Slavoj Zizek Speaks At Occupy Wall Street

DSC_0384 A transcript of an inspiring speech by the Slovenian philosopher at Occupy Wall Street yesterday, via Impose Magazine:

In mid-April 2011, the Chinese government prohibited on TV, films, and novels all stories that contain alternate reality or time travel. This is a good sign for China. These people still dream about alternatives, so you have to prohibit this dreaming. Here, we don’t need a prohibition because the ruling system has even oppressed our capacity to dream. Look at the movies that we see all the time. It’s easy to imagine the end of the world. An asteroid destroying all life and so on. But you cannot imagine the end of capitalism.

They are saying we are all losers, but the true losers are down there on Wall Street. They were bailed out by billions of our money. We are called socialists, but here there is always socialism for the rich. They say we don’t respect private property, but in the 2008 financial crash-down more hard-earned private property was destroyed than if all of us here were to be destroying it night and day for weeks. They tell you we are dreamers. The true dreamers are those who think things can go on indefinitely the way they are. We are not dreamers. We are the awakening from a dream that is turning into a nightmare.

We are not destroying anything. We are only witnessing how the system is destroying itself. We all know the classic scene from cartoons. The cat reaches a precipice but it goes on walking, ignoring the fact that there is nothing beneath this ground. Only when it looks down and notices it, it falls down. This is what we are doing here. We are telling the guys there on Wall Street, “Hey, look down!”

So what are we doing here? Let me tell you a wonderful, old joke from Communist times. A guy was sent from East Germany to work in Siberia. He knew his mail would be read by censors, so he told his friends: “Let’s establish a code. If a letter you get from me is written in blue ink, it is true what I say. If it is written in red ink, it is false.” After a month, his friends get the first letter. Everything is in blue. It says, this letter: “Everything is wonderful here. Stores are full of good food. Movie theatres show good films from the west. Apartments are large and luxurious. The only thing you cannot buy is red ink.” This is how we live. We have all the freedoms we want. But what we are missing is red ink: the language to articulate our non-freedom. The way we are taught to speak about freedom— war on terror and so on—falsifies freedom. And this is what you are doing here. You are giving all of us red ink.

There is a danger. Don’t fall in love with yourselves. We have a nice time here. But remember, carnivals come cheap. What matters is the day after, when we will have to return to normal lives. Will there be any changes then? I don’t want you to remember these days, you know, like “Oh. we were young and it was beautiful.” Remember that our basic message is “We are allowed to think about alternatives.” If the rule is broken, we do not live in the best possible world. But there is a long road ahead. There are truly difficult questions that confront us. We know what we do not want. But what do we want? What social organization can replace capitalism? What type of new leaders do we want?

Remember. The problem is not corruption or greed. The problem is the system. It forces you to be corrupt. Beware not only of the enemies, but also of false friends who are already working to dilute this process. In the same way you get coffee without caffeine, beer without alcohol, ice cream without fat, they will try to make this into a harmless, moral protest. A decaffienated process. But the reason we are here is that we have had enough of a world where, to recycle Coke cans, to give a couple of dollars for charity, or to buy a Starbucks cappuccino where 1% goes to third world starving children is enough to make us feel good. After outsourcing work and torture, after marriage agencies are now outsourcing our love life, we can see that for a long time, we allow our political engagement also to be outsourced. We want it back.

We are not Communists if Communism means a system which collapsed in 1990. Remember that today those Communists are the most efficient, ruthless Capitalists. In China today, we have Capitalism which is even more dynamic than your American Capitalism, but doesn’t need democracy. Which means when you criticize Capitalism, don’t allow yourself to be blackmailed that you are against democracy. The marriage between democracy and Capitalism is over. The change is possible.

What do we perceive today as possible? Just follow the media. On the one hand, in technology and sexuality, everything seems to be possible. You can travel to the moon, you can become immortal by biogenetics, you can have sex with animals or whatever, but look at the field of society and economy. There, almost everything is considered impossible. You want to raise taxes by little bit for the rich. They tell you it’s impossible. We lose competitivity. You want more money for health care, they tell you, “Impossible, this means totalitarian state.” There’s something wrong in the world, where you are promised to be immortal but cannot spend a little bit more for healthcare. Maybe we need to set our priorities straight here. We don’t want higher standard of living. We want a better standard of living. The only sense in which we are Communists is that we care for the commons. The commons of nature. The commons of privatized by intellectual property. The commons of biogenetics. For this, and only for this, we should fight.

