又老又鬱悶的第一世界(邱慕天)

Source Link: https://www.anntw.com/articles/20150120-LjT6

又老又鬱悶的第一世界(邱慕天)

在1月17日《金融時報》刊出的〈西方為何如此悲觀?〉一文中,專欄作家盧斯(Edward Luce)觀察到一個獨特的現象:第一世界(西方)的悲觀,對比第三世界社會的樂觀。

這現象乍看怎麼都令人納悶,經濟學不能完全解釋它、地緣政治也無法窺其堂奧:美國自2008的金融復甦已有5年,伊戰2004終結更是10年前的事;西線無戰事、壽命更長了,有民主、有自由,一人一票,不用「袋住先」,日子還有什麼好難過的?盧斯問到,「西方已經看不清現實了嗎?」人的本性豈非「身在福中不知福」?

一個合理的解釋是國際競爭的零和遊戲。皮尤研究中心2013年的民調報告,顯示西方人不再寄望未來會更好,只有33%的美國人覺得下一代會比他們更享福;而這個數字在德國、英國、義大利、法國,更分別是28%、17%、14%、9%的自由落體降跌;與82%的中國、65%的印度對比,恍如雲泥。

中國夢一帶一路發展、印度搶當世界老三、東協興旺、中東人民沸騰;發展中國家「由簡入奢易」的30年,對應的是西方由奢入簡難的頓挫感,於是年年益發擔憂著氣候變遷、資源不夠分;坦尚尼亞的獅子遭盜獵、撒哈拉又沙漠化,南極的冰帽融解,企鵝往哪去?冷熱都安不了西方人的心;這與其說是春秋戰國的杞人憂天,反倒更貼近阿德勒(Alfred Adler)的「存在焦慮」(existential anxiety)。

【焦慮在於老了、慢了】
更深層次的原因,則在於人口老化加深了世代鴻溝。第一世界隨著高齡化而攀高的扶養比、債務比,都是大環境苦悶的根源,但心態的老化,更能解釋為何老、幼都一同陷入存在焦慮與悲觀之中。

正如詩人撒母耳.烏爾曼(Samuel UIlman)《年輕》之詩所言,

「年輕,並非人生旅程的一段時光,也並非粉頰紅唇和體魄的矯健。它是心靈中的一種狀態,是頭腦中的一個意念,是理性思維中的創造潛力,是情感活動中的一股勃勃的朝氣,是人生春色深處的一縷東風。」

全球這波製造業復甦的榮景,恰逢西方新一輪技術革命,網路科技與自動化取代了人力;退休的老年人跟不上快速變遷的世界,年輕人則憎恨老年人把持了資源、福利,阻礙他們創新。在《查理週刊》的「英靈」感召下,「自由」雖正以大革命以來未曾有過的高度響徹西方,然而,這個「後現代社會」的本質卻跟這個復古的運動調性格格不入。

德國社會學家約拿斯(Hans Jonas)40年前就問過我們,「什麼是快?什麼是慢?…什麼是演進(evolution),什麼是革命(revolution)?」在〈17世紀以降:科學與科技革命的意義〉,約拿斯說,

「用一般人的壽命來看,若一個人七老八十之時,不能向下一代傳承智慧,或竟無法睿智地道出對應時代發展軌跡的生命歷程,自感過氣和沒用(obsolete),那就意味著一個吞噬正常人格學習曲線的『革命性時代』已然來到。」

隨著第一世界的壽命愈來愈長,技術力和科技娛樂不斷加快的轉輪,也拋物線般地把戰後老臣們甩進歷史的宇宙黑洞中;活在當下的我們,恐怕也只有在《星際效應》這樣5次元的架空電影,或是男神金城武4G廣告的小清新敘事,還能保有「世界愈快,心則慢」的天真夢想了。

【「末後之人」降臨】
當代西方的顢頇老態,正反應了百年前尼采(Friedrich Nietzsche)揭示的「末後之人」(the last man):他將自己麻痺在安逸有序、「太過現代」的體制生活內,以如同推磨般的被動民主選擇題作為他的「消極自由」,殊不知那些拓荒、創制、開國等有關積極自由的參孫力量,早已隨著他修剪乾淨的體毛、俐落的短髮而消失無蹤了。

