I’LL GIVE MY STATE FOR A HORSE
(Or the state’s recognisability – the power of the system
or the nation’s consciousness – the collective identity)
»Whoever only defends identity has already lost the battle for it. For identity must not only be defended but must also be created.«
EVERY TIME I DOUBT:
What comes first, what is more important: a state’s recognisability – the power of the system or the nation’s consciousness – the collective identity? I cannot get this question out of my head, it keeps bothering me. Why? Is it really so enigmatic? I don’t believe it is; it just varies in every new context, i.e. it keeps appearing in different forms. Not so much because of the changes in the nation’s self-awareness, that is us – our collective identity, but because of the changes in our system or state which »make us happy«. For these keep changing, keep being reformed, transformed or undergo »transitions«.
The nation as a subject remains the same in its essence, it is either free or it does not exist, or will no longer exist, when it loses its desire for freedom (for independence). Man lives for decades, nations live for centuries, clans (gens), peoples (ethn.) for millennia and these possess all the fundamental traits of collective consciousness – the identity of the subject.
I can say that ever since I have been aware of myself as an individual – it is true that this happened relatively late – I became aware at the same time of my or our collective identity: that I am of Slovenian nationality, that that is my collective consciousness. And that in turn is directly a consequence of my – our consciousness, for self-ness is a direct consequence of my own consciousness. They are inseparable. In other words, I directly know – can recognise – only two subjects, one is the individual, the other is the nation. But I have doubts about the state of our collective identity. I am not aiming for an academic discussion about the possibility of defining the nation, but for direct knowledge from the collective consciousness. You either become aware of it or it remains unconscious, but still it is intuitively comprehensible.
Why exactly is this group consciousness so enigmatic (concealed or hidden away)? Because of the overwhelming power of the system, the predominant (overly dominant) propaganda system, according to which the recognisability of a state is propagated – the power of the system has almost entirely erased the nation’s consciousness – self-consciousness – identity. Not long ago with the idea of proletarian internationalism, nowadays with the idea of globalism.
In my relatively short life, I have lived in four states, or four very different systems. At least two of them could be described in their heyday as dictatorships (states in totalitarian systems), and the present-day one as a state which is struggling to escape its heritage – the characteristics of a post-totalitarian system. Breakthrough can occur only after several generations have passed; maybe this state of affairs will last for fifty years, give or take a few years.
I was born in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, then survived the NDH (Independent State of Croatia, as a child in Sunja, Banja Luka), I was liberated in the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia – later renamed Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY), then became independent for the second time within the Republic of Slovenia, which since its entry into the EU is visibly losing its brief sovereignty. There are large differences between them in terms of the formal recognition of the nation, but none of these states have been kind to the Slovenian nation, not even the Republic of Slovenia and the EU. Perhaps there is even the beginning of a collective European consciousness and perhaps even a planetary consciousness, but I do not know because I have not become aware of either one or the other.
The system’s role specialists are of a different opinion: why are you worrying about the nation, it will survive somehow as it has survived all conquerors and invaders to this day. We should care instead for our state, only that is important, only that is in a constant process of development (hierarchisation). The present one is a modern and completely new institutional (corporate) formation.
For a better understanding of this introduction I must summarise the short introductory value foundation of the system from 19991:
»As you can tell from the title, we will try this time to unfold or unravel the value foundation of the system. More precisely, we are interested in the value system of the institutional structure or (put more briefly) the legitimacy of the system, (or even more briefly) the system, because the system is in first place a value system – a value-based foundation for an institutional structure. First of all we are interested in it in a general sense, i.e. as a value foundation of any system, then, and sometimes in between, we will also ask ourselves about the protruding concrete particularities of the value-based foundation of »our system«. When nowadays we use the words »our system«, we think of Slovenia as only a temporary or transient system or a transitional system on the way to the super-system that is Europe. The latter is our new desired system, or to begin with still a super-system. Usually, we equate the system with the state. But this is not entirely correct because the state can be set up as a system (e.g. a totalitarian system), or it can almost in its entirety consist of the most powerful sub-system (in our case, a political sub-system or politics in short), e.g. a politocratic system or system dominated by the rule of political parties. And finally, the state could be only the most powerful institution in the system. Of course, we have not yet had such an example in our civilisation, or at least I have not heard of anything even remotely resembling something like this. We can at least hope that this will one day come about. Although there are no signs that this could happen to the EU.
