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Trouble in Paradise: From the End of History to the End of Capitalism

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In Trouble in Paradise, Slavoj Zizek, one of our most famous, most combative philosophers, explains how by drawing on the ideas of communism, we can find a way out of the crisis of capitalism. There is obviously trouble in the global capitalist paradise. But why do we find it so difficult to imagine a way out of the crisis we're in? It is as if the trouble feeds on itself: In Trouble in Paradise, Slavoj Zizek, one of our most famous, most combative philosophers, explains how by drawing on the ideas of communism, we can find a way out of the crisis of capitalism. There is obviously trouble in the global capitalist paradise. But why do we find it so difficult to imagine a way out of the crisis we're in? It is as if the trouble feeds on itself: the march of capitalism has become inexorable, the only game in town. Setting out to diagnose the condition of global capitalism, the ideological constraints we are faced with in our daily lives, and the bleak future promised by this system, Slavoj Zizek explores the possibilities - and the traps - of new emancipatory struggles. Drawing insights from phenomena as diverse as Gangnam Style to Marx, The Dark Knight to Thatcher, Trouble in Paradise is an incisive dissection of the world we inhabit, and the new order to come.


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In Trouble in Paradise, Slavoj Zizek, one of our most famous, most combative philosophers, explains how by drawing on the ideas of communism, we can find a way out of the crisis of capitalism. There is obviously trouble in the global capitalist paradise. But why do we find it so difficult to imagine a way out of the crisis we're in? It is as if the trouble feeds on itself: In Trouble in Paradise, Slavoj Zizek, one of our most famous, most combative philosophers, explains how by drawing on the ideas of communism, we can find a way out of the crisis of capitalism. There is obviously trouble in the global capitalist paradise. But why do we find it so difficult to imagine a way out of the crisis we're in? It is as if the trouble feeds on itself: the march of capitalism has become inexorable, the only game in town. Setting out to diagnose the condition of global capitalism, the ideological constraints we are faced with in our daily lives, and the bleak future promised by this system, Slavoj Zizek explores the possibilities - and the traps - of new emancipatory struggles. Drawing insights from phenomena as diverse as Gangnam Style to Marx, The Dark Knight to Thatcher, Trouble in Paradise is an incisive dissection of the world we inhabit, and the new order to come.

30 review for Trouble in Paradise: From the End of History to the End of Capitalism

