Book Reviews

Pandemic!: Covid-19 Shakes the World by Slavoj Žižek

‘Sniff, sniff, so I was reading about communism and covid and so on and so on. Sniff, sniff, now this pure ideology of the capitalist structure is old and we, sniff, need to go to a globalist communism and so on and so on.’

Slavoj Žižek takes on the problems of Covid-19 in this short but highly readily book. The coronavirus already has immense consequences (even though the stock market is again at a record high), and we could say they are both good and bad. The intellectuals of our time definitely have a lot to think about. And that is an understatement.

Now Žižek had this book ready only a month after the first lockdowns started. And Žižek claims that after this pandemic, or rather sooner than later, we need to make a choice on a global scale: that between civilization or barbarism. Civilization being that we strive towards a future where we create some sort of global government. Health care as well should be a global issue and something we try to achieve on a global scale. That way we would have more interconnectivity and vaccins like that of the coronavirus will be easier and faster to produce. As I am writing this, there are multiple vaccins on the way, which in part because of the global attention it is getting and the global cooperation between the countries.

The other option is barbarism, which means going back to forms of nation-states. Instead of cooperating on world scale, we further retreat in our own bubbles. Instead of working together, we blame each other for the disastrous effects of the coronavirus. We try to retreat in our own corners and will not be able to face the global problems which arrive. We succumb to barbarism.

Žižek solution is some sort of ambiguous communism. I don’t really know what he means by that. But what is clear is that we need to work together as countries and tackle the global problems together. I do believe he would like to see a global governmental system, in the sense that globally we tackle some aspects which is now limited to the country we live in, like health care for example but also taxes. With a global tax system rich people in Europe can help poor people in Africa. I do believe that we’re inevitably going towards a certain world system. That was also Kant’s hope. How much time that will take is only up to us.

You’ll finish this short book in about an hour or two. It reads really easily and Žižek uses many pop culture references to get his point across. It’s the first book of Žižek that I read but I’m excited for more. The old sniffling bastard might have a trick up his sleeve. He is one of the more prominent intellectuals living today, so knowing what he has to say might prove valuable.

Covid-19 has shaken our lives to the core. It’s something we hopefully never have to deal with again and it’s only guessing what the fall-out will be from the pandemic. There is nowadays a lot of talk of solidarity. While it is true that solidarity is needed, more is needed. We’re all in this together, is what we often hear. And it’s easy to just try to get out while the others are drowning. We’re all sick and tired of it. The question is now how to deal with it. Do we want to come more together (not necessarily in a communist way, I’m not a fan of communism), or do we want to divide? Both might seem like a solution to the problem. I just believe a world based on friendship and respect is a better one than one based on hatred and fear.

By elenchusphilosophy

Philosophy student from Ghent, Belgium. I write about what I find interesting which is about nearly anything. Though my guiding question in life is how to be a good person.

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