《查理週刊》事件引爆了政教框架的再界定,好似揭開了「西方文明人」和「東方野蠻人」兩個年輕靈魂「超限戰」的序幕。杭廷頓(Samuel Huntington)的「文明衝突論」乍看是再次擦亮了招牌;重新拾起報紙和走上街頭的法國人,紛紛憶起1968年時年輕的自己。

但尷尬的是,「1789」和「1968」的時代密碼不能解決西方的焦慮;西方一輪的示威,不過是換回中東更大一輪的抗爭──他們是鄂圖曼、甚至1453年前的遺民。你的倚老,觸發的是人家更古老,而且原始、質樸的憤怒。

無神論者齊澤克(Slavoj Žižek)不諱言,西方之所以如此狼狽地迎接2015的開始,辯證源頭才不是什麼「東西文化戰爭」或「世俗與超越對抗」。摸摸你的鬍鬚吧,會為了幾幅鉛筆畫就崩潰殺人的,絕對不是什麼能掌控自己權力意志、與神同行的贏者;看看藏傳佛僧的堅韌、門諾會阿米須基督徒的恬淡,就知道那些悲憤到要殺人的伊斯蘭主義者信仰有多麼脆弱。

是以,莫怪真伊斯蘭刺傷了人!──引動法國土生的庫阿奇兄弟殺機的焦慮,是西方原生的焦慮;是那個新自由主義下,財富資源話語權不均的悲憤情懷,在向這塊土地討要鮮血、催生瘋狂。綁架伊斯蘭真主的恐怖份子,思想已先被西方自由世俗主義綁架了。99%當中1%無力超越世俗的自卑輸者。

【自由!誰假汝之名】
這是詩人葉慈(William Butler Yeats)經典詩詞《基督再來》(Second Coming)所描繪的場景:

「優勝者毫無信念;劣敗者卻激昂懇切。」

優勝者老得快要被新時代的邏輯淘汰;劣敗者卻還看不到機會翻身,他們是一張張街頭上憤怒青年的面孔,間或轉生為乾脆早死、早超生的激進份子。

在「基督再來」之前,當代西方世界最大的病灶無疑是「自由主義」帶來的身份危機。在經濟學上,它是勝者全拿、贏家通吃的無政府主義催生者;在政治領域,它有時成為激進左派的標誌,要求權利鬆綁和國家主導的資源再分配。在神學界,它則體現為人類高舉自我和活在當下的「進步」思想體系。在理論上,它高舉人皆平等;在實務上,它卻是體現眾生不平等最赤裸的人肉實驗。

這是因為名曰「經濟」的自由主義,因著「政治」緣故而被老人沈重的社福和裙帶結構拖垮;名曰「政治」的自由主義,倒因「神學」世俗化緣故而惹上「逆向歧視」宗教社群及傳統部落的一身腥;名曰「神學」的自由主義,更是因著延壽科技誕下一群高齡卻心智官能退化的「末後之人」,而既回不到天家、也無力迎接地上烏托邦。

他們「殘存亦末路」(as penultimate beings ),把這個益發扁平塌陷的地球熱爆、擠爆;1944年沙特(Jean-Paul Sartre)存在主義名劇《無路可出》的預言一步步成為真實:他人即地獄(L’enfer, c’est les autres)。

月前,再次提出自由主義宗教淵源的,是牛津大學的名譽研究員西登托普(Larry Siedentop)。他代表西方說:

「我們內心中認為,自己這種自由世俗主義近乎等同於無信仰。」

【老「汝老」以及「吾之幼」】
這樣看來,使中國與亞非拉諸國這些社會集體樂觀的心理秘訣,不啻是那個物質進步與信仰傳播齊發並進的模式:「事奉上帝」與「事奉瑪門」者,各安於自己需要的滿足。沒有那個硬要他們相信「人皆平等」、卻無法兌現的空頭政治承諾;沒有一套憲政和法律體系強迫洗腦人們它是主權神授般地「超然」與「中立」。

更重要的是,與其讓自己活太長、留在世上當the last man,第三世界大多數人更願意多子多孫,把對世界的盼望分享給後代,於是恰恰避開使西方精神分裂的「三重自由主義」瘟疫。

我們不需要活得太長,只希望自己死的時候心情還很年輕。我們不是因厭世而祈求來生,而是思想超前了這世界,才將靈魂先寄託在天家、再回來做工。

這是「老得很不快樂」的第一世界,給予我們最要緊的功課:務要傾聽,趁著我們還年輕。

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[Audio] Post-Marxist Slavoj Žižek plays theologian and listen to what he says

 

 

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Post-Marxist critic Slavoj Žižek elaborates on theology- a great inspiration to listen to.

