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A spectre is haunting Western academia
June 22, 2009 7:05 AM   Subscribe

Slavoj Žižek recently gave five talks under the title Masterclass - Notes Towards a Definition of Communist Culture. It sez 'ere, "The master class analyses phenomena of modern thought and culture with the intention to discern elements of possible Communist culture. It moves at two levels: first, it interprets some cultural phenomena (from today’s architecture to classic literary works like Rousseau’s La Nouvelle Heloise) as failures to imagine or enact a Communist culture; second, it explores attempts at imagining how a Communist culture could look, from Wagner’s Ring to Kafka’s and Beckett’s short stories and contemporary science fiction novels." Audio of Zizek's talks and subsequent discussion is now online: Part I Utopias; Part II Architecture as Ideology; Part III Wagner’s Ring as a Communist narrative; Part IV Populism and Democracy; Part V Environment, Identity and Multiculturalism. Those who like to watch the beard in motion will find links to video of some of the talks posted here.
posted by Abiezer (29 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
Which video documents the communist master plan that successfully produced, and continues to produce, the Linux kernel?

Or is this just about communist utopias that involve resources in limited supply?
posted by b1tr0t at 7:12 AM on June 22, 2009


Still got a damp cloth on my forehead after listening to one and a half of them b1tr0t, so one of our clever members will have to reply.
posted by Abiezer at 7:21 AM on June 22, 2009


Is this real ? Is the the best of net ? Is this better than a flashgame ?
posted by elcapitano at 7:29 AM on June 22, 2009


elcapitano, I think you mean:

But is not the question of the post's reality another form of the radical cogito in which the ineradicable stain that constitutes the anamorphical objet petit a finds itself always-already imbricated? Is not the yearning for the nonexistent Reality yet another lure which conceals the ultimate impossibility of the communicative relation? The irony of it is that, in attempting to elude the dilemma of the "real" post, Abiezer finds himself, through his consecutive reidentification with Žižek, reenacting precisely that which had been foreclosed by his very demand.
posted by languagehat at 7:48 AM on June 22, 2009 [41 favorites]


Well, I'm glad languagehat's cleared that up.
posted by Abiezer at 7:53 AM on June 22, 2009


Slightly embarrassed to find myself automatically favouriting a post merely because it's Zizek, before actually following the links. I'm afraid that might mean I'm a fanboy.
posted by silence at 7:55 AM on June 22, 2009


gutted like a body without organs
posted by doobiedoo at 7:56 AM on June 22, 2009


Joke by side: when I went to High School in Italy we had the socalled "Permament Occupation by the Communist Revolutionary Forces" which consisted in a office, formerly I think some broom cupboard, which had been occupied by said Member of the Revolutionary Party.

I still remember it because while on the door they had the Red Flag, but the inside of the room was a mix of playboy centerfolds, Cannabis-Indica-Posters, Che Guevara "Andy Wharol" style (different colors) and a giant cock (dick) painted very realistically.

They also got a lot of chicks and got laid a lot too.

I wondered if this is the same communism Mr Slavoj Žižek is talking about ...
posted by elcapitano at 8:25 AM on June 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sounds like utopia to me.
posted by xod at 9:15 AM on June 22, 2009


Which video documents the communist master plan that successfully produced, and continues to produce, the Linux kernel?

Are we making a distinction in this thread between voluntary and invuluntary communism?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:32 AM on June 22, 2009


Žižek: Because communism just plain makes too much sense to people already.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:37 AM on June 22, 2009


Are we making a distinction in this thread between voluntary and invuluntary communism?

Would that be like the distinction between voluntary and involuntary capitalism?
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:37 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are we making a distinction in this thread between voluntary and invuluntary communism?

The libertarians working on the Linux kernel certainly won't be too happy when they learn that they have been made communists against their will.
posted by daniel_charms at 9:43 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


The libertarians working on the Linux kernel certainly won't be too happy when they learn that they have been made communists against their will.

