Refugees, Conservatism, and Cultural Incompatibility

[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[ …]

Brexit, the crisis of the Left, and the future of Europe (with Benjamin Ramm)

Slavoj Žižek is animated about Brexit. “You know, popular opinion is not always right”, he insists. “Sometimes I think one has to violate the will of the majority”. This sentiment may surprise some of his admirers, but our discussion highlights his long-standing ambivalence about democracy. The despair and confusion of the past week has only reinforced his outlook. Reflecting on the Leave voters who were alarmed to learn that their side had actually won, Žižek quips: “The worst surprise is to get[ …]

Philosopher Slavoj Žižek talks to Gary Younge (Podcast)

In a new book, Against the Double Blackmail, in response to Europe’s refugee crisis, philosopher Slavoj Žižek argues that the left must shed its liberal taboos in favour of global, class solidarity. At a Guardian Live event, Gary Younge sat down with Žižek to discuss the immigration crisis, the response of the liberal left, and the future for Europe. [Appeared in The Guardian on April 19th 2016.] What happens to democracy when the majority is[ …]

The Non-Existence of Norway

The flow of refugees from Africa and the Middle East into Western Europe has provoked a set of reactions strikingly similar to those we display on learning we have a terminal illness, according to the schema described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her classic study On Death and Dying. First there is denial: ‘It’s not so serious, let’s just ignore it’ (we don’t hear much of this any longer). Then there is anger – how can[ …]

Greece gives Europe a chance to awaken

The unexpectedly strong NO in the Greek referendum is a historical vote, cast in a desperate situation. I was informed that in Athens people are telling a new version of a joke that originally circulated the Soviet Union in its last decade about Rabinovitch, a Jew who wants to emigrate. In the new version a young Greek man visits the Australian consulate in Athens and asks for a work visa. “Why do you want to[ …]

What is an authentic political event?

December 2013 I visited Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy located just behind the Harrods store in London. It was a rather depressing experience, in spite of the kindness of the embassy personnel. The embassy is a six-room apartment with no garden attached, so that Assange cannot even take a daily walk in fresh air. He also cannot step out of the apartment into the house’s main corridor – policemen are waiting for him there.[ …]

What Europe’s Elites Don’t Know

In one of his last interviews before his fall, despot Nicolae Ceausescu was asked by a Western journalist how he justified the fact that Romanian citizens could not travel freely abroad, though freedom of movement was guaranteed by the constitution. His answer: True, the constitution guarantees the freedom of movement, but it also guarantees the right of the people to a safe and prosperous home. So we have here a potential conflict of rights: If[ …]

Why the free market fundamentalists think 2013 will be the best year ever

The Christmas issue of the Spectator ran an editorial entitled “Why 2012 was the best year ever”. It argued against the perception that we live in “a dangerous, cruel world where things are bad and getting worse”. Here is the opening paragraph: “It may not feel like it, but 2012 has been the greatest year in the history of the world. That sounds like an extravagant claim, but it is borne out by evidence. Never[ …]