Slavoj Žižek, Yanis Varoufakis & Julian Assange at ‘Europe is Kaput!’ in London Nov. 16 2015. What was said: Video. Alainah Rook has provided a transcript of the evening at Southbank Centre.
Crucially, solidarity with Paris includes recognizing that similar experiences of bombing has been endured throughout Syria and Iraq by civilians. Why is there no discussion of the role of the Gulf States? Rather than repeating the tragedy of ‘us’ against ‘them’ in which countries declare that they are at ‘war’ with the Other, attention to the root causes of inequality and inhumanity are required.
War on the Other
Declaring war is the easy way out. It panders to desires for revenge which perpetuate a cycle of violence on an international scale. We need to confront the fear of difference and the operation of states for corporate interests rather than the rights and interests of citizens.
War on the ‘Grey Zone’
Assange points out how Clinton and Hollande are in effect consenting to Isis’ stated strategy of eliminating the ‘grey zone’ of tolerant, secular societies centred on human rights and creating a polarized, intolerant situation instead. There is no ‘exit option’ being pursued for radicalized Muslims that would allow them to to see a more compassionate but still religious alternative.
‘You end capitalism; you end Isis’
Zizek’s closing call is to remove the competition over oil resources for which the Middle East is been an imperial playground for over a century.
Assange calls the Trans Pacific Partnership a “rebordering” of the economic and legal world. A geostrategic shift such as this unites multiple, heterogenous forces in an ‘economic NATO’. It locks in neoliberalism across continents but has not been engaged intellectually.
This is a provocative conversation for Canadians, sitting on vast energy reserves and themselves trying to grapple with these challenges: how not to be shunted aside by foreign, often state-owned, corporations; and how to move from an economy based on fluctuating ‘rent’ from the value of raw resources to ‘profit’ from the ingenuity of its people; how to courageously extend an ethics which is neither charity nor humanitarianism to welcome new refugees.
Listening to the Chair’s struggle to allow all three of his speakers to be heard, the last word to Rook for her hard work:
‘I believe it is not simply just that the content of the evening many will find either compelling or arguable, but that the success is in having the conversation at all. If there is a movement towards those who wish to unite, globally, sharing ideas and perspectives, reforms and solutions, many more conversations such as this will need to take place. But if the potential for its success is already laid out in available means: the Internet, discussion, and education – it is not unattainable.’
-Rob Shields, University of Alberta