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Institut za Europske i Globalizacijske Studije

Institute for European and globalization studies

Institute for European and Globalization Studies




Second Modernity

Anđelko Milardović


The time in which we live is marked by evergrowing influence of knowledge, information and technology, globalism and globalization as a new integration of the world at the turn of the century. It can be denoted as the postmodern condition (Jean-François Lyotard: The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge,1979.), second modernity (Zweite moderne; Ulrich Beck) or liquid modernity (Zygmunt Bauman). Technologies have considerably induced a huge modern transformation of the world, which is a continuation of modernization carried on by the global risk society. The age of the network society has begun (Manuel Castells). The communist empire has collapsed in the political arena, process of transition has started, (simulated) democracy, postdemocracy and neoliberal globalization have won the battle and a brand new geopolitical picture of the world has been created. Global players following ideas of second modernity have influenced reconstruction of various world regions. The Balkans, by all means, present an everlasting problem among different world regions. In context of the reflexive modernization theory, the Balkans are seen as a perpetual source of political/war risk and, above all, signified by the second anti-modernity. Its reconstruction in the age of globalization has turned out to be unfinished. And who knows how long will this process last? Mainly because of forces and interests of global players such as Great Britain, Germany, Turkey, USA and Eurasian Russia. These are the players which cast their eyes on the Balkans. Francis Fukuyama's theory of the end of history has suffered failure in the case of the Balkans. Conservative Samuel P. Huntington (The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order) has been closer to anticipating what will happen in the Balkans with his macropolitical ideology of the clash of civilizations. I shall start with the thesis that global players involved in our story are protagonists of social reconstruction of new social reality in the Balkans led by intricate mechanisms from centres of global power, affiliations with servile and unimaginative loyal governments, media, civil society and propaganda industry which, in postdemocratic condition, aims at sheer production of consent instead of public debate. We shall begin this discourse with a joyous deconstruction of various political concepts of reconstruction of the Balkans in the age of globalization from position of purposive and value/belief-oriented rationality (Max Weber). With regard to previously singled out two types of social action, there is no lack of affectual and traditional action in the Balkans. Moreover, we can even talk about a surplus of affectual and traditional action, beyond measure and to an extreme degree. So, let us begin with a joyous deconstruction of reconstructional attempts concerning the Balkans which I perceive as the power of play against power play.

Western Balkans as power play, western balcony as the power of play

The Balkans are an unpredictable area. It represent a history of troubles, problems, abrupt changes in the style of blood and honey and the powder keg of Europe in the 20th century. And then somebody, in the age of globalization, came up with an idea that it should be westernized. Suddenly the Balkans in the East (Orient) has become the Balkans in the West or Western Balkans, practically overnight ( Political and geographical concept of Western Balkans was presented in EU heralds 1998-2000. Such concept included Yugoslavia minus Slovenia plus Albania. It has remained in the political discourse until this day as a pure power play of global players or its new social (re)constructors. I have opposed the concept of Western Balkans, as an anthropological category along the lines of the game theory, with an alternative concept of the western balcony from which we can more clearly perceive Western Balkans (more in: Anđelko Milardović: Zapadni balkon. Fragmenti o politici Zapada. Centar za politološka istraživanja, Zagreb, 2009.). The metaphor of western balcony is based upon the idea of the power of play in relation to power play of global players!

Southeastern Europe

Reconstructors of the Balkans started to use a milder term ''Southeastern Europe'' in their public discourse after they had seen that in some parts of the so-called Western Balkans existed a strong revolt against such a concept. The term is nowadays used by the current president of the Republic of Croatia KGK, the new ''Queen of the Balkans'' - from Srebrenica, who, in her outpour of tenderness towards this part of the world, stated that the region of Southeastern Europe is ''our common home'', which shows a considerable deviation from the discourse used in her presidential campaign. Is it only an impression that, as time goes by, ''the Queen of the Balkans'' falls more and more into rough ''regional'' arms? But let us return to the topic of the presentation after this short digression!

Political and geographical concept of Southeastern Europe is much wider in relation to Western Balkans. It encompasses Balkan countries which are not members of the EU (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Republic of Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia) as well as Bulgaria and Romania which are members of the EU. The Republic of Croatia is sometimes put into this group, as a member of the EU, according to certain needs and political imagination, although it is predominantly Central European and Mediterranean and only fragmentary border country with its its sides turned towards the Balkans. These are three marks of Croatian cultural identity. Southeastern Europe is perceived as one of the focal regions of Europe and Eurasia. In relation to new geopolitical rearrangements and sudden waking up of Russian bear from its winter sleep, this part of the world has become interesting to Putin's Russia which tries to penetrate into the West via Southeastern Europe, the same as the West tries to penetrate through the gates of Moscow via Ukraine. The accent is being put on different techniques of penetration! Freud's psychoanalysis (of penetration) of the West and Russia could provide interesting answers to the topic of relationship between psychoanalysis and politics or psychoanalysis of politics with ideas of power and potency or ''masculine fantasies''.