■ To say salvation is from our good works like an economic exchange is an OBSCENITY! No, it [salvation] has to be predestination [by God]- « this I totally agree with, » says Žižek.

■ It is a mystery that a Protestant ethics on « active work, » rather than a passive hedonism, was spawned by this belief in predestination.

Zizek’s take on this, to much of my delight, is close to the one advanced by Teilhard de Chardin, Jenson, Derrida and Barth. Predestination is not determinism; as an extremely refined dialectic, we understand it as being decided chronologically backwards: thing happened now retroactively decides the past. (And the history is predestined by and in the eschaton.)

« Every great work of art retroactively changes its entire past. » – T. S. Eliot
« A great writer create his or her own precursors. » -Jorge Luis Borges

■ True freedom is found in faith in the postliberal sense (free for others, such as a loving act): We are free to constitute our very predestination, to choose our necessity.

■ The deification (theosis) tradition in Eastern Orthodox Church is very problematic to Zizek. It turns Christ into somewhat an idol.

■ Calvinism is the purest form of Christianity.

■ We are part of God’s history. Using a nice Hegelian dialectic formulation, only through Protestantism does Christianity become what it always is through history. Protestantism does not elevate meditation or some kind of inner orgasm. Rather, it is principled by Sola Scriptura (Bible alone) and it does not mean it’s only you and God; it means you cannot bypass the Logos. Church as an institution- the essence of Gemeinde (community)- means precisely that.

■ What Zizek opposes is the Feuerbach understanding of religion, aka a soft religious humanism. True religion is more than man in man. Even in psychoanalysis, « death drive » is not a pursuit of Nirvana; it is an insistence for more life and death. Here Zizek claims himself to be a strict Kierkegaardian (!). What Kierkegaard jettisoned at his time is also the mundane coin with its two sorry sides without a portrayal reflective of Jesus’ lordship: soft religious humanism and state conformism.

■ Man has to be de-centered with regard to God. But there must also be a gap between God and the Godhead (?). In order to fully account men, you must accept that God is de-centered in Himself with regard to Himself. (This sounds Jenson-ian and Moltmannian)

 

[文摘] Slavoj Zizek: How China Got Religion 談齊澤克〈中國如何掌握宗教〉

Referral Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/opinion/11zizek.html?_r=0

Zizek 2007年前的經典文章〈中國如何掌握宗教〉,與本人隔年寫的一篇學位小論文處理類似的主題。

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在中國,佛教得到官方鼓吹和補助;藏傳佛教、附佛外道法輪功卻是必須控制或打壓的信仰。箇中原因當然是政治和諧。

但Zizek 認為更根本的看,這是自由派與世俗主義在普世範圍贏得現代性一役(war on modernity)的明確指標,正如猶太-基督信仰在美國已大致被馴化為一種文娛文動、高等教育把宗教當一種人文學科來教──這表示社會已經不再尊重宗教的終極性。

All human sciences are turning into a branch of cultural studies; our societal elite follow (some of the) religious rituals and mores of our tradition only out of respect: Christmas trees in shopping centers every December; neighborhood Easter egg hunts; Passover dinners celebrated by nonbelieving Jews.

The significant issue for the West here is not Buddhas and lamas, but what we mean when we refer to “culture.”— the name for all those things we practice without really taking seriously.

然而,基要主義者仍然是對現代世界的一種威脅,他們欠缺懸置預設立場、抽離自身視角理解世界和反省自身傳統的能力。

Today, we seem to see the ultimate threat to culture as coming from those who live immediately in their culture, who lack the proper distance.

