America’s Opioid Crisis Proves the Limits of Capitalism


In this piece for RT, Slavoj Žižek discusses the impact of capitalism on America’s opioid crisis, exploring the factors that have driven people to use drugs to escape reality.

“Capitalism is the first socio-economic order which de-totalizes meaning: it is not global at the level of meaning. There is, after all, no global-capitalist worldview, and no capitalist civilization proper: In fact, the fundamental lesson of globalization is precisely that capitalism can accommodate itself to all civilizations, from Christian to Hindu or Buddhist, from West to East. Capitalism’s global dimension can only be formulated at the level of truth-without-meaning, as the reality of the global market mechanism.

This, then, is what makes millions seek refuge in our opiums: not just new poverty and lack of prospect but the unbearable superego pressure in its two aspects – the pressure to succeed professionally and the pressure to enjoy life fully in all its intensity. Perhaps, this second aspect is even more unsettling: what remains of our life when our retreat into private pleasure itself becomes the stuff of brutal injunction?”


  1. I think the ‘war on fun’ and upping the drinking age to 21 created the so called opiate epidemic. People don’t have real parties anymore.

    “First, some dire numbers: the amount of high school seniors who have a never attended a party has climbed to 41.3 percent, from 11.6 percent in 1987. And it’s not just high school kids who are staying home more often: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2003 the average 18 to 24-year-old reported spending an average of 15 minutes a day, on weekends or holidays (the time a party would most likely occur), hosting or attending social gatherings. Although that doesn’t sound like a lot — only a few hours of partying a month ”

    “If you think about it, in the pre-cell phone era, you either had to make plans in advance for your Friday night, or risk winding up at home doing nothing at all. It wasn’t nearly as easy to call your friends at the last minute and see what they were doing, because once people left home for the evening it was pretty much impossible to contact them.”

    Its amazing how almost any idea I think of I web search it and someone has already wrote about it !!!

    I’d rather see my kids sipping beer out of a red Solo cup at a well-patrolled fraternity party than drinking shots and popping a Vicodin in someone’s basement off campus.

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