September 29, 2011

Zizek: Why the Idea and Why Communism (from Lacan Ink): The Left is facing the difficult task of emphasizing that we are dealing withpolitical economy—that there is nothing “natural” in the present crisis, that the existing global economic system relies on a series of political decisions—while simultaneously acknowledging that, insofar as we remain within the capitalist system, violating its rules will indeed cause economic breakdown, since the system obeys a pseudo-natural logic of its own. So, although we are clearly entering a new phase of enhanced exploitation, facilitated by global market conditions (outsourcing, etc.), we should also bear in mind that this is not the result of an evil plot by capitalists, but an urgency imposed by the functioning of the system itself, always on the brink of financial collapse. For this reason, what is now required is not a moralizing critique of capitalism, but the full re-affirmation of the Idea of communism. The Idea of communism, as elaborated by Badiou, remains a Kantian regulative idea lacking any mediation with historical reality. Badiou emphatically rejects any such mediation as a regression to an historicist evolutionism which betrays the purity of the Idea, reducing it to a positive order of Being (the Revolution conceived as a moment of the positive historical process). This Kantian mode of reference effectively allows us to characterize Badiou’s deployment of the “communist hypothesis” as a Kritik der reinen Kommunismus. As such, it invites us to repeat the passage from Kant to Hegel—to re-conceive the Idea of communism as an Idea in the Hegelian...
Doug Henwood: draw a line, take a stand #occupywallstreet Doug Henwood at LBO News I'm not here to disparage Occupy Wall Street; I admire the tenacity and nerve of the occupiers, and hope it grows. But I’m both curious and frustrated by the inability of the organizers, whoever they are exactly, or the participants, an endlessly shifting population, to say clearly and succinctly why they’re there. Yes, I know that certain liberals are using that to malign the protesters. I’m not. I desperately hope that something comes of this. But there’s a serious problem with this speechlessness. Certainly the location of the protest is a statement, but when it comes to words, there’s a strange silence—or prolixity, which in this case, amounts to pretty much the same thing. Why can’t they say something like this? “These gangsters have too much money. They wrecked the economy, got bailed out, and are back to business as usual. We need jobs, schools, health care, and clean energy. Let’s take their money to pay for them.” The potential constituency for that agenda is huge. Why instead do we see sprawling things like this (A Message From Occupied Wall Street), eleven demands, each identified as the one demand? Or this: The demand is a process? A process that includes this voting ritual: Select Below and Vote to Include in the Official Demands for #Occupy Wall Street. Why the emphasis on multiplicity and process? I think it’s a living instance of a problem that Jodi Dean identified last November—a paralysis of the will, though one...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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