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    When Thatcher was asked about her greatest achievement, she promptly answered: 'New Labour.' Risking an air of redundancy, Trouble in Paradise is troubling, concerning, topical and immediate. Cobbled from pieces Žižek wrote for periodicals (largely the Guardian and the LRB -- I had read most of them previously there) I found his arguments much more persuasive presented here, linked arm and arm, even if the repeated jokes do ache a bit after the 5th telling. What I appreciate about the text is how When Thatcher was asked about her greatest achievement, she promptly answered: 'New Labour.' Risking an air of redundancy, Trouble in Paradise is troubling, concerning, topical and immediate. Cobbled from pieces Žižek wrote for periodicals (largely the Guardian and the LRB -- I had read most of them previously there) I found his arguments much more persuasive presented here, linked arm and arm, even if the repeated jokes do ache a bit after the 5th telling. What I appreciate about the text is how Žižek look to other theorists for answers or at least models of opportunity: Sloterdijk and Berardi feature prominently. So quickly -- inequality and a lack of social justice are inflaming many throughout the world. It is a question of expectations, so watch out China. Mindsets are becoming medieval at digital speeds. The establishment feels threatened --why Snowden, Assange, Manning are viewed as such threats -- the welfare state was doomed once the Wall fell, as the lack of a political alternative meant that such securities were a superfluous expenditure. Z reflects on Benjamin's mystic violence while he imagines a Communist horizon. I texted my best friend while reading this that I felt the weight of emancipatory politics all weekend, yet I could only trust beer in such weighty matters.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Once I’d finally finished the first draft of my PhD thesis, all 79,659 words of it, the first book I decided to read was by Slavoj Žižek. From this I infer that academia has warped my brain, possibly for life. I found 'Trouble in Paradise' a great deal easier to read than Living in the End Times, for several reasons. Firstly it is shorter, secondly it is ostensibly based on a lecture series given in South Korea, and thirdly there is less frequent recourse to Hegel and Kant. The style is much the Once I’d finally finished the first draft of my PhD thesis, all 79,659 words of it, the first book I decided to read was by Slavoj Žižek. From this I infer that academia has warped my brain, possibly for life. I found 'Trouble in Paradise' a great deal easier to read than Living in the End Times, for several reasons. Firstly it is shorter, secondly it is ostensibly based on a lecture series given in South Korea, and thirdly there is less frequent recourse to Hegel and Kant. The style is much the same, however. As Žižek freely admits at the end, ‘No single idea underlies this bric-a-brac, nothing like Negri’s ‘multitude’ or Piketty’s ‘soak the rich’ to orientate the book’s analyses towards a clear political strategy’. The text flits from analysis of a poem or joke to discussion of genocide and financial crisis. I’ve become curiously fond of this unique style, but it doesn’t lend itself to reviewing the book as a whole. Instead, I found myself writing references to specific points in a little notebook, as otherwise I’d forget them under the onslaught of further eclectic miscellanea. Parts that I found interesting and thought-provoking included discussion of structural unemployment as a necessary underpinning of global capitalism (p.23), the link between debt and guilt (p. 44), and this comment on freedom: Since free choice is elevated to a supreme value, social control and domination can no longer appear as infringing the subject’s freedom; it has to appear as (and be sustained by) the very experience of individuals as free. This unfreedom often appears in the guise of its opposite: when we are deprived of universal healthcare, we are told that we are given a new freedom of choice (to choose our healthcare provider); when we can no longer rely on long-term employment and are compelled to search for a new precarious job every few years or maybe even every couple of weeks, we are told that we are given the opportunity to reinvent ourselves and discover our unexpected creative potential; when we have to pay for the education of our children, we are told that we become ‘entrepeneurs-of-the-self’, acting like a capitalist who has to choose freely how he will invest the resources he possesses (or has borrowed) - in education, health, travel. Constantly bombarded by such imposed ‘free choices’, forced to make decisions for which we are not even properly qualified (or do not possess enough information about), we increasingly experience our freedom as a burden that causes unbearable anxiety. That second sentence is longer than I remembered. Further intriguing material is to be found on constructed ignorance (p.69), the conflict between superego individualisation and global problems (p.87), and analysis of the Arab Spring and how revolutions are re-appropriated (p.102). I further noted this idea about consistency and general principles versus specific circumstances: ...market freedom goes hand in hand with the US supporting its own farmers, preaching democracy goes hand in hand with supporting Saudi Arabia. This inconsistency, this need to break one’s own rules, opens up a space for genuine political interventions... In Greece, a reasonable call for a more efficient and non-corrupt state apparatus, if meant seriously, implies a total overhaul of the state... A measure (say, the defense of human rights) which is in general a liberal platitude, can lead to explosive developments in a specific context. Žižek also has some striking things to say about Europe’s rising anti-immigrant sentiment (p.138), the necessity and impossibility of global government (p.160), and post-colonialism (p.170). At times, though, he is just talking nonsense: What if, today, straight marriage is ‘the most dark and daring of all transgressions’? It really isn’t. The most memorable part of the book concerned the need for a new ‘Master’. The initial point is both very true and well-expressed: When Thatcher was asked about her greatest achievement, she promptly answered: “New Labour”. And she was right: her triumph was that even her political enemies adopted her basic economic policies. The true triumph is not victory over the enemy; it occurs when the enemy itself starts to use your language, so that your ideas form the foundation of the entire field. From this, Žižek moves through Badiou to make this claim, which I am not sure how to feel about: What we need today, in this situation, is thus a Thatcher of the Left: a leader who would repeat Thatcher’s gesture in the opposite direction, transforming the entire field of presuppositions shared by today’s political elite of all main orientations. Food for thought, certainly. I was amused that Žižek ended the book in the same way as David Graeber ends The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy - with an extended analysis of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. That film appears to hold a fascination for critical theorists. I can understand why on some level, but it is also an absolute chaos of plot holes. Here, Ra’s al Ghul is compared to Robespierre. I was the first person to borrow this book from the university library; evidently my fellow students have no idea how to have fun.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Will Ansbacher

