The Harm Caused By Charity (Video)

A short animated film of a talk by philosopher/theorist Slavoj Zizek, who is always eager to push people’s buttons. Zizek examines the ethics and effects of charitable giving, and concludes that charity has a dark side, in that it helps preserve the status quo:

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  • Connie Dobbs

    You know what else helps preserve the status quo? Gravity. Fuckin' gravity.

    • JP

      Right on! DOWN WITH GRAVITY! oh wait…

  • Haystack

    Charity is nice, but it doesn't fix the problem, it only alleviates the symptoms. If I want to make the world a better place, I'd rather donate to a political organization will tackle the problem at its source. I basically agree with Zizek, though I'm in no way opposed to people donating to charities.

  • Alech

    I don't like how he lumps in “fair trade” with charity. Not screwing over farmers is now considered giving alms to the poor?

    I'm really grooving on the lettering though.

    • Hadrian999

      in a sense it is when the point of trade is to get the most you can while giving the least,
      being fair is not part of trade.

  • John Brown

    Nothing Zizek says is that radical. He's only highlighting that the task at hand is not one of temporarily treating the symptoms (poverty, injustice, etc.) but treating the cause itself (the system). It's the age old polarity of reform vs. radicalism. The only problem I have with the guy is his cozy relationship with overtly Stalinist worship (see earlier novels by him) and his stance in an earlier article that the only solution is to do nothing, cross fingers, and hope capitalism offs itself. He's kind of like that crazy old uncle who's an embarassment to the family but there's often a lucidity to what he babbles so why not keep him around and put the retirement home off for a few years.

    • Haystack

      That's what bothered me, too. The Unabomber used the same logic in his manifesto–we want people to suffer more, so they'll overthrow the system. I don't have high expectations of any system whose architects are okay with dispassionately using people like pawns.

      • Hadrian999

        that is every system

  • Your Mom

    Zizek is a hack, a fraud, a charlatan — the end-point (I hope) of the deconstructionist/postmodernist gibberish that passes for profound thought in the humanities departments of elite universities. As Edward R. O'Neill wrote, Zizek's writing includes “a dizzying array of wildly entertaining and often quite maddening rhetorical strategies [that] are deployed in order to beguile, browbeat, dumbfound, dazzle, confuse, mislead, overwhelm, and generally subdue the reader into acceptance.” http://www.film-philosophy.com/vol5-2001/n17oneill

    This particular Zizke effort is more Hegelian, leftist twaddle: “charity only treats the symptoms; the real problem is democracy/capitalism/globalism/fill-in-the-blank … and only The State can fix it!”

    • Haystack

      Ad hominem argument.

  • Hadrian999

    too much money to be made and brownie points to score treating the symptom to ever dream about touching the cause. you see this everywhere from medicine to illegal immigration, to the drug wars, to the pet political “problems” of our 2 cartel system.

  • James

    Is it immoral to use money earned from cigarettes in order to alleviate the horrible evils that result from lung cancer?
    In any case, I definitely do not see anytihng positive about universalism as part of the liberalism package Zizek supports.
    And the real problem with charity are those so-called charities which are not actually for helping anyone but just for propagating universalist ideas.

    • http://www.myspace.com/mettaya Mettaya

      I think his point is that these things are designed to make us go 'oh, well that makes it okay, then. Phillip-Morris can keep hawking poison as long as they 'contribute' to a 'cure'.' Wal-Mart brags about how much it's 'given to the local community' while it destroyed and keeps destroying any kind of local alternative for many, many areas where it's hard NOT to shop there. Kind of how GM and Ford talk about 'American Jobs' while most of the components and many of the cars themselves are made in foreign factories. Though this has been the case for a couple of decades now, many insist on 'buying American' even though they haven't a clue what that means. “Can't we revolt next week? I'm tired, and my kid's soccer game is this weekend…” The kind of warm fuzzy bullshit that makes it ok to 'just get through the week', live with the system, look the other way. “Fixing the problems are hard, so let's feel good about the useless band-aids we're putting on the bullet wounds”, etc.

      This society is like a motor which leaks oil so bad, you essentially have to keep pouring oil down the valve cover just to keep it from seizing, and not only do we do this for this long-in-the-tooth machine, but we fuel it, too, all of us who continue to go along with what it takes to keep it running as-is. Better to STOP, and let the damned thing grind to a halt; you can't rebuild a running motor.

      No More Fuel For The Death Machine.

      • Hadrian999

        before any real change in government can happen the illusion of democracy must be dispelled,
        the 2 party system basically keeps revolving frontmen to make people think they actually are changing things, it's a brilliant con, until someone can break that machine no real call call for something better will ever happen.

