Note to Readers

Summary of Ecology of Peace Problem Solving: The problems of poverty, unemployment, war, crime, violence, food shortages, food price increases, inflation, police brutality, political instability, loss of civil rights, vanishing species, garbage and pollution, urban sprawl, traffic jams, toxic waste, racism, sexism, Nazism, Islamism, feminism, Zionism etc; are the ecological overshoot consequences of humans living in accordance to a Masonic War is Peace international law social contract that provides humans the ‘right to breed and consume’ with total disregard for ecological carrying capacity limits.

Ecology of Peace factual reality: 1. Earth is not flat; 2. Resources are finite; 3. When humans breed or consume above ecological carrying capacity limits, it results in resource conflict; 4. If individuals, families, tribes, races, religions, and/or nations want to reduce class, racial and/or religious local, national and international resource war conflict; they should cooperate to implement an Ecology of Peace international law social contract that restricts all the worlds citizens to breed and consume below ecological carrying capacity limits; to sustainably protect and conserve natural resources.

EoP v WiP NWO negotiations are documented at MILED Clerk Notice.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Slavoj Zizek: PC Multiculturalism: the Cultural Logic of Multinational Capitalism vs. Authentic Multiculturalism: 'The one measure of true love is: you can insult the other'



Slavoj Zizek: PC Multiculturalism: the Cultural Logic of Multinational Capitalism vs. Authentic Multiculturalism: 'The one measure of true love is: you can insult the other'

You cannot do the game of erotic seduction in politically correct terms: Another thing that bothers me about this multiculturalism is when people ask me: 'How can you be sure that you are not a racist?' My answer is that there is only one way. If I can exchange insults, brutal jokes, dirty jokes, with a member of a different race and we both know it's not meant in a racist way. If, on the other hand, we play this politically correct game - 'Oh, I respect you, how interesting your customs are' - this is inverted racism, and it is disgusting.

Andrea Muhrrteyn compilation of Slavoj Zizek on Multiculturalism | 13 February 2013|

For me there is one measure of true love: you can insult the other. Like in that horrible German comedy film from 1943 where Marika Röck treats her fiancé very brutally. This fiancé is a rich, important person, so her father asks her why are you treating him like that. And she gives the right answer. She says: 'But I love him, and since I love him, I can do with him whatever I want.' That's the truth of it. If there is true love, you can say horrible things and anything goes.

When multiculturalists tell you to respect the others, I always have this uncanny association that this is dangerously close to how we treat our children: the idea that we should respect them, even when we know that what they believe is not true. We should not destroy their illusions. No, I think that others deserve better - not to be treated like children.

Isn't it sad and tragic that the only relatively strong - not fringe - political movement that still directly addresses the working class is made up of right-wing populists? They are the only ones. Jean-Marie Le Pen in France, for example. I was shocked when I saw him three years ago at a congress of the Front National. He brought a black Frenchman, an Algerian and a Jew on the podium, embraced them and said: 'They are no less French than I am. Only the international cosmopolitan companies who neglect French patriotic interests are my enemy.' So the price is that only right-wingers still talk about economic exploitation.

On today's market, we find a whole series of products deprived of their malignant property: coffee without caffeine, cream without fat, beer without alcohol. And the list goes on: what about virtual sex as sex without sex? The Colin Powell doctrine of warfare with no casualties (on our side, of course) as warfare without warfare? The contemporary redefinition of politics as the art of expert administration as politics without politics? This leads us to today's tolerant liberal multiculturalism as an experience of the Other deprived of its Otherness – the decaffeinated Other.

**********

Multiculturalism: How, then, does the universe of Capital relate to the form of Nation State in our era of global capitalism? Perhaps, this relationship is best designated as ‘auto-colonization’: with the direct multinational functioning of Capital, we are no longer dealing with the standard opposition between metropolis and colonized countries; a global company as it were cuts its umbilical cord with its mother-nation and treats its country of origins as simply another territory to be colonized. This is what disturbs so much the patriotically oriented right-wing populists, from Le Pen to Buchanan: the fact that the new multinationals have towards the French or American local population exactly the same attitude as towards the population of Mexico, Brazil or Taiwan. Is there not a kind of poetic justice in this self-referential turn? Today’s global capitalism is thus again a kind of ‘negation of negation’, after national capitalism and its internationalist/colonialist phase. At the beginning (ideally, of course), there is capitalism within the confines of a Nation-State, with the accompanying international trade (exchange between sovereign Nation-States); what follows is the relationship of colonization in which the colonizing country subordinates and exploits (economically, politically, culturally) the colonized country; the final moment of this process is the paradox of colonization in which there are only colonies, no colonizing countries—the colonizing power is no longer a Nation-State but directly the global company. In the long term, we shall all not only wear Banana Republic shirts but also live in banana republics.

And, of course, the ideal form of ideology of this global capitalism is multiculturalism, the attitude which, from a kind of empty global position, treats each local culture the way the colonizer treats colonized people—as ‘natives’ whose mores are to be carefully studied and ‘respected’. That is to say, the relationship between traditional imperialist colonialism and global capitalist self-colonization is exactly the same as the relationship between Western cultural imperialism and multiculturalism: in the same way that global capitalism involves the paradox of colonization without the colonizing Nation-State metropole, multiculturalism involves patronizing Eurocentrist distance and/or respect for local cultures without roots in one’s own particular culture. In other words, multiculturalism is a disavowed, inverted, self-referential form of racism, a ‘racism with a distance’—it ‘respects’ the Other’s identity, conceiving the Other as a self-enclosed ‘authentic’ community towards which he, the multiculturalist, maintains a distance rendered possible by his privileged universal position. Multiculturalism is a racism which empties its own position of all positive content (the multiculturalist is not a direct racist, he doesn’t oppose to the Other the particular values of his own culture), but nonetheless retains this position as; the privileged empty point of universality from which one is able to appreciate (and depreciate) properly other particular cultures—the multiculturalist respect for the Other’s specificity is the very form of asserting one’s; own superiority.

Multiculturalism, or, the Cultural Logic of Multinational Capitalism

Slavoj Zizek | European Graduate School


Slavoj Zizek Environment, Identity and Multiculturalism (01:15:07)
It is as if we are witnessing today the ultimate confirmation of Freud's thesis, from Civilization and its Discontents, on how, after every assertion of Eros, Thanatos reasserts itself with a vengeance. At the very moment when, according to the predominant liberal ideology, we are finally leaving behind the "immature" political passions (the regime of the "political": class struggle and other "out-dated" divisive antagonisms) for the post-ideological "mature" pragmatic universe of rational administration and negotiated consensus, for the universe, free of utopian impulses, in which the dispassionate administration of social affairs goes hand in hand with the aestheticized hedonism (the pluralism of "ways of life"), — at this very moment, the foreclosed political is celebrating a triumphant comeback in its most archaic form of pure, undistilled racist hatred of the Other which renders the rational tolerant attitude utterly impotent. In this precise sense, the contemporary "postmodern" racism is the symptom of the multiculturalist late capitalism, bringing to the light the inherent contradiction of the liberal-democratic ideological project. Liberal "tolerance" condones the folklorist Other deprived of its substance (like the multitude of "ethnic cuisines" in a contemporary megalopolis) — any "real" Other is instantly denounced for its "fundamentalism", since the kernel of Otherness resides in the regulation of its jouissance, i.e. the "real Other" is by definition "patriarchal", "violent", never the Other of ethereal wisdom and charming customs. One is tempted to reactualize here the old Marcusean notion of "repressive tolerance", reconceiving it as the tolerance of the Other in its aseptized, benign form, which forecloses the dimension of the Real of the Other's jouissance.

[..] What relationship exists between the world of capital and the national state in this era of global capitalism? Maybe this relationship could be defined better as “auto-colonisation”: in the direct activity of multinational capital we no longer have anything to do with the opposing standards between metropolises and colonised countries, the global company in some way severs the umbilical cord with its nation of origin and treats its own country as a mere sphere of action, which it needs to colonise. This is where the motive for the bad feeling of nations orientated towards the populist left is, from le Pen to Buchanan: the fact is that the new multinationals behave with the French or American citizens in exactly the same way as they behave with Mexicans, Brazilians or the Taiwanese. However, doesn’t some kind of poetic justice exist in this self-referential shift?

