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Meet the Liberal communists

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Friday, Mar 31, 2006

More about immigration, which is really ultimately about how the labor market is where the “first world” and “third world” collide. Economist Max Sawicky points out that existing welfare state programs, funded by the influx of new workers themselves, can help reduce the impact of this collision, edge it toward resembling something more like a merger, and that immigrants make a society on the whole more progressive. Inother words, illiegal immigration is preferable to outsourcing because our institutions blunt the exploitation of labor and serve to distribute more of the fruits back to the worker in the form of social benefits (a safe country to live in with lots of leisure-time fun, etc.).


This is why Zizek finds it necessary to lampoon the Bono/Davos set LRB in this LRB piece, where he condemns entrepreneur/philanthropists (“liberal communists”—business world equivelants of third-way politicians like the Clintons) such as Bill Gates and George Soros for creating the third world misery that they then try to alleiviate. “Etienne Balibar, in La Crainte des masses (1997), distinguishes the two opposite but complementary modes of excessive violence in today’s capitalism: the objective (structural) violence that is inherent in the social conditions of global capitalism (the automatic creation of excluded and dispensable individuals, from the homeless to the unemployed), and the subjective violence of newly emerging ethnic and/or religious (in short: racist) fundamentalisms. They may fight subjective violence, but liberal communists are the agents of the structural violence that creates the conditions for explosions of subjective violence. The same Soros who gives millions to fund education has ruined the lives of thousands thanks to his financial speculations and in doing so created the conditions for the rise of the intolerance he denounces.”


Or as James Galbraith puts it in this review of Jeffrey Sachs’s book The End of Poverty: “Can it be that charity has a price, which is playing the game by the global rules? And can it be that these rules—which force poor countries to open markets, cut social and health budgets, privatize power and water, and starve their public investment—in general create more poverty than charity can cure?”


Zizek has this advice for the next time you are tempted to admire Bono or Soros for their selflessness: “We should have no illusions: liberal communists are the enemy of every true progressive struggle today. All other enemies religious fundamentalists, terrorists, corrupt and inefficient state bureaucracies А depend on contingent local circumstances. Precisely because they want to resolve all these secondary malfunctions of the global system, liberal communists are the direct embodiment of what is wrong with the system. It may be necessary to enter into tactical alliances with liberal communists in order to fight racism, sexism and religious obscurantism, but it’s important to remember exactly what they are up to.”

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