REFLECTIONS OF A CERTAIN CONSCIOUS SLOVENE
These are the questions and answers an unspecified conscious Slovene asked himself at the start of the third millennium A.D.:
ĽSo I ask, why do I happen to be Slovenian rather than Hungarian, Macedonian, or English; I also wonder, whether I could have been born to an Afghani mother; and finally, wouldnít it be better if I were born in Tokyo, rather than in Ljubljana.
The simple answer to all three questions: I had no choice anyway. Before my birth I had no influence over my mother or father; I couldnít well tell them to stop their silliness and for Godís sake not beget me. And even if I could influence matters, it remains unclear whether I would have opposed their sweet play, which resulted in my arrival on this Earth as a more or less desired weeping little creature. But, my parents had no choice either; even if they planned me, they had no way of knowing whom or what they were planning to make.
I donít have exact information as to where I was made, but it was certainly not London, Kabul, TokyoÖ I was certainly born in Ljubljana, as this is documented. By this time, any potential wish I mightíve harboured to be Hungarian was entirely pointless. It would be hard for me to argue, however, that the responsibility lay squarely with my parents, though prior to my birth, they couldíve, for example, opted to move to Budapest and assimilate there. Kindergarten would have moulded me into a Hungarian with my mind and spirit appropriately shaped by the local school system. Right now I could be among the investors in the Croatian fuelling station system or even additional railway infrastructure in Slovenia.
I am not at all surprised that my grandparents hadnít emigrated to Afghanistan and set the terrain for my birth under Mohammedís blessing. But if they had, I could be fighting today, Kalashnikov in hand, to free the poppy fields from under the imperialist yoke or I might have gained employ, following strenuous studies, as an official of the puppet government in Kabul. Perhaps I would have rather moved to Iran and hone my skills in Persian poetry, but in the end, it matters not: I would be a conscious patriot, which, in any case, is what I am right now.
Had my ancient ancestors settled in Japan, my father might well have been a samurai warrior or kamikaze pilot, and I might have been conceived in the final days before his illustrious passing. Crowned with family fame, I could have joined the state of Japan in raising my offspring in the spirit of ancient traditions; they would be educated to be top engineers and inventors of the latest technologies; perhaps their products and licenses would sell at top profits even in the smallest of European countries.
Therefore, being Slovenian is severely relative, being that a mere few changed circumstances could have made me something completely different.
Well then, what other circumstance could have predetermined my national consciousness and belonging?
For example, if I go back in time in order, stopping only here or there:
In an alternative end of World War II Ljubljana would fall to Italy. I wouldíve been born an Italian citizen, practically an Italian. Weíd own a family pizzeria greeting each-other with ciao and addio. Lord knows, I mightíve been employed by the navy, currently saving drowning refugees in the Mediterranean, being that our country would have a worthwhile fleet, rather than a single out-dated Russian ship. The bank notes wouldnít portray Presherenís face, and Trieste would be ours. My descendants would be able to understand sermons, even if the priests gave them in Latin. I would even read Dante in the original rather than a Christian socialistís translation. Such a small change, yet all would be entirely different!
Oh! What if the French had kept the Illyrian Provinces! And if they expanded them and never let them slip away! Then today, this part of France would not be ruled only by Renault but probably at least Peugeot as well. Gorenjska Slovenes would produce top-of-the-line passenger, freight, and military aircraft. Provided my mother were dark-skinned, I wouldíve probably been born in Algeria, though still in my greater native land, to disseminate francophone culture there; if nothing else I would teach philosophy and our famed thinker Voltaire to French people of colour. Iíd use my Parisian connections to pressure the department government to obstinately stifle Slovenian cultural autonomist tendencies, then kicking around in Chrnomelj, and enact the strictest police measures against Italian and Croatian irredentists in Istria, partly based on my endeavours.
Or had the Turks occupied Vienna and held on to it to this day, an my grandfather became a Vizier in the Ljubljana Eyalet! Who or what would I be now? Certainly not a Slovene, and my name would be Omar, rather than Matjazh. Allah himself would be surprised if I werenít employed as town executioner specialised in chopping arms off corrupted politicians and beheading political dissidents. Given some luck, I could perhaps even head our provinceís press agency and decide what is allowed and what obligatory for the media to publish. I would regulate the Internet and erect pyramids made from skulls of Slavic- and Venetic minded intellectuals. My wives would run a small store selling Turkish delight, and my sons would be officers in the Sultanís troops enjoying the wonders of the world by way of near-tourist style victorious military campaigns.
