Žižek on the Opportunity European Disorder Presents Post-Brexit

Writing on the DiEM25.org, the website for the cross-border pan-European movement he was an early supporter of, Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek suggests that the crisis that’s presented itself thanks to the brexit vote in the UK is as good an opportunity as any in recent months to create a truly democratic project “that will break the vicious cycle of EU technocracy and nationalist populism.”

On his blog, Yanis Varoufakis summarized it as such:

..Žižek .. writes that Europeans face one fake and one actual choice. The fake choice is between :(1) a globalised, financialised version of capitalism that is run by a transnational technocracy, tolerates minorities and turns parliamentary democracy into an empty shell, and (2) a xenophobic, socially conservative, passionate nativism that invokes national democratic sovereignty only to forsake it soon after.

The real, actual choice is between (A) a vicious cycle between (1) & (2) above and (B) a pan-European democratic project addressing the actual challenges humanity faces (e.g. the deflationary moment in our history, the inexorable devaluation of human labour, TTIP like attacks on sovereignty, climate change etc.)

And in the piece, Žižek concludes:

Recall Mao Ze Dong’s old motto: “Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent.” A crisis is to be taken seriously, without illusions, but also as a chance to be fully exploited. Although crises are painful and dangerous, they are the terrain on which battles have to be waged and won. Is there not a struggle also in heaven, is the heaven also not divided – and does the ongoing confusion not offer a unique chance to react to the need for a radical change in a more appropriate way, with a project that will break the vicious cycle of EU technocracy and nationalist populism? The true division of our heaven is not between anemic technocracy and nationalist passions, but between their vicious cycle and a new pan-European project which will addresses the true challenges that humanity confronts today.

A good read for those looking to expand the current narrative fueling the EU’s existential crisis. Disorder under the heaven.

More about DiEM25 and its efforts to reverse EU’s disintegration, is here.

And related, by Benjamin Ramm in OpenDemocracy: Slavoj Žižek on Brexit, the crisis of the Left, and the future of Europe (July 1):

I ask whether the referendum posed a false choice, offering a nation state solution to transnational problems. “Precisely. The EU is in a state of inertia, and I share this rage of the people. But what will be the result? Britain will lose months, years in protracted negotiations with a shitty compromise at the end – during which time the space for real change will have diminished. The British attitude, of leaving the EU to its fate, is the logic of the wrong era in an age of global problems: ecology, biotechnology, intellectual property. Britain all alone will be even more vulnerable, exposed to the pressure of international capital without any of the protections. I don’t see any strength gained in standing alone”.

Image: Imbalance by DJ Lu, Bogota, 13-Jun-2015




  1. Well spoken. Brexit 50 has not been pressed in an referendum based on lies and misleading information , with a result so close that the country is split and reeling with shock. Hell, what a stupid thing to do; wanting our country back they cried…forgetting the state the country was in that prompted them to join the EU in the first place. The good old days do NOT exist, only in fumbled minds. End of Rant!

    1. “The good old days do NOT exit”..

      Great point. That’s the key, nostalgia for a time that never really was. They’re hearing a lot of that in the US these days too, with Trump’s call to “Take America Back”, a slogan that’s as empty as it is meaningless.

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