarian system which is superior to democracy.

      Now, perhaps all that Zizek is claiming is that capitalism cannot be removed by democratic means. He lacks confidence in ordinary citizens to have the courage and foresight to vote out the capitalists at the ballot box. Perhaps he is right to take such a pessimistic view of human beings, but I would like to see some argument for his view that only violent revolution could remove capitalism, and some account of the superior totalitarian society he imagines in its place.

      Perhaps he will supply such accounts later in the book.

      Jim
    • tom
      Despite the many things bad about capitalism and democracies, in almost a hundred years of trying it, totalatarian communism has not proved a workers
      Message 2 of 8 , Dec 31, 2010
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        Despite the many things bad about capitalism and democracies, in almost a hundred years of trying it, totalatarian communism has not proved a workers' paradise, and for many years iron curtain countries had to build walls to prevent people from leaving. I think many intellectuals ignore the problems of actually creating a system better than the one they would destroy. The social democracies of northern Europe seem to be about as far left asd u can go without creating an unworkable nighmare.\

        Happy New Year
        Tom
        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Jim
        To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Friday, December 31, 2010 10:51 AM
        Subject: [existlist] Badiou and Zizek against democracy



        Returning to Zizek's "In Defense of Lost Causes", I find myself reading that Zizek follows Alain Badiou in opposing democracy.

        Zizek seems to be saying that it is the ordinary citizen's preference for democracy over any form of totalitarianism which is the foundation stone which keeps capitalism in place. For Zizek, the only way to get rid of capitalism seems to be through the left campaigning for the end of democracy.

        Consider this passage from his book:

        "Alain Badiou, a true Maoist here, applies [Mao's ideas] to the contemporary constellation, avoiding the focus on the anti-capitalist struggle, even ridiculing its main form today (the anti-globalization movement), and defining the emancipatory struggle in strictly political terms, as the struggle against (liberal) democracy, today's predominant ideologico-political form. "Today the enemy is not called Empire or Capital. It's called democracy." What, today, prevents the radical questioning of capitalism itself is precisely the belief in the democratic form of the struggle against capitalism. Lenin's stance against "economism" as well as against "pure" politics is crucial today, apropos the split attitude towards the economy in (what remains of) the Left: on the one hand, the "pure politicians" abandon the economy as the site of struggle and intervention; on the other hand, the "economist," fascinated by the functioning of the contemporary global economy, preclude any possibility of a political intervention proper. With regard to this split, today, more than ever, we should return to Lenin: yes, the economy is the key domain, the battle will be decided there, one has to break the spell of global capitalism - but the intervention, should be properly political, not economic. Today, when everyone is "anti-capitalist," up to and including the Hollywood "socio-critical" conspiracy movies (from `The Enemy of the State' to `The Insider') in which the enemy are the big corporations with their ruthless pursuit of profit, the signifier "anti-capitalism" has lost its subversive sting. What one should problematize is the self-evident opposite of this "anti-capitalism": the trust in democracy by honest Americans who break up the conspiracy. This is the hard kernel of today's global capitalist universe, its true Master-Signifier: democracy itself." (pp. 183-4)

        I disagree with a number Zizek's claims in this passage.

        First I don't agree "that everyone is anti-capitalist". In fact I cannot think of one prominent politician in the UK or the US who is currently calling for the end of capitalism. Admittedly lots of people think there is much wrong with capitalism, but my perception is that only a very small minority of ordinary people (and no famous people outside of academia) are actually calling for the complete overthrow of capitalism.

        Surely an "anti-capitalism" demonstration is likely to get more people turning up than an "anti-democracy" demonstration.

        Secondly, I am not convinced that democracy and capitalism are Siamese twins joined at the hip so they always go around together. Isn't China an example of a capitalist state which is non-democratic? And isn't what Zizek says here an insult to those Chinese dissidents who are risking their lives campaigning for democracy in China?

        Thirdly, whilst some imaginative thinkers can conceive of an alternative political system to capitalism (the Green Party's manifesto here in the UK suggests ways of living outside of capitalism), I am not sure if any political thinkers have put forward a blue print, in recent years, for a form of non-democratic or totalitarian system which is superior to democracy.

        Now, perhaps all that Zizek is claiming is that capitalism cannot be removed by democratic means. He lacks confidence in ordinary citizens to have the courage and foresight to vote out the capitalists at the ballot box. Perhaps he is right to take such a pessimistic view of human beings, but I would like to see some argument for his view that only violent revolution could remove capitalism, and some account of the superior totalitarian society he imagines in its place.

