Alain Badiou identified as the key feature of the XXth century the «passion of the Real / la passion du reel/»1: in contrast to the XIXth century of the utopian or «scientific» projects and ideals, plans about the future, the XXth century aimed at delivering the thing itself, at directly realizing the longed-for New Order.
The ultimate and defining experience of the XXth century was the direct experience of the Real as opposed to the everyday social reality — the Real in its extreme violence as the price to be paid for peeling off the deceiving layers of reality.[SZ]
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Το Ευρώ σαν Φετίχ ή Σύμβολο ανύπαρκτης Ευρωπαϊκής Αλληλεγγύης
Note (by Omadeon): It is in this light, today, that we can best elucidate Jean-Claude Trichet‘s speech, three years ago, when he praised and defended the Euro as the ultimate epitome of European Unity, not seeing the Euro for what it really is (as we know today) -A market instrument of profitable convenience for European Capitalists, European Banks and North European -particularly German- economic hegemony. In that speech. Trichet presented the Euro as an (almost magical) ultra-powerful ideological symbol, capable of defending the highest European cultural values, ever since Greek antiquity – for which Trichet did not hesitate to boast of cultivating within himself a very deep admiration: He even asked an assistant -before his speech- to collect quotes from ancient Greek philosophers (among other European cultural fathers); quotes that were subsequently used generously within his passionate banker’s speech, defending and praising the «cultural» Euro…
As Badiou demonstrated apropos of the Stalinist show trials, this violent effort to distill the pure Real from the elusive reality necessarily ends up in its opposite, in the obsession with pure appearance: in the Stalinist universe, the passion of the Real (ruthless enforcement of the Socialist development) thus culminates in ritualistic stagings of a theatrical spectacle in the truth of which no one believes. The key to this reversal resides in the ultimate impossibility to draw a clear distinction between deceptive reality and some firm positive kernel of the Real: every positive bit of reality is a priori suspicious, since (as we know from Lacan) the Real Thing is ultimately another name for the Void. The pursuit of the Real thus equals total annihilation, a (self)destructive fury within which the only way to trace the distinction between the semblance and the Real is, precisely, to STAGE it in a fake spectacle.
Note (by Omadeon): In Trichet’s Europe, it is this fake spectacle of European Unity, which is pursued by the culturally (self)destructive elevation of the Euro, as the ultimate symbolic representation of European Culture itself.
The fundamental illusion is here that, once the violent work of purification is done, the New Man will emerge ex nihilo, freed from the filth of the past corruption. Within this horizon, «really-existing men» are reduced to the stock of raw material which can be ruthlessly exploited for the construction of the new — the Stalinist revolutionary definition of man is a circular one: «man is what is to be crushed, stamped on, mercilessly worked over, in order to produce a new man.»
Likewise, the Euro-Capitalist definition of European man is a circular one: «European man is what is to be crushed, stamped on, mercilessly worked over by using the hard currency of the Euro (and fiscal disciplinary / Austerity measures) in order to produce a new man.» So, in a similar way, Jean Claude-Trichet’s passionate declaration of the Euro as a «real» (indeed as the most real) means of achieving Pan-European Unity (even a cultural and ethnic unity) seems an intellectually and culturally violent effort to distill the pure Real from the elusive reality of European Unity, that necessarily ends up in its opposite, in the obsession with pure European appearance: Just like in the Stalinist universe, in the Euro-capitalist universe, passion for «the Real Euro» culminated in ritualistic stagings of a theatrical «European spectacle» in the truth of which no one believes (anymore) except the bankers and capitalists themselves. Trichet’s cultural and ideological praise of the Euro, was striving for a euro which is more European than Europe itself, more real than the real fantasmatic Europe, since money is also an object of the senses (e.g. coins than can be touched), as well as a ruthless enforcement of the Capitalist Market’s development. The key to this reversal resides in the ultimate impossibility to draw a clear distinction between deceptive «European» reality and some firm positive kernel of the «European» Real: every positive bit of European (e.g. peoples’) reality, which is not reducible to a commodity (equivalent to an amount in Euros) is a priori suspicious, since (as we know from Lacan) the Real Thing is ultimately another name for the Void. It is elementary to strive for a Real Thing which is not void, because it represents Price: The Euro. As for the Real (European) Thing, this is ultimately another name for the (European) Void.
We have here the tension between the series of «ordinary» elements («ordinary» men as the «material» of history) and the exceptional «empty» element (the European «New Man,» which is at first nothing but an empty place to be filled up with positive content through the European Community’s Symbolic Project of the Euro). In a monetary or fiscal «revolution», there is no a priori positive determination of this New Man. One should formulate here things in a very precise way: the reason why the Euro-Capitalist fury of Euro-purification is so destructive resides in the very fact that it is sustained by the belief that, after the destructive work of Euro-ification will be accomplished, SOMETHING WILL REMAIN, the sublime «indivisible remainder,» the paragon of the New Euro(pe). It is in order to conceal the fact that there is nothing beyond that, in a strictly perverse way, the Euro-bankster Capitalist has to cling to Exploitative Austerity Measures, a violence as the only index of his authenticity…
So, if the passion of the Real Euro ends up with the pure semblance of the european political theater, then, in an exact inversion, the «postmodern» passion of the semblance of the Last Men ends up in a kind of European Real…
NOTE (by Omadeon): Only part of this article is actually… my own! 🙂 Most of it, is a… deliberate paraphrase of Slavoj Zizek’s «Welcome to the Desert of the Real« (2001).
- Trichet: ECB no substitute for sound fiscal policy (marketwatch.com)
- Neo-cons Discover that it’s 1932 (tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com)
- Estonia set to become first former Soviet republic to adopt euro (dailymail.co.uk)
- Does socialism exist in the world today? by Eric Ruder (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
- Trotsky’s struggle against fascism, according to one of his latter-day admirers (redantliberationarmy.wordpress.com)
- The Political Economy of the Euro Crisis (volokh.com)
- ECB’s Trichet Calls For Maximum EFSF Flexibility And Capacity (forexlive.com)
- Marsh on Monday: The coming euro split (marketwatch.com)
- ECB’s Trichet: Europe Must Evolve Toward Greater Federalism (forexlive.com)
- Italy’s Padoa Schioppa, architect of euro, dies (sfgate.com)
- Slavoj Zizek Is a Bourgeois Snob! (observer.com)
- Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (newstatesman.com)
- Ζώντας στην Εποχή των Τεράτων (Slavoj Zizek’s Athens lecture «Living in the Age of Monsters», 19-12-2010) video (omadeon.wordpress.com)
- Trichet: ‘Irresponsible’ EU States Must Tow Line (online.wsj.com)
- Slavoj Zizek: Why Far Right and Xenophobic Politicians Are on the Rise in Europe (alternet.org)
- Trichet Says ECB Can’t Aid Irresponsible Governments (businessweek.com)
- EU Leaders Agree to Change Treaty (online.wsj.com)
- Ex ECB member, Italy minister Padoa-Schioppa dies (reuters.com)
- Trichet urges more action on euro crisis (cnn.com)
- ECB’s Trichet Reiterates Call for Rigorous Econ Gov Framework (forexlive.com)
- Trichet Says Emerging Markets Face Inflation Threats (businessweek.com)