[Transcript below video.]

We who try to be decent people are bombarded by some kind of moral political pressure from two sides. First there is the worst one, of course, this anti-immigrant populist side; like, ‘why should we even allow refugees in; it’s their fault; third world travel and so on, there are enough poor people here; they come from another civilization; it means conflict,’ and so on and so on. So there is all the time this pressure of we are defending our way of life; refugees are disturbing it.

And it’s interesting how in some radical right wing circles we really have already new conspiracy theories, which always fascinate me in their madness. A couple of weeks ago the main Slovenia – I’m a coming from Slovenia – right wing weekly journal something like, Slovene Time Magazine, published a comment by a guy, which was a ferocious attack on George Soros, the humanitarian billionaire, claiming that he’s the most disgusting, despicable and dangerous person today in the world, because he’s a Jew who is organizing Muslim invasion into Europe. The guy uses totally open brutal terms like ‘Negroid Islamist hoards are invading Europe.’ Claiming that the Jewish plan is to destroy Christian Europe and they’re using Muslims to do it. Why do I like, I mean don’t misunderstand me I’m horrified at it, but why do I ‘like’ this fantasy? Because it goes to the end and it brings together two different levels of conspiracy theory. One is Muslim invasion of Europe and the other is anti-Semitism.

Usually we think that there is some kind of a conflict in the Middle East between Palestinians or Muslims and Jews. This theory claims this is a pseudo-conflict conflict to dilute us. In reality even the Muslim terrorists, all of them, Isis, it’s a Zionist creation to ruin Europe. In the good old fashion or Stalinist way you know how fascists spoke about plutocratic Bolshevik plot, you bring the opposites together; they’re doing this. So, not to get lost this is one blackmail. But then, now things get much more problematic for some liberal leftist, then there is the other blackmail, the humanitarian blackmail. Like, ‘poor suffering immigrants coming to Europe desperate; is Europe still Europe? Is it using its heart? How can we see all those people suffering and so on and so on?’ I basically, of course, agree with this second position. I nonetheless think there is something terribly wrong in this automatic retranslation of – I don’t want to call it a crisis but whatever you call it what’s happening with refugees – into a pure humanitarian problem, which is out there from somewhere we don’t even analyze it closely, hundreds of thousands of people are coming and it’s purely a humanitarian question do we let them in or not? I question this on all levels.

First, I’m absolutely ready to admit that’s even crucial, that it’s not simply something horrible happening in Third World or in this case in Middle East, as we say in Europe in our arrogant way ‘they screwed it up and now we should pay the bill or what.’ Of course Europe, but not only Europe – we are deeply responsible for it. Look at the all origins of crisis were refugees are coming from, from northern bit not only northern Africa, Libya and is so on. We Europeans screwed it up with military intervention then. No Isis, no refugees from Syria or Iraq without American intervention there, or without this global or geopolitical conflict between Russia and the United States, others involved, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran and so on. They are what is behind the Syrian civil war. So again, we cannot say there is a humanitarian crisis there and it’s purely a question of moral sympathy ‘we will receive them,’ we are deeply responsible for them. First, geopolitically and at a deeper level economically.

I mean this brutal direct colonialism is more or less over, but economic neocolonialism this in a way stronger than ever. We know how big Western, and not only Western, also other powers are destroying local agriculture and so on and so on. Like these are things we don’t read a lot about them, but are you aware of what’s happening now? Even in some African countries where there is starvation like Ethiopia and so on. Western companies, and in this case happily I’m ready to say it’s not the usual culprits Europe and the United States, it’s more some rich Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and some Asian countries like South Korea and so on. They’re buying gigantic parts of these countries for agricultural use, growing industrial plants and so on and so on, with the millions of people who can be employed for the time being when production still goes on, but when there’s a crisis everything is chaotic, and so on. For me the symbol of today’s world, and it’s typical of how we talk of all the crisis we read so little about that crisis, is the Republic of Congo. Maybe one of the wealthiest countries in the world with regards to natural resources and so on, but a non-existing country: central government doesn’t work, local warlords rule all in direct connection with foreign companies all their precious metals to export, and so on and so on. So again, this is the situation out of which refugees are created.

And now if anything it’s getting even worse. We all sympathized, I hope so, 20 years ago with the tragedy of Sarajevo in ex-Yugoslavia, a big city of hundreds of thousands people under siege like in medieval times. Okay, but what’s happening now in Aleppo is even worse in a way. It’s a really big city of almost two million people and at least out of egotism we should worry more. Are we aware what kind of explosive new refugee crisis is being prepared there? So again, I buy all of this.

On the other hand, now comes the problematic part, I don’t believe that first that we are the only culprits. Because is not simply us – Western Europeans, Americans, and Arabs – there is a mega class division – rich countries, poor countries, corruption – among Arabs themselves. And as some people pointed out you cannot just simply say many left liberals enjoy this. They have a kind of a perverse pleasure whenever there is a crisis in a Third World country they always will someway prove ‘oh it’s our possibility.’ There is something so patronizing in this, as if they are even too stupid all those Arabs or black Africans to be really evil. If they do something catastrophic ‘only we are big enough even in the direction of the evil to do it.’

Slavoj Žižek

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst, and a senior researcher at the Institute for Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London. He has also been a visiting professor at more than 10 universities around the world. Žižek is the author of many books; his latest are Against the Double Blackmail and Disparities.

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