        Perhaps he will supply such accounts later in the book.

        Jim





        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • irvhal
        I too disagree with Zizek s passage. But what is modern capitalism but concentrated tecno-resources necessary for mass production? And can t the very
        Message 3 of 8 , Dec 31, 2010
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          I too disagree with Zizek's passage. But what is modern "capitalism" but concentrated tecno-resources necessary for mass production? And can't the very distinction between state and private capital sometimes be tenuous, since even the "private" corporate entity is a privileged licensee of the state, and both state and private entities enjoy varied immunities for their acts -- be it sovereign immunity for the state or tort immunity for shareholders beyond their investment? The rub is who decides what resources are marshalled and how they're distributed. Zizek apparently doesn't like what he sees or gets, and regards himself part of an aggrieved though selfless (or super-virtuous) minority.

          Irvin

          --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:
          >
          > Returning to Zizek's "In Defense of Lost Causes", I find myself reading that Zizek follows Alain Badiou in opposing democracy.
          >
          > Zizek seems to be saying that it is the ordinary citizen's preference for democracy over any form of totalitarianism which is the foundation stone which keeps capitalism in place. For Zizek, the only way to get rid of capitalism seems to be through the left campaigning for the end of democracy.
          >
          > Consider this passage from his book:
          >
          > "Alain Badiou, a true Maoist here, applies [Mao's ideas] to the contemporary constellation, avoiding the focus on the anti-capitalist struggle, even ridiculing its main form today (the anti-globalization movement), and defining the emancipatory struggle in strictly political terms, as the struggle against (liberal) democracy, today's predominant ideologico-political form. "Today the enemy is not called Empire or Capital. It's called democracy." What, today, prevents the radical questioning of capitalism itself is precisely the belief in the democratic form of the struggle against capitalism. Lenin's stance against "economism" as well as against "pure" politics is crucial today, apropos the split attitude towards the economy in (what remains of) the Left: on the one hand, the "pure politicians" abandon the economy as the site of struggle and intervention; on the other hand, the "economist," fascinated by the functioning of the contemporary global economy, preclude any possibility of a political intervention proper. With regard to this split, today, more than ever, we should return to Lenin: yes, the economy is the key domain, the battle will be decided there, one has to break the spell of global capitalism – but the intervention, should be properly political, not economic. Today, when everyone is "anti-capitalist," up to and including the Hollywood "socio-critical" conspiracy movies (from `The Enemy of the State' to `The Insider') in which the enemy are the big corporations with their ruthless pursuit of profit, the signifier "anti-capitalism" has lost its subversive sting. What one should problematize is the self-evident opposite of this "anti-capitalism": the trust in democracy by honest Americans who break up the conspiracy. This is the hard kernel of today's global capitalist universe, its true Master-Signifier: democracy itself." (pp. 183-4)
          >
          > I disagree with a number Zizek's claims in this passage.
          >
          > First I don't agree "that everyone is anti-capitalist". In fact I cannot think of one prominent politician in the UK or the US who is currently calling for the end of capitalism. Admittedly lots of people think there is much wrong with capitalism, but my perception is that only a very small minority of ordinary people (and no famous people outside of academia) are actually calling for the complete overthrow of capitalism.
          >
          > Surely an "anti-capitalism" demonstration is likely to get more people turning up than an "anti-democracy" demonstration.
          >
          > Secondly, I am not convinced that democracy and capitalism are Siamese twins joined at the hip so they always go around together. Isn't China an example of a capitalist state which is non-democratic? And isn't what Zizek says here an insult to those Chinese dissidents who are risking their lives campaigning for democracy in China?
          >
          > Thirdly, whilst some imaginative thinkers can conceive of an alternative political system to capitalism (the Green Party's manifesto here in the UK suggests ways of living outside of capitalism), I am not sure if any political thinkers have put forward a blue print, in recent years, for a form of non-democratic or totalitarian system which is superior to democracy.
          >
          > Now, perhaps all that Zizek is claiming is that capitalism cannot be removed by democratic means. He lacks confidence in ordinary citizens to have the courage and foresight to vote out the capitalists at the ballot box. Perhaps he is right to take such a pessimistic view of human beings, but I would like to see some argument for his view that only violent revolution could remove capitalism, and some account of the superior totalitarian society he imagines in its place.
          >
          > Perhaps he will supply such accounts later in the book.
          >
          > Jim
          >
        • Jim
          Irvin, Thank you for your post. I agree that capitalism does seem to be closely identified with mass production and in both the capitalist West and the former
          Message 4 of 8 , Jan 2, 2011
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            Irvin,

            Thank you for your post.

