Thursday, 16 June 2016

"Against the Double Blackmail" - Slavoj Zizek



If Slavoj Zizek, the psychoanalytic philosopher, cultural critic, and Hegelian Marxist, by virtue of his depth of thought, is metaphorically the Mekon then I am the dust on Dan Dare's space boots. His profound intelligence delights in presenting the contradictions found within capitalism. Effectively, he holds a mirror up so that we can see reflected the systems failings in sharp detail.

Universally recognised as being one of the contemporary world's greatest intellectuals, Zizek is fearless in his forthright observations tending to steer away from the sentimental left-liberal view whilst being equally scathing of the populist right.

With his latest book, published April 2016, Slavoj Zizek illustrates, by way of showing the paradoxes inherent in our global village, the faults and flaws of orthodox thinking. His one failing as far as I am concerned is the way in which his mind flits so easily off subject onto, or rather into, a tangent avenue which has no route to follow regarding the main subject even if it is incredibly entertaining. In other words, I sometimes find his thought processes hard to follow as his brain seems capable of floating off like Ali's butterfly but without delivering the unexpected sting.

The problem with this book is that it has few problems to speak of. The problem with my reception of it, my slight disappointment with it, has more to do with my holding Slavoj Zizek in such high regard. Once you have set someone on a lofty pinnacle it becomes almost impossible for them to consistently achieve those levels you have set. 

Here Zizek takes as his core subject matter the issue of migration - It's causes and effects. With the world's population now at seven billion, which far exceeds the comfort zone of acceptable tolerance of one billion, set to rise to ten billion by the middle of this century, the human race is facing global hunger on a scale never seen before. This situation is exacerbated by the constant war waged in and around the Middle-East giving rise to mass migration as millions flee their homelands seeking sanctuary. The refugee crisis gives rise to a nationalistic xenophobia as natural residents of sovereign countries find themselves assailed by immigrants flooding into their borders. Zizek suggests that there are two problems here with two solutions not merely one. 

He argues, on the one hand, we can either raise the drawbridges up to keep immigrants out or, on the other, open our doors wide and let them in. This he identifies as being the blackmail the West faces. The worry being which one is the best option to take and for all our benefits. I appreciate and agree with this thought.

He offers condemnation of those fearing 'the other' seeing their fear and paranoia as capitulating to their inherent phobias rather than then engaging their intellect. In this, I see a truth, unpalatable maybe, but no less unpalatable than the 'populists' needless fears. His observations that those in the East, in reality, love what we have, copy what we have, want to be like us but since they cannot have that dream their frustrations turn to hate. This also makes perfect sense even if it doesn't help in the least. It really brings to mind the Buddhist's Four Noble Truths or even that line from Desiderata, '"Do not compare yourselves to others less you become vain and bitter." Easy for me to say. I live in the west, I have things those from the east want. I'm alright Jack.

His views on the Paris Attacks is no less observant. He correctly states how despicable those acts were, yet reminds us that those same atrocities are being committed on innocent civilians day in day out in Syria by the West.

What I wanted, if I am, to be honest, was a straightforward confirmation that by accepting refugees into our lands we would be performing a humanitarian act of benevolence. Zizek see's this as being patronising and unhelpful to their cause. He argues that globalisation along with capitalism and the rush of European Imperialism  play a crucial role in the mass movement of homeless people to Europe. He goes even further suggesting that globalisation is linked to food production which in itself is creating poverty and famine in Africa which then explains why so many African's are fleeing their homes. Annoyingly, he offers no immediate solution.

What he does suggest is that the only way to deal with the mass movement of people into Europe is to coordinate, regulate then organise the military to assist. His sympathies lie with the migrant of whom he feels receives a raw deal, one created by globalisation. In this I see wisdom. Had the West not gone to war with Iran, Libya then Syria then Daesh would not have been born. The West effectively created the monster. It is this monster that has manifested itself from our Frankensteinian acts. The hardships those countries face in terms of overpopulation, of wars, constantly being waged on them, of poverty and a deprivation forced on them by Western powers is the cause with Deash, terrorism and migration being the symptoms

As if by way of warning, a prophecy to those of the far right like UKIP, or even the neoliberal politics of the UK and the USA, Colonel Gaddafi had this to say about the bombings of his and other nations within that region

"Now you listen, people of NATO. You're bombing a wall which stood in the way of African migration to Europe, and in the way of Al-Qaeda terrorists. This wall was Libya. You're breaking it. You're idiots, and you will burn in Hell for thousands of migrants from Africa." 

Gaddafi was right.

It is hard not to accept Zizek's prognosis. It makes perfect sense. Yet still we have those who'd sooner seek the erecting of walls rather than the emancipation of all through democracy. In the conclusion of his book, Slavoj Zizek states that only by having global solidarity can we achieve the collective aim of world peace. It rings true. Somehow though the truth seems a rarified and too often ignored thing.





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Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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