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齐泽克:占领运动、左翼复兴和今日马克思主义

齐泽克 · 2013-02-09 · 来源:国外理论动态
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更加专制的全球种族隔离社会与资本主义发展的冲突等方方面面的问题都在召唤左翼.

  创办于2007年11月的美国左翼网络杂志《鸭嘴兽评论》(Platypus Review)在第42期(2011年 12月1日)刊载了荷兰左翼学者哈西卜•艾哈迈德(Haseeb Ahmed)采访斯洛文尼亚学者、欧洲著名哲学家和社会批判家斯拉沃热•齐泽克的文章《占领运动、左翼复兴和今日马克思主义》。齐泽克在访谈中认为,“占领华尔街”等社会运动暴露了资本主义的缺陷,资本主义已无法继续维系其赖以存在的前提——平等与自由交换,更加专制的全球种族隔离社会与资本主义发展的冲突等方方面面的问题都在召唤左翼,但左翼在许多社会运动中却没能发挥应有的作用,所以要重振左翼,复兴左翼运动

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  艾哈迈德:在解放广场集会和占领行动爆发后,我们是否正在经历左翼的复兴?如果确实如此,那么需要重新思考的历史遗留问题是什么?

  齐泽克:我想说,我的回答将非常谨慎。相对而论,是的。也就是说,我看待所有这些事件的方式完全是自发的,如同人们自发地发起运动一样。例如,把解放广场集会简单地看成是对民主的诉求,然而,其中有着一种更深层次的社会不满。我看到一个充满希望的迹象是,这些抗议不再是简单地为了这样或那样的目的。这里面存在一些尚不清晰的认识,即这个社会体系本身有问题。我指的是资本主义制度。

  其二,标准的多党政治民主不是我们处理问题的方式。现在的问题是:我们确实是在大量地“反资本主义”,但却只是在道德层面上。在各种媒体上,到处都可以看到某家公司如何剥削人、破坏环境以及某家银行如何毁掉劳动人民的基金这样的故事。所有这些都是扭曲的说教式的批评而已。这是不够的。反资本主义的大众媒体仍然停留在通过既定的社会结构来解决问题这个层次上,比如通过新闻调查和民主改革等。但我有一种模糊的直觉,更多的危险已经降临。对资本主义本身而言,现在的战斗已经超越了对它的占领。

  事件已然发生,那就需要有决定事件意义的关键战斗。我认为像占领华尔街这类事件是关键性的,因为它们从另一方面揭示了问题出在资本主义本身。在20世纪,这是一个重要的话题,但是在最近几十年,它从传统左翼那里神秘地消失了,取而代之的是诸如种族主义和性别歧视这样的具体问题。但是问题依旧存在。同时,我也认为,虽然如此,答案却不再有效。这就是为什么——正如有些批评者和同情者已经注意到的——缺乏该做什么的具体建议的原因。

  它提醒我们,事实如同我的朋友阿兰·巴迪乌(Alain Badiou)所说的那样,20世纪已经结束了。无论是国家社会主义和社会民主主义的福利国家,还是充满希望的乌托邦左翼、“横向联合组织”、地方社区、直接民主、自我组织,我认为它们都没有发挥作用。所以,我再次申明,这是一个很大的挑战。又回到老问题上来了,我们没有准备好迎接挑战,这一点比以往任何时候都更加明确。如果你看一下温和、自由的左翼,他们的主要方法就是把问题概念化,例如,在罗尔斯的《正义论》中,你可以看到,这一切对弥补这种反抗力量没有效果。

  最让我惊讶的是,存在着如此之大的能量。我想,也许它会停下来,但看看它是如何在美国各地爆发的,连伊拉克战争和阿富汗战争的退伍军人都加入了他们的行列。这是大新闻。这里存在着愤怒和不满,其严重和强烈的程度是令人难以置信的,这显然与通过既定途径来解决传统范围的经济抗议问题有所不同。这是一个令人赞叹的、关键的时刻。这是一种抗争的姿态。在这一问题上,我的口号是: “无需对话!”我们不接受这种与敌人对话的辩证法,那还为时尚早。还没到“我们不会对话,我们就是要置你于死地”的地步,只是说如果我们要对话,就不得不使用某种语言,但是这将是敌人的语言。我们需要时间来构建、规划我们自己的新话语。

  艾哈迈德:仍然会是左翼的语言吗?

  齐泽克:是正统左翼的语言,也是美国实用主义左翼的语言,是“工会”的语言,也是“压力集团”(pressure groups)的语言,如此等等,所有这一切都是不充分的。我认为这种力量来自占支配地位的资产阶级所认同的反抗者的弱点。“这不是歇斯底里的抗议吗?这帮家伙到底想要什么?”这就是它的伟大之所在。你不能简单地说,这样不合适。无论如何“我们只是民主地抗议”。有个办法是:“请告诉我们,你想要什么?” “请把它转变成具体的要求。”而且还有一种传统嬉皮士狂欢节——我知道这并非主流——的逻辑。有人告诉我,在旧金山有人说:“我们在这里过得很快乐!”这些都是陷阱。但是,尽管如此,一些刚发生却还没有成型的事情还不错。你必须像这样开始。

  与那些总是说在你行动之前就已知道你想要什么的人相比,如果你这样说,“你有点歇斯底里了”。那么你是在按照支配者的逻辑与一个男人对话。就像一个支配者问一个歇斯底里的女人:“告诉我你想要什么!”不,这是最恶劣的压迫形式。这意味着:“要么按照我的话语说话,要么闭嘴!”这就是为什么“无需对话”的原因。我不认为这是一种批判。恰恰相反,这些抗议是歇斯底里的。

  正如所有虔诚的弗洛伊德信徒所了解的,歇斯底里是存在的。1968年所犯的重大错误之一就是公众们部分地认为歇斯底里只是一种抱怨,只有变态者才是真正的激进分子,而歇斯底里的人不知道他们想要什么。即使佛洛伊德也认为,变态者做了歇斯底里的人只能梦想去做的事。但福柯是正确的:每一个政体都需要自己的变态形式;变态符合权力关系。歇斯底里才是真正的问题:当你把支配者视为需要解决的问题时,却没有明确的答案。你自己不知道“你想要什么”。

  艾哈迈德:在占领运动中,那些宗派主义的左翼起到了怎样的作用?正是这些人被看成是“支配者”,这包括国际社会主义组织(ISO)、革命共产党(RCP)以及其他人,还有宗派主义左翼的残留分子。

  齐泽克:我听说过鲍勃·阿瓦基安(Bob Avakian)的组织,即美国的革命共产党。但是他们是毛主义者吗?我和他们争论过。我几乎与他们一起成为资产阶级自由主义者。我甚至还为阿瓦基安的一本书写了序。但是,他们所谈论的“新综合”(new synthesis)没有理论实质,无法实施。他们总是只有答案:没有问题,只有答案。

