Why Capitalism is Irrational: ‘First as Tragedy, Then as Farce’ by Slavoj Zizek

Simon Mainwaring / Books / 9 years ago

This week’s book  review and giveaway is ‘First as Tragedy, then as Farce’ by Slavoj Zizek. It’s a zestful and intelligent critique of contemporary capitalism in which Zizek asserts capitalism is completely irrational in a way that is impossible to ignore considering the recent financial crisis.

Using this example, as well as many others in recent history, Zizek reveals how the socialization of banks is in fact aligned to preserve capitalism and perpetuate its problems. As an alternative, he presents a utopian vision that seeks to break out of the normal structures of the marketplace.

While I don’t agree with Zizek that capitalism is beyond saving, he stirs the pot in a way that its fitful and engaging. The future of capitalism has been a subject of daily discussion since September 2008, and if you’re interested in different ideas about the future, this is a thought-provoking read.

If you want to see Zizek explain his book in his own words, click here. As always, thanks for your support and please share any comments or thoughts. I’ll give away a copy of the book to a contributor next week.


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  1. Free-market Capitalism is extremely rational. If people/companies make bad/irrational choices, their decisions will come around to bite them. And if they keep it up, they'll go out of business.

    We do not live in a Free-Market Capitalist system. We live in a Plutocracy.

    In our Plutocracy:
    -The wealthiest members of our society install obedient politicians and regulators in the government, who begin to write irrational regulations and selectively enforce them.

    -Government entities such as the Fed, Fannie, and Freddie developed policies and continue to hand out tax dollars like candy, which incentivized banks to take mind-blowingly absurd risks.

    -The socialization of the banks that Zizek and others cheerlead prop up the Plutocracy, so they bear very little of the burden of the egregious risks they took. And are in fact, now profiting like mad while non-privileged classes such as the average U.S. taxpayer foots the bill.

    -The Keynesian, Big-Government policies allow the Ruling Class to “steer” economies and markets in their favor. Otherwise known as Privatize the Profits, Socialize the Losses.

    Free-Market Capitalism, Free Markets, and Limited Government is a highly rational system and is actually the best system to promote a meritocratic society and economy. The best innovators and producers are allowed to keep more of their earnings to re-invest and/or spend wisely. And people/companies that make bad decisions fail quickly without wrecking everyone else around them.

    Free-Market Capitalism and Limited Government accepts the fact that we live in a highly unpredictable world, and no central planning authority such as a Federal Government should have the right to choose economic winners and losers with tax dollars.

  2. Thanks, Mark. I really appreciate the great feedback. No doubt everyone's vision of effective government is determined by their opinion of the fairness (or lack thereof) in the standard of living for different people around the world. Personally i find it unconscionable that so many people live in such poverty. As such I do believe there has to be a better way to practice capitalism that is fairer to all. So while a system may be rational it can also be immoral. Some of the excesses of recent years cross that line. Best, Simon

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