    Note to self: Do not read any more Slavoj Zizek! If tempted, repeat the word “transfunctionalization” until comatose. I forget why I thought I needed to read this, it was something to do with harsh words about globalization and the banking crisis, I think. Much of what Zizek says may well be sharp and provocative, but he doesn’t take aim so much as fire scattershot; he can’t leave any unrelated topic alone. Worse, it’s wrapped in an unfocussed jumble of pop culture, and disentangling anything fro Note to self: Do not read any more Slavoj Zizek! If tempted, repeat the word “transfunctionalization” until comatose. I forget why I thought I needed to read this, it was something to do with harsh words about globalization and the banking crisis, I think. Much of what Zizek says may well be sharp and provocative, but he doesn’t take aim so much as fire scattershot; he can’t leave any unrelated topic alone. Worse, it’s wrapped in an unfocussed jumble of pop culture, and disentangling anything from the impenetrable pseudo-intellectual babble: “Badiou opposes a new ‘affirmative’ dialectics to (what he considers) the classic dialectical logic of negativity which engenders out of its own movement a new positivity” is just not worth the effort. Near the end (I skimmed a lot to get there) he quotes a critic Ari Kohen, who took him to task over his convoluted verbal masturbation, and attempts to defend himself (at length). But the quote is the clearest and most succinct paragraph in the book; I thought, good on you, Ari.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Koen Crolla

    Žižek jerks off to words for two hundred pages. If there was a point he was trying to communicate besides how very clever he is for managing to fit so much vocabulary into a paragraph, I wasn't able (or willing) to extract it. Žižek jerks off to words for two hundred pages. If there was a point he was trying to communicate besides how very clever he is for managing to fit so much vocabulary into a paragraph, I wasn't able (or willing) to extract it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Josh Bata

    Not a self-help book for today's maladies, but it is a book that tickles your brain. Never read before sleeping if you want to have a nice sleep. Žižek's convictions are unapologetic and one might feel "you know nothing" as the book unfolds. Not a self-help book for today's maladies, but it is a book that tickles your brain. Never read before sleeping if you want to have a nice sleep. Žižek's convictions are unapologetic and one might feel "you know nothing" as the book unfolds.

  6. 5 out of 5

    John DeRosa

    To use his own description- a tartle. I can't remember what his point is To use his own description- a tartle. I can't remember what his point is

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chris Chapman

    "if moderate liberal forces continue to ignore the radical left, they will generate an insurmountable fundamentalist wave" "if moderate liberal forces continue to ignore the radical left, they will generate an insurmountable fundamentalist wave"

  8. 5 out of 5

    chienyu

    At the time of writing Marianne Williamson, a spiritual self-help author and a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, remarked that US politics is gripped by “dark psychic forces” predictably stunning TV audiences and lighting up social media platforms. The unconventional (to say the least) wording resonated with some viewers and mystified pundits who tried to ridicule her afterwards. I believe there’s no other way to explain these reactions with the typical political rhetoric but to bring on Z At the time of writing Marianne Williamson, a spiritual self-help author and a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, remarked that US politics is gripped by “dark psychic forces” predictably stunning TV audiences and lighting up social media platforms. The unconventional (to say the least) wording resonated with some viewers and mystified pundits who tried to ridicule her afterwards. I believe there’s no other way to explain these reactions with the typical political rhetoric but to bring on Zizek’s brand of analysis. If you’ve seen any of Zizek’s many lectures and interviews then you know the drill. The arguments are verbose, circuitous and seemingly so ironically distant the listener is forced to question if it’s all bullshit. Yet somehow the ramblings always end with a satisfying(?) punchline and more often than not I’m compelled to nod. Why doesn’t he get to the point rather than force-feed us with the proverbial word salad? I claim there is a consistent method to his approach. The very language we use to address politico-socio-psychological (and so on) issues are steeped in the waters of ideology. To ignore the linguistic context is to ignore the submerged part of the iceberg. If the reader can buy into at least that much then there is much to be gained from his critique of capitalism. It is not a narrow technocratic critique (minimum wage, distribution curves, tax percentages, etc) but a critique of the unconscious in psychoanalytic terms. This is a perspective that’s often ignored or even openly dismissed in political discourse yet it is (as Zizek might say) immanent. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Williamson’s (or many of Trumps for that matter) comment captured a part of the public imagination while doing the opposite for most of the experts. People already intuitively frame experiences, political or otherwise, in these terms (i.e. vibes, moods, psychic forces). In the wake of the US 2016 election perhaps the concerned political reader would do well to consider adopting other analytical tools other than the “Rationalist” approach. For no matter how much you try to chase away nature, it will always come back.

