Slavoj Žižek on Europe and the Greeks
Originaly published at the London Review of Books
Imagine a scene from a dystopian movie that depicts our society in the near future. Uniformed guards patrol half-empty downtown streets at night, on the prowl for immigrants, criminals and vagrants. Those they find are brutalised. What seems like a fanciful Hollywood image is a reality in today’s Greece. At night, black-shirted vigilantes from the Holocaust-denying ne0-fascist Golden Dawn movement – which won 7 per cent of the vote in the last round of elections, and had the support, it’s said, of 50 per cent of the Athenian police – have been patrolling the street and beating up all the immigrants they can find: Afghans, Pakistanis, Algerians. So this is how Europe is defended in the spring of 2012. Read the rest of this entry »
Critics say the Occupy cause is nebulous. Protesters will need to address what comes next – but beware a debate on enemy turf
By Slavoj Zizek
The protesters should fall in love with hard and patient work – they are the beginning, not the end.
What to do after the occupations of Wall Street and beyond – the protests that started far away, reached the centre and are now, reinforced, rolling back around the world? One of the great dangers the protesters face is that they will fall in love with themselves. In a San Francisco echo of the Wall Street occupation this week, a man addressed the crowd with an invitation to participate as if it was a happening in the hippy style of the 60s: “They are asking us what is our programme. We have no programme. We are here to have a good time.” Read the rest of this entry »
Republication from the London Review of Books
Slavoj Žižek on the meaning of the riots
Repetition, according to Hegel, plays a crucial role in history: when something happens just once, it may be dismissed as an accident, something that might have been avoided if the situation had been handled differently; but when the same event repeats itself, it is a sign that a deeper historical process is unfolding. When Napoleon lost at Leipzig in 1813, it looked like bad luck; when he lost again at Waterloo, it was clear that his time was over. The same holds for the continuing financial crisis. In September 2008, it was presented by some as an anomaly that could be corrected through better regulations etc; now that signs of a repeated financial meltdown are gathering it is clear that we are dealing with a structural phenomenon.
We are told again and again that we are living through a debt crisis, and that we all have to share the burden and tighten our belts. All, that is, except the (very) rich. The idea of taxing them more is taboo: if we did, the argument runs, the rich would have no incentive to invest, fewer jobs would be created and we would all suffer. The only way to save ourselves from hard times is for the poor to get poorer and the rich to get richer. What should the poor do? What can they do?
Although the riots in the UK were triggered by the suspicious shooting of Mark Duggan, everyone agrees that they express a deeper unease – but of what kind? As with the car burnings in the Paris banlieues in 2005, the UK rioters had no message to deliver. (There is a clear contrast with the massive student demonstrations in November 2010, which also turned to violence. The students were making clear that they rejected the proposed reforms to higher education.) This is why it is difficult to conceive of the UK rioters in Marxist terms, as an instance of the emergence of the revolutionary subject; they fit much better the Hegelian notion of the ‘rabble’, those outside organised social space, who can express their discontent only through ‘irrational’ outbursts of destructive violence – what Hegel called ‘abstract negativity’. Read the rest of this entry »
Last year, whistleblower website WikiLeaks released three of the biggest ever leaks of classified information in history: the Iraq War Logs, the Afghanistan War Logs and Cablegate.
Since then the world has undoubtedly changed. Ambassadors have resigned amid scandals exposed by leaked cables; the UK government has ordered a review of computer security; and, at the same time, a huge wave of protest has swept the Middle East and North Africa – in part fuelled, some believe, by WikiLeaks revelations.
Discussing the impact of WikiLeaks on the world and what it means for the future, for this very special event WikiLeaks editor-in-chiefJulian Assange will be in conversation with renowned Slovenian philosopher, Slavoj Žižek.
Focusing on the ethics and philosophy behind WikiLeaks’ work, the talk will provide a rare opportunity to hear two of the world’s most prominent thinkers discuss some of the most pressing issues of our time.
It will also mark the publication of the paperback edition of Living in the End Times, in which Žižek argues that new ways of using and sharing information, in particular WikiLeaks, are one of a number of harbingers of the end of global capitalism as we know it. Read the rest of this entry »
Philosopher and Critical theorist Slavoj Zizek, says he’s not an optimist when it comes to Europe and the broad political and ideological struggle in the continent and the world. But he salutes the demonstration of the British workers last Saturday (26 March 2011) and the awackening “of some kind of authentic left” as the only hope in defense of the European values. Greek Left Review met Slavoj Zizek and prof. Costas Douzinas at Birkbeck college in the center of London on Saturday morning. While according to the Guardian 400.000 workers were marching towards Hyde Park, Slavoj Zizek emphasized that social mobilization and the emergence of European solidarity amorng workers is the only way to break out of the vicious cycle that neoliberal technocrats and religious fundamentalists are driving the continent.
GLR: Today we’re witnessing in Britain the largest march since the Iraqi war. After a year of unrest in many European countries an image of possible solidarity appears. Is there anything to be gained by European solidarity and is this solidarity even possible? What is the European project about today?
SZ. Το paraphrase this quote from May 68: It’s not possible, but it’s necessary. If by saying Europe we mean what is worth fighting for like egalitarian legacy, the idea of solidarity, welfare state and so on, then, maybe it’s the only thing that can give us, some hope. Europe, not only, cannot realize its project but it cannot even see what this project is. What makes me happy in this protest today is that it gives me the pleasure to correct my previous analysis which was that today in Europe you only have two choices: On the one hand the pro-capitalist liberal parties which can at the same time be progressive in issues like human rights, abortion and so on and on the other – the only moment of true passionate politics – right-wing anti-immigrant formations. My claim is that this would be a dead end if these were the only choices. It’s a great hope for Europe that some kind of radical or authentic left is awakening. Read the rest of this entry »