Lessons From the “Airpocalypse”

In December 2016, smog in big Chinese cities became so thick that thousands fled into the countryside, trying to reach a place where one could still see blue sky—this “airpocalypse” affected half a billion people. For those who remained, moving around began to resemble life in a post-apocalyptic movie: people walking around with large gas masks in a smog where even nearby trees were invisible. The class dimension played a crucial role: Before the authorities[ …]

Slavoj Žižek on why Trump won, interview with RT

[Transcript below video] Machine of manufacturing consent no longer works. 10 years from now, and it’s not a joke, I claim, rape will be called ‘well, why not enhanced seduction technique.’ I think Trump is disgusting, like, you know, with Trump I become a racist. It will a kind of big awakening – new political processes will be set in motion. Without further ado, let’s talk to the man himself. Slavoj Zizek joins us live[ …]

Smashing the Spinning Plates

The outcome of the June 17 Greek election—a narrow victory for the conservative New Democracy over the leftist Syriza party, and the prompt formation of a “pro-European” coalition government—predictably unleashed a gigantic sigh of relief all over Europe. The catastrophe was averted, European unity had prevailed, etc. But, in fact, a great opportunity was missed, a unique chance for Europe to finally confront the depth of its economic and political deadlock. The sigh of relief[ …]

Give BP a break

The entire ordeal has swung wildly from the sublime to the ridiculous. At first, there was the nightmarish direct gaze at the underwater wound. For weeks, our eyes were fixed on the hole at the bottom of the gulf spewing out crude oil – like a toilet gone mad, unstoppably throwing shit back up onto the surface. This traumatic scene was followed by the ridiculous spectacle of the executives of the three companies involved in[ …]

Joe Public v the volcano

Many of those who have a fear of flying are haunted by a particular thought: that is, how many parts of such a complicated machine as a modern plane have to function smoothly in order for it to stay in the air? One small lever breaks somewhere, and the plane may spiral downwards . . . When you start to think how many things could go wrong, you cannot help but panic. The people of[ …]

Avatar: Return of the natives

James Cameron’s Avatar tells the story of a disabled ex-marine, sent from earth to infiltrate a race of blue-skinned aboriginal people on a distant planet and persuade them to let his employer mine their homeland for natural resources. Through a complex biological manipulation, the hero’s mind gains control of his “avatar”, in the body of a young aborigine. These aborigines are deeply spiritual and live in harmony with nature (they can plug a cable that[ …]

Catastrophes Real and Imagined

In Minority Report, the Steven Spielberg film based on a Philip K. Dick story, three humans, through monstrous scientific experiments, have acquired the capacity to foresee the future. The police employ these clairvoyants to arrest criminals before they commit their crime. (The “minority report” from the title refers to those rare cases where one of these clairvoyants disagrees with the others about a crime to be committed.) If one transposes this premise to international relations,[ …]

Gerhard Schroeder’s Minority Report and Its Consequences

In The Minority Report (2002), Steven Spielberg’s last film based on a Phillip Dick short story, criminals are arrested before they commit their crime, since three humans who, through monstrous scientific experiments, acquired the capacity to foresee the future, can exactly predict their acts (the “minority report” from the title refers to those rare cases where one of the three mediums employed by the police disagrees with the other two about a crime to be[ …]