  9. 5 out of 5

    José Toledo

    What I like about Zizek, and this book, is that the reader is not taken for granted, his intelligence and capacity to comprehend are never underestimated. Zizek tells it the way he sees it like it is, and does not dispense with the wealth of information and understanding of his mind. The book, in fact, while rich in analysis of diverse cultural and political phenomena, does not offer or propose a clear path of action, a single-minded strategy; but beneath the many topics discussed is the hopeful What I like about Zizek, and this book, is that the reader is not taken for granted, his intelligence and capacity to comprehend are never underestimated. Zizek tells it the way he sees it like it is, and does not dispense with the wealth of information and understanding of his mind. The book, in fact, while rich in analysis of diverse cultural and political phenomena, does not offer or propose a clear path of action, a single-minded strategy; but beneath the many topics discussed is the hopeful vision of a communist option, not the failed inaccessible ideal of the past, but a space in which ideas can move without being restricted --and ultimately obliterated-- by market demands.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jim Reynolds

    I like Zizek. I really do. I could listen to him go on calling out comic examples of irony and hypocrisy in the west. But Trouble in Paradise just fell short for me. In a six-minute video, perhaps his Hegelian negations of life and being are quite entertaining. But in prose, it can feel a little... wandering. The method of the book itself is quite something; Zizek will spend a few pages dancing between four or five themes - for example, Kant's public/private reason, baboon mating rituals, Obama's I like Zizek. I really do. I could listen to him go on calling out comic examples of irony and hypocrisy in the west. But Trouble in Paradise just fell short for me. In a six-minute video, perhaps his Hegelian negations of life and being are quite entertaining. But in prose, it can feel a little... wandering. The method of the book itself is quite something; Zizek will spend a few pages dancing between four or five themes - for example, Kant's public/private reason, baboon mating rituals, Obama's peace prize and Orban's phone tapping - and sometimes tie it up into a complete idea by the end of the chapter. But then, sometimes he doesn't. The central aim of the book (to find an alternative direction, a radical change away from capitalism) is gestured towards but not conclusively found. Ah! - he says - the failure of the left to organise effectively may be linked to Marx's eschatological interpretation of history. The answer, then, is a return to..... Hegel(!?) Well, why? Eagleton makes a fair comparison to the old line about Sartre's existentialism making philosophy out of ashtrays. And Zizek does share that kitchen-sink lens of reality. But Existentialism developed out of its tropes a comprehensive philosophy. Zizek shows how everything can be interesting and then leaves it there. Buf. I don't know. I don't know what it is exactly that I took from Trouble in Paradise. I found Welcome to the Desert of the Real much more focused on its central claim (fundamentalism and capitalism are two sides of the same coin, legitimise each other). But what is the real point or prescription of this book? Zizek has a fantastic, precise way of educing the hidden contradictions of politics and being, but the lack of a consistent narrative detracts from it. Imagine what a read this could have been if its energy had been focused strictly on something particular... -- - Late capitalism has evolved a way to embrace and publically ridicule its flaws and contradictions, thereby sidestepping criticism. There are degrees of truth and degrees of 'forgetting'. Liberal capitalism has, in its way, found a way to include aspects of spirituality and fundamentalism. - The perceived viability of capitalism owes something to the failure of the Left to provide a strong alternative. Similarly, the rise of Islamofascism may have something to do with a weak Left in the Islamic world. If moderates continue to ignore the radicals, they'll collapse.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Maxim

