Europe is kaput, long live Europe!: Žižek, Varoufakis, & Assange on global geopolitics

November 25, 2015 § 1 Comment

Today’s debate between used a title inspired by the opening words of an Etienne Balibar article reviewed here this summer. Both the article & the conversation — for it is not formally a debate when there is consensus — deal with the threat of European values being lost as global geopolitics follow their own rules, turning Europe for once into a directionless, dark continent [in the Conradian sense]. What are we to do with those European values now? How should the Left respond?

These are the big questions that the panel was tackling today, in light of the Paris attacks, the refugee “crisis”, surveillance capitalism, and information monopoly. For those who don’t have the patience for a two-hour stream [or just aren’t in the mood for Žižek’s jokes], I recapitulate — not quote — below the flow of argumentation in under 1000 words. Disclaimer: each speaker’s position is his own & doesn’t always reflect the blogger’s opinion.


Varoufakis: We are in a bind. We find ourselves in a Europe that fights darkness not with light, but with more darkness.

Žižek: Humanitarian rhetoric is sickening, because it proves that we don′t see beyond our European cupola — with a cynical perspective.

Varoufakis: Let′s not challenge the cynicism, but add demands for respect to victims independently regardless of whether they are part of the cupola or not. That is the way to subvert it!
For 10 years already, the constituent parts of Europe are being pulled ever further apart as a result of a very badly designed monetary union (the EU) which is turning proud nations against one another. There is a constant denial about this fragmentation, which goes hand in hand with the fragmentation itself: thus the walls that are springing up. The problem is Europe, or the absence of Europe rather. Without a common policy, how are we supposed to deal with the influx of refugees?
I don′t think that the Greek Bankers that have been poisoning the Greek economy for decades are more “my people” than any German. We are human first.

Žižek: The problem is not just humanitarian. We are, as Europeans, directly responsible for the crisis: on the basic level, for our economic neo-colonialism (which incriminates China, as well) on the first hand. The “Should we intervene or not?” debate, is pathetic: we already did intervene, the debate is false!

Varoufakis: The State emerged after centuries of classes in conflict to regulate these conflicts. It is about co-opting to expand geographically. The technocracy at its root has a deep contempt for democracy; the EU is no different. Monetary policy is exactly political.
The referendum to be held in the UK on whether to leave the EU is also false: because the trade & monetary ties will continue to be with Europe. The EU as it is is detrimental to Europeans, but its demise is going to bring about a recession in the now prosperous countries & a stagflation of the poorer. We are a post-modern 1930s.
The democratization of Europe is the choice to prevent this. Democratization would begin with: livestreaming meetings of the Eurogroup, foodstamps for the entire Eurozone, & have a constitutional assembly of citizens (not in the European Parliament).

Assange: What happened in Europe is almost exactly what has been happening in Lybia, Syria, Iraq for the the last 5 years. The US pushed to increase the paranoia of the asset regime as an appeal to liberal enlightenment values; the military could not be trusted. Secular governments (such as Syria) are unfinished business to Cold War warriors, because secularism was a Soviet project. Hollande is overreacting in ways that are guaranteed to cause a longterm crackdown on the Muslim population.
Extremism on both sides is generated by this interaction style. Yet there is no exit strategy. The only hope is a reformation of swapping out hate for some form of love (a Christian reform, in a way).
There is a titanic reordering of the economic & legal system happening right now. The TTIP (economic NATO, Hillary Clinton said), TPP, & TISA form a triangle: two thirds of world GDP are inside this triangle, but only for allies of the US. The triangle is about encircling China.
Leaders confirm their authority by using their superior knowledge of the geostrategic plans to make themselves seem to be guiding direction more than is in fact the case.

Žižek: The wealthy Arabic states — Saudia Arabia, Quwait, United Arab Emirates — are protected by their massive foreign investments from war on their territories [this exposes international financial capital]. They are not out of the conflict at all, nor do they have fewer human rights violations.
We do need a common dream for Europe, as Assange argues for. But we need to compare & meet our struggles with the struggles of non-Europeans too. Anti-immigrant rhetoricians in Europe today are also anti-Europeans, since these people argue against European values.

Varoufakis: The great paradox of the last decades is that we celebrate constantly progress &, at the very same time, while our capacity to be informed has increased exponentially, the ability to know things is decreasing exponentially. We have today a surveillance capitalism. We do not see the determinants of the global future.
Wikileaks reveals a means of being informed about the world that is completely alien to the majority that rely on popular media. Information cannot actually be monopolized, even though regulated.
Capitalism wastes human capacities, creates conflicts to preserve vested interests. The Left fails at criticizing it by turning its humanism into the Gulag, losing its perspective. But the technologies Capitalism produced will bring it to an end, even without the Left.

Assange: Hich-tech liberalism is the most aggressive ideology of the world today, Islamic extremism taking second place. The vision of Silicon Valley is that these select companies are replacing elements of government. If there is no alternative to or debate about the direction of Silicon Valley, then we simply leave the ideological domain. Information is key.


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