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Esben Bøgh Sørensen claims Žižek's thoughts on the refugee crisis are useless, even harmful

Esben Bøgh Sørensen, in a piece - Žižek: Fortress Europe’s Staunch Defender on the Left - on Roar Magazine claims "Žižek’s thoughts on the refugee crisis are useless, even harmful, for creating a pan-European leftist movement capable of challenging the far-right." Here is an excerpt from his writing:

In a recent article Žižek replied to the critique of a previous text he wrote on the so-called ‘refugee crisis.’ The exchange between Žižek and his critics essentially revolved around whether the left should support the refugees and migrants’ demands for open borders and the right to live where they choose, or not.

Žižek claimed that the refugees’ dream, represented by “Norway,” doesn’t exist, whereas one critic points out that it is our duty to create it. Particularly problematic is his use of phrases like “our way of life,” “Western values” and figures like “the typical left-liberal.” The most important thing that is missing in Žižek’s text is an analysis of the potentiality of the refugees and migrants’ struggles.

In his response to the criticism, Žižek begins by complaining about the shift from what he calls “radical emancipatory movements” like Syriza and Podemos to “the ‘humanitarian’ topic of the refugees.” This, we are informed, is not a good thing because the refugee and migrant struggles are actually nothing but “the liberal-cultural topic of tolerance” replacing the more genuine “class struggle.”





Why this is the case is left unclear. Rather, we are told that:
[t]he more Western Europe will be open to [immigrants], the more it will be made to feel guilty that it did not accept even more of them. There will never be enough of them. And with those who are here, the more tolerance one displays towards their way of life, the more one will be made guilty for not practicing enough tolerance.
There are several problems in this statement, especially the idea of a “we” of “Western Europe” contrasted against an image of a “way of life” somehow shared by all refugees and migrants. Before turning to that problem, however, it is useful to examine one of Žižek’s favorite tropes — the “typical left-liberal” — which sits at the heart of his critique.

Žižek’s “typical left-liberal” — a figure that is reiterated and criticized throughout much of his writing — is a figure who holds tolerant and multicultural views, but whose antiracism is actually a kind of subtle racism. In the piece in question the “left-liberal” humanist figure is a person who is afraid of criticizing Islam and who (according to Žižek) unjustly accuses those who do so of being Islamophobic.

But who is this “left-liberal” Žižek has spent so much time criticizing? On closer inspection this figure does not actually represent any position on the left. The left does not face a problem of too much tolerance, this is a straw man. If anything, it faces the twin problems of nationalism (or a national imaginary) and an inability to adequately critique Western values — problems which Žižek’s text demonstrate.

Go here to read full piece.