La clase media

La misma deformación se percibe hoy en la única clase que, en su auto percepción «subjetiva», se concibe y representa explícitamente como tal: es la recurrente «clase media», precisamente, esa «no-clase» de los estratos intermedios de la sociedad, aquellos que presumen de laboriosos y que se identifican no sólo por su respeto a sólidos principios morales y religiosos, sino por diferenciarse de, y oponerse a, los dos «extremos» del espacio social: las grandes corporaciones, sin patria ni raíces, de un lado, y los excluidos y empobrecidos inmigrantes y habitantes de los guetos, por otro.

La «clase media» basa su identidad en el rechazo a estos dos extremos que, de contraponerse directamente, representarían «el antagonismo de clase» en su forma pura. La falsedad constructiva de esta idea de la «clase media» es, por tanto, semejante a aquella de la «justa línea de Partido» que el estalinismo trazaba entre «desviaciones de izquierda» y las «desviaciones de derecha»: la «clase media», en su existencia «real», es la falsedad encarnada, el rechazo del antagonismo. En términos psicoanalíticos, es un fetiche: la imposible intersección de la derecha y de la izquierda que, al rechazar los dos polos del antagonismo, en cuanto posiciones «extremas» y antisociales(empresas multinacionales e inmigrantes intrusos) que perturban la salud dl cuerpo social, se auto-representa como el terreno común y neutral de la Sociedad. La izquierda se suele lamentar del hecho de que la línea de demarcación de la lucha de clases haya quedado desdibujada, desplazada, falsificada, especialmente, por parte d populismo de derechas que dice hablar en nombre del pueblo cuando en realidad promueve los intereses del poder. Este continuo desplazamiento, esta continua «falsificación» de la línea división(entre las clases), sin embargo, ES la «lucha de clases»: una sociedad clasista en la que la percepción ideológica de la división de clases fuese pura y directa, sería una sociedad armónica y sin lucha; por decirlo con Laclau: el antagonismo de clase estaría completamente simbolizado, no sería imposible/real, sino simplemente un rasgo estructural de diferenciación.

Slavoj Žižek, En defensa de la intolerancia.

The Leftist Project

The idea of Judgement Day, when all accumulated debts will be fully paid and an out-of-joint world will finally be set straight, is then taken over in secularised form by the modern leftist project. Here the agent of judgment is no longer God, but the people. Leftist political movements are like ‘banks of rage.’ They collect rage investments from people and promise them large-scale revenge, the re-establishment of global justice. Since, after the revolutionary explosion of rage, full satisfaction never takes place and an inequality and hierarchy re-emerge, there always arises a push for the second-true, integral- revolution which will satisfy the disappointed and truly finish the emancipatory work: 1792 after 1789, October after February…

The problem is simply that there is never enough rage capital. This is why it is necessary to borrow from or combine with other rages: national or cultural. In fascism, the national rage predominates; Mao’s communism mobilises the rage of exploited poor farmers, not proletarians. No wonder that Sloterdijk systematically uses the term ‘leftist fascism,’ and regularly refers to Ernst Nolte, the German ‘revisionist’ historian who developed the idea of Nazism as a deplorable but understandable reaction to communist terror. For Sloterdijk, fascism is ultimately a secondary variation of (and reaction to) the properly leftist project of emancipatory rage. In our own time, when this global rage has exhausted its potential, two main forms of rage remains: Islam (the rage of victims of capitalist globalisation) plus ‘irrational’ outburst by youth. One should, perhaps, add these Latin-American populism, ecologist, anti-consumerists and other forms of anti-globalist resentment. The Porto Alegre movement failed to establish itself as a global bank for this rage, since it lacked a positive alternative vision. Sloterdijk even mentions the ‘re-emerging Left-Fascist whispering at the borders of the academia,’ where, I guess, I belong…Although these local outburst are what critics of Fukuyama celebrate as the ‘return of history,’ they remain poor substitutes which cannot hide the fact that there is no longer a global rage potential.

Slavoj Žižek, Violence.

Pacifistas

It is often claimed that every contemporary ethical dispute is really a debate between Charles Darwin and the Pope. On the one side there is a secular (im)morality which finds it acceptable and desirable ruthlessly to use and sacrifice individuals. On the other, there is Christian morality which asserts that every single human being has an immortal soul and is thus sacred. In this context it’s interesting to note how, after the outbreak of the First World War, some social Darwinians were pacifists on account of their anti-egalitarian Darwinism; Ernst Haeckel, the leading proponent of social Darwinism, opposed the war because in it, the wrong people were killed: ‘The stronger, healthier, more normal the young man is, the greater is the prospect for him to be murdered by the needle gun, cannons, and other similar instruments of culture.’ The problem was that the weak and sick were not allowed into the army. They were left free to have children and thus lead the nation into biological decline. One of the solutions envisaged was to force everyone to serve in the army and then, in battle, ruthlessly use the weak and sick as cannon fodder in suicidal attacks.

