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Slavoj Zizek: Steve Bannon's Brussels plans threaten Europe's liberal legacy

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Recently, it has been widely reported that Steve Bannon plans to establish a group to coordinate right-wing nationalist populists all around Europe. Based in Brussels, "The Movement," as the body is called, will research and write policy proposals, commission polling, and share expertise on messaging and data targeting. It already employs 80 people and its ultimate goal is nothing less than to radically change the political landscape of Europe, by sidelining the liberal consensus and replacing it with my-country-first anti-immigrant nationalism.

Right now, US public opinion is obsessed with alleged Russian meddling into their electoral process – but just imagine if Putin were to send someone to Washington to act like Bannon in Brussels. Thus, here we encounter the old paradox: the separatist forces of disunity are better at establishing their transnational unity than the forces of international solidarity. No wonder liberal Europe is in a panic.

We are bombarded by the idea that today, in the early 21st century, the precious liberal legacy of human rights, democracy and individual freedoms is threatened by the explosive rise of "fascist" populism, and that we should gather all our strength to keep at bay this threat. This idea should be resolutely rejected on two levels. First, populism didn't hit Earth like a comet (as Joschka Fischer wrote about Donald Trump): its rise is more like a crack in the earth, a flow of lava streaming out – and it is the result of the disintegration of the liberal consensus and the inability of the Left to offer a viable alternative. The first step in fighting populism is, therefore, to cast a critical glance at the weaknesses of the liberal project itself – because populism is a symptom of this weakness.

Second and more important, the real danger resides elsewhere. The most dangerous threat to freedom does not come from an openly authoritarian power, it takes place when our unfreedom itself is experienced as freedom. Since permissiveness and free choice are elevated into a supreme value, social control and........

© RT.com