Slavoj Zizek: Why Far Right and Xenophobic Politicians Are on the Rise in Europe
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My second point is that, you know, if you ask me again, I may shock you, about Afghanistan. Of course it was a catastrophe to go there and so on, but it’s really a tragic predicament because we, the West, by intervening there, we created a situation so that now it’s effectively difficult simply to pull out. What I mean, just a brief point. Look, Afghanistan, I’m sorry to tell you, I’m old enough to remember, forty years ago, Afghanistan was arguably the most tolerant Middle East Muslim country, with a pro-Western technocratic king, with a very strong local communist party and so on. And then, we know what happened. Communist party tried to took power. They did. When they started to fail, Soviet Union intervened. Then Americans backed the Muslim fundamentalists. In other words, always bear in mind this: Afghanistan is not an old fundamentalist country that we should enlighten. Afghanistan was quite a nice, tolerant country. Its fundamentalization is precisely the result of being caught in the global politics. We, the global liberal system, generate fundamentalisms.
AMY GOODMAN: And explain that for especially young people, who don’t know what you’re talking about when you say the Americans backed, when the Soviet Union took over at the time, and—
SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: I think that one of the key sources of not only Afghanistan, but general—Pakistan, Saudi Arabia—so-called Middle East problems, fighting the Islamic fundamentalism, is that, as we all know, somewhere in late '50s, especially ’60s, as ’70s, not only United States, but as far as I can say, the West, made a catastrophic strategic miscalculation: they thought, to cut a long story short, that the main danger are—because they can be manipulated by communists, whatever—are secular leftists and that strategically the correct move is to support, at least in the short term, religious fundamentalists against them, which is why, to be slightly cynical, you know, it's very difficult to find today one of these great Axis of Evil guys who wasn’t, if not outright CIA agent, then at least closely linked. Never forget Obama bin Laden started there, when the West supported—
AMY GOODMAN: Osama bin Laden.
SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: Sorry, what did you say? Obama. I deeply apologize. I mean, I still have all sympathy and respect for President Obama.
But, you know, this is the paradox. Again, it’s the same lesson as— à propos of this new right-wing immigrant. We, liberal majority and so on—we created not only in some deeper sense that fundamentalism is the reaction to the excesses of liberal capitalism or whatever, but often quite—in a surprising way, quite literally, we created the fundamentalism. We have no right to observe it with this arrogance. "Oh, my god, how primitive people are there." Sorry, before we started to mess there, they were not.
AMY GOODMAN: And what about this war being waged abroad that costs a trillion dollars? Joe Stiglitz, Linda Bilmes, they predict $3 trillion, and that might be an underestimate, over the years, the playing out, including supporting the veterans, when we have economic crisis at home.
SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: This is a true danger, yeah, yeah. I think that military spending is already to such extent a key part of making our economy function that, you know, we really—the only way to get out, it’s not just some peace movement, but again, starting to think much more radically how to restructure our economy, because you know what’s the problem with right-wing militarists, that they blackmail us, but they blackmail us in a way which, at some literal level, has a moment of truth. Yes, our economies do depend on war spending. It works. In contrast to what neoliberals are saying, it works. All our relative welfare was the result of military Keynesianism and so on, so again, with all my respect for those who want out of the war, peace, I respect them, but it’s not just this. It’s the time to start asking more radical questions, no way to avoid it, about how our economy works, and with no illusions. I am not saying we need the old Communist Party. I am not crazy. I mean, if old communists are in power, they are now often even worse capitalists than we in the West. Look at China and so on.