The book’s structure is unusual. Žižek and Horvat have written short alternating commentary chapters on a wide range of issues. Their contributions are ‘bookended’ by a foreword and a chapter by Tsipras, as well as by an account of a conversation between the three at the 6th Subversive Festival in Zagreb in May of last year.
Horvat’s contributions have a strong Balkan flavour; he reflects on such issues as Croatia’s accession to the EU, anti-immigrant feelings in Croatia, and the rise of Golden Dawn in Greece. His somewhat subversive critical approach questions the dominance of neo-liberal ideas and the EU as a source of truth on good governance. Žižek’s contributions reflect similar underlying values and shed light on the many contradictions of contemporary Europe. His commentaries range from the decline of democracy to paedophilia in the Catholic church and to the need for a ‘Margaret Thatcher of the Left’. Tsipras is, unsurprisingly, highly critical of the reforms being demanded of the Greek economy as part of EU bail-outs, but his alternative solutions are sketchy at best. Hugo Chavez is a model for him, and he falls short of offering concrete ways forward.
This book is clever in that it makes effective use of humour, and draws parallels with movies, history and so on. But its real weakness is that, whilst critical subversion can diagnose Europe’s problems, more is needed to provide a sustained prescription for all the ills identified. “What does Europe want” is a crucial question, but even on its own critical and left-wing terms, the book doesn’t contribute much by way of answers.