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Against the Double Blackmail: Refugees, Terror and Other Troubles with the Neighbours

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,355 ratings  ·  148 reviews
Today, hundreds of thousands of people, desperate to escape war, violence and poverty, are crossing the Mediterranean to seek refuge in Europe. Our response from our protected European standpoint, argues Slavoj Zizek, offers two versions of ideological blackmail: either we open our doors as widely as possible; or we try to pull up the drawbridge. Both solutions are bad, st ...more
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published April 21st 2016 by Allen Lane (first published 2015)
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Mike Robbins
May 23, 2016 rated it liked it
“Refugees,” says Slavoj Žižek, “are the price humanity is paying for the global economy.” They are a result of global inequalities, and slamming down the drawbridge will not help, for mass-migrations are an inevitable part of the future, especially as climate change begins to bite. However, opening the floodgates and letting large numbers of refugees into Europe is an equally futile response, and can only cause trouble; in the end, we won’t like them and they won’t like us. Better to understand ...more
Aug 04, 2016 rated it liked it
This was long on intellectual posturing and philosophical name dropping and short on solutions - it's a polemic, not a guidebook, although the latter is vaguely suggested by the marketing of the text. Most of the book deals with issues only loosely related to migration and refugees, an early rant on TTIP being an especially irrelevant example. When the What Is To Be Done? chapter arrives, in the last 10 pages, the solutions offered are vague and unconvincing and involve some sort of abstract sol ...more
Žižek stays midground for most of the book and seems really neutral about his take on the Illegal Immigration crisis in Europe. He says open borders is idiocy and also establishes that Christan west and radical Islam just can't survive together, and refugees aren't going to like the rich forever. But the solution? that's exactly where this particular book falls short. Even though there's a chapter called 'What to be done', it just seems so vague and I couldn't make a logical solution out of it. ...more
Joachim Stoop
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this this the most approachable Žižek book I've encountered. Still difficult of course, but very relevant and insightfull!
I can understand why some people will find this read absolutely harrowing. It obviously clashes with everything that you hear in traditional media. But I'm also convinced that it's a little bit closer to the truth, especially in the discussion of moving past the emphatical argument when discussing refugees and their situation. The one thing I didn't like was Zizek's push for a sort of communist solution to this, but I agreed with most of his other arguments. He hits the nail on the head in terms ...more
Aug 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Thought provoking, resoundingly so.
Contextualises and illuminates the causes of and responses to the modern concept of "refugeeism".
Žižek is an erudite man, with a clear and pragmatic approach to contemporary taboos. I particularly enjoyed the way he used literary touchstones to drive home any given argument.
Well worth a read ... In fact, it should be on every MPs "must read" list.
Brendan Monroe
Eight or so years ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture Slavoj Žižek gave at my college. Unfortunately, I didn't know at the time who he was and was too distracted by his many nervous tics to truly grasp what he was saying ... something to do with his interpretation of Christ's crucifixion. If only I could be so lucky as to attend one of the great philosopher's lectures today - I would never take such an event for granted again!

"Against the Double Blackmail" is probably Žižek's most ac
"I felt that way about Slavoj Zizek, that’s one person who I wrote about in a deliberately attacking way because I felt the cult of Zizek was intellectually dangerous"
Literary critic Adam Kirsch

"Estamos perdidos, Europa se está convertiendo en Europastán!"
("We're doomed, Europe is becoming Europeistan")

"Our goal is not to remain in Mexico. Our goal is to make it to the US. We want passage, that’s all.”
Honduran migrant

This book had its English title as: Against the Double Blackmail: Refugees, Ter
Amelie Meyer-Robinson
I'm so done with Zizek. This is the last straw lmao.
Gabrielius Lapinskas
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was actually good
Sami Eerola
Slavoj Žižek doesn't pull any punches in this book. This is a honest and courageous critisims of todays world problems relating to the war on terror and immigration, but also a fearce critisism of liberals and people further on the left. This book have some good ideas, but sometimes it is hard to follow Žižek's train of thought. Still would recommend because this gives a not-racist or left-reactionary alternative to the immigration debate.
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-english
(I've never felt so called out and so agreeing at the same time).
Matthew Walsh
Žižek argues that refugees are, first and foremost, objects of particular material and economic conditions—conditions that we, in the West, benefit from and are partially complicit in. “The disintegration of state power,” he reminds his reader, “is not purely a local phenomenon but the result of international economics and politics; in some cases, such as Libya and Iraq, it is even the direct outcome of Western intervention” (53). From here, Žižek problematizes this dilemma further: “… the unive ...more
Overall I'm a big fan of this book, which encourages us to find common cause with refugees in the sense that most of us are victims of/exploited by neoliberal capitalism, and that even those of us in the global north are more outsiders than insiders in the working of global capital. Zizek calls for a return to Communist class struggle, but reconceptualized for late capitalism, where the struggle is not merely industrial workers against factory owners, but the entirety of the dispossessed and eco ...more
Mikael Lind
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Surprisingly readable little book by mr. Žižek. And wow, I'm so happy to read a philosopher on the left who doesn't try to simplify the refugees debate! It has been almost standard practise within the left to try to do everything to avoid having to talk about the problems that arise with immigration, and this, Žižek believes (and I with him), has only lead to a stronger support for extreme right parties. So Žižek very effectively exposes the impossible position you put yourself in if you try to ...more
Mindy McAdams
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Applied philosophy: What can be done about the seemingly insurmountable inflow of refugees to Europe? The refugees are only a symptom of global capitalism, which is proving unsustainable. I found many interesting ideas here, not least of which was that the idea of trying to better understand those who are different from us — whether they be the Other or the Neighbor or both — is not going to help us. Written before the horrible U.S. election of 2016, this short book/long essay does not consider ...more
Ioana Ioana
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Zizek is effortlessly brilliant. I still have a crush on him. He’s made of an entirely different material than Varoufakis; one is an extant marxist with a discourse of protean distinction, the other is a communist wannabe who fails to be convincing, subtle or... communist. Not that I fully agree with Zizek - I’m more for open borders (not to be understood as ‘unrestricted’) than he’ll ever probably be, and my argument is pragmatic - Europe's aged population should be refreshed through sensible r ...more
'Izzat Radzi
The central idea from this book is prevalent in Žižek talks & writings post-syrian war & post-Paris bombing, throughout early 2014 to end of last year (2015). ...more
May 06, 2019 rated it liked it
It's all the fault of global capitalism. Syrian refugees, Mexican immigrants, white supremacists, etc. What Zizek tries to do here is to bring the Left back to its roots: economic class struggle. He blasts the moralizing humanist liberal Left for being hypocrite, naive and ineffective. Which is good and makes his argument attractive to a centre-left-leaning guy like me. His repetitive mantra of blaming global capitalism is slightly annoying, but there's a bit of truth there anyway.

