As some of you know, I am boycotting the Integral Conference because of I-I's unabashed promulgation of global capitalism. (See for example our prevous discussion on Integral Capitalism.) In that regard see Daniel Gustav Anderson’s “Sweet science: A proposal for integral macropolitics,” Integral Review, 6:1, March 2010, pp. 10 - 62. An excerpt:


“I will retell Wilber’s ontology…in order to demonstrate the political significance…which coincide with the particular social regime (or in Wilber’s terms, the “telos”) it expresses, integrated global capital (Guattari, 2000). My purpose is not to explicate the flaws in Wilber’s logic or demonstrate his misreadings of particular texts; such exegesis has been taken up elsewhere; it is instead to suggest ways in which Wilber’s holarchy flickers or mechanically reproduces in the field of metaphysics and spiritual aspiration the social and political structures of late capital, which are not integral at all. Further, because Wilber’s holonography reproduces the present political order and forecloses any legitimized means of transforming its problematic terms of exchange, the unevenness of its development (as I will show), one may plausibly claim that it is not a transformative model but a conservative one in the last analysis, where conservatism is understood as an attempt to maintain the status quo for its own sake” (23-4).

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Can you link to the referenced review by Silbiger?

Here's a blurb on the film by their website:

"Zeitgeist: Moving Forward, by director Peter Joseph, is a feature length documentary work which will present a case for a needed transition out of the current socioeconomic monetary paradigm which governs the entire world society.

"This subject matter will transcend the issues of cultural relativism and traditional ideology and move to relate the core, empirical 'life ground' attributes of human and social survival, extrapolating those immutable natural laws into a new sustainable social paradigm called a 'Resource-Based Economy.'"

And this excerpt from a review tells us a bit more about the radical alternative:

"Zeitgeist MF is essentially a documentary with a super-political (beyond politics) agenda - the transition from today's current, - and according to the film 'failing' economic paradigm - to a new 'resource based economy' that does away with money and politics altogether, replacing these 'out of date' concepts with a new money-less society where the world's resources, plus the manufacturing of food and goods are constantly monitored, and linked to an omniscient central computer hub which automatically synchs and optimises their distribution."

Communism of a new kind indeed. If you miss it in theaters it will soon be available as a free download.

Coming back down to earth, I'm more interested in Zizek on the topic. Here are links to a couple videos of him discussing the ideas in the referenced book Living in the End Times: 1 & 2.
In the early part of video 1 he talks about the psychologizing of capitalism, i.e., rationalizing it as if we can control it with our positive attitudes. Very much like the criticism of positive psychology referenced earlier of which integral capitalism is but one example. Zizek is more in line with what Wilber was saying above, that the economic system is a major force in reversing that notion, that it is more in control of the individual than the other way around. So we end up justifying the system with how much good we can do with all that money. And believing that in our higher consciousness we can control it, tame it, just like good old Jack Abramoff and kennilinguists. You see, we meditate, we disidentify with our selves, and we become immune to such memetic, economic programming, we gain power over it with our special we can therefore partake of it, just the good parts...
Further into part 1 (15 - 20 minutes) he criticizes China's burgeoning capitalism on the one hand for being authoritarian, and that same authoritarianism in its State socialism, for neither are based on democracy.
Around 34 minutes in he criticizes a return to the old communism but then criticizes the left for its old forms too, including social democracy. He thinks only the radical left can revision the solution, but it must start anew and leave the old forms behind.
At around 45 minutes he says our future lies down the road of Italian politics, like Groucho Marx in Duck Soup in power. Grim indeed.
I have a rather strong resistance to the label, "communism," simply because it seems that wherever it has appeared on the ground, it has not been a successful system and has, more often than not, also been founded on (even contributed to) a great deal of human suffering.  (I'm referring to self-described communist systems, not progressive social democracies such as those in Sweden or a few other European countries).  In Nepal right now, the "Maoists" are committing regular atrocities against individuals in the name of a collective, idealized vision of the future (that appears more than willing to "break a few eggs" to make an omelet).  I'm speaking from personal experience here, since my sister-in-law is a political asylum-seeker and her father was actually kidnapped and held hostage by violent Maoist thugs. I'm not saying capitalist democracies are without their own share of problems, and their own quite checkered histories, nor am I saying that I think the present system is "good enough" or needs to continue -- I agree with the call for a radical revisioning, and I also agree with a number of Marx's critiques of capitalist systems -- but when it comes to envisioning a way forward, "communism" is not an attractive alternative to me, at least not in any form that has manifested so far.

