[Marxism] Zizek, Critchley, "open borders" and finite/infinite demands

Ruthless Critic of All that Exists ok.president+marxml at gmail.com
Mon Jun 30 19:45:07 MDT 2008

I know I am risking the ire of Mike Friedman and others by raising
this question, but I think this question is an important one and Zizek
has a very interesting point about this that is worth discussing.

Is "open borders now" a demand Marxists should be making?

(Of course, it's an irreproachable demand).

A recent article from the ISO said, "The slogan "No one is
illegal" is not merely a moral imperative, but one based on the idea that so
long as workers allow themselves to be pitted against each other, so long
will they remain weak, exploited victims of capitalism."

But if border controls were removed, so many workers from elsewhere
would immediately move to the USA that US workers' wages would still
plummet down even more from current levels.

"Open borders" is an "infinite demand" (in the terminology of the
debate between Zizek and Critchley -- see

I think the question remains open: should we as leftists raise
"infinite" demands, or "finite" demands? I have not been able to make
up my mind on this question.

I think Zizek in his new book makes a pretty convincing case in favor
of raising "finite" demands. Zizek has written:

"The lesson here is that the truly subversive thing is not to insist
on 'infinite' demands we know those in power cannot fulfil. Since they
know that we know it, such an 'infinitely demanding' attitude presents
no problem for those in power: 'So wonderful that, with your critical
demands, you remind us what kind of world we would all like to live
in. Unfortunately, we live in the real world, where we have to make do
with what is possible.' The thing to do is, on the contrary, to
bombard those in power with strategically well-selected, precise,
finite demands, which can't be met with the same excuse."


What do people think of Zizek's argument?

More information about the Marxism mailing list