A RESEARCHER’S SHATTERED ILLUSIONS – IN THE STRUGGLE FOR NATIONAL BROADCASTING
Refreshing the historical memory of the institution of Radio-Television Slovenia
An institution with no memory is
like a business without bookkeeping,
the strong and mighty within it
do what they please
because all they do drowns
in the forgetful consciousness of time.
This Autumn is important again for Radio-Television Slovenia [Autumn of 1994, auth. note]. It marks the start of its leap-, that is, fourth year. In the Summer, the parliament passed a new law on RTV Slovenia; it was followed by the changing of the Council of RTV Slovenia and its leadership, i.e. re-election (or confirmation) of the managers of the leadership of RTV Slovenia. Radio-Television Slovenia is at the centre of interior-political attention again, the struggle for political influence in the system’s most powerful medium is a current issue again. What’s most interesting for us, is the extent of the poor state of the multimedia institution’s historical memory as well as that of those who make decisions about it. If the antagonists better remembered some of the facts of the 1990 struggle for the national television, many of their reproaches could be milder and there would be less pretence. So it is unavoidable that the SRP (LiVES) journal refreshing historical memory by summarising a few facts from the Report on the Activities of the Union of Cultural and Artistic Creators RTV Slovenia in the struggle for a national radio-television and their explanations, subjective of course (seen through the eyes of a participant – a certain action researcher), recorded in an internal research report Value Orientations of Autonomous Propaganda Science II.
The assessment of a subjective or individual view of historical facts of a certain period of an institution of the system (in our case the struggle for the national Radio-Television of Slovenia, popularly known as storming the »bastion of communism«) is inevitably marked by the attester's personal value orientation, so let us address it in passing. The action research Value Orientations of autonomous Propaganda Science was my primary study, which simultaneously covered, established, and ultimately lent sense to all institutional research endeavours. I published some components of the said study alongside action documents as independent articles in journals, whenever I was able, or they were added to action documents as propaganda supplements – of autonomous propaganda of science of course.
The study ran approximately from 1982 to 1992 and is actually the continuation of ‘The Research on Research – Is The Research of the Communication Process in a Mass Media Institution Possible?’, Bilten SShP RTVL 51, Ljubljana, 1983. (The start of my research is harder to determine, because it blends with another, which is of course not my invention. This method of never-ending studies continuing until the next one is formally and officially confirmed was invented by Russian researchers, and it is clear why.) The study was therefore concluded but not finished. It was supplanted by one, more suitable for the changing social conditions though no less delicate, titled The Catalogue of Problems in a Medium’s Communications’ Process. In 1992, it was partly published in the Treatise on Freedom by Matjazh Hanzhek’s Zalozhba Lumi publishing company, which was, I must add, supported and co-funded by general manager dr Janez Jerovshek’s development fund. Today, such an act within an institutional media is viewed as unconscionable and detestable. I must admit that Slovenians don’t often come across research so annoying to the system and its institutions; permission for and tolerance of such exploratory activity (action research, known also as institutional intervention) of course correspond with that. The only editor to publish my articles in the years of my non-existence, when I was considered a “class enemy”, was Franci Zagorichnik. At the time, I ascribed much importance to my articles being published as I turned them in, i.e. not shortened, not trimmed, not censored, as well as feeling that I nevertheless did exist. It is therefore not strange that such “strange” individuals with minds of our own and dissimilar from each other ended up collaborating and co-authoring the SRP Journal. Its value orientation now, with the 5th and 6th issues pending, is, I presume, quite perceptible.
Continuing the University Institute for Sociology’s 1986 Research,
the summary of the VOAPS II study
Five years have passed since I wrote this Temporary Conclusion of My Action Research; in the sixth year after submitting it to the Slovenian Research Community (as a 5-year research project appended to the theoretical research The Value System of Institutional Structure), I concluded my research. What was particular about it was that it was launched under actual conditions of abolishing an actual research organisation at Radio-Television Ljubljana, a mass media institution particularly suited to the analysis of mass (media) propaganda. It was intended as a supplement to theoretical analysis of values, a method of verifying and founding theses on the value orientations of the system. Simultaneously, the study was also the researcher’s personal testament, which is perhaps the most interesting part of action research. Already in the proposal for 1985, I wrote that the fundamental problem for such a study was that it relatively quickly surpasses the institution’s concrete research interests. The problem of its legitimacy, usefulness, objectivity, bias etc. comes into focus.
Those averse to the action intervention will proclaim it a non-legitimate, useless, subjective, institutional, socially harmful, or even subversive activity and sooner or later anathemise it. Well, this is exactly what happened. This time the blow originated at the parent research institution ISU in Ljubljana, they terminated my external participation and with this, according to the rules of research as they stood, the study ought to be over or sealed then and there. But it wasn’t. I continued working on it as an alternative researcher (excluded from institutions). The institution never even justified an institutional reason for the cessation of my research (it wasn’t worth the hassle). The study itself defined the time of its conclusion, i.e. when the action will be concluded and the action research finished. One of the criteria was that the action stops at the natural point at the top of the institutional hierarchy. The other criterion posed that the action conclude when, theoretical reasons dictate that it is no longer reasonable to amass further (propaganda) materials. The third criterion – when it was no longer productive in actualising values, which it promotes as its goal. I set no formalist justification for ending it, such as for example some time-based cut-off, particularly because extending its duration wouldn’t substantially raise costs.
Most importantly for me, it was the Value Orientations of Autonomous Propaganda of Science research, which enabled me to also formally justify all my action- – intervention research. Without the former, there would be no Value Orientations of Political Propaganda (which was hidden in the VOAPS “predicate” already), there would be no Value Orientation of War Propaganda action research, nor the Value Orientations of the National Radio-Television research report; and without it, the Value System of Institutional Structure survey would be dry, abstract, languid, artificial. As for the reason most critical in bringing about the end of the said action research, you’ll be able to judge that for yourselves based on this report.
The Temporary Conclusion of Part I of the Action Research
The temporary conclusion of the 1986 research project therefore stated: The action of most of my efforts is blocked, and there is every indication that such treatment of this, truly somewhat unusual, research will continue and escalate.
No measures exist, which would not enable countermeasures, and the same goes for action research methodology. The option to communicate, undertake public activities, publicize, collaborate with kindred research institutions, or researchers who see and experience a similar research atmosphere, has been, to put it mildly, neutralized. The University’s Institute for Sociology, my former parent institution, joins in these measures, preventing even such minimal external institutional cooperation. But this is far from all. The fundamental experience, which I cannot overlook as an action researcher, is social isolation.
I wonder whether it might not be time to change my action methodology. Being as no measures in existence could enable a more flexible response.
Note: What follows is still an expressively depressing description of the state of the “class enemy’s” individual consciousness. However, energy has not run out yet, the action continues, while the researcher becomes tangled in dangerous liaisons.
Franci Zagorichnik encouraged me to write the article Current Events in the Light of Values: to the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights – Values. It could be said that he commissioned it as a friend. He published it immediately, so that I had two contributions in the same issue (it and the Story of Pilate). It probably goes without saying that he made no demands concerning the article’s content. He was only interested in how I viewed current events in the light of values. At the time, current events were: “the Trial of the Three”: Ivan Borshtner, Janez Jansha, David Tasich, who were soon joined by a fourth: Franci Zavrl, and for a short time also a fifth, Tomo Bogataj. Well afterwards, only two remained current: Janez Jansha and Igor Bavchar, initially the un-included grey eminence behind “the four”, who was formally never arraigned (incriminated), but who in fact directed the script, later head of the Committee for the Defence of »the four« (as I said before, these numerations of persons really get on my nerves).
Rethinking this article today, much about it bothers me, though I must say that, at the time, there was no way I could predict the coming sequence of events. The following bothers me the most: solidarity with the persecuted enemies of the system is my ethical imperative, which however ceases, once the said solidarity is institutionalised, especially if coordinated by a power similar to that, which produces the victims. My issue is that much greater because the article also states: “In the crisis of the system’s values caused by the domination of the institutes of power and politicising the state apparatus, two institutions in which political power is actualised to the extreme are exceptionally powerful. It isn’t hard to guess these “crowd crystals”, as Elias Canetti would call them, are the police and the military.
The army’s value is power in special apparel, a militant power, the most brutal force that wins or loses in the system’s hardest moments: struggle, war, revolution, extreme crisis of the system. To wit, the system defeated itself already when it generated the conditions for the actualisation of the military’s values for the whole of society, forcibly enforced them, under threat of arms, with disdain for freedom and ultimately life of the human – individual. Generals always dream of war, coups, military coups, overthrows; however, the they can only rarely express their power, its purpose, the purpose of their own organisation – institutionalisation.