Perhaps we find China’s ‘management measures for the reincarnation of living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism’ (basically prohibits Buddhist monks from returning from the dead without government permission) so outrageous NOT because they are alien to our sensibility, but because they spill the secret of what we have done for so long: respectfully tolerating what we don’t take quite seriously, and trying to contain its political consequences through the law. »

只是作為文化馬克思主義者的Zizek,解構現代政治邏輯是真的為了尋回信仰的終極性嗎?

參見這段 Zizek 論神學的錄音,看來果真如此。

Zizek 表示:我拒絕 Feuerbach 那種把基督宗教當成人類高等自我投射的人學理解。Man is not enough and man has to be de-centered.

 

本人從《公共的信仰》切入此題,仍認為從四個範疇理解不同宗教活動的特質,將有益於凸顯真正的信仰:

一、        不妥協、無益於社會:對社會共善無益、或含有盲目與暴力成分的基要主義信仰。

二、        可妥協、無益於社會:容易被政治利用而形成暴力、宰制、或叛亂根源的宗教信仰。

三、        不妥協、有益於社會:超然於政治、為社會帶來批判視角和獨特人才孕育系統的宗教信仰

四、        可妥協、有益於社會:以文化的形式成為社會共同精神資產的宗教信仰

這樣,事實上需要國家去控制和導正的,其實只有第二象限的宗教。對第一象限宗教,則當形成政治和文化包圍圈。藏傳佛教在中國而言,則正面對著這樣的包圍圈,而同時存在自身象限界定的問題。

不夠超驗的與終極的宗教信仰,很快就會因為失去了主流文化立基之壤,而選擇妥協世俗形式重新換取資源。

關鍵便在於:宗教如果作為文化,那麼配得的就只有民主中「少數服從多數」的那種「尊重」;但何為尊重,由制訂規格的多數定義。反之,若作理解世界的根本信念(神學),則它必要回過頭來參與制訂遊戲規則,包含何謂「尊重」。

 

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[省思] 從「不能戳的秘密」看社會信任與Žižek新時代的戰鬥宣言

 

臺灣李惠仁導演是一位極具專業偵探能力和熱情的記者,他在《不能戳的秘密》紀錄片中追蹤了自2004年起禽流感病毒在臺灣藉南部民間教授自製非法疫苗殘留、以致變種、擴散,如今成為有高度危害能力的甲型禽流感H5N2病毒的經過。

揭弊過程,幾乎可以演繹為李惠仁與農委會防檢局長許天來所代表的政府官僚系統的攻防戰。

然而即使掌握了關鍵事證,官僚收買學界、並以生計算盤扣留無知農民,依然使廣大民眾的權益被罔顧。

《不能戳的秘密》在多個月前八卦版被推爆時,底下一堆人說:「天呀,好黑!」「媽,我在這!」「記者快來抄!」彷彿除了等待記者的動作外,這些年輕高等教育學子能做的就只有孩提般的哭叫和製造噪音。

如今這麼盤根錯節以致「共生共亡」的國際醜聞,很容易讓人沮喪地丟下一句:「臺灣真是鬼島!」

然而北京有天朝、上海是魔都,美國的巨頭食品工業更是跨黨派式地買通整個政體。這類問題顯然需要齊澤克(Slavoj Žižek)一類的後馬克斯全球化批判才能妥善處理。

如今臺灣反對黨不停地高喊「牛有毒、雞有病、豬有疫、馬無能」,想要拉更高層級的官員下馬,對這個跨越兩任政權的弊端,還是只有奪權思維而沒能提出解決之道。

日前我在「回應加藤嘉一:警惕新迎合主義」一文中,我質疑他對「政客和官僚」在不同國家政體中互動的識見不清。然而這在臺灣很明顯,是政客和官僚互相勾結的問題。

一如李惠仁所指出,1997年台灣爆發口蹄疫,撲殺上百萬頭豬隻,當時省農林廳長陳武雄、農委會畜牧處承辦科長許天來為此雙雙下台,「如今,陳武雄貴為農委農會主委,許天來也高升為防檢局長,他們這對『豬』事不順的難兄難弟,豈會輕易為了禽流感這等『鳥』事,再次搞掉自己的烏紗帽?」原來在臺灣官僚所謂「下台」,只是離開主管職,仍是受保障的公務員,繼續擁有工作權。只要事過境遷,仍然可以跨越政黨輪替,繼續被拔擢。