Today’s global capitalism is again a species of “the negation of negation”, after the period of national capitalism and its international/colonial phase. At the beginning (obviously in an ideal sense) a capitalism circumscribed by the national confines of the country are registered with an international market (the exchange between sovereign nations); after this phase follows the relationship of colonisation, in which the colonising country subordinates and (economically, politically and culturally) exploits the colonised country; however, the final act of this process is the paradox of colonisation, where the real colonies and colonising countries no longer exist – the power of colonising is no longer in the hands of the national states, but directly in the hands of the global businesses.

In the long run, we’ll not only be wearing Banana Republic T-shirts, but we’ll also be living in the Banana Republic. Naturally, multiculturalism is the ideal form of global capitalism’s ideology, it is an attitude which from an empty global position any local culture is discussed, in the same way that a coloniser treats a colonised people as the “indigenous” whose nature must be studied attentively and with “respect”. In other words, the relationship between traditional imperialist colonialism and capitalist global auto-colonisation is the same as the relationship between Western cultural imperialism and multiculturalism: and just as global capitalism includes the paradox of colonisation without the colonised countries, so multiculturalism offers a protection of Euro-centric distance and/or the respect for local cultures without having any roots in its own particular culture.

Multiculturalism is evidently an inverted and un-confessed form of “distant” racism: “respecting” the identity of the other, conceiving the other as an “authentic” closed community against which he, the multiculturalist, maintains a distance made possible by his privileged universal position. In other words, multiculturalism is a form of racism which empties the position of all positive content (the multiculturalist is not an open racist, he doesn’t oppose the other’s particular values of his own culture), but nevertheless preserves this position as an empty and privileged essence of universality, from which the other specific cultures can be adequately appreciated: multiculturalism’s respect for the specificity of the other is the most efficient means of reaffirming his own superiority.

Does what brings us to our conclusion that the neutrality of multiculturalism is a lie really derive from the fact that its position silently privileges Euro-centric contents? This is a right way of thinking, but it comes from the wrong reason. The background and roots of a particular culture, which sustains the universal position of multiculturalism, is not the “truth” of this position, concealed behind the mask of universality (“multiculturalism is in reality euro-centric…”), but on the contrary is the simple emblem of certain roots and a phantasmagorical cover, hiding the fact that the subject is already completely “without roots” and that its true position is in the emptiness of universality.

Today’s “diversities” (the homeless, people living in ghettos, the unemployed…) are symptoms of the universal late capitalist system, which admonishes us with increasing frequency on the immanent reasoning of late capitalism: the real utopia of capitalism consists of the possibility which with adequate measures (“the affirmative act” for the liberal progressives; the return to thinking about ourselves and family values for the conservatives) these “exceptions” will be eliminated in the long run, at least in principle. A utopia analogous to the concept “of the rainbow coalition”; in a utopian future will all the progressives’ longings (the fight for gay and lesbian rights; fight for the rights of ethnic and religious minorities; ecological battles; feminist struggles; etc.) be reunited by the communal “chain of equivalence”? Yet again, the essence fails for structural reasons; simply, due to the empirical complexity of their position, all the particular “progressive” battles will never be reunited, but will always demonstrate “wrong” chains of equivalence (for example, the continuous fights for ethnic Afro-American identity and the patriarchal homophonic ideologies). The manifestation of “wrong” persuasions is based on the sole principle structuring today’s “progressive” policy of re-establishing “chains of equivalency”: the only sphere of particular mass struggles, with their incessant movements and concentrations, maintains the “repression” of key roles of the economic battle – the policy of the left of the “chain of equivalency” between the various mass struggles is closely linked to the silent omission of an analysis of capitalism, both as a system of global economy and the acceptance of capitalist economic relations as an unquestionable framework.

[..]

Multiculturalism

How, then, does the universe of Capital relate to the form of NationState in our era of global capitalism? Perhaps, this relationship is best designated as ‘auto-colonization’: with the direct multinational functioning of Capital, we are no longer dealing with the standard opposition between metropolis and colonized countries; a global company as it were cuts its umbilical cord with its mother-nation and treats its country of origins as simply another territory to be colonized. This is what disturbs so much the patriotically oriented right-wing populists, from Le Pen to Buchanan: the fact that the new multinationals have towards the French or American local population exactly the same attitude as towards the population of Mexico, Brazil or Taiwan. Is there not a kind of poetic justice in this self-referential turn? Today’s global capitalism is thus again a kind of ‘negation of negation’, after national capitalism and its internationalist/colonialist phase. At the beginning (ideally, of course), there is capitalism within the confines of a Nation-State, with the accompanying international trade (exchange between sovereign Nation-States); what follows is the relationship of colonization in which the colonizing country subordinates and exploits (economically, politically, culturally) the colonized country; the final moment of this process is the paradox of colonization in which there are only colonies, no colonizing countries—the colonizing power is no longer a Nation-State but directly the global company. In the long term, we shall all not only wear Banana Republic shirts but also live in banana republics.

And, of course, the ideal form of ideology of this global capitalism is multiculturalism, the attitude which, from a kind of empty global position, treats each local culture the way the colonizer treats colonized people—as ‘natives’ whose mores are to be carefully studied and ‘respected’. That is to say, the relationship between traditional imperialist colonialism and global capitalist self-colonization is exactly the same as the relationship between Western cultural imperialism and multiculturalism: in the same way that global capitalism involves the paradox of colonization without the colonizing Nation-State metropole, multiculturalism involves patronizing Eurocentrist distance and/or respect for local cultures without roots in one’s own particular culture. In other words, multiculturalism is a disavowed, inverted, self-referential form of racism, a ‘racism with a distance’—it ‘respects’ the Other’s identity, conceiving the Other as a self-enclosed ‘authentic’ community towards which he, the multiculturalist, maintains a distance rendered possible by his privileged universal position.

Multiculturalism is a racism which empties its own position of all positive content (the multiculturalist is not a direct racist, he doesn’t oppose to the Other the particular values of his own culture), but nonetheless retains this position as the privileged empty point of universality from which one is able to appreciate (and depreciate) properly other particular cultures—the multiculturalist respect for the Other’s specificity is the very form of asserting one’s own superiority.


'The one measure of true love is: you can insult the other': The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek talks about subjectivity, multiculturalism, sex and terrorism.

Sabine Reul and Thomas Deichmann | Wired | 15 November 2001

The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek has gained something of a cult following for his many writings - including The Ticklish Subject, a playful critique of the intellectual assault upon human subjectivity (1).

At the prestigious Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2001, he talked to Sabine Reul and Thomas Deichmann about subjectivity, multiculturalism, sex and unfreedom after 11 September.

Has 11 September thrown new light on your diagnosis of what is happening to the world?

Slavoj Žižek: One of the endlessly repeated phrases we heard in recent weeks is that nothing will be the same after 11 September. I wonder if there really is such a substantial change. Certainly, there is change at the level of perception or publicity, but I don't think we can yet speak of some fundamental break. Existing attitudes and fears were confirmed, and what the media were telling us about terrorism has now really happened.

In my work, I place strong emphasis on what is usually referred to as the virtualisation or digitalisation of our environment. We know that 60 percent of the people on this Earth have not even made a phone call in their life. But still, 30 percent of us live in a digitalised universe that is artificially constructed, manipulated and no longer some natural or traditional one. At all levels of our life we seem to live more and more with the thing deprived of its substance. You get beer without alcohol, meat without fat, coffee without caffeine...and even virtual sex without sex.

Virtual reality to me is the climax of this process: you now get reality without reality...or a totally regulated reality. But there is another side to this. Throughout the entire twentieth century, I see a counter-tendency, for which my good philosopher friend Alain Badiou invented a nice name: 'La passion du réel', the passion of the real. That is to say, precisely because the universe in which we live is somehow a universe of dead conventions and artificiality, the only authentic real experience must be some extremely violent, shattering experience. And this we experience as a sense that now we are back in real life.

Do you think that is what we are seeing now?

