[spectre] The spectre of the "east" still haunts us....
epk at xs4all.nl
Thu Dec 16 22:27:57 CET 2004
Im affraid I need to pour some oil on the fire.
It is interesting to see that the simplest expression of personal
interest in an unfolding social / political situation as we see now in
Ukraine, is again immediately framed as a conspiratorial institutional
gesture within an undead east / west imaginary. This imaginary is not
only highly counter-productive, but also is a sinister instrument of
divisionism. It serves exactly that institutional agenda of the
"establishment" that was supposed to be under attack in the reaction of
luc to my little posting on this list about the situation in the Ukraine.
Imaginaries such as east/west, communist/capitalist,
protestant/catholic, muslim/wetsern, serve mainly one purpose: to keep
people divided, to prevent them from constructing lasting and productive
colllaborations that cut across ideological and political dividing
lines, and thus deny the dominant power structure - even if they only
create temporary and utterly marginal spaces of difference.
Furthermore, these divisionist imaginaries posit false dichotomies and
antagonsims. For instance the dichotomy muslim/western is utterly absurd
if I look out of my window in the hyper-multicultural neighbourhood I
live in, where mix and hybridity define the outlook of the street, the
people, the street culture, the language, behaviour, food, shops,
clothes, houses - all is mix over here. This is not to say that
conflicts do not exist or do not emerge - the murder of filmmaker Theo
van Gogh happened just a few blocks away from where I'm writing right
now, but the supposed antagonism is a sheer absurdity, yet it performs a
clear (and sinister) political function.
When during the preparations of Next 5 Minutes 4 somebody in the
international editorial team (not me at first) proposed a debate on the
topic of "enduring post-communism", intense discussion immediately broke
out. The notion was derogative, out of place, out-dated, insulting, the
wrong framing of a very complex series of poltical, social and cultural
changes that cannot be captured within such a singular and simplistic mould.
I would agree to much of that criticism, but still we saw a whole set of
conditions that seemed to persists, and extended the so-called phase of
post-communism. But how far? Into infinity...?
This was not just a mental construction, but also a question of
infrastructures, financial mechanisms, dependencies, unwillingness of
local authorities to take responsibility for basic needs of society,
enduring corruption, unchanged power structures, etc etc...
It lead to one of the most interesting debates of the festival, probably
because it touched on issues that had remained sensitive, that many of
us involved in the festival and the wider field of media culture were
most eager to get beyond, but that continued to haunt us like a spectre
of the former "east"....
Yesterday I was very happy to see also a remarkably different reaction
come in from people who are actually trying to do something (at least
something) right now. But I must say that I was suprised once again by
the virulence of this old imaginary that we cannot seem to escape.
I have no suggestion what to conclude from this, I'm simply amazed,
intrigued maybe even more....
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