Even in Living in the End Times Zizek strikes a modest tone when it comes to the idea of revolution. The book begins at a very specific time, between times almost, just before the Berlin Wall is about to fall. He tries to harness this spirit, picturing a revolution free from Stalin and capitalism.
History grinds the left down. Here’s Zizek in fine, pessimistic form, looking for anywhere we can make a real change:
I don’t see any historical guarantee that some big revolutionary event will happen. The only thing I’m certain of is that if nothing happens, we are slowly approaching — well, if not a global catastrophe, then a very sad society. Much more authoritarian, with new inner apartheids clearly divided into those who are in and those who are out.
Okay, maybe I should have asked, where would this change come from, if it were to emerge?
It’s not a specific place. I see potential spaces of tensions. For example, you have literally hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of students in Europe who are doing their studies. And they’re well aware that they don’t even have a chance of getting a job. — Slavoj Zizek on Obama, Bernie, sex and democracy: “That’s the reality of global capitalism. Everyone is violating the rules.”
If you’re leftwing, over the age of 40 and maintain any relationship with reality, pessimism is a natural state. Not necessarily, like Zizek, at human nature itself; more at the possibility of being able to affect any change. As the decades pass you realise there’s nothing inevitable about anything, least of all the fall of capitalism.
Nietzsche’s objection to Marx was that he had a Christian, teleological view of the world. When you lose sight of paradise conservatism creeps in. Note Zizek’s views on Europe and immigration.
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