Anti-capitalism for absolute beginners

December 8th, 2011

Published on normblog, by Norman Geras, December 07, 2011.

Slavoj Žižek is pleased to note that behind the worldwide protests, from Tahrir Square to Occupy Wall Street, there’s a common impulse. It is not just about single-issue protest, it’s also not a simple demand for democracy. No, it’s anti-capitalism.  

This is not, says Žižek, an adequate form of anti-capitalism, because it’s only ethical anti-capitalism; still, at least it’s based on an intuition that ‘the problem is capitalism as such’.

So, does he have anything to offer, a better kind of anti-capitalism going beyond the insufficient ethical kind? The question seems pertinent given his verdict on previous variants:

[T]he 20th century is over. Not only state socialism and the social-democratic welfare state, but also, I would add, the deepest hope of the utopian left, “horizontal organization,” local communities, direct democracy, self-organization – all this, I don’t think it works. So, again, it is a big challenge. The old problem is back, but it is clearer than ever that the old answers are not up to the challenge.

What then? What to do? Er… Žižek has nothing. That is, not anything. Except ‘No dialogue!’ – by which he means no talking to ‘the enemy’, since we ‘need time to construct our own new language, time to formulate’ … (full text).

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