2011-10-11 Žižek at Wall Street: “don’t fall in love with yourself” #occupywallstreet #ows

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“We’re not dreamers. We’re awaking from a dream turning into a nightmare. We’re not destroying anything. We’re watching the system destroy itself.”

Via Occupy Wall Street andImpose Magazine


We are all losers, but the true losers are down there on Wall Street. They were bailed out by billions of our money. We are called socialists, but here there is always socialism for the rich. They say we don’t respect private property, but in the 2008 financial crash-down more hard-earned private property was destroyed than if all of us here were to be destroying it night and day for weeks. They tell you we are dreamers. The true dreamers are those who think things can go on indefinitely the way they are. We are not dreamers. We are the awakening from a dream that is turning into a nightmare.

We are not destroying anything. We are only witnessing how the system is destroying itself. We all know the classic scene from cartoons. The cat reaches a precipice but it goes on walking, ignoring the fact that there is nothing beneath this ground. Only when it looks down and notices it, it falls down. This is what we are doing here. We are telling the guys there on Wall Street, “Hey, look down!”

In mid-April 2011, the Chinese government prohibited on TV, films, and novels all stories that contain alternate reality or time travel. This is a good sign for China. These people still dream about alternatives, so you have to prohibit this dreaming. Here, we don’t need a prohibition because the ruling system has even oppressed our capacity to dream. Look at the movies that we see all the time. It’s easy to imagine the end of the world. An asteroid destroying all life and so on. But you cannot imagine the end of capitalism.

So what are we doing here? Let me tell you a wonderful, old joke from Communist times. A guy was sent from East Germany to work in Siberia. He knew his mail would be read by censors, so he told his friends: “Let’s establish a code. If a letter you get from me is written in blue ink, it is true what I say. If it is written in red ink, it is false.” After a month, his friends get the first letter. Everything is in blue. It says, this letter: “Everything is wonderful here. Stores are full of good food. Movie theatres show good films from the west. Apartments are large and luxurious. The only thing you cannot buy is red ink.” This is how we live. We have all the freedoms we want. But what we are missing is red ink: the language to articulate our non-freedom. The way we are taught to speak about freedom— war on terror and so on—falsifies freedom. And this is what you are doing here. You are giving all of us red ink.

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 lives. Will there be any changes then? I don’t want you to remember these days, you know, like “Oh. we were young and it was beautiful.” Remember that our basic message is “We are allowed to think about alternatives.” If the broom [?] 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?

Remember. The problem is not corruption or greed. The problem is the system. It forces you to be corrupt. Beware not only of the enemies, but also of false friends who are already working to dilute this process. In the same way you get coffee without caffeine, beer without alcohol, ice cream without fat, they will try to make this into a harmless, moral protest. A decaffeinated process. But the reason we are here is that we have had enough of a world where, to recycle Coke cans, to give a couple of dollars for charity, or to buy a Starbucks cappuccino where 1% goes to third world starving children is enough to make us feel good. After outsourcing work and torture, after marriage agencies are now outsourcing our love life, we can see that for a long time, we allow our political engagement also to be outsourced. We want it back.

We are not Communists if Communism means a system which collapsed in 1990. Remember that today those Communists are the most efficient, ruthless Capitalists. In China today, we have Capitalism which is even more dynamic than your American Capitalism, but doesn’t need democracy. Which means when you criticize Capitalism, don’t allow yourself to be blackmailed that you are against democracy. The marriage between democracy and Capitalism is over. The change is possible.

What do we perceive today as 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 field of society and economy. There, almost everything is considered impossible. You want to raise taxes by little bit for the rich. They tell you it’s impossible. We lose competitivity. You want more money for health care, they tell you, “Impossible, this means totalitarian state.” There’s something wrong in the world, where you are promised to be immortal but cannot spend a little bit more for healthcare. Maybe we need to set our priorities straight here. We don’t want higher standard of living. We want a better standard of living. The only sense in which we are Communists is that we care for the commons. The commons of nature. The commons of privatized by intellectual property. The commons of bio-genetics. For this, and only for this, we should fight.

