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Thread: The Phenomenal Slavoj Zizek

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by IdleRich View Post
    Yeah, but if you can't afford to make the short term outlay for the long term saving then it's not that easy. It's obviously better value to buy a year long bus pass but there are lots of Londoners who can't afford that so they get fifty-four weekly ones instead - it's not that they don't realise that it's more expensive or that they are stupid or something, it's just that in any given paypacket they won't have the necessary x hundred pounds left over to buy the year pass.
    Fair enough, but these bulbs cost like a fiver each. That's a packet of fags, or not quite two (London) pints. And stuff like recycling doesn't cost anything, all it requires is a (very small) amount of effort.

    Edit: got to pity these poor working class types who don't even know how many weeks there are in a year...
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  2. #32
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    Sneering at people putting principles into action is sheer hipsterism is it not? The cry of the culturally castrated lashing out at those who still have the balls to believe. That notion that individuals can not make a difference and the accompanying capitulating disavowal of responsibility are two of the most pernicious trendy lies going around right now. Just because what you can do might appear quite meagre on the face of it doesn't mean you should not do it. On the contrary it means it's easy! So why not do it! Afraid you might feel pacified? Or is it the sense that you might then be granting admission to a larger world of responsibility?. But regardless of an action's immediate visible efficacy, the gesture is important in and of itself, and also crucially in its intent, I would argue. Both as reproducible 'revolutionary' act, and also as a motion towards bringing awareness of an issue closer to everyday consciousness. Something those of us in the relatively comfortable West can always do with.

    Economic change is absolutely key ultimately, but we can achieve some of the aims of that change now, i.e. living differently as a society and with our environment. It has to start somewhere. It make sense to live by example, even if just for yourself.

    I think also the notion of this self-deluding middle-class green contingent for whom ecological issues are a pacifying crutch is a bit of a myth. And a nice comforting hipper-than-thou one at that, rather like some others I could mention. There are of course some blatant contradictions in people's actions, but is it down to venal hypocrisy or is it more about ignorance and the constraints of circumstance? I dunno, seems churlish to knock people for trying, since when was that a crime?

    So is Zizek's work very much philosophy as hipsterism? I do enjoy () his stuff quite a bit - he hits on some right good ideas, and is more often than not entertaining and provocative, but his main project actually lies in attempting to be 'ahead of the game' in his iconoclastic reversals does it not? I think that actually works though, it serves a purpose, at least in concert and contrast with other commentators.

  3. #33
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    Well put, I think.

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    Great post, noel.

    I think also some of the opposition to the DIY green stuff comes from the fact that it can involve buying things - even if it's just buying different things from what you'd otherwise buy, like efficient vs. normal bulbs or local market vs. supermarket veg - and this can trigger a reflex anti-consumerism in some leftists, because Nothing Good Can Ever Come From Buying Stuff. That and, as you hint at, a k-punkish loathing for all things *spit* middle-class.
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  5. #35

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    this seems to have gone a bit awry. i don't think anyone has suggested that being ecologically conscious is a bad thing. i certainly don't think there's any reason to be making statements like:

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Tea View Post

    I think also some of the opposition to the DIY green stuff
    as it isn't like there's significant opposition of any kind to "diy green stuff". everyone still has their personal freedoms here no matter what is or isn't said.

    it isn't about the acts themselves, which is the way the discussion here has gone, but the way they are framed, the surrounding discourse. Noel it may be your opinion that green politics as a pacifier is a myth, but i'm saying i've seen it in direct action amongst people i know. in such cases it can be seen as part of the acceptance of capitalism as an omnipresent "background noise" that cannot be opposed and rather has to be accepted whilst avoiding its power dynamic, to paraphrase the lecture (at two removes). most of the politically conscious people i know have drifted that way and i miss the idealism they used to have, as , well, idealistic as it may have been.

    As for John Eden's point, i came across a recent council supported initiative to show people around local eco-homes- places for the most part 80%+ of the population could not afford to live in. the glossy accompanying literature with its litany of wall heating and solar panels was virtually pornographic and i don't think had anything to do with being socially conscious or a desire to make the world a better place.

    also might it be possible to have a conversation on here allowing for the colloquial, humour etc. without accusations of elitism, sneering or the dreaded h-word coming into play? this doesn't have to be about the supposed or inferred personalities of the posters, there's more important stuff to talk about than that
    Last edited by fokse vektaire xeven; 19-08-2008 at 08:27 PM.

