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Archive for the ‘Interview’ Category

Interview with Slavoj Zizek

In Interview, Uncategorized, Zizek on June 27, 2010 at 7:11 pm

From todays Observer:

“I am what you might call abstractly anti-capitalist,” he says. “For instance, I am suspicious of the old leftists who focus all their hatred on the United States. What about Chinese neo-colonialism? Why are the left silent about that? When I say this, it annoys them, of course. Good! My instinct as a philosopher is that we are effectively approaching a multicentric world, which means we need to ask new, and for the traditional left, unpleasant questions.”

David Harvey Interview on BBC HardTalk

In Anti-capitalism, economics, Interview, Marx, Marxism on May 9, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Outline of David Harvey’s central points regarding capitalism and its limits.

Wendy Brown Interview

In Anti-capitalism, Communism, Interview, Marx on February 28, 2010 at 7:36 pm

A superb short interview with Wendy Brown appeared on the Broken Power Lines Blog yesterday. It’s incredibly dense with lots of ideas in such a short space. I recommend everyone to check it out. She talks about, among other things, why the left should mobilise under the signifier ‘democracy’ rather than ‘communism’; populism, the right and the Tea Party; education; a critique of Cosmopolitanism; Marx and Religion; and, also, an interesting characterisation of Neo-liberalism.

CPS:  You have argued … that neoliberalism does not simply promote economic policies but to quote you “disseminates market values into every sphere of human activity.”  What distinguishes your perspective here from the despair found in someone like Adorno?  What would it require to translate the despair that many people experience in very personal and de-politicized ways into a form of political mobilization?

Wendy Brown:  That is an interesting question because it assumes that neoliberalism produces despair.  I wish it did but I am not convinced that it does.  I think that the process that some of us have called neoliberalization actually seizes on something that is just a little to one side of despair that I might call something like a quotidian nihilism.   By quotidian, I mean it is a nihilism that is not lived as despair; it is a nihilism that is not lived as an occasion for deep anxiety or misery about the vanishing of meaning from the human world.  Instead, what neoliberalism is able to seize upon is the extent to which human beings experience a kind of directionlessness and pointlessness to life that neoliberalism in an odd way provides.  It tells you what you should do: you should understand yourself as a spec of human capital, which needs to appreciate its own value by making proper choices and investing in proper things. Those things can range from choice of a mate, to choice of an educational institution, to choice of a job, to choice of actual monetary investments – but neoliberalism without providing meaning provides direction. In a sad way it is seizing upon a certain directionlessness and meaninglessness in late modernity.  Again, I am talking mainly about the Euro-Atlantic world: without providing meaning, it provides direction.  So I think it is quite a different order of things from the one that Adorno was describing.

CPS:  [re.] the crisis within the humanities.  You were arguing against the way that there is such a specialization and jargonization of what we do – where it becomes hard to explain what we do to people outside of academia.  Do you think this kind of insulation within academia helps feed political ignorance and this divide?

Wendy Brown:  Sure, we’ve really lost the ability – and I am not blaming us as individuals – it is really part of a creation of niche industries everywhere in capitalism today. But, we’ve really lost the ability as social and cultural scholars – I want to say humanists but I am trying to get social scientists in there too – we’ve lost the ability to be able to talk about what we do and promulgate the knowledge we have in an everyday fashion.  I think that happens in the classroom and it is not even just a question of what is outside. More and more, for example, political science educates its undergraduates in the profession of political science, rather than in the study of politics. That means we are cranking out students who may know how to behave like professional political scientists but they don’t really know how to analyze political problems.

[on a future project on Marx and religion]

Wendy Brown:  … I’ve been working for a couple of years on something I hope to finish in the next year, which is a rethinking of Marx’s critique of religion.  What I am trying to do there is think about what is often treated as an early and relatively unimportant concern of Marx, one that he is presumed to have dropped once he moves on to full-blown materialism and study of political economy.  What I am doing is tracing the ways in which his engagement with Feuerbach and his critique of religion extends all the way through his work right up into Das Kapital.  One of the things that has allowed me to see is the ways in which Marx can contribute to understanding a contemporary problem of ours, which is this: why is it that at the very moment that capitalism seems finally to have painted all the colors of the globe and really has ascended as a global power – why is that moment coterminous with the resurgence of world religions?   Marx is often thought to not be able to help us think that problem at all because Marx is usually thought to be saying that capitalism secularizes and even abolishes religion and that religion is one of the casualties – in his sense, good casualties – of capitalism’s desacralization of the world.  I think that is a wrong reading.  I actually think Marx has a deep understanding of just how religious capital is and how much it requires and entails religion.  That is what the re-reading of Marx is for, and I hope that book will be done in another year, but we’ll see.