    As engaging as provocative. Zizek is an intellectual radical who manages a biting critique of liberal capitalism, but also the failures of those who have (esp „real socialist“ regimes) and who do (esp left-liberals) oppose it. The important thing is probably not to take him too serious though.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hayden Muscat

    Reading his work helps form the habit of trying to see the larger picture of the daily humdrum of politics, to ask why things are the way they are and look for the deeper patterns at play. On the flipside, I worry Slavoj forms interpretations and connections of events that don't exist, with such specific examples or platitudes offered as evidence that I sometimes get the impression the examples are anomalous or exceptions that prove the opposite. Reading his work helps form the habit of trying to see the larger picture of the daily humdrum of politics, to ask why things are the way they are and look for the deeper patterns at play. On the flipside, I worry Slavoj forms interpretations and connections of events that don't exist, with such specific examples or platitudes offered as evidence that I sometimes get the impression the examples are anomalous or exceptions that prove the opposite.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    an enjoyable dérive from the great entertainer of our time

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Goldenberg

    Zizek is an iconoclast whose writing is often impenetrable but can also, at times be thought-provoking and entertaining. The best parts of the book are his analyses of the 2007-2008 banking crisis and the various wars in the middle east. The most difficult parts are his complex analyses of the struggles in Eastern Europe, particularly the Ukraine, and his general thesis about the need to reformulate communism as a bulwark against the worst excesses of modern-day capitalism. His writing is most e Zizek is an iconoclast whose writing is often impenetrable but can also, at times be thought-provoking and entertaining. The best parts of the book are his analyses of the 2007-2008 banking crisis and the various wars in the middle east. The most difficult parts are his complex analyses of the struggles in Eastern Europe, particularly the Ukraine, and his general thesis about the need to reformulate communism as a bulwark against the worst excesses of modern-day capitalism. His writing is most entertaining when he wanders off into analogies based on works of popular culture and jokes. Thus, he explains why masturbation is more satisfying than full sex, how zombies and vampires reflect the class struggle (zombies are the down-trodden masses, vampires are the wealthy aristocracy) and how the present state of world politics is reflected in Batman movies. But beware, I may be in danger of making it sound much more readable than it really is.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Unies Ananda Raja

    After reading Žižek for a while I am getting used to with his style of narration; fast, jump around often, name-drop Hegel, Lacan or Marx or other thinkers. His explanations are often repetitive. You can almost find every piece of bit of this books in his other books. However, he always has thougt-provoking ideas. He can give a different perspective on issues so that we can see something from his peculiar eyes. His jokes are excellent. He does not joke just for joking. He used it to explain his After reading Žižek for a while I am getting used to with his style of narration; fast, jump around often, name-drop Hegel, Lacan or Marx or other thinkers. His explanations are often repetitive. You can almost find every piece of bit of this books in his other books. However, he always has thougt-provoking ideas. He can give a different perspective on issues so that we can see something from his peculiar eyes. His jokes are excellent. He does not joke just for joking. He used it to explain his argument in easier way. Unfortunately, this book is quite unstructured. He admits it in the last chapter. But, it is a rewarding experience. After reading his 'non-philosophical' work, I need to read more of his 'philosophical' ones.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mark Valentine

    I like reading Zizek because of his novelty, his agility, his acuity, and his range. Not everything sticks nor do I agree with everything, but I greatly admire him and I value his insights. Here, he limits his topics to capitalism and communism and it should be no surprise that he supports the communist but how he supports it is invigorating. After reading this, I want to read more G. K. Chesteron (he loves to quote from Orthodoxy) and view the Batman trilogy (he deconstructs efficiently).