  • Theodore Sumrall

    As people of faith (and it does not matter if we are Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or Jewish) we are obligated to be charitable. This is the bedrock of all faiths and neglecting charity makes people of faith hypocrites. What is wrong is when governments expropriate (translation – steal) our money via taxation and give to those who either will not work or do not want to work in order to buy their votes. For a person to be needy is not wrong. It is wrong for us to “suffer the beggar to put his petition up to us in vain”. However, it is even more wrong for our governments to steal our money under the banner of “charity” and buy peoples votes in the process to cement their power over the people. By such actions our governments skim a percentage off to run their organizations and ensure their perpetuation all in the name of “charity”.

    • rtb61

      To be blunt you are a dolt and a fool. The best reason for the welfare net, it is far cheaper than paying for a high crime rate. That is the basic principle behind thinking social welfare. For those that fail to compete due mental inability to function with in society. They will still strive to survive and when all else fails will resort to crime. Just play close attention to what is happening south of the border because that is the direction the US is careening to, chose either the low crime rate north of the US or rampant violent crime south of the US. Social welfare is far cheaper, than a prison cell and the cost of the crime (the price the victim of crime pays) to get there, anybody who believes anything else is an idiot.

      • Jfr8888

        rtb61 – you sound like you are one of the recepients of the government's largess. What you are saying is tantamount to extortion. Either we pay “protection” or we get our legs broke. You are a loser and an idiot.

        • WeWillRiseAndDevourYou

          Extortion or not, it is a brutal truth. It doesn't matter how twisted and wrong the situation is – the fact is that capitalist societies with inadequate or non-existent welfare support systems will inevitably feature a class of citizens who will fail or refuse to find productive employment and subsequently turn to crime for survival. This is especially true in cultures with an overpopulation problem. Perhaps there are many lazy poor in America who would never try to build an honest career – but there are also, doubtless, some who would work diligently but never find a job due to poor market conditions or lack of education, certification, or experience. There will always be people in any society who do not become a part of the working class. Crime is simply a more direct way to make money in this nation. Welfare pacifies this population segment by providing a mode of survival that is easier than both the work they don't do and the crimes they would normally commit. To think that a capitalist society can avoid crime without using tax money to mollify the welfare class is idealistic and illogical. And face it – a working American demanding lower taxes is tantamount to demanding that other humans starve so that you can have a bigger TV. If you are in a low-income tax bracket, there is no way that taxation hinders your ability to survive. The only citizens losing any significant amount of money are the upper class – and those bloated, self-obsessed, vindictive leeches don't even deserve that money in the first place. Take away all the fast-talk and euphemisms, and such a belief renders down to simple greed and a total lack of compassion.

          • WeWillRiseAndDevourYou

            One final thought: a nation made by the people, of the people, for the people? Sounds most like a socialist sentiment. The caste-based, corporate-centric, propaganda-driven society which America truly has become more closely resembles a feudal society. The organized religions are even still doing their job, condemning any world but this one as evil. The differences are that now our kings are CEOs, and now their fiefdoms are in our hearts, minds, and television sets.

          • JFR8888

            You cannot lift up an underclass by bringing down the upper class. All you do is encourage aberrant behaviour.

        • rtb61

          Actually as a hard working semi-retired professional, I have no desire to die as a victim or crime due to knee jerk reactionary idiots. I much prefer low cost accommodation, with food and medical services with free intoxicants incorporating birth control for those who can't compete, pacifiers to keep them cheaply at low cost accommodation and birth control to reduce the problem over time.
          As for knee jerk reactionary idiots, driven by ignorance, ego and stupidity, they are really the greater problem, the problem is also far trickier, laughing at the ignorance is generally enough to see them off, ha ha.

          • Jfr8888

            You must be as ignorant as a cat. Have you looked at the costs for social welfare and the associated cost for drug treatment. When people had to work, they were held responsible for their actions. Today, people are not held responsible for their actions and therefore we have high crime and social welfare costs.

          • Jfr8888

            PS – When I was a cop we called similar type activities “The Protection Racket”. For money you and your business would be “protected” from crime.

      • JohnnyBG

        I believe that translates to “you are on welfare yourself or you work for the government”. Basically a leach on the jugular of society.

      • JohnnyBG

        This is what the media is refering to as “Trickel Up Poverty”.

  • Jesus

    Most annoying lisp in the trucking world, can even listen to is. Like a bad gay movie accent. I like to pour steaming hot starbucks on my genitals

    • Jfr8888

      Anyone who posts themselves as the saviour is a sick and demented individual.

  • JohnnyBG

    In a truly free society (as we essentially had in the early days of the US (slavery notwithstanding), people can rise up beyond their class as my father did (going from a farmer to a physician) or as my father in law did (going from a rancher to a Professor of Engineering). But today – why excel? If you do, you will be taxed out of existance to pay for the leaches on the jugular of society.

  • JohnnyBG

    This is what the media is refering to as “Trickel Up Poverty”.

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