OK…first blog post in quite a while so who knows how this will actually go. Sorry for any fractured rabbling and tangential incomprehensibility.
So I read parts of Zizek’s “Censorship Today” and while there were some interesting points he makes on the environment and the inherent problems of capitalism that manifest themselves in the ecological debate, his early points on this whole Excluded and Included thing is interesting. But first I think that I will tackle his ideas on the reconstruction of nature with technology. He puts forward this idea that nature has lost its meaning with the mapping of the genome and its consequent copyrighting. However I feel that this only gives more meaning and value to the original. It’s like fine art. The original is worth millions and the reproduction is only worth 15 bucks. There is an aura around the original if we are to use Benjamin’s terms. They might be difficult to compare really. The aura around art isn’t felt by all or even most maybe, but many feel a connection with nature on a semi-spiritual level. We don’t notice the connection we have with our genome, I can see that, but there is one between an individual and a forest or a lake. There is a reason why most people will say that they would rather have a spacious backyard or live on a piece of property that has a body of water on it. I don’t know. I just think that Zizek is severely downplaying our connection to nature and it seems somewhat hypocritical when he talks about conservation for a good part of the essay, even if he is just using it as a stepping stone to critique capitalism.
Well, back on target with the whole Excluded thing. In the beginning of his essay, Zizek talks about the slums of the third world that have been Excluded by their governments in a seeming cover-up of sorts. These people are the Excluded peoples, with those that are outside of these slums and those having the privilege of political action being the Included. He talks quite a bit about how these people are the ones that have the ability to cause change in the world and even goes as far to state:
There is a privileged social group which, on account of its lacking a determinate place in the ‘private’ order of social hierarchy, directly stands for universality: it is only the reference to those Excluded, to those who dwell in the blanks of the State space, that enables true universality. There is nothing more ‘private’ than a State community which perceives the Excluded as a threat and worries how to keep the Excluded as a proper distance.
There’s a lot to unpack there. Firstly, I do agree with him on the whole universality of the Excluded. If you can’t be seen then you fall into this gray area where divisions probably don’t exist. There’s no separation in there; there aren’t many shades of gray there I guess. Gray wasn’t the best color choice. They’re in the black. That’s better.
The problems I have with the whole excluded thing comes up when Zizek tries to say that they are major political forces. I’m not as well versed in the political structures of other countries, but it isn’t enough for the Excluded to rise up. In fact, they can’t. The Excluded must first be brought up into the middle ground by the Included in order to cause change. At least, I know that is the only way that it can work in America. I hate to use this example, but look at the Tea Party movement. This is organizing a very large group of individuals into political action, but could only have started due to the help by experienced politicians and members of that Included group. I don’t really think that Americans are Excluded in the way that third world slum-dwellers are Excluded, but the group is made up largely of lower and middle class people. Writing about them has made me angry about their existence, but it is a fitting example. Change just doesn’t come from the bottom anymore. Unless the bottom consists of liberal bloggers that aren’t the truly disenfranchised. Change comes from the middle. Look at all the things you need in order to create political movement. You need a computer, an internet connection, a phone, a house or apartment. If your movement uses any supplies that aren’t electronic you need those. Capital is key even in those that go against it.
Capitalism. That’s another thing that Zizek talks about. In fact, he starts off with it in this essay. He tells the story of a journalist whose editor asked him to replace the word “capitalism” with the word “economy.” So terrifying to me and Zizek alike. Capitalism has become the accepted de facto result of economic policy evolution (I have to talk about his ideas on evolution later). Thus we no longer wish to change that ideology, but instead try to perfect it. While I will admit that I really do like capitalism, it’s not the perfect system. I recently obtained a television, microwave and quite the comfy chair all due to capitalism. However, they are the product of the effect of wastefulness that the system fosters. That is obviously not the only problem with capitalism…but I think it might be one of the only ones that directly benefits me…other than keeping the country I live in in a somewhat stable environment. However Zizek argues, and I agree, that we are just trying to duct tape together a broken system and thus we must challenge ideologies instead of simply the effects.
I guess the next thing to tackle is my issues with Zizek’s ideas on evolution. He states flatly that “there is no evolution.” Now I’m not sure if he means that at face-value, since he continues to go on talking about the ethnocentricity of the ecological movement. However this can’t be the best way to go about showing his point. I agree that the term “Evolution” has become more about the evolution of human beings and that being its final outcome, demonstrating the arrogance of the human race. So in a way, evolutions doesn’t exist due to its now-accepted meanings. But we can’t forget the actual meaning of evolution as a process in which species adapt to their surroundings. Abandoning the term doesn’t help anything Zizek. You even say that without the terms we would all be in the Excluded. Who Knows.