Such is our civilisation that we must kill as many people as possible: have wars to speak of peace; the value of peace exists so we can declare it. The values declared are, however, not intended for the people we respect, only for naïve people. To the powerful and mighty, war is an indispensable expression of their power. Power and war mean more to hierarchs than all else.
But were that all, i.e. the militarization of the system as a necessary evil in order to protect the system, one could still breathe to some degree. Military barracks are outwardly visible, as are uniforms, ranks are clearly hierarchical, war and coups are atypical relatively short states of the system. But there is also the lasting presence of invisible power veiled in secrecy and denouncement. The invisible yet strongest institution of the system is oversized, too powerful. Show me the strongest institution in the country and I will tell you what the system is called. If it is the police, then our system is a police state. If ours is not a police state, then it only seems that a certain strong institution in the land permeated the entire system, controls the staff of all, or at least most important state institutions. And then it merely seems as though the sword of denouncement ever hangs over our heads, and, what’s worse, we sometimes sense that we also are feared by our fellow man, countrymen, because anyone is a potential informant. Secrecy is an insidious value, being invisible, it has unimaginable power. It’s easy to rule by secrecy, by fear of denouncement. But because it is an insidious value, it disintegrates all other values, first the public and thus democracy, but it’s most fatal to the value of freedom.”
I wrote this in Ljubljana on 10 June 1988. Today, I would say that my response was quick, even premature. It’s hard to tell what part of this thinking is disturbing today, because what’s disturbing is not the form of the new power itself per se, it became so later. Could this have been foreseen? Probably. The article was aimed at the value of power, not just some actual power, but institutional militant power in general. The next actualised value (the article’s main and unmasking value) that ruled us at the time, controlled us, took our freedom, was the military secret. The problem of ethical consideration is actualised when the concrete persecuted Janez Jansha becomes the war minister of the new system, and when his friend the defence strategist of “the four”, Igor Bavchar, becomes the minister of police. And this new war minister proposes, let’s say, six times more funds for the military (war, killing) than the new system affords culture, for preserving the national identity (for creativity, the life of life). Well, that’s ok, I hear you say, someone has to be that too. True, but it’s not nice, if this is proposed by former opponents of and those persecuted by the militant regime; because, “when democracy began” the multitudes were not in solidarity with the powerful and the mighty, but with the victims, because multitudes in peril only truly identify (unite, become one with in spirit) with victims. How are they to become one with them now? Surely this expectation is a little too grotesque. This new institutional identification may last a while, even with uniformed institutional freedom defenders, but it will come flying back like a boomerang.
Note: because I wrote this before the Yugoslav military aggression against our new country, it needs amending. “It may last a while, this new institutional identification also with uniformed institutional defenders of freedom, their glory will be like the glory of the Slovenian General Maister and greater, but it will come flying back to us, like a boomerang.” A strange incident, which I don’t understand, later befalls these actual victims of the system, for which I stand up and publically proclaim my support and solidarity; they almost split in two extremes.
Some ascend the institutional hierarchy splendidly, no surprise in itself because this is how the mechanism of social turnover works; what surprises me time and again is how radically the victims transform into those, who will themselves henceforth need to sacrifice. To wit, I was surprised by the sudden rise of Vojislav Sheshelj to the rank of a chetnik voivode, a mere few years after I expressed support for him (during the Belgrade trial of “the six”, part I of my survey). We don’t find this comparison holds up (particularly now), nor do the Serbs, though for contrasting reasons. To us Slovenes, Janez Jansha and Igor Bavchar are eternal national heroes, mythological persons, to Serbians it’s Vojislav Sheshelj. However, there is one additional difference which doesn’t stem from the nature of the system and national character. Vojislav Sheshelj is inevitably defined by the state-building complex of Greater Serbia realizable only through subjugation of other and residual Balkan non-states (republic of the former Serboslavia) and through the Serbian nation’s attempt to subjugate – enslave nations whose identity and freedom it rejects. Jansha and Bavchar (as opposed to Sheshelj) are defined by the emancipatory “instinct” of the Slovenian state and the self-defence struggle for the nation’s freedom. Their advantage is so great that even it isn’t outweighed even by the mythological bravery of Serbian patriots (a.k.a notorious chetniks, komitadji as they are described by their compatriot Dimitrije Tucovich), or by Serbian superior numbers in “Yugoslavia” or among the officers of the Yugoslav National Army. The results of the struggle are predictable as is heroes’ tally. However, it is only predictable to a degree, a degree framed by the value system of institutions. This predictability of action as defined by the institutional role is great, I would even say surprisingly so. Nevertheless, an indefinable unpredictable difference remains left over. It is ever present, it attests, if we disregard it, we are blind and numb to it, but it will surprise us. Let’s call this residual difference the individuality of man and nation, their essence per se, from itself for it.
The opposite goes for others, they cannot be rehabilitated, not even in the new system, at least not while they live. Even the new system can’t digest or use and therefore cannot rehabilitate them. They stay dissidents, kept quiet and discarded individuals for all time. They are not popular with their nation, but more likely unknown, anonymous. They can also land on the opposite side, they could even be national traitors. But there’s another game here, let’s call it the game destiny plays with people. The system doesn’t accept them, nor the nation, they cannot get to it.
The reason as to why they are institutionally unusable is also known. They remained consistent in their personal value orientations. No system, particularly no converts within it, can allow or forgive this.
I have previously expressed some solidarity with such persistent examples in the article below: (‘Igre Sistema’, Likovne besede, no. 8-9. 1988, Ljubljana).
THE GAMES OF THE SYSTEM
ON THE SYSTEM IN THE LIGHT OF SYSTEM THEORY AND A BIT DIFFERENTLY
Two types of games: games with man, his individuality, games with nations, their freedom – subjectivity – On the System in the Light of System Theory and a Bit Differently – A Confession to the System
Again, I will only summarise parts of the articles’ content, i.e. those which, in my opinion, relates to the essence of the processes of the system.
Time will show what the essence is, but rather than just wait around, we can employ memory. The system helps us, reminds us of the Dachau trials victims. The dead and the living awaited rehabilitation for forty years. They were blamed, suspected, branded, and tortured time and again. Each preliminary attempt at rehabilitation failed. Let’s note the term rehabilitation, which is to mean: restore reputation, good name, honour to the convicted. I think only their individuality needed restoring, their truth needed to be declared unambiguously. What needed rehabilitating was the system: the directors of the crucifixion, un-autonomous judicature, secret police, political avant-garde, in short the whole of the system, because the system was integral, totalitarian. It was us, who needed exonerating; we calmly watch the errors of the system, which are no errors because they are the system’s deliberate truths. To reiterate: justification is a deliberate murder of the system. And if we aren’t sufficiently aware of this process, we are of some other one, to the system they are systematic. But we don’t want to see this. We tell ourselves that some coincidental judicial error is at play, that justifications are rare, and that in the end comes rehabilitation, now we can breathe easy. How is the system to rehabilitate itself with a single process, even if a strikingly blatant one, with so many such justifications that the bright future of the system goes dark for us. Let man console himself; great injustices are bygone facts, history matter, and they are best left forgotten, this kind of thing no longer takes place. Self-delusion and lies are the consolations of forgetfulness. Processes exist and will endure as long as the system stands against man, while the rift between the system and man, between man and his role in the system, remains so infernally important, decisive.
The system adjusts to the form of repression, but doesn’t alter its essence. Oh, that there wasn’t this distrust in the system’s legality and constitutionality! But there is, we’re steeped in it! We’re suffocating in laws, ashamed of constitutional change! Overabounding laws reliably point to illegality, and overly recurrent constitutional revisions to unconstitutionality – more boldly, to the system’s unlawfulness. Intimidation “processes are just the tip of the iceberg” which is visible, the rest is invisible and unknown, just like we want. Sometimes, though, I don’t know how to grapple with what know, at least about the three processes of the system? I know the processes of Zoran Lenart, Stojan Sotoshek, Oto Vilchnik, and I know them. I don’t understand, how their friends, acquaintances, former professional colleagues: journalists, jurists, professors grapple with what they know. Perhaps they no longer have any former friends, acquaintances, colleagues? Systemic isolation of those branded by the process works slowly but surely; I call it civil death. Each has their own story, interesting in its own way, eerie, but we don’t care. Oto’s lasted seventeen years and kept going, no end in sight;* the same goes for the others. Why don’t they tell them – their individual stories – at their trials? They do, but we won’t hear them. And each of their declarations will surely get buried in suspicion, further accusation, and insult and shaming. This is the process's iron repertoire. Best case, on occasion an official renewal of the process is impending or proceeding, but known to be part of the system’s game. Anyway, the true, i.e. unofficial, process continues, here the whole time. Such is the system’s scenario. Jozef K. would ask: Do you have your process yet?