  他们拥有一旦获得权力将如何行动的宣言。但是当你被是否要协调大量的工人阶级行动的问题所困扰时,你还会赢得选举吗?对于他们来说,他们会通过某种方式取得政权,接着开始出现问题。我想说,他们是不折不扣的“变态者”。拉康有一个非常好的表述:变态者是他人愿望实现的工具。一个变态者比你更清楚你真正想要的是什么。他们总是拥有答案:不是问题,仅仅是答案。他们只是讨厌的人而不是危险分子。他们自称拥有答案,但完全没有什么实质内容。

  我还与他们(更多地是在细节上)争论过在中国发生的引人注目的一些具体历史事件,不仅是文化大革命,还有50年代末的“大跃进”。他们的回答是,这些都是“资产阶级宣传”的缩影。现在,一些档案被公开了,它们证明“大跃进”所发生的一些事情是巨大的悲剧。

  但是对于左翼来说,至关重要的是我们需要处理好历史遗产。我不喜欢左翼所持有的态度:“是的,斯大林主义是错的,但是看看殖民主义的恐怖!”我认为存在着新殖民主义、后殖民主义等问题。

  但是即使在现在,斯大林主义在20世纪所存在的问题,所有的自由派与保守派所批评的问题,都是由于我们没有很好地对实际发生的事情给予清算造成的。我们得到的是快速的盖棺定论。当你追寻哲学的起源时,你会说:“卢梭。”这就是这种做法的直接后果。

  这里,我要批判《启蒙辩证法》中的阿多诺和霍克海默。他们是一个极端的例子。他们只关注法西斯主义。虽然有马尔库塞的《苏联马克思主义》一书,但你还是会发现,法兰克福学派几乎完全忽略了斯大林主义。实际上在他们那里并不存在任何真正的斯大林主义理论。他们思考的是20世纪以操纵事实的最原始逻辑和同一哲学等而发端的极权主义的潜在可能性。我不认为用哲学方法建立起解释20世纪事件的可能性的先验模型会真的有用。

  任务依旧存在。对于20世纪所有令人感到恐怖的事件,自由主义者的解释是不充分的。这仍然需要左翼付诸努力。

  艾哈迈德:但这是启蒙的“辩证法”!导致极权主义的东西也产生了自由的可能性。

  齐泽克:我知道他们所说的启蒙需要更多启蒙的问题。对此,他们非常清楚。我不同意哈贝马斯(在《现代性的哲学话语》中)对霍克海默和阿多诺的批判,但是我同意他的另一个并不重要的批评,即阿多诺和霍克海默对启蒙有助于解放的阐发不够充分。你有一些关于“全然的他者”(wholly other)的神秘构想。在韦尔索(Verso)出版社最近出版的一本小册子里,记录了霍克海默与阿多诺自20世纪50年代后期开始的对话,老实说,我感到它过于空洞。

  我很赞同波斯顿(Moishe Postone)的主张:今天我们需要从各个层面修复的是政治经济批判。不仅是一种经济理论,对于马克思而言,它意味着更多其他的方面。

  我很想说,这是一种历史的超验。马克思所发展的政治经济学批判的类型,不是用来分析某些社会领域的类型。它们是更重要的类型。它们组织起社会生活的总体。这是今天需要被修复的地方。但我不同意波斯顿的地方是,在他那里阶级划分似乎变成了无关紧要的事情。他倾向于轻视和消解阶级划分。不,好像商品拜物教是比阶级斗争更为根本的一种总体结构。我认为:在弱化阶级斗争、走向经验主义的历史事件这一方向上,他走得太快了。在这里,我更欣赏年轻的卢卡奇,在《历史与阶级意识》中,他的政治经济批判表现出清晰的非经验主义和历史超验性,与此同时,他又是完全围绕着阶级斗争来阐述的。

  我们已不再拥有传统的工人阶级——我同意这一点。今天在这里(艾克学院),我要即兴指出,我们需要构建解放主体的概念,即使我们没能将其建基在传统马克思主义的工人阶级之上。你必须将资本主义发展动力之外的所谓“邪恶轴心国家”纳入其中,你还必须将失业者纳入其中,他们将成为愈加强大的一种类型。这就是任务:真正并明确地提出事业。波斯顿很接近这一点。如果除却那些冗言,能否说我们已经展示了以及在何种意义上展示了马克思的劳动价值理论?比如,我想要激怒我的朋友,他认为我应该抨击查韦斯并捍卫美国,但你决不能盲目地搬用马克思所谓的劳动价值理论。因为你必须要推断,比如今天的委内瑞拉正通过石油利益剥削美国。但是马克思在《资本论》中试图说明的是:自然资源不是一种价值资源。因此,这意味着我们要重新思考剥削的类型。

  我想指出的另一点是,马克思在《大纲》中的那个著名段落中所提及的“一般智力”(general intellect),就一般的、共有的知识而言,可谓正中要害,但同时这也是马克思最糟糕的提法。因为马克思认为,当知识成为决定性的动力、成为产生社会财富的核心时,剥削劳动的资本主义逻辑以及劳动价值理论将变得毫无意义,因为它不再有效。但当马克思说由于劳动时间不再是价值的源泉因而导致资本主义毫无意义时,他听起来像是个技术决定论者。马克思没有看到的是,你可以拥有“一般智力”,它作为一般的智力被以不正当的方式私有化。因此,你不能只是回到马克思。由于今天资本主义的全球化,我们必须提出如何重新思考政治经济批判的问题。这是一个伟大的任务:我还没有看到任何答案。

  艾哈迈德:你所说的很多都非常接近《鸭嘴兽评论》的言论。“鸭嘴兽”的主要的口号是:“左翼已死!左翼万岁!”

  齐泽克:这非常伟大!这是真正的复兴左翼的方式。因为它关涉所有左翼的类型。1968年发生的事情是复兴运动的一个模版,它使资本主义有了极大的改善。1968年之后的所有现象都表明了这一点。

  艾哈迈德:《鸭嘴兽评论》在反战运动的背景下产生,因此它是对“我的敌人的敌人是我的朋友”这一逻辑的响应,也因此,它支持极右翼的伊斯兰教主义的伊拉克反叛者脱离反布什主义团体。

  齐泽克:我们必须克服伊斯兰恐惧症。但我完全不同意伊斯兰原教旨主义有关解放的潜力的思想。问题是为什么自由放纵与原教旨主义两者之间的对立存在于同一体系中。自由主义产生了既不为伊斯兰教也不为如美国这样的基督教原教旨主义所控制的一种原教旨主义。托马斯·弗兰克(Thomas Frank)的书《堪萨斯怎么了?》就是围绕着它来谈的,虽然这不是什么严肃的理论。从传统上讲,堪萨斯曾经是最激进的州,约翰·布朗(John Brown)就出自那里。堪萨斯这个有着激进的社会需求的堡垒成为基督教原教旨主义的中心。我不认同伊斯兰教的“正义感”等主张。有些人甚至声称,如果你批判神学,那么你就是实实在在的帝国主义者,属于敌人阵营。我不同意这一点。

