Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

Stalinist (?) Sophistry

by afew Fri Jan 18th, 2013 at 05:06:54 AM EST

Slavoj Žižek has a piece in The Guardian where he compares a decision of the Slovenian Constitutional Court to Ceausescian explanations for restricting freedom of movement. Ceausescu, he recalls, explained why Romanian citizens were not allowed to leave the country although the constitution guaranteed freedom of movement, by invoking a higher constitutional good: the constitutional right to a safe, prosperous home would be endangered by allowing Romanians to go abroad.

The west's crisis is one of democracy as much as finance | Slavoj Žižek | Comment is free | The Guardian

It seems that this same spirit is alive and well in Slovenia today. Last month the constitutional court found that a referendum on legislation to set up a "bad bank" and a sovereign holding would be unconstitutional – in effect banning a popular vote on the matter. The referendum was proposed by trade unions challenging the government's neoliberal economic politics, and the proposal got enough signatures to make it obligatory.

The idea of the "bad bank" was of a place to transfer all bad credit from main banks, which would then be salvaged by state money (ie at taxpayers' expense), so preventing any serious inquiry into who was responsible for this bad credit in the first place.

The grounds on which the court based its verdict? A higher constitutional good:

the referendum "would have caused unconstitutional consequences". How? The court conceded a constitutional right to a referendum, but claimed that its execution would endanger other constitutional values that should be given priority in an economic crisis: the efficient functioning of the state apparatus, especially in creating conditions for economic growth; the realisation of human rights, especially the rights to social security and to free economic initiative.

In short, in assessing the consequences of the referendum, the court simply accepted as fact that failing to obey the dictates of international financial institutions (or to meet their expectations) can lead to political and economic crisis, and is thus unconstitutional.

Neat. Above all let us not look into who is being protected from inquiry while the majority of the lesser-fortuned citizens foot the bill for neoliberal madness. "Stalinist sophistry" says Žižek of the Ceaucescu verdict. What should we call the Slovenian one?


Display:
The west's crisis is one of democracy as much as finance | Slavoj Žižek | Comment is free | The Guardian
And therein resides the true message of the "irrational" popular protests all around Europe: the protesters know very well what they don't know; they don't pretend to have fast and easy answers; but what their instinct is telling them is nonetheless true - that those in power also don't know it. In Europe today, the blind are leading the blind.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2013 at 05:07:27 AM EST
In institutional terms, the Court, rather than defending the constitution, is declaring itself to be above the constitution.

France's constitutional council, which for years had an unshakeable right-wing majority, had a habit as functioning as the third chamber of parliament, overturning legislation it didn't like. This is worse.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Jan 18th, 2013 at 05:38:44 AM EST
The west's crisis is one of democracy as much as finance | Slavoj Žižek | Comment is free | The Guardian
its execution would endanger other constitutional values that should be given priority in an economic crisis: the efficient functioning of the state apparatus, especially in creating conditions for economic growth

there's yer weasel wiggle right there.

good article, he writes well, on tv he tends to get too excited!

it is a good point that the people themselves don't know how and which changes they want, other than to be more comfortable/less miserable.

the best brains have been hoovered into the finance and spin-politics games. fancification of financial instruments (torquemada's finest) and the professionalisation of lying like a rug have removed any reference to reality from the mediated discussions, unless you go outside the box.

how can democracy thrive when there is so little transparency in the institutions, and so much misinformation to confuse people?

we have gone way beyond stalinist sophistry here. the blockquote i use, once translated from newspeak, basically is a memo that the banks and treasury departments have colluded to create a monopoly on finance, and they work by a different rulebook, one of unaccountability to the people.

they can do bank accounts, but that's it. constitutions are so yesterday.

now the police forces are shifting to privatisation and the trifecta is complete, there is no impediment to the commodification of everything, down to our own DNA.

the only panacea is the people educating themselves enough to know better what we want, the elites are blind to anything that isn't about short-term profit, so are well paid to stay that way.

so it's up to us to learn to see, and i am glad this article of zizek's will be read by many. power can only be useful if it's backed by knowledge, and one of the first ways to wake up is to see the cognitive abyss between possible realities and the stupid choices and approaches generally.

the fossil fuel lobbies are the richest on the planet, they are BFFs to the banks, which why Jerome's work is so inspiring, it's the thin end of a huge wedge.

 energy is second only to money in terms if its inarguably central role in all of our lives. it is easier to put up solar panels than to find an alternative economy, so...

