Blesok no. 51, November-December, 2006

The Balkans Outside the Balkanalian Violence of Uni-nationality

Iztok Osojnik

    The current Balkan mess is to a large extent the result of frivolous chauvinistic ideas, which were thought up and offered to the public by Serbian academicians of dubious provenance. These were the people who de-universalised thought, art and creativity, reducing them to narrow, nationalistic and personal nihilism, causing a conflict of selfish interests and expecting that their superhuman power would decide the outcome of this clash in their favour. It turned out, however, that they counted their chickens before they were hatched. In the war of interests that ensued, everyone came out the loser. In view of the recent tragedy, it is quite clear that nihilistic ideals, and the conduct based on them, can only lead to catastrophe which far exceeds the darkest expectations. It is therefore time to reverse the course of events in the Balkans, to pull them out of the circle of conflicts and games of various power-mongers and formulate a new dimension of relations built on understanding and dialogue. What these academicians, these conservative, chauvinistically oriented intellectuals of the old school, cooked up must not only be liberated by us, cultivated outcasts of the “new age”, but also we must transcend it and step out of the circle of basic premises that made this carnage possible. As thinkers, we must offer an alternative that will enable, among all those implicated, the setting up of an area of respect and harmony of differences; an area that will not stand on hollow expectations and utopia, but rather, on those creative points of reference that already exist in the Balkans.

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    What is the meaning of the expression, the Balkans? It means something like an endless green forest or a mountainous country overgrown by a boundless blanket of trees. This was at least the case at the time of the first incursions of the Ottoman Turks into this region. Originally a Turkish word, that means nothing bad. On the contrary. Deep, dark forests sprawling as far as the eye can see, elicit cosmic feelings in a person gazing at them from some lofty peak. Even though in those days, the forest had a different effect on a conqueror who had to struggle to make his way through it. Endless forests presented a difficult obstacle to advancing through the heart of mountainous regions, criss-crossed by deep ravines and wild rivers. The situation was similar to that on the north-western fringe of the peninsula in the Roman times, where on the military road of the Emperor Augustus, at Hrušica (Ad Pirum) and Trojane (Atrans) Roman legions fearfully advanced from Aquileia towards Pannonia (Caruntumom) and further eastward. Today this route is called European Corridor No. 5. But when the Turks arrived, they were not unprepared and ignorant. They knew where they were going – on to Venice and Vienna. And they followed the migration routes of the past. They were neither the first nor the last to come rolling across the mysterious regions. There were many who came before them. Their fate drove them to explore or conquer, so they followed the rivers upstream, deep into the heart of dark ridges. High above the valley floor rose rock faced mountains, providing a grandiose backdrop to the events that shaped history. Inaccessible slopes, overgrown by centenarian trees, provided the stage where was born the history of the world to which we belong. The western world is fatefully marked by the events that took place in the region of “the Balkans”. Although today the term Balkan is the symbol of cruelty, disorder, “the chthonic”, the non-good and primary evil, it in fact designates much more. This is supported by the fact that at the beginning of the modern era, it was precisely by way of the Balkans that ancient knowledge, which to a large extent triggered the Renaissance, returned to the West. We know for example that there were direct links between the painters of Sopočani and Giotto. This would be nothing exceptional, had it not been discovered that the frescoes of Sopočani clearly show perspective, which preceded the famous Renaissance master, who received letters on this subject from there. And the same is true of landscape realism and emotional charge in the wall paintings of Sopočani.