Yugosphere or reveries of a goodwilled Englishman and nothing else

Then, in A.D. 2009., one Englishman, the aforementioned Tim Judah, wrote an article Entering the Yugosphere which was published in The Economist. He took stance as an advocate of Yugosphere, yet another concept of reconstruction of the Balkans in the age of globalization. His thesis was that Yugosphere would arise after breakup of Yugoslavia. The Republic of Croatia was getting ready to enter the EU when the Gospel according to Tim announced the good news. Tim Judah wrote about full-scale connections in the area of the former Yugoslavia and new Balkan oligarchies positively reacted to such a concept. To be fair, Judah also mentioned at one point Central European association in form of the Visegrad Group, which is abhorred by the government of the Republic of Croatia and avoided like plague because, even nowadays, it cannot unstick itself from Yugosphere and ''Region'', although the Republic of Croatia is formally part of the eurosphere, which, in my opinion, leads to a sheer political schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. On the level of ideational conscience, the concept of Yugosphere should be opposed to the concept of eurosphere. Just after Croatia entered eurosphere (EU) in 2013. a new political religion called the ''Region'' was born.

The ''Region'' or a new political masquerade

Among various concepts of reconstruction of the Balkans under the influence of protagonists of globalization a concept of the ''Region'' has emerged. It is a political neologism which we can better understand with the help of semiotics of space and politics. On denotational level ''region'' refers to a part of a wider geographical area with some recognizable identity. On connotational level it refers to publicly unrevealed area of former Yugoslavia which is factually comprised of newly created states. Some of them, like Croatia and Slovenia, are full members of the EU while reliquiae reliquiarum of the ''Region'' will have to wait for a long time until they become members because of the crisis in the EU and anti-modernity processes. Why is the concept of ''Region'' used in public discourse with procedure of putting together real political subjectivities (sovereign states) under the common banner of the same ''Region''? Such procedure leads to desubjectivization of political subjects (sovereign states) whose political subjectivities are prone to being limited to geographical or, the way things are going with reconstructors, maybe only climate dimension, although the latter is not irrelevant in the works of Thomas Aquinas, Montesquieu, Duverger and other savants. The idea of the ''Region'' is by no means a mere political play devoid of political and metapolitical significance. Its strength, at least in Croatia, is reproduced via university media (for example, N1). First and foremost, by monopolistic Faculty of Political Science in Zagreb with its exponents personified in the figure of Dejan Jović. Some of the protagonists belonging to the faculty support thesis of the duality of antifascism, in other words, the existence of two antifascist movements during the WWII. The proletarian of comrade Tito as well as anti-modernist and monarchistic of ''general'' Draža of Ravna Gora who is being very successfully rehabilitated by the current political leadership of the Republic of Serbia. So, should we stay in such company or accept new formula with tentative title of the ''Region''? Well, I'll be damned! The ''Region'' is in part of academic and media community being promoted as a new political religion (Eric Voeglin), in fact, a new political and geographical dogma. The paradox of the idea of the ''Region'' is in persistent refusal of new political realities, for example, the fact that the Republic of Croatia is an independant and sovereign state as well as a member of the EU, just like Slovenia. How come that Croatia, after 1 July 2013, found itself embraced by the ''Region'' as a part in which it cannot longer be put into with regard to its new political reality? And what's even worse, why does political oligarchy in the Republic of Croatia allows something like that? Or maybe it even participates in the process? We should highlight the word ''allow'' in the first case. Allowing can be defined as a sign of serf mentality accumulated in history, tragic and unhappy conscience which, by chance of historical circumstances, briefly encountered political freedom just to act in a defeatist manner and gradually renounce that same freedom to return to its serf and loyal historical routine with courageous attitude in white gloves and with tongue in cheek. Retelling it, ''we don't want to make any trouble and take sides''. As far as other possibility is concerned, doubt makes it even worst than the first one. Just imagine political protagonists in Great Britain, Germany or USA who are willing to work against their national interests. Who are such protagonists in the Republic of Croatia who allow Republic of Serbia to act as if we are still part of Yugoslavia instead of the Republic of Croatia/EU? Who are those old yet new hegemons behaving like guests in a drunken Balkan tavern, giving orders what to celebrate and what to neglect, influencing internal affairs and forgetting that res publica rei publicae non praescribit leges, celebrations, rules of the game, name-days and birthdays? Thanks a lot and good night to such behaviour! The leadership of our neighbouring country (Vučić, Nikolić, Dačić, Vulin or quattro radical fantasticus), which very successfully rehabilitates anti-modernist Chetnik movement, will finally understand that the Republic of Croatia  is a member of the EU when they wake up in the morning after a drunken November night with a hangover and brine in their glass just to find Schengen wall in front of their doors. Will they maybe refute the fact as a mirage? But it will not be a mirage, it will be a new reality. So, what shall we do now?

