What Does Europe Want?

What Does Europe Want?: The Union and Its Discontents

SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK
SREĆKO HORVAT
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/zize17106
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  • Book Info
    What Does Europe Want?
    Book Description:

    Slavoj Žižek and Srecko Horvat combine their critical clout to emphasize the dangers of ignoring Europe's growing wealth gap and the parallel rise in right-wing nationalism, which is directly tied to the fallout from the ongoing financial crisis and its prescription of imposed austerity. To general observers, the European Union's economic woes appear to be its greatest problem, but the real peril is an ongoing ideological-political crisis that threatens an era of instability and reactionary brutality.

    The fall of communism in 1989 seemed to end the leftist program of universal emancipation. However, nearly a quarter of a century later, the European Union has failed to produce any coherent vision that can mobilize people to action. Until recently, the only ideology receptive to European workers has been the nationalist call to "defend" against immigrant integration. Today, Europe is focused on regulating the development of capitalism and promoting a reactionary conception of its cultural heritage. Yet staying these courses, Žižek and Horvat show, only strips Europe of its power and stifles its political ingenuity. The best hope is for Europe to revive and defend its legacy of universal egalitarianism, which benefits all parties by preserving the promise of equal representation.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53841-1
    Subjects: Philosophy, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
  3. FOREWORD THE DESTRUCTION OF GREECE AS A MODEL FOR ALL OF EUROPE: IS THIS THE FUTURE THAT EUROPE DESERVES?
    (pp. VII-XIV)
    Alexis Tsipras

    From the middle of the 1990s until almost the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, Greece tended towards economic growth. The main characteristics of that growth were the very large and non-taxed profits enjoyed by the rich, along with over-indebtedness and the rising unemployment among the poor. Public money was stolen in numerous ways, and the economy was limited mainly to the consumption of imported goods from rich European countries. Rating agencies considered this model of ‘cheap money, cheap labour’ the model of dynamic emerging economies.

    Everything, however, changed after the 2008 crisis. The cost of the...

  4. PREFACE WHAT DOES THE U.S. WANT, OR WHAT TO DO AFTER OCCUPY?
    (pp. XV-XXXIV)
    Srećko Horvat
  5. 1 BREAKING OUR EGGS WITHOUT THE OMELETTE, FROM CYPRUS TO GREECE
    (pp. 1-11)
    Slavoj Žižek

    There is a story (apocryphal, maybe) about the Left-leaning, Keynesian economist, John Galbraith: before a trip to the USSR in the late 1950s, he wrote to his anti-communist friend Sidney Hook: ‘Don’t worry, I will not be seduced by the Soviets and return home claiming they have socialism!’ Hook answered him promptly: ‘But that’s what worries me – that you will return claiming that the USSR is NOT socialist!’ What worried Hook was the naive defence of the purity of the concept: if things go wrong with building a Socialist society, this does not invalidate the idea itself, it just means...

  6. 2 DANKE DEUTSCHLAND!
    (pp. 12-20)
    Srećko Horvat

    At the end of 2012, the German President Joachim Gauck visited Croatia. For some reason, I had the honour to be one of three Croatian intellectuals chosen to meet him and have a closed-room conversation about Croatia’s entry to the European Union, but mainly focused on the intellectual and cultural sphere.

    When you are invited to meet a president, if you are not a complete idiot, the immediate reaction should be the famous Lacanian lesson that ‘a madman who believes he is king is no madder than a king who believes he is king.’ In other words, a king who...

  7. 3 WHEN THE BLIND ARE LEADING THE BLIND, DEMOCRACY IS THE VICTIM
    (pp. 21-25)
    Slavoj Žižek

    In one of the last interviews before his fall, Nicolae Ceausescu was asked by a western journalist how he justified the fact that Romanian citizens could not travel freely abroad although freedom of movement was guaranteed by the constitution. His answer was in the best tradition of Stalinist sophistry: true, the constitution guarantees freedom of movement, but it also guarantees the right to a safe, prosperous home. So we have here a potential conflict of rights: if Romanian citizens were to be allowed to leave the country, the prosperity of their homeland would be threatened. In this conflict, one has...

  8. 4 WHY THE EU NEEDS CROATIA MORE THAN CROATIA NEEDS THE EU
    (pp. 26-34)
    Srećko Horvat

    When in late 2005 the accession negotiations between Croatia and the EU officially started, a leading Croatian liberal daily triumphantly published the following headline all over its front page: ‘Bye, bye Balkans!’ At that time, this was the prevailing and typical stance towards the European Union: some sort of ‘self-fulfilling mythology’ of the Balkans as a region needing to be ‘civilised’ by integration into the West. Only eight years later, as Croatia finally becomes part of the European Union, neither the EU nor the Balkans has the same image anymore. Today’s situation is somehow reminiscent of the famous joke about...