            I agree that capitalism does seem to be closely identified with mass production and in both the capitalist West and the former communist East, various individuals and groups seem (or seemed) to be immune from accountability to the ordinary citizen.

            Whether it is possible to create a system of checks and balances so no individual or group became privileged over the rest of the society, whilst maintaining the mechanisms for mass production, I am not sure.

            The original Marxist ideas that make sense to me are (first) "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" and (second) the idea that all the workers on the production line as well as the designers and managers should share equally in the money made from the sale of the mass-produced product.

            Whether or not these ideas could be realized without the state nominally "owning" all the enterprises – again I'm not sure.

            As well as capitalism being tied up with mass-production, our own current version of capitalism essentially involves consumerism.

            I guess most on the left would seek to change the conditions of mass-production, but for myself (and generally those who are involved with Green politics), the way to overthrow capitalism is by undermining the general belief amongst Westerners that the Good Life is the life of maximal consumption.

            Whilst Westerners remain hell-bent on consuming more and more, I cannot see any possibility of a challenge to the sort of capitalism we have now. Perhaps as the oil runs out, more and more people may come to see that the simple pleasures of life are actually more pleasant than those pleasures delivered by mass-produced modern technology.

            Jim




            --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "irvhal" <i99hj@...> wrote:
            >
            > I too disagree with Zizek's passage. But what is modern "capitalism" but concentrated tecno-resources necessary for mass production? And can't the very distinction between state and private capital sometimes be tenuous, since even the "private" corporate entity is a privileged licensee of the state, and both state and private entities enjoy varied immunities for their acts -- be it sovereign immunity for the state or tort immunity for shareholders beyond their investment? The rub is who decides what resources are marshalled and how they're distributed. Zizek apparently doesn't like what he sees or gets, and regards himself part of an aggrieved though selfless (or super-virtuous) minority.
            >
            > Irvin
          • irvhal
            Jim, I might have done better to have used modernity , or even cybernetics, to describe the capital concentration and mass production characteristic of
            Message 5 of 8 , Jan 2, 2011
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              Jim,

              I might have done better to have used "modernity", or even cybernetics, to describe the capital concentration and mass production characteristic of developed states, "capitalist" and "socialist" alike. And modernity's acquisitive economic man, whose Being is enframed by consumerism, indeed tends to trump other modes like conservation, commmunity or identity.

              Irvin

              --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:
              >
              > Irvin,
              >
              > Thank you for your post.
              >
              > I agree that capitalism does seem to be closely identified with mass production and in both the capitalist West and the former communist East, various individuals and groups seem (or seemed) to be immune from accountability to the ordinary citizen.
              >
              > Whether it is possible to create a system of checks and balances so no individual or group became privileged over the rest of the society, whilst maintaining the mechanisms for mass production, I am not sure.
              >
              > The original Marxist ideas that make sense to me are (first) "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" and (second) the idea that all the workers on the production line as well as the designers and managers should share equally in the money made from the sale of the mass-produced product.
              >
              > Whether or not these ideas could be realized without the state nominally "owning" all the enterprises – again I'm not sure.
              >
              > As well as capitalism being tied up with mass-production, our own current version of capitalism essentially involves consumerism.
              >
              > I guess most on the left would seek to change the conditions of mass-production, but for myself (and generally those who are involved with Green politics), the way to overthrow capitalism is by undermining the general belief amongst Westerners that the Good Life is the life of maximal consumption.
              >
              > Whilst Westerners remain hell-bent on consuming more and more, I cannot see any possibility of a challenge to the sort of capitalism we have now. Perhaps as the oil runs out, more and more people may come to see that the simple pleasures of life are actually more pleasant than those pleasures delivered by mass-produced modern technology.
              >
              > Jim
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "irvhal" <i99hj@> wrote:
              > >
              > > I too disagree with Zizek's passage. But what is modern "capitalism" but concentrated tecno-resources necessary for mass production? And can't the very distinction between state and private capital sometimes be tenuous, since even the "private" corporate entity is a privileged licensee of the state, and both state and private entities enjoy varied immunities for their acts -- be it sovereign immunity for the state or tort immunity for shareholders beyond their investment? The rub is who decides what resources are marshalled and how they're distributed. Zizek apparently doesn't like what he sees or gets, and regards himself part of an aggrieved though selfless (or super-virtuous) minority.
              > >
              > > Irvin
              >
            • Mary
              What troubles me is Zizek s apparent disregard and dissatisfaction for individual and/or community based actions. Yes, when a zillionaire goes green and
              Message 6 of 8 , Jan 3, 2011
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                What troubles me is Zizek's apparent disregard and dissatisfaction for individual and/or community based actions. Yes, when a zillionaire goes green and philanthropic, we should be sceptical. However, when Zizek scorns an authentic identity who practices conservation and community and equates the latter's guilt by association with the former's perpatration, he's wrong, in my opinion. Here again, however, Zizek's hyperbole could be intended to make this very distinction.

