Living in the End Times
If you’re going to call your book ‘Living in the End Times’, there is a danger you’ll be regarded as an evangelical Christian or 2012 doom-sayer.
Slavoj Zizek is neither, but his book does deal with some fairly apocalyptic topics. He is a social theorist, cultural critic and ‘the world’s hippest philosopher‘ (as well as an alleged anti-Semitic left-wing zealot.) The reason for his popularity is based on his ability to engage with big philosophical questions by leveraging popular culture, and by examining current affairs.
The aforementioned book deals with what Zizek sees as four key drivers for a coming apocalypse: the worldwide ecological crisis; imbalances within the economic system; the biogenetic revolution; and exploding social divisions and ruptures. He is therefore of interest to this blog as some of his opinions intersect with 2012 eschatology (although Zizek gives no specific date for the zero-point.)
Apart from anything else, he is superbly nihilistic – giving an existential voice to this creeping apocalypse, as these quotes show:
“The only true question today is: does global capitalism contain antagonisms strong enough to prevent its indefinite reproduction? Four possible antagonisms present themselves: the looming threat of ecological catastrophe; the inappropriateness of private property for so-called intellectual property; the socio-ethical implications of new techno-scientific developments, especially in biogenetics; and last, but not least, new forms of social apartheid—new walls and slums.”
“What unites us is that, in contrast to the classic image of proletarians who have ‘nothing to lose but their chains’, we are in danger of losing everything. The threat is that we will be reduced to an abstract, empty Cartesian subject dispossessed of all our symbolic content, with our genetic base manipulated, vegetating in an unliveable environment.”
“Precisely because the universe in which we live is somehow a universe of dead conventions and artificiality, the only authentic real experience must be some extremely violent, shattering experience. And this we experience as a sense that now we are back in real life.”
These two videos give a useful introduction to his thinking: