Slavoj Zizek: On Accelerating the World Disorder

The problem is that, today, simple opposition gets complicated: our global-capitalist reality, impregnated as it is by sciences, is itself ‘prodding’, challenging our innermost presuppositions in a much more shocking way than the wildest philosophical speculations, so that the task of a philosopher is no longer to undermine the hierarchical symbolic edifice that grounds social stability but – to return to Badiou – to make the young perceive the dangers of the growing nihilist order that presents itself as the domain of new freedoms. We live in an extraordinary era in which there is no tradition on which we can base our identity, no frame of meaningful universe which might enable us to lead a life beyond hedonist reproduction. Today’s nihilism – the reign of cynical opportunism accompanied by permanent anxiety – legitimizes itself as the liberation from the old constraints: we are free to constantly re-invent our sexual identities, to change not only our job or our professional trajectory but even our innermost subjective features like our sexual orientation. However, the scope of these freedoms is strictly prescribed by the coordinates of the existing system, and also by the way consumerist freedom effectively functions: the possibility to choose and consume imperceptibly turns into a superego obligation to choose. The nihilist dimension of this space of freedoms can only function in a permanently accelerated way – the moment it slows down, we become aware of the meaninglessness of the entire movement. This New World Disorder, this gradually emerging world-less civilization, exemplarily affects the young, who oscillate between the intensity of fully burning out (sexual enjoyment, drugs, alcohol, even violence), and the endeavour to succeed (study, make a career, earn money … within the existing capitalist order). Permanent transgression thus becomes the norm…

The only radical alternative to this madness appears to be the even worse madness of religious fundamentalism, a violent retreat into some artificially resuscitated tradition. The supreme irony is that a brutal return to an orthodox tradition (an invented one, of course) appears as the ultimate ‘prodding’ – are the young suicide bombers not the most radical form of corrupted youth? The great task of thinking today is to discern the precise contours of this deadlock and find the way out of it.

—Like A Thief In Broad Daylight: Power in the Era of Post-Humanity – Slavoj Zizek

7 thoughts on “Slavoj Zizek: On Accelerating the World Disorder

  1. Of course we all help to reproduce this system, but let’s not forget that very few of us buy into it, we cooperate with it as little as possible, we don’t try to succeed in it, we just try to live, we don’t consume anything to the max, we just survive, and we live away from public spaces, in private spaces, fragile and temporary though they are.

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    • Always the optimist, David 🙂 I doubt that any of us forget who and what and economically in what position we have been thrust within this machine… 🙂 Obviously we who are powerless to grasp the total extent of the damage do one thing: survive the best we can in the wastelands of capitalism. So it goes… as Kurt Vonnegut reminds us.

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  2. Optimist, not really, just saying closure is never complete, the system is powerful, but it cannot relax, it has to keep feeding the lions with the unconvinced.

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  3. I also recognise the US is a harsher environment than the UK and Europe, although we are doing our best in the UK to try and catch up, but good luck to you. Of course the existence of your blog supports my point, it is a form of light, even when it is dedicated to all things dark, keep up the good work. And yes in the end we are all dead anyway, but it’s a big universe. It is lovely to be seen by someone as an optimist, a position (relative?) I only get to enjoy because of your unique existence, I must thank you for that. Although my wife takes up a position on the dark side quite often, someone has to don’t they?

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