Instead, I ask: does the system have enough trusted analysts to survey the iceberg under the surface? Which committee, which commission, could review piles of suspicious court records, which the court knows in some unofficial way to be political? Officially they, of course, aren’t. Which commission could review piles of strange court documents of consolidated work? Which commission could review piles of inexplicable decisions of disciplinary committees of the organisations of consolidated work? These piles of paper are dissipating in the archives faster than the tips of icebergs, not all of them get to the top of the heap.
Dis-consolidators of consolidated work diligently fill the ranks of the system’s reserves of the unemployed, giving the impression that the system is resolving rehabilitation matters as examples to keep up appearances and preserve its image.
I won’t be summarising: On the System in the Light of System Theory and a Bit Differently, and The System’s Confession, there’s no need anymore; meanwhile, the system disintegrated, just imploded into itself. Soon the struggle for the National radio-television will commence.
*(Later note: When Oto Vilchnik’s story, by some bizarre coincidence, ended, he became a member of »Sheligo's Council”. In the war between the RTV Council and SRP Journal we ended up on opposite sides.
Actually, I wasn’t the least bit surprised that Oto didn’t publically distance himself from the actions of the said council in his attitude towards research in the RTV Slovenia institution, towards SRP Journal, towards the freedom of thought and writing. We were simply in fundamentally different roles.)
The Struggle for the National Radio-Television
In 1989, the loaded word reorganisation hung over radio-television Ljubljana once again. Whenever this happens, we know something bad may follow. The leadership of the RTVL institution launched another wave of institutional conflict between the administration and the creators, though the leadership would certainly disagree with this statement. But, let’s say, according to the criterion of common consensus, that this was the then radio-television leadership’s attempt at usurping the medium, but which was unexpectedly opposed by the Union of Cultural and Artistic Creators RTVS. I was roped into this union matter by academic painter and scene designer at RTVL/S Jozhe Spacal. Circumstances demanded that he deprive his creative work of his time and energy to establish the RTV CAC union. For years we walked to work at RTVL from next door houses on the same street, and hardly knew each other. We never but said hello, until democratisation also started at RTVL. We became union comrades-in-arms as well as friends. We disagreed on many things, had differing opinions, however, in the end we somehow agreed on fundamental acts of union activity, strategy, and tactics. This was a valuable experience for me. In long-lasting isolation, I’ve gotten mostly disused to teamwork. Furthermore, this was also the start of my envelopment and entanglement in union-political activity, which I found foreign to me and hard to accept. I preferred acting as independently and individually as possible. Yet, I must say that my union activities enabled me to continue my action research on the true, almost true, battlefield. Researchers rarely come across such an opportunity. Two reports were written, the union version and the research version. Both are part of the Value Orientation of Autonomous Propaganda of Science action research that made them possible; without these, the CAC Union wouldn’t know about me and I wouldn’t have participated in the union action. This research, classified as institutional intervention, undeniably lent me additional knowledge about the MM institution along with the necessary experience in institutional conflict. My union activity contributed living matter, research material. You must be wondering if this mutual convolution and entanglement of surveys is necessary. In terms of content, it is. According to formal valid criteria, it isn’t. However, to justify them individually in this case, I would have needed additional years of institutional procedure of proposing and approving research. In this, institutions are slower than tortoises. Many research projects, including all problem research, would never get approved. This administrative stack of papers is the core of administrative research and of the power of those, who subjugate it to themselves.
(Let us examine the example of the survey on the Value Orientations of War (Military) Propaganda. The Defence Ministry only became interested in the survey a year after the war for Slovenia concluded, even though I sent the action research to the competent ministries as I went (at conceptual stages) in the form of action documents. This is how my research proceeded during the war for Slovenia, when time ran faster. What can you do, formally, no one commissioned it.
I published the more important articles from the two surveys in daily newspapers and I think they remain relevant; they still supplement and at times even confirm certain predictions about the institutional value orientation development. They are, however, more important as tools or even weapons in the struggle for a national radio-television and free, spontaneous, cultural artistic creativity therein. It is perhaps interesting that these articles and union’s public announcements were published immediately. Things got somewhat complicated with articles: Ali bosta slovenska TV in slovenski radio nacionalna medija? – Kakshne TV nochemo! [Will Slovenian TV and Radio be national Media? – What Kind of TV Don’t We Want!] and more seriously with Medij in chas [Medium and Time], which were more severely censored by the Demokracija paper. Where lies the difference? Is it in the public nature of the messages? It wasn’t the change in the style of writing. Was it because the system and thus print were democratized? This reason is certainly not negligible, but it also isn’t decisive. The habits of “autonomous” editors are tough to break, constricting, and enduring. The crucial factor transforming the attitudes towards publishing, distributing autonomous propaganda was the attraction lent by the power behind it. This was the power of the organisation – CAC Union RTVS.
INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY OF THE REPORT ON THE UNION’S ACTIVITY IN THE STRUGGLE FOR NATIONAL RADIO-TELEVISION, VALUE ORIENTATIONS OF THE NATIONAL RADIO-TELEVISION
If the report’s title Value Orientations of the National Radio-Television sounds abstract, the subtitle The Summary of the Report on the Activities of the Union of Cultural Artistic Creators in the Struggle for a National Radio-Television is very concrete. My activities – as researcher and unionist differed the same way. The report on the union recaps concrete documents, which are most important in presenting the said struggle. No interpretation is included, everyone can make their own. But the interpretative elements that do exist (in individual contributions, articles) cannot only be interpreted personally. The report is a collective effort with the support of the presidium of the union and members of the committee for monitoring the reorganisation of the national radio-television. We were unanimous in our fundamental value orientations. Our individual contributions were also adapted to collective action. My research report also summarizes the conflict at the institution of the medium from my personal perspective – as a researcher (i.e. subjectively). Events quickly fade into oblivion.
Documents stick around, but their significance fades. The purpose of this introduction was to clarify the social framework of these events and thereby preserve the intelligibility of both reports for the future, if anyone were ever to emerge, who would be interested in the chronicles of a certain institution.
1 This took place at the time a totalitarian regime (system) collapsed. The 1990 democratic elections gave Slovenes their first democratically elected parliament and a new government. The system gained a new democratic (elected!) legitimacy instead of the previous revolutionary (war-won!) legitimacy. The system’s value orientations were no longer merely declarative, but also actual. This was a chance to enact this important difference between declared super-values and actual here-values. This created space for new alliances and oppositions in the value orientation, not only on the declarative verbal, but also actual level of social relations within the system, in its institutions, and between them.
2 The system’s institutions, naturally, don’t transform overnight, let alone automatically with a change of dominating ruling groups, parties, coalitions in power. This is particularly true for the institution of the system’s mightiest mass medium – radio-television, i.e. the medium by which they rule – in a modern way.
3 The function of power, however, is not the medium’s most important function, though, at least for a modern system, it is certainly the most attractive. The medium has an even more important task, i.e. to be the national cultural medium, a medium providing and preserving the nation’s identity. The latter is more vital to the nation’s existence, it is existential, even though many will disagree with this fundamental difference in the medium’s orientation, while others will only agree formally and not in their actual behaviour (leading and managing the medium).
This is the abstract framework of the struggle for the national radio-television, in other words, this marks the conflict at the level of values. Only when we add the conflict’s main protagonists, does this social game become clearer.
– previous radio-television leadership
(managing and leadership bodies: the RTVS Assembly,
Council of Workers of the Basic Organizations of Associated Labour, unions – either established by the leadership or loyal to the leadership)
– the Union of Cultural Creators (a temporary alliance of certain unions at RTVS).
Purportedly, quite a few unions were established at the radio-television thus far (about 13 in 1990). At the time, the Union of CAC counted about 250 members – creators of the artistic-cultural programme. This union was also peculiar insofar as it was, from its very founding, the only serious opposition to the leadership in its attempts to restructure Radio-Television Slovenia. The reason for this was simply that the leadership intended to appropriate the medium legally by means of the Radio-Television of Slovenia Act (immediately before parliamentary elections). It was a little late to adopt the statute and enact a new reorganisation. This delicate change (complete reorganisation of the medium into a business) within the institution itself (the relationship between the leadership and the union) lay in the leadership’s obligation to execute a reduction of personnel before privatising the institution. The Institution of RTV Ljubljana therefore, like most socialist-system institutions, suffered from personnel hypertrophy and negative selection of a vast leading and leadership staff. And we know what kind of reduction such staff is able to implement, elimination of disloyal individuals personally disloyal to them (not to the institution). All this would be evident in the micro-reorganisation document. The union emphatically demanded such a document, stipulating it as a condition of potential dialogue with the leadership, of course in vain. And so, no such dialogue occurred, leaving only pure conflict. No one ever saw any micro-reorganisation document, perhaps it doesn’t even exist, but there existed an intention to fire as many creators as possible, indications were more than clear. This is, of course, not at all surprising, it is a regular result of conflict between an institution’s administrative and creative role. (In publically accessible – published documents, this was only detectible between the lines written by Boris Bergant.)