Perhaps, by some strange coincidence, the Roman Empire wouldíve been preserved until today making me an Emonian; either praetor or an arms merchant. In the first instance, Emona would be the centre of universal justice and in the second its claim to fame would be its supply of cheapest and top-quality murder machines and devices, highest-grade munitions, bombs, rockets, and deadly gasses, ten-wheelers and even better jets than if the Turks, Napoleon or Italians had invaded in the meantime.
Yes, it couldíve been thus if it werenít as it is. Iíd be anything but a conscious Slovene, but the funny thing is, all this did not transpire.
We defeated the Romans, the Turks, the French, the Italians and others. We built the base of our national consciousness, pride, and historic dignity on these victories. Those who arenít conscious of this counting for more than a world championship victory of some basketball team, skier, or other athletes are not conscious Slovenes. I, for example, am aware of this, even though I know that the victories in said cases were won by armies, and that Slovenes had and in fact still have no army. But we took part in all these wars as fighters, for the gods, for God, or for the Emperor, and the like; but always for our home. And at every turn, we drove the enemy from our realm, which is still not fully our own, but part of another territory, even if though we hold much sovereignty within the boundaries of our borders and in a country of our own; more than ever, conscious to a fault!
Still, sometimes I am unsure whether I am now finally a Slovene or still one.
Based solely on spermatozoa and ova at work in these parts in the last millennium, since I know even less about genetics: our women have been inseminated by many, including Germanic tribes and Franks, Romani Gypsies, Americans and Russians. Many others before and still others in times to come, but a Slovenian woman was and will ever remain Slovenian, she wonít be easily supressed. She came from faraway places and was something special. Almost no one understood her, because she chatted in Slovenian, as she continues to do today in a much more refined manner. And so the problem would be solved were it so easily solvable. Alas, it is not; she herself also canít remember who or what she was.
Unfortunately my memory also only reaches as far back as the previous century. But several scientists have answered this fundamental question in my stead (who or what I have been thus far as a Slovene). And they continue answering it, barely repeating themselves, being that they always discover something new.
Allegedly, in a few decadesí time archaeologists will uncover a few items at the bottom of the Pacific indicating a raft (built from trunks of an unknown water-resistant tree) that sunk there a lot more than a few tens of millennia ago, akin to those Proto-Indians used to migrate from southeast Asia to the American continent. Evidently according to a leather snare preserved in a sharkís den, they were fleeing cruelty of their native society, which was cannibalistic and slave-owning, i.e. exploitative and entirely different from our own. In that same cave, a stone artefact will be found evocative of a tomahawk proving they were Indian ancestors, intelligent hominids who already grasped the concept of possession and ownership, and thus appropriation and plundering. These assertions will of course raise a clamour of disagreement, that they are marked pacifists simply escaping a cruel social environment, because they themselves werenít aggressive and only ever killed for food. In any case, a thesis will arise defining them as natives of the American continent, being that they only just migrated there, though there is currently no indication of previous inhabitants, who were purportedly forced to move northwards and adapt to eternal cold.
In some other sharkís den they will allegedly come across some kind of proto-script stone carving; some scientists are already studying the hypothesis that the inscription stands for hawgkh, a greeting known much later among the Komanchi and Apachi.
Across the world, on the northern Adriatic coast a rock-covered thick lime tree trunk soaked in an unknown substance has long awaited discovery. It will doubtless incite a dispute between Croatians and Slovenians whether the raft was sailed to our shores in 12,313 B.C. by their ancestors or ours. I personally believe these were my, i.e. our ancestors; after all, the lime tree used in building the raft is a symbol of Slovenity, as attested by our ancient folk song The Lime Tree Leaved Green; not to mention Martin Krpan, who Ė granted a tad later Ė chopped down a Slovenian lime tree in front of the Empressís very eyes. Proof therefore abounds, and no Slovene exists, who hadnít been apprised of this in time, before they were very good at thinking, that is in kindergarten and primary school.
Yesterday, American film director Jim Jarmusch, though himself not versed in Slovenity, used his brilliant command of film language to communicate to the world that human imagination has no bounds. It made me think. What if I made a film about the advantages of the national state based on at least as far-reaching tradition as ours? Iíd ask myself who is to blame that the Slovenian soldierís pay is not increased even though he is willing to give his life for the freedom of Afghanistan? And what is the point of creating the unjust public opinion that Sova holds less value than Udba? After all, both operate well and with sufficient efficiency. Iíd ask whose fault it was that too many Slovenian boys arenít yearning to go to war, preferring to peruse the Internet at home? Why do our politicians fail to realize spoils of war would replenish our treasury far more than tax rises? In the not too distant past, many countries got rich this way, those that take themselves at all seriously, as it were. Why does Slovenian politics steal from its own nation, which loves it so, while ridiculed by other nations when its back is turned? Is it really so hard to steal from the European Central Bank, which could yield decidedly more than our little bank? When will we finally start voting according to candidatesí relevant capabilities rather than so-called public opinion polls? Why do we do such a bad job brainwashing our children that they donít even find Slovene interesting anymore? What if the aggressor came tomorrow? Will they even know whom to fight and why? These are some of the questions Iíd ask.