  艾哈迈德:但是很多左翼认同这种逻辑。

  齐泽克:在这个问题上,我与反殖民主义理论大家萨米尔·阿明(Samir Amin)激烈地争执过。当我说到每个左翼分子都应该感谢从小布什那里继承的历史遗产时,他对我大加指责。我指出,具有讽刺意味的是,布什总统任期最大的成果仅仅在于把美国变成了区域性的超级大国。它现在实际上已逐渐失去真正的霸权,而它过去几乎就是全球警察。但是,具有讽刺意味的是,也许这种进展并不好。例如刚果就让美国介入其中。我想说的是,布什愚蠢地加速了所谓的多中心化进程。我们不应该仅仅指出美国如何不好。我们应该采用同样的标准,例如中国(让我们忘记西藏这个复杂的问题)在缅甸或非洲的所作所为(与专制统治者进行新殖民主义的开发合作等等)。这就是阿明愤怒的地方。危机无论何时都会存在,我们确实应该批判美国,但它不是永远的敌人。比如,看看印度及其在克什米尔的所作所为。克什米尔主要的抵抗组织已宣布放弃暴力,并说:“我们会进行政治斗争”。但印度当局仍然视其为恐怖分子。这就是我要说的。我也不喜欢类似巴甫洛夫式无条件反射的那种马克思主义,即当人们说到“普遍人权”时的反应:“噢,你在用敌人的语言说话!你在为帝国主义辩护”。我认为这是另一种恐怖。大多数时候是这样,但并不总是这样。我知道整个马克思主义者的游戏规则:“你说的是 ‘普遍’,但你真正所指的是白人、男性”等等。

  但我们不要忘记,普遍性也许是我们所拥有的寻求解放的最重要工具。我非常怀疑后现代模式。而且,在这里,我和波斯顿、法兰克福学派以及其他一些人处于同一层面上,我们反对后现代口号,即每一种普遍性都是潜在的“同一性”和极权主义。我对“反抗全球资本主义”与以多元特殊性抵制全球化是殊途同归的这一点深表怀疑。我认为,围绕着普遍性这一主题来谈是非常重要的。与此同时,我几年前曾写过——它给我带来许多敌人——《多元文化主义,全球资本主义的逻辑》一文。我不同意像霍米·巴巴(Homi Bhabha)那样的新殖民主义者,他认为,在某种意义上,资本主义是普世化的,它应该消灭差异。不,资本主义是极端的多元文化主义者和文化多元主义者。为什么呢?这是美国右翼民粹主义没有“正确”回答的问题,但却是对现实问题的一种回应。他们对社会下层进行操控,其见解基本正确。我的朋友大卫·哈维(David Harvey)也指出,当今的全球资本主义不再将大都市植入第三世界国家。相反,为了更高的利益,人们把自己的国家变成殖民地。这意味着,通过外包等方式,今天美国的资本愿意牺牲美国劳工。如今,资本主义在世界上真的已经很普遍。美国资本不能被视为仅仅是美国的。我不同意我的拉丁美洲朋友关于资本主义的本质是“盎格鲁—萨克逊模式”的说法,阿兰·巴迪乌也是如此强调。资本主义确实已经很普遍,它不根植于任何文化,它也不是以欧洲为中心。持续不断的危机的影响会最终结束任何一种“欧洲中心主义”。这并不仅仅是一个好的过程。例如, 存在着“拥有亚洲价值观的资本主义”——也就是说,资本主义比自由主义更有效率,并且不需要民主的存在。

  艾哈迈德:我们同意这一观点。例如,鸭嘴兽支部去年夏天成立了阅读小组(这已经是第二次了),学习包括卢梭、亚当·斯密、本雅明和其他一些现在出现在自由国家的“激进的资产阶级哲学”。

  齐泽克:是的,我不同意克劳德·勒福尔(Claude Lefort)的观点,比如,他认为资产阶级自由只是形式上的自由。这不是事实。激进的资产阶级自由战士们深知,真正的自由源自社会自由。他们也意识到了社会这个维度,并支持共同组织起这种权利。另一方面,对于作为形式上的民主的这种资产阶级民主的批判是完全反马克思主义的。因为马克思深知,形式从来就不只是简单的形式。要开始改变,首先要有“形式”上的改变。例如,当马克思描述资本主义发展时,首先要有对资本主义条件下生产的“形式吸纳”(formal subsumption)。这意味着,生产还是和以前一样,比如一开始只是在家里编织,接着有商家为了赚钱从他们那里购买。然后,伴随着这种形式吸纳,他们被拉进了工厂。我们应该完全放弃这种形式追随内容的偏见,即认为首先是新事物不断发展,然后才获得一种形式。不是的。

  艾哈迈德:就在几年前,在反伊战运动期间,对左翼来说形成鲜明对比的是反越战运动。但今天的形势以及20世纪60年代以来左翼的机会有了怎样的改变?

  齐泽克:在这里,我非常同意波斯顿的看法。例如,所有这些反伊战抗议活动从来没有试图与伊拉克的左翼联系在一起。显然,“我们应该防止这种情况的再次发生”。例如,伊拉克共产党加入了美国占领运动后的第一届政府。对我来说,这场反伊战抗议活动有着明显的局限。他们完全忽略了与伊拉克左翼的接触。通常的说法是,伊拉克人民应该自己解放自己,不需要美国的占领。但是,他们有着同样的问题,并陷入了一个僵局。伴随着对“绿区”(Green Zone,指伊拉克战争后美英等国在伊拉克首都巴格达使馆区附近建立的一个“安全区”。——译者注)的攻击的是:你会站在哪一边?自从伊拉克左翼反对美国占领以来,我还没有准备好做些什么,他们应该站在抵抗者一边。我认为这些激进的伊斯兰主义者不会永远得到支持。

  这就是我认为埃及解放广场的抗议活动具有重要历史意义的地方。种族主义的西方左翼观点是,只有通过反犹太主义、宗教原教旨主义或民族主义才能动员阿拉伯人。但在这里,我们有世俗的民主抗议,不是反犹太人的,不是伊斯兰原教旨主义的,甚至不是民族主义的。没有人被诱骗到反犹太人的思想阵线上来。他们的阵线是一贯的,这与以色列无关,这是我们的问题,是为了我们所有人的自由。穆巴拉克政权总是说犹太复国主义和犹太人是我们的敌人。不,真正的敌人是埃及军队。这具有历史性的重要意义。

  对西方势力而言,支持这些运动将是非常危险的。慢慢地,在军队和穆斯林兄弟会之间将会出现分裂。请不要忘记,军队是过去穆巴拉克的军队,而且充满着特权和腐败。但是,目前埃及经济和埃及民众的生活水平正在发生严重下滑。所以,军队仍将维持其特权,而穆斯林兄弟会也将保持其意识形态霸权。这将是决定性的一战。在这里,穆斯林原教旨主义者可以获得权力。同时,我很吃惊地看到一些以色列的评论认为,这表明阿拉伯人不会实现民主。只要阿拉伯国家存在极权政权,就会有反犹太主义。唯一的机会是世俗的民主。据说在中国有这样一个趣谈,如果你真的讨厌某些人,就对他们说:“愿你生活在趣味横生的时代。”但是我在中国的时候问中国人,他们都说不知道这个说法,只有在西方世界才说这是中国人的说法。

  艾哈迈德:那么资本主义又怎么样呢?你在最近的一部著作《生在末世》(2010)中援引了波斯顿对马克思的解读,波斯顿以新的方式提出了商品形式问题和主体性的问题。在反思马克思方面适合于当今发展现状的地方在哪里?要克服劳动的商品形式,需要哪一方面来担当?是政治吗?