Slavoj Žižek: I think this may be what defined the twentieth century, which really began with the First World War. We all remember the war reports by Ernst Jünger, in which he praises this eye-to-eye combat experience as the authentic one. Or at the level of sex, the archetypal film of the twentieth century would be Nagisa Oshima's Ai No Corrida (In The Realm Of The Senses), where the idea again is that you become truly radical, and go to the end in a sexual encounter, when you practically torture each other to death. There must be extreme violence for that encounter to be authentic.

Another emblematic figure in this sense to me is the so-called 'cutter'- a widespread pathological phenomenon in the USA. There are two million of them, mostly women, but also men, who cut themselves with razors. Why? It has nothing to do with masochism or suicide. It's simply that they don't feel real as persons and the idea is: it's only through this pain and when you feel warm blood that you feel reconnected again. So I think that this tension is the background against which one should appreciate the effect of the act.

Does that relate to your observations about the demise of subjectivity in The Ticklish Subject? You say the problem is what you call 'foreclosure'- that the real or the articulation of the subject is foreclosed by the way society has evolved in recent years.

Slavoj Žižek: The starting point of my book on the subject is that almost all philosophical orientations today, even if they strongly oppose each other, agree on some kind of basic anti-subjectivist stance. For example, Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida would both agree that the Cartesian subject had to be deconstructed, or, in the case of Habermas, embedded in a larger inter-subjective dialectics. Cognitivists, Hegelians - everybody is in agreement here.

I am tempted to say that we must return to the subject - though not a purely rational Cartesian one. My idea is that the subject is inherently political, in the sense that 'subject', to me, denotes a piece of freedom - where you are no longer rooted in some firm substance, you are in an open situation. Today we can no longer simply apply old rules. We are engaged in paradoxes, which offer no immediate way out. In this sense, subjectivity is political.

But this kind of political subjectivity seems to have disappeared. In your books you speak of a post-political world.

Slavoj Žižek: When I say we live in a post-political world, I refer to a wrong ideological impression. We don't really live in such a world, but the existing universe presents itself as post-political in the sense that there is some kind of a basic social pact that elementary social decisions are no longer discussed as political decisions. They are turned into simple decisions of gesture and of administration. And the remaining conflicts are mostly conflicts about different cultures. We have the present form of global capitalism plus some kind of tolerant democracy as the ultimate form of that idea. And, paradoxically, only very few are ready to question this world.

So, what's wrong with that?

Slavoj Žižek: This post-political world still seems to retain the tension between what we usually refer to as tolerant liberalism versus multiculturalism. But for me - though I never liked Friedrich Nietzsche - if there is a definition that really fits, it is Nietzsche's old opposition between active and passive nihilism. Active nihilism, in the sense of wanting nothing itself, is this active self-destruction which would be precisely the passion of the real - the idea that, in order to live fully and authentically, you must engage in self-destruction. On the other hand, there is passive nihilism, what Nietzsche called 'The last man' - just living a stupid, self-satisfied life without great passions.

The problem with a post-political universe is that we have these two sides which are engaged in kind of mortal dialectics. My idea is that, to break out of this vicious cycle, subjectivity must be reinvented.

You also say that the elites in our Western world are losing their nerve. They want to throw out all old concepts like humanism or subjectivity. Against that, you say it is important to look at what there is in the old that may be worth retaining.

Slavoj Žižek: Of course, I am not against the new. I am, indeed, almost tempted to repeat Virginia Woolf. I think it was in 1914 when she said it was as though eternal human nature had changed. To be a man no longer means the same thing. One should not, for example, underestimate the inter-subjective social impact of cyberspace. What we are witnessing today is a radical redefinition of what it means to be a human being.

Almost all philosophical orientations today agree on some kind of basic anti-subjectivist stance.

Take strange phenomena, like what we see on the internet. There are so-called 'cam' websites where people expose to an anonymous public their innermost secrets down to the most vulgar level. You have websites today - even I, with all my decadent tastes, was shocked to learn this - where people put a video-camera in their toilets, so you can observe them defecating. This a totally new constellation. It is not private, but also it is also not public. It is not the old exhibitionist gesture.

Be that as it may, something radical is happening. Now, a number of new terms are proposed to us to describe that. The one most commonly used is paradigm shift, denoting that we live in an epoch of shifting paradigm. So New Age people tell us that we no longer have a Cartesian, mechanistic individualism, but a new universal mind. In sociology, the theorists of second modernity say similar things. And psychoanalytical theorists tell us that we no longer have the Oedipus complex, but live in an era of universalised perversion.

My point is not that we should stick to the old. But these answers are wrong and do not really register the break that is taking place. If we measure what is happening now by the standard of the old, we can grasp the abyss of the new that is emerging.

Here I would refer to Blaise Pascal. Pascal's problem was also confrontation with modernity and modern science. His difficulty was that he wanted to remain an old, orthodox Christian in this new, modern age. It is interesting that his results were much more radical and interesting for us today than the results of superficial English liberal philosophers, who simply accepted modernity.

You see the same thing in cinema history, if we look at the impact of sound. Okay, 'what's the problem?', you might say. By adding the sound to the image we simply get a more realistic rendering of reality. But that is not at all true. Interestingly enough, the movie directors who were most sensitive to what the introduction of sound really meant were generally conservatives, those who looked at it with scepticism, like Charlie Chaplin (up to a point), and Fritz Lang. Fritz Lang's Das Testament des Dr Mabuse, in a wonderful way, rendered this spectral ghost-like dimension of the voice, realising that voice never simply belongs to the body. This is just another example of how a conservative, as if he were afraid of the new medium, has a much better grasp of its uncanny radical potentials.

The same applies today. Some people simply say: 'What's the problem? Let's throw ourselves into the digital world, into the internet, or whatever….' They really miss what is going on here.

So why do people want to declare a new epoch every five minutes?

Slavoj Žižek: It is precisely a desperate attempt to avoid the trauma of the new. It is a deeply conservative gesture. The true conservatives today are the people of new paradigms. They try desperately to avoid confronting what is really changing.

Let me return to my example. In Charlie Chaplin's film The Great Dictator, he satirises Hitler as Hinkel. The voice is perceived as something obscene. There is a wonderful scene where Hinkel gives a big speech and speaks totally meaningless, obscene words. Only from time to time you recognise some everyday vulgar German word like 'Wienerschnitzel' or 'Kartoffelstrudel'. And this was an ingenious insight; how voice is like a kind of a spectral ghost. All this became apparent to those conservatives who were sensitive for the break of the new.

The most dangerous thing today is just to flow with things 

In fact, all big breaks were done in such a way. Nietzsche was in this sense a conservative, and, indeed, I am ready to claim that Marx was a conservative in this sense, too. Marx always emphasised that we can learn more from intelligent conservatives than from simple liberals. Today, more than ever, we should stick to this attitude. When you are surprised and shocked, you don't simply accept it. You should not say: 'Okay, fine, let's play digital games.' We should not forget the ability to be properly surprised. I think, the most dangerous thing today is just to flow with things.

Then let's return to some of the things that have been surprising us. In a recent article, you made the point that the terrorists mirror our civilisation. They are not out there, but mirror our own Western world. Can you elaborate on that some more?

Slavoj Žižek: This, of course, is my answer to this popular thesis by Samuel P Huntington and others that there is a so-called clash of civilisations. I don't buy this thesis, for a number of reasons.

Today's racism is precisely this racism of cultural difference. It no longer says: 'I am more than you.' It says: 'I want my culture, you can have yours.' Today, every right-winger says just that. These people can be very postmodern. They acknowledge that there is no natural tradition, that every culture is artificially constructed. In France, for example, you have a neo-fascist right that refers to the deconstructionists, saying: 'Yes, the lesson of deconstructionism against universalism is that there are only particular identities. So, if blacks can have their culture, why should we not have ours?'

We should also consider the first reaction of the American 'moral majority', specifically Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, to the 11 September attacks. Pat Robertson is a bit eccentric, but Jerry Falwell is a mainstream figure, who endorsed Reagan and is part of the mainstream, not an eccentric freak. Now, their reaction was the same as the Arabs', though he did retract a couple of days later. Falwell said the World Trade Centre bombings were a sign that God no longer protects the USA, because the USA had chosen a path of evil, homosexuality and promiscuity.