    The Balkans represents a kind of buffer zone between the Western and Eastern civilisation, between the Occident and the Orient. The dividing line between the western and the eastern worlds ran almost right across the middle of the Balkan peninsula, between the western and eastern halves of the Occident, of what we today call the Western civilisation. The roots of this division reach far back into prehistory and it would be difficult to pinpoint its origins. At the southern part of the Balkans was a cradle of the Western civilisation, even though the Greeks today absolutely refuse to be included among the nations and countries of the “Balkan melting pot”. With a kind of perverted logic, they proclaim themselves West Europeans, even though they are traditionally separated from this Europe by several deep differences, which, on the other hand, link them to precisely that environment they are trying to escape. As we look further into the past, we notice that the present ideological image of the world begins to charge; the centre of civilisation begins to shift back to the East; the foundations of today's enlightened and progressive Western world were born and shaped far outside Europe, which was at that time still millennia away from civilisation, a barbarian province which civilisation only gradually adopted and subdued through influences coming from the East. Even as late as the Iron Age – not counting significant technology and the use iron – it would be difficult to compare the standard of living, culture and civilisation between the two worlds. The Illyrians and the Celts cannot be compared on an equal basis with the cultures of east Mediterranean peoples. Stonehenge is laughably small in comparison with Persepolis, Babylon, Damascus, Egyptian cities or Cretan and Minoan palaces. It is true that high civilisation moved from east to west by sea and to some extent bypassed the continental Balkan region, however, Ancient Greeks penetrated into the heart of the peninsula not only along the Adriatic coast but also by following the course of the mighty Ister and other routes. We know for example that Cadmus and Harmonia (changed into snakes), at the end of their lives, took refuge in Illyria, which suggests that the Greeks had links with the peninsula's hinterland. Let us not forget the heroic exploits of the Argonauts and the route they chose to return home. In those times the journey could be compared to the voyage of Columbus two millennia later. They as well charted unknown territory, convinced that the image they had about their world was true. It was of course a false image, but it did help them return as famous explorers who had circumnavigated the world. Columbus as well, following a faulty representation of the world, set sail for India but still achieved something important by crossing an ocean, discovering a new world and returning home. Something completely different and unexpected. And the Argonauts were not the first. A long time before them, unknown bearers of the culture of the Lepenski Vir, the worshipers of the empty goggle of fish, followed the course of the mightiest European river. Ten thousand years later, the goggling was admired by the Argentine writer Julio Cortasar (he however was not fascinated by the carps but by alcolotel). Even today it is still not quite clear how the currents of various progressive cultures or civilisations ebbed and from which direction the overflowing waves of more highly developed worlds invaded the barbarian lands. We are still not certain that Hisarlik was indeed once Troy. There is a fantastic, but plausible explanation, also based on careful reading of the Iliad, which maintains that the meanders of the Scamandros are in fact the ancient forks of the river Neretva near Gabela or the flooded region of Hutovo blato. Zeus, who occasionally came to watch the outcome of the battle between Priam's army and the allies under the supreme command of melodramatic Agamemnon, allegedly did so from the top of Sveti Ilija, the highest peak of the Pelješac peninsula. And his brother Poseidon, after adventurous journeys all over the Mediterranean, parked his chariot in the cave of Modra špilja on the island of Biševo. Even though today we prefer to talk about Greece as the cradle of civilisation and place it in the Balkans in the broader sense of the term, it is not difficult to realise that the definition of present day Balkans has nothing to do with its historic acceptation. It is certainly something that has nothing to do with the shouts of “Thalassa, Thalassa”. The Balkans that we have in mind is that part of the geographic area that does not reach the coast. Even though this was ensured by the allied navies, under the aegis of the United Nations, which prevented civilian victims in the recent wars from obtaining weapons and take up arms against the Belgrade army on an equal footing. The dark green, deep forests, that made such an impression on the Turks, presented an impenetrable mountain labyrinth that every occasional passer-by – that is, all the boisterous tribes that made incursions by land towards the west – avoided by keeping to the river valleys. Only after many centuries of settlement was it possible for people to gradually settle also the remote and inaccessible wilderness and establish a high culture of their own.

But before we take leave of the developed cultures around the Mediterranean, let us take another look at their noble origins, at the forms of life, the destinies and sudden turns of fortune of the people on the Balkan soil during the first centuries of their development. This is the time when the fundamental laws of social and political life, that determine us to this day, took shape. This is the time of myths, a time of transition from the realm of myths to the domain of philosophy. It is an age when the gods took leave of the world and let human beings take over. What we today call classic Greek tragedy still shows us the world of family murders, atrocities, injustices, abuse, betrayals and power games that we encounter in almost no other culture in terms of cruelty. In the heart of our civilisation, like a black hole in the middle of the galaxy, there lies a terrible institutional gesture that gave rise to the new world with violence with which today only anthropologists are concerned. All the rest invoke Socrates, a man who, due to his open cooperation with tyrannical Alcibiades, was found guilty and was self-liquidated. The question that we cannot avoid at this point is whether it is possible to be wise enough not to take part in high and mighty power games, leading to all kinds of criminal acts and similar abuse. May this scruple about the fate and public acts of the first philosopher, for the time being, suffice as an improvised warning. Is it a coincidence that his first disciple (and the founder of the academy) conceived of the idea of the state (politeie), which featured differentiating laws that applied to citizens who were or were not welcome in it? Thus a restrictive politeie governed by exclusivists, the socially privileged, a state of the excluded, based on the principle of excommunication that has been in practice since then on various occasions, and applied to various groups of people (of different sexual orientation, gypsies, ethnic minorities and the like) that do not fit into the dominant framework. And from there to the expulsion of entire populations was only a step. We could say that the world of Ancient Greece contained all the attributes of what three thousand years later we would attribute, as its veiled reflection, only to the events in the Balkans. In fact this is a kind of global basis that is valid for the entire Western world.