Nov 12, 2018 rated it liked it
"It is the ultimate irony of history that radical individualism serves as the ideological justification for the unconstrained power of what the large majority of individuals experience as a vast anonymous network that, without any democratic public control, regulates their lives" (p.57).
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It seems that Slavoj was in a hurry when writing this book. Interesting ideas in a very short format.
João Vaz
Europe. Terrorism. Refugees.

Europe draws many immigrants seeking a life away from poverty and conflict. This has been particularly true in the past few years, when a massive surge of refugees has stampeded through our borders to seek asylum from the open-ended violence and hardships in Africa and the Middle East. Immigration, however, has always been a controversial issue in Europe. Public opinion about immigrants and their impact on society is largely influenced by claims that our culture is b
Nick Ziegler
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The governing modality of Zizek’s writings and thought can be specified as “paradox.” This embodiment of paradox reaches down to the level of Zizek’s style or genre: the very anecdotal informality* that make people read him is often rightly criticized as a lack of rigor (but who among us reads only rigorous academic works?). Yet the point, Zizek might say, is that both the praise and the critique are correct; we don’t have to choose, but rather to reside in the undecidability that demands someth ...more
Jan 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-politics
In this acerbic, polemical work, the controversial philosopher Slavoj Zizek attempts to tackle the problems posed by a growing influx of refugees from the Middle East into Europe. Combining a complicated narrative style with complex metaphysical analogies, Zizek compares the reaction of both authorities and the public in Western Europe to the flow of refugees from both Africa and the Middle East, to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's description of how an individual reacts when diagnosed with a terminal il ...more
Ergun Coruh
A tour de force on refugee crisis, this book establishes a root cause analysis, World nations’ track record of handling it and what needs to be done to solve it.

There are points that I agree and others I don’t. In this review I will attempt to cover both ends.

The reasons I gave two stars are mostly technical. This is not a cohesive narration, but rather a very messy one with varying degrees of meshed up complexity and plenty of divergence. Hence it suffers from lack of fluency, consistency and c
Raoul G
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theory
"So, what to do with hundreds of thousands of people who, desperate to escape war and hunger, wait in north Africa or on the shores of Syria, trying to cross the Mediterranean to find refuge in Europe? Two main answers present themselves, two versions of ideological blackmail, which make us irreparably guilty. Left liberals, expressing their outrage at how Europe is allowing thousands to drown in the Mediterranean, state that Europe should show solidarity, should open its doors widely. Anti-immi ...more
Matthew Trickett
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Some parts of Zizek's new book has been written in his articles over the past few months, adapted to fit into the scheme of the book. It covers refugees, and all the moral dilemmas around what causes them to arrive to Europe, how they act when they arrive, how we treat them and how this is problematic. A great philosophical voice weighs in. But in one of the first chapters he rambles on about religion which continues into the next. It seems that he decided to ramble and divide the chapters to pr ...more
Daniel Simmons
Jun 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Smart, funny, very readable, and pop-culture savvy (for every Fredric Jameson name-drop, he also references something like "The Searchers" with John Wayne). And his critiques of global capitalism and privileged leftist hypocrisy often ring true. But as for what's to be done about the refugee crisis, terrorism, racism, class conflict, etc... well, his call to (dis)arms is long on naive idealism and short on specifics, it seems to me. Anyway, this is not a policy book, it's a philosophical critiqu ...more
Aug 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I won’t ever quit you, Left, but we do need some counseling, and Žižek, with his recentering of class and emphasis on the consequences bearing down on women and LGBTs from the willful blind spots of both the Right and Left provides a nice first session. I disagree with his stance on the Ferguson riots, rather than divine violence, the end result was a movement with the organized demands he claims are lacking. That said, it's a refreshing, fair, and humane read, and his take on Frankenstein made ...more
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Maybe such global solidarity is a utopia. But if we don't engage in it, we are really lost. And we will deserve to be lost." God bless this man for keeping me on my toes as a radical Leftist. We went to see him two days after the US election and he was right on time in capturing just the sentiment we needed to hear. It's time to end the culture wars and engage in the struggle for true justice. I'm excited to live in a moment when more are receptive to this message.

"The dream of an alternative
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Slavoj Žižek is a Slovene sociologist, philosopher, and cultural critic.

He was born in Ljubljana, Slovenia (then part of SFR Yugoslavia). He received a Doctor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Ljubljana and studied psychoanalysis at the University of Paris VIII with Jacques-Alain Miller and François Regnault. In 1990 he was a candidate with the party Liberal Democracy of Slovenia for P

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