– Parliamentary opposition, i.e. previous government
(League of Communists, Socialist Alliance of Working People,
Socialist Youth League of Slovenia) or now parties (SDP, SS, LDS); independents, Italian and Hungarian communities, and the so-called independent media
– the ruling coalition, i.e. previous opposition
(KD, SKZ, SDZ, SDS, LS, ZS); new government:
government secretariats (for information, culture, science,
education); assembly committee (for information and for culture)
Truth be told, the CAC Union also had allies among traditional critics of the power of media, including those, who were removed from the medium according to the principles of negative personnel selection. Later development showed that such alliances don't last, particularly when partisan interests override the medium’s value orientation.
In short, at that moment it was more important to oppose the current government and thereby allying with opposition parties, former government, which in actuality continued to rule the medium and informally controlled it. Advocating for a cultural national radio-television was either merely a pretence hiding their influence over the medium, or superfluous to them. The RTVL leadership was the natural ally of the previous power through the system’s inertia. Not only, because the previous government installed it, it is itself merely an extension of the former government. In this, its instrumental dependency is not as important as its value-ideological orientation. The only possible CAC Union’s ally left was therefore the parliament and its ruling coalition DEMOS. Without it, its struggle would be lost in advance, if not impossible already because of the imbalance of power between the two protagonists at RTVL. So much for the union’s “above-partisan or nonpartisan activity”. This type of the union’s political integration is still far from reproof of their programming being dependent on parties, coalitions; not least, because of its defined value orientation for the national radio-television.
Where the union was truly nonpartisan and above-partisan was in its autonomous value orientation activity, which, in my opinion, in the concrete struggle for the medium turned out to be an illusion. Namely, such a medium is not supposed to be merely a medium of the masses, power or the system, of the predominant political propaganda, rather, it was supposed to be a national medium providing Slovenes with identity and preserve them as a nation rather than Europeanizing, Americanising, or even Balkanising them. As it appears, Slovenes view such a medium as too expensive a luxury. This orientation of the CAC Union was predetermined already in its professional activity (artistic creative activity), the latter is the source of the value orientation (and justification for culture in the system) postulating culture and art as those activities in the system (autonomous subsystem) that will preserve Slovenes as a nation with subjectivity. Without it the legitimacy of the Slovenian state will sooner or later also come in question.
I want to stress that the value orientations of the national radio-television remained that constant in unionist endeavours which exceeded the ideological declarative level of justifying the activities of a certain “conspiring faction” in the struggle for power at the medium of power, though all the events can also be explained in these extremely simplified terms, i.e. a conspiracy theory, particularly later, when the documents disappear, and the institution’s historical memory fades.
– The old leadership and the RTVS Assembly want to establish
an “independent business” through reorganisation,
or several “independent businesses”, in short,
keep the medium of power in the hands of the previous government –
current opposition, or cover up the previous regime politicisation of the medium through additional commercialisation – entrepreneurship.
The privatisation of the mass medium by the previous ruling class represents:
1 further commercialisation of the medium, still greater domination of the EP (economic propaganda), consumerist value orientation;
2 a transformation of the antiquated socio-realist Bolshevik propaganda (AP – agitation and propaganda) into a more modern-style domination of political informative function of the medium (PP – political propaganda), political marketing, marketing information et. sim., in short into a medium dominated by politically-indoctrinating programme;
3 continuing neglect of cultural-artistic propaganda (CAP);
4 the delay of actual systemic change!
Creators were facing the threat of being liberated from combining their work and means (dismissal), such is the status of “free” external workers at a mighty institution. The external workforce market in a small system is so limited, condensed, that wages in a small nation’s land don’t even guarantee the existential minimum, let alone free creativity. Today, this is, of course, unprovable; as stated, there is no micro-organisation and there presumably never was; indications of how endangered these creators were, speak volumes. This was the spontaneous reason to self-unionize, it was a spontaneous launch of self-defence activity, which is in itself justified and sensible and needs no separate excuse or justification.
The result of the conflict as it pertains to the union: It is schematically illustrated by the final non-dialogue of the manager of TOZD Milan Bajzhelj
at the session of the Council of RTV Slovenia (22. March 1991) – explanation of
TVS TOZD director Milan Bajzhelj’s reply to the resolution from
The 5th session of the Council of RTV Slovenia on 1 March 1991:
The activity of the CAC Union of RTVS prevented:
1 RTV Slovenia from becoming a company (or more companies according to the Act on Companies),
2 the adoption of a statute according to the then law (Radiotelevizija Slovenija Act, Ur. l. 16 April, l990),
3 the execution of reorganisation (according to the Act on Companies).
It did, however, establish:
1 the concepts of a national radio and national television,
2 substantial changes to the RTVS Act (more precisely in: Zakon o spremembah in dopolnitvah zakona o RTV Slovenija, Ur. l. 43, 28 Nov. 1990).
We wanted to acquaint the RTVS Council with the issues (a catalogue thereof), which the creators at RTV deemed essential. We expected the new RTV leadership to resolve all essential issues proffessionaly and in keeping with their authorisation.
But they didn’t, except one, and even that only when forced. Let me illustrate my comment with a single fact: The CAC Union fought to attain a collective contract (individual contract signatures for creators and other employees) for almost four years (journalists signed about a year earlier). The struggle to attain it lasted almost the entire mandate of the current leadership – former allies and comrades-in-arms for the national-cultural Radio-Television Slovenia. For the leadership to yield, it took two threats of strike by the CAC, the last at the most inopportune moment for the leadership and most suitable for the unions, when the new Radio-Television Act was adopted, i.e. during their re-election.
Note: Someone observing our union’s struggle from afar, could easily say we were left empty-handed, and perhaps even looking like idiots. (More on why later.) But this is not my opinion.
The conflict’s result for the management, administration, institutions, and politics
Normatively, the conflict was resolved with the adoption of the emendations to the RTVS Act, no longer called RTVL, but RTVS. The decisive corrections in the new act on changes and emendations to the RTVS Act concerned the RTVS Council’s composition and how so-called key leadership personnel was nominated (the Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia had consensus to the nomination or dsmissal of director general, dir. of Television, and dir. of Radio). To a sociologist, this external normative contract is not the final act of the story; it must even inevitably be said that the act was written (changed and amended) with the aim of occupying the medium, this was a so-called “storming of the bastion of communism”. It soon turned out that it wasn’t as simple as the beginners in power thought. DEMOS wasn’t up to the task, it wouldn’t be for a while. After formally occupying the RTVL/S institution, this system’s strongest mass medium, DEMOS played, rather than commanded the leading role, i.e. controlling the medium.
The concrete (institutional) result of the political struggle for the national medium between external protagonists was a stalemate. This was the case in the topmost managing body – the Council of RTV Slovenia, and at top leadership positions. After incredible tactical complications on both sides, the votes in the council fell in favour of the DEMOS opposition. The parliamentary majority only secured 10 votes out of the expected 13, i.e. they didn’t win the majority; this was not only due to their generosity, as some want to paint it today, but also due to their mistakes or inexperience in recruiting and lobbying their own personnel. (The composition of the elected RTVS Council was: KD: Viktor Blazhich, France Pibernik; SKZ: Marjan Podobnik, Janez Pogachnik; SDZ: Rudi Sheligo, Jozhe Snoj; SDS: Branko Grims, Marko Selan; LS: Danijel Malenshek, Igor Vidmar – (instead of Franc Goli); ZS: Vane Goshnik, Vlasta Jalushich; SDP: Dr Slavko Splichal, Lenart Shetinc MA, Dr Boshtjan M. Zupanchich; SS: Borut Shuklje;
LDS: dr. Pavle Gantar, Danijel Bozhich, Blazh Zheleznik; Neodvisni: Jozhe Zupanchich; It. sk.: Silvano Sau; Madzh. sk.: Ela Pivar; RTVS: Matjazh Albreht, Stane Perpar, Mito Anton Trefalt).
