Tuesday, July 14, 2009
This is somewhat long, but an interesting listen. Žižek is a widely-read (and in most circles well-respected) Marxist intellectual, talking here about what Marxism should be busy about. He seems to have stage fright.
If you get to the joke about the Mongolian and are put off, stick around until the last few minutes; he offers a useful explanation. I don't think I'll go in for a large-scale commentary, in part because I'm not really equipped to, and in part because he's all over the place. The two main points I take away from this are the need for solidarity on the left (not uniformity, but an acknowledgment that most of the problems confronting leftism in its various forms--Marxism, feminism, etc.--are systemic); and the need for suspicion in the face of stop-gap measures and partial solutions (capitalism w/ a human face, he says). These are both closely tied, and are talking points not only amongst Marxists, but feminists as well. The point of view, which I believe stems form Adorno (and probably others, but Žižek starts there too), is that the problems--violence, e.g.--are systemic in their current manifestations to capitalism (or patriarchy), but too that capital and patriarchy don't offer a facilely homogeneous superstructure which can be either easily conceived of or easily toppled.
At any rate, I like the energy, and the pessimistic optimism.