                Loren Eiseley wrote, "The group ethic as distinct from the personal ethic is faceless and obscure. It is whatever its leaders chose it to mean; it destroys the innocent and justifies the act in terms of the future."

                And from Auden's SEXT, a non-secular title even Zizek might appreciate:

                [...]
                The crowd does not see (what everyone sees)
                a boxing match, a train wreck,

                a battleship being launched,
                does not wonder (as everyone wonders)

                who will win, what flag she will fly,
                how many will be burned alive,

                is never distracted
                (as everyone is always distracted)

                by a barking dog, a smell of fish,
                a mosquito on a bald head:

                the crowd sees only one thing
                (which only the crowd can see)

                an epiphany of that
                which does whatever is done.
                [...]

                Eisely again, "Progress secularized, progress which pursues only the next invention, progress which pulls thought out of the mind and replaces it with idle slogans, is not progress at all. It is a beckoning mirage in a desert over which staggers the generations of men. Because, man, each individual man among us, possesses his own soul, and by that light must live or perish, there is no way by which Utopias--or the lost Garden itself--can be brought out of the future and presented to man. Neither can he go forward to such a destiny. Since in the world of time every man lives but one life, it is in himself that he must search for the secret of the Garden."

                Zizek seems to critique secular atheism and fundamentalism in terms of how they accommodate modernity (scientism and questionable capital) if it suits their avowed agendas. They cling to an agnostic capitalism or prosperity doctrine in which God or Fate favors the prosperous. My issue with him is that he seems to equate movements with individuals. Perhaps he's right on.

                Auden continues:

                Whatever god a person believes in,
                in whatever way he believes,

                (no two are exactly alike)
                as one of the crow he believes

                and only believes in that
                in which there is only one way of believing.

                Few people accept each other and most
                will never do anything properly,

                but the crowd rejects no one, joining the crowd
                is the only thing all men can do.

                Only because of that can we say
                all men are our brothers,

                superior, because of that,
                to the social exoskeletons: When

                have they ever ignored their queens,
                for one second stopped work

                on their provincial cities, to worship
                The Prince of this world like us,

                at this noon, on this hill,
                in the occasion of this dying.

                Yes, it's an overtly Christian poem, easy to see how Auden feels the distinct human capacity for "observance," the ability to hope and imagine, alone and with others. Many philosophers and psychoanalysts recognize we understand ourselves by gazing into the mirror of others, as confusing and unpleasant as it is. Zizek appears to belong to this tradition.

