August 16, 2010

Short text about my upcoming presentation at The Mathathon of Thinking in Riga.


To me, capitalism feels like a pure evil corroding the surface of the planet. However, I realize that from this emotional-ideological position we will get nowhere. How to open things up, ask new kinds of questions, listen to power in an open yet still critical manner, view the situation from some slightly different angle? Benjamin writes about a Kabalistic myth: that the difference between earth and heaven is only the smallest millimeter, but within that millimeter everything changes. Where is the miniscule shift that allows us to picture the world differently, the fissure from which we can begin to pry? Zizek’s quip that it is ‘easier for us to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine an end to capitalism’ seems unbearable to me. Is our imagination really so depleted, so tepid? And then there is this quote from Kant: “Humanity is a crooked timber from which nothing straight can ever be built.” But are we looking for something straight? Where is the crooked, rickety, modicum of hope that allows us to begin thinking again, thinking honest and compelling thoughts, thinking that not everything is cruel or impossible, thinking that things might one again begin to move?

You can read more about The Marathon of Thinking here.



Gabe said...

What is missing from Zizek, Zygmunt Bauman, all the people who write for Zero books, is any attempt to properly examine pretty successful social democratic usually European countries.

If you characterize 'power' or even 'capitaslism' as the unstoppable shift to neoliberalism in every part of life then the answer to the question is obvious.

But if 'power' are the people who continue to stitch together welcoming schools for stressed and tired kids and parents of myriad backgrounds on tiny budgets, then it's just as obvious that things are not as simple (or depressing) as they are made out to be. But nearly everything they use comes from 'capitalism.'

All of the 'communist hypothesis' people seem to fail to consider what was obvious 1000 years ago to the Taoists and the interpenetration of yin and yang. Why should we be reduced to such simplistic dualistic thinking?

Jacob Wren said...

My question:

Isn't the relative safety and pleasure of life in Western Europe simply ripped from the backs of cheap labor from the 'developing' world.

But I think we've had this discussion before here. Would you like to engage in an email dialogue that we could then publish on this blog?

Gabe said...

sounds interesting, I've emailed the pme-art email, only one I could find

Liv said...

As a teacher in a rich nation where young people find it natural that we can, and have a right to buy and consume, it is important to teach critical thinking. I want to alert my student to the fact that we westernes overconsume the earths resources. How?
Capitalism and individualism are lures when surrounded by abundance.
After the other day, I discovered that I have started making a performance about awareness of consumption, money, global solidarity and choice of values.
It must be developed further to promote the opening of their eyes to the fact that we all share one globe with limited resources.