Mr. Slavoj Žižek; I am tired of these so called leftist that come on the media who denigrate the history of socialism. The first socialist state the Paris Commune lasted 70 days. The Soviet Union lasted 70 years. Sure it had a lot of flaws but persisted under great pressure by the military industrial complex. The Soviet Union was a product of the history of Russia a truly cruel history when it come to the working class. Soviet union also had slaves until Stalin made changes in the society. Many charges were and are still being levelled against the Soviet Union but one must take into account who was and why people still are making the charges. It Is extremely unproductive for leftists to criticise the past efforts of leftists.
Ockitaris: we can all learn from our mistakes, and I, for one, would have liked it better if Stalin had not executed his entire officer corps and general staff when Hitler invaded Russia, or sent thousands to the Gulag, or created a culture of snitching and dishonesty inside the Soviet Union. Not to mention ruining the environments of so many of the satellite states. Stalin perverted the message of Marx and Lenin so we never really saw what a real socialist state could be according to his own dark paranoid worldview. Even his own daughter deserted him.
If we cannot critique the abuses of the past we are bound to repeat them.
Thank you for hosting Slavoj Zizek- and the truly stimulating conversation that his thoughts always engender. In response to Dr. West's question at 21:30 - how do empathy and love for all people in society fail to replace the culture of envious egotism? What helps Scandinavia empathize with its poor is that they are not culturally distinct- Scandinavia never had an overseas empire or the ethnic diversity that would engender the hatred for the Other that is racism, which is why you see a backlash now that they are beginning to open up to other ethnic groups- the far right parties say: "wait, these benefits are for US ("native" Scandinavians), not for THEM (foreigners/immigrants)." But it's hard to let go of prejudice because it forces larger questions: if it is not the poor's fault they are poor, then whose fault is it? What kind of system do we really have if people really do want to work but are poor in spite of that? If it's not minority cultures that are dysfunctional, then our majority culture must be- but how, why, and to what extent? These are difficult questions that most people are working too hard to get by in their day-to-day to trouble themselves with. They'd rather individualize systemic failure- that the system works and asserting laziness, incompetence or stupidity to those protesting it- and internalize systemic privilege- that they made it to where they are 100% by the sweat of their brow, not the benefits of privileged schooling, or legacy parents who are alumni of the Ivies, or social connections that hook you up in the job search, or the cultural capital of not speaking differently or not being targeted by police or discriminated against by employers because of the color of your skin or the sound of your name. Because they work hard, that means others not as successful must not be (though there are plenty of janitors who work 80 hours a week too).
I think we grow the dialogue by asking questions like "Where did the equality and the fraternity in the French Republican motto 'Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity' go?" "Where is the pursuit of happiness frustrated or enabled by our current policies?" "Where do we see the Golden Rule and Jesus' radical love for the poor, the oppressed and the excluded in action Monday through Friday, and not just preached to us on Sunday?" "How can we create structures of expression that require those who are supposedly the people's representative to actually LISTEN to those people affected by their policies or their inaction, and not simply hear from those from whom they raise money?" We need to base policy choices in value systems on which we all agree, rather than extrapolate motives or ascribe a group identity from one's policy statements and continue to fighta cultural War of Attrition (and that's what the Republican game plan is- a war of attrition just waiting out Obama by frustrating every policy initiative he presents).
For those neoliberal capitalist defenders of the status quo we must ask "How is the fact that NAFTA-enabled industrialized agriculture forced 4 million small Mexican farmers off their land and into bankruptcy by eliminating corn subsidies NOT related to undocumented immigration? How is our budget-cutting failure to treat addiction, build quality schools and create inner-city jobs NOT related to systemic incarceration, the Mexican drug war, and long-term poverty and unemployment in communities of color?" We need a reality check against compartmentalized and ideology-based policymaking, a reality check whose questioning derives from the democratic and egalitarian values that our society has moved so far away from. We must remind them that we do have wealth redistribution in this country- the wealth created by skilled labor and increased rates of production that has all moved UPWARD over the last four decades. Even Milton Friedman agreed in a guaranteed minimum income, and even Adam Smith agreed that you should have free labor markets as well as free capital markets, and that one's political choices should be MORAL. Neoliberal capitalists even cherry-pick from their own ideologies to favor those policies that favor the wealthy, so no wonder benefits don't "trickle down". The fact is today, capital can cross borders to get the most for its money, but people cannot cross borders to get the most of their labor. If they could, we would perhaps have a greater concern for improving the lives of the poor around the world and at home, rather than just capitalizing on them. What are we going to do when we run out of fossil fuels, clean air & water, and new cheap sources of labor, or places to dump our toxic waste and spent nuclear fuel? These are questions that demand answers, because Zizek said it right - the real utopian "pie-in-the-sky" thinking is that which assumes we can have infinite consumption and growth on a finite planet, and conventional wisdom has so dominated the public discussion of our professional class of journalists and talking heads that we have lost our imagination and ability to originate any alternatives that come directly from the people and not some think tank or lobbying firm.