                --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "irvhal" <i99hj@...> wrote:
                >
                > Jim,
                >
                > I might have done better to have used "modernity", or even cybernetics, to describe the capital concentration and mass production characteristic of developed states, "capitalist" and "socialist" alike. And modernity's acquisitive economic man, whose Being is enframed by consumerism, indeed tends to trump other modes like conservation, commmunity or identity.
                >
                > Irvin
                >
                > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@> wrote:
                > >
                > > Irvin,
                > >
                > > Thank you for your post.
                > >
                > > I agree that capitalism does seem to be closely identified with mass production and in both the capitalist West and the former communist East, various individuals and groups seem (or seemed) to be immune from accountability to the ordinary citizen.
                > >
                > > Whether it is possible to create a system of checks and balances so no individual or group became privileged over the rest of the society, whilst maintaining the mechanisms for mass production, I am not sure.
                > >
                > > The original Marxist ideas that make sense to me are (first) "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" and (second) the idea that all the workers on the production line as well as the designers and managers should share equally in the money made from the sale of the mass-produced product.
                > >
                > > Whether or not these ideas could be realized without the state nominally "owning" all the enterprises – again I'm not sure.
                > >
                > > As well as capitalism being tied up with mass-production, our own current version of capitalism essentially involves consumerism.
                > >
                > > I guess most on the left would seek to change the conditions of mass-production, but for myself (and generally those who are involved with Green politics), the way to overthrow capitalism is by undermining the general belief amongst Westerners that the Good Life is the life of maximal consumption.
                > >
                > > Whilst Westerners remain hell-bent on consuming more and more, I cannot see any possibility of a challenge to the sort of capitalism we have now. Perhaps as the oil runs out, more and more people may come to see that the simple pleasures of life are actually more pleasant than those pleasures delivered by mass-produced modern technology.
                > >
                > > Jim
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "irvhal" <i99hj@> wrote:
                > > >
                > > > I too disagree with Zizek's passage. But what is modern "capitalism" but concentrated tecno-resources necessary for mass production? And can't the very distinction between state and private capital sometimes be tenuous, since even the "private" corporate entity is a privileged licensee of the state, and both state and private entities enjoy varied immunities for their acts -- be it sovereign immunity for the state or tort immunity for shareholders beyond their investment? The rub is who decides what resources are marshalled and how they're distributed. Zizek apparently doesn't like what he sees or gets, and regards himself part of an aggrieved though selfless (or super-virtuous) minority.
                > > >
                > > > Irvin
                > >
                >
              • irvhal
                One further idea I have here is that Grandiose Constructions -- Zizek s or otherwise -- founder against man s varying views of happiness. Us intellectuals tend
                Message 7 of 8 , Jan 9, 2011
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                  One further idea I have here is that Grandiose Constructions -- Zizek's or
                  otherwise -- founder against man's varying views of happiness. Us intellectuals
                  tend to prefer "higher" interests to "vulgar" things like trucks or athletics
                  (though not sex), and some of us find the Red State commoner as much an obstacle
                  as Stalin did the Ukrainian. But the Anglo-Saxon tradition knows better,
                  preferring incrementalism to revolution. Hence the concern with constraining
                  authority from Magna Carta to the present, and the American concept of each
                  man's pursuit of a happiness all his own. And how marvelous the great
                  Anglo-Saxon institution of trial by jury, which stands between any encroachment
                  of that ideal and the State.