Communism failed absolutely, but the problems of the commons are here. They are telling you we are not American here. But the conservatives fundamentalists who claim they really are American have to be reminded of something: What is Christianity? It’s the holy spirit. What is the holy spirit? It’s an egalitarian community of believers who are linked by love for each other, and who only have their own freedom and responsibility to do it. In this sense, the holy spirit is here now. And down there on Wall Street, there are pagans who are worshipping blasphemous idols. So all we need is patience. The only thing I’m afraid of is that we will someday just go home and then we will meet once a year, drinking beer, and nostaligically remembering “What a nice time we had here.” Promise yourselves that this will not be the case. We know that people often desire something but do not really want it. Don’t be afraid to really want what you desire. Thank you very much.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/steffworthington Steffon Worthington

    I can’t be there in person (Im in the UK) but I drew this and I’m happy for someone to put it on a placard or spread it around. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_D8869FhXDk/TpRVrSCDOiI/AAAAAAAAB78/GaJntyv79AI/s1600/PITCHFORKS.jpg

  • Steff Worthington

    I can’t be there in person (Im in the UK) but I drew this and I’m happy for someone to put it on a placard or spread it around. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_D8869FhXDk/TpRVrSCDOiI/AAAAAAAAB78/GaJntyv79AI/s1600/PITCHFORKS.jpg

  • Wanooski

    I don’t particularly like Zizek, but that was a pretty good.

  • Anarchy Pony

    I don’t particularly like Zizek, but that was a pretty good.

    • Jin The Ninja

      he is good! i like that although he is almost too cerebral, he still allocates room for dissent and alternative opinions. I think he’s better than david harvey and his pop’n reduction strategies for the 3rd world, and no mention of western over consumption. at least zizek is a bit more prescient? and worldly.

  • Vi0let_femme

    “What is Christianity? It’s the holy spirit. What is the holy spirit?
    It’s an egalitarian community of believers who are linked by love for
    each other, and who only have their own freedom and responsibility to do
    it.”

    love cancels out evil

  • Vi0let_femme

    “What is Christianity? It’s the holy spirit. What is the holy spirit?
    It’s an egalitarian community of believers who are linked by love for
    each other, and who only have their own freedom and responsibility to do
    it.”

    love cancels out evil

  • http://twitter.com/BC00000 BC

    the revolution is here! government & social reform, less capitalism with more democracy (balance), human rights brought to law (instead of the gov’t claiming they are pro human rights but refuses to comply with united nation’s universal declaration of human rights)…did you realize that title IV-D (social security act) allows the federal gov’t to pay incentives and block grants (billions of taxpayer dollars) to each state as a reward for meeting child support quotas. the family court system, DHHS, CSE etc PROFIT from breaking up families (custodial vs non-custodial) while transferring assets from one person to another…hidden behind the idea of “the best interest of the child”. see, before the clinton administration, a single parent could receive gov’t assistance (welfare) if both the parents were unemployed (through no fault of their own, circumstances out of their control). taxpayer money was paid directly to the “needy” to keep children out of poverty. today, that taxpayer money is paid directly to the STATES while CHILDREN are forced into poverty. if both parents are unemployed due to a slow economy (and various other factors)…what happens to the children? think about it… 

  • Army7

    the revolution is here! government & social reform, less capitalism with more democracy (balance), human rights brought to law (instead of the gov’t claiming they are pro human rights but refuses to comply with united nation’s universal declaration of human rights)…did you realize that title IV-D (social security act) allows the federal gov’t to pay incentives and block grants (billions of taxpayer dollars) to each state as a reward for meeting child support quotas. the family court system, DHHS, CSE etc PROFIT from breaking up families (custodial vs non-custodial) while transferring assets from one person to another…hidden behind the idea of “the best interest of the child”. see, before the clinton administration, a single parent could receive gov’t assistance (welfare) if both the parents were unemployed (through no fault of their own, circumstances out of their control). taxpayer money was paid directly to the “needy” to keep children out of poverty. today, that taxpayer money is paid directly to the STATES while CHILDREN are forced into poverty. if both parents are unemployed due to a slow economy (and various other factors)…what happens to the children? think about it… 

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    I like how the powers that be thought they could globalize economies and strife without globalizing revolution. Ignorance always brings the most ironic punishments.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    I like how the powers that be thought they could globalize economies and strife without globalizing revolution. Ignorance always brings the most ironic punishments.