    An attentive reader noticed long ago that it is not our intention to pursue a methodical discussion that would systematically expound a hypothesis that was initially only vaguely suggested. Our purpose is more general, as a leading grammarian in this neck of the woods would say. It is not our intention to again, step by step, proof by proof, develop a kind of historical analysis of orgiastic savagery, as the consequence of unbridled pogroms of the human beast, freed of every impediment and every prohibition, i.e., the bacchanalia or even better the balkanalia, in which sparagmos (ritual dismemberment) is no longer a matter of divine high spirits, but the practice of people beyond all ethics, that is, outside that which we call, with almost glassy eyes, civilization. And if we add to this the attribute of tribalism, that is, that mythical primitivism that ruled the world under to the wing of the gods in the “pre-political”, “earthly”, world of ancient fertility mysteries, we arrive at a well-rounded ideological concept, which was used as the officially sanctioned explanation for the Balkan atrocities. The Western world, which swept under the mentioned ideological mat a number of unpleasant details of its own, strongly prefers the displayed image to the original one, which carries an explicitly ecological attribute and which in the Westerner elicits unwelcome reservations about the dangerous and excessive production and emission of toxic substances into the atmosphere, turning similar forests into wilted plantations of terminally ill plants. Particularly if we consider the painful realisation that, without the vast carpets of chlorophyll and solar cells of oxygen, we will no longer be able, already in the near future, to count on an increased consumption of pneumatic pleasures, given the threat of various population growth statistics. This sick joke brings us closer to the universal meaning that it carries in the repressed and ideologically restricted presentation of the Balkans. What only recently seemed impossible soon became obvious. The Balkans is not a concept tied only to the mentioned geographic area, but also refers to something that has far-reaching consequences. To paraphrase the famous slogan about provincialism as a state of mind, the Balkans are a state of the world. What is taking place in the world today is the Balkans as (according to Ivo Urbančič) a “metaphor – meta-phero – the wording of the essence of being, as the essence of being is “transferred” into the word as conceived according to it”. This means that the Balkans is a word which designates/veils the perverted truth of the West, while the West uses it in the ideological sense as the image, which distracts attention away from the true condition of the “western democratic principles”. This Westerner is the Western world as a whole, which is placed, like a mirror on the opposite shore, from where he threateningly wags its finger at the Balkans, a gesture that he should more appropriately turn towards himself. A11 the atrocities that took place in the Balkans are the atrocities that take place within the reach of specific influences of the Western world and point at the hidden, fundamental truths that constitute and lead this world.
    The truths that we encounter in the classic texts of Greek dramas are the truths of our own, contemporary world. In the mentioned ideological meaning, the Balkans represent the exposed core of the Western civilisation. In fact it is no longer hidden since in recent times, tinder the pretext of a crusade for the purest ideals of the Western democracy it is increasingly revealed as the apocalyptic menacing gestures of arrogance and power, which no longer make an effort to hide. Si vis pacem para bellum. Can we today believe this famous dictum any more than in Caesar's times? Not very likely. Where the rattling of weapons is heard under the pretext of peace, not everything is clear. If a column of smoke is rising toward the sky, a fire will flare tip somewhere. If the principle of the strongest dominates as the decisive argument in international relations, then we can safely say that it is time to re-think history, but above all, we must measure the concept of Western democracy with the psychoanalytical yardstick used for psychoses. Not every utterance must be understood at its representative level, but rather, at the level of the overall effect that it creates. The noblest truths of the highest of all civilisations must be understood as ideological hypocrisy which displays/veils the frivolous and mortally dangerous arrogance of self-destructive power and Western violence. If we understand this as that hidden lesson that lies in the repressed core of the ideologised concept of the Balkans as something fundamental and universal, we cannot avoid anguish and worries. A sentence from some novel, essentially saying that the world has become savage, is no longer only a misconception of the main hero about the state of affairs, but a dangerous fact that must serve as a starting point for a serious reflection on how to continue. The fact is – and here we are at the starting point of reflections about the future events in the Balkans – if we think about the future of the Balkans, we cannot avoid thinking about the future of the world.

It is an awkward fact that Milošević in the Hague cannot be accused of crimes he had committed before the signing of the Dayton Agreement, because this would drag into the whirlwind of court procedure and persecution all other signatories of this agreement (e.g., the USA, which since Baker's visit to Belgrade, on the eve of the outbreak of war in Slovenia, played a still unclear role). This speaks of the terrible fact that the perpetrated crimes are a joint act of all players who endorsed the state of affairs with the Dayton Agreement (or imposed conditions on it even before, during the Geneva talks). Dayton, in its very essence, turns the trial in Hague upside down. Will someone also prosecute Sharon for obvious crimes (of state terrorism), which he is committing in the occupied territories under the guise of battling Palestinian terrorists? Can we write down that we doubt the ethically questionable military operations in the occupied territories? We have no intention of becoming entangled in the interpretative loops that skilful doctors of facts (demagogues) and their incompetent local babblers and apologists try to tighten around our neck. The post-modern paradigm of the equivalence of interpretations, in the absence of any kind of truth, can go to the devil for what we care. It is, indeed, perfectly clear that not everything is a matter of interpretation. Behind this planted academic argument, the constraint by force is at work. History, even though it may be in conformity with the present minute elaboration of time into hundredths of seconds and graphs, which present these relations in false magnifications, i.e., the history of the last three seconds or days; the history after “the end of history”, is written by those who have the possibility to publish, inform, supervise, in other words, those who have access to the media. But this cannot be the reason for a sensible man, using his own head, to give up rational thinking and rational conduct, which is not merely selfish and hasty. Do you remember the time when the world of German-speaking “civilised” Westerns was dominated by the ideological discourse of a lad from the Stubaj mountain range named Adolf Siegelgruber. Was it wise at that time to use one's own head? Is it enough, in the broader sense, if a person is converted when political circumstances change, and repents because the false image he identified with and exploited has shattered together with the institutions of power with which he collaborated? Different people give different answers to this question. The strength, of course, lies in the ethical attitude, which differs from the prevailing expectations of the environment, to seek the remains of problematic humanism. And to seek in it, with precise and malicious analysis, the origins of evil which are supposedly crouching in the core of fervent libertinism which refused to join in the balkanalian orgies of the majority.
    Is this indeed the case? What is that fundamental experience that enables an individual to eschew the claws of the basic phantasm of the good West and its uninterrupted, two and a half centuries-long democratic tradition, without falling into the embrace of an even worse terror, as for example Ezra Pound, who, out of repulsion of the hypocrisy of his own environment, thoughtlessly and tragically subscribed to the fascist ideals? Is it still possible to seek the answer in Jesus Christ and in the presence of God's will in man here and now? The question is being asked at the level of personal experience and not at the level of some hollow or erroneous identification with the phantasm that assumes the place of the subject of our thought. It is question which, in the final analysis, calls attention to that fundamental “theological” difference between two of the four religions, present in the Balkans, concerning Jesus Christ as the son of God or as a man who was visited by the Holy Spirit (the other two religions consider him only as a prophet). Let us leave aside the rational explanations and, for a moment, dwell on the kingdom of incognisable experience, which can be labelled religious inspiration. Let us pay homage to our adversary and acknowledge his truth. Let us reach where it is impossible to reach; let us renounce our ignorance and open up to the currents outside. Is it possible to answer in this way the question about a human being, as a social creature, as someone who fairly and properly reshapes his planet? Is it possible to leave out from the circle of creatures the cows, lions, grasses, trees, rivers, clouds and the entire planet as such? What kind of step backward would mean the mentioned inclusion? What is then, in all of this, the place for man who is not satisfied with rowdiness in the football stadium or an unbridled drinking session in the narrow streets of the old part of town? And now the key question: What are the alternatives where the principle of intervention in the course of events may already constitute an act of violence? Can the Balkans represent a world that cast off all the particular basic images of the One, the world outside the One Image and shaped in the interplay of human relations in the field of recognising the other as oneself, that is, in the acknowledgement of someone different from oneself and his equal possibilities, freedom and in the expectation of the same gravity of joining. Therefore, not at the expense of the other but counting on him. Is this enough?
    Let us leave aside, for the time being, the apparent idealism of the above thoughts and concentrate on what is coming toward us. Where can therefore an individual retreat, if he wants to return with his gifts, with those that come from him and are not something vicarious, something foreign which he has appropriated and is now handing over? Because the environment – and at this point we are thinking in practical terms – is not the result of and ideal, consummate history in Hegel's sense (as was proposed by the shameless demagogue of ruthless capitalism. Fukuyama), but rather, a tattered series of retardations and orchestrations of games and arrogance of evil power, which creates the unproductive medium for the events of “istina” (Ancient Greek: aletheia, non-concealment). What does it mean to be alone? Let us descend to the bottom and start with ourselves. Can solitude be a social quality: solitude as a positive experience, reflexively, a kind of social imperative and corrective? The above ideas must be considered outside metaphysics, outside the principles that act, on the whole, as a universal pressure of a unified field, that is, outside the submission to idols and ideologies. Is there anything that would provide a common denominator to the mentioned four religious of the Balkans? For example, something outside religion, a kind of profound atheism outside language, in direct relation with the divine image of here and now (in the language of religion). After all, religions are the domain of man not of God. Everything we call divine, spiritual and so on, can only he a specific personal state of a given individual. Outside an individual's first-hand experience there is nothing. I believe that here we may find a specific point of reference. Not in the sense of o lama, lama sabaktami – Oh God, why did you forsake me – but rather, why should man exclaim and lament at all? To keep silent and further deepen one's silence, because he who remains silent is a specific individual. But this is not the silence about unjust or contemptible matters, about conformism or even conservatism, about submission to false images and supposititious idols. This is a creative silence that gives rise to constructive results.

The Balkans can thus also be a land within, a deep, dark overgrowth in the soul of impenetrable tree crowns, with wild beasts and unsentimental songbirds dwelling underneath. That which endows the term Balkan with meaning takes place within. First within each individual and then multiplied by all individuals and other living beings to the infinite unrecognisability of collective self-recognition drowning in the oceans of misconceptions, illusions, false expectations, despair, anguish, misunderstandings, bottomless images and so on (does Evil exist as such and not as a divergence of Good or as a still unattained Good?). When talking about openness, we have in mind first of all the openness in its basic sense, the openness of infinity without an end, symbolised by the undulating hills and mountains, overgrown with impenetrable forests. However, that which moves into the foreground in the false representation of the Balkans is something that does not fit. The Balkans as a misfit. Thus something that should be different from us who are, hmm, good. Who do not belong to the Balkans. There is a place that is already emerging in us, calling attention to itself with pain, a place where the record player needle is skipping and returning the already played musical fragment to the unfinished melody without a sequel. If we transfer this image into the sphere of practice, we find ourselves in the area of the famous Chinese proverb, which brings into question well-intentioned help: Is it better to simply give fish to the fishermen and their families or should they be taught how to catch them? In the case of the Balkans, we are dealing with donations and not with lessons on how to catch fish (except in the case of fishing in troubled waters). The donation of fish is a blind alley, a dead end, an endless cycle, jumping up and down on the spot, and for this reason this place can never be constituted as a beginning of an independent movement, development and reconstitution. For the Balkans material assistance alone does not mean progress and a return to original conditions, but rather, a suspension in midair, the falling into emptiness. But what can be done? We have already said that things are set up within. It is not enough to concentrate on finding facts and reasons for the actual state of affairs or on interpreting the past. We must find something new, a clean cut; we must transcend it and painfully reach into the fabric of discord that traverses the space of coexistence. That which does not fit is the disorder of empty existence, the existence of waiting and vegetating until things take care of themselves. It is suspension in midair, letting events take their own course, running without head or tail and in this way, without reflection, counting on a kind of natural regulation, a kind of Darwinian evolutionary principle which will spontaneously restore order. Here as well the West plays a decisive role, since it is precisely the intervention of the West that will determine the turn specific events will take. Of course, the West has no idea what to do. And the intermediaries of the entire world are at loss as well. The Balkans are a region of idle run where the regressive course of events has been frozen, but nothing has been done to eliminate the current situation. Which is understandable. Except for a handful of folkloric images of typical Balkan cynicism (e.g. Kusturica and other film makers who dealt with the reality of recent wars in the Balkans), showing people how to grab onto relatively bearable mirror images of themselves, in the face of horrible conditions and unbelievable waves of pain and continue with black humour to infinity, no one seriously tried to think hard and creatively resolve the Balkan riddle. On the contrary. The West babbles about tribal primitivism of the Balkan people (as if, only recently, the Americans in Vietnam, the British and the French in their respective colonies and the Germans and Italians in World War II, for example, did not commit even more disgusting acts).
    The knot is expanding like a black hole, swallowing up more and more people and nations, embroiling them in a tangle of conflicts and radical hatred, due to which even in the most tolerant environments, where a multinational population once lived in harmony, this is no longer possible. Like the crystallizing of water into ice, which occurs instantly throughout the entire volume, as water temperature reaches a critical point, the border between multinational states was suddenly shaped into an infinite network of inner, fractured borderlines, reaching from the fragmented regions and divided cities to the bottom of every individual's soul. Borders are no longer meant to separate specific, nationally pure (cleansed), territories, but rather, represent a fundamental split in each individual, turning him into a kind of “political psychotic”; This is a matter of an acute and dangerous pathology, if not regressive schizophrenia; of the business-as-usual attitude, which eventually turns a person, by jumping up and down on the spot, into his own enemy. The fundamental feature that makes the Balkans “Balkan” is distinction par excellence – limitation as a line of separation in general. The basic tendency is therefore distinction, the fundamental force that dominates and is a centrifugal, destructive line of separation. The field of skipping – before the end of the “melody” – back to some senseless place, which is not the beginning but marks the return loop which, in the process of reconciliation, acts as two approaching magnetic polarities of the same charge – repulsively. At work here is a kind of repelling original pressure that prevents approaching in its very essence. First in the minds and hearts of the people. The reasons for this may not always be known but they are universal in the spirit of already presented Balkanisation, which increasingly applies also to the West as a whole, of which the Balkans are also a part.