                  Irvin



                  --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Mary" <josephson45r@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > What troubles me is Zizek's apparent disregard and dissatisfaction for individual and/or community based actions. Yes, when a zillionaire goes green and philanthropic, we should be sceptical. However, when Zizek scorns an authentic identity who practices conservation and community and equates the latter's guilt by association with the former's perpatration, he's wrong, in my opinion. Here again, however, Zizek's hyperbole could be intended to make this very distinction.
                  >
                  > Loren Eiseley wrote, "The group ethic as distinct from the personal ethic is faceless and obscure. It is whatever its leaders chose it to mean; it destroys the innocent and justifies the act in terms of the future."
                  >
                  > And from Auden's SEXT, a non-secular title even Zizek might appreciate:
                  >
                  > [...]
                  > The crowd does not see (what everyone sees)
                  > a boxing match, a train wreck,
                  >
                  > a battleship being launched,
                  > does not wonder (as everyone wonders)
                  >
                  > who will win, what flag she will fly,
                  > how many will be burned alive,
                  >
                  > is never distracted
                  > (as everyone is always distracted)
                  >
                  > by a barking dog, a smell of fish,
                  > a mosquito on a bald head:
                  >
                  > the crowd sees only one thing
                  > (which only the crowd can see)
                  >
                  > an epiphany of that
                  > which does whatever is done.
                  > [...]
                  >
                  > Eisely again, "Progress secularized, progress which pursues only the next invention, progress which pulls thought out of the mind and replaces it with idle slogans, is not progress at all. It is a beckoning mirage in a desert over which staggers the generations of men. Because, man, each individual man among us, possesses his own soul, and by that light must live or perish, there is no way by which Utopias--or the lost Garden itself--can be brought out of the future and presented to man. Neither can he go forward to such a destiny. Since in the world of time every man lives but one life, it is in himself that he must search for the secret of the Garden."
                  >
                  > Zizek seems to critique secular atheism and fundamentalism in terms of how they accommodate modernity (scientism and questionable capital) if it suits their avowed agendas. They cling to an agnostic capitalism or prosperity doctrine in which God or Fate favors the prosperous. My issue with him is that he seems to equate movements with individuals. Perhaps he's right on.
                  >
                  > Auden continues:
                  >
                  > Whatever god a person believes in,
                  > in whatever way he believes,
                  >
                  > (no two are exactly alike)
                  > as one of the crow he believes
                  >
                  > and only believes in that
                  > in which there is only one way of believing.
                  >
                  > Few people accept each other and most
                  > will never do anything properly,
                  >
                  > but the crowd rejects no one, joining the crowd
                  > is the only thing all men can do.
                  >
                  > Only because of that can we say
                  > all men are our brothers,
                  >
                  > superior, because of that,
                  > to the social exoskeletons: When
                  >
                  > have they ever ignored their queens,
                  > for one second stopped work
                  >
                  > on their provincial cities, to worship
                  > The Prince of this world like us,
                  >
                  > at this noon, on this hill,
                  > in the occasion of this dying.
                  >
                  > Yes, it's an overtly Christian poem, easy to see how Auden feels the distinct human capacity for "observance," the ability to hope and imagine, alone and with others. Many philosophers and psychoanalysts recognize we understand ourselves by gazing into the mirror of others, as confusing and unpleasant as it is. Zizek appears to belong to this tradition.
                  >
                  > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "irvhal" <i99hj@> wrote:
                  > >
                  > > Jim,
                  > >
                  > > I might have done better to have used "modernity", or even cybernetics, to describe the capital concentration and mass production characteristic of developed states, "capitalist" and "socialist" alike. And modernity's acquisitive economic man, whose Being is enframed by consumerism, indeed tends to trump other modes like conservation, commmunity or identity.
                  > >
                  > > Irvin
                  > >
                  > > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@> wrote:
                  > > >
                  > > > Irvin,
                  > > >
                  > > > Thank you for your post.
                  > > >
                  > > > I agree that capitalism does seem to be closely identified with mass production and in both the capitalist West and the former communist East, various individuals and groups seem (or seemed) to be immune from accountability to the ordinary citizen.
                  > > >
                  > > > Whether it is possible to create a system of checks and balances so no individual or group became privileged over the rest of the society, whilst maintaining the mechanisms for mass production, I am not sure.
                  > > >
                  > > > The original Marxist ideas that make sense to me are (first) "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" and (second) the idea that all the workers on the production line as well as the designers and managers should share equally in the money made from the sale of the mass-produced product.
                  > > >
                  > > > Whether or not these ideas could be realized without the state nominally "owning" all the enterprises – again I'm not sure.
                  > > >
                  > > > As well as capitalism being tied up with mass-production, our own current version of capitalism essentially involves consumerism.
                  > > >
                  > > > I guess most on the left would seek to change the conditions of mass-production, but for myself (and generally those who are involved with Green politics), the way to overthrow capitalism is by undermining the general belief amongst Westerners that the Good Life is the life of maximal consumption.
                  > > >
                  > > > Whilst Westerners remain hell-bent on consuming more and more, I cannot see any possibility of a challenge to the sort of capitalism we have now. Perhaps as the oil runs out, more and more people may come to see that the simple pleasures of life are actually more pleasant than those pleasures delivered by mass-produced modern technology.
                  > > >
                  > > > Jim
                  > > >
                  > > >
                  > > >
                  > > >
                  > > > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "irvhal" <i99hj@> wrote:
                  > > > >
                  > > > > I too disagree with Zizek's passage. But what is modern "capitalism" but concentrated tecno-resources necessary for mass production? And can't the very distinction between state and private capital sometimes be tenuous, since even the "private" corporate entity is a privileged licensee of the state, and both state and private entities enjoy varied immunities for their acts -- be it sovereign immunity for the state or tort immunity for shareholders beyond their investment? The rub is who decides what resources are marshalled and how they're distributed. Zizek apparently doesn't like what he sees or gets, and regards himself part of an aggrieved though selfless (or super-virtuous) minority.
                  > > > >
                  > > > > Irvin
                  > > >
                  > >
                  >
                • josephson45r
                  Though I plan a more thorough examination of Zizek s ideas, my cursory and preliminary one indicates someone who is not opposed to individual responsibility,
                  Message 8 of 8 , Jan 10, 2011
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                    Though I plan a more thorough examination of Zizek's ideas, my cursory and preliminary one indicates someone who is not opposed to individual responsibility, state, law, or science. As any salty philosopher he troubles, reverses, and challenges their status quo in order to help actualize more efficacious versions. After at least seven millenia, a radical discussion of incrementalism versus revolution is certainly valid. Although judging by the current misunderstanding of all these (concepts, institutions, and approaches) for addressing the fundamental human requirement of a safe, healthy environment in which to freely pursue livelihood and meaning for the common good, it is probably too late. The prevalence of malaise or violence in many societies seems due to these very failures. It is never not time to consider how Spirit unfolds and enfolds Form according to a necessity we do not recognize.

