In the first part Žižek analyses how we live in a moment during the pandemic where the greatest act of love is to stay distant from the object of your affection. When governments renowned for ruthless cuts in public spending can suddenly conjure up trillions, when toilet paper becomes a commodity as precious as diamonds, and when a new form of communism may be the only way of averting a descent into global barbarism. With his customary brio and love of analogies in popular culture (Quentin Tarantino and H.G. Wells sit next to Hegel and Marx in these pages), he provides a concise and provocative snapshot of the crisis as it widens, engulfing us all.
In the second part Žižek delves into some of the more surprising dimensions of lockdowns, quarantines, and social distancing—and the increasingly unruly opposition to them by “response fatigued” publics around the planet. Here, Žižek examines the ripple effects on the food supply of harvest failures caused by labor shortages and the hyper-exploitation of the global class of care workers, without whose labor daily life would be impossible. Through such examples he pinpoints the inability of contemporary capitalism to effectively safeguard the public in times of crisis.
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.