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Annotated captions of Rsa Animates : Slavoj Zizek _ First as a tragedy, then as farce in English

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mastoras 00:11
00:21

Slavoj Zizek. "First as a tragedy, then as a farce".

mastoras 00:21
00:26

I want to develop a very simple linear line of though about one point.

mastoras 00:26
00:33

Why in our economy charity is no longer just an ideosyncracy of some good guys here and there

mastoras 00:33
00:37

but the basic constituent of our economy

mastoras 00:37
00:46

I would like to start with the future of so called cultural capitalism. Todays form of capitalism.

mastoras 00:46
00:53

And then develop how the same thing applies also to economy in the narrower sense of the term

mastoras 00:53
01:03

Namely, if the in the old times, by old times i mean something very precise, before this 68' transformation of capitalism

mastoras 01:03
01:11

into as we usually call it more cultural capitalism, post modern, caring for ecology and all that.

mastoras 01:17
01:17

What changed?

mastoras 01:17
01:28

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.

mastoras 01:28
01:36

Then on the top of it, it comes what you do for a society, like Soros. He steal the old type here i claim.

mastoras 01:36
01:46

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.

mastoras 01:46
01:57

But i claim in todays capitalism, more and more the tendency is to bring the two dimensions together in one and the same cluster.

mastoras 01:57
02:06

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.

mastoras 02:06
02:13

If you think i'm exaggerating you have them around the corner, walk into any starbucks coffee.

mastoras 02:13
02:21

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"

mastoras 02:21
02:24

And then they describe it to you. Listen

mastoras 02:24
02:31

When you buy starbucks, whether you realise it or not, you are buying into something bigger than a cup of coffee

mastoras 02:31
02:34

You are buying into a coffee "ethics"

mastoras 02:34
02:40

Through our starbucks shared planet program we purchase more fair trade coffee than any company in the world

mastoras 02:40
02:45

Ensuring that the farmers who grew the beans receive a fair price for their hard work

mastoras 02:45
02:50

And we invest and improve coffee growing practices and communities around the globe

mastoras 02:50
02:52

It's a good coffee karma

mastoras 02:52
03:01

And a little bit of the price of a starbucks coffee helps furnish the place with comfortable chairs and so on and so on.

mastoras 03:01
03:05

You see this is what i call cultural capitalism at its purest

mastoras 03:05
03:16

You don't only buy a coffee, you buy in the very consumerist act, you buy redemption for being only a consumerist

mastoras 03:16
03:21

You know. You do something for the enviroment, you do something to help starving children in Guatemala,

mastoras 03:21
03:25

you do something to restore the sense of community here and so on and so on

mastoras 03:25
03:34

This..and again i could have go on,like..the almost absurd example of this is so called toms shoes

mastoras 03:34
03:37

an american company, who has formulised "one for one"

mastoras 03:37
03:45

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

mastoras 03:45
03:56

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

mastoras 03:56
04:06

This generates almost, a kind of, how should i put it, scemantic overinvestment of burden. You know

mastoras 04:06
04:14

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.

mastoras 04:14
04:20

And again this logic, i think, is today almost universalised

mastoras 04:20
04:26

it's like, let's be frank when you go into a store probably you prefer buying organic apples

mastoras 04:26
04:28

Why? Look deep into yourself

mastoras 04:28
04:37

I don't think that you really believe that those apples which cost double, the good genetically modified apples that we all like

mastoras 04:37
04:41

That they are really any better? I claim we are cynics there, sceptics

mastoras 04:41
04:46

But you know, it makes you feel warm that "I'm doing something for our mother earth"

mastoras 04:46
04:49

I'm doing something for our planet and so on and so on

mastoras 04:49
05:02

You get all that. So my point is that, this very interesting short circuit where the very act of egotistic consumption and so on

mastoras 05:02
05:05

already includes the price for it's opposite

mastoras 05:06
05:12

Based against all of this. I think again that we should return to good old Oscar Wilde

mastoras 05:12
05:18

Who still provided the best formulation against this logic of charity

mastoras 05:18
05:25

Let me just quote a couple of lines from the beginning of his "The soul of modern men under socialism"

mastoras 05:26
05:28

Where he points out that, i quote

mastoras 05:28
05:35

"It is much more easy to have sympathy with suffering that it is to has sympathy with thought"

mastoras 05:35
05:42

People find themselves surrounded by hideous poverty, by hideous ugliness, by hideous starvation.

