Choosing Reality and Survival Over Panic and Barbarism

The cover of Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek’s slim new volume Pandemic! Covid-19 Shakes the World spells it out: “PANIC!” stands prominently and, stuck in the middle, is “DEM” — the demos, or the people. After all, unknown viruses aside, what is a pandemic beyond the panic of the people? In this small, 146-page book recently published by OR Books (all royalties will go to Médecins Sans Frontières), the self-proclaimed Marxist, Hegelian, and Lacanian provocateur argues that we should ignore three fallacious logics fostered by the panic/pandemic: the desire to succumb to the mysterious threat, the imbuing of the event with superstitious significance, and the machinations of panic itself. Rejecting these three temptations, Žižek posits a sober, unidealized assessment of the paths forward.

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