When I went to the debate at the Southbank centre with the title “Europe is kaputt. Long live Europe!” I – to say in Žižek‘s terms – wanted “to see blood”, to see a real debate. Hot-tempered Slavoj Žižek, the radical Marxist Yanis Varoufakis and the mystery guest Julian Assange (Wikileaks founder) argued on the Paris attacks, the refugee situation, the left-movement and, of course, capitalism, all delightfully led by Srecko Hornet.
In the end, surprisingly, they agreed on most of the points. Considering the recent terrorist attacks, Žižek claimed we should finally accept that we live in a cocoon, not noticing that which we currently experience as a horrible distraction from our otherwise safe life in Europe, is actually everyday life in other countries. Instead of letting right-wing politicians use these terrors to justify borders and setting up fences, left movements should learn to connect our struggles to the ones in other countries – regardless of what religion, ethnicity etc. the people have there (on that point, he harshly criticised Israel for misusing the Holocaust as an excuse for their own “Holocaust” with the Arab citizens; “There is nothing liberating in surviving terror”).
Varoufakis stated that Europe is already highly fragmented and that borders and fences will only bring more tension, division and therefore more insecurity: “The right-wing movement feeds on fences”. He claimed that in order to deal with current problems we need a united Europe again – one that not only exists in our imagination but one that is real. In order to do that we have to find a common identity separate from nationhood: “Are the Germans less my people than the Greek bankers who poisoned my country?”. He referred to the last lines of Hotel California: “You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave!” Therefore, he demanded that as a first step the administrative and political structures must become more transparent and that we act on the democratic deficit we currently face. To that Žižek responded that that is just what they said about the Soviet Union, that it is okay, it only has a democratic deficit. A democratic deficit is not simply a small error we have to resolve. This democratic deficit negates the whole system.
Concerning the refugee crisis Žižek, in my view, contradicted himself. On one hand he claimed that we should not help because of humanitarian reasons, but because we are deeply responsible for the refugee flow Europe is currently facing (economical interdependences). On the other hand, when speaking of modern American imperialism, he criticised that we always look for our own guilt in the situations of other countries. Another interesting point he made was that the decisions Merkel made concerning the refugee situation were not democratic at all, rather that she acted as a radical monarch. He is convinced that if she made refugee policy a democratic decision the right-wing would have won; “Democracy indeed does not always work!”
After that Assange and Varoufakis focused on capitalism. Varoufakis stated in the end that capitalism will produce technologies which will make the capitalistic operations impossible and thereby capitalism will be overthrown by itself. A very optimistic Marxist approach. Let us hope he is right as, concerning all four of them, capitalism is highly interwoven with all current problems we have. As Žižek claimed: “ISIS will not be defeated before capitalism has died.”