The Union already has strong unitary tendencies, at least as strong as those of our previous unitary or federative states (super-systems): the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the SFRY. On two occasions we joined with great trust and hope a system known as a »community of fraternal nations« and twice it ended the same way – with a great slaughter. The drama of our last failed super-system is not yet over in the southern part of the country. Some people place their hopes in the UN, which is, however, not an institution of united nations but an institution of united states. Furthermore, the UN is an institution of symbolic rather than real power on our planet (i.e. in the supra-system of humanity).«
In reawakening historical memory, we try to stir awareness of particularly patriotic Slovenians such as Bohorich, Trubar, Presheren, Levstik, Cankar and Kosovel. I will not list all those we have presented as important for the Slovenian nation, those we must thank for our survival and existence. Cankar was the one who lashed out openly over Slovenian servility as a shameful characteristic of the nation’s character. (See his lecture: The Slovenian People and Slovenian Culture, in Trieste, 1907.)2
Every time I have doubts about my nation I remember Ivan Cankar. Did not Ivan understand things best? He is indispensable for this essay. But in contrast to him, no-one gave the nation more encouragement, and is therefore indispensable for this question, than Srechko Kosovel. That is why in this place I must quote his letter to those weak in faith, those in despair and the brave:
»This letter is for those of little faith! And those who despair and those who are neither lacking in faith or despairing but stand with their heads bowed and do not know what to do and how. This letter is also for those who are brave and strong, as a salute to their courage and strength. And for them most of all; for courage, that is health!
In the name of Trubar, I send you this letter, and in the name of those who wrote our names in prayer books, and in the name of those who spoke our language long, long ago. And in the name of the latter in particular. For they were the first and most decisive. They were the soil on which sprouts the tree and grows the nation. And it is in the name of these that I greet you most heartily.
For there would have been no Trubar, no Bohorich and no Krelj, had it not been for these; no Dalmatin, no Japelj, no Pohlin, no Vodnik, no Kopitar, no Kastelic and no greatest Presheren. And no Levstik, no Jurchich, no Stritar, no Trdina, no Mencinger, no Kersnik, no Jenko, no Tavchar, no Ashkerc and no Gregorchich of ours. All these sprouted up like trees from the native soil. And that is why I salute these who are this soil and life.
For without them there would have been no Kette, no Cankar, no Meshek, no Aleksandrov, no Zhupanchich and our greatest men of the modern age.
For the tree cannot grow where there is no soil, where there is no strong healthy earth. And an artist cannot appear where there is no nation.
And still the forests and the landscapes are ours and the nation is still living and breathing, O, the nation cannot be killed.« (Collected works; Third book, I-II; DZS, Ljubljana 1977)3
On the other hand, we have many more very important statesmen and politicians who are dominated by the sort who were prepared and are still prepared to sell us, disown us, or at least exchange us for obedient citizens. I will not mention anyone, not because I do not dare but because there are too many of them.
Our articles in Revija SRP and Lives Journal show that Andrej Lenarchich and I have diametrically opposed views on the importance of the state and the nation. I nevertheless believe he has done a good job of presenting the history of Slovenian statehood. This is history which has been concealed and about which our statesmen and their official historians do not wish to know anything. I find it tragic that the facts listed by Lenarchich – as a keen supporter of the arbitration agreement – actually speak against it.
To satisfy the courageous historical stance of the Slovenians – »for courage, that is health!« – a sovereign state attitude would suffice. This could be expressed in a statement as follows:
The sovereign state of the Republic of Slovenia does not voluntarily relinquish territories occupied by nationalist neighbours and will not agree to the arbitration agreement! If the state cannot resist too strong a force – in the play of geostrategic interests of super-systems (Croatia’s role in it is just as marginal as that of Slovenia) one would at least expect a nation adorned by dignity, pride and courage not to yield voluntarily.
»If you take away a nation’s pride – dignity, you injure its soul. You gnaw at its self-confidence – self-awareness, and with that its originality – its identity. The Slovenians – our successors, will not forgive this.« 4,5
Let them not force us into slavery and servility with these three scourges of the Slovenian national character. And if this cannot be avoided, may our nation’s betrayal not be portrayed to the people as a great achievement of Slovenian statesmanship. But this train has already left the station, the expression of sovereignty is ad acta. Only the execution remains.
That is why, every time I have doubts about my nation and then come to my senses (become aware of myself and our collective identity) I exclaim:
»I’LL GIVE MY STATE FOR A HORSE«
A propaganda supplement or apology to the reader
To the reader who may accidentally have strayed into reading these lines, I owe an apology or at least an explanation: The assertions made in this essay, as well as other similar assertions (e.g. the ones made in the essays below the line) do not appear to be any different from other propaganda messages. They stand out most in that they are the ingredients of autonomous propaganda. They must be checked! This can be done either with a simple logical analysis and the verification of the facts listed or by checking these facts as direct facts in one’s own consciousness. The latter is a little more difficult at first, until you get used to it. Converse in the spirit with patriotic Slovenians, at least with some of the ones mentioned by Srechko Kosovel in his Letter, and you will come to understand your nation.
Translated from Slovenian by Marko Petrovich
1 Rajko Shushtarshich, Values of the syste I, II [Values of the system I, II], Revija SRP 31/32, 1999, str. 116
3 Srechko Kosovel, Thoughts on the nation; A letter, LiVeS Journal, Januar 2011, sht. 3, str. 90
Revija SRP 97/98, June, 2010, p. 121