John Holbo, of the good Crooked Timber linked to a text, by Neil Ferguson on the Ocupy Wall Stree movement, where he criticises Zizek. I myself don’t like what Zizek writes in general,but his speech (here, in portuguese) is pretty good. Here’s one excerpt (in english):
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 life. Will there be any changes then. I don’t want you to remember these days, you know, like – oh, we were young, it was beautiful. Remember that our basic message is: We are allowed to think about alternatives. The rule 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? (…)
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 fields 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 competitivitiy. You want more money for healthcare: they tell you impossible, this means a totalitarian state. There is something wrong in the world where you are promised to be immortal but cannot spend a little bit more for health care. Maybe that ??? set our priorities straight here. We don’t want higher standards of living. We want better standards of living. The only sense in which we are communists is that we care for the commons. The commons of nature. The commons of what is privatized by intellectual property. The commons of biogenetics. For this and only for this we should fight.
And here’s Neil Fergunson take on Zizek’s speech:
At first I thought this must be some kind of parody, but no, he really exists—red T-shirt, Krugman beard, and all: “The only sense in which we are communists is that we care for the commons. The commons of nature. The commons of what is privatized by intellectual property. The commons of biogenetics. For this and only for this we should fight.”
Yeah, man. Property is theft. Ne travaillez jamais. And all that.
The man never talked about property being theft. Really. Nothing about being lazy. In fact, it’s pretty amazing that people still don’t understand at all what is a radical leftist position about. Take a look at this photo shared by Mankiw. There is nothing in the leftist position about property not being important. As a professor said once in a class I was taking, in communism, I expect my underwear to be mine, and only mine. Really, this is so basic that it shouldn’t be raised at all.
What Zizek is arguing, and I guess a lot of people at OWS movement, is that there are some stuff that pertains to realm of public sphere. That they shouldn’t be privatized. They don’t want to be CEO of Goldam Sachs. It’s not about to give some of the power to these young people. Is about destroying the ring. Or at least minimizing the power of the ring, i.e., the power of big corporations, of marketization of everything, reducing income inequality, that the government can provide some public goods like public health. Like Zizek said, “We don’t want higher standards of living. We want better standards of living”. Really, I’m sacred how people can misread so badly a text of someone. Bay he didn’t read at all?