  6. #36
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    "I agree with this - and think that there is a sense in which Zizek gives to his readers the same thing that he says that ecology gives to its advocates; this is, the sense that they are resisting, that they are doing something, and so on... so that they can then look down there noses at the people earnestly buying energy saving light bulbs, for example..."
    Strong support for this viewpoint here

    "The conservatives are very materialistic and they dress this up with their new greenness but it's just a new form of consumerism. All these things are status symbols, like Liz Hurley's Gloucester Old Spot pigs."
    from Rachel "sister of Boris" Johnson in a puff piece for her new book, the sequel to Notting Hell - Shire Hell.

    "in such cases it can be seen as part of the acceptance of capitalism as an omnipresent "background noise" that cannot be opposed and rather has to be accepted whilst avoiding its power dynamic"
    What about the people who thoroughly embrace capitalism and think it's the best system and who choose to buy energy efficient lightbulbs? What I mean is, just because someone is "green" and isn't anti-capitalist it doesn't mean that they abandoned their principles - maybe they never had those principles in the first place and hold political opinions of their own that just happen to disagree with yours.

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    Quote Originally Posted by IdleRich View Post
    What about the people who thoroughly embrace capitalism and think it's the best system and who choose to buy energy efficient lightbulbs? What I mean is, just because someone is "green" and isn't anti-capitalist it doesn't mean that they abandoned their principles - maybe they never had those principles in the first place and hold political opinions of their own that just happen to disagree with yours.
    Indeed, there's nothing inherently green about socialism, or inherently socialistic about being green - see the USSR's environmental record, passim. In fact there's always been a (usually fairly fringe, admittedly) environmentalist element on the right, and even the far right - though this has of course tended to be overshadowed by concerns in big industry.
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  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by IdleRich View Post
    What about the people who thoroughly embrace capitalism and think it's the best system and who choose to buy energy efficient lightbulbs?
    Or indeed, the people who thoroughly embrace capitalism and don't give a shit about energy saving lightbulbs, or indeed, anything, besides making money...

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    Quote Originally Posted by josef k. View Post
    Or indeed, the people who thoroughly embrace capitalism and don't give a shit about energy saving lightbulbs, or indeed, anything, besides making money...
    Well once our hypothetical capitalist has made lots of money, how does he choose to spend it? Is he, Ebeneezer Scrooge-style, as thrifty as possible, valuing only the number of noughts in his bank statement? Because in that case, he'd definitely buy energy-saving bulbs, because they save you money in the long run.
    Or might he buy normal bulbs just to show off how little he cares about saving a few quid here or there, because it makes no difference to him? Or does he think the electricity company is a deserving cause and should get as much money as possible? Or is he, in fact, a major shareholder in an electricity company?
    Sorry, rambling a bit here...
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    Indeed... all of which raises the question:

    How important is ideology anyway?

    Are we sure that it's real?

  11. #41
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    Um, how do you mean 'real'? I'm sure it's every bit as real as any other intangible thing, like languages, emotions, the periodic table and the number 6.

    Or do you mean, are there such things as Ideologies to which people adhere, or are they just handy descriptive terms for people whose opinions on certain matters happen to be similar, the way some people happen to like a certain food, football club, style of music or whatever? In which case, I'd go mainly with the former, as there are certain ideologies that people consciously associate themselves with; liberal, Marxist, anarchist or whatever - to say nothing of religious ideologies.
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  12. #42
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    Maybe I should be more specific.

    Zizek's critique of ecology is that it functions as an ideological palliative - the aim of his own argument, accordingly, is to short-circuit (and Zizek is in fact the editor of the book series "Short Circuits") this process, to stop it from functioning smoothly.

    The intervention he is making, in other words, is an intervention into ideology... he wants to effect change from there. He thinks if he can, through the power of his own discourse, convince people to think differently about something, then change follows from that.

    Or perhaps better... he only needs to confront people with ecology's ideological aspects, and then, the discourse changes, somehow, and I guess becomes more progressive...

    I don't know. I'm babbling. Maybe this should be a new thread.

  13. #43
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    OK, that make some sense. But where does he actually stand on ecological issues? Does he want to people to stop making small, personal, tokenistic 'consumer choice' type actions so they can concentrate on massive political change instead, with the ultimate goal of (amongst other things) preventing catastrophic climate change? Does he think climate change isn't important, or is much less important than economic inequality, war and so on? Or does he think there's nothing we can do about it, so it's better to concentrate on things we can actually change?
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  14. #44
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    I'm not sure that Zizek himself knows.

    He says (at the end of The Parallax View) that people should stop supporting good causes, in order to concentrate on the Revolution. His fundamental and basic stated aim is bringing down capitalism through a bloody, violent revolution; anything which doesn't contribute to that is, at least as far as I understand Zizek, part of the problem.

  15. #45
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    To surmise, insofar as Zizek may be said to have a position today, it seems to amount to a vague summons to violence.

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