With regard to the entrance of the Republic of Serbia in the EU and along the lines of honest politics we should firmly insist on six issues. The first issue is bringing back archival material from 1918-1991/92., which refers to Croatia, in order to avoid blackmails, manipulations and instrumentalization of history. The second issue is solution of border disputes according to international standards. The third issue is granting the Croatian minority in the Republic of Serbia the same standards which citizens/nationals of the Republic of Croatia of Serbian ethnicity have in the Republic of Croatia. The fourth issue is the final solution of the question of missing persons from both sides. The fifth issue is bringing back stolen (banditry!) cultural and artistic heritage as part of identity. The sixth issue is a public renounce of Memorandum 2 (The second memorandum of SANU. A shocking discovery: new manual for creation of greater state. Serbia has Memorandum 2! The document calls for a direct destabilization of neighbouring countries. A state which plans to destabilize and grab foreign territory at the same time wants to become a member of the EU. What sort of state is it? What type of political madness and political psychiatry? You want to enter the EU while having territorial pretensions towards parts of the EU, NATO and Bosnia and Herzegovina? And then you ask your neighbour, the Republic of Croatia, as a full member state of the EU, to help you in the process of entering the EU? With such hypocrite, Byzantine game, behaviour and hidden pretensions - under no circumstances! I do not advocate nationalism, of course, just honest politics and recognition of new political realities. Nothing else! That is minimum!

Adria Balkans

Social and political constructors have not renounced different imaginations considering putting the Balkans in order. Following the chronology of political concepts for reconstruction of the Balkans in the age of globalization we come across the newest concept of Adria Balkans. A notion/toponym of Adria/Adriatic has even been proposed to drift from the Balkans. To be fair, it is more a social construction of newly formed Balkan oligarchy which is getting lost in the globalized world and trying to promote this concept as some kind of a brand. Such protagonists are not interested in political ideas or hard themes of ideational conscience with regard to the Balkans. Their main idea is money or the production of profits. Money as medium, as Herbert Marshall McLuhan states in Understanding Media, transcends geographical and every other barriers. That is the reason why we should not just read Charlie (Karl Marx) but also add to the discourse of money Simmel's essay Philosophy of Money (Nk. Z.Stojanovića, Srijemski Karlovci, 2004.). What is wrong in the concept of Adria Balkans is identification of national interests with corporational ones of Todorić, Tedeschi and other transitional ''brothers in money''. What is my interest in relation to them? Just to enter or not in their stores, buy or not a few slices of salami or a ''box'' of yellow powder (Cedevita), swabs or shaving cream with credit card. And nothing else! Since when do they become our national interest? They typically look after their own interest and that's it. That is one and only truth regarding our ''national interest'' (Wahrheit und Interesse) and not the one scrubbed into our noses by corporation and oligarchy controlled media. They depend on corporational advertising charities (alms) of transitional profiteers on the rocky Balkans. So, Adria Balkans is a concept based upon the idea of money in which new oligarchy wants to unite because of utterly ephemeral position in relation to global players. Just a good bait for a possible loss of transitional prey within transitional legalized plunder. Ill-gotten gains.

A short synthetic frame

I have tried to joyously deconstruct various political concepts of reconstruction of the Balkans in the age of globalization spanning from 1998-2015. among which I have first and foremost highlighted the political concept of the aforementioned ''Region''. It is a different story whether and how reconstruction of the Balkans promotes interests of constructors of new social reality of the Balkans in the age of globalization and those who live there. Power and interest stand behind the scene in function of the reconstructional process. In other words, power play. I oppose the power of play to power play with a discourse devoid of political correctness. The power of play relates to a free deconstruction of different types of power considering the Balkans and attempts of its arrangement in the age of globalization. The idea of homo ludens is not strange to me. I would not play if it was so! Homo ludens is not ''lud'' (''crazy'' in Croatian) but, above all, a free person. Now back to the topic of this text! So far, with regard to the Balkans, whether it is Western, ''Southeastern Europe'', ''Yugosphere'', ''Region'', ''Adria Balkans'' or just ''Adria'', and why not Adriatic (!?), the reconstruction of the Balkans is an unfinished project prone to new experiments. Power play continues and with it, by God, the power of play.

[translated by Vinko Vego]

Institute for European and globalization studies

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