This is a transcript of Zizek’s peach at Liberty Square today. I’m putting it up because it is important and because I could not find a transcript elsewhere. THe speach has been recorded but without a microphone s the crowd repeats Zizek’s words and it can be hard to hear.
Slavoj Zizek addresses the crowd gathered at Liberty Square – October 9th 2011
… 2008 financial crash – more hard earned private property was destroyed than if all of use here were to be destroying it night and day for weeks. They tell you we are dreamers. The true dreamers are those who think that things can go on indefinately the way they are. We are not dreamers, we are awaking from a dream that is turning into a nightmare. We are not destroying anything, we are only witnessing how the system is destroying itself.
We all know the classic scenes form cartoons – the cat reaches a precipice but it goes on walking, ignoring the fact that there is nothing beneath it. Only when it looks down and notices it, it falls down. this is what we are doing here. We are telling the guys there on wall st, “hey, look down”.
In April 2011 the chineze government prohibited, on TV, in films and in novels, all stories that contained alternate reality or time travel. This is a good sign for China. If people still dream about alternatives, you have to prohibit the dream. Here we don’t think of prohibition, because the ruling system has even supressed our capacity to dream. Look at the movies we see all the time. It’s easy to imagine the end of the world, an asteroid destroying all life and so on, but you cannot imagine the end of capitalism. So what are we doing here? Let me tell you a wonderful old joke from communist times:
A guy was sent from East Germany to work in SIberia. He knew his mail would be read by censors so he told his freinds “lets establish a code- If a letter you get form me is written in blue ink, it is true, what I say. If it is written in red ink, it is false”. After a month his freinds got a first letter. It says, in this letter “Everything is wonderful here. The stores are full of good food, the movie theatres show good films from the west, apartments are large and luxurious. The only thing you cannot buy is red ink”.
This is how we live. We have all the freedoms we want, but what we are mising is red ink – the language to articulate our non-freedom. The was we are taught to speak about freedom, war and terror and so on, falsifies freedom. And this is what you are doing here – you are giving all of us red ink.
There is a danger. Don’t fall in love with yourselves. We have a nice time here, but remember carnivals come cheap. What matters is the day after, when we will have to return to normal life. Will there be any changes then? I don’t want you to remember these days – you know, like “oh we were young, it was beautiful” – remember what our basic message is – we are allowed to think about alternatives, the tabu is broken, we do not live in the best possible way. But there is a long road ahead. There are truly difficult questions that confront us. We know what we dont want, but what do we want. What social organization can replace capitalism? What type of new leaders do we want? Remember – the problem is not corruption or greed, the problem is the system that pushes you to be corrupt. Beware not only of the enemies, but also of the false freinds who are already working to dilute this process in the same way you get coffee without caffine, beer without alcohol, icecream without fat. They will try this into a harmless moral process – a decafinated process. But the reason we are here is that we have enough of the world where to recycle coke cans, or to buy a starbucks cappucino where one percent goes to the worlds starving children, is enough to make us feel good. After outsourcing work and tourture, after marriaga agencies are outsourcing even our lovelife, daily, we can see that for a long time, we allowed our political engagement also to be outsourced. We want it back.
We are not communists. If communism means the system that collapsed in 1990, remember that today those communists are the most efficient ruthless capitalists. In China today we have capitalism that is even more dynamic than your american capitalism, but doesnt need democracy, which means, when you criticize capitalms, don’t allow yourselves to be blackmailed that you are against democracy. The marriage between democracy between democracy and capitalism is over.
The change is posible. How? What do we consider today posible? Just follow the media. On the one hand, in technology and sexuality, everything seems to be possible. You ca travel to the moon, you can become immortal by bilogenetics, you can have sex with animals, or whatever – but look at the feilds of society and economy, therem almost everything is considered impossible. You want to raise taxes a little bit for the rich – they tell you its impossible, we will lose competitivity. You want more money for health care? They tell you “impossible, this means totalitarian state”. Is something wrong in the world, where you are promised to be immortal but cannot spend a little bit more for healthcare. Maybe we have to set our priorities straight here. We don’t want higher standards of living, we want better standards of living. The only sense in which we are communists, is that we care for the commons. The commons of nature, the commons of what is privatized by intellectual property, the commons of biogenetics. For this, and only for this, we should fight. Communism failed absolutely, but the problems of the commons are here. they are telling you we are non americans here, but the conservative fundamentalists who claim they are really american have to be reminded of something. What is christianity? It is the holy spirit. What is the holy spirit? Its an egalitarian community of believers who are linked by love for each other, and who only have their own freedom and responsibility to do it. In this sense, the holy spirit is here now, and down there on wallstreet, there are beggars who are workshiping blasphemous idols, so all we need is patience.
The only thing I am afraid of is that we will, at some day we will just go home, then we will meet once a year, drinking beer and nostaligically remembering what a nice time we had here. Promise ourselves that this will not be the case. We will go on – you know that people often desire something, but do not really want it. Dont be afraid to really want what you desire. Thankyou very much.