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    The essential concept that turns the matter upside down is peaceful coexistence. And a favourable “offer-content” of the Balkans reveals itself in peaceful coexistence. We have in mind the precious treasure of multiculturalism that enriches a person who works and creates outside the field of repulsive skipping in emptiness. The kingdom of differences fragments the violent Only True Image of the world and ennobles it to become a moving crystal of the ever-changing view of the world, a dynamic treasure of different perspectives and contents. This is what enriches a human being as an individual as well as a social being. The multi-perspective aspect is not a way of thinking and being that only rationally recognises the two-dimensional form of co-existence of different social groups or even nations; it in fact creatively builds on the intertwining of all differences within a more comprehensive conglomerate of diverse populations, encompassing different subgroups and reshaping their mutual differences into a more complete origin of each individual or a kind of transcended mutual creative inter-space. It is therefore a nurtured ability that separates human beings as a species from other hominids, for a highly developed culture. This of course does not mean that human beings are worth more than other creatures. In terms of evolution, culture represents a crucial progressive form which does not constitute man as the most powerful beast on this planet, but rather, as an ethical creature – capable of transcending the momentary, selfishly and narrowly understood conditions of his immediate environment. Ethical does not mean moral. I have no intention of waxing philosophical in the conditional tense to refer to happiness. Or to refer to ideal utopias on the basis of which we could formulate a set of conditions to which a future society would submit. Ethical means much more; it is what is already here and exists; it works and distinguishes in practice. Ethical is what makes a human being a social creature who has been, for several million years, successfully coping with the intricate social dynamics of constructive relations that distinguish a civilised society. It is therefore that internal coincidence of the Law and personal freedom, of contentment and happiness, if you will. The acknowledgement of the other's freedom and thereby of one's own freedom. The ethical is thereby that which enables the acknowledgement of the other as a profound personal threshold of individual self-realisation. Because only by allowing the other his personal happiness, can a person achieve self-realisation in the peace of acceptance (also of himself by others). This is called coexistence. In the field of an incessant current of differences, outside the supreme and unified substantive equality. It is the field and not the content that is structured; the law sets up a network of equitable conditions for everyone, regardless of their particular personal, tribal or national stories. The law which is structured on ethical principles of a civilised community and not on a network of privileges, on a single, dominant circle of existence, imposed by the strongest fraction.

This movement is opposed by another, currently dominant trend which we call globalisation, even though it would be wiser to use an older term of neo-colonialism to clearly designate the violent currents of big business and thirst for power, which pushed the contemporary world into a dizzying whirlwind of self-greed and incessant marketable production. The world as a whole is turning into a giant spiral of production and consumerism, where privileged individuals or individual companies succeed by seizing enormous market surpluses which they have to reinvest into the market flows the next moment, otherwise they would evaporate. It is irrelevant how this is done. What matters is to realise that big business has a logic of its own that has nothing to do with human beings. Investment of big capital produces surpluses, which are physically limited, enabling only a relatively small part of the world's population to take advantage of the privileges provided by these surpluses (such as material wealth, health care, educational and similar services). However, the division between the rich and the poor, the successful and the ruined is not a permanent situation. The sphere of riches is not determined and divided once and for all but is swirling wildly and changing constantly. This impermanence and constant insecurity and the arrogance of those who at the moment swim from wave crest to wave crest, shape the dynamic field of power clashes in which the greatest power acts as the decisive principle to which everyone, who is drawn (willingly or unwillingly) into its dynamics, must pay homage. The currents of capital themselves force all those implicated (and that means us all) to fight for the privileges and also watch out for others so they do not gain the same privileges (and overtake us, for example, in the distribution of subsidies for research and other projects). The end effect of this spiral circulation of capital investments and surpluses is the depersonalisation of people, their devaluation as human beings who are drawn into unscrupulous games of violence. This is wonderfully illustrated by the famous Ellis's novel, American Psycho (in the description of an individual's destiny). Or the Star Wars program (at the global level). If we, laymen, try to fathom what is happening behind the scenes of inscrutable corporate projects, we can resort to information, which came out at the fall of the energy giant Elkron, at the partial collapse of the New York Stock Exchange or at the drop in value of the shares of “network companies”. The impression one gets is that companies are increasingly becoming virtual, based on practical machinations and efficient persuasion and lobbying (marketing). In the final phase, it is