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[ …]

The Sublime Object of Ideology (Preface)

The Idea’s Constipation? When a discipline is in crisis, attempts are made to change or supplement its theses within the terms of its basic framework – a procedure one might call ‘Ptolemization’ (since when data poured in which clashed with Ptolemy’s earth-centred astronomy, his partisans introduced additional complications to account for the anomalies). But the true ‘Copernican’ revolution takes place when, instead of just adding complications and changing minor premises, the basic framework itself undergoes[ …]

Ecology against Mother Nature: Slavoj Žižek on Molecular Red

On November 28, 2008, Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, issued a public letter titled “Climate Change: Save the Planet from Capitalism”. Here are its opening statements: Sisters and brothers: Today, our Mother Earth is ill. … Everything began with the industrial revolution in 1750, which gave birth to the capitalist system. In two and a half centuries, the so called “developed” countries have consumed a large part of the fossil fuels created over five[ …]

Hegel on Marriage

Far from providing the natural foundation of human lives, sexuality is the very terrain where humans detach themselves from nature: the idea of sexual perversion or of a deadly sexual passion is totally foreign to the animal universe. Here, Hegel fails with regard to his own standards. He only considers how, in the process of culture, the natural substance of sexuality is cultivated, sublated, mediated—we humans no longer just make love for procreation, we get[ …]

Liberalism as politics for a race of devils

For liberalism, at least in its radical form, the desire to subject people to an ethical ideal – which is regarded as universal and thus universally binding – is the mother of all crimes, “the crime which contains all crimes,” for it amounts to the brutal imposition of one’s own view onto others, and is thus the root cause of civil disorder. This is why, liberals claim, if one wants to establish civil peace and[ …]

The End of Nature

The big ecological disasters of 2010 fit into the ancient cosmological model, in which the universe is made up of four basic elements: AIR, volcanic ash clouds from Iceland immobilizing airline traffic over Europe; EARTH, mudslides and earthquakes in China; FIRE, rendering Moscow almost unlivable; WATER, the tsunami in Indonesia, floods displacing millions in Pakistan. Such recourse to traditional wisdom offers no true insight into the mysteries of our wild Mother Nature’s whims, however. It’s[ …]

‘O Earth, Pale Mother!’

To many of us, the fear of flying is concrete: We are haunted by how many parts of such an immensely complicated machine as a modern plane have to function smoothly in order for the plane to remain in the air–one small lever breaks somewhere, and we spiral downwards… When one starts to think how many things can go wrong, one cannot but experience total and overwhelming panic. Is it not something similar to what[ …]

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[ …]

Descartes and the Post-Traumatic Subject

[Appeared in Filozofski vestnik, 2008, Vol. 29, No. 2, pp. 9-29. pdf] If the radical moment of the inauguration of modern philosophy is the rise of the Cartesian cogito, where are we today with regard to cogito? Are we really entering a post-Cartesian era, or is it that only now our unique historical constellation enables us to discern all the consequences of the cogito? Walter Benjamin claimed that works of art often function like shots taken[ …]