The Paris attacks and a disturbance in a cupola

The Paris attacks and a disturbance in a cupola

Yes, the Friday 13th Paris terrorist attacks should be unconditionally condemned, but… no, no alleviating circumstances, it is just that they should be REALLY condemned, for which more is needed than the simple pathetic spectacle of solidarity of all of us (free, democratic, civilized people) against the murderous Muslim Monster.

In the first half of 2015, Europe was preoccupied by radical emancipatory movements (Syriza in Greece, Podemos in Spain), while in the second half the attention shifted to the “humanitarian” topic of the refugees—class struggle was literally repressed and replaced by the liberal-cultural topic of tolerance and solidarity.

With the Paris terror killings on Friday, November 13, even this topic (which still refers to large socioeconomic issues) is now eclipsed by the simple opposition of all democratic forces caught in a merciless war with forces of terror—and it is easy to imagine what will follow: paranoiac search for ISIS agents among the refugees, etc. (Media already gleefully reported that two of the terrorists entered Europe through Greece as refugees.)

The greatest victims of the Paris terror attacks will be refugees themselves, and the true winners behind the platitudes in the style of je suis Paris will be simply the partisans of total war on both sides.

This is how we should REALLY condemn the Paris killings: not just by engaging in pathetic shows of anti-terrorist solidarity but to insist on the simple cui bono question. There should be no “deeper understanding” of the ISIS terrorists (in the sense of “their deplorable acts are nonetheless reactions to European brutal interventions”), they should be characterized as what they are, as the Islamo-Fascist obverse of the European anti-immigrant racists—the two sides of the same coin.

But there is another, more formal, aspect that should give us to think—the very form of the attacks: a momentary brutal disruption of normal everyday life. Significantly, the attacked objects do not stand for military or political establishment but for everyday popular culture —restaurants, a rock venue and a soccer stadium. Such a form of terrorism—a momentary disturbance—mainly characterizes attacks on developed Western countries, in clear contrast to many Third World countries where violence is a permanent fact of life. Think about daily life in Congo, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Where are outcries of international solidarity when hundreds die there?

[Extract. Appeared in Newsweek, on November 18th, 2015. (full text).]


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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