DEMOS held the crucial position of Chairman of the RTVS Council (Rudi Sheligo). In theory, DEMOS’s opposition could fill all the leadership vacancies but for the limitation in the law – consent of the parliament for the most responsible positions. Such and further concretisation of the outlined state of the relationship between those fighting for power within the medium is somewhat unpleasant, but it is necessary, if I am, at least hypothetically, to describe the development or structuring of roles in the media. The RTVS Council elected Dr Janez Jerovshek to the position of director general, while the positions of directors of radio and television were filled by France Vurnik and Janez Chadezh; therefore, DEMOS candidates were voted in. The changed RTVS Act and even more so the Foundations Act lent DEMOS more formal authority than could be expected, it held managerial, personnel, and programming competencies.
Yet, the only way it is possible to control a medium institution (not just normatively, i.e. by passing or amending and changing a new RTVS Act) is through inherited administration – hierarchical structure of the former government – structure of the institution’s previous leadership (boards, assistants and advisors to directors, heads of departments). Here, the opposition held a practically unattainable lead. Formally, DEMOS’s opposition also held the position of RTVS Council’s vice chairman, Dr Slavko Splichal – SDP, the exceptionally important position of chief editor of RTVS television programs Borut Shuklje – SS, who could have built a stronger pyramidal structure on virtually intact personnel of the medium’s actual power – the traditionally independent (from DEMOS) reporters, who were simultaneously dependent on the previous system (SZDL, ZKS). They were also dependent, at least insofar as the previous government selected them explicitly based on their loyalty to the party; outcasts and dissidents were rarely found among them. The only authority they recognised and attached themselves to – their integrative factor – was the President of the Republic of Slovenia Milan Kuchan. If the position of chief editor of RTVS radio programming were correspondingly occupied by Igor Savich, the RTVS could have potentially started a media campaign for the transformation of the state’s parliamentary constitutional system into a presidential system. This, of course, relates to the medium’s internal balance of power. However, the balance of power between parties – the main protagonists of this drama, which I am not describing here – played and will long continue to play a decisive role in the balance of power within the medium itself, in its informal, though actual, control. After the third repetition of the tender, the radio chief editorship finally fell to DEMOS, writer Franchek Rudolf, up until then chairman of the assembly’s committee on information; after he retired at a young age, Andres Jose Rot was elected or nominated to the position. After Borut Shuklje stepped down as TVS’s chief programing editor, Janez Lombergar took his place.
The actual control of the media at TVS actually fell to two increasingly important actors, occupations at TVS: news broadcasting editor-in-chief Lado Ambrozhich and editor-in-chief of entertainment programming Mito Trefalt, to the latter specifically for consolidating three incompatible functions; more on this a bit later.
We mustn’t overlook the special role played by the power of the Programme Council for national TV programs and its chairman Dr Misho Jezernik. RTVS institution’s Programme Council was to have no authority, only an advisory role to the RTVS Council. However, my experience in the Service for Researching Programme (SRP) and the SRP journal, at least, taught me otherwise; its counsel at the TVS had about as much value as formerly the counsel of ideological committees. (This is, of course, a matter of my personal opinion, based on experience, which I must now illustrate by giving at least one example.)
The “Jezernik’s council” and SRP activities were to have similar, complementary, or even overlapping content. Content, not weight of opinion, as SRP’s opinion carried none, which made the Jezernik’s council’s power that much more obvious. The first time we parted ways, if I may call it that, was in evaluating the suitability of the TVS weekly Tednik show. We were of the opinion, or better, we expected that a change of the show’s image would receive the support of the leadership of RTVS, the RTVS Council, and bove all the Programme Council for national TV programmes, whose job includes detecting and tracking changes in national radio-television programme content. However, the RTVS Programme Council took an entirely different - opposite stance. “The Programme Council for National TV Programmes debated the suitability of Darko Marin as Tednik’s anchor, voicing a series of reservations, particularly about the appearance of Tone Fornezzi – Tof in this explicitly political news programme.” (Informator RTVS 46, 25. 3. 93.)
Therefore, someone, either SRP or PC for national programmes, made a grievous error in evaluating this important issue. We needed to get to, or at least near the bottom of this issue. We hoped the Programme Council would demonstrate the necessary tolerance and understanding of our position (SRP) and the proposer’s slightly particular and biting way of expressing this research problem. We thought the Programme Council’s motion concerning Tednik’s editor Darko Marin’s unsuitability was a slipup. Possibly, it wasn’t, but rather either a mere example of poor consideration of the magnitude of repercussions, or part of a political game. More disturbing was the danger that motions with such meagre argumentation would become the norm in managing the medium resulting in a dangerous and familiar past practice.
In my opinion, the problem was serious and potentially precedential, going beyond the issue of a single editor’s, a single desk’s, “suitability”. I maintained that it was not about one show or editor, but about the administrative rationale of power, which always acts in the same way so that it must, sooner or later, destroy all creativity within the institution.
I am of the opinion that the ensuing increase in the Programme Council’s counsels confirmed that this relatively early warning was not exactly imagined. (The public polemic with Dr Misho Jezernik’s Programme Council can be found in Revija SRP 1/2 and 3/4, mostly in the Porochila raziskovlaca Programskemu svetu).
Note: To briefly comment on the conflict’s result for the management – for the Institution’s leadership, operatives, the RTVS Council now (of course from my point of view); they are appointed by politics, relieved by politics, politics is their fate. Realizing an independent national-cultural institution on their own is beyond them, beyond their power. Perhaps it’s a shame that some of them fall for this illusion, an even greater shame if they never took it seriously. The worst is if they pretend, if they don’t want to reflect the basic role of the medium’s institution in the system as it actually is. Only after facing the medium’s actuality, a little something can be effected for the national-cultural medium.
An institutional drama of sorts could be written about this conflict’s development, but this is not my intent. However, Alenka Goljevshchek could easily write one; I’m saying this because her play Otrok, druzhina, druzhba [Child, Family, Society] describes some events from VOAPZ I and the Research on Research more vividly than action documents and their interpretations do. I’m not saying that this description is fictional. What I mean is that an institutional drama, if framed by concrete actions of persons, their failed moves, and fatal blunders, would make for much more interesting reading than a documentary report. It would also clearly illustrate the power and achievement of perhaps the first notable instance of lobbying in a powerful institution of the system. For our RTVS CAC Union it was executed by its chairman Mito Anton Trefalt. The result? To him, it was mesmerising. When he traded his union horse in for a triumvirate, he gained three mighty, though incompatible, RTVS functions: managerial, supervisory, and economic; (he became the entertainment programme’s editor-in-chief, a member of the RTVS Council, he also got entertainment programme advertising marketing previously controlled by RTVL/S’s marketing dept., now the Publicum Agency, i.e. his son Andrej Trefalt.) He gained a fourth function: RTVS Programme Research Service’s programme measurement. He commissioned, financed, and interpreted research in his own way. Lado Ambrozhich at the RTVS news desk, similarly, but much more riskily, manipulated television surveys – “public opinion polls”. Let me repeat an excerpt from my article [Television Manipulations of Public Opinion Polls – They Are Debating Freedom] (this Revija SRP issue), because it summarises the core of this considerable medium’s, and wider, the system’s issue:
“Namely, the core of manipulation in our case is that the whole sense of public polling is perverted. Research no longer serves to ascertain public opinion, who and how shapes it, but rather to co-create (manipulate) public opinion. And SRP (Service for Programme Research) would actually have to change its name to to SIA (Service for Indoctrinating Audiences), similarly RTVS News Programme to TVS Indoctrination Programme.
Non-autonomous researchers chiefly create or at least strengthen this opinion by publishing “desired” survey results (derived through suspicious or questionable methods). This is upside-down world.”
The yield of the struggle for a national cultural radio-television was disastrous, even demeaning for the autonomous TVS Service for Programme Research. You can imagine my replies to the questions I rightly received, such as whether this was the national culturally artistic radio-television we championed so vigorously. Or if we took television from Bajzhelj only to pass it on to the Trefalt family. Or, which TVS ratings were correct? What else do Slovenes do when television in Slovenia has half a million viewers? The manipulation of ratings exceeded all good taste; (I also reported this in the Reports of a Researcher to the Programme Council and published it in Revija SRP 1/2. You can imagine that this made Revija SRP less than popular with the decision makers at the RTVS. A new struggle began (at least for me, more important than the struggle for the national radio-television), the struggle for the freedom of thought and writing. Old news, I hear you say, and you’re right. The exchanging of roles between key protagonists is more surprising than this variation on the theme; (I published a bit on this in this same issue of Revija SRP in: Televizijske manipulacije z javnomnenjskimi anketami razveljavljajo svobodo [TV Manipulations of Public Polls Overturn Freedom].)
