A Zinger from Zizek

zizek I’m not a huge fan of Slavoj Zizek.  His stuff usually strikes me as being both scattershot and overly, self-consciously “theoretical.”  But he does have his powers.

TCT heartily endorses his recent take, as reported in Harper’s, on an issue at the heart of the Occupy Wall Street movement:

Harper’s: You were critical of some of the slogans used by protesters in 2008 — “Save Main Street, Not Wall Street” for example. During Occupy Wall Street, people say, “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out.” Is there a better slogan to be had?

Zizek: The problem is that if you mobilize against the bad financial system you fall into a certain ideological trap, the fascist trap. This is the basic fascist idea: we have the truly productive strata — workers, industrial capitalists — and then we have the bad Jewish bankers who exploit them. The problem is not to fight Wall Street. The problem is, why does the system need Wall Street to function?…If Wall Street collapses, then Main Street collapses. That’s how the system works.

TCT would add that it’s also not very advisable to forget that, along with the financial sector, the supply-side bailouts included corporate capitalism’s beating heart — the automobile industry.

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Dave
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Dave

My concern about the financial system is that if money is loaned into existence and due back with interest there is no way to pay it back without constant growth. At work today I heard someone making a comment that the OWS people should occupy a job. This must be some talking point he picked up on because I’ve seen it elsewhere as well, perhaps while listing to talk radio on his M&M Speakers. I suggested that if the office workers we have who are in their 60’s and 70’s who are working primarily due to the golden handcuffs of… Read more »

Michael Dawson
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I’m not sure that’s actually true, Dave. In an economy that was stationary or even shrinking overall, some enterprises could grow while others shrank or disappeared. Hence money lent at interest could still happen even without growth. I won’t even get into the question of whether there’d be price inflation and how that would relate to interest charges. Meanwhile, I’m not suggesting that the existing financial sector isn’t a big problem. Certainly, it is. But isn’t our problem really capitalism? As Zizek says, the financial sector is utterly entwined with the system as a whole. To miss that point is… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

What are some alternatives to capitalism, is there one you prefer? To me our economic system is primitive, it would work better for a farming community. It has no concern for whether a business contributes to society, and there are few provisions to help children select a career or find a job. This is a crude, brutal economic system, and it should be updated. The goal of a business could be to improve society, not sell products. We shouldn’t allow a business to exist simply because it can make money. Businesses consume resources and create trash, and we could change… Read more »

Michael Dawson
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My idea of an alternative to capitalism would be something like the New Deal, but more aggressive and environmentally focused. It would be aimed at reconstructing the society toward sustainability. Doing that for real (rather than just as a gesture) would require full employment of all available workers. It would also include removal of all restrictions on government “businesses.” Toothpaste, telecom, transportation, media content, etc. — the public would form big enterprises designed to out-compete private corporations in key areas. For profit business would be allowed. It would simply face full-on challenges from non-profit endeavors. The end point would have… Read more »