  齐泽克:这就是他们所说的电视智力竞赛节目中的那个奖金为100万美元的问题。我没有答案。但是,如果你看看像生态这样的关键问题,就会很清楚,按照福山的文章中有关自由民主的资本主义是历史的终结的说法,这是无法解决的问题。但是,我不相信一些地区性自组织社区的乌托邦。我们——夸张些说,人类——将需要大量的大规模联合机构的力量,以推动千百万人。

  艾哈迈德:这如何体现劳动的商品形式?

  齐泽克:我要说的是需要建立一些大型的官方机构。这是当今复杂世界中唯一的解决方法。当然,问题是如何建立起来。超过一定的数量规模,传统意义上的民主将无法有效运转。“让我们拥有普遍选举”这样的说法毫无意义。50亿人投票?那就会像《星球大战》和“银河共和国”一样。

  要知道,艾茵·兰德(Ayn Rand)是正确的:金钱是实现自由的最强有力的手段或工具。她的意思是:只有双方都想要它,我们才发生交换。至少在形式上,交换双方都有所得。没有金钱,就需要恢复直接的统治手段。当然,我不接受她的前提:要么是金钱规则,要么是直接统治。尽管如此,难道没有一个恰当的点吗?人们可以批判作为一种异化形式的金钱,但我们如何才能在金钱之外、在不需要直接统治的情况下真正组织起多元的社会合作?换句话说,20世纪斯大林主义的悲剧不是恰恰在于他们试图终止市场而不是金钱吗?而结果又是什么呢?是重新开始直接统治。

  我不是一个乐观的人。我认为我们现在的情况极其危险。我认为我们正在走向一个更加专制的全球种族隔离社会。传统上,对马克思而言,理想的剥削形式是通过形式上的合法自由来实现的。在理想的资本主义社会中,拥有平等的、自由的交换。但是,资本主义越来越无法再维系这一点。它不再提供自由和平等。按照吉奥乔·阿甘本(Giorgio Agamben)的理解,有些人将成为“牲人”(homo sacer,意大利著名哲学家阿甘本用“牲人”一词表示那些被剥夺了社会联系与政治资格的人。——译者注)。新形式的种族隔离正在出现。迈克·戴维斯(Mike Davis)的《布满贫民窟的星球》描写得虽然有些天真,但是却表达了这样一种观点:我们被控制着,但在国家的控制之外还有着大量的人口。按照戴维斯的说法,有超过10亿人生活在贫民窟。我的意思不只是指贫穷。政府机构已经开始处理国内这些被遗忘的荒蛮地区的问题。从政治上来说,这些广阔的地区似乎仍然阴暗混乱。在这里,我注意到一个巨大的问题:我对未来的看法是什么?这是否可以继续下去?特里·吉列姆(Terry Gilliam)半喜剧化的影片《巴西》表明了这一点:它是半极权主义,但也是享乐主义。一个十足的极权主义政权,却有着私人享乐的性质。贝卢斯科尼很接近这一点,他是掌握权力的格劳乔·马克斯(Groucho Marx)。没有人关心你在私生活方面是否不正常,只要不危及政治。这里不再有典型的法西斯式的动员。

  例如,反移民不是法西斯主义。法西斯主义并没有卷土重来。不,这不是概念上的思考,而是模糊的联想。这是后意识形态。传统的法西斯主义是极端的意识形态。今天的主导意识形态是“认识你自己”这种西方的佛教资本主义。它允许政治极权主义存在私人享乐。

  艾哈迈德:今日的马克思主义与历史的关联性是什么?我们可以从历史人物那里学到什么,比如可以从列宁关于改变世界的思想那里学到什么?马克思主义没有失败吗?我们如何避免重复那种失败?或者,如您之前把列宁与贝克特(Samuel Beckett,“再次尝试,再次失败,在失败中进步”是其名言。——译者注)联系在一起时所指出的,归根结底,问题的关键是“再次失败”和“在失败中进步”吗?那么在这一点上,你对“成功”的预测是什么?

  齐泽克:我完全同意你的看法。我已经成为贝克特阵线的自我批评者。“再次失败,而且在失败中进步。”能取得胜利是好事!我越来越厌倦了“让我们共同面对一切”这种说法,但后来事情恢复了正常。我感兴趣的是随之而来的事情。我们的日常生活是如何被影响的?对我来说,真正的革命就在于此。辛苦的工作和日常生活的乐趣是如何受到影响的?

  如果从“回到列宁”这种意义上来说,我其实不是一个列宁主义者。我喜欢的是列宁完全不受传统束缚的精神和他愿意重审局势的做法。他不被教条所约束。同时,他不害怕行动。我认为很多左翼人士偷偷地享受着他们所反对的角色,并且害怕站出来。我不同意巴迪乌和其他一些人关于“政治离政府一定距离而生”的说法。我们依然把政府看作是社会管理的形式。

  以希腊为例,它已接近分崩离析。左翼分子驻足于政府政治之外,他们不是要进行一场革命,而是有选择性地向政府施压并支持现有党派。这意味着我们尚未做好准备。

  我认为,在列宁时代,苏联最大的失败恰恰是在内战之后。当一切都恢复正常之时,那曾经是一个美好的时代。布尔什维克面临着改革日常生活的挑战,结果他们失败了。所以,我们有满腔热情去取得胜利,但后来却遭受失败。最伟大马克思主义者是那些撰文分析失败原因的人。

  今天的艰巨任务是避免这种情况,即拉康用一个漂亮的辞藻所说的:“对注定要失败的事业的自恋”。要知道,“我们输了,但我们输得很精彩”。你醉心于自己的失败,而更糟的是,你把失败当成了一种真实性的标志。“我们失败了,因为生活是残酷的,但看看它是多么的美妙啊。”诸如此类的话。这同样适用于1968年的革命:我们应该找到一条马克思主义或共产主义革命的道路,它无需经历资本主义所经历的那些曲折发展阶段。这是20世纪给我们的教训。这种教训是消极的:我们学会了不该做什么。这非常重要。也许我错了,但我没有看到正面的经验。我是一个悲观主义者。

  但是,如果我们什么都不做的话,那将是一个更大的、彻底的灾难。真正的乌托邦是事物按照自己的样子不确定地发展下去。 2008年的危机看似是监管缺失和个人腐败造成的。其实这场危机不同于以往。今天,我们正濒于危险的时代。我们也不可能再依靠任何传统的方式。左翼的传统总是有一种趋势:当它掌握政权时,立刻就转变为残酷的统治。如何才能打破在左与右之间的选择上(如斯大林所说)“两者都更糟”的僵局?

