Friday, June 1, 2012

Slavoj Žižek · Save us from the saviours

I've been meaning to post this excerpt by Žižek for a while, but got a bit sidetracked:

The prophets of doom are right, but not in the way they intend. Critics of our current democratic arrangements complain that elections don’t offer a true choice: what we get instead is the choice between a centre-right and a centre-left party whose programmes are almost indistinguishable. On 17 June, there will be a real choice: the establishment (New Democracy and Pasok) on one side, Syriza on the other. And, as is usually the case when a real choice is on offer, the establishment is in a panic: chaos, poverty and violence will follow, they say, if the wrong choice is made. The mere possibility of a Syriza victory is said to have sent ripples of fear through global markets. Ideological prosopopoeia has its day: markets talk as if they were persons, expressing their ‘worry’ at what will happen if the elections fail to produce a government with a mandate to persist with the EU-IMF programme of fiscal austerity and structural reform. The citizens of Greece have no time to worry about these prospects: they have enough to worry about in their everyday lives, which are becoming miserable to a degree unseen in Europe for decades.

Such predictions are self-fulfilling, causing panic and thus bringing about the very eventualities they warn against. If Syriza wins, the European establishment will hope that we learn the hard way what happens when an attempt is made to interrupt the vicious cycle of mutual complicity between Brussels’s technocracy and anti-immigrant populism. This is why Alexis Tsipras, Syriza’s leader, made clear in a recent interview that his first priority, should Syriza win, will be to counteract panic: ‘People will conquer fear. They will not succumb; they will not be blackmailed.’ Syriza have an almost impossible task. Theirs is not the voice of extreme left ‘madness’, but of reason speaking out against the madness of market ideology. In their readiness to take over, they have banished the left’s fear of taking power; they have the courage to clear up the mess created by others. They will need to exercise a formidable combination of principle and pragmatism, of democratic commitment and a readiness to act quickly and decisively where needed. If they are to have even a minimal chance of success, they will need an all-European display of solidarity: not only decent treatment on the part of every other European country, but also more creative ideas, like the promotion of solidarity tourism this summer.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Stay classy, Dan Riehl

About a couple years ago, I made a brief post about Dan Riehl's sexism, aimed at a Republican Senator whom he disliked because she was insufficiently right-wing. Although I have few kind things to say about Sen. Murkowski's politics, I would certainly advise against referring to her as a bitch, or any other demeaning label.

Suffice it to say, he seems to exhibit a pervasive pattern of behavior that quite frankly anyone with more than a functioning brainstem should find abhorrent. Various bloggers at LGF have been documenting Riehl's latest handiwork. If one gets the impression from reading through the various tweets and posts that Riehl and his buddies are a bunch of creepers, one is largely correct.

I know that a lot of right-wing bloggers were making a big deal about Hustler mogul Larry Flynt's  rather disgusting parody photo of S. E. Cupp. A couple observations. One: there is a double-standard at work, in which the same right-wingers who would have no problems at all objectifying women whom they identify as "leftist" (which usually is a catchall for anyone who is moderately reformist) get bent out of shape when one of their own tribe is objectified. Two: I see a lot of attempts at false equivalence at work. The logic is that Larry Flynt's latest atrocity is evidence that "the left" is just as bad in their treatment of women as "the right". Never mind that I have yet to meet either an anticapitalist leftist or a moderate to liberal reformist who approved of Flynt or his magazine, Hustler, or have considered him one of their own. Flynt is a capitalist who is in the business of playing on the basest sexist impulses of our society in order to make a profit. Riehl is a blogger who buys into the base sexism of our society and exploits it in order to get more hits for his blog. Both are symptomatic of a bigger problem - namely our own society's profound fear of and hostility toward women, and one in which there is not only a great deal of individual sexism, but sexism built into the very structures of our society.

As someone else has already said:
Where conservatives look at the Hustler “parody” as indicative of liberal contempt for conservative women, feminists see a larger problem about how women are treated that affects everything from health insurance to how much you take home on your paycheck. To have condemned Limbaugh for his sexism in the same unconditional manner would have been a distraction, because the real problem isn’t sexism, it’s liberals. For feminists, sexism is the problem, period.
Precisely. Sexism is the problem, period.