Tuesday, June 29, 2010

First As Tragedy, Then As Farce

by Slavoj Zizek

An argument for the continued revelance of communist political proposals and an effort to give some historical assessment on the recent financial meltdown. The two components are connected.

Some reservations up front. I fundamentally disagree with Zizek’s rejection of socialism and reformist political leftist solutions on behalf of more revolutionary hardcore communism, but he makes a number of effective arguments worth considering seriously. There were also a number of very minor cultural details in which I found the argument in the book flawed. It’s good that they’re used at all, making an effort to incorporate mass-cultural and even some genre elements in a thoughful way. However, I disagree with the notion that the Dark Knight’s Joker is a real parallel to any contemporary European leader, or that the treatment of heroic character is quite as shallow as the work presumes.

There are a lot of extremely compelling arguments in the book however, from the possible uses of hypocrisy to the danger in assuming the financial crisis will empower the forces of the left. In terms of recent political developments like the financial crisis, the preceding context of deregulation and the presidency of Obama to date there’s some of the best insight I’ve seen, offering overall a surprisngly balanced and complex viewpoint.

The book is well written, thoughtful, and very well argued in a fashion that makes me hesitant to try excessive summary. Recommended.

Worse than: Empire by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri
Better than: Reading After Theory by Valentine Cunningham

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