But even if I donít make this film, I will ask myself why and to what end I am a conscious Slovene. I will also think in the light of the fact that many German, French and English people are conscious, not to mention North Koreans and the Chinese. If, as we speak the Spanish royal police will not stifle Catalonian national endeavours and they announce independence, their national consciousness will also be fully expressed. And Albanians, how unified and likeminded they are, they simply burn for the common good!
Well, people are well organised into groups. Slovenes are a group, Croatians are a group, Serbs are a group. A group of people is not unlike a herd, pack, or flock of animals. When a sparrow is still very small, it learns dependence and belonging from its mommy and daddy, older brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles; the two shortcuts to success; how to fly, how to catch a worm, where to hide, how to get away, and what to do at all.
There is, to my knowledge, no solitary sparrows, why would there be? What could be easier than loyally imitating oneís kind, and so keep oneís belly ever full? A flock of sparrows is always better off than human kind, because their territory is far less defined, which allows them to quickly whirr away when a larger bird appears; there are always bushes and treetops aplenty for everyone. (Also, they donít need to drag all sorts of clutter with them.) Their coexistence is a lot simpler than a nationís; their chirping and communication require no grammar or orthography. Also, individual sparrows are smarter than average people: when one of his comrades whisks a crumb off the floor, a sparrow wonít fight for it, but go and find another one. Also the flock as a whole is smarter than national communities, because they donít attack other flocks, which also makes their own premature deaths less likely.
Of course, I am mostly ignorant about sparrows; after all I am no zoologist let alone ornithologist. What I do know is that, where crumbs are concerned, pigeons have the upper hand, because they are bigger and fitted with better beaks. The situation in open terrain is akin to what would happen if Germans faced off against Slovenes: Slovenes would act like sparrows, unless they had the support of the crows, who would chase the pigeons away. This is the core and reason why people are organized into nations: building ties with other nations they can ensure greater safety and other benefits. This is why Slovenes can be members of the NATO military and political alliance and feel safe. Our air space is protected by Hungarian, Italian, or Turkish aviation. Our nanas may be secretly praying for Italian command not to change their minds and drop a bomb or two right on Primorska, but luckily the alliance remains firm enough to prevent this. Of course, the alliance wasnít easy to make: first our ancestors had to newly define and write up their language, then we had to be taught the languages of our allies for spying, as well as languages of our potential enemies; next we had to establish our country and transform from a people to a nation, we had to borrow enough, sharpen our beaks with rocket launchers, helicopters, and other clutter of this sort, and now we are what we are Ė conscious Slovenes who donít covet anotherís and donít give of our own. A flock of sparrows would go crazy, because in all these things we surpass them utterly.
But I wrote our air space above, emphasizing the word our. Whose is it actually? Any bird worth their feathers knows that it owns the sky. And since it knows this at its core, it never questions it, nor wouldnít, even if it knew how. And when a goshawk gabs it mid-flight, itís too late for theorizing. But let us stay on the conscious Slovene, i.e. me. All the skies above beautiful Slovenia are ours and thereby also mine. My passport even allows me to traverse the ocean, which is a little ours across the middle too. Doesnít it feel good to fly over international waters knowing youíre at home, since no nation has yet stated a claim over them? But beware, this is a false sense! The airplane could crash and sink to the bottom of the ocean, which may be my home, but no longer mine, because Iíd be no more. But thatís ok, itís only me that died while my nation lives on and this is larger than myself. Even my soul knows how rich my land is, which extends across oceans and co-owns the skies, in addition it also possesses a proportionate part of the Universe.
However, Slovenia is not one of those countries, that are taught to occupy it, even though we are a full member of the EU; but what canít be accomplished, canít be accomplished. Or in other words, canít be accomplished yet, because there are no bounds to manís cunning. If I only consider how much my descendant will own, if he remain a conscious Slovene of course, I get emotional in my contentment.
