‘Disorder Under Heaven’ by Slavoj Žižek | New York University, October 2019

Slavoj Žižek is introduced by Xudong Zhang, Professor of Comparative Literature & East Asian Studies, and Director of China House at NYU.

Our situation is dangerous, there are uncertainties and elements of chaos in our environment, in international relations, in biotechnology, in sexual relations… But it is here that we should remember Mao’s old motto: “There is great disorder under heaven, so the situation is excellent!” Let’s not lose nerves, let’s exploit the confusion as a chance to propose a new radical vision. In January 2019, an international team of scientists proposed “a diet it says can improve health while ensuring sustainable food production to reduce further damage to the planet.” We are talking about a radical reorganization of our entire food production and distribution—so how to do it? Is it not clear that a strong global agency is needed with the power to coordinate such measures? And is not such an agency pointing in the direction of what we once called “Communism”? And does the same not hold for other threats to our survival as humans? Is a similar global agency not needed also to deal with the problem of increasing numbers of refugees and immigrants, with the problem of digital control over our lives? Let’s not be afraid to tackle the problem of the new order that the ongoing disorder is calling for.

Slavoj Žižek, Ph.D., is a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and visiting professor at a number of U.S. Universities (Columbia, Princeton, New School for Social Research, New York University, University of Michigan). He obtained his Ph.D. in Philosophy in Ljubljana studying Psychoanalysis and also studied at the University of Paris. Žižek is a Hegelian philosopher, Lacanian psychoanalyst, and Marxist social analyst and the author of The Indivisible Remainder; The Sublime Object of Ideology; The Metastases of Enjoyment; Looking Awry: Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture; The Plague of Fantasies; The Ticklish Subject; Disparities; and Antigone. His latest publication, Like a Thief in Broad Daylight: Power in the Era of Post-Human Capitalism (Seven Stories Press), was on sale at the event by the NYU Bookstore.

Xudong Zhang is Professor of Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies at NYU, and founding director of the International Center for Critical Theory (a consortium of Peking University, New York University, University of Tokyo and Eastern China Normal University). He is also Director of China House NYU. He has published widely on critical theory and transcultural comparisons of Chinese and European modernities.

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