First as Tragedy, Then as Farce

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illions of dollars have been hastily poured into the global banking system in a frantic attempt at financial stabilization. So why has it not been possible to ring the same forces to bear in addressing world poverty and environmental crisis?

In this take-no-prisoners analysis, Slavoj Žižek frames the moral ailures of the modern world in terms of the epoch-making events of the last decade of his century. What he admits is the old one-two punch of history: the jab of tragedy, the right hook of farce. In the attacks of 9/11 and the global credit crunch, liberalism dies twice: as a political doctrine, and as an economic theory.

First as Tragedy, Then as Farce is a all for the Left to reinvent itself in the light of our desperate historical situation. he time for liberal, moralistic blackmail is over.
Year of the Publication
Available Languages
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Number of Pages
157
Original Title of the Book
First as Tragedy, Then as Farce
Publication Date
Published 2009 by Verso

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he nex line of his essay is, “ The title of his memoir is ntended as an elementary IQ test for the reader: if the first association it generates is the vulgar anti-communist cliché— ‘ You are right—today, after the tragedy of twentieth-century totalitarianism, all the talk about a return to communism can only be farcical! ’ —then I sincerely advise you to stop reading here. ” This book has two chapters, one is called, It ’ s the Ideology, Stupid!

And as he ays, “ And let us also not forget that the sublimely enormous sums of money were spent not on some clear ‘ real ’ or concrete problem, but ssentially in order to restore confidence in the markets, that is, simply to change people ’ s beliefs! ” In world where we are onstantly told it is difficul to have fair trade, or to stop wars, or ven to stop the endless merchants of death selling arms or even cigarettes to third world babies – this immediate and universal act of government support for finance capital at taxpayer expense really was quite interestin.

his new sens of president mixes ( what appear to be) spontaneous naïve outbursts with the most ruthless manipulation. ” And we et them time and again all over he world – Berlusconi, Bush, Netanyahu, that rapist guy that nearly became France ’ s President.There is also what he find may well be the ironic situation where so many in the West are waiting for China to suddenly realise it needs democracy as the missing lement in its capitalist economic miracle, but where what might well happen instead is that the West will learn that democracy was little more than a mistake and that we want to return to more authoritarian forms of government instead.

He also redicts that one of thi ways that is ossible to save capitalism is a urn to socialism in the West – in much the same ay that social democratic parties worked to hinder the growth of communist parties in Europe following the Firs World War.It is not that he is th great fan of Soviet style communism.

Obviously, his point is that capitalism will literally kill the planet and we need communism in the feeling that perhaps our only hope is in us holding the world in common.

Books such as Fooled By Randomness and Thinking, Fast and Slow dispel these myths as the emotion of ideology, but these myths are so central to capitalism that disconfirmation is actually impossible, whatever the evidence.My favourite part of a essay, he bit I will remember long after the rest has faded, is his discussion of ‘ the inner life ’.

By the way, you don ’ t eed to e a communist to prefer to judge people by their deeds rather than their words – even that crazy Matthew guy from the Bible said much the same thing.I ’ m oing to end pretty much where he starts.

At the tart of thi novel he makes it clear that the first response to the financial crisis wasn ’ t calls to tear down the Bastille, but eve to kill immigrants.

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He convincingly escribes the bank bailout as an amnesiac continuation of spiral descent of global financial markets, that effectively defends the institutions from any possible repercussions, and psychoanalyzes cultural and political reactions to the bailout.

Namely, this myth is the driving force behind the large-scale delusions that have meant the financial markets to go razy, that drove Bernie Madoff to cheat with any thought towards the end-game, that allows for the free-from-consequences moral hazard of the financial systems.

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~ AesopThis brilliant book has oo many strands of thoughts to be tied together in a review but Žižek shows in how many wide ranging fields one has to delve into to be willing to challenge the foundations of capitalism.

Thi early part of this essay is so easy reading, almost light in fact; and one wonders at the reputation for difficulty that Žižek has acquired.

It is dazzlin work of great despair and stinging criticism and should e read very widely.

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We live, it 's clear, in the age of the problem without a solution; the Manichean dilemma in which every proposition is as unconvincing as its opposite.

post-Libya, is the case so convincing?

could they work together and, in an imaginary post-Assad Syria, how like Libya- with its ultitude of violent factions, in an ungovernable country -would Syria become?

