Andrew Poe, on Žižek’s refugee plan


Further there is huge misunderstanding going on regarding his comments on the refugee crisis:

As regards the refugee crisis:

Z is making logical arguments. Albeit the terms he uses at times are provocative (“western values” etc).

He basically starts from the assertion that the current ad hoc approach of the EU and USA is failing to address crucial aspects of the crisis.

1. Safe passage for the refugees is not being secured. Following Jameson he is calling for a united approach that would insure this.

2. Rising anti-immigrant currents in Europe are developing now. He argues that as things stand now this will only increase. And so a different response then the two dominant options today needs to develop. He calls these two the double blackmail.


He doesn’t accept the two dominant narratives regarding the refugees: i) opening our borders widely; and ii) closing them for good.

He maintains that this is an ideological double blackmail which obfuscates the real political issue. He thinks that this refugee crisis can serve as an opportunity for the West to challenge its own neoliberal agenda. He sets out his main thesis in his new book.

But essentially, his position boils down to this:

He thinks that the manner in which refugees are fleeing their homes and risking their lives to come to Europe is not only dangerous for them, but it is also humiliating. He follows Fred Jameson’s proposition in claiming that a fully organised, military operation is needed to facilitate the refugees that are coming to European countries. He thinks this will (ideally), ensure their safety and travel. Of course he isn’t an idiot. He’s well aware that the ruling neoliberal governments will never actually set up this kind of humanitarian aid in order to help the refugees. This is why his proposal has caused such an outrage amongst Leftists, because they generally think that Zizek is openly advocating for the military to oppress the refugees. Which he isn’t. His provocation here is not only aimed at Liberals, but also those on the Left who accept the dominant liberal discourse around the refugee crisis and *reduce it to moral outrage*, rather then to go the next step. Furthermore, this is why so many Leftists are hating on Zizek: because he is forcing them to confront their own ideological limitations. And, when you confront your own limits, as psychoanalysis well knows, you lash out and project.

His stuff about ‘Western values’ is also something he clarified on in London recently. He said that when he uses this term, he is referring to the emancipatory ideals situated within what we now call ‘Western philosophy’. He acknowledged that historically these ideals have been used as cultural colonialism, and economic colonialism. He has no illusions with regards to that. But nevertheless, he stands for universalism, insofar as it is something that was politically championed during the Enlightenment. He further clarified that of course during the Enlightenment, thinkers argued for ‘universal values’ but it excluded anyone who wasn’t a white, male, Christian, etc. However, he said that there is still a strong legacy of oppressed groups demanding their rights: women, ethic minorities, etc. He also said that the Haitian Revolution is a much more important political event because the Haitian people demanded to have their own French Revolution, against the French themselves.

His position is that as Leftists we can champion the revolutionary ideals of the West, so as to overcome the oppression nature of the West itself. It’s a Hegelian point.

Clinton says “We should close our borders”

Zizek argues that we should accept more refugees and ensure that the xenophobic populist-Right isn’t strengthened by the arrival of the new refugees.

Those two positions are *not the same at all as the dominant order. Zizek makes this point in his book, and also in the talk he did in London recently.


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