In the YouTube video talk titled “The Method of Slavoj Zizek’s Madness: Analysis” Paul Taylor reminds us by way of unpacking Starbucks and Nike’s Tiger Woods ad campaigns how the “act now” ideology works in our culture for emergency aid or ongoing annual aid charity events. The West is always attempting to repair not only natural disasters but the systemic, objective violence that its policies and actions (just do it) cause. Walter Benjamin’s interpretation of Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus clearly explains Taylor’s point. In his understanding he refers to history and a storm blowing “from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.” The West uses systemic violence with a promise of a better life for the few while the rest of the population can never cash in their I Owe You. For Benjamin systemic or objective violence is an attempt at order within a society, but with every problem “solved” another is born from the solution.
For someone living in the United States the systemic violence is more complicated. Here the mythology of “rugged individualism” (the self-made man) permeates the culture’s psyche and its value system encouraged by social authority in capital interests and supported by the government. When the system violates people in the States, their frames of mind are to blame themselves. To them, systemic (objective) violence is interpolated as subjective violence. On its surface the blaming may even appear narcissistic and arrogant to take on that pose. However, they blame themselves to such an extent as to often visit violence upon themselves as punishment, or using the values of the system that has told them that they are worthless on themselves, they unable to see the forest for the tree.
An example of how objective and subjective violence plays out can be seen in the movie “Spotlight.” The victims of the systemic abuse by priests go on to blame themselves for their shame and the damage done to them: Alcohol, drugs, suicide are subjective violence responding to objective violence. When Robby the editor at Spotlight recognizes his part in the objective violence and how systemic the cruelty is, he is humbled, has learned something late in life. He might have done something sooner, but through willed-ignorance and the encouragement from the system causing the objective violence, he went along.