The Marriage Between Democracy and Capitalism is Over
2011年10月09日 - スラヴォイ・ジジェク
We are called losers. But the true losers are down there on Wall Street. They were bailed out by billions of our money. We are called socialists. But here there is already socialism for the rich. They say we don’t respect private property, but in the 2008 financial crash-down more hard-earned private property was destroyed, than if all of us here were to be destroying it night and day for weeks.
They tell you we are dreamers. The true dreamers are those who think things can go on indefinitely the way they are. We are not dreamers. We are the awakening from a dream which is turning into a nightmare. We are not destroying anything. We are only witnessing how the system is destroying itself.
We all know the classic scene from cartoons. The cat reaches a precipice. But it goes on walking, ignoring the fact that there is nothing beneath its ground. Only when it looks down and notices it, it falls down. This is what we are doing here. We are telling the guys there on Wall Street, “Hey, look down!”
In mid-April 2011, the Chinese government prohibited on TV, in films, and in novels all stories that contain alternate reality or time travel. This is a good sign for China. It means people still dream about alternatives, so you have to prohibit this dreaming. Here, we don’t need a prohibition. Because the ruling history[system?] has even oppressed our capacity to dream. Look at the movies that we see all the time. It’s easy to imagine the end of the world. An asteroid destroying all life and so on. But you cannot imagine the end of Capitalism.
So what are we doing here? Let me tell you a wonderful old joke from Communist times. A guy was sent from East Germany to work in Siberia. He knew his mail would be read by censors, so he told his friends: “Let’s establish a code. If a letter you get from me is written in blue ink, it is true what I say. If it is written in red ink, it is false.”
After a month, his friends get the first letter. Everything is issued in blue. It says, this letter: “Everything is wonderful here. Stores are full of good food. Movie theatres show good films from the west. Apartments are large and luxurious. The only thing you cannot buy is red ink.”
This is how we live. We have all the freedoms we want. But what we are missing is red ink: the language to articulate our non-freedom. The way we are taught to speak about freedom -- war on terror and so on -- falsifies freedom. And this is what you are doing here: You are giving all of us red ink.
There is a danger. Don’t fall in love with yourselves. We have a nice time here. But remember. Carnivals come cheap. What matters is the day after, when we will have to return to normal lives. Will there be any changes then? I don’t want you to remember these days, you know, like “Oh, we were young and it was beautiful.”
Remember that our basic message is: We are allowed to think about alternatives. The taboo is broken, we do not live in the best possible world. But there is a long road ahead. There are truly difficult questions that confront us. We know what we do not want. But what do we want? What social organization can replace Capitalism? What type of new leaders do we want?
Remember. The problem is not corruption or greed. The problem is the system which pushes you to be corrupt. Beware not only of the enemies, but also of false friends who are already working to dilute this process. In the same way you get coffee without caffeine, beer without alcohol, ice cream without fat, they will try to make this into a harmless, moral protest -- a decaffienated protest.
But the reason we are here is that we have had enough of a world where, to recycle Coke cans, to give a couple of dollars for charity, or to buy a Starbucks cappuccino where 1% goes to third world starving children is enough to make us feel good. After outsourcing work and torture, after marriage agencies are now outsourcing even our love life, we can see that for a long time we allowed our political engagement also to be outsourced. We want it back.
We are not Communists, if Communism means a system which collapsed in 1990. Remember that today those Communists are the most efficient ruthless Capitalists. In China today, we have Capitalism which is even more dynamic than your American Capitalism, but doesn’t mean democracy. Which means when you criticize Capitalism, don’t allow yourself to be blackmailed that you are against democracy. The marriage between democracy and Capitalism is over.
The change is possible. So, what do we consider today possible? Just follow the media: On the one hand, in technology and sexuality everything seems to be possible. You can travel to the moon. You can become immortal by biogenetics. You can have sex with animals or whatever. But look at the field of society and economy. There almost everything is considered impossible. You want to raise taxes a little bit for the rich. They tell you “it’s impossible. We lose competitivity.” You want more money for health care. They tell you, “Impossible, this means a totalitarian state.” Isn't it something wrong in the world, where you are promised to be immortal but cannot spend a little bit more for healthcare.
Maybe we need to set our priorities straight here. We don’t want higher standard of living. We want better standard of living. The only sense in which we are Communists is that we care for the commons. The commons of nature, the commons of privatized by intellectual property, the commons of biogenetics. For this and only for this we should fight.
