Better to do nothing than to engage in localized acts whose ultimate function is to make the system run more smoothly.
The threat today is not passivity, but pseudo-activity, the urge to „be active“, to „participate“, to mask the Nothingness of what goes on.
People intervene all the time, „doing something“; academics participate in meaningless „debates,“ etc.; but the truly difficult thing is to step back, to withdraw from it all.
Those in power often prefer even „critical“ participation or a critical dialogue to silence, since to engage us in such a „dialogue“ ensures that our ominous passivity is broken.
The „Bartlebian act“ I propose is violent precisely insofar as it entails ceasing this obsessive activity-in it, violence and non-violence overlap (non-violence appears as the highest violence), likewise activity and inactivity (the most radical thing is to do nothing).
In Defense of Lost Causes
Slavoj Žižek (born 21 March 1949) is a Slovenian philosopher, currently a researcher at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Arts, and International director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities of the University of London.
He is also Global Eminent Scholar at Kyung Hee University in Seoul and Global Distinguished Professor of German at New York University.
He works in subjects including continental philosophy, political theory, cultural studies, psychoanalysis, film criticism, Marxism, Hegelianism and theology.
Žižek‘s idiosyncratic style, popular academic works, frequent magazine op-eds, and critical assimilation of high and low culture have gained him international influence, controversy, criticism and a substantial audience outside academia.
In 2012, Foreign Policy listed Žižek on its list of Top 100 Global Thinkers, calling him „a celebrity philosopher“ while elsewhere he has been dubbed the „Elvis of cultural theory“ and „the most dangerous philosopher in the West“.