Panel 2: Don’t act, think!

Egon Gál:

Obama’s election does not mean that a time will not come again when he could not be elected, while someone like Kotleba could be elected mayor in Slovakia. You can’t change human beings. The only thing that has changed are institutions and the only hope is in creating institutions that will prevent us from going back.

Evolution works more slowly than the passing of cultural time. The human brain does change but this change occurs very slowly and our present-day brains contain remnants of our ancestors, remnants of hunters and gatherers, layers of the paleolithic man. New and more modern layers have been added on top of them. However, we have inherited the tendency to nationalism, to group animosities, to conflicts between the majority and minority, between Catholics and Jews. All these are tribal conflicts, deriving from our tribal nature. And the only way history manifests itself is that these conflicts acquire new ideological forms, spawning new ideologies and religions. What Christianity has given mankind is that the circle of people we regard as „we“ has become wider compared with older religions. However, these days this circle has become smaller, secondary.

Overcoming certain scientific findings is as futile as trying to overcome gravity. There are certain truths, such as 2 x 2 = 4, which you just cannot overcome. You can’t overcome the brain architecture, which had been built for millions of years.  Man is difficult to understand and the world is difficult to grasp because instead of following strict laws of nature they are guided by habits.

Kamil Fila:

In terms of their form Žižek’s films are represent the essence of art in that the form itself would force us to re-evaluate the world. The film includes a weird scene where Žižek is standing in a airplane scrapyared saying that in order to change we have to turn back and look at the wreckage.  And this is what he has managed to do, and it corresponds to the message of this panel: don’t act, think!

Media are telling us: you’ve got to vote for someone, just to feel you have participated in this world. This is what happened in the Czech election now with the result that non-mainstream parties have been elected. In these cases the kind of passivity that Žižek advocates may be appropriate. It’s not only revolutionary violence  but also non-action: I don’t give a toss about this election of yours, I want you to come up with politics that has some content: Don’t Act, Think!

The greatest mistake of the emancipation movements, the result of the sale of revolt is that there is an increasing number of spoilt brats that just keep consuming more and more. And Žižek’s message made sense in the case of the Czech election: you don’t have to choose from lots of bad options. If you are forced to vote but don’t believe you can change anything, you have the right to be passive.

Michal Havran.

Photo: Peter Župník