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First As Tragedy, Then As Farce

In this bravura analysis of the current global crisis - following on from his bestselling "Welcome to the Desert of the Real" - Slavoj A iA ek argues that the liberal idea of the end of history, declared by Francis Fukuyama during the 1990s, has had to die twice. After the collapse of the liberal-democratic political utopia, on the morning of 9/11, came the collapse of the economic utopia of global market capitalism at the end of 2008. Marx argued that history repeats itself-occurring first as tragedy, the second time as farce - and A iA ek, following Herbert Marcuse, notes here that the repetition as farce can be even more terrifying than the original tragedy. The financial meltdown signals that the fantasy of globalization is over and as millions are put out of work it has become impossible to ignore the irrationality of global capitalism. Just a few months before the crash, the world's priorities seemed to be global warming, AIDS, and access to medicine, food and water- tasks labelled as urgent, but with any real action repeatedly postponed. Now, after the financial implosion, the urgent need to act seems to have become unconditional - with the result that undreamt of quantities of cash were immediately found and then poured into the financial sector without any regard for the old priorities. Do we need further proof, A iA ek asks, that Capital is the Real of our lives: the Real whose demands are more absolute than even the most pressing problems of our natural and social world?
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About the Author

SLAVOJ A IA EK is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.


"A characteristically enjoyable development of his recent journalistic commentary (Berlusconi as Kung Fu Panda), which digs joyfully into the ideological cracks of the financial crisis so as to enlarge them, and declares confidently that 'The future will thus be communist ... or socialist'." Steven Poole, Guardian "Electrifying - Revel in the way he can zero in on the absurdities and contradictions of the modern world." - Nick Lezard, Guardian, "A typically trenchant account of the farce of capitalism and future of communism, which in Zizek's hands is a flaming red banner confronting and affronting the deadly grey of capitalist conformity, confirming him as one of our most daring and unsparing contemporary thinkers." Times Higher Education Supplement "Zizek, a Marxist, writes with passion and an aphoristic energy that is spellbinding - a great provocateur and an immensely suggestive and even dashing writer." LA Times

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