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First as Tragedy, Then as Farce

October 30, 2009

tragedyfarceby Slavoj Žižek

The title of this book is intended as an elementary IQ test for the reader: if the first association it generates is the vulgar anti-communist cliche-“You are right-today, after the tragedy of twentieth-century totalitarianism, all the talk about a return to communism can only be farcical!”-then I sincerely advise you to stop here. Indeed, the book should be forcibly confiscated from you, since it deals with an entirely different tragedy and farce, namely, the two events which mark the beginning and the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century: the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the financial meltdown of 2008.

We should note the similarity of President Bush’s language in his addresses to the American people after 9/11 and after the financial collapse: they sounded very much like two versions of the same speech. Both times Bush evoked the threat to the American way of life and the need to take fast and decisive action to cope with the danger. Both times he called for the partial suspension of American values (guarantees of individual freedom, market capitalism) in order to save these very same values. From whence comes this similarity?

Visit Bedeutung Library/Academic for more books and articles by and videos of Žižek

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