The Prospects of Radical Change Today
In this contribution, Slavoj Žižek takes the occasion of Marx’s bicentenary for reflecting on the prospects of radical change today. First, it is shown that under Stalinism, Lenin’s works were quoted out of context in an arbitrary way in order to legitimise arbitrary political measures. Marxism thereby became an ideology that justified brutal subjective interventions. Second, this contribution poses the question of the revolutionary subject and democracy today. It stresses the role of both contingency and strategy in revolutions. In political assemblages taking place on public squares, the inert mass of ordinary people is transubstantiated into a politically engaged united force. The basic political problem today is how to best reconfigure democracy. Third, this contribution analyses the “interesting times” we live in. These are times that feature multiple crises, right-wing populism à la Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen, the lower classes’ opposition to immigration, and the refugee crisis. Questions about human rights and their violation and about radical change need to be asked in this context.
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