According to the FBI, there are now at least two million so-called radical right-wingers in the USA. Some are quite violent, killing abortion doctors, not to mention the Oklahoma City bombing. To me, this shows that the same anti-liberal, violent attitude also grows in our own civilisation. I see that as proof that this terrorism is an aspect of our time. We cannot link it to a particular civilisation.

Regarding Islam, we should look at history. In fact, I think it is very interesting in this regard to look at ex-Yugoslavia. Why was Sarajevo and Bosnia the place of violent conflict? Because it was ethnically the most mixed republic of ex-Yugoslavia. Why? Because it was Muslim-dominated, and historically they were definitely the most tolerant. We Slovenes, on the other hand, and the Croats, both Catholics, threw them out several hundred years ago.

This proves that there is nothing inherently intolerant about Islam. We must rather ask why this terrorist aspect of Islam arises now. The tension between tolerance and fundamentalist violence is within a civilisation.

Take another example: on CNN we saw President Bush present a letter of a seven-year-old girl whose father is a pilot and now around Afghanistan. In the letter she said that she loves her father, but if her country needs his death, she is ready to give her father for her country. President Bush described this as American patriotism. Now, do a simple mental experiment - imagine the same event with an Afghan girl saying that. We would immediately say: 'What cynicism, what fundamentalism, what manipulation of small children.' So there is already something in our perception. But what shocks us in others we ourselves also do in a way.

So multiculturalism and fundamentalism could be two sides of the same coin?

Slavoj Žižek: There is nothing to be said against tolerance. But when you buy this multiculturalist tolerance, you buy many other things with it. Isn't it symptomatic that multiculturalism exploded at the very historic moment when the last traces of working-class politics disappeared from political space? For many former leftists, this multiculturalism is a kind of ersatz working-class politics. We don't even know whether the working class still exists, so let's talk about exploitation of others.

This notion of tolerance effectively masks its opposite: intolerance

There may be nothing wrong with that as such. But there is a danger that issues of economic exploitation are converted into problems of cultural tolerance. And then you have only to make one step further, that of Julia Kristeva in her essay 'Etrangers à nous mêmes', and say we cannot tolerate others because we cannot tolerate otherness in ourselves. Here we have a pure pseudo-psychoanalytic cultural reductionism.

Isn't it sad and tragic that the only relatively strong - not fringe - political movement that still directly addresses the working class is made up of right-wing populists? They are the only ones. Jean-Marie Le Pen in France, for example. I was shocked when I saw him three years ago at a congress of the Front National. He brought a black Frenchman, an Algerian and a Jew on the podium, embraced them and said: 'They are no less French than I am. Only the international cosmopolitan companies who neglect French patriotic interests are my enemy.' So the price is that only right-wingers still talk about economic exploitation.

The second thing I find wrong with this multiculturalist tolerance is that it is often hypocritical in the sense that the other whom they tolerate is already a reduced other. The other is okay in so far as this other is only a question of food, of culture, of dances. What about clitoridectomy? What about my friends who say: 'We must respect Hindus.' Okay, but what about one of the old Hindu customs which, as we know, is that when a husband dies, the wife is burned. Now, do we respect that? Problems arise here.

An even more important problem is that this notion of tolerance effectively masks its opposite: intolerance. It is a recurring theme in all my books that, from this liberal perspective, the basic perception of another human being is always as something that may in some way hurt you.

Are you referring to what we call victim culture?

Slavoj Žižek: The discourse of victimisation is almost the predominant discourse today. You can be a victim of the environment, of smoking, of sexual harassment. I find this reduction of the subject to a victim sad. In what sense? There is an extremely narcissistic notion of personality here. And, indeed, an intolerant one, insofar as what it means is that we can no longer tolerate violent encounters with others - and these encounters are always violent.

Let me briefly address sexual harassment for a moment. Of course I am opposed to it, but let's be frank. Say I am passionately attached, in love, or whatever, to another human being and I declare my love, my passion for him or her. There is always something shocking, violent in it. This may sound like a joke, but it isn't - you cannot do the game of erotic seduction in politically correct terms. There is a moment of violence, when you say: 'I love you, I want you.' In no way can you bypass this violent aspect. So I even think that the fear of sexual harassment in a way includes this aspect, a fear of a too violent, too open encounter with another human being.

Another thing that bothers me about this multiculturalism is when people ask me: 'How can you be sure that you are not a racist?' My answer is that there is only one way. If I can exchange insults, brutal jokes, dirty jokes, with a member of a different race and we both know it's not meant in a racist way. If, on the other hand, we play this politically correct game - 'Oh, I respect you, how interesting your customs are' - this is inverted racism, and it is disgusting.

In the Yugoslav army where we were all of mixed nationalities, how did I become friends with Albanians? When we started to exchange obscenities, sexual innuendo, jokes. This is why this politically correct respect is just, as Freud put it, 'zielgehemmt'. You still have the aggression towards the other.

You cannot do the game of erotic seduction in politically correct terms

For me there is one measure of true love: you can insult the other. Like in that horrible German comedy film from 1943 where Marika Röck treats her fiancé very brutally. This fiancé is a rich, important person, so her father asks her why are you treating him like that. And she gives the right answer. She says: 'But I love him, and since I love him, I can do with him whatever I want.' That's the truth of it. If there is true love, you can say horrible things and anything goes.

When multiculturalists tell you to respect the others, I always have this uncanny association that this is dangerously close to how we treat our children: the idea that we should respect them, even when we know that what they believe is not true. We should not destroy their illusions. No, I think that others deserve better - not to be treated like children.

In your book on the subject you talk of a 'true universalism' as an opposite of this false sense of global harmony. What do you mean by that?

Slavoj Žižek: Here I need to ask myself a simple Habermasian question: how can we ground universality in our experience? Naturally, I don't accept this postmodern game that each of us inhabits his or her particular universe. I believe there is universality. But I don't believe in some a priori universality of fundamental rules or universal notions. The only true universality we have access to is political universality. Which is not solidarity in some abstract idealist sense, but solidarity in struggle.

If we are engaged in the same struggle, if we discover that - and this for me is the authentic moment of solidarity - being feminists and ecologists, or feminists and workers, we all of a sudden have this insight: 'My God, but our struggle is ultimately the same!' This political universality would be the only authentic universality. And this, of course, is what is missing today, because politics today is increasingly a politics of merely negotiating compromises between different positions.

The post-political subverts the freedom that has been talked about so much in recent weeks. Is that what you are saying?

Slavoj Žižek: I do claim that what is sold to us today as freedom is something from which this more radical dimension of freedom and democracy has been removed - in other words, the belief that basic decisions about social development are discussed or brought about involving as many as possible, a majority. In this sense, we do not have an actual experience of freedom today. Our freedoms are increasingly reduced to the freedom to choose your lifestyle. You can even choose your ethnic identity up to a point.

But this new world of freedom described by people like Ulrich Beck, who say everything is a matter of reflective negotiation, of choice, can include new unfreedom. My favourite example is this, and here we have ideology at its purest: we know that it is very difficult today in more and more professional domains to get a long-term job. Academics or journalists, for example, now often live on a two- or three-year contract, that you then have to renegotiate. Of course, most of us experience this as something traumatising, shocking, where you can never be sure. But then, along comes the postmodern ideologist: 'Oh, but this is just a new freedom, you can reinvent yourself every two years!'

The problem for me is how unfreedom is hidden, concealed in precisely what is presented to us as new freedoms. I think that the explosion of these new freedoms, which fall under the domain of what Michel Foucault called 'care of the self', involves greater social unfreedom.

Twenty or 30 years ago there was still discussion as to whether the future would be fascist, socialist, communist or capitalist. Today, nobody even discusses this. These fundamental social choices are simply no longer perceived as a matter to decide. A certain domain of radical social questions has simply been depoliticised.

I find it very sad that, precisely in an era in which tremendous changes are taking place and, indeed entire social coordinates are transformed, we don't experience this as something about which we decided freely.

So, let's return to the aftermath of 11 September. We now experience a strange kind of war that we are told will not end for a long time. What do you think of this turn of events?