a matter of pure Balkanisation of the global market, where behind the false fronts of euphemisms and ideological (lobbying) constructs merciless battles are being fought on the chessboard, beyond the ethical (beyond human) sphere of capital flows arid dominant positions. From the very beginning, the Balkans were totally enmeshed in the network of global relations; every little event in this unfortunate peninsula was entirely dependent on the influences and decisions coming from outside. The Balkans were “planetary”: the people's fate of this territory was not decided only by local factors but also by world negotiators and their interrelations. We had to contend with a complementary game which is not easily summarised or grasped in its every detail and aspect. The contemporary, planetary world was involved, developed and happened in the Balkan conflicts. An excellent illustration of this is the trial in the Hague against the war criminal, Milošević, with whom, at the time of the worst crimes – which he sanctioned and decreed – world leaders concluded agreements and negotiated with him as their equal (under the pretext of peace talks). Let us recall all the ideological phrases that were used to describe the violence of one of the most powerful European armies unleashed on a civilian population (which opted for democracy!): civil war, ethnic conflict, religious war, tribal warfare, nationalistic quarrels, clash of civilisations (Christian and Muslim), while forgetting the desire for democratisation. The same language today fills the front pages of world media, while they completely arbitrarily and selectively interpret the current hot sports and conflicts of the planet, measuring by the same yardstick totally different things (the term of terrorism is forced to include everything that at the moment opposes the interests of those who hold power – as they try to justify, for example, the atrocities perpetrated by Sharon on the occupied territories.) But let us not enumerate to infinity what is quite clear. The planetary environment in which human beings are today trying to untie the Balkan knot is, in essence, balkanised, that is, subjected to the forces of violence and domination that fight amongst themselves and recognise only the argument of superiority. International law is forgotten; the world of international relations is again dominated by military, political and economic supremacy. Thus, if we want to offer a constructive alternative to the situation in the Balkans, we must do so within the relations that we call globalisation.

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    Considering the entire matter from this perspective, we see an image divided in two by a certain line. On one side of the line is the kingdom of differences, different cultures, languages and even civilizations, which are synchronous, intertwined to a greater or lesser extent, deeply dependent, but certainly coexisting since time immemorial, representing a reality that cannot be annihilated. On the other side we have the so-called global democracy, proclaiming itself the crown of the world, the most consummate form of an ordered human society and organisation of mutual relations; building its presence on an aggressive, monochromatic uni-culture (dominated by a single language) and excluding the need for dialogue with those who are different or not even acknowledging them. A new division of the world has taken place, which is again based on violence and power. The fact that there are several global systems, i.e., civilisations, which refuse to succumb to the civilisation of democracy, is presented by the West as a necessary evil, as a potential threat of the dark forces or a kind of axis of evil. It presents itself as a progressive party and its aggression as a struggle for best of all possible forms of reality.
    Let us take a closer look at these matters and ask the Balkan question once more, on the basis of the points of departure that are proposed by the blueprint for the new world order. Does this mean that absolute power (military and economic domination) is what should decide the relations among everyone involved? Are we to follow the example of democratic West and leave the leadership and formation of conditions in the Balkans up to the institutions of power, which will forcefully solve the problems of artificially enforced “democracy” and violent interventions of the absolute power of “police”? What the language of power and the use of violence can lead to, was experienced in the Balkans to the very essence. Three million displaced persons, hundreds of thousands of casualties, entire regions devastated, economies in ruins, general hatred and mistrust, the blossoming of organised crime and war profiteering, ravaged homes, destroyed traditional values and a lost battle for everyone. Even Belgrade came off badly and regressed for several decades. Chaos, destruction, eking out a life on the edge of poverty, dependence on outside assistance and so on, and so forth. It is clear this is not a path leading to a solution. War deepened the gaps among people to the point of non-recognition. The pain is great and unbearable; the wound is enormous and it will take very long to heal. A great deal of water will have to flow down the Balkan rivers before the conditions in the Balkans are restored and the primordial green forests again sprawl as far as the eye can see; the forests where many different species of trees grow next to each other, providing shelter for the wealth of life that thrives underneath. But this will happen only on condition that a decisive, fundamental shift takes place, away from the use of violence or imposition of false democracy, a democracy that hides extra-human and extra-ethical domination of the interests of mega-capital, of big business which replaces the insightfulness of the mission with the operative model of commission, as was wittily observed by our friend Janko Rožič.