Communism failed absolutely. But the problems of the commons are here. They are telling you we are non-Americans here. But the conservative fundamentalists who claim they really are American have to be reminded of something. What is Christianity? It’s the Holy Spirit. What is the Holy Spirit? It’s an egalitarian community of believers who are linked by love for each other. And who only have their own freedom and responsibility to do it.
In this sense, the Holy Spirit is here now. And down there on Wall Street, there are pagans who are worshipping blasphemous idols. So all we need is patience. The only thing I’m afraid of is that we will someday just go home and then we will meet once a year, drinking beer, and nostaligically remembering “What a nice time we had here.” Promise ourselves that this will not be the case.
We know that people often desire something but do not really want it. Don’t be afraid to really want what you desire.
Thank you very much!
*This transcript is made by collaboration of Ollie, red0box, thepauloapo and BeneVerba
From the Middle East to the streets of London and in the American cities [there is] a discontent with the status quo. Whether it is with the iron grip of entrenched governments or the widening economic divide between the rich and those struggling to get by. But where are those so hungry for change heading? How profound is their long-term vision to transform society?
"The system has lost its self-evidence, its automatic legitimacy, and now the field is open."
The concerns of Slovenian-born philosopher Slavoj Zizek, whose critical examination of both capitalism and socialism has made him an internationally recognised intellectual, popular among the New York occupiers, here in New York for example.
Talk to Al Jazeera sat down with Slavoj Zizek, and we begun by asking him about the violent riots' the summer in London and whether the protesters there had a political agenda.
The way the protests looked, the way they acted there -- repeatedly I spoke with participants there, with people who saw -- this is no -- they're on the streets there are no demands, they're not able to formulate the cause, which could be an utopian communist, which could be a religious. But just pure violence and the only cause of, however you call it, agenda is imitate consumerism. That's very sad.
-- Here in United States, do you see any kind of a coherent ideological demand?
Don't blame them. Listen. I am not an even Communist. I'm the first to say. This really made me many enemies when I said. Let's face it. 20th century communism was precisely -- because it started such hopes and ended in a nightmare -- was maybe the greatest catastrophe, ethical catastrophe almost attempted, to say, in the history of humanity. More than fascism.
You know why because the reason is very simple. In fascism, we have bad guys who said all program is to do this, to do bad things, no?, and what a surprise they took power then did bad things! No? In communism, you have authentic tragedy, which is why you have dissidents and you have always inner struggles. So -- But nonetheless it is over.
What does this means? This means that: Let's not the bluff. We see the limitation of existing systems. I stand here at my basic position.
Which is -- When people say "Oh, You're utopian," sorry, only true utopia for me is that things can go on indefinitely the way they are. You know the way look of the begining of 2008 financial breakdown. "OK, our legislation consulting banks was not good enough. We change that better a little bit. Everything could be OK." No, it's not.
So, something we have to be done. But let's face it openly. The tragedy is that: I don't know, we don't know, what effective form can replace capitalism-democratic systems the way we have it now.
Now I will quote someone whom I'm of course totally opposed politically. But sometimes she's not stupid. Hannah Arendt, you know. At last her work[?], when in her ridiculous Human to Money, she says: Money is in the way a means of liberality. In the sense of we have to divide things, exchange and so on. She says: money means we can do it peacefully. I pay you, you sell it to me if you want to. If not money then there has to be a some kind of direct domination and brutal extortion whatever. I don't agee with her here.
But doesn't feel it heared here. A point, in the sense of big experience of 20th century communism, they wanted to abolish market, money, and direct brutal dominations must have got returned with vengeance.
-- I've read what you said. What you said is fascism is the left if that means necessary, so bit right? What do you mean fascism is the left?
It was to provoke my liberal friends who are -- I'd like, you know, to provoke. There are much worse things what I said. For example, I said, "If we gave almost a half of the Turk..."
-- We don't take you literally, what was you saying?
Why not? Because you know, the problem is the problem of violence. Of course, I oppose to the violence. When by in it we mean killing, torturing people and so on. But for me, true violence which I support is not physical violence. But violence when you say, like the violence of Egyptian demonstration on Tahrir Square. They weren't violent in the formal sense. They didn't just shoot and so on. They wanted the whole system to stop functioning.
This is my famous statement, written to block me from so many enemies. The first part is: The problem of Hitler is he was violent enough. But then [in] the second part: in sense which Gandhi was more violent than Hitler. Hitler's all violence was to make the system work. Gandhi wanted to stop it.
