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January 15, 2007


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Mark k-p's point is essentially Zizek's: that capitalism is "worldless", that it has (rather like "humanity", in Badiou's account) the ability to appear in any world. So the anti-capitalist slogan "another world is possible" is not yet a fully anti-capitalist slogan, because it does not address the ways in which capitalism might lie in wait, so to speak, for this other world.


Dominic--right, but that capitalism is worldless, that it can appear in any world, doesn't mean that it must, that this appearance is necessary and inevitable; so, there are pasts without capitalism that can be kept alive.

On the slogan--I see your point, but can I slogan really address ways that capitalism might lie in wait? In other words, "another world is possible, and we better make damn sure it isn't capitalism" is a pretty lame slogan. Better might be "a socialist world is possible" (or, with Chavez, a socialist Venezuela is coming!).


Badiou also comments somewhere that capitalism binds itself very closely to a particular notion of the human, a particular anthropology, so as to pass itself off as "natural", as a kind of technical clarification of human nature (qua "Darwinian" struggle, competition etc). So it shares to a great extent the human capacity for appearing in a great many worlds; but is also parasitic upon it. The odd things is that it's easier in some ways to imagine a post-human capitalism (as extropians rather tend to do) than to imagine a post-capitalist humanity...


Neat discussion. Jodi,I think the Zizek remarks can be found in the last pages of Fragile Absolute. On apocalyptic dread you might add Cormac McCarthy's The Road (soon to be a film -certainly written to be a screenplay) and Pynchon's Against the Day (also imagines past "pre" apocalypse of WW1). We are, artistically at least, it seems to me, in an apocalyptic moment (Katrina perhaps being the key event in the parochial American imagination). Very curious. Attempts to think or depict AN-- as opposed to THE -- apocalypse mark a certain impasse for materialist thought, an impasse addressed at the moment with great clarity only by Badiou and his resistance to the "one." What I mean is this: attempts to think the apocalypse are, generally speaking, gestures of materialist thought -- a desire to posit what there is in the world once and for all -- evacuating any idealism whatsoever. Of course, traces of idealism linger in such apocalyptic/materialist visions like traces of God linger in all negative theologies. Can't get rid of "it." Why? In part, because of the banal reason that hope and idealism, etc., is part of the multiple "what is." In simply insisting on our "one" materialist world as deadly serious apocalyptos do we are also saying that what presents itself in full(including hope, futures, possibilities, etc.) is NOT and that there is, instead, something "other" even though we can't access it directly. The "other" that we insist on is, then, perfectly perversely, the material world as it is. Needless to say, material ground haunted by such "otherness" is not sufficient for crucial political work.

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K-P writes:

Questioned about whether they will give up flying in order to combat climate change, people will often respond that there is no point, because others will continue to fly: thus runs the fatalism of capitalist realism.

Isn't this fatalism the direct consequence of a disavowed belief in collective politics? i.e, people believe that individual choices are meaningless to avert a catastrophe of this size. In this they are of course correct. This negative is perhaps the flipside to the positive knowledge that a collective response to catastrophe is not meaningless.


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