Slavoj Žižek and European exceptionalism

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The ambiguity of the Slovenian intellectual before the war in Ukraine

The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek became a kind of ideologue of “European exceptionalism”: in a world threatened by right-wing populism, Europe plays a special role, guaranteeing democratic freedoms, human rights and social democratic values. The irony is that the Europe acclaimed in the world of ideas is, in the real world, increasingly susceptible to the influence of these new types of fascism (see Giorgia Meloni's Italy), in addition to being increasingly vassal and without a strategic project. The cult of Europe grows in inverse proportion to its relevance and political capacity.

However, what strikes me most about their current positions, calling for Western support for Ukraine (just as it did for the regressive disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, incidentally) are two things: (i) the notable lack of principle, resulting in a lack of coherence or even pure and simple hypocrisy; (ii) complete ignorance or deliberate confusion about what the idea of ​​“just war” or “people's war” represents in the history of Marxism.

Explaining the first point: Slavoj Žižek, like all Western powers, starting with the US, recognized Kosovo's unilateral independence in 2008 from Serbia. Independence quite functional to the economic and military interests of the NATO countries. However, he stigmatizes as mere Russian vassals the entire independence struggle, which has lasted eight years, of the Ukrainians (of Russian ethnicity and language) of the Donbass, persecuted by Kiev. What Russia does in acknowledging unilateral separation is analogous to the West's stance on Kosovo.

Why is there enthusiastic support in one case and total opposition in the other? In fact, Slavoj Žižek does not even recognize the relevance of the Donbass problem after the euromaidan in his writings on the subject of Ukraine, it looks like a mere Russian plot. Easy to answer the question: why does Kosovo want to join the good Europe, separating itself from the evil Serbia, while in Donbass the desire for Europe is rejected in the name of joining the also evil Russia (Slavs of Orthodox Christian tradition are always suspect...) .

To call this kind of belief in Western superiority European chauvinism (the irony: of a European peripheral, from Slovenia, imagining himself, however, in the navel of the highest civilization) does not seem to be too much of an exaggeration.

The second point concerns the mystification that Slavoj Žižek gives to the Ukrainian resistance, going so far as to compare it to the struggle in Vietnam and Palestine. The Ukrainian “resistance” is based on the operational command of NATO, on the political and media support of the entire power of the European and North American bourgeoisie, and on completely traditional methods of war: quantity of modern weaponry, capacity for destruction, support of large powers, etc.

What a difference to the national liberation struggles of the last century! Let us recall the Maoist concept of “people's war”. The idea was that inferior armies could defeat superior armies due to an irreducible quality: their difference from conventional bourgeois armies. A people's army would involve a political and ideological relationship with mass organizations and would subordinate military power to mass political work.

The latter, despite making all kinds of international alliances for the success of its cause, should rely essentially on its own forces, especially on the moral and ideological factor. The importance given to morale and the strategic centrality of defense make explicit the essentially Clausewitzian characteristic of these popular guerrillas and armies. Nothing could be further from the current extremely conventional behavior of the Ukrainian elites, totally puppets of the USA.

We can summarize the characteristics of a people's war in the following aspects: primacy of the political over the military; mass support as the main factor; democratic and popular revolution program; leadership of the proletariat.

By comparing Ukraine and Vietnam, Slavoj Žižek demonstrates the inability to understand the qualitative difference between two types of wars governed by totally opposite logics. That of Ukraine essentially repeats that of 1914-1918, a conflict between powers (at the time, the “democratic” England and France against the authoritarian and barbarians of the continental Empires), governed by homogeneous forces, in which the quantitative element prevails over the qualitative (in the Hegelian sense of the concepts), resulting only in the useless massacre of peoples used as cannon fodder.

The Western left that does not understand this, such as Slavoj Žižek, proves to have completely superficially and unreflectively absorbed the teachings of the years of anti-colonial revolution and post-war people's wars. Or else they are mere renegades, such as the social-chauvinists of the Second International, condemned by Lenin, who sanctioned the massacre of the proletariat on the altar of the mercenary interests of their internal bourgeoisies.

Even in relation to the Middle East: the Azov Battalion is incomparable, a Nazi band organized in the military style of small armed shock groups, with mass organizations (despite any possible criticism of their religious and dogmatic ideologies) rooted in popular work, as Hamas or Hezbollah. Not to mention organizations such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, with universalist and emancipatory ideas. Not only do our leftist apologists in the West lack historical culture: they lack the slightest understanding of basic issues of strategies and styles of work and organization from past experiences of armed struggle.

* Diogo Fagundes he is studying for a master's degree in law and is studying philosophy at USP.

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