The mentioned platitude gives the answer. Where danger grows there also grows the solution, wrote a German poet who intensively reflected on the fundamental conditions of the temporal life of a poet as the founder of man worthy of life (and of a wholly constructive social existence). Here opens a crack and it is possible to glimpse a track, as the French philosopher Derrida would put it. The movement of the track means the differential gap in which the movement of the difference is the basic condition for formulating speech in order for the language, as such, to occur. The peaceful coexistence of differences, as a form of creative dialogue, which is being established as such. We must reach where the Balkans act as a field of source points, a field of an individual's consciousness (may it be a Balkanite or a man of the world), which will open up to be “ethically reconstructed”. And this happens and is happening in the field of culture. Here, in this sphere are shaped the primordial images of the world, on the basis of which is shaped the spectrum of the ways of actual coexistence. These diverse images must be given a chance for dialogue, encounter and familiarisation with other images. The possibility for a constructive and fruitful exchange of global ideas must be given. This will attract the most prominent creative people, the visionaries from different walks of life and through them networks of functional communication between different cultural practices will be set up to formulate patterns of the future peaceful coexistence of differences. This will not be built on measuring each other's strength and on the monopolies of violence, but rather, on the recognition, knowledge and understanding of the other and at the same time on the assertion of one's difference, as an equitable expression in the conversation of many. We must redesign the space of dialogue and find every possible form of cooperation in the cultural sphere, which will be followed by all other areas of endeavour (politics, economy and so on). We must realise that culture is not some kind of addition to everyday life and to other spheres of existence; it in fact represents, in the entire pervasiveness of the existential practice with all forms of being in the world, a specific expression of the state of everyone and, at the same time, the possibility of self-correction and creative self-development. A person is what he is because he has a self-corrective faculty, which is manifested through what we call culture. Culture is not a concert of classical music, which only a highly cultivated audience can enjoy. Classical music points to the scope of people who recognise themselves, and the breadth of their expression, in the highly developed articulateness of music. Cultural products are not a useless subsistence of people who have nothing to do, but rather, a materialised, high-level self-understanding that we shaped through hard work in our need for a comprehensive approach to the conditions of our work and life. A cultural product is the indicator and the result of our abilities in our everyday deeds and not a snobbish privilege of the spoiled and the blasé. A clearly discernible trait, which can be recognised in the lack of taste of the nouveau riches, who decorate themselves with exorbitantly expensive, yet worthless kitsch, because they are unable to differentiate between the seed and the weed, clearly shows this. Every age has its Thyrmachionas. They look at the price and think that money, and general envy (inaccessibility), guarantee the quality of the product. They think that culture is a matter of trade marks and not a matter of the product's quality and depth or completeness of personal “aesthetic” experience.
    To sum up, the Balkans are a state and a place where peoples who differ from each other live, and their differences are due to numerous historical, ethnic and other reasons. Essential in the untying of the knot, that was created, is not only material assistance from outside, but also the option to develop civilized forms of productive, peaceful coexistence, which will enable the necessary exchange and cooperation among the different groups of people. This alone can bring about progress and the need for independent creativity. The essence of understanding each other is the respect for being different. Respect means communication, understanding, agreement and acceptance. This is enabled by language and by cultural institutions, which bring together the different languages in productive dialogue. But language is not only a means of communication; it is the entire world (language is the world, said Humboldt), as it appears and occurs in the thoughts and conceptions. One of the primary fields of openness and display of the innermost truth of oneself, as a thought, a conception or an original experience of the other, is literature (poetry). Poetry represents that window where the truth of the author steps into the reader in a very special, “istinit” (logos alethes) way. This of course is not the only area of the revealing speech. Poetry is joined by other arts, philosophy, science and, finally, also by religion, as intimate inspiration and not as an ideology of exclusive, power-hungry institutions. And so on. It is therefore important that, initially, the best individuals, which means the most open, articulated and ethically fulfilled individuals, from various walks of life meet at different forums and begin in-depth discussions on common concerns. Each one brings from his specific original background a treasure, representing a singular future detail in the spectrum of the new, united world, a world made possible by the new joint representation of the world, formulated as a result of such meetings. What would be absolutely necessary at this point is a new “Korčula school”, or a new, permanent, prestigious meeting, which would attract the mentioned individuals from this region. These individuals must be respectable people who have not been compromised, that is, they are not motivated by the thirst for power, personal privileges and chauvinistic or selfish inclinations. Regardless of the various current needs of the dominant world trends it essential for the world to have a place where people can speak out without fear. In this way, they will disturb the prevailing image of the world and elicit the fury and retaliatory action of the demagogues and power-mongers who propagate it. Such a place of “pronouncing the truth” is of priceless significance for the world. And may this happen as a “trace in motion”, as an equiprimordial project, which will take shape only in the course of the events themselves. May it happen as a formal, institutionalised possibility of truth, which is uttered, but not declared, because the truth never utters the last word. The truth is something open that flows. With this possibility of transcendence, we can restore to the Balkans their former traditional world character. We can thus repay the debt that was incurred for us by Serbian and other similar academics. And let time show that we were in the right.

Translated by Marjan Golobič

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