Sunday, August 24, 2008

Zizek pt III

Something I've been troubled about regarding the philosophy of Zizek - how can we be 'imminent' and yet socialist at the same time? In his answer to Levinas, Zizek invokes Spinoza and writes that our presence is not at the expense of the world, but a full acceptance of being part of the world, 'my assertion of the wider reality within which I can only thrive.'

But if we fully assert ourselves then how can we be socialist, when in socialism we agree to cap our efforts for a common good?

I imagine that Spinoza (1632-1677) matures as a writer immediately after the Thirty Years War concludes (1648) and this must be a time when people, recoiling from the war, are hushing up about religious dialogue and concluding that their existence is at the expense of others, hence must be curtailed.


mark wallace said...

I don't think socialism is equivalent to a "capping of our efforts." Instead, by evening some inequalities of resources, at it best it can enable a broader range of people to realize their efforts.

skyplumber said...


it seems to me that socialism can only prevail in an ethnically homogenous society, but we are much closer to India than we are to Finland.

In Cuba it sort of worked, but that was only because they had a place to expel the fascists. (here)

I have had friends who have been out to kibbutzes and they say there are those who work and those who sit around - which is a normal course in everyday affairs but why should it have to be enforced like this?

skyplumber said...

when it comes to helping the less fortunate, I don't think we can wait until the government does something

mark wallace said...

Certainly socialism doesn't work as well in countries when various parts of the population dislike each other intensely and don't feel that others should be granted any resources at all. For instance in this country the idea is associated with "free giveaways to blacks and Latinos" etc. So I think you're definitely on to something there.

That said, some of the countries that have some elements of social democracy that this country lacks (relatively universal health care etc) aren't entirely homogenous--Canada, for one, where I just was, is hardly a society without racial and cultural divides. Then again, it's certainly smaller population wise.

Right now in the U.S., the issue may be far more the stranglehold of insurance companies than a racial divide, although I don't doubt that the racial divide lurks back there somewhere. But now that more and more white Americans are good and screwed, maybe the idea of a more socialized medical industry can get more of a toehold. I doubt it, but maybe.

skyplumber said...

I think the racial issue matters more in terms of how cultures define community and sharing, there are differences and that's why stranger economics has to come into play - although discrimination can still play a part, even though it is illegal, despite what pundits argue for.

It only takes two people to agree to oppress me, it doesn't matter what their race or class, imo.

The Republicans have screwed the country up so heavily that I can appreciate an effort to look at economic arrangements that may have been previously considered taboo. But, I don't think blanket solutions like socialism can be applied, though I don't know enough about the medical industry to say for sure.

mark wallace said...

I hear you, but I probably don't think socialism is any kind of blanket solution. I don't think it's really one thing. It works in various ways and degrees in various places, and doesn't work in various degrees. Which is a way of saying that it's a concept that has to be applied to different practices and contexts as opposed to an already clearly defined set of practices. But I may just be splitting hairs when the real issue is the pragmatics of change. In the United States we need to look at ways to get the health care industry out of the hands of people who don't want to administer effective health care so much as make money off a scam.