  曼德拉非常伟大,但他还是被国际货币基金组织诱骗了。我同意这一点,但条件是,怎样进行选择?以津巴布韦的惨败而告终吗?这才是这里的真正僵局。

  曼德拉不是叛徒。即使在委内瑞拉的问题上,我还是持悲观态度:查韦斯正在失去动力。这是一个真正的悲剧。由于玩弄民粹主义的把戏,他忽略了物质基础设施建设。开采石油的机器开始散架,开采的石油被迫减少。查韦斯开始将受排斥者政治化并煽动他们,但后来他陷入了传统民粹主义的陷阱。石油收入对查韦斯来说是一个祸根,因为它打开了回避问题的操作空间。但现在,他必须面对这些问题。他有足够的金钱去缓解问题,但不能解决问题。例如,委内瑞拉有很多的人才外流到哥伦比亚,从长远来看,这是一场灾难。我不信任“玻利瓦尔主义”等等所有这些传统,这些都是无稽之谈。

  艾哈迈德:我对你所说的有机会重新建构完整的生活的说法很感兴趣。对于列宁,这是什么时候的事情?

  齐泽克:大概是在新经济政策前后。令人感兴趣的是产生了什么后果。最悲观的解读是:斯大林政权形成了。这种解读的逻辑是,我们从经济中撤出,但不是为放弃权力,而是会加强政权。在罗斯福新政那几年,政府的官僚机构一下子扩大了。早在1923年,斯大林提名了10万名中级干部。托洛茨基愚蠢地加入了这场傲慢的游戏,并且没有注意到这一点。他认为是自己创建了红军,觉得自己有号召力。但是,据季米特洛夫的日记记载,斯大林认为托洛茨基在20世纪20年代早期更受欢迎,但斯大林控制了干部,并因此胜出。如果托洛茨基胜出,谁知道会发生什么事情呢?情况或许会不一样,谁又能说得清楚呢?我喜欢托洛茨基的是,像列宁一样,他是一个现实主义者。也许在资产阶级革命期间可以做得最出色。列宁一直为结束内战殚尽竭虑,残酷的现实是,经过内战的屠杀之后,能够组织起来的工人阶级便难寻踪迹了。

  [译者:杜敏:云南大学马克思主义研究院;李泉:昆明学院思想政治理论课教学科研部]

 

  The Occupy movement, a renascent Left, and Marxism today: An interview with Slavoj Žižek

  December 1st, 2011

  Haseeb Ahmed with Chris Cutrone

  Platypus Review 42 | December 2011 – January 2012

 

  On November 5, 2011, using questions formulated together with Chris Cutrone, Haseeb Ahmed interviewed Slavoj Žižek at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, the Netherlands. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

  Haseeb Ahmed: Are we currently—after Tahrir Square and the eruption of the Occupy movement—living through a renaissance of the Left? If so, what is the historical legacy that stands in need of reconsideration?

  Slavoj Žižek: I would say my answer is very cautious. Conditionally: Yes. That is to say, the way I read all these events, totally spontaneous as they are, is that, although people try, for example, to read the Tahrir Square events as the simple demand for democracy, nonetheless there is a deeper systemic dissatisfaction. What I see as a hopeful sign is that these are no longer simple, one-issue protests against this or that. There is some vague awareness that there is another fault in the system as such. By this I mean precisely the capitalist system. And, point two, that the standard representative multi-party political democracy is not a form through which we can deal with the problems. The problem today is that we have a lot of “anti-capitalism,” indeed an overload of anti-capitalism, but it is an ethical anti-capitalism. In the media, everywhere one finds stories about how this company is exploiting people someplace and ruining the environment, or this bank is ruining hardworking people’s funds. All of these are moralistic critiques of distortions. This is not enough. The anti-capitalism of the popular media remains at the level of something to be resolved within the established structure: through investigative journalism, democratic reforms, and the like. But I see in all of this the vague instinct that something more is at stake. The battle now, as for the capitalists themselves, is over who will appropriate it.

  Events happen, and then you have the crucial battle to decide what an event means. I think that precisely these events, like Occupy Wall Street, are crucial because, on the one hand, they demonstrate that the problem is capitalism as such. This was the big issue in the 20th century, but somehow disappeared in the last decades from the traditional left, where the focus became specific issues such as racism and sexism. But this problem is still here. At the same time, I claim that nonetheless old answers no longer work. This is why, what critics and sympathizers notice, there is a lack of concrete proposals, what to do. Apart from abstract things, like with Spain’s Indignados, against people serving money instead of money serving people. But every fascist would subscribe to this.

  What it reminds us is the fact that, as my friend Alain Badiou puts it, the 20th century is over. Not only state socialism and the social-democratic welfare state, but also, I would add, the deepest hope of the utopian left, “horizontal organization,” local communities, direct democracy, self-organization—all this, I don’t think it works. So, again, it is a big challenge. The old problem is back, but it is clearer than ever that the old answers are not up to the challenge. It is a great challenge. If you look at predominant ways the modest liberal left is conceptualizing problems, for instance, in John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice, you can see that all this doesn’t work to recuperate this negative energy.

  What surprises me is that there is so much energy. I thought that maybe it would stop. But look at how it is exploding all around the United States. Even Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans join them. This is the big news. There is an incredibly serious, great degree of rage and dissatisfaction that clearly doesn’t fit the established channels to resolve problems within the traditional scope of economic protests. It’s a wonderful, crucial moment. It’s a negative gesture. My slogan is, “No dialogue!” at this point. Let’s not get caught into this dialectic of dialogue with the enemy. No. It is too early. Not in the sense of, “We won’t talk, we’ll just kill you.” But, rather, if we talk now, we have to use some language, but this will be the language of the enemy. We need time to construct our own new language, time to formulate.

  

  Protesters in Tahrir Square.

  HA:Still the language of the Left?

  SŽ: Either orthodox left or the American language of the pragmatic left: Is it “trade unions,” is it “pressure groups,” etc.? All of this is not enough. I think the strength is what the hegemonic bourgeois press identifies as the weakness of the protests. “Isn’t this a hysterical protest? What do these guys really want?” That’s what is great about it. It doesn’t fit. You can’t simply say, “Let’s do democratic protest,” whatever. There is the approach of, “Tell us, what do you want?” “Translate it into concrete demands.” But also—and I know it’s marginal—there are the elements of this old hippie carnival logic. Someone told me there was this guy in San Francisco who said, “What program? We’re here to have a good time!” These are all traps. But, nonetheless, it is nice that something new happens which doesn’t yet have form. You have to begin like this. In contrast to people who say that before you protest you must know what you want. No. If you put it in this way, “You are just hysterical,” you are in the logic of the way a master addresses a man. It is as a master asking a hysterical woman, “Tell me what you want!” No, this is the worst form of oppression. This means, “Speak my language or shut up!” That’s why: “No debate!” I don’t see this as a criticism. On the contrary. These protests are hysterical.

  But as all good Freudians know, hysteria is the authentic thing. One of the big mistakes in 1968 was to partially accept in the mass ideology the presupposition that hysterics just complain, but perverts are the real radicals: Hysterics don’t know what they want. Even Freud says somewhere that perverts do what hysterics only dream about doing. But Foucault was right: Every power regime needs its own form of perversion; perversion fits power relations. Hysteria is the true question: when you problematize the master, but without clear answers. You yourself do not know, “What do you want?”

  HA: What about the role the sectarian left would have in the Occupy movement? These are perceived precisely as “the masters”: the ISO, the RCP, et al., the leftovers from the sectarian left.

