The Greatest Lie of Capitalism

Essays on technology, psycho­analysis, philosophy, design, ideology & Slavoj Žižek


March 22, 2011

The Greatest Lie of Capitalism

Žižek on the bleak hand of capitalist realism:

The greatest lie of capitalism is perhaps its naturalisation – the idea that it is simply the law of nature that it is this way. The cuts cannot be helped, just as capitalism cannot be helped. Deborah Orr, at the high of the student protests displays this logic with stunning clarity. “Fiscal discipline really is necessary”, Orr opines “The truth is that they [so-called “adults” failing to protest] are too wise to waste their energy on something so silly. Protesting against the cuts is like protesting against water’s stubborn habit of flowing downwards”. My God! The bleak hand of capitalist realism! Protesting cuts is equivalent to being against the direction of the fundamental laws of the cosmos! But this is not nature, but simply custom, a custom that the ruling class have generated as an ideology that manufactures exploitation and alienation. To denaturalise capital, to subtract while remaining within to push outward, to reform spaces to pure use opposed to the commodity form, to not accept as regular what is simply custom – this is the essence of our protest. This strike can be seen as a dull churning of reaction against the telos of nature, or, placed in a global context of revolution, something ‘we have never seen before’ – just as Lady Gaga appearing in solidarity with workers, or as I have explained elsewhere, the utterly unpredicted revolutions shaking the Middle East.