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With The Courage of Despair

by Lukas Wieselberg from science.ORF.at

Terrorism, Trump and Daily Dead: The world is currently offering little hope. However, from hope, new hope can arise, the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek on Saturday at a lecture in Vienna - among other things with the help of a brutal TV crime.


John, the mentally disturbed serial killer, who considers himself a devil's son, has only one goal. He wants to take the faith from others. He also tries this with Carl Morck, the depressed commissioner, whom he chained together with two children in a boat house on the sea coast. The problem: Morck believes long ago nothing more. Nevertheless, he tries to sacrifice himself when John drowns one of the two children before his eyes.

"If there is an ethical position that corresponds with my idea of ​​the courage of despair, it is contained in this scene," says Slavoj Zizek , when the filmed film is finished. "It not only shows nicely that even a person who believes in nothing can be good. No, I'm even more crazy and say: Morck embodies a radical ethics of atheistic Christianity. In order to be truly radically good, one has to survive the fact that there is no God. "No one who can be blamed for his own deeds or misdeeds - other than himself.




Antidepressant for the left
Slavoj Zizek is in his element. He has already worked his audience with a very gloomy and brutal scene from the Danish thriller " redemption " , already building with his help the optimistic mainstay of the evening. "The Courage of Hopelessness" is the title of his lecture, which has been on display for weeks, during the Wiener Festwochen . As always, when the Slovenian star philosopher enters the city, the halls become too small. This was also the case on the Saturday evening at the Education Center of the Vienna Chamber of Labor, and via Livestream Zizek was therefore transferred to other areas of the building.

The Zizek, doubled in the media, makes the weight of his thoughts clearer. The bearded man is sweating, sniffing, and groping his way through his chains of associations, the physical presence underlining what has been said. Zizek also holds the unofficial intellectual records in the first-hand-noses and secondly in the Wuchtel print. Thanks to his humorous humor, his message is quite acceptable and the mood cheerful - perhaps Zizek has now taken over the role of an antidepressant for the radical left.

Today Macron, in five years Le Pen
Because the left has a lot of fun in Austria like almost everywhere else. Hope for a comprehensively liberated society, as it once dreamed, seems obsolete: fundamentalist terrorists and their struggle, geopolitical conflicts, a refugee crisis, climate warming and a US president who has made salons, which was recently regarded as a private obscenity, Are just some of the counter-arguments. And also the light at the end of the tunnel is not a sign of hope, but rather the next train that rolls into one, so the pessimistic starting point of Zizek.

Emmanuel Macron, the light of the day, has been put into practice on a daily basis. "To have voted for Macron now means to get Le Pen in five years," Zizek summed up his political position. Those who were really interested in a radical social change had to break away from the wrong alternatives: the danger of a new fascism or a right - wing populism can not be countered with the eternal choice of the status quo - global capitalism and its liberal ideology, such as Macron.

Against wrong alternatives
The main function of ideological censorship is now no longer to break resistance by repression, but to destroy the hope of change in the bud, Zizek agrees to his philosopher colleague Alain Badiou . Any emancipatory, left-wing project would inevitably lead to the Gulag, according to the liberal credo. That is why one must defend what one has - the global capitalism. Zizek does not want to get into this game. Together with his chief witness Carl Morck, the depressed policeman, he wants to encourage others - the courage of despair, as a recent book is called.

Contrary to many other European leftists, who have surrendered themselves from the universalistic values ​​of the Enlightenment and tangled themselves in the tangle of multiculturalism and identity politics, Zizek maintains its core. The Western left should cease to caste continually as part of imperialist capitalism and to tolerate any barbarism as a "different lifestyle" and instead work on a new project. The word "communism" does not take Zizek in the Viennese Chamber of Labor, but its positive reference to it is known.

What to do? Taxes without compass
The conviction to have the "story on the side" is, of course, snow from the previous day. The attempts of Marxism to write a kind of natural history of human history, which must inevitably culminate in communism, have obviously failed. Zizek considers these attempts to be an unavailable remnant of a Christian ethic. But what if God is dead and the greatest victory of Marxism-the realistic description of the present-coincides with his greatest defeat in a real-political way?

Zizek recalls the French revolutionary Saint Juste . "Revolutionaries are like steersmen on a ship on the high seas during heavy storms and without compass." Compass does not give Zizek a hand either. But at least a sea chart, which shows where we are at the moment. His final appeal: "We should always be ready for action in our struggle for freedom!"