Stathis Kouvelakis served on the central committee of Syriza, and currently teaches political theory at King’s College London. Here he makes the case for a revolutionary universalism in light of the institutionalised racism in Western society.
On 25 May 2016 a meeting was held in opposition to ‘the escalating Islamophobia and attacks on civil liberties’ as well as the ‘securitarian, militarist, racist and ultra-neoliberal onslaught’ driven by the current government. The meeting was called by numerous activist networks and organisations who identify with ‘political anti-racism’, and it took the form of a ‘public trial’. The ‘accused’ had to respond to the ‘indictment’ levelled by Nacir Guénif-Souilamas in the role of ‘president of the tribunal,’ aided by Omar Slaouti in the role of ‘attorney-general’. Called to the stand, Stathis Kouvelakis had to answer for his ‘inability to understand French universalism in the slightest’.
Following the tragic Orlando massacre at a gay nightclub, both New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called for a return to “the spirit of 9/12,” a reference to a dark period of racism, surveillance, and state sanctioned Islamophobia after the September 11th attacks. In the United Kingdom, instances of xenophobia and Islamophobia have reportedly surged following the EU referendum, leaving migrants and minorities, particularly Muslim women, vulnerable to attack and discrimination. As events unfold and the "Brexit" debates continue, we present a reading list of key titles that shed light on the origins of Islamophobia and ways we can organize to fight it.
According to the philosopher Jacques Rancière, a number of so-called French ‘republican’ intellectuals have been opening the door to the Front National for some time now. In an interview with Éric Aeschimannm, Rancière shows how universalist values have been perverted to the benefit of xenophobic discourse.