So, this is for me, the problem is this obsession with the demonization of violence. Of course, it is to be demonized, violence. But before doing that we should also see all the forms of violence, which is to see violence which is invisible. Not because -- I'm not paranoia -- because some bad media controll by don't-know[?] forms prevent us to think it.
Just think, for example -- You want to talk about violence? Talk about Republic of Congo today! Millions dying, the full state doesn't function, warlords dominate, you have drugs, child warriors and so on. This is the violence which we don't notice too much because it's part of the system. So, all I'm saying is let's extend our notion of violence.
The same things I wrote about in the Guardian, a British daily newspaper, about West Bank. Okay, I unambiguously condemn violence, violence of Palestinians, or whichever -- terrorism there. But, my point was what happens there when nothing happens. Nothing big for the media. No one is killed, blah blah. This everyday suffocating bureaucratic occupation of Israel. You know, poisoning wells, burning trees, slowly pushing Palestinian south. This is the reality. Without getting this background, you don't get a whole picture.
-- You're not talking about any ideological solution to, for example, the real Palestinian conflict, are you?
What do you mean by the ideological solution?
-- Well, you're talking about when things don't change there it's regarded as a norm.
Yeah, in which you see the violence is the normal state.
-- Is there an ideological approach to responding rather than looks to everyone as a nationalistic or maybe a religious conflict?
You know, whole problem here is what does the term ideology means. For me, ideology is present more and more a rebel of daily lives. We live in a very strange era, well, at least in the West. People think they're outside ideology. Like take every its people today.
What is the implicit injunction that you get from society in the U.K. or whatever. It's not "Sacrifice yourself for a big cause." It's something like "Be true to yourself", "Have a full life", "Realise your potential." It's a kind of a what I call spiritualized hedonism. So, people don't think the experience it as ideology.
But I think we are in the ideology, precisely. Because the ideology is for me the way you see things and you don't see things, so that you can function our the daily lives. For example, the fact we cannot imagine change means ideology.
I'll give you another example. Did you notice how today problems of racism and sexism -- which are very real problems -- are automatically translated into problems of tolerance? This is the ideology. Look at Martin Luther King. He never practically mentioned the tolerance. For him, the problem was not "Oh, whites should more tolerate us blacks." The problems are what economical exploitation, legalized everyday racism and so on. To percieve this problem is the problem of tolerance.
You already accept a certain vision of society where, you know, there are almost naturalised cultural differences and we should learn to tolerate each other and so on and so on. Politics problems disappear here.
-- Do you see anywhere in the world where -- that a concept of the left is trying to actualise that?
Thing are slowly happening, I mean. But, our media are here not covering it enough. For example, I was surprised just they how the media cover India and China. China is a bad guy. Everybody knows bad communism, censorship and so on. Terrorizing Tibet. But do you know that India from time to time you get a note? But it's not reported enough.
You have a meager Maoist naturally to rebellion. According to the most of the estimates, we are talking about, "OK, India is a big partner. It's nonetheless a number even for India." Over one million are the rebels. Horrible things are happening well. Indian new capitalism is trying to extend into this tribal area to get access to mine. We simply don't see. So, there is a rebellion there.
There are things happening now even in Europe. Things are very serious. It's not just see these superficial things: "will Greece pays it debt or not?" It's basicaly to put it in one of possible ways. First it is that Europe -- I like quote this metaphor, you know Sigmund Freud when he was old as this ridiculous naive question, "Was will das Weib?" -- What does a woman want? I claim that today the problem is: What does the Europe want? Europe cannot decide. On the one hand, we have this pure technocratic Brussels vision: We should just organize ourself with regard to global market to be competitive.
Then we have this nationalist anti-immigrant movements is very sad this is the only alternative. I think that today world is asking for a real alternative. Look, what do you like, I wouldn't live in a world where only alternative is either Anglo-Saxon neoliberalism or Chinese-Singaporean, poetically call it, capitalism with Asian values, which means authoritarian capitalism, which is now even more effective than western liberal capitalism. So, something will have to be done. That's tragedy of Europe, the first one.
Second one. I'm such a pessimist unfortunately in Europe. How Europe is regressing. Look one incident. You know that European Union basically didn't want to allow in Turkey for not being democratic enough or whatever.
-- On a being Islamic, too Islamic.
Yeah. But, let me tell you something. Do you notice it? This summer there was in Istanbul a big gay parade. Ten thousands of homosexual demonstrating. No incidents!
