"The 'decaffeinated' other": Zizek again at Al Jazeera on climate change, tolerance, and the post-political

Here is another interview with Slavoj Zizek from Al Jazeera that gives more details to his thinking and outlook.

The politics of tolerance as part of the post-political
There is a very clarifying part in this interview where Zizek explains why he finds the notion of "tolerance" suspect, and as part of a post-political condition, a condition where the 'proper' political has fled the scene, and where dissensus is not allowed, or supported as a mode of engaging (see more on this blog on Swyngedouw). Although the discussions around increased "tolerance" towards certain groups or ways of being, might point towards true and important problems, the word is nonetheless suspect as it strives, Zizek means, to accommodate and find a 'solution' for a potentially radical issue without fundamentally alter a given system. To illustrate, he says, that Martin Luther King practically never used the word tolerance in the struggle against racism and towards equal civil rights for blacks and other groups in the USA.

The 'decaffeinated' other
He goes on to explain that it seems that the idea of tolerance leads to a situation where one can say: 'Yes, I will tolerate you, but then you should not molest me.' (not cited from interview) This in turn, gives rise to, according to Zizek, to a mystification of the Other as an ideal Other, or in his words a "de-caffienated other". Just as we now have coffee without caffein, chocolate without cacao, and cigarettes without nicotine, i.e. a 'dangerous substance with the dangerous stuff taken out', our politics is centered around to accept or tolerate an Other that we can tolerate without needing to engage with, an Other - although tolerated - is kept at a distance.

Climate change
There is also a discussion on climate change and global warming (12:00 into the video). Zizek means that climate change cannot really be solved at a "moral or legal level", but we need to systemic changes. He draws a parallel to Obamas' approach to the BP oil spill, which was sought to solved at a moral and legal level. However, the BP oil spill is a manifestation of a systemic problem, which requires "a change of the basic parameters of the system."

There is more in this interview, on Congo, media, the worry about anti-immigrant parties in Europe; and an example that Scandinavian countries - being the most egalitarian in the world - can still be used to make the empirically founded argument that egalitarianism does not undermine competitiveness.


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