  • Quint X

    Why is he bringing up bestiality? WTF?

  • Quint X

    Why is he bringing up bestiality? WTF?

  • Quint X

    Why is he bringing up bestiality? WTF?

  • Lecter

    Bah!  Wait until the rain and cold weather roll in.  We will see how many true believers there are compared to astroturfing douchebags looking for Woodstock II.

  • Lecter

    Bah!  Wait until the rain and cold weather roll in.  We will see how many true believers there are compared to astroturfing douchebags looking for Woodstock II.

    • Joshua

      Did you even read this? 

  • Anonymous

    he is good! i like that although he is almost too cerebral, he still allocates room for dissent and alternative opinions. I think he’s better than david harvey and his pop’n reduction strategies for the 3rd world, and no mention of western over consumption. at least zizek is a bit more prescient? and worldly.

  • Joshua

    Did you even read this? 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Z7OEFST4XYDZVQQEZBK6MCMH4Y David Sananman

    You don’t even have to be there to support the 99%, just wait till Halloween

    MASSIVE WITHDRAWAL – Are You with Me?

    I propose that the next phase for Occupy Wall Street is a token but powerful show of force. The aim would be to show the banks the potential power of the 99%.

    The action would be called: Massive Withdrawal (get the addiction to capitalist society withdrawal reference?). The vision: on Halloween all 99%ers withdraw $100 from the bank at noon EST. The goal: A scary Halloween for corporate America: Demonstrating to the banks the potential power of the people.

    Are you with me?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Z7OEFST4XYDZVQQEZBK6MCMH4Y David Sananman

    You don’t even have to be there to support the 99%, just wait till Halloween

    MASSIVE WITHDRAWAL – Are You with Me?

    I propose that the next phase for Occupy Wall Street is a token but powerful show of force. The aim would be to show the banks the potential power of the 99%.

    The action would be called: Massive Withdrawal (get the addiction to capitalist society withdrawal reference?). The vision: on Halloween all 99%ers withdraw $100 from the bank at noon EST. The goal: A scary Halloween for corporate America: Demonstrating to the banks the potential power of the people.

    Are you with me?

    • Malltales

      David

      please send me details on this, we want to organise this in the Uk. One bank has to be targetted otherwise it is too dilute. malltales@yahoo.com. E

  • carlos

    He says: “The problem is the system.” But, the system is us, therefore, we are the problem, don’t blame any other else. We choose to put our money in one bank or another, we choose to have a mobile with one operator or another, we choose to buy food in one shop or another, we choose to read and see what we want, and thanks to democracy (which is not the case in China or Venezuela), we choose to vote for one government or another. 

    Question what you read or listen, do not let beautiful words blow your mind, and do not let others to take advantage of your displeasure with what’s going on in the world. You don’t need to sit there doing nothing in front of building, repeating chants as a sheep. Build your own criteria, and choose according to it.

  • carlos

    He says: “The problem is the system.” But, the system is us, therefore, we are the problem, don’t blame any other else. We choose to put our money in one bank or another, we choose to have a mobile with one operator or another, we choose to buy food in one shop or another, we choose to read and see what we want, and thanks to democracy (which is not the case in China or Venezuela), we choose to vote for one government or another. 

    Question what you read or listen, do not let beautiful words blow your mind, and do not let others to take advantage of your displeasure with what’s going on in the world. You don’t need to sit there doing nothing in front of building, repeating chants as a sheep. Build your own criteria, and choose according to it.

  • Malltales

    David

    please send me details on this, we want to organise this in the Uk. One bank has to be targetted otherwise it is too dilute. malltales@yahoo.com. E