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Archive for July 28th, 2008

Maybe you already saw this recent Democracy Now! interview, but I’ve been thinking specifically about Zizek’s final words in terms of “escaping the house,” ever since we had that conversation.

My contention (via my interpretation of Deleuze) was and still is: engagement is futile. The house will always win. Zizek seems to agree:

AMY GOODMAN: Last words to leave our audience with here in the United States and, well, all over in Latin America, in Europe, Africa, Eastern Europe?

SLAVOJ ZIZEK: From me?

AMY GOODMAN: Yes.

SLAVOJ ZIZEK: It will be simply—OK, maybe, the point that I always like to repeat: don’t beat—don’t get caught into a fake discourse of humanitarian emergency. Remember that when somebody is telling you, “You’re doing your theory. You are dreaming. But people are starving out there and so on. Let’s do something,” this is the threat. This is the threat.

Today’s hegemonic ideology is this kind of state of emergency ideology. What we need is to withdraw—don’t be afraid to withdraw and think. You know, Marx thesis eleven: philosophers have only interpreted the world; the time is, we have now to change it. Maybe, as good Marxists, we should turn it around. Maybe we are trying to change it too much. It’s time to redraw and to interpret it again, because do we really know what is going on today?

What is going on today? There are old fashion theories, either Marxist or liberals who claim the same capitalism is going on. Then there is a whole set of fashionable terms like post-industrial society, post-whatever, information society, which I think don’t do the job. We even don’t have what my friend Fred Jameson likes to call “cognitive mapping,” you know, that you get an idea what’s going on. We need theory more than ever. Don’t be—don’t feel guilty for withdrawing from immediate engagement and for trying to understand what’s going on.

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