Livestream: The Courage of Hopelessness von Slavoj Žižek

The Courage of Hopelessness von Slavoj Žižek

Termine: Samstag, 20. Mai, 18.30



Giorgio Agamben said in an interview that "thought is the courage of hopelessness" - an insight which is especially pertinent for our historical moment when even the most pessimist diagnostics as a rule finishes with an uplifting hint at some version of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The true courage is not to imagine an alternative, but to accept the consequences of the fact that there is no clearly discernible alternative: the dream of an alternative is a sign of theoretical cowardice, it functions as a fetish which prevents us to think to the end the deadlock of our predicament. In short, the true courage is to admit that the light at the end of the tunnel is most likely the headlight of another train approaching us from the opposite direction. This train appears lately in five figures: the renewed fundamentalist-terrorist threat (the declaration of war against ISIS, Boko Haram…); geopolitical tensions with and between non-European new powers (China and especially Russia); the rise of new radical emancipatory movements in Europe (Greece and Spain, for the time being); the flow of refugees crossing the Wall that separates "Us" from "Them"; the explosion of violent populism in all developed countries. It is crucial to see these threats in their interconnection – not in the sense that they are the four faces of the same Enemy, but in the sense that they express aspects of the same immanent "contradiction" of global capitalism.

Slavoj Zizek: The Courage of Hopelessness: Chronicles of a Year of Acting Dangerously

In these troubled times, even the most pessimistic diagnosis of our future ends with an uplifting hint that things might not be as bad as all that, that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Yet, argues Slavoj Žižek, it is only when we have admit to ourselves that our situation is completely hopeless - that the light at the end of the tunnel is in fact the headlight of a train approaching us from the opposite direction - that fundamental change can be brought about.

Surveying the various challenges in the world today, from mass migration and geopolitical tensions to terrorism, the explosion of rightist populism and the emergence of new radical politics - all of which, in their own way, express the impasses of global capitalism - Žižek explores whether there still remains the possibility for genuine change. Today, he proposes, the only true question is, or should be, this: do we endorse the predominant acceptance of capitalism as a fact of human nature, or does today's capitalism contain strong enough antagonisms to prevent its infinite reproduction? Can we, he asks, move beyond the failure of socialism, and beyond the current wave of populist rage, and initiate radical change before the train hits?

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