Slavoj Žižek: I don't quite agree with those who claim that this World Trade Centre explosion was the start of the first war of the twenty-first century. I think it was a war of the twentieth century, in the sense that it was still a singular, spectacular event. The new wars would be precisely as you mentioned - it will not even be clear whether it is a war or not. Somehow life will go on and we will learn that we are at war, as we are now.

The explosion of these new freedoms involves greater social unfreedom

What worries me is how many Americans perceived these bombings as something that made them into innocents: as if to say, until now, we had problems, Vietnam, and so on. Now we are victims, and this somehow justifies us in fully identifying with American patriotism.

That's a risky gesture. The big choice for Americans is whether they retreat into this patriotism - or, as my friend Ariel Dorfman wrote recently: 'America has the chance to become a member of the community of nations. America always behaves as though it were special. It should use this attack as an opportunity to admit that it is not special, but simply and truly part of this world.' That's the big choice.

There is something so disturbingly tragic in this idea of the wealthiest country in the world bombing one of the poorest countries. It reminds me of the well-known joke about the idiot who loses a key in the dark and looks for it beneath the light. When asked why, he says: 'I know I lost it over there, but it's easier to look for it here.'

But at the same time I must confess that the left also deeply disappointed me. Falling back into this safe pacifist attitude - violence never stops violence, give peace a chance - is abstract and doesn't work here. First, because this is not a universal rule. I always ask my leftist friends who repeat that mantra: What would you have said in 1941 with Hitler. Would you also say: 'We shouldn't resist, because violence never helps?' It is simply a fact that at some point you have to fight. You have to return violence with violence. The problem is not that for me, but that this war can never be a solution.

It is also false and misleading to perceive these bombings as some kind of third world working-class response to American imperialism. In that case, the American fundamentalists we already discussed, are also a working-class response, which they clearly are not. We face a challenge to rethink our coordinates and I hope that this will be a good result of this tragic event. That we will not just use it to do more of the same but to think about what is really changing in our world.

Dr Slavoj Žižek is professor of philosophy at University Ljubljana, Slovenia. He is currently a member of the Directors' Board at Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut in Essen, Germany.

Sabine Reul is sub-editor and Thomas Deichmann is chief editor of Novo, spiked's partner magazine in Germany. See the Novo website, where the full interview is published in German.


Multiculturalism: The Reality of an Illusion

Slavoj Žižek. "Multiculturalism, the Reality of an Illusion." in: Lacan.com. 2009. (English).

In a critical reading of my plenary talk at the Law and Critique Conference in 2007, Sara Ahmed challenges my claim that it is an “empirical fact” that liberal multiculturalism is hegemonic. [1] Her first step is to emphasize the distinction between the semblance of hegemony (ideological illusion) and actual hegemony:

Hegemony is not really reducible to facts as it involves semblance, fantasy and illusion, being a question of how things appear and the gap between appearance and how bodies are distributed. To read hegemony we have to distrust how things appear. Indeed, what is striking about Zizek’s retort is how much his reading of ‘political correctness’ and ‘liberal multiculturalism’ involved a certain literalism, as if the prohibition of speech acts that are not based on respecting the other’s difference are ‘really’ what is prohibited, or as if the prohibition is simply real by virtue of being articulated within public culture. So the speech act, ‘we must support the other’s difference’ is read as hegemonic, is taken literally as a sign not only that it is compulsory to support the other’s difference, but we are not allowed to refuse this support. The speech act is read as doing what it says.

In order to re-consider the effects of such injunctions and prohibitions, I have introduced a new class of what I call non-performatives: speech acts that do not do what they say, that do not bring into effect that which they name. Could the speech work to create an illusion that we do support the other’s difference, which might work by not bringing such support into existence?

My point is double here. First, I agree with the category of “non-performative,” but with a twist: it is a performative, even a very efficient one, but a different one than it claims to be. There are other theoretical notions we can use to describe this duality: “pragmatic paradox,” the gap between the “subject of the enunciated” and the “subject of the enunciation,” ”double bind”; there are nonetheless differences between these notions.

“Double bind” implies an unbearable subjective tension (the proverbial mother who explicitly enjoins her son to go away and start an autonomous life, but whose message between the lines is a desperate call to stay with her; the father who tells his son to act autonomously, so that if the son effectively does it, her thereby asserts his subordination to his father, since he followed his injunction), while the “non-performative” works smoothly, enabling you as it were to have a cake and eat it, i.e., to assert your superiority over the Other in/through the very gesture of guaranteeing his equality and your respect for his difference.

When I claim that multiculturalism is hegemonic, I only claim that it is hegemonic as ideology, not that it described the reality of predominant social relations – which is why I criticize it so ferociously. So when Ahmed writes that “multiculturalism is a fantasy which conceals forms of racism, violence and inequality,” I only can add that this goes for every hegemonic ideology. I do not confuse ideological fantasy/illusion and fact – they are confused in reality: the reality of what Ahmed calls “civil racism” can only function through (in the guise of) the illusion of anti-racist multiculturalism. And, furthermore, an illusion is never simply an illusion: it is not enough to make the old Marxist point about the gap between the ideological appearance of the universal legal form and the particular interests that effectively sustain it – as is so common amongst politically-correct critics on the Left. The counter-argument that the form is never a ‘mere’ form, but involves a dynamic of its own which leaves traces in the materiality of social life, made by Claude Lefort and Jacques Rancière, is fully valid. After all the ‘formal freedom’ of the bourgeois sets in motion the process of altogether ‘material’ political demands and practices, from trade unions to feminism. Rancière rightly emphasizes the radical ambiguity of the Marxist notion of the gap between formal democracy with its discourse of the rights of man and political freedom and the economic reality of exploitation and domination. This gap between the ‘appearance’ of equality-freedom and the social reality of economic and cultural differences can either be interpreted in the standard symptomatic way, that is the form of universal rights, equality, freedom and democracy is just a necessary, but illusory expression of its concrete social content, the universe of exploitation and class domination. Or it can be interpreted in the much more subversive sense of a tension in which the ‘appearance’ of egaliberté, is precisely not a ‘mere appearance,’ but has a power of its own. This power allows it to set in motion the process of the re-articulation of actual socio-economic relations by way of their progressive ‘politicization’: why shouldn’t women also vote? Why shouldn’t conditions at the work place also be of public political concern? and so on. If the bourgeois freedom is merely formal and doesn’t disturb the true relations of power, why, then, didn’t the Stalinist regime allow it? Why was it so afraid of it? In the opposition between form and content, the form possesses an autonomy of its own – one can almost say: a content of its own. – Back to Ahmed, how, then, does multiculturalism as fantasy function?

In such a fantasy, racism is ‘officially prohibited’. This is true. We are ‘supposed’ to be for racial equality, tolerance and diversity, and we are not ‘allowed’ to express hatred towards others, or to incite racist hatred. I would argue that this prohibition against racism is imaginary, and that it conceals everyday forms of racism, and involves a certain desire for racism. Take Big Brother and the Jade Goody story. You could argue that Big Brother’s exposure of racism functions as evidence that political correctness is hegemonic: you are not allowed to be racist towards others. But that would be a misreading. What was at stake was the desire to locate racism in the body of Jade Goody, who comes to stand for the ignorance of the white working classes, as a way of showing that ‘we’ (channel 4 and its well-meaning liberal viewers) are not racist like that. When anti-racism becomes an ego ideal you know you are in trouble.

The prohibition of racist speech should not then be taken literally: rather it is a way of imagining ‘us’ as beyond racism, as being good multicultural subjects who are not that. By saying racism is over there –‘look, there it is! in the located body of the racist’ – other forms of racism remain unnamed, what we could call civil racism. We might even say that the desire for racism is an articulation of a wider unnamed racism that accumulates force by not being named, or by operating under the sign of civility.

The best example one can imagine of this are the presidential elections in France a couple of years ago when Jean-Marie le Pen made it into the second round: reacting to this racist-chauvinist threat, the entire “democratic France” joined their ranks behind Jacques Chirac who was reelected with an overwhelming majority of 80%. No wonder everyone felt good after this display of French anti-racism, no wonder people “loved to hate” le Pen: by way of clearly locating racism in him and his party, the general “civil racism” is rendered invisible. In a homologous way, there was, in Slovenia, around a year ago, a big problem with a Roma (Gipsy) family which camped close to a small town. When a man was killed in the camp, the people in the town started to protest against the Roma, demanding that they be moved from the camp (which they occupied illegally) to another location, organizing vigilante groups, etc.

