Whatever you may think of Slavoj Žižek (people seem to either love him or hate him) his points about western Buddhism’s complicity in what is arguably a rabid capitalistic system are not easily dismissed. Might he be right in his contention that Buddhism, as it is practiced in the West, “is establishing itself as the hegemonic ideology of global capitalism”? Certainly, I have seen no Buddhist response to his claims that even approaches the intelligence and care which Žižek brings to the matter.
In addition to the issue of Buddhism’s role in inuring people to a destructive form of capitalism, I hope we will all give sustained thought to the issue of fetishism. I mean here the imbuing onto objects a power and potency that they do not possess. Would Buddhism, as yet one of countless offspring of western “spirituality,” be the multi-billion dollar enterprise that I suspect it is if not for western Buddhists’ propensity to fetishize–to some extent, at least–its practices, teachers, texts, and ritual paraphernalia? Can we give it some serious thought? I, for my part, will revisit this topic from time to time. Here is Žižek’s piece. Read the rest of this entry »