這次H5N2禽流感病毒在臺灣被隱匿疫情七十天以致大爆發,當時在官僚內部和學界都知情,畢竟連民間記者代表的李惠仁都能掌握檢體數據和養雞場座標資訊了。然而《不能戳的秘密》中被訪問到的大學教授,一個個昧於學術良心為官員護航和撇清責任。

紀錄片後半段導演和記者分別打電話給當時兩次和政府官員「協調」疫情的學者,而所有的學者都推說不清楚不知道不在場。李惠仁鍥而不捨地調查這些教授與農委會、國科會等政府機構的關係,結果這些與會教授大半都有拿政府的補助經費,累計少則百萬、多則幾千萬。

我們為著這些深知事情嚴重性而不敢說破的教授們感到痛心。臺灣最接近後馬克斯社會批判的公眾知識份子前清大彭明輝教授則曾經撰文痛批,「五年五百億」之類的臺灣卓越大學補助計畫,將使大學學術喪失獨立和批判思考的能力,進而將使臺灣亡國。如今證實所言不假,更顯他以身作則自請退休是為清流。

齊澤克更是將整個矛頭指向資本主義的基本邏輯:長時間以來我們允許自己參與政治的權利被外包(outsourcing)給那些技術官僚和被政府所圈養的學者,如今這些資本主義利益集團就以最殘忍的共產主義者面貌來殘害我們的生活品質。

作為後馬克斯第一號人物的齊澤克進一步指出,在現在的全球版圖,最有活力的資本主義體系,是由極端不民主的共產主義政權(中國)所領導的。這說明著民主和資本主義的「婚姻」已經結束了。在美國,「你想要加收一點富人稅,他們告訴你這不可能;你想要有多點錢在醫療保健里,他們告訴你這不可能,這意味著集權主義國家。」

在臺灣,所有人民的生存權、健康、公眾參與權,則可以因著政府團隊為了拼美國免簽、拼台美雙邊貿易(TIFA)、拼世界衛生組織(WHO)席位、拼兩岸經貿協定(EFCA)而置後。一線雞農更是為蛋價肉價等生計問題而不敢揭露疫情,更有許多是私自為禽類接種非法疫苗,以致病毒和抗體同時潛伏體內使早該被撲殺的雞鴉都已大批上市讓民眾吃下。

殊不知從塑化劑到禽流感,短視近利而竄改標準、淹沒誠信原則的結果,如今只是在世界舞台上再次重創臺灣的國際地位和經濟前景,並動搖維繫社稷穩定所基本的自由互信機制。

在美國得獎紀錄片「美味代價」(Food Inc.)中,我們看到除了紀錄片導演外,還看到為了愛兒食物中毒犧牲後勇闖議會立法的母親、一位奮不顧身跳出大揭食品加工業瘡疤的養雞戶,以及一個堅持造物主自然觀、實踐有機理想的生鮮肉農。

如今,從我們貼身所吃進的食物做起,只是一個最基本的呼籲。

在臺灣,我們能有李惠仁導演和彭明輝教授這樣能夠身教言教、心理素質強大的公共知識份子當反對派。雖然他們時有激進和情緒化的公開言論但那若是為了喚起社會的冷血則咱們無可厚非。

或許如同齊澤克在佔領華爾街的慷慨陳詞所說的,「我們應當改變我們生活的優先順序。我們不需要高生活水平,我們要的是更好的生活水平。我們只有在一點上是共產主義者,那就是我們關心公有權。自然的公有權,被私有化的知識財產的公有權,遺傳生物學的公有權。爲了這,而且只爲了這,我們應該戰鬥。」

戰鬥不光是吶喊「媽,我在這」或是露營。那些需要透過記者來抄或攝影機來拍才有存在意義的活動已經早就被麥克魯漢(Marshall McLuhan)和布希亞(Jean Baudrillard)論證過,是可以製造的幻覺。

我們需要做的是讓自己成為直接具有發話權的報導者、新一代的掌握專業的公眾知識份子、迪雪圖(Michel de Certeau)口中有實踐理性和微型反抗戰術(tactics)的路人甲、以及美味代價中那位生鮮肉農般的青年實業家。