Communism failed absolutely, but the problems of the commons are here. They are telling you we are not American here. But the conservatives fundamentalists who claim they really are American have to be reminded of something: What is Christianity? It’s the holy spirit. What is the holy spirit? It’s an egalitarian community of believers who are linked by love for each other, and who only have their own freedom and responsibility to do it. In this sense, the holy spirit is here now. And down there on Wall Street, there are pagans who are worshiping blasphemous idols. So all we need is patience. The only thing I’m afraid of is that we will someday just go home and then we will meet once a year, drinking beer, and nostalgically remembering “What a nice time we had here.” Promise yourselves that this will not be the case. We know that people often desire something but do not really want it. Don’t be afraid to really want what you desire. Thank you very much.


zizek and bestiality

the philosophers who admit to knowing nothing will have most respect from me

rhetoriticians will have free gamut of words.

the humans purvey language.

why it is that the pervy male profs always get center stage at the revolution, reverts to mere primatological explique.

zizek is the top ape with the most noise, of pop theoretical import, and the salacious slop syllables of maximum cultural currency among the declasse.

why he must always spoil the soup with his pervy antics, underscores the HARD WORK of Karl Rove to both make

1. progressives look like idiots

and to

2. make us look like vulgar hoi polloi

i will not yet forgive him for his sexist crudity and rudeness to Assange at the London Troxy event.

It was a huge insult to those of us who have worked very hard at Assange's defense.

in love, mary rose lenore eng

thanks for all the hard work wlcentral

embrace antisexism
or eloquence and honor ala david house

to expand your potential client base

communication distortion ?

@ maryeng1

I'm not sure wether I understand you're comment. Isn't all this a big communication problem ?

I even don't see what the problem is ? I watched the video of the Assange Zizek troxy event. I saw an interesting discussion, and something that looked like two old friends meeting again, I don't remember rudeness.

Why do you feel the need to judge Zizek? I found this speech interesting, and I enjoyed his jokes about, bestiality, communism... and therefore i'm happy with it.

I also liked watching Micheal Moore's speeches at occupy wall street. Altough Micheal said, that he admired the people on the square, that they where doing good work, and so on and so on, some journalist had to write: Micheal Moore likes to be seen at occupy wall street, as if he was merely there to make a name for himself... I see that as a distortion of the truth by the media.

And I watched a bunch of other video's of occupy wall street and I absolutely don't get the impression that they just wan't to give a voice to alfa males or the likes of them. I saw a lot of ordinary Americans saying great things.


It's the broadest movement I've ever seen.

Let's not get divided because of misunderstandings. The occupy movement, Wikileaks, Assange, Zizek, Moore... need all the support the can get.

Sometimes a bit of polarisation might be neccesary, now it's time to unify.

reply to: Communication Distortion?

I can't find a transcript of the Asssange/Zizek Troxy event, however, at least on the Democracy Now comments page on the day of the event, Zizek's joke

[the about the doctor initially telling a man that his wife survived the operation -- but would live with various catastrophic disabilities (including incontinence, lack of marital relations, etc.) -- to eventually reveal -- to the relief of the husband -- that, in fact, the wife died and he would not have to endure her disabilities, that joke]

was loudly declared vulgar and sexist by quite a number of people.

I didn't have that reaction. There was additionally much upset that Zizek, that "vulgar sexist man", should have even been invited (and declarations that he should never be invited again, since he "ruined the whole thing" for a number of commentors.)

I didn't consider it sexist because the joke (such as it is) would work (or not) with equal effectiveness if it were the husband who had been left vegetative and the wife relieved to discover herself free to live unencumbered.

As for vulgar? Again, perhaps in Zizek's telling of it, but the joke itself, not so much, imho.

Hope that clarifies. I was quite surprised. I adore Zizek. Say no more, say no more.

Please correct me if I have misrepresented please.

Just to add, irrc, Zizek has said he uses his "bad jokes" ...

deliberately to push the audience out of their passive observer mindset ... to jostle them.

My impression from the Democracy Now comment section was that, much like that of the author of the recent WSWS editorial, the dislike and criticism were well formed, even entrenched prior to either the Troxy or the LRB editorial, events which merely provided the opportunity for reiteration of well-worn criticism.

I had not previously appreciated just how much courage it takes to "tell a joke" these days ... not surprising then that there is so little humor offered in these current dire times ... we really could use more.

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