mastoras 05:42
05:47

It is inevitable that they should be strongly moved by all this

mastoras 05:47
05:51

Accordingly with admirable, though misdirected intentions

mastoras 05:51
05:58

They very seriously and very sentimentally set themselves to the task of remedying the evils that they see

mastoras 05:58
06:02

But their remedies do not cure the disease, they merely prolong it

mastoras 06:02
06:05

Indeed, the remedies are part of disease

mastoras 06:05
06:14

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

mastoras 06:14
06:18

But this is not a solution. It's an aggravation of the difficulty.

mastoras 06:18
06:24

The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible

mastoras 06:24
06:30

And the altruistic virtues have really prevented the carrying out of this aim

mastoras 06:30
06:34

The worst slave owners where those who were kind to their slaves

mastoras 06:34
06:40

and so prevented the core of the system being realised by those who suffered from it

mastoras 06:40
06:42

And understood by those who contemplanted it

mastoras 06:42
06:45

Charity degrades and demoralises

mastoras 06:45
06:54

It is immoral to use private property in order to alleviate the horrible evils that result from the institution of private property

mastoras 06:54
06:58

I think these lines are more actual than ever

mastoras 06:58
07:05

Nice as it sounds basic income or this kind of trade with the rich is not the solution

mastoras 07:05
07:18

I see here another problem, again this is for me the last desperate attempt to make capitalism work for socialism

mastoras 07:18
07:26

Let's not discard the evil let's make the itself evil work for the good

mastoras 07:26
07:28

You remember, you are not old enough, i am.

mastoras 07:28
07:34

How we were crazy 30-40 years ago, we were dreaming about socialism with a human face. You know

mastoras 07:34
07:43

Like today the atmost horizon of our imagination is global capitalism with a human face

mastoras 07:43
07:51

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

mastoras 07:51
07:57

First, my attitude is here, let's give to the devil what belongs to the devil

mastoras 07:57
08:03

and let's recognise that at least in the last decades, at least until recently, in western europe

mastoras 08:03
08:06

I mean there is no bullshiting here, let's admit it

mastoras 08:06
08:15

i don't think that in any moment in human history, such a relatively large percent of the population live in such relative,

mastoras 08:15
08:19

freedom, welfare, security and so on

mastoras 08:19
08:24

I see this gradually but nonetheless seriously threatened

mastoras 08:24
08:28

When i gave the interview for Hardtalk yesterday the guy, sucker

mastoras 08:28
08:31

who is a bright guy he is not just another sucker.

mastoras 08:31
08:35

He told me, but you are basically misanthropic. I told him "Yes!"

mastoras 08:35
08:42

They praise the british nation. You know very well that there is a certain type of misanthropy

mastoras 08:42
08:48

which is much better as a social attitute than this cheap, charitable, optimism and so on

mastoras 08:48
08:58

I think that a mixture of a slight not the hard line apocaliptism. But let me call it like we say "soft"

mastoras 08:58
09:06

You know Gianni Vattimo speaks about "soft" thought. I dont agree with him but i would say "soft" apocalyptism

mastoras 09:06
09:11

It's not 2012 we know but we are approaching a certain zero point.

mastoras 09:11
09:18

Things are unfortunately, you may disagree, ecologicaly, socially, with new apartheids and so on

mastoras 09:18
09:22

We are approaching a certain point, biogenetics and so on.

mastoras 09:22
09:27

Where, i'm not saying of course, i'm not an idiot, that it will be "return to the old leninist party"

mastoras 09:27
09:37

Absolotely course not, again 20th century communist experience was a mega mega ethical, political, economic catastrophe

mastoras 09:37
09:44

I'm just saying that if all the cherished values of liberalism, i love them but

mastoras 09:44
09:51

the only way to save them is to do something more, you know what i'm saying? I'm not against charity. My god!

mastoras 09:51
09:59

In an abstract sense, of course it's better than nothing. But let's be aware there is an element of hypocrisy there

mastoras 09:59
10:07

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

mastoras 10:07
10:13

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?

mastoras 10:13
10:19

That's all i'm saying. For example, of course he should help the children

mastoras 10:19
10:25

It's horrible to see a child who's life is ruined because of an operation that costs 20 dolars.

mastoras 10:25
10:30

But in the long term, you know, as Oscar Wilde would have said

mastoras 10:30
10:50

If you just operate the child it will live a little bit better but in the same situation that produced it