Slavoj Zizek: Why Far Right and Xenophobic Politicians Are on the Rise in Europe
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Here, it may surprise you, but I still have sympathy for Obama. But in my view, one of his greatest failures is not Afghanistan. There, the situation is very complex. I don’t know what I would have done. It’s how he reacted to the oil spill. You know why? Because he played this legal, moralistic game, as if the—you know, like, I will kick—we know where—BP, they will make—sorry, but in a tragedy of these proportions, you cannot play this legalistic game who is guilty and so on. You should start asking more general questions. BP is evil, but are we aware that it may have happened also to another company? So the problem is not BP. The problems are much more general—the structure of our economy, why are we living like this, our way of life, and so on and so on. I think that this is the problem today. I’m saying this ironically as a leftist. We have maybe even too much anti-capitalism, but in this overload of anti-capitalism, but always in this legal, moralistic sense: ooh, that company is using child slave labor; ooh, that company is polluting; ooh, that company is—that company, whatever, is exploiting our universities. No, no, the problem is more fundamental. It’s about how the whole system works to make the companies do this. Don’t moralize the problem, because if you moralize it, you can say in the States whatever you want. Already in the movies like Pelican Brief, you remember, no problem, big company, even the president of the United States, can be corrupted. No, this excess of anti-capitalism is a false excess. We should start asking more fundamental questions.
AMY GOODMAN: Slavoj Žižek, your latest book, why did you call it Living in the End Times?
SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: Of course, the point is to ironically refer or evoke this metaphor of doom, whatever, in 2012, we are approaching the end of times. And, of course, my point is not—I am not this kind of believer—oh, we have two years to live, then whatever will happen. But nonetheless, I think that at the whole—at different levels, we are approaching slowly—no panic yet—a kind of a zero point. In the sense of—let’s look at ecology. It is clear that when people tell me, "Oh, but you are utopian," I tell them, "No, the only true utopia is that things can go on like they do now indefinitely." And it’s very strange how we behave. On the one hand, we don’t really believe there will be a catastrophe. We are split. We know it. We admit it rationally. But then you go out, there is sun, the grass is green, can anything happen. At the same time—this is ideology of everyday life—to make our conscience clear, did you notice how we are blackmailed at this everyday level? "Oh, you threw that newspaper away. No, you should take—"
AMY GOODMAN: Ten seconds.
SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: Yeah. So, what I’m claiming is that we are approaching a certain zero point. We have to act. If not, I don’t want to live in a society which will be here in twenty years, let us say.
AMY GOODMAN: Slavoj Žižek, I want to thank you for being with us, Slovenian philosopher, author of many books. His latest is just coming out now from Verso Books. It’s called Living in the End Times.
AMY GOODMAN: In these economically stressed times, how we’re expanding the war, how the administration is expanding the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: Well, this is the first irony, that although Keynes is out of fashion today, Keynesian theory, but already from Reagan onwards, our economy is de facto, in spite of all liberal rhetorics, work in a Keynesian way. So I think the first thing to do is to denounce neoliberalism as ideology. I mean, by this, something very precise, that it’s not what really happens in economy. We don’t have neoliberalism. We have a very strong state economy intervening more and more, and so on and so on. We don’t live in that world. That’s my first point.