we can change our economies by a green industrial revolution, indeed, when the smoke clears and the spin is deconstructed by an increasingly educated populus, it will be the only option left, i believe, especially with climate change moving to centre stage.

once we can see, then we can persuade the elites to see the advantages of opening their eyes too.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2013 at 07:46:33 AM EST
the best brains have been hoovered into the finance and spin-politics games.

the best brains of those not accompanied by an awkward conscience and either willfully or totally ignorant of the consequences of finance on the real world have been hoovered into the finance and spin-politics games.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jan 20th, 2013 at 03:28:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]


"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2013 at 07:55:14 AM EST
Or central banks.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2013 at 09:27:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
aren't they a priestly caste in the religion of money, with more acolytes and adherent than any other in history? if they do corporations' interests, what exactly differentiates them? certaibly not their secrecy!

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2013 at 11:30:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, they are the priestly caste, and economists are the theologians.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2013 at 04:21:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and friedman, hayek and de mises are the moses, abraham and isaac prophets.

keynes and krugman the galileo andbruno heretics.

and societies worship the goldman calf.!

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2013 at 06:22:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are more then one similarity of current EU policy with Ceaușescuian madness:

W/P: 1980's austerity policies in Romania:

The 1980s austerity policy in Romania was imposed by Romania's President Nicolae Ceaușescu in order to pay out the external debt incurred by the state in the 1970s. Began in 1981, the austerity led to economic stagnation throughout the 1980s, being a "sui generis shock therapy" which lowered the competitiveness of the Romanian economy and decreased the amount of exports.

The harsh austerity measures negatively affected the living standards of the Romanians, increased shortages and eventually led to the downfall of the Romanian Communist Party through the Romanian Revolution of 1989.



The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2013 at 04:14:50 PM EST
thing when I read the edito y'day. Back then you could find Romanian wine for 99 cents/bottle in the US. Of course, the Romanian régime had more control over its currency than most of us do, yet another indictment of the present Euro elites' democratic practises relative to the Soviet bloc which, let us not forget, while brutally and sometimes comically repressive, also guaranteed rights that the present Euro elite has spent the last generation delegitimising (right to employment, right to personal security, right to leisure, right to housing, right to a fair wage, right to equal healthcare, right to equal opportunity of education, et c.)

Fact is, the center of gravity in Euro politics(ie the powerful in Berlin, starting with Merkel) grew up in the same environmental mould as Ceauçescu...in a revanchard twist though, they have many of the negative aspects of the former régime, and very few of the positive.

by redstar on Sat Jan 19th, 2013 at 05:27:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Romania and Yugoslavia came out of the 1970s with bankrupt state finances due to the foreign loans they took on to weather the oil shocks. The policy response in Romania was crushing austerity, while Yugoslavia went the  hyperinflation route. Neither worked. It ended with Ceaușescu strung up like cattle, and with a brutal civil war in Yugoslavia. <Sigh>

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jan 19th, 2013 at 08:31:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Really? Silly me, I thought the war in Yugoslavia was largely instigated...
by Ivo on Sun Jan 27th, 2013 at 10:22:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Please tell us more.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jan 27th, 2013 at 12:08:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the government styled itself communist. It still has to be demonstrated that the same outcome will result if the government styles itself capitalist.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jan 20th, 2013 at 03:21:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
for the Guardian...I think he would have been more polemical, in typical Zizek understated , if writing this in a progressive forum rather than the Guardian.

Important also to keep in mind Zizek's suggested response to all this...while the bloggers on this site may often agree with the analyses of those on their left flank, I'm not so sure they agree to the prescriptions, and I think this is important to kerp in mind as well.

by redstar on Sat Jan 19th, 2013 at 05:33:52 AM EST
redstar:
Important also to keep in mind Zizek's suggested response to all this

Also left out of the Guardian piece? Or just so understated that I fail to see it?

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Jan 19th, 2013 at 07:07:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that's part of toning it down.
by redstar on Sat Jan 19th, 2013 at 08:08:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What's Zizek's suggested response?

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jan 19th, 2013 at 08:25:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
would be best for y'all to read a bit of his stuff!

But a couple of things: one - social democracy is not the solution. two - it's going to be an unabashedly communist solution. three - violence is legitimate.

by redstar on Sat Jan 19th, 2013 at 08:51:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was supposed to have picked up a Zizek book from you in paris twice... One time I forgot and the second time Air France overbooked our flight and aborted our trip... Any chance of righting these wrongs?

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jan 19th, 2013 at 10:07:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll bring a couple down in a couple of weeks if you are around.
by redstar on Sat Jan 19th, 2013 at 10:09:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]