Try to do this in a post-communist East European country which is a part in European Union. There was recently in split, the Southern Croation city. A gay parade, you know how it looked. Seven hundred gays protected by two thousand policemen protecting them from ten thousand local people trying to lynch them and so on.
I mean, this -- So, I am saying to provoke my friends. Another my provocations: Yes, I agree with right-wingers. European legacy, Judeo-Christian legacy is in danger. But they, false protectors of Europe against Islam and so on, they are the danger. I don't fear Muslims in Europe. I fear protectors of Europe. Even my Jewish friends, I'm telling them. Beware! Are you aware what is happening?
Did you notice this something about this Breivik, a guy who went on a shooting spree in Norway. He is the clear case of something which is emerging now. Something paradoxical. I mean literally. Anti-Semitic Zionist.
On the one hand, he is clearly anti-Semitic. He says, "In Western Europe, except England, it's OK. We don't have too many Jews, so we can manage it." He said, "England, especially in the United States, too many Jews there." So, the standard nation-state vision: Jews are okay if they are negligable, if too much, blah blah.
At the same time, he is absolutely pro-Israel, pro-Zionist. Now, you will see this is a lone mad man, ha-ha. I think this is the basic attitude of American conservative Christian fundamentalists.
You remember the scandal at Fox News, Glenn Beck. He was fired for anti-Semitic marks. But at the same time, he was absolutely pro-Zionist. And this for me is the nightmare.
Are the representative of the state of Israel aware what they are doing? They basically sold their soul to the devils. By this, I mean this: They made a deal with these political forces in the West who are almost I would say, by definition, anti-Semitic.
Telling them, you can play your racial games there, just allow us to do the same with the Palestinian here. I really worry about the Jewish here. Jews are the great nation. Zionist politics is turning them just into another narrow land-graving nation.
The true victims of Middle-East conflict, this catastrophic politics, will be in any case, I claim, Jews themself. They will lose their uniqueness and greatness.
-- What point do you think or what point would you notice that there was some glimmer of real change, revolutionary change, anywhere in the world then? Because you are mentioning the fact that the left really hasn't got a global remedy or a global approach to deal with a lot of these problems. Where would you see glimmers of some kind of the changes there?
I think there already what is happening now is the reason for the modest optimism. Don't expect miracles in the sense of all of a sudden there will be magical solution. The beginning is simply that people should become aware that difficulties we are confronting are not just difficulties caused by bad greedy guys in an otherwise good system. But we have to ask certain questions about the system as such.
This awareness is rising. This is what all the protests are here about. I think that at this stage, what is again important, it's not so much to offer fast solutions. But to break this, I call it ironically "Fukuyama Taboo."
OK, I mean, he's not the idiot like a -- We all were till now Fukuyamaists. Even radical leftists. We're not thinking about what can replace the capitalism or our state they were demanding, you know, more social justice, more rights for women, within the system.
Time has come to raise this more fundamental questions. The system has lost its self-evidence, its automatic legitimacy, and now the field is open. This is a very important achievment.
-- But if the field is open, who's gonna fill the vacuum? Is gonna be somebody from above?
There is always a danger. I totally agree with you. Let's not forget that we know where who fill in the opening in 1930s in Europe and so on. No? This brings its own risks. But nonetheless we have to take a chance.
Why? Because, we see it more and more through series of phenomenon like economic crisis becoming a kind of a permanent emergency state. Then, I think a phenomenon which we should be very attentive to how even if worldwide economy is to somehow progressing.
But there are -- This is a nice paradox. Berlin Walls fell, but there are new walls, new divisions, rising up everywhere. Within most of the states, you have stronger divisions, not just between simply rich and poor.
But like in, for example, Latin America. People there who live in favelas or slums or elsewhere are not simply poor. It's something much more radical. They're simply excluded from public space and political engagement and so on and so on.
So, again, it's not the question of shall we take the risk or not. The opening is in the way imposed on us. Let's my answer to those who tell me, "Why don't you just keep quiet and we silently go on the way it is?"
I claim if we do nothing we will gradually approach a kind of a new, it will not be old fascism, we have to be very specific here, a new type of authoritarian society. Here I see the world historical importance of what is happening today in China.
Till now, let's be frank, there was one good argument for capitalism: sooner or later it brought a demand for democracy. You can have dictatorship for twenty years [in] South Korea or Chile even. But, what I'm afraid of is with this capitalism with Asian values, Singapore and China.
We get a capitalism much more efficient, dynamic than, it looks so at least, our western capitalism. But I don't share the hope of my liberal friends -- like, give them ten years, [there will be an] another Tiananmen Square demonstration - No, the marriage between capitalism and democracy is over.
