Video and audio recordings from a paper presentation delivered at the Authors@Google program in Google’s New York office on 12th September 2008 to discuss his book Violence: Six Sideways Reflections.
In this passionate plea for awareness, Žižek turns his unflinching gaze on the capitalist democracies we live in. The book discusses the inherent violence of globalization, capitalism, fundamentalism, and language: it brings new light to the Paris riots of 2005, questions the permissiveness of violence in philanthropy, explores the bloody totalitarian regimes of the last century, analyses that violence which is named ‘divine’ and reflects on the powerful image and determination of contemporary terrorism.
Violence takes three forms: subjective (crime, terror), objective (racism, hate-speech, discrimination), and systemic (the catastrophic effects of economic and political systems)—and often one form of violence blunts our ability to see the others, raising complicated questions.
Does the advent of capitalism and, indeed, civilization cause more violence than it prevents? Is there violence in the simple idea of “the neighbor”? And could the appropriate form of action against violence today simply be to contemplate, to think?
Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad Daylight, Reading Marx, Incontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.