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Slavoj Žižek speaks about Occupy Wall Street on Fox News?


 
Yeah, you wish… Me too! Sorry for the bait and switch, folks, but I’ll try to make it up to you with a new half-hour video of Žižek, below, as seen on Al Jazeera last week.

I do have a point, though, for leading you here under false pretenses: The fact that you are interested to see what Slavoj Žižek (or someone like him) would say about Occupy Wall Street, and especially hearing it said on Fox News, is why Roger Ailes needs to do a very quick revamp of his product if he doesn’t want Fox to seem like it’s yesterday’s news…

It’s been interesting to watch how Fox News keeps calling on the very same lame-brained group of talking heads they always call on, to discuss Occupy Wall Street. Like they can’t rotate in ANYONE new to shake things up even a little bit? OWS has upset the Fox News apple cart in a big way. They have no idea how to deal with it, understand it, or even process it intellectually, let alone report on it, and that is becoming more and more obvious every day.

How many variations on the themes of “dirty hippies,” “they don’t know what they want,” “they’re a bunch of violent socialists who are just jealous of rich people (like us and our masters)” and of course, “ACORN!” are there?

I’ve just counted four.

Predictable but hilarious. In less than two months Fox has nearly totally lost its once secure place in the national conversation. They’re floundering very, very badly. They’ve fumbled the ball.

Here’s how I see it: Fox News post-Occupy Wall Street is like The Spice Girls the day after Geri Haliwell left the group. Their entire shtick became anachronistic in a single day.

This is what Occupy Wall Street has done to Fox News, not to mention the rest of the far Reichwing opinion outlets. From talk radio to the various editorials written byTea party twits on WorldNetDaily, what’s been on evidence for the past few weeks is that there is almost zero capability on the part of people who think that way to absorb what is happening because it is happening so incredibly quickly. It’s taken them completely by surprise.

Indeed, the scales have rapidly tipped in the past few weeks and there are shifting sands beneath our feet as I type this. My feet and yours, not just Bill O’Reilly’s or Rupert Murdoch’s. I don’t think anyone, right of left, has a full picture of what’s going on, or exactly where it’s headed, but what should be crystal clear to every person in the world capable of critical thinking is that something big, something very major and something potentially fantastic has happened and it is going to continue to happen for some time to come. Like it or not, this is not a prediction, it is a statement of fact.

The genie is way out of the bottle, but you won’t hear about this from entities (like Fox News) who are threatened by what’s happening. Some of the most objective reporting on what’s occurring in America—and when I say “objective” I mean to impart, in this instance, not an anti-American bias but a NON-American point of view, there is huge difference—is coming from Russia Today and Al Jazeera. You want interesting news, considered opinions, intelligent reporting and something beyond the empty calories of the shrieking taking heads, then check both networks out.

Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek was recently given nearly 30 minutes on Al Jazeera to speak about global revolutionary movements and what’s coming next. Can you imagine the sparks that would fly if Žižek was invited on to The O’Reilly Factor or Sean Hannity’s program?

Why not? If it’s good for ratings, it’s good for ratings. Isn’t that all Ailes really cares about? Well, if so, Fox News will need to update their modus operandi—and pronto, too—to keep up with such rapidly changing events. The thing is, I don’t think they can go on as they have in the past. Not because I think their audience has, or is going to, “wise up” all of a sudden because of what they see happening with OWS (although some of them will). No, my contention is very simply that Fox News is becoming too predictable, even for their admittedly not very intellectually demanding viewers. That’s saying a lot.

Ann Coulter? Hmmm, I mean, I wonder what her take is on Occupy Wall Street, don’t you?

Actually, no I fucking don’t and I never have. I couldn’t give a rat’s ass what Ann Coulter thinks about anything, but beyond that, she’s boring, and predictable, and so is Fox News. The past two months have seen the network foundering badly. Fox has become too rote, too boring. Ann Coulter? She’s not even any fun to mock anymore. Roger Ailes needs to euthanize Ann Coulter and push her off the gangplank just like he did with Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. She’s the poster child for everything that’s wrong with Fox News right now. Put her and the rest of them out to pasture soon or Fox News will be just like the post-Geri Haliwell Spice Girls in 1998, becoming a glaring anachronism almost overnight.

Below, Slavoj Žižek on Al Jazeera last week:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Slavoj Žižek: ‘What will replace capitalism?’


