Zizek gives guest lecture at Kobanê University: “You Kurds are my model”

Slavoj Zizek gave a guest lecture at Kobanê University. The lecture met with lively international interest.

Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek gave a guest lecture at Kobanê University in Rojava on Sunday evening. The lecture, entitled "Is Democracy Still an Option Today?" was part of a series of academic events at the university that will be held throughout the year. The lecture, which was conducted in an online format, attracted considerable international interest. The event with Slavoj Zizek was organized by Kurdish anthropologist Dr. Sardar Saadi and was moderated by sociologist Dr. Engin Sustam.

Passages from Zizek's lecture read as follows:

“You Kurds established an actually existing utopia with an intellectual community. You are a symbol not only to resist but to establish a new order.

With some exceptions, like you Kurds, ‘the people’ is more and more divided and no longer exists in liberal democracy. The task of a revolution is not only to represent the people but to make the people aware of what they want.

We should not ask for a better functioning of what is here, we should try to invent a better world.

Ideology is not an abstract system of values. Ideology is inscribed in your daily practices. How we marry, how we eat, how we love. This is ideology.

A good leader does not give orders. But hope. Like Bernie Sanders sitting there on inauguration day and simply giving hope.

You cannot solve the crisis today with big elections. Elections work when a certain solidarity is already here, we may oppose each other but we accept basic rules. This is not something we can imagine today.

Liberal democracy presupposes a basic social pact. Something specific, like Hegel pointed out, everyday customs. This is what keeps a society together. Rules, but the unwritten rules. This is exactly what is dissolving today, and this is what causes the crises.

In your part of the world, things are more civilised. We here in Europe and the United States are the barbarians.

I don’t believe in objective truth. But this does not mean, all truths are equal.

The struggle against antisemitism and the struggle for Palestinian rights are two sides of the same truth.

When the Americans abandoned you, when you were accused by anti-imperialists of working with the Americans, remember?! This is the basic lie, embodied in your case. A fundamental truth does not mean everybody has to sacrifice their lives for it.

The basic lesson of Marxism that you Kurds embody. Truth is not neutral in a country where there is oppression. You can only formulate truth from the position of those most radical in that country, those most oppressed. Truth is an engaged category.

You the Kurds are my model. Because we have to build a new universalism. You are a miracle (...) Yes, democracy is still of use, but it has to be reinvented."