Furthermore, when we talk about anti-imigration measures, about the diferent forms of immigrant exclusion, and so on, we should always bear in mind that anti-immigration politics is not directly linked to capitalism or the interests of capital. The free circulation of labor is, on the contrary, in the interests of big capital, since cheaper immigrant labor will put pressure on "our own" workers to accept lower wages. And is outsourcing not also now an inverted form of employing immigrant workers? Resistance against immigrants is primarily the spontaneous-defensive reaction of the local working classes who (not wholly unjustifiably) perceive the immigrant worker as a new kind of strike-breaker and, as such, as an ally of capital. In short, it is global capital which is inherently multiculturalist and tolerant.
You cannot have a living democracy in this pure multiculturalist liberal dream.
First of all, neoliberal economists are completely for open borders, in so far as that’s possible. Friedman said years ago that, “You can’t have a welfare state and open borders,” but of course the point of that was “open the borders, because that’ll kill the welfare state.” There’s a good paper you can get off the web by Gordon Hanson, commissioned by whoever runs Foreign Affairs, and the argument is that illegal immigration is better than legal immigration, because illegal immigration is extremely responsive to market conditions.
So it’s quite striking that you have all this protesting against illegal immigration, and especially at a time when it’s down. So why are people so upset about it? They are upset about it not because it has gotten worse, it hasn’t, but because they somehow recognize that one of the primary sort of marks of the triumph of neoliberalism in the U.S. is a very high tolerance of illegal immigration, and that illegal immigration is the kind of ne plus ultra of the labor mobility that neoliberalism requires.
Note the difference between Zizek's pseudo-argument by racist innuendo which delights his audience and Walter Benn Michaels' structural analysis which infuriates them. In Zizek's rant, "immigrants" are just cheaper, by nature, cheaper even in conditions of "free circulation of labour". These "immigrants" are everywhere immigrants, even when living and working in the country of their birth. That is "immigrant" is serving as at once description and euphemism - we are to understand the cheap immigrants do not include Zizek himself. These cheap immigrants are simply a vision of a lower race, a cheaper people with a culturally lower standard of living no matter where they are or what their situation - primitives in comparison to the "white working class". In contrast, WBM argues that it is the condition of illegality, imposed on people - that is, not the free circulation of labour that Zizek fatuously evokes as preferable for capital, but the restrictions on labour movement while capital freely circulates that really is to the advantage of capital - with all its insecurities and pressures, that makes immigrant labourers cheaper. Moreover, Zizek is stressing, with appeals to emotion, a competition between these cheaper foreigners and the "white working class", emphasising the threat and damage the former - figured as scabs - pose to the latter. WBM, in contrast, does not even concede this mechanism, a fantasy of Zizek's xenophobic mythology, but is instead describing the way capital uses illegal immigration to regulate its supply of labour. That is, WBM foregrounds the conflict between labour and capital, while Zizz in his neofascist manner foregrounds one between natives and immigrants, racialised, and asserts, in the tradition of political anti-semitism, the existence of an alliance between immigrant workers and capitalists against "our" "local working classes".
WBM's taking up of a similar topic but making a crucially distinct point - which additionally is stated with clarity and precision (so that he cannot evade responsibility for his assertions and for the considerable quantity of simply unfactual history embedded as assumptions) - threatens to disturb the function of the minstrelsy of Zizek's racist, pseudo-leftist rant, which relies on a confusion of the reality WBM refers to (the uses of illegal economic immigration to capital) and on the increasing acceptability of the prevarication and equivocation of propagandistic discourses as practised by the Zizz. The very existence of WBM's remarks, in which he can be specific and clear, and distinguish legal immigration from illegal, threatens the Zizzian project which involves naturalizing a style of punditry whose cageyness and evasiveness is seen as a merit, allowing the author to refuse all interpretations and all responsibility both for her enunciations and for their implications. WBM writes in an adult and educated style which assumes responsibility for its content. The principle project of Zizzianism is to popularize a style which allows for the propagation of odious and patently fallacious content with the provision of various built-in alibis such as "sloppiness", ambiguity through vagueness, and floating "irony".*
Today’s celebration of “minorities” and “marginals” IS the predominant majority position. … take those critics of patriarchy who attack it as if it is still a hegemonic position, ignoring what Marx and Engels wrote more than 150 years ago, in the first chapter of The Communist Manifesto: “The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations.” – is still ignored by those Leftist cultural theorists who focus their critique on patriarchal ideology and practice. Is it not the time to start to wonder about the fact that the critique of patriarchal “phallogocentrism” etc. was elevated into a main target at the very historical moment – ours – when patriarchy definitely lost its hegemonic role, when it is progressively swept away by market individualism of Rights? What becomes of patriarchal family values when a child can sue his parents for neglect and abuse, i.e., when family and parenthood itself are de iure reduced to a temporary and dissolvable contract between independent individuals? (And, incidentally, Freud was no less aware of this: for him, the decline of the Oedipal mode of socialization was the historical condition of the rise of psychoanalysis.) In other words, the critical statement that patriarchal ideology continues to be today’s hegemonic ideology IS today’s hegemonic ideology – its function is to enable us to evade the deadlock of the hedonist permissiveness which is effectively hegemonic.