As expected, all liberals condemned them as racists, locating racism into this isolated small village, while none of the liberals, living comfortably in the big cities, had any everyday contact with the Roma (except for meeting their representatives in front of the TV cameras when they supported them). When the TV interviewed the “racists” from the town, they were clearly seen to be a group of people frightened by the constant fighting and shooting in the Roma camp, by the constant theft of animals from their farms, and by other forms of small harassments from the Roma. It is all too easy to say (as the liberals did) that the Roma way of life is (also) a consequence of the centuries of their exclusion and mistreatment, that the people in the nearby town should also open themselves more to the Roma, etc. – nobody clearly answered the local “racists” what they should concretely do to solve the very real problems the Roma camp evidently was for them.

One of the most irritating liberal-tolerant strategies is to oppose Islam as a great religion of spiritual peace and compassion to its fundamentalist-terrorist abuse – whenever Bush or Netanyahu or Sharon announced a new phase in the War on Terror, they never forgot to include this mantra. (One is almost tempted to counter it by claiming that Islam is, as all religions, in itself a rather stupid inconsistent edifice, and that what makes it truly great are its possible political uses.) This is liberal-tolerant racism at its purest: this kind of “respect” for the other is the very form of appearance of its opposite, of patronizing disrespect. The very term “tolerance” is here indicative: one “tolerates” something one doesn’t approve of, but cannot abolish, either because one is not strong enough to do it or because one is benevolent enough to allow the Other to stick to its illusion – in this way, a secular liberal “tolerates” religion, a permissive parent “tolerates” his children’s excesses, etc.

Where I disagree with Ahmed is in her supposition that the underlying injunction of liberal tolerance is monocultural – “Be like us, become British!” I claim that, on the opposite, its injunction is cultural apartheid: others should not come too close to us, we should protect our “way of life.” The demand “Become like us!” is a superego demand, a demand which counts on the other’s inability to really become like us, so that we can then gleefully “deplore” their failure. (Recall how, in the apartheid South Africa, the official regime’s ideology was multiculturalist: apartheid is needed so that all the diverse black tribes will not get drowned into our civilization…) The truly unbearable fact for a multiculturalist liberal is an Other who effectively becomes like us, while retaining its specific features.

Furthermore, Ahmed passes between two forms of racism which should be distinguished. First, there is the “reflexive racism”: we use our non-racism to distinguish ourselves from the racist other and thus to castigate them in a racist way. More precisely, one should distinguish, in a kind of spectral analysis, three different modes of today’s racism. First, there is the old fashioned unabashed rejection of the (despotic, barbarian, orthodox, Muslim, corrupt, oriental…) Other on behalf of the authentic (Western, civilized, democratic, Christian…) values. Then there is the “reflexive” Politically Correct racism: the multiculturalist perception of Muslims or Balkans as the terrain of ethnic horrors and intolerance, of primitive irrational war passions, to be opposed to the post-Nation-State liberal-democratic process of solving conflicts through rational negotiations, compromises and mutual respect. Racism is here as it were elevated to the second power: it is attributed to the Other, while we occupy the convenient position of a neutral benevolent observer, righteously dismayed at the horrors going on down there. Finally, there is the reversed racism: it celebrates the exotic authenticity of the Balkan Other, as in the notion of Serbs who, in contrast to the inhibited, anemic Western Europeans, still exhibit a prodigious lust for life – this last form of racism plays a crucial role in the success of Emir Kusturica’s films in the West. – Second, racists themselves become a “threatened minority” whose free speech must be protected, i.e., they
use the prohibition as evidence that racism is a minority position which has to be defended against the multicultural hegemony. Racism can then be articulated as a minority position, a refusal of orthodoxy. In this perverse logic, racism can then be embraced as a form of free speech. We have articulated a new discourse of freedom: as the freedom to be offensive, in which racism becomes an offence that restores our freedom: the story goes, we have worried too much about offending the other, we must get beyond this restriction, which sustains the fantasy that ‘that’ was the worry in the first place. Note here that the other, especially the Muslim subject who is represented as easily offended, becomes the one who causes injury, insofar as it is the Muslim other’s ‘offendability’ that is read as restricting our free speech. The offendable subject ‘gets in the way’ of our freedom. So rather than saying racism is prohibited by the liberal multicultural consensus, under the banner of respect for difference, I would argue that racism is what is protected under the banner of free speech through the appearance of being prohibited.

The thing to do here is to supplement Ahmed’s presentation with different, unexpected, examples which render visible unexpected consequences and links of her theoretical propositions. Notice the paradox of Chomsky here: he wrote a preface to a book by Jean Faurisson, a holocaust-denier, defending the right for the book to be published. Chomsky made it clear that he is personally disgusted by Faurisson’s reasoning; his problem is that, once we start to prohibit certain opinions, who will be next in line? The question is thus: how to counteract the fake liberal prohibition of racism? In the Chomsky mode, or by replacing it with a “true” prohibition?

Another unexpected example: according to Jean-Claude Milner, a unified Europe can only constitute itself on the condition of the progressive erasure of all divisive historical traditions and legitimizations: consequently, the unified Europe is based on the erasure of history, of historical memory. Recent phenomena like holocaust revisionism, the moral equation of all victims of the WWII (Germans suffered under the Allied bombardments no less than Russians and Englishmen; the fate of the Nazi collaborators liquidated by the Russians after the war is comparable to the victims of the Nazi genocide, etc.), are the logical outcome of this tendency: all specified limits are potentially erased on behalf of abstract suffering and victimization. And – this is what Milner is aiming at all along – this Europe, in its very advocacy of the unlimited openness and multicultural tolerance, again needs the figure of the “Jew” as a structural obstacle to this drive to unlimited unification; however, today’s anti-Semitism is no longer the old ethnic anti-Semitism; its focus is displaced from Jews as an ethnic group to the State of Israel: “in the program of the Europe of the 21st century, the State of Israel occupies exactly the position that the name ‘Jew’ occupied in the Europe before the cut of 39-45.” In this way, today’s anti-Semitism can present itself as anti-anti-Semitism, full of solidarity with the victims of the holocaust; the reproach is just that, in our era of the gradual dissolution of all limits, of the fluidification of all traditions, the Jews wanted to built their own clearly delimited Nation-State – here are the very last lines of Milner’s book: [2]
If modernity is defined by the belief into an unlimited realization of dreams, our future is fully outlined. It leads through the absolute theoretical and practical anti-Judaism. To follow Lacan beyond what he explicitly stated, the foundations of a new religion are thus posited: anti-Judaism will be the natural religion of the humanity-to-come.

Is Milner, a passionate pro-Zionist, not relying here on the same logic as Ahmed? Are, in his view, Jews not caught in the same paradoxical predicament as, say, the British Muslims: they were offered all the civil rights, the chance to integrate into our society, but, ungrateful as they are, they persisted in their separate way of life? Plus, like Muslims, they are perceived as over-offendable, seeing everywhere “anti-Semitism”… Milner’s point is thus that the official anti-anti-Semitism, prohibiting it (recall the case of David Irving), is the form of appearance of secret anti-Semitism. – Back to Ahmed’s line of argumentation: the hegemony of multiculturalism is thus not a direct hegemony, but a reflexive one:
the hegemonic position is that liberal multiculturalism is the hegemony. This is why the current monoculture political agenda functions as a kind of retrospective defense against multiculturalism. The explicit argument of New Labor is that multiculturalism went ‘too far’: we gave the other ‘too much’ respect, we celebrated difference ‘too much’, such that multiculturalism is read as the cause of segregation, riots and even terrorism.”