  17. 4 out of 5

    Walter

    This is the literary equivalent of having a discussion about western politics with your well-read, but currently wasted, great-uncle. There are definitely some good insights in here, but it may still leave a sour taste in your mouth because Slavoj will have started rambling about something else entirely in the next sentence and never expand on the original thought.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michael Baranowski

    I'm pretty sure there are some truly interesting ideas here, but as with all of Zizek's work, they're buried deep beneath too much turgid prose, immense self-regard, and an almost obsessive need to demonstrate wide-ranging cultural knowledge. I'm pretty sure there are some truly interesting ideas here, but as with all of Zizek's work, they're buried deep beneath too much turgid prose, immense self-regard, and an almost obsessive need to demonstrate wide-ranging cultural knowledge.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Hayley

    I'm finally finished. What a ride! Zizek is da man. I'm finally finished. What a ride! Zizek is da man.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emma Roulette

    Has Zizek become a parody of himself?

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chavi

    Really slogged through this one. I'm going to have to get my political reeducation elsewhere. Really slogged through this one. I'm going to have to get my political reeducation elsewhere.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Prateek

    Zizek, here, does not answer the question what is the ultimate best possible social state of the world. He does not offer any ready solution. He only confesses that he works within the framework of which communism is the horizon. He analyses capitalism and the media and exposes their contradictions and obscenities. He recognises the need for a world government to regulate global capital but he is unsure of the path that will lead us to that destination. Instead of offering us the solution, he off Zizek, here, does not answer the question what is the ultimate best possible social state of the world. He does not offer any ready solution. He only confesses that he works within the framework of which communism is the horizon. He analyses capitalism and the media and exposes their contradictions and obscenities. He recognises the need for a world government to regulate global capital but he is unsure of the path that will lead us to that destination. Instead of offering us the solution, he offers us the problem. It is all too clear to him that capitalism doesn’t work for the 99% - it fetishes on commodities, holds social relations (the institute of marriage, parenting etc.) at ransom so as to keep the individual opiated and doesn’t let them take part in revolutionary struggle, propagates slavery in modern form and helps in colonisation by other means. He recognises that things cannot continue in this vein and sooner or later will result in catastrophe if serious changes are not made to it. He offers us the horizon of communism and in not-so direct terms warns us to not view communism in any way that it has hitherto come to be realised (in China or Russia or elsewhere). There were serious shortcomings to it and it can be said it was more of a mutilation than a true emancipatory dream. But we need to realise that it is the only political system devised by intellectuals which, at least it can be argued, has emancipatory potential for the masses. Other systems monarchy, feudalism, liberal democracy with capitalist hand-maiden are all systems that have the element of exploitation built into them. The idea of communism sprouts from the ideal of total rejection of exploitation in any form. That it has not succeeded anywhere is the invitation to all the well meaning individuals to reflect some more and toil some more so that the higher ideals of humanities can be realised in the world proper. It is easy to give up arms in this struggle because the logic of self preservation doesn’t let us see beyond our petty self interest - welfare of one against the welfare of many. I like a girl and want to marry her and have a family with her but will this institution of family not impose severe restrictions in terms of adventures I can undertake? Any kind of emancipatory struggle which has even a modicum of mortal danger will be out of question then. Is this not the ultimate way in which the current ideology hold us down or controls us? You can try to be communist but once you enter those territories you will be a social illegitimate who can be mocked at on every possible instance. Your excommunication seems ready at hand if you allow yourself any adventure of this kind. Still, this is the task of thinking. Zizek says. Now, it has been a well known fact that most people are politically passive and need to be told what to do, who to vote for, what to demand and what to reject. Zizek, following Badiou and Nietzsche, argues for a return of a master figure who can think for the masses and get them out of their dilemmas - lead them to freedom and possibly happiness. Capital is non-human and moulds it’s serious practitioners in something inhumane. The Ayn Rand’s utopia described in Atlas Shrugged where the creative geniuses form a closed society and prevent the rest of uncreative humanity from leaching and benefitting from their labour is an inhumane and impractical solution to the problem. Also as is apparent from the recent economic crisis (2008) - it is not the creative geniuses (the wall street junta) who rescue the world but the humble population (tax payers) who rescues them. The solution definitely lies somewhere in the ideal that the creative geniuses and the humble masses work together for a world where no one is exploited and take part in social relationships not out of fear or necessity but out of the mutual respect to each other and towards the Earth which has enabled such interactions in the first place. As I like to think most of our conflicts arise from the fact that we do not know what this life is ultimately about and to get out from the unpleasant domain of ignorance we invent for ourselves convenient fictions and go through life in a hedonist manner drugged to the point of submissiveness for some and exploiting for others. It is very few, almost a negligible number, who can take stock of the situation and identify the conflict as such and have the potential of illuminating for others a path to emancipation. This is the ugly reality and the only solution is to recognise the current state of knowledge (or ignorance) as such and go from there. Cooperate with others to untangle the mysteries of universe and life and believe that beauty really is an ideal in whose image we must mould our world.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Arup