  SŽ: I know of the group of Bob Avakian, the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. But are they authentically Maoists? I’ve argued with them. I almost become a bourgeois liberal with them. I even wrote a short introduction to one of Avakian’s books.[1] But, for all their talk of the “new synthesis,” there is no theoretical substance: It doesn’t do the work. They always have the answers: no questions, only answers. They have a manifesto for exactly what they will do when they take power. But when you press them with the questions of, will there be a mass working class movement that you will coordinate, will you win elections, what? For them, somehow they take power, and then they have a problem. They are precisely the “perverts,” I would say. Lacan has a good formulation: The pervert is the instrument of the other’s desire. A pervert is the one who knows better than you what you really want. They always have the answers: never the questions, only the answers. They are not a danger but an annoyance. They pretend to have the answers, but totally without anything substantial. Also, more in detail, they’ve disputed with me concrete historical, dramatic events in China, not only the Cultural Revolution, but also, in the late 1950s: the Great Leap Forward. Their answer is that these are merely the portrayals of “bourgeois propaganda.” Now, some archives are opened, and they do demonstrate that it was a mega-tragedy, the Great Leap Forward, what happened there. But, crucially, for the Left, we need to deal with our heritage. I don’t like the Left that has the attitude that, “Yes, Stalinism was bad. But look at the horrors of colonialism!” Yes, I agree there are the problems of neo-colonialism, post-colonialism, etc. But the problem with the Stalinist 20thcentury, even now, with all the liberal and conservative critiques, is that we don’t have a good account of what really happened. What we get is quick generalizations. You look for philosophical origins. You say, “Rousseau. This is a direct consequence of such an approach.”

  Here I am very critical of Adorno and Horkheimer in Dialectic of Enlightenment. They are an extreme example. They address fascism. Look, I’ve done my homework. But you will notice that the Frankfurt School almost totally ignores Stalinism—despite Marcuse’s Soviet Marxism. But there is no true theory of Stalinism. They think that the totalitarian potentials that exploded in the 20th century started already with the most primitive logic of manipulation of matter, the philosophy of identity, etc. I don’t think that this really works, the philosophical approach to establishing some transcendental matrix that explains the possibility for 20th century events. The task is still ahead. With all the horrors of the 20th century, the liberals’ account is insufficient. It remains for the Left to explain this.

  HA: But it is a dialectic of Enlightenment! What gives rise to totalitarianism is also what gives rise to possibilities for freedom.

  SŽ: I know that they say that the problem of Enlightenment demands more enlightenment. They are very clear about this. I don’t agree with Habermas’s critique of Horkheimer and Adorno [in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity]. But maybe he has a minor point. The emancipatory aspect of Enlightenment is much less explicated by Adorno and Horkheimer. You get some mystical formulations, about the “wholly other.” In the recently published small book by Verso, the dialogues between Horkheimer and Adorno from the late 1950s, what strikes me, to be blunt, is how empty this was.

  I appreciate [Moishe] Postone claiming that what we need to rehabilitate today, at all levels, is the critique of political economy. Not only as an economic theory, but also, with Marx, it is much more. I am tempted to say that it is rather a historical transcendental a priori. The categories that Marx uses in his deployment of the critique of political economy are not just categories to analyze a certain sphere of society. They are stronger categories. They organize the totality of social life. This is what needs to be rehabilitated today. But where I don’t agree with Postone is that, sometimes, he sounds as if the class division somehow becomes secondary and gets lost. No. As if commodity fetishism is a kind of general structure more fundamental than class struggle. I think he sometimes goes too quickly in this direction of reducing class struggle just to a certain empirical historical occurrence. Here, I appreciate much more the young Lukács, in History and Class Consciousness, who is very clear about this non-empirical, historical a priori for the critique of political economy, but at the same time speaks totally to class struggle.

  Even if we no longer have the old working class—I agree here. In the sense of what I was improvising here [at the Jan van Eyck Academie] today, that we need to conceptualize the emancipatory subject, even if we cannot ground it in the old Marxist working class. You must include the so-called “rogue states,” outside the capitalist dynamic. You must include unemployment, which is becoming a much stronger category. This is the task: how to truly render things, apparently. Postone approaches this. If we cut the bullshit, can we speak of, and in what sense, Marx’s labor theory of value? For instance, I like to provoke my friends, who think I am attacking Chavez and defending the United States. But you cannot mechanically apply Marx’s so-called labor theory of value. Because you have to conclude, for instance, today, that Venezuela is exploiting the United States through oil profits. But Marx tries to demonstrate in Capital that natural resources are not a source of value. So this means that we need to rethink the category of exploitation.

  Another point that I make is that when Marx, in the famous passage of the Grundrisse, speaks about the “general intellect,” in the sense of general, common knowledge, this is Marx at his best, but also, at the same time, his worst. Because Marx thought that when knowledge becomes the center of agency, of generating social wealth, then the capitalist logic of exploiting labor, following the labor theory of value, becomes meaningless, because it no longer works. But Marx here sounds like some kind of a technological determinist, when he says that capitalism becomes meaningless, because the time of labor is no longer the source of value. What Marx doesn’t see is that you can have this “general intellect,” which, as a general intellect, is then, in a perverse way, privatized. So you can’t just return to Marx. In view of today’s global capitalism, we must ask the question of how to rethink the critique of political economy. This is a great task: I don’t see any answers.

  HA: A lot of what you say is very close to what Platypus has to say. Platypus’s main slogan is “The Left is dead!—Long live the Left!”

  SŽ: This is great! This is the only way to truly resuscitate the Left. Because it refers to all varieties of the Left. 1968 is a model for how the movement recuperated and gave an incredible new boost to capitalism. All the post-1968 phenomena show this.

  HA: Platypus emerged in the context of the anti-war movement. So, it emerged in response to the logic of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” and thus the support for far-right Islamist Iraqi insurgent groups out of anti-Bush-ism.

  SŽ: I know we must avoid Islamophobia. But I reject totally the idea of Islamic fundamentalism’s emancipatory potential. The question is why the contrast between liberal permissiveness and fundamentalism is totally immanent to the system. Liberalism generates such fundamentalism, which is not restricted to Islamism, but also Christian fundamentalism in the U.S., for instance. While it is not serious theory, Thomas Frank’s book What’s the Matter with Kansas? speaks to this. Kansas was once, traditionally, the most radical state—John Brown was from there. This bastion of radical social demands became the center of Christian fundamentalism. I don’t buy claims about Islam’s “sense of justice,” etc. Some people go so far as to claim that if you critique theology then you are imperialist, practically, and in the camp of the enemy. I don’t buy this.

  HA: But much of the Left buys into this logic.