But what if, by that point, national consciousness and Slovenity are no more? If the worst-case scenario of the mysterious plotters (who are quite speculated about, particularly among non-conscious Slovenes) who will pit European nations against each other again, comes true and their generals finally figure out a formula allowing them, in spite of having nuclear weapons, to hold another decent-quality conventional war in these parts? I am not joking, in part nations are assembled so they are more easily lead into disagreements with each other; this is the easiest way to ensure a war does not grow too chaotic, which is certainly what would happen if the disagreement was among non-uniformed and non-mobilised individuals. To actively enter into war, you need an army, this is easiest achieved if you have a country, and the latter is easiest established if you have a nation. And who is this Ďyouí, who does this? A conscious national? Donít fear, this is just the worst-case scenario, written in black letters, indiscernible on such a dark background. How could a scenario be enacted, when it canít even be seen? By oral transmission? Through tradition, like now? Come on! Thingís will never be as they were. Be conscious, trust your nation and its base, and you will be fine in the end.
Before concluding, I will add a few superfluous words about our adversaries, the non-conscious individuals. On the most part they are conscious of nothing. Not even how wars are in some ways beneficial, interesting, and fun, particularly for their initiators and generals. Firstly, without war, there are no spoils of war, there is no expansion of a countryís territory, increase of power, fulfilled interests, long-term profits, repute, or glory. But I am conscious precisely in order to try, along with my co-nationals, to do something smart to prevent this.
Secondly, without war there is no fighting, without fighting there is no blood, without blood there is no victory, without victory there is no defeat, without defeat there is no hatred or desire for retribution, without these thereís no seed for the next war; a non-conscious individual is unaware of this; though he may sense it, it does him no good. When all is said and done, he may even fall in love with a blue-eyed beauty, the granddaughter of a Slovenian girl begotten by a German soldier during the last occupation of Maribor.
And thirdly, without war there is no history, without history there are no nations, and without nations there is no individual. Well, this is something with which the non-conscious Slovene usually disagrees, but his opinion doesnít really matter; to us at any rate, who are nationally conscious. He thinks otherwise and thatís his problem; let him solve it how he will. When the war comes, heíll be at the top of our list, in times of peace weíll kick him to some corner somehow, even though he make trouble for us. On the other hand, at least heíll supply some excitement in the relatively boring periods of armistice.
In the very conclusion, I am going to quickly comment on the newest findings of distinguished thinkers in the field. In their opinion the Slovenian people is a spontaneous structure formed when our forefathers migrated to these parts. To facilitate our understanding, weíll disregard what was here before. Soon after their arrival they began to realize that each newcomer would either have to become a conscious part of their society or lose their head, or at least genitals (the precise form of the sanction is still under scientific investigation). They reproduced for several centuries until they became so numerous and consequentially powerful that even the wildest of beasts ran from these parts preferring to migrate to other continents. This is why there are no lions, tigers, or other wildcats in Slovenia today; most all wolves are domesticated, and bears only ever saunter around by mistake, but donít stay long.
When they first arrived, they already spoke beautiful Slovene, which is the worldís oldest language. This teaches us that virtually all Indo-European peoples learned speaking and writing from Proto-Slovenians, as did black tribes, who were certainly still white in prehistory (when the sunshine was not as intense). In fact, they were descendants of non-conscious Proto-Slovenians, which is attested by the fact that half of Africa is at war and starving to this very day.
Much later (approximately in the 5th and 6th centuries A.D.), when wild tribes were settling in the vicinity (they dared not come near Triglav), Slovenians were already a civilised and literate people. They were predominately craftsmen, merchants, and artists, and almost every tenth person was a Philosopher or Sociologist, which brought about speedy blossoming of a country-like structure lead by the most apt and conscious individuals. Their impartial judiciary was known far and wide, which is why justice and honesty prevail in these parts to this very day.
It took me a long time to become conscious of this. I fought a pitiless fight with myself as to whether I will be my own man, or my nationís.
I am proud of my ancestors and conscious of how lucky I was to have had them. Only now, after Iíve dispersed all doubt as to how it would be if t werenít how it is, am I fully conscious of my Slovenity. I have everything my heart could desire, the one thing I still wish for is for my country to enact the right to arms, like the one possessed by the citizens of the USA, so I would be able to defend our territorial integrity at this precise moment and chase away foreigners, who stubbornly persist in entering our country across the Kolpa and Dragonja Rivers (they also drilled themselves a hole under the Alps). In addition, my neighbor isnít nationally conscious either, and sooner or later there will come a time, when he and his ilk will need to be dealt with.
On the other hand, Iím ever-ready to give my life for this nation, for Slovene, and each square centimeter of our border plots. Though conscious of my smallness and insignificance as an individual, I will always know my nation is great.ę
Yes, these are the questions and answers an unspecified conscious Slovene asked himself at the start of the third millennium A.D. God give him health and a sensible mind.
Translated from Slovenian by Jaka Jarc