                    Another unproven impression I have of Zizek is that he attributes the failure of Marxism as the failure to adequatley apprehend and aggressively approach the Fragile Absolute in each another, that Marx omitted this, Hegel's crucial concept, in the unfolding and fulfillment of human history. Whichever system/society exploits at the expense of this Absolute does it at their peril.

                    "What is the Absolute? Something that appears to us in fleeting experiences—say, through the gentle smile of a beautiful woman, or even through the warm caring smile of a person who may otherwise seem ugly and rude. In such miraculous but extremely fragile moments, another dimension transpires through our reality. As such, the Absolute is easily corroded; it slips all too easily through our fingers and must be handled as carefully as a butterfly." (The Fragile Absolute: Or, Why is the Christian Legacy Worth Fighting For? by Slavoj Zizek)

                    Mary

                    --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "irvhal" <i99hj@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > One further idea I have here is that Grandiose Constructions -- Zizek's or
                    > otherwise -- founder against man's varying views of happiness. Us intellectuals
                    > tend to prefer "higher" interests to "vulgar" things like trucks or athletics
                    > (though not sex), and some of us find the Red State commoner as much an obstacle
                    > as Stalin did the Ukrainian. But the Anglo-Saxon tradition knows better,
                    > preferring incrementalism to revolution. Hence the concern with constraining
                    > authority from Magna Carta to the present, and the American concept of each
                    > man's pursuit of a happiness all his own. And how marvelous the great
                    > Anglo-Saxon institution of trial by jury, which stands between any encroachment
                    > of that ideal and the State.
                    >
                    > Irvin
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Mary" <josephson45r@> wrote:
                    > >
                    > > What troubles me is Zizek's apparent disregard and dissatisfaction for individual and/or community based actions. Yes, when a zillionaire goes green and philanthropic, we should be sceptical. However, when Zizek scorns an authentic identity who practices conservation and community and equates the latter's guilt by association with the former's perpatration, he's wrong, in my opinion. Here again, however, Zizek's hyperbole could be intended to make this very distinction.
                    > >
                    > > Loren Eiseley wrote, "The group ethic as distinct from the personal ethic is faceless and obscure. It is whatever its leaders chose it to mean; it destroys the innocent and justifies the act in terms of the future."
                    > >
                    > > And from Auden's SEXT, a non-secular title even Zizek might appreciate:
                    > >
                    > > [...]
                    > > The crowd does not see (what everyone sees)
                    > > a boxing match, a train wreck,
                    > >
                    > > a battleship being launched,
                    > > does not wonder (as everyone wonders)
                    > >
                    > > who will win, what flag she will fly,
                    > > how many will be burned alive,
                    > >
                    > > is never distracted
                    > > (as everyone is always distracted)
                    > >
                    > > by a barking dog, a smell of fish,
                    > > a mosquito on a bald head:
                    > >
                    > > the crowd sees only one thing
                    > > (which only the crowd can see)
                    > >
                    > > an epiphany of that
                    > > which does whatever is done.
                    > > [...]
                    > >
                    > > Eisely again, "Progress secularized, progress which pursues only the next invention, progress which pulls thought out of the mind and replaces it with idle slogans, is not progress at all. It is a beckoning mirage in a desert over which staggers the generations of men. Because, man, each individual man among us, possesses his own soul, and by that light must live or perish, there is no way by which Utopias--or the lost Garden itself--can be brought out of the future and presented to man. Neither can he go forward to such a destiny. Since in the world of time every man lives but one life, it is in himself that he must search for the secret of the Garden."
                    > >
                    > > Zizek seems to critique secular atheism and fundamentalism in terms of how they accommodate modernity (scientism and questionable capital) if it suits their avowed agendas. They cling to an agnostic capitalism or prosperity doctrine in which God or Fate favors the prosperous. My issue with him is that he seems to equate movements with individuals. Perhaps he's right on.
                    > >
                    > > Auden continues:
                    > >
                    > > Whatever god a person believes in,
                    > > in whatever way he believes,
                    > >
                    > > (no two are exactly alike)
                    > > as one of the crow he believes
                    > >
                    > > and only believes in that
