Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek has given an online lecture at Kobani University, saying that Europe and the United States should learn to rethink democracy from the Kurds.
"Democracy is still of some use, but it will have to be radically reinvented. We have to rethink what we mean by democracy today and I will not teach you, we should all learn from you," Zizek said on April 18.
The philosopher praised the Kurds for "building an actually existing utopia."
"The moment you Kurds were given the space to breathe freely outside the constricts of the states around you, you surprised the world," Zizek said. "You quickly built a society that one cannot but designate as an actually existing utopia with a thriving intellectual community."
"You are more than a symbol of resistance, you are a symbol of how not only to resist but then to install, experiment with and build a new order. This is what is needed today," he added.
Quoting Israeli intellectual Yuval Noah Harari, Zizek said that democratic elections can only take place when "a certain solidarity is here."
"People feel bound by democratic elections only when they share a basic bond with most other voters. If the experience of other voters is alien to me, and if I believe they don't understand my feelings and don't care about my vital interests, then even if I am outvoted by a hundred to one I have absolutely no reason to accept the verdict," Zizek cited Harari.
"I think this is happening today. I think this may be one of the roots of the crisis of liberal democracy. People like to say democracy implies differences, yes but differences against the background of a basic pact," Zizek noted, before giving President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Turkey as an example.
"Like with you, the Kurds. You can't say the solution is [to hold] big democratic elections in all of Syria and Turkey. Yes, it would be nice, but I can well imagine - I don't know this is a pure hypothesis - in Turkey, Erdoğan mobilizing the crowd against you, presenting you as the intruders and so on. Again, elections work when a certain solidarity is already here. We may oppose each other but we accept the basic rules," he said.
'You are a miracle'
The Slovenian philosopher also deemed the Kurds "a miracle."
"The basic lesson of Marxism that you embody is that truth is not neutral in a country where there is oppression. Truth is not an objective category. We have to build a new universalism. You the Kurds are my model, not because you are interesting small guys who somehow reasserted your identity. No, you interest me because you are a miracle," Zizek said.
"Because of crazy geopolitical games, you are like salami sliced into Turkish part and Greek part and so on. Nobody is allowed to dismiss you [by saying], 'Oh that particular problem. Let's not think about that.' We will live in a freer world where what is happening to you could no longer happen. That's important," he added.