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New Zizek Book

September 23, 2009

The prolific Zizek has a(nother) new book out, which may just have the best cover of any book I’ve ever seen.

The title unsurprisingly is a reference to a line from Marx, who suggested wryly that history repeats itself, “occuring first as tragedy, the second time as farce”.  In Zizek’s view the financial crisis is the farcical second death of the myth of unceasing ‘globalisation’ as the end of history, which follows in the footsteps of its tragic first death on 9/11 (which brings added punch to the choice of cover). As the publicity blurb puts it:

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?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Mariborchan permalink
    September 24, 2009 9:59 pm

    I think the cover is also a vague reference to an air-plane pamphlet in the film Fight Club, a film which Žižek loves.

    • snugglebus permalink*
      September 24, 2009 11:02 pm

      Thanks for the comment! That hadn’t occurred to me.

      What I find really interesting is that his basic argument here seems to recall, deleiberately or not, Foucault’s sketching of the emergence of neoliberalism in The Birth of Biopolitics lectures.

      I’m actually only starting to look at these now so am not far into them, but there is an interesting passage in the third lecture where he is talking about liberalism (rather than neo-lib) and argues that the emergence of ideas such as Kant’s perpetual peace (which is kind of the forerunner of Fukuyama’s ‘end of history’ really) was a lot to do with the transition away from mercantilism, away from a ‘zero-sum’ game, towards a new calculation in which you get the extended market from which all can benefit.

      As he puts it (i’m citing from this guy’s notes), with the emergence of liberalism: “we are invited to a globalization of the market when it is laid down as a principle, and an objective, that the enrichment of Europe must be brought about as a collective and unlimited enrichment”. He then goes on to say “[t]he guarantee of perpetual peace is therefore actually commercial globalization“.

      So there are clear echoes of the same intimate structural relationship of the idea of the post-cold war liberal peace and ‘globalisation’.

  2. Mariborchan permalink
    September 25, 2009 1:09 am

    I can’t comment on this, as I’ve never read Foucault, nor am I educated on this particular topic.

    I would only like to add that a very recent essay from Žižek titled ‘To Each According to his Greed’, contents of which are supposed to be in this book, is available on my blog.

    • snugglebus permalink*
      September 25, 2009 3:10 pm

      thanks for the tip on the article. will check it out.

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