 

記得約兩年前曾經在 Facebook上,隨機瀏覽到一對剛從成大畢業的年輕夫妻,在職業欄自信地填上「農夫」與「農婦」。他們的婚紗照是在田邊拍的,個人檔案中公開的盡是農忙的生活照和傲人的農穫。他們立志繼承家業,帶給國民健康的、生鮮的蔬果。「流淚撒種的,必歡呼收割。」不知道他們現在過得好不好。

 

 

 

[文摘] Slavoj Žižek and Harum Scarum

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Slavoj Zizek in Liverpool, cropped version of ...
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In Gene Nelson‘s « Harum Scarum » (1965), featuring Elvis Presley as the Hollywood heartthrob Johnny Tyronne, we meet the action movie star travelling through the Orient while promoting his new film, « Sands of the Desert« . Upon arrival, however, Elvis Presley/Johnny Tyronne is kidnapped by a gang of assassins led by a temptress « Oriental » named Aishah, who wish to hire him to carry out an assassination. Emboldened by proper « Western virtues », Elvis will do no such thing and manages to sing and dance his way out of the way of the conniving « Orientals ».

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Slavoj Zizek, the Slovenian philosopher, made a rather abrupt staccato observation – a hit-and-run strike worthy of an action hero – very much reminiscent of the fate of Elvis Presley and his Oriental sojourn:

« I think today the world is asking for a real alternative. Would you like to live in a world where the only alternative is either anglo-saxon neoliberalism or Chinese-Singaporean capitalism with Asian values? I claim if we do nothing we will gradually approach a kind of a new type of authoritarian society. Here I see the world historical importance of what is happening today in China. Until now there was one good argument for capitalism: sooner or later it brought a demand for democracy … What I’m afraid of is, with this capitalism with Asian values, we get a capitalism much more efficient and dynamic than our western capitalism. But I don’t share the hope of my liberal friends – give them ten years [and there will be] another Tiananmen Square demonstration – no, the marriage between capitalism and democracy is over. »

(full article)

The author of this article, Hamid Dabashi, is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York. Among his most recent books is Post-Orientalism: Knowledge and Power in Time of Terror (2008). This quite helpfully explains his viewpoint before you delve into his  tortuous reasoning adorned with beautifully labyrinthine English vocabularies.

Don’t get me wrong. This article is very thought-provoking, and definitely worth reading. Before we Chinese and Asian bow down to repent and recognize our Asian values as despicable, Dabashi helps us to see that this western intellectual pride has a long legacy among the European philosophical elites.

He found Žižek’s pedigree first of all in Emanuel Levinas (1906-1995) – the distinguished Lithuanian phenomenologist of Jewish ancestry. Levinas’ baffling dismissal of the non-European as non-human is no less controversial than Žižek given his Oriental ethnicity/political identification  and Other ethics. Contrary to his phenomenological ethics that famously sought the sight of the (European) knowing subject in an encounter with « the face of the other », Levinas wrote:

« When I speak of Europe, I think about the gathering of humanity. Only in the European sense can the world be gathered together … in this sense Buddhism can be said just as well in Greek. »

« I often say, although it is a dangerous thing to say publicly, that humanity consists of the Bible and the Greeks. All the rest can be translated: all the rest – all the exotic – is dance. »

If Levinas is not enough « vintage West » to convince you of this racist strand of Western philosophy, then Edward Saïd ‘s Orientalism should help us to trace the roots of this intelligentsia virus back to Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), the father of the European Enlightenment.

Kant insists:

« Even their paintings [that is Chinese painting] are grotesque and portray strange and unnatural figures such as are encountered nowhere in the world. They also have the venerable grotesqueries because they are of very ancient custom, and no nation in the world has more of these than this one. »

Kant does not hate the Chinese in particular. Dabashi tries to convince us that he was quite ecumenical and cosmopolitan in this regard with this following Kantian citation:

« All these savages [Native Americans] have little feeling for the beautiful in moral understanding, and the generous forgiveness of an injury, which is at once noble and beautiful, is completely unknown as a virtue among the savages, but rather is disdained as a miserable cowardice. »

More than that. For Kant, people of the African continent deserve an exclusive claim on stupidity. Regarding an African who might have said something worthy of Kant’s regards, the father of the European Enlightenment states:

« And it might be that there were something in this which perhaps deserved to be considered; but in short, this fellow was quite black from head to foot, a clear proof that what he said was stupid. »Immanuel Kant developed his own version of the...