                    > > in which there is only one way of believing.
                    > >
                    > > Few people accept each other and most
                    > > will never do anything properly,
                    > >
                    > > but the crowd rejects no one, joining the crowd
                    > > is the only thing all men can do.
                    > >
                    > > Only because of that can we say
                    > > all men are our brothers,
                    > >
                    > > superior, because of that,
                    > > to the social exoskeletons: When
                    > >
                    > > have they ever ignored their queens,
                    > > for one second stopped work
                    > >
                    > > on their provincial cities, to worship
                    > > The Prince of this world like us,
                    > >
                    > > at this noon, on this hill,
                    > > in the occasion of this dying.
                    > >
                    > > Yes, it's an overtly Christian poem, easy to see how Auden feels the distinct human capacity for "observance," the ability to hope and imagine, alone and with others. Many philosophers and psychoanalysts recognize we understand ourselves by gazing into the mirror of others, as confusing and unpleasant as it is. Zizek appears to belong to this tradition.
                    > >
                    > > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "irvhal" <i99hj@> wrote:
                    > > >
                    > > > Jim,
                    > > >
                    > > > I might have done better to have used "modernity", or even cybernetics, to describe the capital concentration and mass production characteristic of developed states, "capitalist" and "socialist" alike. And modernity's acquisitive economic man, whose Being is enframed by consumerism, indeed tends to trump other modes like conservation, commmunity or identity.
                    > > >
                    > > > Irvin
                    > > >
                    > > > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@> wrote:
                    > > > >
                    > > > > Irvin,
                    > > > >
                    > > > > Thank you for your post.
                    > > > >
                    > > > > I agree that capitalism does seem to be closely identified with mass production and in both the capitalist West and the former communist East, various individuals and groups seem (or seemed) to be immune from accountability to the ordinary citizen.
                    > > > >
                    > > > > Whether it is possible to create a system of checks and balances so no individual or group became privileged over the rest of the society, whilst maintaining the mechanisms for mass production, I am not sure.
                    > > > >
                    > > > > The original Marxist ideas that make sense to me are (first) "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" and (second) the idea that all the workers on the production line as well as the designers and managers should share equally in the money made from the sale of the mass-produced product.
                    > > > >
                    > > > > Whether or not these ideas could be realized without the state nominally "owning" all the enterprises – again I'm not sure.
                    > > > >
                    > > > > As well as capitalism being tied up with mass-production, our own current version of capitalism essentially involves consumerism.
                    > > > >
                    > > > > I guess most on the left would seek to change the conditions of mass-production, but for myself (and generally those who are involved with Green politics), the way to overthrow capitalism is by undermining the general belief amongst Westerners that the Good Life is the life of maximal consumption.
                    > > > >
                    > > > > Whilst Westerners remain hell-bent on consuming more and more, I cannot see any possibility of a challenge to the sort of capitalism we have now. Perhaps as the oil runs out, more and more people may come to see that the simple pleasures of life are actually more pleasant than those pleasures delivered by mass-produced modern technology.
                    > > > >
                    > > > > Jim
                    > > > >
                    > > > >
                    > > > >
                    > > > >
                    > > > > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "irvhal" <i99hj@> wrote:
                    > > > > >
                    > > > > > I too disagree with Zizek's passage. But what is modern "capitalism" but concentrated tecno-resources necessary for mass production? And can't the very distinction between state and private capital sometimes be tenuous, since even the "private" corporate entity is a privileged licensee of the state, and both state and private entities enjoy varied immunities for their acts -- be it sovereign immunity for the state or tort immunity for shareholders beyond their investment? The rub is who decides what resources are marshalled and how they're distributed. Zizek apparently doesn't like what he sees or gets, and regards himself part of an aggrieved though selfless (or super-virtuous) minority.
                    > > > > >
                    > > > > > Irvin
                    > > > >
                    > > >
                    > >
                    >
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