Slavoj Žižek at Cooper Union in NYC, 2009

Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek poses some interesting questions in a new essay titled “The Violent Silence of a New Beginning,” which was prepared from the remarks he made at Occupy Wall Street on October 10th (video of that below).

This except from the full essay, which you can read at In These Times, discusses answering conservative’s hollow critiques of the OWS movement:

The direct conservative attacks are easy to answer.

Are the protests un-American? When conservative fundamentalists claim that America is a Christian nation, one should remember what Christianity is: the Holy Spirit, the free egalitarian community of believers united by love. It is the protesters who are the Holy Spirit, while on Wall Street pagans worship false idols.

Are the protesters violent? True, their very language may appear violent (occupation, and so on), but they are violent in the sense in which Mahatma Gandhi was violent. They are violent because they want to put a stop to the way things are done — –but what is this violence compared to the violence needed to sustain the smooth functioning of the global capitalist system?

The protesters are called “losers” — but the true losers are on Wall Street, bailed out by hundreds of billions of our money.

They are called socialists. But in the United States, there already is socialism for the rich.

They are accused of not respecting private property — but the Wall Street speculations that led to the crash of 2008 erased more hard-earned private property than if the protesters were to be destroying it night and day. Think of the tens of thousands of homes foreclosed.

They are not communists, if communism means the system that deservedly collapsed in 1990. The communists who are still in power run the world’s most ruthless capitalist system (China). The success of Chinese Communist-run capitalism is a sign that the marriage between capitalism and democracy is approaching a divorce.

The only sense in which the protesters are communists is that they care for the commons—the commons of nature, of knowledge—that are threatened by the system.

The protesters are dismissed as dreamers, but the true dreamers are those who think that things can go on indefinitely the way they are, just with some cosmetic changes.

The protesters are the awakening from a dream that is turning into a nightmare. They are not destroying anything. They are reacting to a system that is gradually destroying itself.

We all know the classic scene from cartoons: The cat reaches a precipice, but it goes on walking, ignoring the fact that there is no ground under its feet; it starts to fall only when it looks down and notices the abyss. What the protesters are doing is reminding those in power to look down.

Read more of “The Violent Silence of a New Beginning” by Slavoj Žižek at In These Times
 

 
Part 2 after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Slavoj Žižek speaks to Occupy Wall Street


Portrait of Slavoj Žižek by Luca Del Baldo (his other work is amazing, too)

Look what you’re missing if you’re not at Occupy Wall Street! This occurred on Sunday.

I’m going to NYC in a little over a week and I cannot wait to see what’s going on in Zuccotti Park with my own eyes. How awesome would it be to see Slavoj Žižek just show up and speak?

Via AlterNet:

The latest in a long parade of intellectuals, celebrities, pop stars and all types of creative people to visit the occupation down at Liberty Plaza was Slovenian philosopher and public intellectual Slavoj Zizek. 

Zizek addressed the crowd through the “People’s Mic,” standing above the crowd and limiting his words to short phrases that were easily repeated by the crowd. “The problem is the system,” he told the protesters.

“Carnivals come cheap. What matters is the day after, when we will have to return to normal life. Will there be any changes then? I don’t want you to remember these days you know, like ‘oh, we were young, it was beautiful.’ Remember that our basic message is ‘We are allowed to think about alternatives.’”

It’s a holiday today, right? If you live in the NY metro area (or you’re near the train lines in NJ or CT), today is probably a great day to go and show your support.

Can you imagine being a Berliner who stayed home when the wall fell? Don’t be a lazy idiot, this is fucking history in the making. Go support Occupy Wall Street today!

And if you are not convinced, then READ THIS and I’ll bet at least a few of you who were on the fence will go after that…
 

 
Part II is after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Shoplifters of the World Unite


 
On an individual basis, when you are staring one dumb kid in the face who can’t articulate why he wanted to burn a local shop to the ground, well then, yes, you can say it’s criminal behavior, someone who wasn’t raised properly or a matter of law and order. However, when mass-rioting is seen on a scale the likes of which occurred in England recently, it seems quite obvious that what we’re observing is a widespread social pathology resulting from end-stage capitalism.  From the tepid (and often counter-productive) response of the British government to the riots, one can only conclude that they have completely run out of ideas—or lack the will—to do anything about the root causes of the unrest.

