Fictitious Capital and the Return of Personal Domination

uQ1pbVS5“Since, in our society, free choice is elevated into a supreme value, social control and domination can no longer appear as infringing on subject’s freedom. They have to appear, instead, as (and be sustained by) the very self-experience of individuals as free. There is a multitude of forms of this un-freedom appearing in the guise of its opposite. When we are deprived of universal healthcare, we are told that we are given a new freedom of choice, namely to choose our healthcare provider; when we no longer can rely on long-term employment and are compelled to search for a new precarious position every couple of years, we are told that we are given the opportunity to re-invent ourselves and discover new, unexpected, and creative potentials that lurked in our personality; when we have to pay for the education of our children, we are told that we become the “entrepreneurs of the self,” acting like a capitalist who has to choose freely how he will invest the resources he possesses (or has borrowed) – into education, health, travel… Constantly bombarded by imposed ‘free choices,’ forced to make decisions for which we are mostly not even properly qualified nor possess enough information about, we more and more experience our freedom as what it effectively is: a burden that deprives us of the true choice of change.”

SOURCE: Žižek, Slavoj. “Fictitious Capital and the Return of Personal Domination.” The Philosophical Salon.

How Camus and Sartre Split up over the Question of How to Be Free

idea_sized-gettyimages-507392336“In October 1951, Camus published The Rebel. In it, he gave voice to a roughly drawn ‘philosophy of revolt’. This wasn’t a philosophical system per se, but an amalgamation of philosophical and political ideas: every human is free, but freedom itself is relative; one must embrace limits, moderation, ‘calculated risk’; absolutes are anti-human. Most of all, Camus condemned revolutionary violence. Violence might be used in extreme circumstances (he supported the French war effort, after all) but the use of revolutionary violence to nudge history in the direction you desire is utopian, absolutist, and a betrayal of yourself.”

“The problem is that, for Sartre and many others on the Left, communism required revolutionary violence to achieve because the existing order must be smashed. Not all leftists, of course, endorsed such violence. This division between hardline and moderate leftists – broadly, between communists and socialists – was nothing new. The 1930s and early ’40s, however, had seen the Left temporarily united against fascism. With the destruction of fascism, the rupture between hardline leftists willing to condone violence and moderates who condemned it returned. This split was made all the more dramatic by the practical disappearance of the Right and the ascendancy of the Soviet Union – which empowered hardliners throughout Europe, but raised disquieting questions for communists as the horrors of gulags, terror and show trials came to light. The question for every leftist of the postwar era was simple: which side are you on?”

SOURCE: Dresser, Sam. “How Camus and Sartre Split up over the Question of How to Be Free.” Aeon.