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You buy the ethics too
by Thomas Wagner | 10/15/2010
Video Slavoj Zizek

The summer that has just passed again, is always described with a friendly smile as being the time for recovering and taking a holiday - mostly by eager tour operators worried about sales. Finally, or so we thought again this year, a chance to get away from it all and grab a little sun, sea and beach, at last, enjoy that chance to breathe, that little bit of freedom. For all the sunburn and the insect bites. Whereby the socialists and the steel-trap-minded Marxists among the leftists of past centuries, were filled with mistrust for the evil capitalists, which is what they used to be. And believed they had seen through things and thus suspected that the whole business of "vacations" or "holidays" served the sole purpose of restoring the labor power of the workers, who had become somewhat run down, and thus enable them to get back to work towards generating a decent profit. Tempi passati! Because the matter has become substantially more complicated ever since we realized that no one understood Marx as well as did the capitalists. Not only as regards the function of holidays, with whole countries now earning their living by acting as vacation destinations, and with billions of dollars changing hands every year in the process.

Today we are forced to realize that capitalism has no summer and takes no breaks. Deals continue to be done, and it is best if we as consumers make sure that it all works enduringly and that the economy hums along even during crises. Everyone wants affluence but only a few consider the consequences. Why don't we use the days as they grow ever shorter alongside reading satisfyingly inane pulp fiction in the evenings to glean a little more about the capitalist system and its idiosyncrasies - regardless of whether we swim in it like a fish in water or lie on the banks gasping for breath, and ask ourselves, where have our savings and our pension claims gone?

In short: It cannot hurt to have a better idea of how our world of now past holidays and the present of working days to which we have returned functions. And where to do this more educationally and entertainingly than at the "Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce", RSA for short? The institution has existed for more than 250 years and is committed to enlightenment as the key factor supporting social progress. We hereby present you with two contributions from the "RSAnimate" section which both, albeit in very different ways, attempt to shed some light on the depths of capitalist waters and which are formidably animated and moreover commented upon by pen.

In the first lecture, radical sociologist David Harvey analyzes the reasons why the global financial system has landed in chaos while keeping a lookout for alternatives to capitalism. In the second, controversial philosopher Slavoj Zizek explains why today charity no longer exists and what, for example, the coffee house chain "Starbucks" has to do with "cultural capitalism". In other words, today you don't just buy a cup of coffee but also the ethics along with it.

Should you be interested in other equally enlightening and entertaining analyses, you can find them at:
www.thersa.org
comment.rsablogs.org.uk

Video Slavoj Zizek
Video David Harvey