The philosopher explores our obsession with cancel culture and crisis
In his new book ‘Surplus Enjoyment: A Guide for the Non-Perplexed’, psychoanalyst and Marxist philosopher Slavoj Zizek argues that Western decadence has reached a point of no return. When it comes to the simultaneous crises of climate change, the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, he asserts, only a cooperative global effort will steer us away from catastrophe. But have the culture wars weakened the West too much to regain order in disordered times?
Slavoj Zizek joined me, live from his home in Slovenia, to discuss the cure for chaos.
On climate change:
Remember, one of the most disgusting events that I witnessed in the last year – I wasn’t there, I saw it on the media – was that Glasgow [COP 22] meeting against global warming. All that they said in principle was true. “We need global cooperation blah, blah, blah”. But nothing happens. For me, communism doesn’t mean I have a secret plan to nationalise or install gulags. It simply means, in some sense, we know what has to be done. Global cooperation, regulating the consumption of certain things such as oil, coal, beyond market necessities and so on. This will have to be done in one way or another. I call communism simply the system which will be able to do this. ...
The Ukraine war is hastening us towards a multipolar world
With Western powers increasingly assertive against Russia, it seems that we are finally witnessing the end of the unipolar world. Financially, culturally and spiritually, are we in the process of bifurcating?
Freddie Sayers sat down with Samo Burja, a sociologist and the founder of Bismarck Analysis, to look at the big-picture impact of the Ukraine war.
Western hegemony, says Burja, has an expiry date. Sanctions against Russia and anti-Russian sentiment since the start of the war in Ukraine has only made this split more imminent.
America and Europe might enjoy the illusion of influence, but it is China that holds the real power to accelerate the decoupling of East and West. By refusing to sanction Russia and perhaps even providing alternatives to the SWIFT banking system and limited services like Netflix or Facebook, China could make survival possible outside the Western sphere. ...
Freddie Sayers speaks to Marlene Laruelle about the far-Right philosopher and Putin's endgame
Aleksandr Dugin, the ultra-nationalist Russian philosopher and erstwhile organiser of the National Bolshevik Party, has been referred to as ‘Putin’s brain’. Professor Marlene Laruelle, the world’s leading expert on Dugin, says his influence is no longer direct. Dugin’s stated mission is to preserve the “Russian soul” and expand the Eurasian empire in defiance of the West. Today, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and increasingly isolated global position feels like some of these visions have become a dark reality.
Freddie Sayers sat down with Laruelle to seek a deeper understanding of the oft-quoted concept of the “Russian soul”, what Dugin wants and how Putin might be able to help him get it. ...
Flo Read meets the mothers and fathers who led a historic school board recall
Public schools in San Francisco sent their students home for 18 months during the pandemic, the longest school closure in the country. While children were falling behind, the city’s elected school board was tasked with handling the re-opening. But, it seemed, they were too busy trying to pander to progressive demands to get children back in the classroom. These initiatives included renaming schools with ‘problematic’ founders and reducing the numbers of Asian students at elite selective schools.
A group of parents, angry with the extended shutdown and dithering meetings, launched a campaign to recall three members of the school board. Last week, they won with a massive majority. This marks the first successful recall in the city in over 100 years. ...
How one parent-protester took on Critical Race Theory and won
Education policy rarely tips the electoral scales. But following Glenn Youngkin’s shock win in the Virginia governor’s race, where education was the top priority for 35% of his supporters, focus has turned towards the American curriculum as a new political battleground.
A group of parents, self-styled ‘Mama and Papa Bears’, have been particularly vocal in protesting the changes they have witnessed in Virginia schools since the start of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. Critical Race Theory, according to these concerned parents, is infiltrating the state system and being taught as fact to children as young as seven. To bring us closer to the views on the ground in Virginia, UnHerd’s Florence Read spoke to a parent from one of the contested schools, former Wall Street Journal reporter Asra Nomani. ...