The interrogation of the Good.
One of Shamshouma’s favorite activities is to interrogate the “good”! So it seems very suitable to start my first post writing about it. It is kind of like Lars Van Trier’s movie Dogville, good people are dangerous. Liberal communists (or the democratic left), humanitarian capitalists (like Bill Gates), philanthropists and the good Samaritans who function and inscribe to a global code of ethics around love, the eradication of poverty and violence, the importance of charity and donations and humanitarian emergency action, are more likely to be seen as doing good than as a major obstacle against the possibility of a real and progressive struggle to social justice and change. But they are.
What makes the discourse of “the good” so powerful, so commonsensical and seductive is that no one can be against love, health and aid. How can you be against human rights? But the problem is that this form of pragmatic universal morality, interfering to solve concrete problems like poverty, AIDS, famine etc, in a quick way, systematically blocks any possibility for a real form of sustainable politics of social justice.
But what can we do with a good person who really worries about poverty and violence and can afford to worry? Who can fight against poverty because he profits from it? Who has no corporate interests because he co-owns the corporation and does charity work through it? Humanitarianism, philanthropy and liberalism are all moral universals that turned into entrepreneurial industries, which not only create and reinforce the social production of capitalism, but also work towards keeping the system’s status quo in stagnating balance.
In Violence (2008), Zizek makes his position towards “the good people” very clear when he cites a poem by Bertolt Brecht entitled “the interrogation of the real”
Step forward: we hear
That you are a good man.
You cannot be bought, but the lightning
Which strikes the house, also
Cannot be bought.
You hold to what you said
But what did you say?
You are honest, you say your opinion.
You are brave.
You are wise.
You do not consider your personal advantages.
Whose advantages do you consider then?
You are a good friend.
Are you also a good friend of the good people?
Hear us then: we know
You are our enemy. This is why we shall
Now put you in front of a wall. But in consideration of
Your merits and good qualities
We shall put you in front of a good wall and shoot you
With a good bullet from a good gun and burry you
With a good shovel in the good earth”