Conference Report from the Subversive Film Festival 2010 in Zagreb

On 1 May 2010 the third Subversive Film Festival, which this year explores the theme “Socialism”, started in Zagreb. Screening more than 100 films about socialism the festival continues until 25 May. Here you find detailed information and the complete film programme.

Accompanying the film screening an international conference was held in Zagreb from 2 to 7 May covering various topics as for example “socialist” projects and new practices around the world (from Venezuela to the student protests in Croatia in 2009) under the title “The collapse of neoliberalism and the idea of socialism today”. The conference assembled numerous intellectuals such as Slavoj ŽIŽEK, Michael LEBOWITZ , Samir AMIN, Michail RYKLIN, G. M. TAMÁS and John MILBANK. In addition, video conferences were held with Michael HARDT and Noam CHOMSKY.

Srećko Horvat
Srećko Horvat

Sebastian Lasinger of Meta-D.O.N. talked to Srećko Horvat who directed the conference together with Slavoj Žižek. In the interview Srećko Horvat provides a brief overview on the aim and the history of the festival. He also talks about this year’s guests and explains why the theme of the 3rd conference is dedicated to “socialism”.

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Interview with Srećko Horvat

International Conference: The collapse of neoliberalism and the idea of socialism today

konferencija slika(2)

The aim of the conference, which is also understood  as an opportunity to follow up the work of the Birkbeck conference “On the idea of communism” held in London in 2009, is not to draw a glorified picture of the idea of “socialism” as such. It rather attempts to provide various approaches and perspectives related to the question raised by Slavoj Žižek “How does our predicament today look from the perspective of the communist idea?”

Žižek who opened up the range of key note speeches on 3 May pointed out that a renewed examination of the communist project as an alternative to global capitalism is conditional on a clear break with the XXth century socialist and communist experience.

He also stressed the idea that any kind of nostalgic thoughts of the Yugoslav self-management socialism as a more authentic and progressive form of socialism than the predominant Eastern European Stalinist communism fulfils the same ideological role as the concept of an “alternate modernity” in postcolonial theory. Its function is to avoid a radical critic of the failure of XXth century Communism.

zizekDespite of all this critical reflections Žižek argues that one has to avoid to get into the position of what Heidegger calls a “schöne Seele”, renouncing and taking distance from every ethically difficult and controversial matter. As opposed to Alain Badiou who refuses the concept of ‘state’ per se as an obstacle to any emancipatory forms of politics, Žižek claims a need to grasp for space/public and power within the current structures, even if this means “your hands will get dirty”. Here you can find a video of the whole lecture of Slavoj Žižek.

According to the fact that the neo-liberal utopia has clashed at least twice in the 21st century, first on 9/11 and then with the financial crash of 2008, besides Žižek also Michael Hardt states that a renewed “socialistic approach” has to face at least one essential question that arises from the self-perpetuating crises of the current economic and political model:

How can the ‘common’ be organised outside of private and state property relations?


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