Dabashi remarks on behalf of Kant:

The only way that some « Orientals » were to approximate humanity was if they were to become like Europeans – for which Kant volunteered Arabs as Spaniards, Persians as French, and Japanese as Englishmen.

Dabashi concludes that the Žižek faulty ideology that « capitalism in the West it begat democracy and went wayward with Asian values »  is predicated on the idea that « Orientals » (a la Kant and Levinas’ reading of them) are incapable of thinking on their own feet (for they are black and too busy dancing).

African American History
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The New York Times seems to champion this rude proposition with an recent article that relegates the cause of the exacerbated disturbance in the Arab Spring to its lack of leading thinkers or intellectuals – contrary to all other revolutions:

It has not yet yielded any clear political or economic project, or any intellectual standard-bearers of the kind who shaped almost every modern revolution from 1776 onward. In those revolts, thinkers or ideologues – from Thomas Paine to Lenin to Mao to Vaclav Hevel – helped provide a unifying vision or became symbols of a people’s aspirations.

Dabashi is apparently not happy with this analysis as he raises a a few objections.

He challenges that if Žižek and Michael Moore can be rightly called the intellectual hero of #Occupy Wall Street, then where were they during the years of recent uprising in Europe, from workers in Greece to the Indignados in Spain to students and looters in the UK – a succession of uprisings that in fact predates the Arab Spring? « Marx did not cause the revolutions of 1848, the revolutions of 1848 created Marx, as did the American Revolution Thomas Paine, the Russian revolution Lenin, etc » Dabashi is convinced that some Westerners need to deal with their myopia, for like all other revolutionary uprisings, « the Arab Spring is generating its own thinkers » (but we cannot name one yet).

He also questions how those thinkers and commentators can idealize the West as if the Nazism in Germany, Fascism in Italy and Spain, Totalitarianism in Russia and the rest of Eastern Europe (Zizek’s own backyard) were not European in their own roots?

He also rejects Max Weber’s thesis that capitalism has its very inception in the Protestant ethics and argues for capitalism’s inherent aterritorial disposition (but he does not provide an argument).

Reminiscent of what the french structuralist Claude Lévi-Strauss had attempted discretely in his anthropological classic « Tristes Tropiques (憂鬱的熱帶), in conclusion Dabashi calls for a cosmopolitan vista of intellectual equality and of anthentic liberating ideas, instead of continual mind-boggling ethnicisation of the global calamity called capitalism, for

[t]hat world… is coming to an end – and folks like Zizek have no blasted clue how to read the change. They write a piece for London Review of Books denouncing anything from the Arab Spring to European uprisings in Spain and Greece as pointless one day, and next day they pop up in the Zuccotti Park in Wall Street reading redundant and silly stories about a Walt Disney cat falling from the precipice and not noticing it – that cat is in fact Zizek himself and his brand of philosophy – all it has to do is just look down and it is no more.

As a philosopher Zizek is the very last whimper of that bang called « the West » that had frightened the world out of the necessary confidence to generate any idea they never dreamt in their philosophies – for to them whatever we say is « grotesquery, » whatever we do is « dancing », for we are (and in that emancipatory acclamation Zizek is welcome to join us) « quite black from head to foot, a clear proof that what we say is stupid ».

As I said, this article has from head to foot the proclivity to be thought-provoking, and I think it’s now we Chinese people’s turn to do some reflective work- on what exactly these Asian values are  and how they have ruined the happy-ever-after marriage between capitalism and democracy [slash] Protestant ethics- with its forceful  espousal to autocracy and Procrustean ethics perhaps?

China Town
陳芳明:威權體制背後的三大支柱是儒家思想、中華民族主義、黨國體制,這三者都是非常父權、異性戀沙文主義的產物。 - Are they the cause for the totalitarianization of Eastern capitalism?

China Town