    Critique of global capitalism - pointing out the inherent inconsistencies in the theory and more so, the real world version of capitalism, which seems void of morals, honesty or even liberal basics, that touts formal freedom while shunning positive freedom. Zizek draws on multiple examples of how the popular protests we see from time to time (Taksim, Istanbul/Maidan, Kyiv) are not true counters to the core problem. He rightly points out how these are short-lived marriages of inconsistent ideolog Critique of global capitalism - pointing out the inherent inconsistencies in the theory and more so, the real world version of capitalism, which seems void of morals, honesty or even liberal basics, that touts formal freedom while shunning positive freedom. Zizek draws on multiple examples of how the popular protests we see from time to time (Taksim, Istanbul/Maidan, Kyiv) are not true counters to the core problem. He rightly points out how these are short-lived marriages of inconsistent ideologies which fade within a short time after a popular demand has been met, if at all. These days you can see such rallies almost every weekend through St. James Park. As a bystander, it is hard to figure out what the rally is about. There are people protesting for their freedom to not wear a mask, some protesting for rights of immigrants, some for racial justice, some for the environment - all of which are probably valid causes but they are not a product of a common ideology. And if you sat down and thought through, you will find how some of these people marching together would actually vote on opposite sides on an issue. Zizek calls for a Thatcher of the Left, a Master figure to lead a holistic revolution - not these increemental progress seeking protests. However, apart from the usual "dictatorship of the proletariat" type phrases I couldn't find specific recommendations on how a new world order might be established. I will have to read more Zizek to figure out exactly what he wants. The prose is all mixed up and doesn't follow a consistent line of thought. Too many sideshows to distract the reader - not a good strategy to mobilze the masses if that is what you intend.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Phillip

    Like most of Zizek's work, this is wide-ranging and multi-faceted, making a number of points. His principle focus is on the current dilemma of capitalism, which finds itself stranded at the end of history as the only game in town, only to find out that its victory highlights just how unviable capitalism actually is as a system. This applies not only to the obvious problems of inequality, ecological catastrophe, etc. but on a deeper level of authority, where capitalism as a governing system/logic Like most of Zizek's work, this is wide-ranging and multi-faceted, making a number of points. His principle focus is on the current dilemma of capitalism, which finds itself stranded at the end of history as the only game in town, only to find out that its victory highlights just how unviable capitalism actually is as a system. This applies not only to the obvious problems of inequality, ecological catastrophe, etc. but on a deeper level of authority, where capitalism as a governing system/logic required its opposite in order to restrain its own excesses. In other words, capitalism now goes to the logical (but unsustainable) end because the collapse of really existing socialism erased the conditions under which capitalism restrained itself. However, Zizek goes beyond this observation to argue for a radical communist project, not in the sense of resuscitating the state socialism of the USSR and Eastern European states, and certainly not the PRC's "neoliberalism with Asian characteristics" that masquerades as Chinese communism. Instead, Zizek argues for a fundamental rethinking of the cultural logic underpinning capitalism.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kostaz

