by Slavoj Zizek – alJazeera / Egyptian revolution

Posted on f


Well of course he wouldn’t say this openly, publicly, but I think his message, if one can read between the lines, was quite unambiguous. You know that wonderful French proverb, plus ça change, plus c’est la même (the more it changes, the more it stays the same)? It’s obvious that what Western powers (insofar as they were represented by Tony Blair) want is some changes that would basically enable the global situation to remain the same.

Against this I would like to emphasize, totally agreeing with what Tariq just said, one point. You know how often, in our multicultural era, where we all are suspicious about universalism, we like to hear how democracy, as we understand it, is something specifically Western (“you should understand different cultures”), and so on and so on? What affected me tremendously, when I was not only looking at the general picture of Cairo but listening to interviews with participants and protestors there, is how cheap and irrelevant all this multicultural talk becomes. There, where we are fighting a tyrant, we are all universalists; we immediately have solidarity with each other. That’s how you build universal solidarity, not with some stupid UNESCO, multicultural respect (“we respect your culture, you ours”), but with the struggle for freedom.

Here we have direct proof (a) that freedom is universal, and (b) especially proof against that cynical idea that somehow Muslim crowds prefer some kind of religious fundamentalist dictatorship. No! What happened in Tunisia, what happens now in Egypt; it’s precisely this universal revolution for dignity, human rights, economic justice: this is universalism at work; what we see, daily in Egypt.

One Egyptian protestor said “I’m proud to be Egyptian.” I’m proud for them. They gave us the lesson against these falsely respectful, but basically racist, prejudices; you know, Arabs have this specific culture, they cannot really get it. They got it! They understand democracy, by doing what they are doing, better than we do in the West, in Western Europe, with our anti-immigrant parties and so on. So I’m proud for them. Again, here is universalism. This is the best argument that you can see on TV against all that trash about “clash of civilizations” and so on and so on. The moment you fight tyranny you have solidarity. No clash of civilizations! We all know what we mean. No miscommunication here!