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Friday, August 19, 2011

Slavoj Žižek: Shoplifters of the World Unite; The London Riots

From the London Review of Books 

Shoplifters of the World Unite

Slavoj Žižek on the meaning of the riots

.... Zygmunt Bauman characterised the riots as acts of ‘defective and disqualified consumers’: more than anything else, they were a manifestation of a consumerist desire violently enacted when unable to realise itself in the ‘proper’ way – by shopping. As such, they also contain a moment of genuine protest, in the form of an ironic response to consumerist ideology: ‘You call on us to consume while simultaneously depriving us of the means to do it properly – so here we are doing it the only way we can!’ The riots are a demonstration of the material force of ideology – so much, perhaps, for the ‘post-ideological society’. From a revolutionary point of view, the problem with the riots is not the violence as such, but the fact that the violence is not truly self-assertive. It is impotent rage and despair masked as a display of force; it is envy masked as triumphant carnival.....
Zizek takes no prisoners in his analysis. If you want to understand it then read him.

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