The exchanging of roles is inevitably followed by such or similar development of relationships among the protagonists of a certain social mini drama. Not just every potentate, every playwright knows this. (Some roles are simply incompatible, and some in the institutional hierarchy of roles inevitably clash.) Drama or dramatization is purely down to the individual, their character, or, that, which I am particularly interested in – their actual individual value orientation. Particularly Ambrozhich and Trefalt identified with their roles so strongly that they saw disloyalty to their persons as disloyalty to the institution, in the sense of “télévision – c’est moi”.
(In my [On Small-Scale Personal Legitimacy or the Value System of One] (Revija SRP 1/2), I tried to illustrate this issue as factually as possible, of course in keeping with the conditions at the national-cultural radio-television RTVS.)
I must end this story by saying dryly that we, naturally, didn’t achieve what we set out to achieve, i.e. not even the essential normative changes, nor the only change to our national RTV we thought vital, i.e. the national cultural value orientation. Another time perhaps, when the value system will be perceived as more than just supremacy of economics and politics and overlordship of economic and political propaganda in the value orientation of the system’s media. The main problem was that politics and economics in the system increased their power not only through expanding both types of propaganda irrelevant of or without clear normative limitations, but also, which is much simpler, by entangling cultural workers in a web of politics; politics systematically diminished the importance of national culture and its autonomous propaganda.
To reiterate: there is no Slovenian economy or science, no Slovenian politics; there is only economy, science, politics in Slovenia. All these activities are trans-national, valid. Culture is the only system’s activity that can only be national, otherwise it lacks its own identity, as though it no longer exists, moreover the nation lacks identity, as though it no longer existed. Of course, this makes it much easier and faster for “Slovenes” to enter Europe. At a time of great systemic changes, such as Europe’s unification, Yugoslavia’s dissolution, independence of the Slovenian state, systemic actions are important: a referendum, new constitution, national conciliation, world congress, and above all perpetual election campaign and resolution of the mounting economic crisis (dissolution of the economic subsystem). All this inevitably dominated the media’s value orientations. Even national cultural identity is discussed in the ideological (political, propaganda) value system, not as a nation’s autonomous or fundamental value orientation, wherein the nation is the subject, and the only one to lend it a historical identity. Politics will only grasp this when it’s too late, at which point Slovenian statehood may be superfluous and the state unnecessary.
It took me no less than this many unpleasant words to at least partly summarize and distinctly illuminate one of the I/OAPZ action report’s chapters. And now a little something concerning certain documents, which still won’t leave me be and continue to vex me to this day.
WILL SLOVENIAN TV AND RADIO BE NATIONAL MEDIA?
THE KIND OF TV WE DON’T WANT
The two articles were published separately, on two Saturdays in the readers’ letters section of the Delo newspaper’s supplement “Sobotna priloga”. This wasn’t what I intended. I expected the first, distinctly theoretical article to be published among theoretical articles or at least in the “Prejeli smo” [We Received] section, and the other among the readers’ letters. This was not a whim, but rather understanding with what to burden readers of letters in a mass medium and avoid a negative propaganda effect. That was what it was about – the propaganda effect, actualising the values of a national medium – the Slovenian Radio-Television! On the contrary, the second article was distinctly polemical, describing dealing with those opposing the union and the cultural creators at RTVS, with their most visible theoretician Boris Bergant (both were published in Delo among the readers’ letters, and I was, of course not too upset, if anyone asked me what it was that I was writing about in Delo.)
Unpleasant work, but now the stakes were real: who will have the institution and who will or won’t be tossed out on the street, us or them, the then management or the creators? That’s what we faced then, and things weren’t much different later.
At the very end, the institutional conflict unravelled slightly differently, the way it usually unfolds in keeping with the logic of a rigid institutional structure – system. But let’s move on. The only settling of accounts the readers enjoy is the kind that entertains them, or at least the kind they can frown upon; otherwise, writing is in vain, a waste of time, and has no propaganda effect. The media editors make their own calculations, which sometimes need to be accepted. And so, for the sake of the union’s propaganda action, I endured their arbitrary will. Now that the union and research action are finished and both reports written, the memories of this part of my work are an unpleasant nightmare, which culminated a bit later in the polemic with the un-signed chairman of the Slovene Association of Journalists.
Note: I have to say, that today, Boris Bergant is one of the rare people at RTVS, whose tolerance or something to the same effect surprises me. Perhaps my instincts mislead me, but I feel that he is one of those people, who is at least not too bothered by people of the opinion opposing his own.
How to Achieve a National Radio-Television
Hypocrisy or Front
How to End the Agony of RTV
The hardest part of the propaganda action was emphasising the general and primary nature of the national medium's value orientations ahead of the parties' political interests, in short, of the power lobbies, along with the difference between the medium's legal and legitimate authority. Let me list a few emphases:
The support (of a part of the directed public) for the then leadership of RTVL/S (our union’s adversaries); though prolonging the term of the then RTVL assembly was legal it was not legitimate.
In our collaboration on adopting the new RTVS act thus far, I detected a constant in the tactics of their alliance’s leadership:
1 stalling the adoption of changes to the act at any price,
2 invoking the supposed autonomy of the medium and the reporters.
The agony in the medium and disturbance in the creative process had gone on for six months already, and so I dared alert the Slovenian public and all the members of Parliament, that this state of matters was impeding the democratisation of the medium as well as the processes of the democratisation of Slovenian society.
The effects of the value orientations of the national medium are more long-term than current political interests of parties. Values are above the norm, above the law, yet the law either alows or prevents them from being enacted.
The structure of the RTVS Council is not a professionnal issue, but a political one, and writing the Act on RTVS is not a matter of penmanship nor of normative enthusiasm. This much, my experience allows me to state with certainty.
Social change is inevitably followed by changes in the media. The media will inevitably change, it’s only a matter of time. The blockade lasted for as much as half a year. I don’t know what the new RTVS leadership will do with the national medium, but I do know, what the old leadership did.
As to the current values of those impacted in this story, this is where we are now:
the autonomy of the medium – a lie,
the autonomy of the reporters – discredited,
the autonomy of cultural creators – an illusion,
the solidarity of the unions – crushed,
the rule of the management – unrelenting,
the power of the state – weak,
the influence of civil society – invisible.
Note: I could reiterate the last two sentences, or even the entire text today, only with less bitterness, because, if nothing else, experience teaches me not to expect too much. However, I still can’t stand hypocrisy.
The Values of Autonomous Journalism
Value Orientations of Autonomous Reporters in the Media Propaganda Blizzard in Slovenia
The Reporter’s Autonomy in the Period between Totalitarianism and the Arising Democratisation of Our System
None of us at the cultural union were willing to face Boris Bergant in the polemic, after he appeared in the role of the un-signed chairman of the Association of Journalists EC. Yet, this was the moment of the pivotal confrontation with the false autonomy of “regime” reporters, and so this dirty job fell to me. With aversion, particularly since I was not a member of the society, I finally wrote the article. I stressed the following:
“– The autonomy of reporters at the radio-television is a virtue which doesn't exist but which all of us want; however there are thus far few, who cite said autonomy justifiably and even fewer, who see that they must first shed their previous dependence, before they start defending themselves from a new one.
– There is no real 'danger that this (RTVS) house would become fully dependent on the current balance of political power – which could threaten its function as an independent and professionally autonomous medium.’
There is however a danger, a serious inclination, that this house will remain more in the function of a secret alliance with its former founder the patron of SZDL – the socialists and the ZKS (Slovenian Communist Alliance) – the reformers. For now, this medium is still not very public, it is more dependent than independent, and not fully professional in its reporting and creating the criteria of its own truth.
– the bill fundamentally alters the public-, but really commercial radio-television’s previous design. The public vs. state RTV dilemma is false! The actual dilemma is: national vs. commercial radio-television. And if the referendum – the passing of RTVS statute weren’t prevented, this house would be a public commercial company. Boris Bergant and Milan Bajzhelj's vision would have been realised.
Two blocs are forming with the current RTVS leadership on one side, and the current opposition and the ruling coalition in the parliament on the other.
– Slovenian civil society is only just developing, invoking it is dubious; we don’t trust the Slovenian parliament, and we are to trust representatives of civil society, perceived by the majority of those thinking in the old way as tried and true old delegate personnel!
And the height of pretence, the parliament-elected representatives of the RTVS Council are given ‘long since obsolete designations, which we thought long-since relegated to the junkyard of history along with all other characteristics.’ Things will change once civil society truly comes to life everywhere, once the identity of those, who can truly invoked it, becomes unambiguous.
– The autonomy of journalism, the freedom of cultural and artistic creativity, can look forward to better times, but only when reporters and creators will themselves shed their focus and focusing of their own thinking, free creativity, and particularly the fear of the power of the mighty and self-censoring.
