Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Slavoj Žižek on Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Slavoj Žižek was recently interviewed by Mehdi Hasan about Žižek’s position on Europe’s migrant crisis:

Yes, Žižek is correct that many of the migrants have come from nations with a profoundly different culture from that of Western Europe and there is a huge problem of lack of assimilation, but then, strangely, Žižek went on and seemed to want to deny this.

To the extent that European governments are responsible for the interventions in Libya or Syria, they should do something to help the genuine refugees in the Middle East. But Europe’s responsibility for the disaster in the Middle East ranks much lower than that of the United States and the Gulf states.

We now know from one of Hillary Clinton’s emails as quoted in a WikiLeaks Podesta email dated to 2014 (which can be read here) that the Saudi and Qatari governments fund ISIS and are also responsible for the disaster in Syria:
“While this military/para-military operation is moving forward, we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”
This issue is also discussed here:

So the Saudi and Qatari governments also bare a huge part of the blame for this refugee crisis, and ought to take refugees.

Furthermore, it does not follow that all these refugees should be brought to Europe or America. Instead, the US, EU and European nations should use their tremendous wealth and power to persuade other majority Muslim nations to take refugees and pay for humane and decent conditions for these refugees there – in nations where these refugees speak the same language, share the same religion, and have the same culture, e.g., nations in North Africa, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain (the Gulf states in particular being rich enough to afford it). Money and resources could be offered to those nations not rich enough to afford it.

Moreover, many of the migrants who came into Europe in 2015 and this year are not genuine refugees at all, but economic migrants from many countries not even in Middle East at all (see here).

Europe cannot take millions of economic migrants this year and every year for the foreseeable future. By accepting millions of mere economic migrants, the floodgates will be opened and disaster will follow.

Multiculturalism in Europe is one of the greatest failures of the neoliberal era, and open borders and mass immigration themselves are both part of the catastrophic neoliberal program of the past 40 years or so.

Despite the contemptible nonsense by Mehdi Hasan, the civilisation of Europe, its people, and its cultures need to be protected against the demographic and cultural catastrophe that is coming.

But a leftist like Žižek only vaguely understands this.

Žižek is also mostly wrong about the right-wing populists. For example, Nigel Farage and UKIP are not the “greatest threats” to Europe. UKIP is basically a nationalist Thatcherite party, and they are neither fascist nor far right.

Probably the greatest threat to Europe today is the European Union followed by the tidal wave of mass immigration from the Third World. Most of the populist right, whatever their mistakes on many other issues (and one could point to plenty), are at least opposed to both of these genuine threats.


  1. Exactly. The Greatest threat to Europe and the European Union is Angela Merkel and the flawed concept and implementation of the Euro.

    Merkel has screwed the pooch both on the single currency and on opening the floodgates for refugees and economic migrants.

  2. Criteria needed to be satisifed to be called fascist:

    Arguably debatable, but the EU satisfies some of these conditions:

    Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
    Labor Power is Suppressed
    Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
    Corporate Power is Protected

    Just because the EU satisfies some of these conditions makes it no more fascist than Farage or UKIP is.

  3. We need safe zones in the countries that are falling apart. Trump is right about that. European nations need to calculate the number of refugees that they can actually take, not just open the floodgates. Things like education(including adult education for literacy purposes), jobs, welfare, housing and healthcare are all being strained because of the migrant crisis. We need the gulf states to do more for the refugees as well. Turkey has almost 3 million refugees as of now, yet Saudi Arabia has only about 400K. Isis has to be stopped and stability needs to be reintroduced.

  4. I agree that the EU is more dangerous than Farage, and I agree that mass immigration may create havoc - but I think there is more in it to consider.

    Immigrants immigrate to work and earn a living - now as a hundred years ago. And they have to do that because they can't in their home countries because their home countries have been denied the right to build an industry, by senseless free trade rules of the WTO. "Free trade", not only meaning absence of customs, but absence of any industrial policy whatever.

    I would even assert that the havoc in West Asia is not only created by aggressive NATO attacs but by prohibition to industrialization and prohibition to traditional developmental policy in general. The same destruction is aimed at the Balkan and at Ukraine, and at any country weak enough to succumb: if your industry isn't strong enough to compete it must be closed, whatever starvation follows.

    And when well-armed groups and angry young men begin to fight for the pickings you have Syria.

    Scrap the free trade regime, and immigration would diminish to manageable proportions.

  5. " . . . that the Saudi and Qatari governments fund ISIS and are also responsible for the disaster in Syria:"

    Encouraged by some elements within the US?

    “A December 13, 2006 cable, "Influencing the SARG [Syrian government] in the End of 2006," indicates that, as far back as 2006 - five years before "Arab Spring"protests in Syria - destabilizing the Syrian government was a central motivation of US policy. The author of the cable was William Roebuck,at the time chargé d'affaires at the US embassy in Damascus. The cable outlines strategies for destabilizing the Syrian government. In the cable, Roebuck wrote:
    We believe Bashar's weaknesses are in how he chooses to react to looming issues, both perceived and real, such as the conflict between economic reform steps (however limited) and entrenched, corrupt forces, the Kurdish question, and the potential threat to the regime from the increasing presence of transiting Islamist extremists. This cable summarizes our assessment of these vulnerabilities and suggests that there may be actions, statements, and signals that the USG can send that will improve the likelihood of such opportunities arising.”

  6. Interesting new interview with Noam Chomsky just came out. He dismantles the unfounded panic which, under the banner of Trumpism, has united a wide array of people with seemingly incompatible belief systems. This excerpt is particularly insightful:

    Q: Aren’t these fears about the Muslims real? Even in Sri Lanka, there is this fear about the Muslims, along the lines of the fear prevailing in the West. Aren’t these fears about the Muslims real?

    A: They are not unreal. Hitler’s fears about the Jews under the Nazis were not totally unreal. There were rich Jewish bankers, there were Jewish Bolsheviks. Any propaganda system, no matter how vulgar or disgraceful, can only succeed if there are at least small elements of truth. They may be small. While you are in Boston if you listen to ‘Talk Radio’ the main radio- all very Right Wing – you will hear people speaking about Syrian refugees and how they are being treated like princes. That they have been given all kinds of money, that they have been given health services, and education – ‘all kinds of things that we don’t have the Syrian refugees get’- How many Syrian refugees are there? A couple of thousand! They probably do get health services, so it is not totally false. But the typical history of scapegoating is to pick vulnerable people and find something that is not totally false about them- because you have to have some element of truth- and then build it up into a colossus which is about to overcome you. I mean there are states in the United States in the Midwest, where the legislature has passed laws banning Shari’a. How likely is Shari’a going to be imposed in Oklahoma? I mean you know it is not zero. You can find a woman somewhere who is wearing a veil, so there is something. But that’s the way it works. I think in Sri Lanka there is a pretty ugly history after all; I don’t have to recount it. You can find plenty of cases of massive atrocities and crimes and so on. A demagogic leader and the administration which is not working in the interest of the population but in the interest of wealth and power, almost reflexively is going to turn to attacks on the vulnerable with the support of the media and often the intellectual classes, and blow up small elements of truth into a massive attack. The United States is extremely interesting in this respect. It is the most safe and secure country in the world, but it is probably the most frightened country in the world. Do you know any other country where people feel that unless they take a gun to Church or a restaurant they might be attacked? I mean, does it happen in Sri Lanka? No! Does it happen anywhere else? but it happens in the United States of America. All over the United States people feel terrified — ‘they are coming after us’, and that goes way back in American history, and it has roots. There are historical roots.