-- OK. So, if China is not a good example of the way you see this, breaking open, is there anywhere else? Because you're talking about a -- your complaint is in all these case that consumerism is a driving force of the ambition and the discontent. Do you see any place where you can get be honored?
Again, even in China, you have attempted to organize civil societies, in the sense of social movements like for ecology, for workers' rights and so on. I think especially in China, for example, this may be even more important than sometime of Western democracy.
At low-level incredible things are happening in China. You know what can give you a hint of the explosion situation in China. Do you remember at the last session of their rubber stamp parliament?
Everyone expected they would redouble their defense budget. No, they redoubled the budget for internal security. China is now the only big country which spends more for internal security than for the army. So again. There are protests there. There are ---
This ArabSpring. You know why I liked it so much? Because we in the West are as we always are -- but we are not worse than others, I'm getting [to be] a universal pessimist -- spontaneous racists, you know? The cliché was: "Oh, with the Arabs, all you can get if you want to mobilise people is kind of a racist, anti-Semitic, nationalist or religious fundamentalist movement. You cannot get a nice secular movement for democratic opening." Well, we got exactly that!
Now comes the crucial part. What happens after. This is the saddest thing. I pray it will not happen. But some signs do point out in this sad directions that, maybe, I hope not, maybe final outcome will be a kind of a perverse pact between Muslim Brotherhood and the army.
To put it in very simplified terms, Muslim Brotherhood gets much stronger ideological roll-controlling schools, but the army gets, in exchange for, it keeps all its privileges and corruptions and so on and so on.
But nonetheless, again things are happening. All if you take it in Europe. In Europe, people first thought made fun of Greece, "Oh, Greece, those lazy primitive Mediterranean people." No, you have Spain, you have England, it will spread, I claim. And as you said, I agree, this is crucial.
The battle is not will things go on or will there be a revolution. What we should do is to fight the most difficult struggle who will appropriate the energy of protest. Look, even here in the United States there is a great energy of protest. But till now, it was appropriated by hip[?] artist.
Are they aware how if you look at how they formulate their stuff. Hip artists look like workers' protests fifty years ago. You know, if you're listen their songs, I listened to one pop singer who supports Tea Party. He says, "We're ordinary working people exploited. Bad people in Washington and Wall Street exploit us" and so on and so on.
Here it will be the struggle. And it's a tough struggle. I have no illusion. There are great dangers. But, you know what the Chinese says, "When they really hate you may you leave in interesting times." We are certainly approaching the interesting times.
-- Thank you very much for speaking with us.
My good! Thank you.
Thanks to My Collaborators:
Mic check. It's honored to be here with you today. I've visited Occupy L.A. I've visited Occupy Wall Street. I've visited Occupy Seattle. And now here I am in Vancouver.
Mic check. Having see north four occupied cities and knowing more than thirteen hundreds of others, I'm happy to say that whole damn countries aren't occupied.
Mic check. This is the movement that is different from other movements. This is the movement that has correctly identified the bad guys. Mic check. This is the movement that has correctly identified the 99% that are the righteous.
History is not made by President or folks, or Kings or Queens or Generals, or CIA kingpins running dopes. History is not made by nine Lord men[?], or billionaires or bankers. It's not made by them.
Now they might throw money around, wandering who can be bought. Some might find they're[?] cheaper, some stronger than they thought. We'll stand right here, in our country, in our home.
I used to think I was alone. I'm alone no more.
Mic check. Mic check. I was gonna play some songs today for you nice people standing in the rain. But I change my mind. I got a different idea. I got a better idea. I've an invitation to Occupy Vancouver. I like to invite all of you to occupy the Occupy Vogue Theatre tonight. Mic check. As my guests, for free.
Mic check. So, let's put it to a poll for the General Assembly. Would you like to come see Tom Morello, otherwise known as The Nightwatchman. Rock the fuck out the Vogue Theatre tonight. All in favor, Say "aye."
I have in my hand tickets for tonight concert. But we gonna need no so more. So over the Education Tent, line up in an ordinary manner. Get your free tickets to come up show tonight. Mic check. There's plenty for all, you don't have to rush.
And I look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder. With you tonight at the Vogue Theatre, let's standing shoulder to shoulder with Occupy Vancouver. From this day forward until we win.
I just got one more thing to say. Take it easy but take it!
From the transcriptor:
Feel free to comment to make a correction.