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Rsa Animates : Slavoj Zizek _ First as a tragedy, then as farce

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Slavoj Zizek. "First as a tragedy, then as a farce". I want to develop a very simple linear line of though about one point. Why in our economy charity is no longer just an ideosyncracy of some good guys here and there but the basic constituent of our economy I would like to start with the future of so called cultural capitalism. Todays form of capitalism. And then develop how the same thing applies also to economy in the narrower sense of the term Namely, if the in the old times, by old times i mean something very precise, before this 68' transformation of capitalism into as we usually call it more cultural capitalism, post modern, caring for ecology and all that. What changed? What changed is that if before this time, there was is simple, more or less simple, opposition between consumation, you buy, you speculate and so on. Then on the top of it, it comes what you do for a society, like Soros. He steal the old type here i claim. In the morning he grabs the money, if i simplify it, in the afternoon he gives half of the money back in charities and supporting things and so on. But i claim in todays capitalism, more and more the tendency is to bring the two dimensions together in one and the same cluster. So that when you buy something your anticonsumerist duty to do something for others, for the enviroment and so on, is already incuded into it. If you think i'm exaggerating you have them around the corner, walk into any starbucks coffee. And you will see how they explicitly tell you, i quote their campaign "It's not just what youre buying, it's what you're buying into" And then they describe it to you. Listen When you buy starbucks, whether you realise it or not, you are buying into something bigger than a cup of coffee You are buying into a coffee "ethics" Through our starbucks shared planet program we purchase more fair trade coffee than any company in the world Ensuring that the farmers who grew the beans receive a fair price for their hard work And we invest and improve coffee growing practices and communities around the globe It's a good coffee karma And a little bit of the price of a starbucks coffee helps furnish the place with comfortable chairs and so on and so on. You see this is what i call cultural capitalism at its purest You don't only buy a coffee, you buy in the very consumerist act, you buy redemption for being only a consumerist You know. You do something for the enviroment, you do something to help starving children in Guatemala, you do something to restore the sense of community here and so on and so on This..and again i could have go on,like..the almost absurd example of this is so called toms shoes an american company, who has formulised "one for one" They claim, for every pair of shoes you buy with them, they give a pair of shoes to some african nation and so on and so on So you know, "one for one" one act of consumerism but included in it you pay being redeemed of it, doing something for the enviroment and so on This generates almost, a kind of, how should i put it, scemantic overinvestment of burden. You know it's not just buying a cup of coffee. It's at the same time, again you fulfill a whole series of ethical duties and so on and so on. And again this logic, i think, is today almost universalised it's like, let's be frank when you go into a store probably you prefer buying organic apples Why? Look deep into yourself I don't think that you really believe that those apples which cost double, the good genetically modified apples that we all like That they are really any better? I claim we are cynics there, sceptics But you know, it makes you feel warm that "I'm doing something for our mother earth" I'm doing something for our planet and so on and so on You get all that. So my point is that, this very interesting short circuit where the very act of egotistic consumption and so on already includes the price for it's opposite Based against all of this. I think again that we should return to good old Oscar Wilde Who still provided the best formulation against this logic of charity Let me just quote a couple of lines from the beginning of his "The soul of modern men under socialism" Where he points out that, i quote "It is much more easy to have sympathy with suffering that it is to has sympathy with thought" People find themselves surrounded by hideous poverty, by hideous ugliness, by hideous starvation. It is inevitable that they should be strongly moved by all this Accordingly with admirable, though misdirected intentions They very seriously and very sentimentally set themselves to the task of remedying the evils that they see But their remedies do not cure the disease, they merely prolong it Indeed, the remedies are part of disease They try to solve the problem of poverty, for instance by keeping the poor alive or in the case of very advanced school, by amusing the poor But this is not a solution. It's an aggravation of the difficulty. The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible And the altruistic virtues have really prevented the carrying out of this aim The worst slave owners where those who were kind to their slaves and so prevented the core of the system being realised by those who suffered from it And understood by those who contemplanted it Charity degrades and demoralises It is immoral to use private property in order to alleviate the horrible evils that result from the institution of private property I think these lines are more actual than ever Nice as it sounds basic income or this kind of trade with the rich is not the solution I see here another problem, again this is for me the last desperate attempt to make capitalism work for socialism Let's not discard the evil let's make the itself evil work for the good You remember, you are not old enough, i am. How we were crazy 30-40 years ago, we were dreaming about socialism with a human face. You know Like today the atmost horizon of our imagination is global capitalism with a human face We have the basic rules of the game. We make it a little more human, more tolerant, a little bit of welfare and so on and so on First, my attitude is here, let's give to the devil what belongs to the devil and let's recognise that at least in the last decades, at least until recently, in western europe I mean there is no bullshiting here, let's admit it i don't think that in any moment in human history, such a relatively large percent of the population live in such relative, freedom, welfare, security and so on I see this gradually but nonetheless seriously threatened When i gave the interview for Hardtalk yesterday the guy, sucker who is a bright guy he is not just another sucker. He told me, but you are basically misanthropic. I told him "Yes!" They praise the british nation. You know very well that there is a certain type of misanthropy which is much better as a social attitute than this cheap, charitable, optimism and so on I think that a mixture of a slight not the hard line apocaliptism. But let me call it like we say "soft" You know Gianni Vattimo speaks about "soft" thought. I dont agree with him but i would say "soft" apocalyptism It's not 2012 we know but we are approaching a certain zero point. Things are unfortunately, you may disagree, ecologicaly, socially, with new apartheids and so on We are approaching a certain point, biogenetics and so on. Where, i'm not saying of course, i'm not an idiot, that it will be "return to the old leninist party" Absolotely course not, again 20th century communist experience was a mega mega ethical, political, economic catastrophe I'm just saying that if all the cherished values of liberalism, i love them but the only way to save them is to do something more, you know what i'm saying? I'm not against charity. My god! In an abstract sense, of course it's better than nothing. But let's be aware there is an element of hypocrisy there That in a way, you know, like my argument and i don't doubt, people who met him told me that Soros is a honest guy But you know there is a paradox, he is repairing with the right hand what he ruined with the left hand. How should i put it? That's all i'm saying. For example, of course he should help the children It's horrible to see a child who's life is ruined because of an operation that costs 20 dolars. But in the long term, you know, as Oscar Wilde would have said If you just operate the child it will live a little bit better but in the same situation that produced it

Video Details

Duration: 10 minutes and 58 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 4,433
Posted by: mastoras on Jun 2, 2012

In this short RSA Animate, renowned philosopher Slavoj Zizek investigates the surprising ethical implications of charitable giving.

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