Against The Double Blackmail

7 Feb

Against The Double Blackmail, Slavoj Zizek, Allen Lane 2016

In the first days of his Presidency, Donald Trump put Immigration and Migrants high on the agenda. Refugees from certain countries deemed risky were barred for a set period of time. Travellers from people on a list of countries were no longer able to travel to the US. Muslims were going to have to pass a religious test, well that nationals with other religions would be given favourable treatment. Executive Order 13769 caused chaos and widespread condemnation. Suddenly the rest of the world was looking to be more liberal on refugees. Of course it doesn’t matter to the refugees, they want to enter America in spite of Trump. It remains to be seen where this will end, but it highlight once again that the issue of migration and refugees ( or rather issues they are seperate ) is still around.

At almost the same time the Prime Minister of the UK, Teresa May has announced a scheme to help poor countries settle refugees at the expense of rich ones. Rather than attempt to reach Europe with its rich culture of assimilating and supporting migrants and refugees, Syrians will now be “helped” to face in the other direction. With little insight that the heaviest refugee burden already falls on the poor and developing countries anyway May looks to be buying off her own Trumpian crisis.

None of this would surprise Zizek. His short but excellent book was written in 2015 when the Mediterranean refugee crisis was becoming reactionary. Zizek provides us with two distinct thought maths. Firstly Islam is not a problem, or rather it is not the problem we think it is. Islamic Fascists are. This syncretic religion is a terror organisation pure and simple. It aims are political not religious. You fight the ideology of the armed fascist not the cleric.

Secondly and more importantly the issues of refugees, assimilation, looking different, border, how many settlers a country can take, why are refugees bad and and (some) migrants good all boil down to a misguided notion of us and them. We enjoy our western lifestyles, we fear they will change if too many of them come her so we put up rules around it. Those that can’t make it either recreate a bargain basement version of the west or fight the infidels. This is the wrong question for Zizek. We are all oppressors of the capitalist system. Our struggle isn’t west vs east its global capitalism. We all want a better life, maybe we can have it together after all ?

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