Most anything that makes Eric Raymond unhappy is OK with me. Except maybe Islam. I'm not a big fan of religion in general.

(But yes, the notion that Linux, or any significant GPL software is 'communist' is boneheadedly stupid.)
posted by rodgerd at 11:46 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


The libertarians working on the Linux kernel certainly won't be too happy when they learn that they have been made communists against their will.

Right-libertarians and left-libertarians do have some things in common. I suspect the Linux libertarians are closer to anarchists than to devout believers that everything must be for sale.
posted by shetterly at 12:24 PM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


The libertarians working on the Linux kernel certainly won't be too happy when they learn that they have been made communists against their will.

Most anything that makes Eric Raymond unhappy is OK with me.


Didn't his attempted contributions to the kernel get shot down?
posted by decagon at 2:18 PM on June 22, 2009


(Sixteen comments and this thread has already progressed from Slavoj Žižek to the Linux kernel.)
posted by decagon at 2:20 PM on June 22, 2009


Didn't his attempted contributions to the kernel get shot down?

...and yet he bills himself as a kernel hacker, IIRC.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:37 PM on June 22, 2009


Would that be like the distinction between voluntary and involuntary capitalism?

In capitalist societies people are free to form communes. Are people free to form capitalist groupings in communist societies?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:30 PM on June 22, 2009


In the Confederacy, people were free to not own slaves. Were people free to own slaves in the Union?
posted by shetterly at 6:30 PM on June 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


Didn't his attempted contributions to the kernel get shot down?

...and yet he bills himself as a kernel hacker, IIRC.


In general, his contributions of actual code are pretty trivial compared to his contributions of rhetoric. Which is not, in and of itself, a bad thing, but you wouldn't know it from Raymond's own PR.
posted by rodgerd at 7:38 PM on June 22, 2009


(Wow. Russ Nelson has really devoted himself to whitewashing ESR's Wiki page.)
posted by rodgerd at 7:59 PM on June 22, 2009


(But yes, the notion that Linux, or any significant GPL software is 'communist' is boneheadedly stupid.)

Why? Because they are successful projects that embody many Communist ideals, yet don't involve lopping anyone's head off?
posted by b1tr0t at 8:18 PM on June 22, 2009


Why? Because they are successful projects that embody many Communist ideals, yet don't involve lopping anyone's head off?

Because the diversity of contributors and motivations, in the case of Linux, rule against this. Linus is not a Communist. The contributors include, um, IBM.

The GPL makes distribution unconditional - you can't GPL code and tie it to a political philiosophy, other than that of the GPL itself. Stallman cites as one of his motivators in his views on software freedom an anecdote about Japanese research scientists in the Pacific leaving a WW II lab perfectly intact with notes expressing their desire for Allied scientists to take over their research.
posted by rodgerd at 8:24 PM on June 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm marking this thread as a favourite just because of the hilarious turn the comments have taken.
posted by sid at 3:26 AM on June 23, 2009


I disagree with almost everything Žižek stands for, but this gets an automatic favorite because he's so so engaging to listen to!
posted by adjockey at 7:09 AM on June 23, 2009


he's so so engaging to listen to
This has been how I've found the talks I've listened to so far adjockey - brimming with ideas and thought-provoking even where I don't accept the overall premise or aren't that knowledgeable/interested in the surface subject matter (Wagner).
posted by Abiezer at 7:22 AM on June 23, 2009


I agree, Abiezer. And there's a certain feeling of just almost understanding some wild new idea that I find distinctly pleasant. Day to day life (at least mine) doesn't make one reach intellectually very much, but thinkers like Žižek do.
posted by adjockey at 8:44 AM on June 23, 2009


I'm marking this thread as a favourite just because of the hilarious turn the comments have taken.

"We aren't familiar with icons of Communist thinking so we'll derail into Linux" is, at least, slightly more dignified than the LOLPostmodernism.
posted by rodgerd at 4:05 PM on June 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


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