  9. 5 WHAT DOES EUROPE WANT?
    (pp. 35-42)
    Slavoj Žižek

    On 1 May 2004, eight new countries were welcomed into the European Union – but which ‘Europe’ will they find there? In the months before Slovenia’s entry to the European Union, whenever a foreign journalist asked me what new dimension Slovenia would contribute to Europe, my answer was instant and unambiguous:nothing. Slovene culture is obsessed with the notion that, although a small nation, we are a cultural super power: We possess some ‘agalma’, a hidden intimate treasure of cultural masterpieces that wait to be acknowledged by the wider world. Maybe this treasure is too fragile to survive intact the exposure...

  10. 6 ARE THE NAZIS LIVING ON THE MOON?
    (pp. 43-49)
    Srećko Horvat

    Recently in Bucharest, I came across an apparently innocent map of seminar rooms in the lift of the hotel where the conference on ‘The National Question in Central-Eastern Europe’ was taking place. There it was, a little map of Europe, consisting of ‘Berlin room’, ‘Amsterdam room’, ‘Paris room’, ‘London room’, and others, promoting the diversity but at the same time unity of the European project. Is there a better imagining of the solved national question in the European Union? All countries living beside one another, happily and without conflict, each room with its own identity and activity; in one room...

  11. 7 THE RETURN OF THE CHRISTIAN-CONSERVATIVE REVOLUTION
    (pp. 50-60)
    Slavoj Žižek

    The German expression ‘rückgängig machen’, usually translated as ‘annul, cancel, unhitch’, has a more precise connotation: to retroactively undo something, to make it as if it didn’t take place. The comparison between Mozart’sFigaroand Rossini’sFigaro-operas makes this immediately clear. In Mozart, the emancipatory political potential of Beau-marchais’s play survives the pressure of censorship – think only of the finale, where the Count has to kneel down and ask for forgiveness of his subjects (not to mention the explosion of the collective ‘Viva la libertà!’ in the finale of Act 1 ofDon Giovanni). The breathtaking achievement of Rossini’sBarber...

  12. 8 IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND MONEY: ANGELINA JOLIE AND THE BALKANS
    (pp. 61-69)
    Srećko Horvat

    When the world’s most famous humanitarian philosopher publishes a panegyric on the directorial debut of the world’s most famous Hollywood humanitarian actress, one shouldn’t be surprised. Writing inThe Huffington Post, Bernard-Henri Lévy described Angelina Jolie’s directorial debutIn the Land of Blood and Honey(2011), a love story set against the back-ground of the Bosnian War, as ‘a film that, to borrow Godard’s expression, is not just a film, but a just film, rendering justice to the dead and honour to the survivors … Consider this Bosnian society that beheld, there, its most painful secret. Here is, suddenly, a...

  13. 9 THE TURKISH MARCH
    (pp. 70-75)
    Slavoj Žižek

    The unofficial anthem of the European Union, heard at numerous political, cultural and sporting public events, is the ‘Ode an die Freude’ melody from the last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony: a true ‘empty signifier’ that can stand for anything. In France, it was elevated by Romain Rolland into the a humanist ode to the brotherhood of all people (‘the Marseillaise of humanity’). In 1938, it was performed as the highpoint ofReichsmusiktageand later for Hitler’s birthday; in the China of the Cultural Revolution, in the desire to reject European classics, it was redeemed as a piece of progressive...

  14. 10 WAR AND PEACE IN EUROPE: ‘BEI DEN SORGLOSEN’
    (pp. 76-87)
    Srećko Horvat

    ‘Mr Godot told me to tell you that he won’t come this evening, but surely tomorrow,’ a boy said in Serbo-Croatian with a voice heavy with embarrassment and regret. In the theatre, as theNew York Timesreports, ‘The only sounds were from the street outside, of a United Nations armoured vehicle thundering past on its steel tracks, and, from somewhere in the distance, the blast of a mortar shell.’ It was the year 1993. ‘The audience sat stock still. Among them were surgeons from the city’s main hospital, soldiers from the front, government officials who must juggle allotments of...

  15. 11 SAVE US FROM THE SAVIOURS: EUROPE AND THE GREEKS
    (pp. 88-92)
    Slavoj Žižek

    Imagine a scene from a dystopian movie that depicts our society in the near future. Uniformed guards patrol half-empty downtown streets at night, on the prowl for immigrants, criminals and vagrants. Those they find are brutalised. What seems like a fanciful Hollywood image is a reality in today’s Greece. At night, black-shirted vigilantes from the Holocaust-denying neo-fascist Golden Dawn movement – which won 7 per cent of the vote in the last round of elections, and had the support, it’s said, of 50 per cent of the Athenian police – have been patrolling the street and beating up all the immigrants they...

  16. 12 ‘I’M NOT RACIST, BUT … THE BLACKS ARE COMING!’
    (pp. 93-103)
    Srećko Horvat

    In early February 2013, the Croatian daily newspaper,Jutarnji list, once again proved itself to a top purveyor of national inflammatory journalism. Following the asylum centre case, being fought in Dugave (a suburb of Zagreb) the reporters published their exclusive ‘research’ under the headline: ‘We’re not racists, but the situation is uncomfortable. These people wander around aimlessly and stare at our girls.’ The issue started when the local hotel, until recently owned by Croatian Railways, was given over to the Ministry of the Interior and turned into an asylum centre. These ‘problems’ can best be described by the local residents...

