"Europe's future must be like the Ottomans"

The October 2nd issue of Radikal included the second part of an interview with Slavoj Zizek. I stumbled across it because a friend from the summer posted the link on Facebook. It seemed like an interesting exercise in translation. Building on a comparison between debates in Turkey about the status of Kurds and ongoing debates about imperialism, Zizek replies:
The issues here are related to the measure to which you will be able to achieve cultural and political autonomy. In my opinion, the Ottomans, by permitting local autonomy during and prior to the 19th century, did something correct; from today’s perspective I feel a sympathy for the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires, which are considered two of the 19th century’s multinational empires. Because they were successful in understanding how to be democratic and very cultured. There was no internal need for their dismemberment. They were dismembered because larger countries started to act. Russia confronted the Austrian Empire in order to take Eastern Europe and the Ottoman Empire for the Mediterranean. It requires our not seeing these two empires automatically as having degenerated. Empires collapsed with the First World War and in exchange for the collapse of Turkey and the Austro-Hungarian Empire the Second World War happened… Also in Turkey there are things that will be criticized, but I also remember that when I was a child, going to school in a primary school in Yugoslavia, it was taught to us that the Serbs who resisted the Turkish occupation were a heroic nation. I also began to read with interest about that topic. I learned that the Turkish occupation like we learned about in school wasn’t scary. There was a more open-minded and tolerant administration. Today we are correctly going to this type of country that possesses this more cultured formula. These paradoxical European models, maybe all of Europe, today must take on the shape of the Ottoman or Austro-Hungarian Empires!
All errors in translation are, of course, mine. You can find the Turkish version here.


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