  SŽ: I got into a shouting match with the big anti-colonialist theorist Samir Amin over this. He shouted at me when I said that there is a historical legacy that every leftist should be thankful for in Bush, the second President. I pointed out, ironically, that, let’s cut the crap, the biggest result of the Bush presidency is that the U.S. is becoming merely a local superpower. They are effectively gradually losing true hegemony. They were close to becoming a universal policeman. But, ironically, or cynically speaking, perhaps this development is not good. Take the Congo: Let the U.S. intervene there. What I am saying is that Bush’s stupidity accelerated so-called multi-centricity. We should not merely point out how bad the U.S. is. But we should apply the same standards, for example, to China—let’s forget about Tibet, a complex problem—with what they are doing in Myanmar or Africa: neocolonialist exploitation collaborating with tyrants, etc. This is where Amin exploded. Whenever there is a crisis, we should be critical of the U.S., but my God, they are not always the enemy. Look at India and what they’re doing in Kashmir, for example. The main resistance group in Kashmir formally renounced violence and said, “We will do the political struggle,” but the Indian establishment still treats them as terrorists. That’s all I’m saying. I also don’t like—another horror I will tell you—the kind of Marxism that has an automatic Pavlovian response, when one speaks of “universal human rights”: “Oh, you’re speaking the language of the enemy! You’re apologizing for imperialism.” Most of the time, yes, but not all of the time. I know this whole Marxist game, “You say ‘universal,’ but you really mean white, male,” etc.

  But let’s not forget that universality is nonetheless maybe the most important tool of emancipation we have. I am deeply suspicious of postmodern models. And, here, we should be at the same level with Postone and the Frankfurt School and some others, against postmodernism’s mantra that every universality is potentially “identitarian” and totalitarian. I am very suspicious of “resistance to global capitalism” along the lines of multiple particularities resisting globalization, etc. I think it is important to speak to universality. At the same time, I wrote previously, years ago—which brought me many enemies—of “multiculturalism, the logic of global capitalism.”[2]I don’t agree with those neo-colonialists like Homi Bhabha, who said, at some point, that capitalism is universalizing and wanting to erase difference. No. Capitalism is infinitely multiculturalist and culturally pluralist. Why? This is what American right-wing populism is, not “correct” about, but is a response to a real problem. They’ve got the lower classes manipulated with their basically correct insight that, in today’s global capitalism, as my friend David Harvey also points out, there is no longer the metropolis screwing the Third World countries. Rather, for higher profits, one turns one’s own country into a colony. What this means is that, through outsourcing, etc., today’s American capital is willing to sacrifice American workers. Capitalism is really universal today. American capital cannot be considered that of the U.S. I don’t agree with my Latin American friends who say that capitalism is inherently “Anglo-Saxon,” etc. Alain Badiou emphasizes this. Capitalism is truly universal. It is not rooted in any culture. It is not Eurocentric. The effect of the ongoing crisis will be the definitive end of any such “Eurocentrism.” This is not simply a good process. For instance, there is “capitalism with Asian values”—that is, capitalism more productive than liberalism and without democracy.

  HA: We in Platypus would agree with this. For example, Platypus held a reading group last summer, for the second time, on “radical bourgeois philosophy,” including Rousseau, Adam Smith, Benjamin Constant, and others, on the emergence of the modern notion of freedom.

  SŽ:Yes. I don’t agree with Claude Lefort, for example, that bourgeois freedom is only formal freedom. No, it’s not true. Radical bourgeois freedom fighters were well aware that freedom comes only insofar as it is truly social freedom. They were well aware of the social dimension, and upheld the right to organize collectively, etc. On the other hand, this critique of formal democracy as bourgeois democracy is deeply anti-Marxist. As Marx was deeply aware, form is never simply form. To begin a break, one must have first a “formal” break. For instance, when Marx wrote of the development of capitalism, first there was “formal subsumption” of production under capitalism. This means that the production was the same as before, for instance knitting at home, only, then there was the merchant who was buying from them for money. Following this formal subsumption, however, they were drawn into the factories. We should totally drop this prejudice that form follows content, that, first, something new develops, and then it acquires a form. No.

  HA: Just a few years ago, during the Iraq anti-war movement, the salient comparison for the Left was the Vietnam anti-war movement. But how has the situation today and opportunities for the Left changed (for the better) from the 1960s?

  SŽ:Here I agree with Postone, very much. For example, with all these Iraq anti-war protests, there was never any attempt to link with the Left in Iraq. It was purely, “We should prevent this from happening,” etc. For example, in the first government after the U.S. occupation, the Iraqi Communist Party took part. This was for me the clear limitation of the anti-war Iraq protests. They totally neglected contact with the Iraqi left. The standard narrative was that the Iraqi people should liberate themselves, without the U.S. occupation. But they had the same problem, and got into a deadlock. With attacks on the Green Zone: which side should you take, there? I was not ready to do what some did, to claim that, since they opposed the American occupation, they should side with the resistance. I don’t think these radical Islamists should ever be supported.

  This is where I see the historical significance of the Tahrir Square protests. The racist Western left’s view was that the only way you can mobilize the stupid Arabs was through anti-Semitism, religious fundamentalism, or nationalism. But here we had secular democratic protest that was not anti-Semitic, not Islamic fundamentalist, or even nationalist. No one was duped into an anti-Semitic line of thought. Their line was always that this has nothing to do with Israel, this is our problem, for the freedom of us all. The Mubarak regime was always saying that Zionism and the Jews were our enemy. No, this is the true enemy, the Egyptian military. This is the historical significance.

  For the Western powers, in supporting the movement, will contribute to something very dangerous. Slowly, there is a schism developing between the army and the Muslim Brotherhood. Let’s not forget that the army is the old Mubarak army, with its privileges and corruption, etc. But in the Egyptian economy now there is a serious drop in the standard of living. So, the army will retain its privileges but the Muslim Brotherhood will hold ideological hegemony. This will be the crucial battle. In this, the Muslim fundamentalists can gain power. At the same time, I was shocked to see some Israeli commentary that this shows that Arabs can’t achieve democracy. As long as there are totalitarian regimes in Arab countries, there will be anti-Semitism. The only chance is secular democracy. There’s this joke, in China, allegedly, if you really hate someone, tell them, “May you live in interesting times.” But when I was in China, I asked them, and they said they knew nothing of this saying, only that in the West they say it is a Chinese expression!

  HA: What about capitalism? In your recent book, Living in the End Times (London: Verso, 2010), you invoke Moishe Postone’s reading of Marx to raise the question of the commodity form and subjectivity in new ways. Where does such reconsideration of Marx fit into the present developing situation? What would overcoming the commodity form of labor entail, politically?

  

  SŽ: This is what they call, on TV quiz shows, the one million dollar question. I don’t have an answer; I’m very modest. But, if you look at critical issues such as ecology it is clear that this will not be able to be addressed according to what we call the Fukuyama thesis of liberal democratic capitalism as the end of history. But I don’t believe in some local self-organized community utopia. We—in the bombastic sense, humanity—will need the massive large-scale power of corporations, to move millions of people.

  HA:How does this point to the commodity form of labor?

  SŽ:All I’m saying is that some large-scale authority will need to be established. It is the only solution in today’s complex world. The problem, of course, is how to do it. Beyond a certain quantitative scope, democracy in the traditional sense no longer works. It’s meaningless to say, “Let’s have universal elections.” Five billion people vote? It will be like Star Wars and the Galactic Republic.

