Slavoj Žižek's Bartleby Politics and the Economic Crisis


Žižek’s notion of subtraction, or “Bartleby politics,” is modeled on Hermann Melville’s character ‘Bartleby the Scrivener,’ who to every request enigmatically repeats ‘I would prefer not to’. Far from inviting inaction or cynicism, in Žižek’s view, this refusal translates into a politics demanding that we actively assume as our own the inconsistency of the socio-symbolic order we inhabit.



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