I totally agree with the general principle that “hegemonies are often presented as minority positions, as defenses against what are perceived to be hegemonic positions” – Today’s celebration of “minorities” and “marginals” IS the predominant majority position. I would only add a series of other examples, like the neocons who complain about the terror of liberal Political Correctness, presenting themselves as protectors of an endangered minority. Or take those critics of patriarchy who attack it as if it is still a hegemonic position, ignoring what Marx and Engels wrote more than 150 years ago, in the first chapter of The Communist Manifesto: “The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations.” – is still ignored by those Leftist cultural theorists who focus their critique on patriarchal ideology and practice. Is it not the time to start to wonder about the fact that the critique of patriarchal “phallogocentrism” etc. was elevated into a main target at the very historical moment – ours – when patriarchy definitely lost its hegemonic role, when it is progressively swept away by market individualism of Rights? What becomes of patriarchal family values when a child can sue his parents for neglect and abuse, i.e., when family and parenthood itself are de iure reduced to a temporary and dissolvable contract between independent individuals? (And, incidentally, Freud was no less aware of this: for him, the decline of the Oedipal mode of socialization was the historical condition of the rise of psychoanalysis.) [3] In other words, the critical statement that patriarchal ideology continues to be today’s hegemonic ideology IS today’s hegemonic ideology – its function is to enable us to evade the deadlock of the hedonist permissiveness which is effectively hegemonic.

On February 7 2008, the Archbishop of Canterbury told BBC Radio 4’s World at One that the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK “seems unavoidable”: the UK has to “face up to the fact” that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system, so that adopting parts of Islamic Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion. He stressed that “nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that’s sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states; the extreme punishments, the attitudes to women as well”; however, an approach to law which simply said “there’s one law for everybody and that’s all there is to be said, and anything else that commands your loyalty or allegiance is completely irrelevant in the processes of the courts – I think that’s a bit of a danger”. Muslims should not have to choose between “the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty”. The issue of whether Catholic adoption agencies should be forced to accept gay parents under equality laws already showed the potential for legal confusion: “The principle that there is only one law for everybody is an important pillar of our social identity as a Western democracy. But I think it is a misunderstanding to suppose this means people don’t have other affiliations, other loyalties which shape and dictate how they behave in society and that the law needs to take some account of that.” People may legally devise their own way to settle a dispute in front of an agreed third party as long as both sides agree to the process. Muslim Sharia courts and the Jewish Beth Din come into this category: the country’s main Beth Din at Finchley in north London oversees a wide range of cases including divorce settlements, contractual rows between traders and tenancy disputes; in a similar way, Muslims should be allowed to choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court. [4]

However, with all my sympathies for Rowan Williams, I think the devil hides in the details of his proposal, where the old dilemma of group versus individual rights explodes with a vengeance. Williams is careful enough to emphasize two limitations of his proposal: (1) individual Muslims should retain a choice: they should not be forced to obey Sharia, but just allowed to choose it; (2) Sharia should be implemented only in certain areas, applying norms which are not in conflict with the general law (marital disputes, not amputations of hands for theft…). But if we fully follow these two principles, then nothing radical really happens: if some group of people want to regulate their affairs in a way which adds new additional rules without infringing upon the existing legal order, so what? Things get problematic the moment we move a step further and concede to one’s particular ethnic-religious community a more substantial role of the unsurpassable roots of one’s existence.

This is what makes the issue of universal compulsory education so hot: when liberals insist that children should be given the right to remain part of their particular community, but on condition that they are given a choice, for, say, the Amish children to have an effectively free choice of which way of life to choose, their parents’ or the “English,” they would have to be properly informed on all the options, educated in them – however, the only way to do this would be to extract them from their embeddedness in the Amish community, i.e., to effectively render them “English.” This also clearly demonstrates the limitations of the standard liberal attitude towards the Muslim women wearing a veil: they can do it if it is their free choice and not an option imposed on them by their husbands or family. However, the moment women wear a veil as the result of their free individual choice, the meaning of wearing a veil changes completely: it is no longer a sign of their direct substantial belonging to the Muslim community, but an expression of their idiosyncratic individuality, of their spiritual quest and protest against the vulgarity of today’s sexual commerce, or a political gesture of protesting the West. A choice is always a meta-choice, a choice of the modality of the choice itself: one thing is to wear a veil because of one’s immediate immersion into a substantial tradition; another thing is to refuse to wear a veil; yet another thing is to wear a veil not out of substantial belonging, but as an act of ethico-political choice. This is why, in our secular societies of choice, people who maintain a substantial religious belonging are in a subordinate position: even if they are allowed to maintain their belief, this belief is “tolerated” as their idiosyncratic personal choice/opinion; the moment they present it publicly as what it is for them (a matter of substantial belonging), they are accused of “fundamentalism.” What this means is that the “subject of free choice” (in the Western “tolerant” multicultural sense) can only emerge as the result of an extremely violent process of being torn out of one’s particular life-world, of being cut off from one’s roots.

Western secular law not only promotes different content of the laws subjects are compelled to obey than religious legal edifices, it also relies on a different formal mode of how subjects relate to legal regulations. This is what misses the simple reduction of the gap that separates the liberal universalism from particular substantial ethnic identities to a gap between two particularities (“liberal universalism is an illusion, a mask concealing its own particularity which it imposes onto others as universal”): the universalism of a Western liberal society does not reside in the fact that its values (human rights, etc.) are universal in the sense of holding for ALL cultures, but in a much more radical sense: in it, individuals relate to themselves as “universal,” they participate in the universal dimension directly, by-passing their particular social position. The problem with particular laws for particular ethnic/religious groups is that not all people experience themselves as belonging to a particular ethnic/religious community – so apart from people belonging to groups, there should be “universal” individuals who just belong to the state law. Apart from apples, pears, and grapes, there should be a place for fruits as such. – The catch is here that of the freedom of choice given to you if you make the right choice: others should be tolerated if they accept our society –
this involves a reading of the other as abusing our multicultural love: as if to say, we gave our love to you, and you abused our love by living apart from us, so now you must become British. There is a threat implied here: become us, become like us (and support democracy and give up the burqa, so we can see your face and communicate with you like the ordinary people we are) or go away. /…/ Migrants enter the national consciousness as ungrateful. Ironically then racism becomes attributed to the failure of migrants to receive our love. The monocultural hegemony involves the fantasy that multiculturalism is the hegemony. The best description of today’s hegemony is ‘liberal monoculturalism’ in which common values are read as under threat by the support for the other’s difference, as a form of support that supports the fantasy of the nation as being respectful at the same time as it allows the withdrawal of this so-called respect. The speech act that declares liberal multiculturalism as hegemonic is thus the hegemonic position.

If we formulate the problem in these terms, the alternative amounts to: either “true” multiculturalism, or we should drop the universal claim as such. Both solutions are wrong, for the simple reason that they are not different at all, but ultimately coincide: “true” multiculturalism would have been the utopia of a neutral universal legal frame enabling each particular culture to assert its identity. The thing to do is to change the entire field, introducing a totally different Universal, that of an antagonistic struggle which does not take place between particular communities, but splits from within each community, so that the “trans-cultural” link between communities is that of a shared struggle.

Notes

[1] Sara Ahmed, “‘Liberal Multiculturalism is the Hegemony – Its an Empirical Fact’ – A response to Slavoj Zizek” (unpublished manuscript).
Furthermore, the liberal-multiculturalist’s opposition to direct racism is not a mere illusion whose truth is the protection of racism: there is a class-coded dimension in it of which Ahmed is aware, directed against (white) working class fundamentalism/racism/antifeminism.

[2] Jean-Claude Milner, Les penchants criminels de l’Europe démocratique, Paris: Éditions Verdier 2003, p. 126.

[3] One of the feminist strategies (especially in France and Italy) is to admit that the paternal authority is disintegrating, and that late capitalism is approaching a globalized perverse society of “pathological narcissists” caught into the superego call to enjoy; but to claim that, to counter this lack, a new figure of authority is emerging “from below,” unnoticed by the media – the symbolic authority of the mother which has nothing to do with the traditional patriarchal figure of Mother – a new mother is here which doesn’t fit the existing ideological coordinates. The problem with this solution is that it as a rule amounts to descriptions of and generalizations of actual cases of (single and other) mothers who have to take care of children – in short, it reads as (sometimes almost Catholic-sentimental) description of heroic and compassionate single who keep children or the family together when the father is absent. Such an approach doesn’t really confront the key question, that of the Name-of-the-Father. That is to say, the Name-of-the-Father plays a key role in structuring the symbolic space, sustaining prohibitions which constitute and stabilize desires – what happens with this role with the maternal authority? Also, for Lacan, the Name-of-the-Father only functions when recognized – referred to – by the mother, i.e., for him, the Name-of-the-Father is a structuring principle for the entire field of sexual difference – one can well imagine a lesbian family/couple raising children where, although there is no father, the Name-of-the-Father is fully operative. So what happens with sexual difference, as well as with the symbolic function of the father, with the rise of the maternal authority?

