From the Middle East to the streets of London and cities across the US there is a discontent with the status quo. Whether it is with the iron grip of entrenched governments or the widening economic divide between the rich and those struggling to get by. But where are those so hungry for change heading? How profound is their long-term vision to transform society?
Slovenian-born philosopher Slavoj Zizek, whose critical examination of both capitalism and socialism has made him an internationally recognised intellectual, speaks to Al Jazeera's Tom Ackerman about the momentous changes taking place in the global financial and political system.
In his distinct and colourful manner, he analyses the Arab Spring, the eurozone crisis, the "Occupy Wall Street" movement and the rise of China. Concerned about the future of the existing western democratic capitalism Zizek believes that the current "system has lost its self-evidence, its automatic legitimacy, and now the field is open."
"I think today the world is asking for a real alternative. Would you like to live in a world where the only alternative is either anglo-saxon neoliberalism or Chinese-Singaporean capitalism with Asian values?
I claim if we do nothing we will gradually approach a kind of a new type of authoritarian society. Here I see the world historical importance of what is happening today in China. Until now there was one good argument for capitalism: sooner or later it brought a demand for democracy...
What I'm afraid of is with this capitalism with Asian values, we get a capitalism much more efficient and dynamic than our western capitalism. But I don't share the hope of my liberal friends - give them ten years, [and there will be] another Tiananmen Square demonstration - no, the marriage between capitalism and democracy is over." Slavoj Zizek
Slavoj Zizek's latest book is Living in the End Times (Verso).