  You know, Ayn Rand was right: Money is the strongest means or instrument for freedom. She means this: We exchange only if both parties want it. At least formally, both sides of the exchange get something. Without money, direct means of domination will need to be restored. Of course, I don’t accept her premise: either the rule of money, or direct domination. Nonetheless, isn’t there a correct point? One can criticize money as an alienated form. But how can we actually organize complex social interaction outside money without direct domination? In other words, isn’t the tragedy of 20th century Stalinism that precisely they tried to suspend, not money, but the market, and what was the result? The re-assertion of brutal direct domination.

  I’m not an optimist. I think where we are now is extremely dangerous. I think we are moving towards a much more authoritarian global apartheid society. Traditionally, for Marx, the ideal form of exploitation was through formal legal freedom. In ideal capitalist conditions there is equal, free exchange. But, more and more, capitalism can no longer sustain this. It can no longer afford freedom and equality. In the Giorgio Agamben way, some will become homo sacer. New forms of apartheid are appearing. Mike Davis’s Planet of Slums, while really naïve, has the idea that we are controlled, but there are larger and larger populations outside the control of the state: according to Davis, over one billion people already live in slums. I don’t mean only poverty. The state authority already treats these as internal zones that are left wild, wild spaces. Politically, it is as if wide spaces remain really murky. I see a tremendous problem here. What is my idea of the future? Can this go on? Terry Gilliam’sBrazil, which is half-comedy, shows this: it is half-totalitarianism, but also hedonism. A totalitarian regime, but with private pleasure. Berlusconi comes close to this: Groucho Marx in power. Also, in China, at the level of private life, no one cares about your private perversions, but just don’t mess with politics. It is no longer the typical fascist mobilization.

  Anti-immigration, for instance, is not fascism. Fascism is not returning. No. This isn’t thinking in concepts but rather vague associations. This is post-ideology. Traditional fascism was ultra-ideology. Today’s predominant ideology is a Western Buddhist capitalism of, “Realize who you are.” It is permissive private hedonism with political totalitarianism.

  HA: What is the relevance of the history of Marxism today? What can we learn from historical figures such as, for example, Lenin, about changing the world? Didn’t Marxism fail? How do we avoid repeating that failure? Or, as you’ve put it previously [in “How to Begin from the Beginning,” New Left Review 57 (May-June 2009)],[3] linking Lenin to Beckett, is the point, after all, to “fail again” and to “fail better?” What is your prognosis for “success,” then, in this regard?

  : I totally agree with you. I have become self-critical of this Beckett line, “Fail again, but fail better.” It would be nice to have some victories! I am getting tired of, “We are all in this together,” but then things go back to normal. What interests me is what comes after. How is our daily life affected? The true revolution for me is there. The hard work and pleasures of daily life, how are they affected?

  I am not a Leninist in the sense of, “Let’s return to Lenin.” What I like in Lenin is that he was totally unorthodox and was willing to rethink the situation. He didn’t stick to some dogma. At the same time, he wasn’t afraid to act. I claim that quite many leftists secretly enjoy their role of opposition and are afraid to intervene. I disagree with Badiou and some others about how “politics is made at some distance from the state.” Still, we have the state as a regulatory form in society.

  Take Greece. The state is almost falling apart. So the Left will remain outside state politics, not in the sense of making a revolution, but rather selectively putting pressure on and supporting existing parties. What this means is that we are not ready.

  For me, the greatest failure of the Soviet Union in Lenin’s time was right after the Civil War. When things returned to normal, it was a beautiful time. The Bolsheviks were challenged to reform everyday life. There, they failed. So, we have these enthusiastic victories, but afterwards failure. The greatest Marxists are those who write books on the analysis of failure.

  The big task today is to avoid this, what Lacan called, with a beautiful term, the “narcissism of the lost cause.”[4]You know, “We lost, but how beautifully we lost.” You fall in love with your own defeat, and, even worse, make of defeat a sign of authenticity. “We lost because life is cruel, but look at how beautiful it was,” etc. No. The same holds for ’68: We should find a way for Marxism or communist revolution to be something other than a detour between one and another stage of capitalism. This is the lesson of the 20th century. The lessons are only negative: We learn what not to do. This is very important. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t see positive lessons. I am an honest pessimist.

  But, if we do nothing, it will be even a greater radical catastrophe. The true utopia is that things can go on indefinitely as they are. The crisis of 2008 made it seem like it was merely a lack of regulation and corrupted individuals. No, the crisis is different. Today we are approaching dangerous times. We cannot rely on any tradition. Left tradition has a tendency, when it takes power, to turn into brutal domination. How to break this deadlock between two sides that are, as Stalin would have put it, “both worse.”

  Mandela was great, but he was seduced by the IMF. I agree, but with the great proviso: What was the choice? End up in a Zimbabwe fiasco? This is the real deadlock, here. Mandela was not a traitor. Even with Venezuela, I am a pessimist: Chavez is losing steam. It is a real tragedy. Because of playing these populist games, he neglected physical infrastructure. The machinery of oil extraction is falling apart, and they are compelled to pump less and less. Chavez started well to politicize and mobilize the excluded, but then he fell into the traditional populist trap. Oil money is a curse for Chavez, because it opened maneuvering space to not confront problems. But now he must confront them. He had enough money to patch things up without solving problems. For instance, Venezuela has a great brain drain to Colombia: in the long term, a catastrophe. I am distrustful of all these traditions, “Bolivarianism,” etc.—all bullshit.

  HA: I am interested in what you said about the opportunity to reformulate the whole of life. With Lenin, when was this?

  SŽ: Around the time of the New Economic Policy. It’s interesting what happened. The most pessimistic reading is that the Stalinist state emerged then. The logic was that we will withdraw from the economy but, in order not to lose power, we will strengthen the state. It was in the NEP years that there was an explosion of the state bureaucracy, the apparatus. In 1923 already, Stalin nominated 100,000 mid-level cadre. Trotsky was stupid, playing arrogant games, and didn’t notice this. He thought that he had created the Red Army and had popular appeal. But, in the diaries of Dmitrov, Stalin said that Trotsky was much more popular in the early 1920s, but Stalin controlled the cadre and so won out. If Trotsky had won, who knows what would have happened? It would have been something different, but who knows what? What I like about Trotsky was that, like Lenin, he was a brutal realist. Perhaps the best that could be done was in terms of the bourgeois revolution.[5] Lenin was totally honest about the end of the Civil War, the madness of the situation, there being no organized working class after being slaughtered in the Civil War. |P

 

 

 

 

  1. Bob Avakian and Bill Martin, Marxism and the Call of the Future: Conversations on Ethics, History, Politics(Peru, Illinois: Open Court Publishing, 2005).

  2. See “Multiculturalism or the Cultural Logic of Multinational Capitalism,” available online at <http://libcom.org/library/multicultur ... national-capitalism-zizek>.

  3. Available online at <http://www.newleftreview.org/?view=2779>.

  4. See, however, Žižek, In Defense of Lost Causes (London: Verso, 2008).

  5. See Lars T. Lih, “October 1921: Lenin Looks Back,” Platypus Review 37 (July 2011), available online at <http://platypus1917.org/2011/07/01/october-1921-lenin-looks-back/>.

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