    Žižek's strong point is counter intuitive takes. However, due to his infamous self plagiarising, which this book suffers from, and the fact that I've been familiar with his style for many years this felt rather stale for me. It does discuss some interesting questions in the usual counterintuitive fashion, questions which I feel the left ought to really deal with before moving forward (Chinese socialism, violence in revolutions, the function of dissidents as pressure relief). As there is no broad Žižek's strong point is counter intuitive takes. However, due to his infamous self plagiarising, which this book suffers from, and the fact that I've been familiar with his style for many years this felt rather stale for me. It does discuss some interesting questions in the usual counterintuitive fashion, questions which I feel the left ought to really deal with before moving forward (Chinese socialism, violence in revolutions, the function of dissidents as pressure relief). As there is no broader argument, or even direction of any sort, his scattergun approach fails to transmit much of substance. The rare Hegel and Lucan mentions were fairly tokenistic while the bits on Badiou and Sloterdijk were drowned out by too many pop culture references. Journal articles by Zizek were significantly more focused and I realise that his theory heavy work might be same. This was "Pop" in lots of wrong ways.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nyard

    With this book, moreso than others I've read of Zizek so far, I found myself disagreeing with mutliple core points but also with some egregious offhanded remarks (Especially his complete misreading and misunderstanding of post-structuralist philosophy) - However despite these setbacks I also found so many poignant analysis, interesting discussions of relatively current political events and some radical political outlooks, which I would love to discuss in a context different from Zizeks marxist f With this book, moreso than others I've read of Zizek so far, I found myself disagreeing with mutliple core points but also with some egregious offhanded remarks (Especially his complete misreading and misunderstanding of post-structuralist philosophy) - However despite these setbacks I also found so many poignant analysis, interesting discussions of relatively current political events and some radical political outlooks, which I would love to discuss in a context different from Zizeks marxist framework and instead look at in a more anarchist outlook. Especially his discussion of the figure and function of "the master", as a liberatory, inspiring teacher that tells you "You can!" so you can realize this means of achieving your own freedom.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Roy

    Oft-valid (and sometimes prescient) insights into the paradoxes of neoliberal capitalism and how Marxism just might be the answer to the contradictions of contemporary society. I’d expected less from the overhyped punk icon of Western philosophy before reading this book (cue Žižek’s analysis of German/French/Anglo-Saxon toilet bowls), but was instead thoroughly convinced by his provocative diagnosis of modern-day malaise upon reaching the final page. One advice: look beyond Žižek’s notorious and Oft-valid (and sometimes prescient) insights into the paradoxes of neoliberal capitalism and how Marxism just might be the answer to the contradictions of contemporary society. I’d expected less from the overhyped punk icon of Western philosophy before reading this book (cue Žižek’s analysis of German/French/Anglo-Saxon toilet bowls), but was instead thoroughly convinced by his provocative diagnosis of modern-day malaise upon reaching the final page. One advice: look beyond Žižek’s notorious and meme-worthy mannerisms, and seek to understand what makes him a philosopher deserving of our day and age - you won’t be disappointed!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lauri

    My rating is based on that the book contained multiple viewpoints that I thought were very interesting to contemplate. Had me lost in thought more than in one occasion, thinking the ideas expressed further. So in appreciation to those points, I can recommend. Many of the analyses made by Zizek will either feel alarmingly sound or be a good challenge, even if you were to disagree. Quote from the back of the paperback edition sums it all: "...sometimes bonkers but never boring." My rating is based on that the book contained multiple viewpoints that I thought were very interesting to contemplate. Had me lost in thought more than in one occasion, thinking the ideas expressed further. So in appreciation to those points, I can recommend. Many of the analyses made by Zizek will either feel alarmingly sound or be a good challenge, even if you were to disagree. Quote from the back of the paperback edition sums it all: "...sometimes bonkers but never boring."

  29. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    Zizek takes on time the global crisis we face- populist racist demagoguery, debt, environmental destruction, Islamist terrorism to name a few , and he explores how these are features of our current state of late capitalism as predicted by Marx. Examining phenomenon ranging from Gangnam Style to the Arab Spring to the cultural predominance of irony, Zizek makes a compelling case for a resurgence of emancipatory politics.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carlo

    Žižek brings forward many interesting ideas in this very readable book. The analyses are brilliant, even though sometimes hard to follow and seemingly contradictory. I recommend this book to anybody who wants to understand how the current cultural and political quagmire we live in is caused by a problem which nobody is willing to name: late-stage capitalism.

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