[4] It is interesting to note that the Evo Morales government in Bolivia is pursuing a similar goal: it set itself the task of exploring the possibilities of combining the legal order of a modern state with old native practices to resolve conflictual situations.


Liberal multiculturalism masks an old barbarism with a human face

Across Europe, the politics of the far right is infecting us all with the need for a 'reasonable' anti-immigration policy

Slavoj Zizek | The Guardian | Sunday 3 October 2010 22.00 BST

The recent expulsion of Roma, or Gypsies, from France drew protests from all around Europe – from the liberal media but also from top politicians, and not only from those on the left. But the expulsions went ahead, and they are just the tip of a much larger iceberg of European politics.

A month ago, a book by Thilo Sarrazin, a bank executive who was considered politically close to the Social Democrats, caused an uproar in Germany. Its thesis is that German nationhood is threatened because too many immigrants are allowed to maintain their cultural identity. Although the book, titled Germany Does Away with Itself, was overwhelmingly condemned, its tremendous impact suggests that it touched a nerve.

Incidents like these have to be seen against the background of a long-term rearrangement of the political space in western and eastern Europe. Until recently, most European countries were dominated by two main parties that addressed the majority of the electorate: a right-of-centre party (Christian Democrat, liberal-conservative, people's) and a left-of-centre party (socialist, social-democratic), with smaller parties (ecologists, communists) addressing a narrower electorate.

Recent electoral results in the west as well as in the east signal the gradual emergence of a different polarity. There is now one predominant centrist party that stands for global capitalism, usually with a liberal cultural agenda (for example, tolerance towards abortion, gay rights, religious and ethnic minorities). Opposing this party is an increasingly strong anti-immigrant populist party which, on its fringes, is accompanied by overtly racist neofascist groups. The best example of this is Poland where, after the disappearance of the ex-communists, the main parties are the "anti-ideological" centrist liberal party of the prime minister Donald Tusk and the conservative Christian Law and Justice party of the Kaczynski brothers. Similar tendencies are discernible in the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Hungary. How did we get here?

After decades of hope held out by the welfare state, when financial cuts were sold as temporary, and sustained by a promise that things would soon return to normal, we are entering a new epoch in which crisis – or, rather, a kind of economic state of emergency, with its attendant need for all sorts of austerity measures (cutting benefits, diminishing health and education services, making jobs more temporary) is permanent. Crisis is becoming a way of life.

After the disintegration of the communist regimes in 1990, we entered a new era in which the predominant form of the exercise of state power became a depoliticised expert administration and the co-ordination of interests. The only way to introduce passion into this kind of politics, the only way to actively mobilise people, is through fear: the fear of immigrants, the fear of crime, the fear of godless sexual depravity, the fear of the excessive state (with its burden of high taxation and control), the fear of ecological catastrophe, as well as the fear of harassment (political correctness is the exemplary liberal form of the politics of fear).

Such a politics always relies on the manipulation of a paranoid multitude – the frightening rallying of frightened men and women. This is why the big event of the first decade of the new millennium was when anti-immigration politics went mainstream and finally cut the umbilical cord that had connected it to far right fringe parties. From France to Germany, from Austria to Holland, in the new spirit of pride in one's cultural and historical identity, the main parties now find it acceptable to stress that immigrants are guests who have to accommodate themselves to the cultural values that define the host society – "it is our country, love it or leave it" is the message.

Progressive liberals are, of course, horrified by such populist racism. However, a closer look reveals how their multicultural tolerance and respect of differences share with those who oppose immigration the need to keep others at a proper distance. "The others are OK, I respect them," the liberals say, "but they must not intrude too much on my own space. The moment they do, they harass me – I fully support affirmative action, but I am in no way ready to listen to loud rap music." What is increasingly emerging as the central human right in late-capitalist societies is the right not to be harassed, which is the right to be kept at a safe distance from others. A terrorist whose deadly plans should be prevented belongs in Guantánamo, the empty zone exempted from the rule of law; a fundamentalist ideologist should be silenced because he spreads hatred. Such people are toxic subjects who disturb my peace.

On today's market, we find a whole series of products deprived of their malignant property: coffee without caffeine, cream without fat, beer without alcohol. And the list goes on: what about virtual sex as sex without sex? The Colin Powell doctrine of warfare with no casualties (on our side, of course) as warfare without warfare? The contemporary redefinition of politics as the art of expert administration as politics without politics? This leads us to today's tolerant liberal multiculturalism as an experience of the Other deprived of its Otherness – the decaffeinated Other.

The mechanism of such neutralisation was best formulated back in 1938 by Robert Brasillach, the French fascist intellectual, who saw himself as a "moderate" antisemite and invented the formula of reasonable antisemitism. "We grant ourselves permission to applaud Charlie Chaplin, a half Jew, at the movies; to admire Proust, a half Jew; to applaud Yehudi Menuhin, a Jew; … We don't want to kill anyone, we don't want to organise any pogrom. But we also think that the best way to hinder the always unpredictable actions of instinctual antisemitism is to organise a reasonable antisemitism."

Is this same attitude not at work in the way our governments are dealing with the "immigrant threat"? After righteously rejecting direct populist racism as "unreasonable" and unacceptable for our democratic standards, they endorse "reasonably" racist protective measures or, as today's Brasillachs, some of them even Social Democrats, tell us: "We grant ourselves permission to applaud African and east European sportsmen, Asian doctors, Indian software programmers. We don't want to kill anyone, we don't want to organise any pogrom. But we also think that the best way to hinder the always unpredictable violent anti-immigrant defensive measures is to organise a reasonable anti-immigrant protection."

This vision of the detoxification of one's neighbour suggests a clear passage from direct barbarism to barbarism with a human face. It reveals the regression from the Christian love of one's neighbour back to the pagan privileging of our tribe versus the barbarian Other. Even if it is cloaked as a defence of Christian values, it is itself the greatest threat to Christian legacy.

» » » » [Guardian :: EGS.edu :: EGS :: Lacan :: Spiked :: Info America :: SOC]


No comments:

FLEUR-DE-LIS HUMINT :: F(x) Population Growth x F(x) Declining Resources = F(x) Resource Wars

KaffirLilyRiddle: F(x)population x F(x)consumption = END:CIV
Human Farming: Story of Your Enslavement (13:10)
Unified Quest is the Army Chief of Staff's future study plan designed to examine issues critical to current and future force development... - as the world population grows, increased global competition for affordable finite resources, notably energy and rare earth materials, could fuel regional conflict. - water is the new oil. scarcity will confront regions at an accelerated pace in this decade.
US Army: Population vs. Resource Scarcity Study Plan
Human Farming Management: Fake Left v. Right (02:09)
ARMY STRATEGY FOR THE ENVIRONMENT: Office of Dep. Asst. of the Army Environment, Safety and Occupational Health: Richard Murphy, Asst for Sustainability, 24 October 2006
2006: US Army Strategy for Environment
CIA & Pentagon: Overpopulation & Resource Wars [01] [02]
Peak NNR: Scarcity: Humanity’s Last Chapter: A Comprehensive Analysis of Nonrenewable Natural Resource (NNR) Scarcity’s Consequences, by Chris Clugston
Peak Non-Renewable Resources = END:CIV Scarcity Future
Race 2 Save Planet :: END:CIV Resist of Die (01:42) [Full]

Fair Use Notice...

FAIR USE NOTICE: The Crime of Apartheid blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to provide information for research and educational purposes, and advance understanding for the Boer Volkstaat 10/31/16 Theses Petition and Briefing Paper submitted to EU & NATO. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Copyright owners who object to the fair use of their copyright news reports, may submit their objections to Crime of Apartheid Blog at: [jmc.pa.tf(at)gmail(dot)com]