Violence: Six Sideways Reflections (Big Ideas/Small Books)
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Philosopher, cultural critic, and agent provocateur Slavoj Žižek constructs a fascinating new framework to look at the forces of violence in our world.
Using history, philosophy, books, movies, Lacanian psychiatry, and jokes, Slavoj Žižek examines the ways we perceive and misperceive violence. Drawing from his unique cultural vision, Žižek brings new light to the Paris riots of 2005; he questions the permissiveness of violence in philanthropy; in daring terms, he reflects on the powerful image and determination of contemporary terrorists.
Violence, Žižek states, takes three forms--subjective (crime, terror), objective (racism, hate-speech, discrimination), and systemic (the catastrophic effects of economic and political systems)--and often one form of violence blunts our ability to see the others, raising complicated questions.
Does the advent of capitalism and, indeed, civilization cause more violence than it prevents? Is there violence in the simple idea of "the neighbour"? And could the appropriate form of action against violence today simply be to contemplate, to think?
Beginning with these and other equally contemplative questions, Žižek discusses the inherent violence of globalization, capitalism, fundamentalism, and language, in a work that will confirm his standing as one of our most erudite and incendiary modern thinkers.
contingent.16 Remember the old motif of the market as the modern version of an imponderable fate. The fact that capitalism is not ‘just’ is thus a key feature of what makes it acceptable to the majority. I can live with my failure much more easily if I know that it is not due to my inferior qualities, but to chance. What Nietzsche and Freud share is the idea that justice as equality is founded on envy – on the envy of the Other who has what we do not have, and who enjoys it. The demand for
restore the kingdom. What they were not aware of is that they themselves were duped as to the true social impact of their rule. What they were effectively doing was to establish the very conditions of bourgeois republican order that they so despised – by, for instance, guaranteeing the safety of private property. So it is not that they were royalists who were simply wearing a republican mask, although they experienced themselves as such. It was their very inner royalist conviction which was the
initiation rituals – as their very name bears witness – one undergoes them out of a free choice, fully knowing what one has to expect, and with the clear aim of the reward that awaits: of being accepted into the inner circle and – last but not least – being allowed to perform the same rituals on new members. In Abu Ghraib, the rituals were not the price to be paid by the prisoners in order to be accepted as ‘one of us’ but, on the contrary, the very mark of their exclusion. But isn’t the ‘free
for its own sake, divine violence is pure power over all life for the sake of the living. The first demands sacrifice; the second accepts it. […] the question ‘May I kill?’ meets its irreducible answer in the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’. This commandment precedes the deed, just as God was ‘preventing’ the deed. But just as it may not be fear of punishment that enforces obedience, the injunction becomes inapplicable, incommensurable, once the deed is accomplished. No judgment of the deed
blamed for 9/11 155 claim to kulturlos universality 132 culture in 120, 123 defence of human rights 125 emergence of 124 ‘free choice’ 123–4 promotion of autonomy and rationality 125 ‘radical’ postcolonial critique of 126 Western 126 liberals leftists blamed for violent outbursts 9–10 opposition to all forms of violence 9 split between anaemic liberals and impassioned fundamentalists 72 Liberia 80 lifeworld: resists universality 134 Linksfachismus 194n9 Ljubljana, Slovenia 111