Violence, Slavoj Žižek.

Ateísmo y moral

In the course of the Crusade of King St Louis, Yves le Breton reported how he once encountered an old woman who wandered down the street with a dish full of fire in her right hand and a bowl full of water in her left hand. Asked what she was doing, she answered that with the fire she would burn up Paradise until nothing remained of it, and with the water she would put out the fires of Hell until nothing remained of them, ‘Because I want no one to do good in order to receive the reward of Paradise, or from fear of Hell; but solely out of love for God.’ The only thing to add to this is: so why not to erase God himself and just do good for the sake of it? No wonder that, today, this properly Christian ethical stance survives mostly in atheism.

Fundamentalism do(what they perceive as) good deeds in order to fulfil God’s will and to deserve salvation; atheists do them simply because it is the right thing to do. Is this also not our most elementary experience of morality? When I do a good deed, I do not do it with a view to gaining God’s favour, I do it because I cannot do otherwise- if I were not to do it, I would not be able to look at myself in the mirror. A moral deed is by definition its own reward. The eighteenth-century philosopher David Hume, a believer, made this point in a very poignant way when wrote that the only way to show a true respect for God is to act morally while ignoring God’s existence.

Violence, Slavoj Žižek.

Language and violence

What if, however, humans exceed animals in their capacity for violence precisely because they speak? As Hegel was already well aware, there is something violent in the very symbolization of a thing, which equals its mortification. This violence operates at multiple levels. Language simplifies the designated thing, reducing it to a single feature. It dismembers the thing, destroying its organic unity, treating its parts and properties as autonomous. It inserts the thing into a field of meaning which is ultimately external to it. When we name gold «gold», we violently extract a metal from its natural texture, investing into it our dreams of wealth, power, spiritual purity and so on, which have nothing whatsoever to do with the immediate reality of gold.

(…)

«Language, not primitive egoistic interest, is the first and greatest divider, it is because of language that we and our neighbours (can) ‘live in different worlds’ even when we live on the same street. What this means is that verbal violence is not secondary distortion, but the ultimate resort of every specifically human violence.»

Violence, Slavoj Žižek.

Children of Men

Children of Men is obviously not a film about infertility as a biological problem. The infertility Cuaron’s film is about was diagnosed long ago by Friedrich Nietzsche, when he perceived how Western civilisation was moving in the direction of the Last Man, an apathetic creature with no great passion or commitment. Unable to dream, tired of life, he takes no risks, seeking only comfort and security, and expression of tolerance with one another: ‘A little poison now and then: that makes for pleasant dreams. And much poison at the end, for a pleasant death. They have their little pleasures for the day, and their little pleasures for the night, but they have a regard for health. «We have discovered happiness,»- say the Last Man, and they blink.’

Violence, Slavoj Žižek.

Ideologías y violencia

Our blindness to the results of systematic violence is perhaps most clearly perceptible in debates about communist crimes. Responsibility for communist crimes is easy to allocate: we are dealing with subjective evil, with agents who did wrong. We can ever identify the ideological sources of the crimes-totalitarian ideology, The communist Manifesto, Rousseau, even Plato. But when one draws attention to the millions who died as the result of capitalist globalisation, from the tragedy of Mexico in the sixteenth century through to the Belgian Congo holocaust a century ago, responsibility is largely denied. All this seems just to have happened as the result of an ‘objective’ process, which nobody planned and executed and for which there was no ‘Capitalist Manifesto’. (The one who came closest to writing it was Ayn Rand.) The fact that the Belgian king Leopold II who presided over the Congo holocaust was a great humanitarian and proclaimed a saint by the Pope cannot be dismissed as a mere case of ideological hypocrisy and cynicism. Subjectively, he may well have been a sincere humanitarian, even modestly counteracting the catastrophic consequences of the vast economic project which was the ruthless exploitation of the natural resources of the Congo over which he presided. The country was his personal fiefdom! The ultimate irony is that even most of the profit from this endeavour were the benefit of the Belgian people, for public works, museums and so son. King Leopold was surely the precursor of today’s ‘liberal communists’.

Slavoj Žižek, «Violence.»