For us Slovenes, we were part of the Austrian Empire, we are the European civilization, and the Croats are already the primitive Balkans. For the Croats, they are Catholics, civilized, and the Serbs are Orthodox, primitive. And it goes on! For Serbs, they are the last fortress of Europe and some Bosnians, Albanians — they're primitive and so on. But you know, the comedy goes on. For Austrians, we Slovenes are already barbarian and it's them who are the last frontier. For the Germans, the Austrians are already too mixed, they are the civilised ones. For the French, the Germans are barbarian, strange. Here I prefer the Englishmen, who think all the continental Europe is like big Balkans — ridiculous, full of confusions... They are the true ones. It is quite comical, this obsession of being the last frontier, like "we defend"...
Vladimir: Once you've said that Europe is the only place, where the enlightenment project is proceeding.
Žižek: No, I'm well aware of what shit Europe is now, I can see this. A series of fiascos has hit Europe. The first fiasco is the immigrants. I don't agree with those leftists who think we should just open ourselves to immigrants. No, I am very open, but I still think — oh my God, I will sound like a right-winger, some leftist could lynch me for that [Laughs] — that this wave of immigrants wasn't simply "one million people decided to go to Europe". You know, not all, but some of these immigrants, they do get a little bit possessively violent. [...]
But you know what really is a sad thing? I often go to Israel, to the West Bank, to Palestinians — and you have such Zionist Orthodoxy now in Israel! For example — I quote this in one of my books — recently the big rabbi of the Israeli army said that it says in the Ancient Talmud (or wherever) that when the Jewish army occupies a territory, their soldiers have the right to rape local women. It was a scandal, but he remained the top rabbi. Now, you know, if an Arab were to say this, they would say: "Ooh, ISIS, fundamentalism..." and so on. It is very weird to hear modern day Israelis arguing in a direct religious way that one would expect more from the Muslims. Like, if you ask them: "Why do you have the right to the West Bank? Okay, you did lose that territory, but that was 2 thousand years ago and the Romans did this, not Muslims," — they simply say: "No! The Bible says that the territory is ours. End of debate." It is very sad that this type of reasoning is permitted.
So I have no illusions, but what I do like in Europe is that it did try to build some kind of a transnational above nation-state political block which should take care of common subminimal human rights or whatever and so on. It is failing now, I admit. The first failure was the refugees, and the second is that Brussels authorities totally capitulate to what I call now the new axis of evil. You know, countries like Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, now also Austria — these new anti-immigrant racist populists who are taking over there up to Baltic countries. I didn't tell you a wonderful anecdote — it really happened about half a year ago. This is not a private rumor from some cafeteria. I think it was Latvia or Estonia maybe. To defend them from Putin or whatever, the USA symbolically sent 3 battalions of their soldiers as NATO help. Then the Ministry of Defense sent an official note to NATO to discover that some of these American soldiers are black. And when this aroused, it negatively excited the local population. So "could they please send soldiers who are not black" and so on.
These Baltic countries are interesting. Here's what some people admitted to me when I was in Vilnius: when they were in the Soviet Union, not only did they have a little bit higher standard of living as for the USSR but also even a little bit more intellectual freedom. For example, in social sciences (not in natural sciences, where it was different) the Soviet Union did not have a lot to offer, but they did have 2-3 things. One of them was that philosopher who's even now well-read, Ilyenkov — he is seriously taken even now — he was not just another apparatchik philosopher. He was very interesting. He was simply a Marxist, and this brought him so many troubles that he basically fell into alcoholism and killed himself in the 1970s. The other thing, you know, is the Semiotic School, Yuri Lotman, all of them. They were seriously read, but it was typical, it was not in Moscow, they wouldn't be tolerated there. It is the same with Parajanov in Georgia. The movies he was making there could be made because he was there...
Armen: On the outskirts.