We must nevertheless remember who distorted tha nation, and in what way and for how long they distorted it! And what the nation was to the previous totalitary regime is surely clearly evident today!
– To avoid inauspicious confusion: we needn’t fear for truly professional, autonomous reporters. They are autonomous per se, by their own thinking, and my comments are not aimed at them; I also doubt the theses of the Executive Committee of the Slovene Association of Journalists represents their opinion!
At RTVS we are also familiar with excessive autonomy or dominance of certain powerful reporters in all significant programming and personnel decisions, which is supposedly a long since accepted European self-evident truth. The problem is that we have long been ruled by reporters who bent to the upper echelons of power and who rose above those “not-yet-developed” below. We see them as management, not members of the collective of reporters. They actually act according to the value of loyalty nut swear by the value of autonomy!
This is why I doubt that the closing sentiment of the analysed text expresses the reporters’ desire for autonomy. If someone truly wants autonomy, then they also recognize the autonomy of others, e.g. programme creators.”
I finished my actual struggle for the national radio-television, or my engagement, action effort, and interfering in politics, if you will, with an article in Demokracija: [The Medium and Time, Something Current about the RTV Slovenia Medium Today, as Viewed by a Critical Researcher]. I won’t summarize it here, because it was published in Revija SRP 1/2. The only thing that was left was for me to formally withdraw as member of the RTVS CAC Union Committee for Following the Reorganisation of RTVS (with a formal argumentation of course). This meant things were going profoundly differently than expected; in other words, for me the struggle was over, because in my opinion the battle for a cultural national radio-television was lost.
Note: Those who truly strive for civil society, reduced power of politics, and their own autonomy are unfortunately only known in retrospect, virtually at the end of their path, social engagement, career, and then such adherence to civil society no longer brings any political gains.
THE CONCLUSION OF MY THOUGHTS ON THE STRUGGLE FOR A NATIONAL RADIO-TELEVISON
As it is, when I serve as an action researcher I feel mostly resigned. This is the case after each action research, including the Struggle for the National Radio-Television.
However, today I have the strongest sense that the national radio-television’s value orientations were merely the cultural creator union’s illusion, while the medium’s true value orientation will be systemic, i.e. chiefly the same it was. It’ll be a medium of power and king of consumption, in short, a medium dominated by politics and economics (an economic and political subsystem), dominated by political and economic propaganda, and the medium’s culturally artistic and entertainment activities merely hangers (under-frames), on which the system’s basic orientation (expansion of unrelenting political and economic power) hangs and leaches off of. There is no difference between the opposition and ruling coalition medium‘s actual – fundamental value orientation, its conceptual long-term orientation, and foundation in the land. Where this statement is concerned, I’m not expecting agreement let alone approval, I think that this isn't the result of my disappointment with the failure of the union action. Time will show how accurate it is. The only problem is that no one pays any attention to such statements, when they can be tested at the level of public testing (created by the MM), because everyone is either clear on them already, or they are no longer relevant to the MM. The value orientation of the RTVS medium will always be aimed at the short term, at further commercialising the radio and television media. Meanwhile the dominant propaganda will be in phase delay, benefitting the previous government, system’s inertia, or serve to prevent actual value change within the system. The autonomy of reporters in the value orientation will, in my opinion, continue to be illusory.
Some will view such autonomy as invasive (overly aggressive) in relation to the ruling coalition, but not in relation to the governmental opposition. Others, the reverse: as servile to governing parties and only independent from the opposition. The real problem with autonomy is how to be autonomous from “one’s own”.
In truth, the struggle for the national medium is just about to properly begin. (This is my personal view, and I hope it will no longer be as much my problem as it was, neither in my role a researcher or union representative in the institution of the medium of power.) In both aspects, I feel that it would be better for the national medium if this struggle unfolded within the political news portion of the programme, and thus not vitally affect the national medium’s value orientation. But this is not how things will unfold. This part of the programme (PIP) has traditionally governed the whole medium. It increases its power not only by expanding, but also by reducing, or better, governing, the significance of the medium’s cultural-national value orientation. We can therefore only expect further democratization, i.e. politicisation and commercialization of the “national medium”, which will only be national in name and in its formal status within the system.
And what role does the audience play in this struggle for the medium: its viewers, listeners, and the widest population? To watch and listen to what the MM is showing and telling them, i.e. distinctly passive. The public opinion is produced by the media; it is what the media want to be. Let me illustrate this with examples:
– We cannot claim that the nation is conscious, because they would still vote for the former communist president of the republic today, even if they were under threat of presidential system. The value system of one (the personal legitimacy of the system) is simply etched in people’s minds; they need a father of the nation; this isn’t erased overnight with some substitute; the MM spent years convincing them of this, and they are certain he is the right one!
– We cannot say that this nation is mad because it drinks so much Coca-Cola. It buys it not because it is the “right” drink, to the nation’s taste, but because this product has the strongest and most frequently played commercials on the national medium (TVL/S) thus far. Almost every Slovene saw hundreds of instances of this truly good commercial. Today’s younger generation has been watching this commercial since birth, and knows what’s “right” for them.
They will vote for politicians and parties with public images, the way and to the extent these were advertised in the media; to put it more simply, those, whom they have seen with their own eyes, but as they were depicted on TV, to the extent they heard about them on the radio and read about them in the papers. The power of economic propaganda (EP) and political propaganda (PP) is virtually immeasurable.
Coca-Cola bought the Olympic Games because it realised the extent of the power of EP early enough; parties will be able to buy power, if they too realise and grab the media of power in time.
This is a somewhat simplified illustration of the power of the media, of their propaganda. Only two things about the EP are essential: the image of the product and the image of the firm – its creator, and two about the PP: the image of the politician’s role and the party that cast them.
A party creates the politician just as the firm creates the product and the election is analogous with the “free market”, where the result is programmed through marketing. The only vital difference is that in politics unfair competition is allowed. Creating a negative image for the competing side, party, individual politicians can carry even greater weight than generating a positive image for your own side (party); as the old Slovenian saying goes, better for the neighbour’s goat to drop dead than for one’s own to have offspring. I don’t know, however, if this is tied to Slovenian national character or newly developing democracy. The medium is teeming with refined and unrefined low blows, such TV expression has no criteria, it is more a matter of the “autonomous reporters’” taste or personal affinity, and often beyond good taste. This is a serious problem of the medium’s criteria in the culture of political propaganda and political ethics. (The media is teaching the multitude according to the old adage of politics being a whore.)
Only exceptionally, are the historic system changes historical. This happens when social changes are so great (e.g. the collapse of a communist system), that merely controlling the media alone does not guarantee a party’s election. And if history were to play with the system one more time, the system’s value founded on personal legitimacy (the value system of One, speaking generally – a cult-of-personality system) would become relevant once again; then all freedom of the nation would be based on one again. The medium’s value orientations would also be easier to identify, as a medium can also have its own, though slightly smaller, One and only director at the helm of the oh-so infamous freedom of the medium.
Allow me to conclude by repeating a statement from my Alternativni sociolog na socioloshkem srechanju. [An Alternative Sociologist at a Sociological Gathering] contribution. Though I wrote it years ago, before taking up union activity, I can repeat it today verbatim: TV Slovenia is not a national medium. More precisely, we cannot seriously say that RTVS is a national institution whose programme reflects the nation’s culture. At a strong medium, culture is incidental. TV is the system’s most powerful medium. The system needs it and it needs the system, follows its example. The system’s strongest subsystems are politics and economics and the same is true at the medium. The TV medium is most important to the system, a one-way communication medium, a mass medium, a medium of the system for the masses – multitudes. It is the system’s most manipulative medium. For this medium, two things are most essential: political and economic propaganda, the rest is a framework upon which the said essence is suspended and off of which it leeches, because it cannot stand or exist on its own. Powerful media, particularly TV, pollute the viewers’ psyche with hypertrophic propaganda. The green party could pay a bit more attention to this very kind of pollution.
This medium also cannot be supra-partisan, only multi-partisan, or better, several small partisan TV mediums. Particularly because people, who for a number of years and from the very start served a single Party, ideology, are unable to become supra-partisan, non-partisan, or civil overnight. They’re even less likely to transcend their past and invoke the freedom of the medium in the system and journalistic autonomy at the TV Slovenia medium.
Note: If formerly all key positions at the medium could only be occupied by SZDL appointment with ZK’s consent, then the only difference today is that no important position at the medium can be filled without support or at least consent of political parties. The difference is therefore lesser than an external observer may think. I add only that now all parties combined can be just as unpleasant to a genuine civil society representative as the Party once was. Moreover, all parties combined are like a single overly powerful Party with several fractions.
