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First as Tragedy, Then as Farceby Slavoj Zizek
Synopses & Reviews
In this bravura analysis of the current global crisis'"following on from his bestselling Welcome to the Desert of the Real'"Slavoj Zizek argues that the liberal idea of the 'end of history,' declared by Francis Fukuyama during the 1990s, has had to die twice. After the collapse of the liberal-democratic political utopia, on the morning of 9/11, came the collapse of the economic utopia of global market capitalism at the end of 2008. Marx argued that history repeats itself'"occuring first as tragedy, the second time as farce'"and Zizek, following Herbert Marcuse, notes here that the repetition as farce can be even more terrifying than the original tragedy.
The financial meltdown signals that the fantasy of globalization is over and as millions are put out of work it has become impossible to ignore the irrationality of global capitalism. Just a few months before the crash, the world"s priorities seemed to be global warming, AIDS, and access to medicine, food and water'"tasks labelled as urgent, but with any real action repeatedly postponed. Now, after the financial implosion, the urgent need to act seems to have become unconditional'"with the result that undreamt of quantities of cash were immediately found and then poured into the financial sector without any regard for the old priorities. Do we need further proof, Zizek asks, that Capital is the Real of our lives: the Real whose demands are more absolute than even the most pressing problems of our natural and social world?
"The charismatic and contentious Zizek (The Sublime Object of Ideology) turns his versatile intelligence and acute ear for irony to a critique of contemporary capitalism. Given the recent financial crisis, Zizek argues that it is now 'impossible to ignore the blatant irrationality of global capitalism.' He sifts through recent history to reveal how capitalist ideology functions to defend the system against any serious critique, despite its manifest flaws. He draws a sharp line between liberalism and the radical left, showing how the socialization of the banks — and socialism itself — is actually aligned with the preservation of capitalism rather than inimical to it, and derides 'socially responsible' ecocapitalism as another avatar of a bankrupt system. Zizek concludes with a new articulation of 'The Communist Hypothesis,' setting socialism and communism as antagonists and presenting a utopian vision that relies on breaking out of the structures and strictures of statism and the markets. An earnest and timely challenge, Zizek's critique of capitalism and repositioning of communist thought is both insightful and well-reasoned, and guaranteed to rile readers across the political and theoretical spectrum." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
From the tragedy of 9/11 to the farce of the financial meltdown.
One of the most innovative and exciting contemporary thinkers of the left.The Elvis of cultural theory.
Billions of dollars have been hastily poured into the global banking system in a frantic attempt at financial stabilization. So why has it not been possible to bring the same forces to bear in addressing world poverty and environmental crisis?
In this take-no-prisoners analysis, Slavoj Zizek frames the moral failures of the modern world in terms of the epoch-making events of the first decade of this century. What he finds is the old one-two punch of history: the jab of tragedy, the right hook of farce. In the attacks of 9/11 and the global credit crunch, liberalism dies twice: as a political doctrine and as an economic theory.
First as Tragedy, Then as Farce is a call for the Left to reinvent itself in the light of our desperate historical situation. The time for liberal, moralistic blackmail is over.
About the Author
Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a Professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His books include Living in the End Times, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, In Defense of Lost Causes, four volumes of the Essential Žižek, and many more.
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