The Death of the Left: Slavoj Zizek, Greece and the EU

In Hickman’s reading Zizek sounds like a lot like an anarchist , except for his sadness. An anarchist would (and did) say the same thing, prior to the events unfolding, and in the aftermath be rubbing her hands together barely able to restrain herself from saying “told you so”…before finally handing you a copy of pamphlet or link to a blog about how you shouldn’t mourn, you should organize. All sides have their magical mantras and incantations to stave off the dark.

For what limited value my nonopinion is worth, I think Zizek is right and that “the left” (whatever that actually is) should get a bit more at home with hopelessness and depressive realism. The last thing we need is any philosophers, Zizek or otherwise, imagining where we should go next or what the alternative would look like.

In fact there is no end of people imagining concrete utopias in outline at the moment, and every single one of them stinks to high hell of the desperation of lunatics who have decided that having jumped off the bridge, actually they’d really like to live.

I’ve been stammering about the inadequacy of the left to anyone who’ll listen for a while, and I include the anarchists too, because none of them are capable of realizing that the “problematization” approach of postmodernism and the “solution-focussed” approach of our whatever contemporaneity are equally delusional.

Relatedly, if at the beside of the subject, a forthcoming book on mysticism and accelerationism promises to arrive in the next few months. Why mysticism? Because at the rebirth of rationalism and its inhumanist vector burst forward the much more inhuman and much more terrifying prospects of an accelerative irrationalism. Mysticism, madness, the irrationalism of actually existing bodies…hopeless?

What happens when the nihilist stops trying to struggle with her nihilism and owns it? What happens when, having “set her affairs on nothing”, she rediscovers what is actually there?

As Paul Bogard details in his seductive book about the dark of a sky uncontaminated by the destructive luminosity of the a nocturnal urbanism of glare, there are still parts of the world where an unspoiled darkness swallows the earth. In these places without artificial light and without the ambient pollutants of near-by cityscapes the black remains unspoiled. After two hours in such places the fear fragile little stars twinkling pathetically up there begin to blossom and to explode into clusters of greens and reds and blues and yellows. The darkness becomes as vibrant as that captured by Van Gogh’s swirling supernovas.

If you stand in the darkness for long enough without flight or flame, the eyes adjust and one begins to feel at home.

Southern Nights

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In his latest review of the EU crisis Slavoj Zizek in a New Statesman article Slavoj Žižek on Greece: the courage of hopelessness  tells us “Greece is not being asked to swallow many bitter pills in exchange for a realistic plan of economic revival, they are asked to suffer so that others in the European Union can go on dreaming their dream undisturbed.” They’re not being asked at all. They’re being forced to suffer both this and the destruction of their society and culture under a debt-regime so large that nothing will remain. Zizek’s creampuff courage of the hopeless in the face of this coming train wreck does no more than typify the bankruptcy of his own thought as he provides a dismal and gloomy rhetorical flourish not on Greece but upon the bankruptcy of the Left and especially of his own nihilist philosophy of subtraction.

Has Zizek finally lined up a…

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2 Comments

  1. “If you stand in the darkness for long enough without flight or flame, the eyes adjust and one begins to feel at home.” Poignant redirection Arran. What is at stake here is possible practico-ecological deviations from dominating ideologic neuro-activity. Until nihilism thoroughly rearranges our associations such that begin to we seek out modes of communication that circumvent discussions about “the left” versus “the right”, capitalism vs. noncapitalism, and get onto engaging, tracking, cultivating the (onto)specificities of particular bodies and locations we are still just running dream-sequences and stumbling around hoping to come upon practices that touch on something Real and effective.

    We need to start blasting holes in real-world systems to create space for critical and reflexive thinking unto doing more than we need to fantasize about “alternatives”.

    • In other words before post-nihilism can really get off the ground we need to go through real nihilism. That is people need to realize, accept and only then can they adjust. A co-adjustment of the environmental infrastructures and the psychic etc. As UG Krishnamurti kept saying: the solution IS the problem. The solution is always a reflexive movements to cover the cracks. Dreams of an alternative might actually forbid the developments of alternatives. Certainly if the abstraction comes to dominate our activity. I’m sick to death of anarchism. I havent been to a meeting in months. I’ll just prognosticate from here for now. Except everyone is already down there in the shit. We’re not getting any less close to death over here. All these ideological coordinates are so much immortality fantasy.

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