  17. 13 SHOPLIFTERS OF THE WORLD UNITE
    (pp. 104-112)
    Slavoj Žižek

    Repetition, according to Hegel, plays a crucial role in history: when something happens just once, it may be dismissed as an accident, something that might have been avoided if the situation had been handled differently; but when the same event repeats itself, it is a sign that a deeper historical process is unfolding. When Napoleon lost at Leipzig in 1813, it looked like bad luck; when he lost again at Waterloo, it was clear that his time was over. The same holds for the continuing financial crisis. In September 2008, it was presented by some as an anomaly that could...

  18. 14 DO MARKETS HAVE FEELINGS?
    (pp. 113-120)
    Srećko Horvat

    Even in 1936, in his major workThe General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, Keynes imagined a fictional newspaper contest in which participants have to choose from a hundred photographs six most beautiful women. The winner is the one whose six pictures come closest to the most popular combination of all participants’ choices. ‘It is not about how to choose the ones that are, according to the best personal assessment of the competitors really the prettiest, nor those which the average opinion genuinely considers the most beautiful. Rather, we are concerned with third option in which we dedicate our...

  19. 15 THE COURAGE TO CANCEL THE DEBT
    (pp. 121-132)
    Slavoj Žižek

    Maurizio Lazzarato⁴⁵ provides a detailed analysis of how, in today’s global capitalism, debt works across a whole range of social practices and levels (from nation states down to individuals). The hegemonic neoliberal ideology endeavours to extend the logic of market competition to all areas of social life, so that, for example, health and education, or even political decisions (voting) themselves, are perceived as investments made by the individual in his or her individual capital. In this way, the worker is no longer conceived merely as labour power, but as personal capital making good or bad ‘investment’ decisions as s/he moves...

  20. 16 THE EASIEST WAY TO THE GULAG IS TO JOKE ABOUT THE GULAG
    (pp. 133-142)
    Srećko Horvat

    According to the Russian historian Roy Medvedev, around 200,000 people in the USSR were sent to a Gulag for telling a joke. When a system is threatened by jokes and jokes are taken too seriously, it is no sign of strength, but exactly the opposite: a clear indication of its weakness. Even if you have the power to send people to a Gulag.

    Following the visit of SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras to the Zagreb Subversive Festival in May 2013, only two months prior to the accession of Croatia to the European Union, it seems that jokes are to be taken...

  21. 17 WE NEED A MARGARET THATCHER OF THE LEFT
    (pp. 143-149)
    Slavoj Žižek

    In the last pages of his monumentalSecond World War, Winston Churchill ponders on the enigma of a military decision: after the specialists (economic and military analysts, psychologists, meteorologists) propose their analysis, somebody must assume the simple and for that very reason most difficult act of transposing this complex multitude into a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. We shall attack, we continue to wait … This gesture, which can never be fully grounded in reasons, is that of a Master. It is for the experts to present the situation in its complexity, and it is for the Master to simplify it...

  22. 18 EUROPE WILL BE EITHER DEMOCRATIC AND SOCIAL OR IT WILL NO LONGER EXIST
    (pp. 150-159)
    Alexis Tsipras

    On July 1st Croatia should become the newest member-state of the EU. Having in mind the Greek experience, how do you see the enlargement of the European Union during its biggest financial and political crisis? What future does Croatia have in the EU?

    We are at a phase where Europe is being redesigned. The goal is to have a two-speed Europe, a union of states where the surplus countries will be taking the role of the rider and the deficient countries that of the horse. We’re talking about a Europe where monetarism, harsh austerity and the demolition of the society...

  23. 19 ‘THE ROLE OF THE EUROPEAN LEFT’
    (pp. 160-176)
    Slavoj Žižek and Alexis Tsipras

    Srećko Horvat: Croatia is accessing the European Union during its worst crisis. Could you, Mr Tsipras, from the Greek perspective, tell us what can Croatia expect?

    Alexis Tsipras: You said earlier that maybe – or probably – I could be the next prime minister of Greece. I don’t know if that will happen, but I know if that would happen, nothing would remain the same, either in Greece nor in the European Union. Of course, not because a Leftist politician would become prime minister, but because a radical Left party would have the support of the people to make radical...

  24. AFTERWORD EUROPE IS DEAD, LONG LIVE EUROPE!
    (pp. 177-192)
    Srećko Horvat

    About a year has passed since the first publication ofWhat Does Europe Want?It was published almost simultaneously in autumn 2013 in France under the titleSavouns-nous de nos saveurs(Éditions Lignes) and in Germany asWas Will Europa?(Laika Verlag). Since then, the book has been published in different languages and formats across Europe, ranging from Spain to Turkey and from Croatia to Romania. Each new edition has been different, updated with new insights and previously unpublished texts. Each new edition also increasingly highlights the fact that its starting point, the answer to the question “What Does Europe...

  25. NOTES
    (pp. 193-202)
  26. Back Matter
    (pp. 203-204)