Agreed about the self-described communist States that have so far existed. So does Zizek. After finishing that first video I was disappointed though because while he maintains he's a radical communist he says he doesn't know what form that will take, only that it hasn't yet. I hope that he explores how this might manifest, at least in what directions, in his book.

As for democratic socialism and social democracy (similar but not the same), there we have examples of something that works right now, not completely or without problems, but addresses several of the disasters of capitalism.

We get a bit more clarity in this article, "Introduction: Zizek's communism and In Defense of Lost Causes" (International Journel of Zizek Studies, 4:2, 2010). I find it interesting the use of the word "terror" in this context:

"In place of the militant defense of human rights, passionate support for an extension of democracy and the multicultural politics of the struggle for recognition, Žižek advocates what he calls 'emancipatory terror' (IDLC, p. 164), strict egalitarian justice and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

"In IDLC, Žižek maintains that there is a progressive moment in the revolutionary terror of the French Revolution, in Stalin’s forced collectivizations, and in Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Žižek seems to approve the application of force, or 'terror,' in support of a policy of egalitarian justice, and he finds in forced collectivization a radical step forward on the path of industrialization. He locates in the popular impetus unleashed by the Cultural Revolution the embryonic form of a utopian political alternative. Žižek’s program of egalitarian communism is to be actualized by a group dictatorship that will represent the interests of the radically disenfranchised worldwide and will implement policies aiming at material equality in the context of ecological sustainability."

In the first video Zizek talks about the Right in America taking over this revolutionary spirit and rhetoric. Hence we get the Tea Party having such a big influence in the last election, and their generally violent rhetoric and imagery. This terrorizes politicians and corporate leaders, an actual armed rebellion. Hence with this latest shooting in Arizona the Left immediately and accurately points fingers at the Tea Party rhetoric, and Sara Palin, as inciting this type of violence. And yet this is what Zizek is criticizing in the Left, this reaction against the proletariat using their power in numbers to threaten a terrifying armed rebellion. And he thinks it is the radical Left that must enter this arena with exactly this type of threat, since the Right is only going to reinforce the corporate agenda and only the Left will fight for the people.

He is right about the Left being spineless, and he might also be right about something as drastic as the terror of an armed rebellion by the proletariat. I might be naive in still hoping for a semi-peaceful reform movement through democratic socialism. He certainly thinks so. In the Zizekian frame maybe the computer communism of Zeitgeist isn't too far off?

I like the UK Telegraph's review of his book on end times, particularly this excerpt relevant to our recent discussions:

"Žižek’s point – which he surely shares with a long line of philosophical moralists, from St Augustine to Freud – is that it is our most 'natural' and 'caring' urges that can lead us either into the silliest fantasies (the sacred intensity' of The Sound of Music) or the horrors enacted by the likes of Fritzl [who raped his daughter and abused her children by him]."

Have you discussed Jeremy Rifkin's notion of "distributed capitalism," based on emergent peer-to-peer technological models, which he discussed in his book, The Empathic Civilization?  I skimmed the thread and didn't see mention of it, so I thought I'd add it to the mix.  Here's a brief article on it.


(An interesting notion of his, which is not directly relevant to this thread but possibly relevant to this forum, is Rifkin's notion of an emergent "dramaturgical self" as a stage of self-making beyond the "existential postmodern self."  I haven't explored it in depth -- I've just been reviewing his book for a class -- but I'll look into it more and will comment further if it's relevant.)

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