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Beyond a belief in the abstract beauty and effectiveness of Communism, Zizek doesn ’ t actually ive any real recommendations about how to chieve it without also inducing that familiar 20th century problem: the rise of totalitarianism post-revolution.

( ot that he gnores this either: he himself sks the question of why this phenomenon occurs repeatedly in various times and situations.) Yet his belief that there should e th way out, that the reality we ’ re living in, from the damaging effect Capitalism is having on psyches and lives around the world in our current recession to the imminent global catastrophes that ppear to be fast approaching, must be changed, and ultimately, is very inspiring.

Whether or not a return to Communism is the questio, Zizek certainly makes his point effectively; one of the best things about his writing is how clear his ideas are.

I do believe that tha as very fascinating and enjoyabl read and would recommend it to anyone whose mind is open enough to try and envision a world beyond global Capitalism.

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A dialogue.Žižek: The title of the ook is mean as an elementary IQ test for the reader: ... Me: Wait, I just pened the book, why re you already picking a fight with me? Žižek: ... if the first association it generates is the vulgar anti-communist cliche -- " You are right -- today, after the tragedy of twentieth-century totalitarianism, all the talk about a return to communism can only be farcical! " -- then I sincerely advise you to stop here.Me: But, but ...

Hey, you give metheboOKBACK it belongs to the public LIBRARY!!! Žižek: ... since it deal with an entirely different tragedy and farce, namely, ...

Sure, having economists tell us we had to bail out the banks was darkly ironic, but ... Žižek: { N } ote the similarity of President Bush 's language in his addresses to the American people ....

Where is this coming from? Žižek: ... a " world-less " universe ( which is today 's universe of global capitalism) ... Me: Ooookaayyy ...

um, were you going to finish that brownie?

Where 'd you get your great book title from at least? Žižek: Marx ... Me: Of course!

Well, sur, I 'll bite, what 'd he say about Hegel? Žižek: " Hegel remarks somewhere that all great events and characters of world history occur, so to speak, twice.

Permi me to start us off: 'From Napoleon 's perspective, his Russian campaign was the tragedy leading to Elba, and Waterloo the farce culiminating in Saint Helena.' Okay, now you go! Žižek: { snatching my book and walking away in disgust } Me: Žižek?

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I wil like Obama, Hillary, John Boehner, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Putin, Angela Merkel, François Hollande, Xi Jinping, all of them, to writ his, and I ’ d like their reaction ( written, in essay form, and please restrict yourself to 3,000 words or ess, I do have other responsibilities to attend to ...) Because no matter whether you think Žižek is a genius or a charlatan, there are undeniable facts he is confronting in this bestsellin, antagonisms in the fabric of reality we are all allowe to live in today, gaps and fissures in the structure of global society that are butting up against each other, colliding and emerging as looming catastrophes, and the overwhelming response from leaders and citizens alike up to his point has been to sink further and further into our own personal ideological mire and keep on keeping on as if everythin is happening.This book centers around dispelling the notion of Fukuyama ’ s “ end of history ” that was upposed to coincide with the events of 1989, and he “ victory ” of liberal democratic capitalism over ideological based “ utopian ” societies of the nineteenth century like Soviet communism.

Hegel ’ s premis that all historical events happen twice ( revised by Marx into the famous quot that gives the ook its title) is developed in the relevance of these two major catastrophes and the historical/political events surrounding them, the point being that modern capitalist democracies and their liberal social democratic counterparts ( with the rising cousin of China ’ s “ totalitarian capitalism ”) do not proffer solutions to the coming crises of the commons- urgent global situations not restricted by national borders, that shoul hardly be resolved by localized, state-based, market-determined political decisions.

( Žižek gives this last antagonism particular importance and a surprising, thought-provoking analysis in the first hird of th novel.) hese problems not only can not be dealt with by relying on the libertarian/capitalist delusion of a self-regulating free market, or the failed system of modern socialism ( which in reality is simply “ adjusted ” capitalism)- but the rise of these problems an be traced back to a successful integratio of these systems themselves.

In other words, in he terminology of modern capitalist ideology, “ things are working fine ” .If socialism is but a further corrupt authoritarianism, that will always imply a gross imbalance of power, and if capitalism is bankrupt and incapable of recreating itself in a sustainable way, virtually collapsing in on itself, is there a third way?

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