• Andreas Beyer Gregersen
  • Anders Frederiksen Jensen
4. semester, Anvendt Filosofi, Kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)
This master’s thesis is a philosophical investigation of debt resistance with the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek and his so-called dialectical materialism as starting point. Our focus throughout the thesis is to which degree and in which ways debt resistance can be understood as both a ‘sublation’ and an ‘act’ - two concepts that are developed and discussed in a broader theoretical framework but which still guides our endeavor to link dialectical materialism and debt resistance together. Debt resistance seems to be an increasingly used concept by politicians, activists and scholars to designate in toto different types of critique and opposition to different types of debt. In our research we have not found compelling and clarifying typologies to differentiate between the obvious diversity of resistances to debt - therefore, to analyze and discuss debt resistance philosophically we have developed our own typology inspired by the Danish philosophical collective Center for Wild Analysis. This is, of course, a typology which will also in itself be subject to discussion with regards to both our examples and concepts.

An important concept in dialectical materialism is the ‘non-all’ which originates from the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan and which Žižek couples to his wide-reaching thesis about ontological incompleteness or inconsistency. As we explain in different ways, such a thesis reflects an idea, or perhaps ‘recognition’, that negativity and emptiness is both out there and within ourselves - there is no complete world or closed system which comprises the universe, society or the subject. This is also how we interpret Žižek’s authorship and intellectual work; as an incomplete and ongoing ‘non-all’ which cannot simply be interpreted or applied in one way only. In this regard, we have been inspired by the Danish philosopher Brian Benjamin Hansen’s description of Žižek’s ‘method’ as an exemplary method which is about using examples from both theory and practice to keep thinking and see new perspectives - a method which we have tried to honor by using an incomplete set of examples from all around the world and from different ages to analyze debt resistance. Referencing to other theorists and utilizing other concepts from dialectical materialism we also try to provide a comprehensive view of the current ‘debt economy’ which we believe constitutes an essential background to better understand both the complexities of debt resistance and why this specific subject is important to develop further today. In this regard, we also analyze the economy itself as ‘non-all’ while at the same time drawing focus on overlapping phantasms which cover this up in different ways.

Our beforementioned typology differentiates between four types of debt resistance; debt revision, debt freedom, debt refusal and debt revolution. The typology is, however, based on immediate appearances and as our many examples demonstrate it is often difficult to differentiate these rigorously as they can be intertwined. But our analysis also shows that there are clearly different types of phantasms which can obfuscate these types of debt resistance while at the same time different possibilities to sublate debt in an act. So, for example, while debt revision risks supporting a system of debt through an internal distance it can also overidentify with this system and thereby accomplish an act through taking the debt economy more seriously than anyone else. And while debt revolution risks using radical rhetorics and aesthetics to cover up the fact that nothing really changes it may also lead to a new beginning and maybe a completely different debt economy. But every choice and every struggle when it comes to debt resistance is permeated by a constitutive uncertainty which can only be ‘resolved’ retroactively by the contingent course of history. And not even the most radical acts of debt revolution can solve everything at once even though they happen from time to time - in this sense, ‘non-all’ also means that negativity persists or insists in the social and political space.

Thereby, we show that Žižek’s dialectical materialism is a system which is also non-all with gaps and inconsistencies but nevertheless – or exactly because of the theory reflecting reality itself – can be used successfully to analyze different possibilities for societal change through debt resistance. Through countless examples, we have especially focused both on the constitutive uncertainty with regards to whether debt resistance leads to real change but also the ever-present possibility for debt sublation even though the circumstances seem dire or troublesome. Debt resistance is an inconsistent phenomenon but this is exactly the condition for change itself.
Udgivelsesdato31 maj 2018
Antal sider132
ID: 280049812