Modern radical thinker Slavoj Žižek spoke on the 1st July 2011 as part of the ‘Great Minds’ series, and affirmed his status as a great mind of modern philosophy and social, cultural and political theory. Starbucks, social solidarity and self-commodification were among the varied and enlightening topics touched upon by Žižek, all grounded by his interpretation of ideology and its continuing importance.
As an overview of the more recent themes from Zizek’s voluminous output, this talk cannot be beaten. One interesting take away idea, which he seems not to draw out as explicitly as he could: in late capitalist society we literally fetishise subjectivity in the psychoanalytic sense of the term. The moral importance we place on our subjective life, the sheer significance we accord our subjective disavowal of those things we take to be wrong, actually facilitates an objective complicity in the structures of capitalist society. The sense in which we see ourselves as seeing behind the veil, free from the ideological delusions of earlier times, actually facilitates our continuing participation: a cynical and critical evaluation of the world around us actually functions ideologically to free up our continuing participation in that world.