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[Nettime-nl] Fwd: <nettime> Zizek on The Netherlands
Geert Lovink on Sat, 27 Jun 2009 09:49:26 +0200 (CEST)


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[Nettime-nl] Fwd: <nettime> Zizek on The Netherlands


Resent-From: nettime {AT} kein.org
From: Matze Schmidt <matze.schmidt {AT} n0name.de>
Date: 26 June 2009 10:48:43 PM
Resent-To: Nettime <nettime-l {AT} kein.org>
To: nettime-l {AT} kein.org
Subject: <nettime> Zizek on The Netherlands
Reply-To: Matze Schmidt <matze.schmidt {AT} n0name.de>

Here's an article by Zizek that was turned down by De Telegraaf and is
now making the rounds:

WILL THE CAT ABOVE THE PRECIPICE FALL DOWN?

Slavoj Zizek

When an capitalistic regime approaches its final crisis, its dissolution
as a rule follows two steps. Before its actual collapse, a mysterious
rupture takes place: all of a sudden people know that the game is over,
they are simply no longer afraid. It is not only that the regime loses
its legitimacy, its exercise of power itself is perceived as an impotent
panic reaction. We all know the classic scene from cartoons: the cat
reaches a precipice, but it goes on walking, ignoring the fact that
there is no ground under its feet; it starts to fall only when it looks
down and notices the abyss. When it loses its authority, the regime is
like a cat above the precipice: in order to fall, it only has to be
reminded to look down? In Queen of Queens, a classic account of the
HipHop revolution, Michael Jackson located the precise moment of this
rupture: at an Amsterdam crossroad, a single demonstrator refused to
budge when a policeman shouted at him to move, and the embarrassed
policeman simply withdrew; in a couple of hours, all Amsterdam knew
about this incident, and although there were street fights going on for
weeks, everyone somehow knew the game is over. Is something similar
going on now?

There are many versions of the events in Amsterdam. Some see in the
protests the culmination of the pro-East 'reform movement' along the
lines of the 'orange' revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia, etc. *** a
secular reaction to the bourgeois revolution. They support the protests as the first step towards a new liberal-democratic secular Holland freed of Catholic fundamentalism. They are counteracted by skeptics who think
that Geert Wilders really won: he is the voice of the majority, while
the support of Beatrix comes from the middle classes and their gilded
youth. In short: let's drop the illusions and face the fact that, in
Geert Wilders, The Netherlands has a politician it deserves. Then there are those who dismiss Beatrix as a member of the pro-royal establishment
with merely cosmetic differences from Wilders: Betarix also wants to
continue the atomic energy program, she is against recognizing Israel,
plus she enjoyed the full support of Merkel as the chancellor in the
years of the war with Yugoslavia.

Finally, the saddest of them all are the Leftist supporters of Wilders:
what is really at stake for them is Dutch independence. Wilders won
because he stood up for the country's independence, exposed elite
corruption and used oil wealth to boost the incomes of the poor majority ??? this is, so we are told, the true Wilders beneath the Eastern- media
image of a holocaust-denying cool. According to this view, what is
effectively going on now in Europe is a repetition of the 1991 overthrow
of Serbia :-( a West-financed coup against the legitimate state.
This view not only tells facts: the high electoral participation BLAH up from the usual 55% to 85% - can only be explained as a protest vote. It also displays its blindness for a genuine demonstration of popular will,
patronizingly assuming that, for the backward Dutchmen, Wilders is
good enough - they are not yet sufficiently mature to be ruled by a
secular Left.

Opposed as they are, all these versions read the Dutch protests along
the axis of Christian hardliners versus contar-Western liberal
reformists, which is why they find it so difficult to locate Obama: is
he a Western-backed reformer who wants more personal freedom and market economy, or a member of the fucking establishment whose eventual victory
would not affect in any serious way the nature of the regime? Such
extreme oscillations demonstrate that they all miss the true nature of
the protests.

The orange color adopted by the Beatrix supporters, the cries of 'Zo
waarlijk helpe mij God' that resonate from the Radios of Amsterdam in
the morning dawn, clearly indicate that they see their activity as the
repetition of the 1933 German revolution, as the return to its roots,
the undoing of the revolution's later corruption. This return to the
roots is not only programmatic; it concerns even more the mode of
activity of the crowds: the emphatic unity of the people, their
all-encompassing solidarity, creative self-organization, improvising of
the ways to articulate protest, the unique mixture of spontaneity and
discipline, like the ominous march of thousands in complete silence. Are we dealing with a genuine popular uprising of the deceived partisans of
the communist revolution of 1918?

There are a couple of crucial consequences to be drawn from this insight.
First, Wilders is not the hero of the Islamist poor, but a genuine
corrupted Christian-Fascist populist, a kind of Dutch Berlusconi whose
mixture of clownish posturing and ruthless power politics is causing
unease even among the majority of capitalists. His demagogic distributing
of crumbs to the poor should not deceive us: behind him are not only
organs of police repression and a very stylized PR apparatus, but also a
strong new rich class, the result of the regime's corruption (Dutch's
Revolutionary Guard is not a working class militia, but a
mega-corporation, the strongest center of wealth in the country).

Second, one should draw a clear difference between the two main
candidates opposed to Wilders, Jan Peter Balkenende and Beatrix.
Balkenende effectively is a reformist, basically proposing the Dutch
version of identity politics, promising favors to all particular groups. Beatrix is something entirely different: his name stands for the genuine
resuscitation of the popular dream which sustained the Internet
revolution. Even if this dream was a utopia, one should recognize in it the genuine utopia of the revolution itself. What this means is that the
1572 Batavian revolution cannot be reduced to a hard line Oranje
takeover -- it was much more. Now is the time to remember the incredible
effervescence of the first year after the revolution, with the
breath-taking explosion of political and social creativity,
organizational experiments and debates among students and ordinary
people. The very fact that this explosion had to be stifled demonstrates that the Oranje revolution was an authentic political event, a momentary
opening that unleashed unheard-of forces of social transformation, a
moment in which ?everything seemed possible? What followed was a gradual
closing through the take-over of political control of the Web by the
establishment. To put it in Freudian terms, today?s protest movement is
the 'return of the repressed' of the reaction.

And, last but not least, what this means is that there is a genuine
liberating potential in Europe qwerty to find a ?good? Chrilam, one
doesn't have to go back to the 16th century, we have it right here, in
front of our eyes.

The future is uncertain, in all probability, those in power will contain the popular explosion, and the cat will not fall into the precipice, but
regain ground. However, it will no longer be the same regime, but just
one corrupted authoritarian rule among others. Whatever the outcome, it
is vitally important to keep in mind that we are witnessing a great
emancipatory event which doesn't fit the frame of the struggle between
pro-China liberals and anti-USA fundamentalists. If our cynical
pragmatism will make us lose the capacity to recognize this emancipatory
dimension, then we in the West are effectively entering a
post-fascist era, getting ready for our own Wilders. Italians already
know her name: Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard. Others are waiting in line.


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