Radical Marxist philosopher Slavoj Žižek writes on on the deeper meaning of England’s riots in the London Review of Books:

Repetition, according to Hegel, plays a crucial role in history: when something happens just once, it may be dismissed as an accident, something that might have been avoided if the situation had been handled differently; but when the same event repeats itself, it is a sign that a deeper historical process is unfolding. When Napoleon lost at Leipzig in 1813, it looked like bad luck; when he lost again at Waterloo, it was clear that his time was over. The same holds for the continuing financial crisis. In September 2008, it was presented by some as an anomaly that could be corrected through better regulations etc; now that signs of a repeated financial meltdown are gathering it is clear that we are dealing with a structural phenomenon.

We are told again and again that we are living through a debt crisis, and that we all have to share the burden and tighten our belts. All, that is, except the (very) rich. The idea of taxing them more is taboo: if we did, the argument runs, the rich would have no incentive to invest, fewer jobs would be created and we would all suffer. The only way to save ourselves from hard times is for the poor to get poorer and the rich to get richer. What should the poor do? What can they do?

Although the riots in the UK were triggered by the suspicious shooting of Mark Duggan, everyone agrees that they express a deeper unease – but of what kind? As with the car burnings in the Paris banlieues in 2005, the UK rioters had no message to deliver. (There is a clear contrast with the massive student demonstrations in November 2010, which also turned to violence. The students were making clear that they rejected the proposed reforms to higher education.) This is why it is difficult to conceive of the UK rioters in Marxist terms, as an instance of the emergence of the revolutionary subject; they fit much better the Hegelian notion of the ‘rabble’, those outside organised social space, who can express their discontent only through ‘irrational’ outbursts of destructive violence – what Hegel called ‘abstract negativity’.

There is an old story about a worker suspected of stealing: every evening, as he leaves the factory, the wheelbarrow he pushes in front of him is carefully inspected. The guards find nothing; it is always empty. Finally, the penny drops: what the worker is stealing are the wheelbarrows themselves. The guards were missing the obvious truth, just as the commentators on the riots have done. We are told that the disintegration of the Communist regimes in the early 1990s signalled the end of ideology: the time of large-scale ideological projects culminating in totalitarian catastrophe was over; we had entered a new era of rational, pragmatic politics. If the commonplace that we live in a post-ideological era is true in any sense, it can be seen in this recent outburst of violence. This was zero-degree protest, a violent action demanding nothing. In their desperate attempt to find meaning in the riots, the sociologists and editorial-writers obfuscated the enigma the riots presented.

The protesters, though underprivileged and de facto socially excluded, weren’t living on the edge of starvation. People in much worse material straits, let alone conditions of physical and ideological oppression, have been able to organise themselves into political forces with clear agendas. The fact that the rioters have no programme is therefore itself a fact to be interpreted: it tells us a great deal about our ideological-political predicament and about the kind of society we inhabit, a society which celebrates choice but in which the only available alternative to enforced democratic consensus is a blind acting out. Opposition to the system can no longer articulate itself in the form of a realistic alternative, or even as a utopian project, but can only take the shape of a meaningless outburst. What is the point of our celebrated freedom of choice when the only choice is between playing by the rules and (self-)destructive violence?

The outright dismissal by many conservative commentators in England that there was ANY political content to the actions of the (supposedly pampered) rioters seemed idiotic to me. AS IF the observation of the mass behavior of thousands upon thousands of underclass young men deciding to burn their neighborhoods to the ground provided not a scrap of data to be interpreted by social scientists? Nonsense!

The liberals in the UK don’t seem to have that much better a grasp of the situation, as Žižek goes on to point out…

Watch for the repetitions. They’re going to be hammering us harder and faster until we start to wise up…

Read the rest of “Shoplifters of the World Unite” by Slavoj Žižek (London Review of Books)

Below, Slavoj Žižek: “What does it mean to be a revolutionary today?” speech from the Marxism 2009 conference.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Psycho at 50: Zizek’s Three Floors of the Mind

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Today marks the half-century anniversary of the premiere of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, which—along with Fellini’s La Dolce Vita opening earlier the same year—used the artform of cinema to hold up the cracked mirror of compulsive desire to Western civilization.

Movies, of course, would never be the same. Who better to drive the point home than our friendly neighborhood Lacanian critical theorist from Slovenia, Slavoj Žižek, from his excellent 2006 documentary, The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema?

 
Get: The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema Pt. 1-3 [DVD]

 

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment