Faux television newscasts produced by the son of a woman who was in a coma when the Berlin Wall fell and whose weak heart, it is feared, could not bear the shock of the change, suggest that – however disappointing socialism’s achievements so far – its ‘might have been’ cannot be dismissed easily; for example, one of the newscasts recodes the spectacle of Easterners clambering over the ruins of the wall toward the land of consumerism and individualism into a counterfactual fantasy of Westerners fleeing from the insecurities and injustices of capitalism toward the collectivist promise of a GDR that never quite was, but might have been. The film thus reminds us that the history of revolution has hitherto limited transformative energies, not liberated them – the apotheosis of this containment-effect being its current troping in advertising.
In this trend, the various so-called ‘velvet revolutions’ in the former Soviet bloc are exemplary: peoples striving for utopia merely got capitalism.
– Crystal Bartolovich writes about Goodbye, Lenin in a much nicer way than Žižek does, while, more or less, making the same point. This is, by the way, what bummers look like. From “History after the End of History: Critical Counterfactualism and Revolution,” 2006.
“If you have no clear idea of what you want to replace the state with, you have no right to subtract/withdraw from the state. Instead of taking a distance from the state, the true task should be to make the state itself work in a non-statal mode. The alternative “either struggle for state power (which makes us the same as the enemy we are fighting) or resist by withdrawing to a position of distance from the state” is false—both its terms share the same premise, that the state-form, in the way we know it today, is here to stay, so that all we can do is either take over the state or take a distance towards it. Here, one should shamelessly repeat the lesson of Lenin’s _State and Revolution_: the goal of revolutionary violence is not to take over state power, but to transform it, radically changing its functioning, its relationship to its base, and so on.”
– No more Žižek, I swear, after this, also from 2009’s First as Tragedy, Then as Farce. This is a crucial point for my dissertation though (made by a jillion geographers, though, not Žižek; Geographers ♥ Lenin ☭).
“The difference between liberalism and the radical Left is that, although they refer to the same three elements (liberal center, populist Right, radical Left), they locate them in a radically different topology: for the liberal center, the radical Left and the Right are two forms of the same “totalitarian” excess; while for the Left, the only true alternative is the one between itself and the liberal mainstream, the populist “radical” Right being nothing but the *symptom* of liberalism’s inability to deal with the Leftist threat. When today we hear a politician or an ideologist offering us a choice between liberal freedom and fundamentalist oppression, triumphantly asking (purely rhetorical) questions such as “Do you want women to be excluded from public life and deprived of their elementary rights? Do you want every critic or mocker of religion to be punishable by death?” what should make us suspicious is the very self-evidence of the answer—who would have wanted *that*? The problem is that such a simplistic liberal universalism long ago lost its innocence. This is why, for a true Leftist, the conflict between liberal permissiveness and fundamentalism is ultimately a *false* conflict—a vicious cycle in which two opposed poles generate and presuppose each other. Here one should take an Hegelian step backwards, placing in question the very measure from which fundamentalism appears in all its horror. Liberals have long ago lost their right to judge. What Horkheimer once said should also be applied to today’s fundamentalism: those who do not want to talk (critically) about liberal democracy and its noble principles should also keep quiet about religious fundamentalism.”
– That’s right; I’m the loser quoting Žižek.
Holy smokes was I not surprised by the decision this week by the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC. I was always suspicious of the argument that “money is not speech, it’s property,” though I repeated it several times. I agree with Bryan, in that I can’t really imagine that a pesky little thing [...]