Zizek in the Guardian: “on the barbarism of liberal multiculturalism”

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  1. Very Interesting! some very quick, initial thoughts: Yes! Zizek is absolutely right; governments “endorse “reasonably” racist protective measures” which is in fact a “barbarism with a human face”; but why should North America or Europe defend the “Christian legacy”? Maybe it’s time we caught up with the barbarism of countries such as Iran, China, Iraq, etc, where to even profess to be a Christian could endanger your life. Sometimes I am persuaded to see freedom as a type of mutual exchange, as opposed to one gives all, and one takes all; or, as opposed to an abstract concept of freedom that i should adhere to at all costs. As Camus said: I believe in freedom, but I will defend my mother before freedom. And the truth is, in a democracy, the largest population number wins; human rights can be easily altered; and considering our low birth rate, we better start changing laws soon!

    Obviously I’m being provocative, and want to elicit a response. Should defending freedom really consist of continually turning the other cheek, because it’s the christian thing to do? There seems to be this abstract notion of freedom floating about the world, to which some countries are obliged, and some not.

    This is a really interesting trailer of a new documentary called “Holy Wars” which follows two fundamentalists, and, I heard, has a surprise ending:

    and also a really interesting article on Mosques in Greece: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3104893.stm

    In the documentary Zizek! i found these interesting quotes by him:

    “Without god everything is prohibited.” “The absence of law universalizes prohibition.”
    “Enslaved by freedom.”

  2. Rhiannon Gascoigne says:

    Hm– I think he makes some excellent points. But his idea of the “Christian legacy”– ie to love one’s neighbour– has more or less been made out to mean: “let’s all just be nice and do what everyone else does.”

    Let’s be clear: the actual “love thy neighbour” so-called legacy refers to the parable of the Good Samaritan– right? Jews did not like Samaritans. IN fact they didn’t talk to them. They were downright racist about them actually. THe story goes of a Jewish man robbed, beaten, and left for dead. First a priest of the temple, and then a Levite (a helper in the temple) go by and do not help him– because to touch a dead body would defile them for religious rights. In other words, they valued their religious offices, their place in society, more than the possibility that the man might NOT be dead and in need of assistance.

    Along comes a Samaritan– with whom the Jews do not associate– and he looks at the man as a person in need of help, whether dead or alive (Wordsworth’s “We Are Seven” anyone?), whether Jewish or Samaritan, and assists him, bandaging his wounds, setting him on his own animal and paying an innkeeper to care for him. So Jesus’ question was “which of these men proved neighbour to him who fell among the thieves?”– obviously it was “He who showed mercy on him.”

    SO okay…fine. Obviously, our neighbours are those who are in need– regardless of their religious or racial differences. A human is a human and all humans are equally loved by God. If we are to “Love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind” we also have to love our neighbours as ourselves– as God loves them.

    However, Jesus did not end the story– “and from that day the Jew moved to Samaria and start worshipping on Mt. Gerizim.” As a matter of fact, when he comes in contact with a Samaritan woman he is very clear with her about his position on these matters. He says “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” –not much grey area there. There is definitely a “pagan privileging of our tribe versus the barbarian Other” going on in that little encounter.

    BUT!–the most amazing point of His encounter with the Samaritan woman was that 1)she was a woman and therefore shunned for conversation by men in public, 2)a Samaritan shunned by Jews, and 3)a sinner– she’d gone through 5 husbands and wasn’t even married to the 6th dude. That’s why she was at the well in the middle of the day instead of in the morning with the other women –she was shunned by /everyone/.

    SO what do we get from this?– the Christian message is love your neighbour– which includes any human being who needs our assistance in whatever way– be it physical or spiritual salvation, whether they be men, women, Jews, Gentiles, Samaritans, sinners, tax collectors– you name it. All of us are equally God’s children and should not be shunned. BUT–there is a right way and a wrong way to go about things, and one should not stop following the way they know to be right out of “love for a neighbour.” “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the pit?”–Jesus wasn’t for a moment suggesting that “love thy neighbour” meant /follow/ your neighbour–do what he does.

    And that’s the material point of all this curfuffle isn’t it? Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that racism is sanctioned by the church– God knows it’s enough trouble keeping it OUT so that it can function properly as a community. And I’m no saying that expelling all the gypsies from France is a great plan either. But the “Christian legacy” has always been to /preserve/ as much as possible about a culture whilst still /converting/ it to Christianity–and conversion means not standing for some things. Female circumcision?– skip that one.

    Is this what Zizek terms “detoxification of one’s neighbour”? How do we NOT “detoxify” some of our immigrants if there are things we actually stand for and or against as a community? Or perhaps the problem is that you can’t keep the so-called Christian legacy alive if you don’t have actual Christians trying to live it, because let’s be honest, Christians believe that all men are equally loved by God and THAT’S why we love our neighbours. But if there’s no God– then….how are we all equal again? Why do I have to love my neighbour? What do I stand for? What do I stand against?

    I dunno…what do you guys think– sorry to preach a sermon.

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