Monday, April 13, 2009

जिजेक, चेस्तेर्तों, व् फॉर वेंदेत्ता, एंड चाइना

I was listening to Slavoj Zizek's lecture "Why only atheists can believe" today and his notion of belief and doubt as two necessary elements of a divine struggle really struck me as profound. His argument essentially is that Christianity is the only religion wherein doubt emanates from God instead of man. He is referring to the 'why have you forsaken me?' moment which Christians are familiar with. But those of us who have studied many religions may not have recognized the unique nature of this divine doubting in relation to other religions. I am curious to hear from those of you who are especially well versed in the Koran and other sacred texts becasue I imagine that these moments of doubt occur but as far as I know the New Testament is the only example of a text where the doubt actually originates in divinity.

Zizek also comments on 'V for Vendetta' and how similar it is to G.K. Chesterton's book 'The Man Who was Thursday". Apparently Zizek is dissappointed that the end of the movie did not contain a revelation that Sutler and V were actually the same person which, he argues, is how Chesterton would have told the story. I haven't read the graphic novel but I am interested to know if it differs from the movie in this respect.

Another great point in the lecture is about philosophical debate. Zizek responds to a question from an audience member regarding arguing with fundamentalists by pointing out that the only effective method of intellectual debate is to stay within the confines of your opponent's position and point out the internal contradictions. Talking to a fundamentalist about carbon dating usually doesn't get you anywhere but if you simply point out that the the pure free market economy and traditional family values, which are both common talking points of the fringe right, are at odds with each other, the debate will be a lot more interesting.

One of my classmates said something the other day in regard to the march in Cincinnati entitiled 'Way of the Cross, Way of Justice" that I have been thinking about ever since. In effect her comment was "Why march against poverty, who isn't against poverty?" But the first thing I said was 'if you need people to work for a dollar an hour so that you can sell your goods it is in your interest to have a destitute population from which to draw a work force." Thus there may not be open advocation of poverty but support for a pure free market is really a hidden argument for social Darwinistic ideas that poverty is a necessary element of economic growth.

It is hard to imagine a factory finding workers who will work for one dollar an hour in a place that isn't desperately poor. If China had a minimum wage similar to Europe there wouldn't be any issues about jobs being exported there, in fact if there was a world minimum wage everybody would just build in their home country. BMW has learned that so called "right-to-work" states in the southern U.S. are economically better for building the X5. Is this a positive development for the U.S. that countries with strong social safety nets and high wages are exporting their manufacturing work here? Maybe for European corporations the U.S. is like China when it comes to cheap labour and weak unions.

Another great point Zizek makes is that the suppression of religious minorities in China is nothing compared to what they are doing to those who resist economic oppression. He quotes statistics that there are 2000 labour disturbances (I didn't catch if that was daily, monthly, annually) that require intervention of the army because the local police cannot control them.