‘Violence: Six Sideways Reflections’

Philosopher, cultural critic and psychoanalyst Slavoj Žižek constructs a fascinating framework to look at the forces of violence in our world.

Published July 22nd 2008 by Picador (first published January 1st 2007)

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With the help of Marx, Engels, Sartre, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Lacan, Brecht and many more, Žižek examines the hidden causes of violence, delving into the supposed ‘divine violence’ which propels suicide bombers and the unseen ‘systemic’ violence which lies behind outbursts, from Parisian suburbia to New Orleans. For Žižek, the controversial truth is that sometimes doing nothing is the most violent thing you can do. He calls for a forceful confrontation with the vacuity of today’s democracies – using an unconventional plethora of references: Hitchcock, Orwell, Fukuyama, Freud and more.

Violence, Žižek states, takes three forms—subjective (crime, terror), objective (racism, hate-speech, discrimination), and systemic (the catastrophic effects of economic and political systems)—and often one form of violence blunts our ability to see the others, raising complicated questions.

Does the advent of capitalism and, indeed, civilization cause more violence than it prevents? Is there violence in the simple idea of “the neighbour”? And could the appropriate form of action against violence today simply be to contemplate, to think?

Beginning with these and other equally contemplative questions, Žižek discusses the inherent violence of globalization, capitalism, fundamentalism, and language, in a work that will confirm his standing as one of our most erudite and incendiary modern thinkers.

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