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Slavoj Zizek: Global Communism or the jungle law, Coronavirus forces us to decide

Author: Slavoj Zizek

Affiliation: New York University

Organization/Publisher: RT

Date/Place: 10 March, 2020/Russia

Type of Literature: Analysis

Word Count: 1518


Keywords: Communism, Coronavirus, Panic, Collaboration


Zizek argues that these days in which the panic over Coronavirus spreads, people have to choose between the most brutal logic of the survival of the fittest or reinvented communism, namely global coordination and collaboration.  States are challenged by two main problems: combating the spread of Coronavirus, and panic. According to Zizek, panic has its own logic. Taking the rumors about toilet paper as an example, Zizek argues that although people knew that there would be enough toilet paper, that they nevertheless question how others will act or take seriously, leading a non-panicked group to take precautionary measures and making the stores empty, which then creates actual panic. At the end of the day, both ways of thought led to the same outcome: not enough toilet paper at the stores. Zizek added that on the contrary, this excessive panic is missing in cases where panic is needed. For example, after the outbreak of Ebola and SARS we knew that comparable and even more powerful epidemics would continue, but we did not take this seriously as we did with the false toilet paper scarcity. If not panic, what then is the appropriate reaction to this Coronavirus and what is the right way to confront this threat? Zizek’s answer to this question is reinvented communism. All governments will face the fact that despite their welfare they will need more hospitals and machines, in this case, respiratory machines. This will make the states to intervene as in cases of war when thousands of guns are needed and they have to rely on cooperation with other states. In this case, information must be shared. This is the communism which Zizek proposes: salvation through global coordination and collaboration, recognizing interdependence and the primacy of evidence-based collective action. This epidemic will force some populist nationalist governments like America to limit their ideas like “America first” since they only could be saved through global coordination and collaboration.

By: Leyla Yildirim, CIGA Senior Research Associate 



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