Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I think I do owe Zizek an apology for misrepresenting him in my blog. He doesn't discount ecological crisis in the essay that I linked to. He sees it as potentially catastrophic, while at the same time maintaining that humans cannot contemplate their own death in real terms. While I'm not sure I agree, this is not the egregious claim that I said it was. What Zizek sees as the "ideology" of ecology is, instead, the ways in which corporations can jump on the ecological bandwagon to improve their image and in which ecology can serve as a placeholder for all sorts of non-actions. But if this is the case, I have a serious problem with Zizek claiming that ecology is the new ideology. That claim seems to be more of Zizek's trademark hyperbole: ecology will be the new ideology until Zizek--like a cranky geriatric--finds some new phenomenon about which he can excoriate the world.

I have a lot of problems with Zizek. I think he severely misrepresents ecology, for one. But his argument that ecology is the new ideology is not also an argument that ecological crises don't exist, which is basically what I accused him of saying.

I'm not going to erase my critique either, because I do think that some on the left use the critique of ecology as ideology as an excuse to dismiss ecology.


Gerry Canavan said...

I really think Zizek tries to have it both ways in that essay -- there is a real and pressing environmental crisis, but the threat of that environmental crisis is also used as a technology of control:

No wonder, then, that the by far predominant version of ecology is the ecology of fear, fear of a catastrophe - human-made or natural - that may deeply perturb, destroy even, the human civilization, fear that pushes us to plan measures that would protect our safety. This ecology of fear has all the chances of developing into the predominant form of ideology of global capitalism, a new opium for the masses replacing the declining religion: it takes over the old religion's fundamental function, that of putting on an unquestionable authority which can impose limits. The lesson this ecology is constantly hammering is our finitude: we are not Cartesian subjects extracted from reality, we are finite beings embedded in a bio-sphere which vastly transgresses our horizon. In our exploitation of natural resources, we are borrowing from the future, so one should treat our Earth with respect, as something ultimately Sacred, something that should not be unveiled totally, that should and will forever remain a Mystery, a power we should trust, not dominate. While we cannot gain full mastery over our bio-sphere, it is unfortunately in our power to derail it, to disturb its balance so that it will run amok, swiping us away in the process. This is why, although ecologists are all the time demanding that we change radically our way of life, underlying this demand is its opposite, a deep distrust of change, of development, of progress: every radical change can have the unintended consequence of triggering a catastrophe.

Anonymous said...

he's just defending the enlightenment.

the problem is that's ALL he's interested in doing.