I think that one can argue for a new materialism/dialectical or not ad infinitum, but the result will not appeal. The audience center of gravity has shifted, and the case for materialism is part of a larger perspective that includes a host of ambiguities: is string theory really a plug for anything at this point? And dialectical materialism couldn’t possibly take the place of the sciences. The addition of dialectic has proven a theoretical albatross for the left. Zizek was challenged here all last year when he announced this new defense, which is mostly a private view of devout marxists. Some of them.
What is needed is a plain/english statement of definitions and plain statements that can depict economic issues in bare descriptive terms, and without philosophy taken as an interpretation obsession for the ‘real interpretation’. A larger field of mutliple perspctive would ironcially create a greater unity.
I think that marxists should consider the approach in Last and First Men: a generalized architecture of cultural and philosophic events: this approach can study them all.
Marxists need to cut their losses here and put all this baggage into the ‘historical division’ as the themes of crisis receive new approaches.
This is a review of Absolute Recoil at Amazon:
In order to understand it, one absolutely needs to have read most of the Hegelian corpus (at the very least – Phenomenology & Logic), preceded by Kant and the idealists, the late Schelling not to be missed, Lacan – some Ecrits and a few key seminars would be good, and previous Zizek’s works, especially – Less Than Nothing (but Indivisible Remainder and Parallax View are highly recommended). Also Zizek Ontology by Adrian Johnston would be of great help. Basic familiarity with Heidegger is also good, as is that with Deleuze and Althusser, not to mention Benjamin.
Are these guys kidding? At a time when the planet is burning up we have to master Hegel’s Phenomenology and Logic, but first Kant and the idealists,…it goes on.
I consider myself well educated and have intensively studied Kant/Hegel, but this is still not enough. This kind of complexity may or may not be coherent, but one thing is sure, noone at a time of crisis is going to bother with it. How can we expect to create a viable new communism with this level of sophistical gibberish?
Philosophical materialism in all its forms – from scientific naturalism to Deleuzian New Materialism – has failed to meet the key theoretical and political challenges of the modern world. This is the burden of philosopher Slavoj Žižek’s argument in this pathbreaking and eclectic new work. Recent history has seen developments such as quantum physics and Freudian psychoanalysis, not to speak of the failure of twentieth-century communism, shake our understanding of existence.
In the process, the dominant tradition in Western philosophy lost its moorings. To bring materialism up to date, Žižek – himself a committed materialist and communist – proposes a radical revision of our intellectual heritage. He argues that dialectical materialism is the only true philosophical inheritor of what Hegel designated the “speculative” approach in thought.
Absolute Recoil is a startling reformulation of the basis and possibilities of contemporary philosophy. While focusing on how to overcome the transcendental approach without regressing to naïve, pre-Kantian realism, Žižek offers a series of excursions into today’s political, artistic, and ideological landscape, from Arnold Schoenberg’s music to the films of Ernst Lubitsch.