BETWEEN SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS,
TRUTH AND POWER, SCIENCE AND IDEOLOGY
He banged his head against Scylla, Charybdis devoured him. This could be the motto of this several-year-long gruelling behaviour – alternative research.
Once Ivan Urbanchich and I discussed my Three Considerations from the Research on Research (Science Swindled of its Essence, The Medium Refuses to Know, Realisation Per Se Has no Power). He said that a fourth consideration was missing, and that I will have to write it. I disagreed that I had to write it. It concerned power, we didn't see eye to eye on this value, particularly in our personal relations to it. Perhaps he was right and I am now writing the said fourth consideration, or I basically wrote it in my note to the previous conclusion. I did not escape the experience of what happens when realisation is also used by power. Here it is:
Note 1: The basic outline of an alternative researcher’s position is unchanged, it is where it was: autonomous, extremely critical, unrelenting, oppositional; however, it is extremely uncertain in relation to its institutional validity, or in how necessary it is to the MM institution.
The union activity played a similar role, being that unlike previous directorial unions, our (CAC) union was also in opposition to the management; and relations between the fundamental protagonists in the institution will inevitably sooner or later muddy or exacerbate. If I define my union activity in the struggle for a national radio-television (such as it is) as a direct test of theoretical reflections, I can be at ease. I view this as a rare example of a direct use of several years of research of values in living practice.
However, the research action is also distinct from union practice insofar as the latter is predominately focused on the result of the struggle as opposed to research activity, which is focused on analysing events, irrelevant of the conflict’s actual result. In other words, what’s important for research is a consistent value orientation, while for the action itself it is the result of effected interests. The main action research value orientation dilemma is between realisation and propaganda: between being oriented towards realisation, which is powerless on its own, and the fact that advertising is only effective when it unceasingly effects, repeats, in short expands autonomous value orientation. Action is only effective when institutionalized; here, when a truly autonomous CAC Union thrives at RTVS. This makes the research action contradict itself. The very realisation restricts, diminishes, institutionalizes. The value dilemma remains the same: power or truth; because it is impossible to realize both values simultaneously (at least not optimally), because in this case only diminished power with limited realisation is enacted. In my opinion reprimanding the uselessness of such theoretical and simultaneously action research is unjustified. If research is very useful then its weight tips the scales from the sphere of research to the sphere of expansive propaganda. If, conversely, it is only slightly useful (by mere chance, some orientations make their way among the words of politicians, without them knowing how, planted there by their professional analytical services), this neither diminishes nor guarantees its cognitive value. Advertised value orientations can be entirely nonsensical and untrue, because the final judge is time, perceived as facts of direct consciousness, direct facts of the consciousness of the living people (as opposed to facts transferred to passive consumers of the MM). This demands risk and tolerance on the part of those allowing or forbidding such research. I don’t expect the powerful to go as far as cultivating it, as long as they don’t quell it too much. My personal experience is so bad that I must constantly repeat this dilemma. There isn’t much allowance, tolerance, instead there is so much the more conflict, much more than realisation itself would demand.
Note 2: Another institutional power was added to the realisation. It’s not very great (a member of the RTVS CAC Union Committee for Following the Reorganisation of the National Radio-Television – some simply referred to this phenomenon as a union ideologist), it was also not small; because this was a watershed moment of systemic change, and the radio-television was of more than noteworthy importance to these changes!
The result within the researcher’s personal value orientation (his only ethical query) is approximately along these lines:
Further split between the institutional role of the researcher and the official within the researcher was inevitable, this was augmented by the split between his role of action researcher and role of union activist.
At the level of values, the incapacity to reconcile realisation – the value of truth, and influencing, ordering – the value of power increases! Realisation gains power, effects some of its realisation, inter-ests, calls attention to itself, that it nonetheless is, does exist (ignorance, the typical weapon of politicians ex cultural workers, fails; it is no longer possible or effective).
The researcher can use the realisations about the workings of the institution for internal autonomous propaganda activity (systematically advertising values of the science propaganda, in variations, of course). As a result, in the end, politics must consider these realisations, these value orientations, to a degree at least, and in the end outmanoeuvres them!
The main issue of the truth-to-power or realisation-to-ideology ratio is nowhere near resolved. Decision is a result of momentary affectation, never final, in its essence a priori and personal. That which is unique and unrepeatable, is a variation on a theme. The Games of the System joyfully continue; the non-organised individual is merely troublesome to the system (Spielverderber = spoilsport).
This dilemma should become slightly more intelligible if I express it in a more familiar language. Why do I still not deem this text about the value orientations of the system ideological? Let me at least roughly present ideology as I experienced it:
– ideology is political consciousness (it establish the values of the system, institutional order, its hierarchy),
– it is a skewed consciousness (reversed consciousness, declared consciousness, transmitted consciousness) it is consciousness used for governing,
– it is the collective consciousness of a party (according to this party, the said consciousness is inclined, oriented and directed) in any case it is transmitted through systematic political propaganda.
The least that is needed for ideology to exist is for some organisation, some organised agitation – propaganda to institutionally establish it. Only as an established collective like-mindedness does it gain the power of an ideological persuasion. And only after some organisation – party grows too powerful, does its ideology gain systemic proportions. Then it controls the system, it is a total and totalitarian consciousness of a man of the system. It will penetrate any political reasoning, all of politics, education (the minds of children), culture, art, science, the social realm, even fun – entertainment or the subsystem of games. Yet, all our parties today follow each other’s example, and are well on their way to act as a single mighty party of many fractions. This is what we call post-totalitarianism or still a politocratic system. The only thing left are islands, tiny insignificant individuals of their own and distinctive reasoning. Well the time of this kind of great ideologies (very familiar to our generation) is drawing to a close. Yet, in principle, this is how ideologies are born and act. They’re hard to detect when emerging, at first as an exclusive collective consciousness of a certain group; this is because, compared to all of the system’s political propaganda their propaganda contribution is a drop in the ocean of “directed” collective consciousness! They only reveal themselves, become truly visible, after they gain power.
RTVS CAC Union’s value orientations about the national radio-television lacked such ideological characteristics, required to establish a collective consciousness.
And yet, this was its beginning and only after it, the union had power. This was nevertheless an inception of a collective consciousness, declared consciousness, possessing consciousness, misleading consciousness, magical consciousness of a group that can only base itself on a single value, and that value is power! Its power did not lie in the sum of individuals (of union members). Its power rested in communicating like-mindedness. It could only establish itself institutionally if a powerful party accepted it into its programme (of systematic propaganda). The ACA Union could not enact its programme by itself, this was beyond its capacity.
(In the article on direct facts of consciousness this difference between ideological and non-ideological facts of consciousness is described in: ‘O neposrednih dejstvih zavesti’ [On Direct Facts of Consciousness], Dialogi, no. 9-10, 1987, Maribor).
I grow tired of conveying facts of consciousness. I yearn for direct facts again. What befell me in recent years is fairly accurately written in a paragraph of the said article: “The human mind cannot comprehend anything it doesn’t essentially know already. Intuitive comprehension is like evoking proto-memory. The same goes for human ethical intuition, the ‘categorical imperative’. Humans cannot profoundly evaluate any action, which they haven’t themselves fundamentally experienced. Since we communicate mostly by conveying, exchanging ideas, thoughts, values, feelings through mediums (intermediaries), we like to forget that we are fundamentally tied to conveying our superficial self and that we convey facts of consciousness through dead symbols, in our case language.”
I must conclude this report by expressing doubt. If my theses about the two subjects, the individual and nation, don’t hold up (about the nation, nation as subject, spirit of the nation)*, then at least my entire argument on the national radio-television’s value orientation was unfounded and is now merely ideological persuasion. What remains is a mere experience of power, not very great but also not small, and what also remains is the aesthetical pleasure of its use. Charybdis was stronger. He banged his head against Scylla, but Charybdis devoured him.
* (First published in the contribution: 'O nacionalni identiteti' [On National Identity], Dialogi, nos. 1-2, 1989, Maribor.)
Used internal reports:
Vrednotne orientacije nacionalne radiotelevizije [Value Orientations of National Radio-Television](a summary of the report on the activity of the union (ACA RTVS) in the struggle for a national radio-television), 1991, Ljubljana, p 54 /internal report of the RTVS ACA Union – co-author/
Vrednotne orientacije nacionalne radiotelevizije [Value Orientations of National Radio-Television] (Internal Research Report SRP RTVS, 1991, Ljubljana, p. 70)
Vrednotne orientacije avtonomne propagande znanosti II [Value Orientations of Autonomous Propaganda of Science] (Continuation and conclusion of research report VOAPZ from 1986, ISU in Ljubljana – Internal Research Report), SRP RTVS, 1991, Ljubljana
In Ljubljana, August 1994