There is almost a kind of liberal nostalgia for the time in which anti-racism wasn’t so mainstream in American society. Today we’re living in a deeply anti-racist society ... officially committed to anti-racism ... which you can tell when Glenn Beck thinks it’s a good idea to couch his criticism of Obama by calling Obama a “racist.” It’s the killing word to say to anyone. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t still racism, it means that there is an important sense in which anti-racism is absolutely the official ideology because no one can imagine themselves to be committed to racism.
A further difference is that after delivering the old Golovinski-Schmitt "critique of liberalism" which Zizz has attempted to brand as his nostrum, WBM issues plainly sincere calls for a renewal of militant working class praxis aiming at redistribution of wealth which he in his bigotry and ignorance imagines to be obstructed or distracted from by feminism, anti-racism and other concrete working class struggle** while Zizek, with his Goebbelsian cynicism and cunning, his propagandistic weave of innuendo, insinuation and provocation, is only trying to recharge stereotypes and reactionary mythology***, defame leftist public intellectuals, incite/justify pogroms against Roma, and perhaps convince his privileged white male audience to assert their supremacy harrassing women and calling their African-American colleagues by the n-word. Or at least to dream and now and then boast of doing so. And sell all this processed as naughty titillating entertainment commodities to a slice of clerks.
In 1947—seven years before the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, sixteen years before the publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique—the top fifth of American wage-earners made 43 per cent of the money earned in the us. Today that same quintile gets 50.5 per cent. In 1947, the bottom fifth of wage-earners got 5 per cent of total income; today it gets 3.4 per cent. After half a century of anti-racism and feminism, the US today is a less equal society than was the racist, sexist society of Jim Crow. Furthermore, virtually all the growth in inequality has taken place since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1965—which means not only that the successes of the struggle against discrimination have failed to alleviate inequality, but that they have been compatible with a radical expansion of it. Indeed, they have helped to enable the increasing gulf between rich and poor.
The mass entry of women into the workforce has corresponded with an overall stagnation or diminution of wages. It is as if employers have taken the very worst aspects of women's work in the past – poorly paid, precarious, without benefits – and applied it to almost everyone, except those at the very top, who remain overwhelmingly male and incomprehensibly rich.
This is equality as a race to the bottom.
Not only does the Zizzian author refuse to articulate unequivocally the relationship she evisions between the phenomena she presents in proximity as somehow linked (to enable later refusal of responbsibility for implying any connection between women in the workforce and the stagnation or diminution of wages that "correspond"), we are even invited, by the adolescent, silly, faintly sarcastic tone, to excuse the fallaciousness of the concluding assertions regarding this connection on the grounds that we must suspect the author doesn't know what a "race to the bottom" is but is just parroting some authority she has not understood.
** And, second, multiculturalism and diversity more generally are even more effective as a legitimizing tool, because they suggest that the ultimate goal of social justice in a neoliberal economy is not that there should be less difference between the rich and the poor—indeed the rule in neoliberal economies is that the difference between the rich and the poor gets wider rather than shrinks—but that no culture should be treated invidiously and that it’s basically OK if economic differences widen as long as the increasingly successful elites come to look like the increasingly unsuccessful non-elites. So the model of social justice is not that the rich don’t make as much and the poor make more, the model of social justice is that the rich make whatever they make, but an appropriate percentage of them are minorities or women. -
*** "Furthermore, the liberal-multiculturalist’s opposition to direct racism is not a mere illusion whose truth is the protection of racism: there is a class-coded dimension in it ... directed against (white) working class fundamentalism/racism/antifeminism."