Lives Journal 7

Rajko Shushtarshich



Concerning the nation from metareality – facts stemming directly from consciousness


»A correct notion (said Diotima to Socrates),

as you well know, is not based on evidence and therefore cannot be cognisance, for how could something that has not been proven be cognisance, and neither is it incognisance, for how could something that determines the truth be incognisance? It is therefore clear that a correct notion is somewhere halfway between cognisance and incognisance.«




Shus’s conversations with some men outside the frame of time: Socrates, Henri, Étienne, ... Others (in the background): Diotima, Niccolo, Ivan, Homer and others

(The present, ten and fifteen years later, and anyway time is of no importance here)



One would say nowadays that the truth about the nation and the nationality of a nation, which is what we are dealing with in this case, is still as far as untruth. The system of hypotheses and assumptions in terms of values is the one which shifts our notions of the nation from a kind of middle point between cognisance and incognisance, to the edge of cognisance or incognisance. We can see this shift more easily as the pure truth or a pure lie.


If the truth about the nation is a value, whose opposite is an untruth, then it is somewhere between the two, never entirely in the middle, »a correct notion«.


Nowadays, this notion is leaning heavily, it is moving away from the middle to the truth of those who pass it on to the masses, who shape it for them. These are strong media nowadays – media of strength. The media’s criteria of truth or the truth of the media for the masses is very far, further and further from the true notion and the truth.


So what in your opinion is the truth about your nation, or at least a correct idea about it. But tell me as briefly as you can.


My nation is dying. It is disappearing from the stage.


All nations die once, just like people. Not one of them is immortal, the great and famous just as the small ones who are hardly noticed by history. That which remains in eternity is their uniqueness, the soul of the nation or its free – liberated – soul.


And that is precisely what is hurting me. The soul of the nation is rotting; its free soul is evaporating. It is voluntarily giving itself up to slavery, it is yearning for it. Just as Étienne said.


If the death of your nation is such, then it is not honourable. But let me warn you against despondency in the face of what is perhaps your nation’s final trial, for from it stems hatred for logos and the exploration of reason, similar to hatred for people: both stem from disappointment.


Thank you Socrates for your wise counsel. What can I do...?


Hypotheses therefore!


(Shus first tried to find some excuses: »They are executed from my endophasal understanding of the subject following the interference of Henri Bergson, or with his help. So we have written down an opinion, a reflection, meditation, as you wish.« And then ...):

O Henri ... If only you would help me in my ignorance...


You demand judgement?


Perhaps not literally judgement, perhaps an opinion. I yearn terribly for conversation. But I am convinced that everyone who truly desires it has the right to a judgement.


Is that all, are you convinced?


I am no longer entirely convinced. We keep persuading each other. We are persuading others, ourselves, other people persuade us. In the end there are many people who are convinced, who are stuck in their beliefs and we cannot exit this thick fog.


So you are not free.


We are sometimes. Perhaps occasionally.


There are no occasions, there is only duration. It stretches into eternity, it is eternal.


Then true time is elongated and synchronous at the same time, as eternal and timeless as we ourselves want it to be. Would it therefore suffice if we only scoured through the facts of consciousness, if we cleansed them in themselves, if we kept on glorifying them? For we do that sometimes...


Even schematics and exertion will not help a great deal. It is a question of direct facts, is it not? And they are not so simple that they may fit into any kind of definition. Simply to understand them is not possible, and it is absurd. To live them, experience them, that is something else. But let us leave that for now. You need me to fulfil the task that Socrates set you, don’t you?


To put forward hypotheses as correctly as possible, I always found that hard, harder than verifying them.


They are verified by others. You are not free to accept or decline judgements.


In what am I therefore free?






When you were choosing an arbiter you were free, but you cannot alter his judgement, nor can you reject it. You are reckless, impatient, with this demand for a judgement. You cannot conceal anything from me. Do you really think that I do not know that you dealt with my »Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness« or the »Discussion on the immortality of the soul«, as you allude to it in your »Treatise on Freedom«? Perhaps you think that I do not know that you would have rejected it with contempt had you not accidentally opened it on page 102 in Feliks’s translation?


I am sorry, Henri. Therefore, you also know that I had tears in my eyes when I read your claim that freedom cannot be defined precisely because we are free. I found myself ridiculous at the thought that I could have tears in my eyes when I read the dry paragraph of the treatise, for it is not a novel. And I am not the weepy type, yet this is the first time it happened.


It is only for this reason that we are now able to talk. And perhaps also because you lost your passion for fishing. The bleak, when you hit it on the head, cries out like a baby, and when you hear this cry it stays in your head forever, you can no longer silence it. You try to forget it, you forget by force, you repress it, to no avail. This cry also became immediate data of your consciousness, it pervaded your soul.


It is true, I completely forgot, so many years have passed since that event, how could I possibly remember?


For you this was of course a coincidence, for it cannot be anything else in so artificially partitioned time. What is actually happening to you, is not really happening to you at all, events are only arranged in time, consecutively, chronologically, precisely. In your opinion man is not marked by anything at all. He does not exist in duration. But this is not man.


He is marked by others, we mark one another, we give each other labels, we define each other according to roles. We do this, they know more precisely.


But we are not talking about this now, this is shallow, superficial. When you heard this cry, it was not for the first time. As a child you heard it, when they slaughtered the pig that you had grown to love. What was it called? Did you tell anyone about this experience of yours?


I gave it a name, but I cannot remember it. No, I do not think so. Who could I tell? The horror of my sadness, imbued with anger (against the butchers), I could not hide any of this, and neither did I need to, as I was a child. Above all they would not understand this. They would laugh at me.


Even those who loved you?


(He was visibly uneasy, he had nothing to say, and after all there was no need for him to say anything.)


Now you know why you cannot forget the end of Josef K. in Ka’s novel. It’s only a novel you say. Franz gave Josef K. a name, and he loved him.


So why did he have to slaughter him like a pig (in the novel)? Do you mean to say, Henri, that this was not just in the novel; how do these trials take place where you live?



It is different. Prague, Berlin, Moscow, Belgrade, Paris, in all the large cities of the world as well as in the small ones the trial takes time. It is really all one trial. Franz succeeded in ending it well, only that way could he hear his cry.


Yes, in small towns there are also many cries. My Ljubljana has heaps of legal documents, let alone trials that are so important that there is no documentation on them. There are cities that are famous simply for the grandeur of their trials.


Most of you look on this intimidation of human freedom in a similar way to Niccolo. As though it is only possible to effectively rule man – people with force, by threatening to commit an offense, using all effective means. Almost the same is the case with your words.


Our loudest words are dead slogans and appeals. Only occasionally does there shine forth from Their words, the transparent shine of a numbed soul. When the loudest people among us speak like earthly gods, we are blinded by the image they create of themselves, of each other, one about the other amongst themselves.


The dance of shadows... when shadows dance, the soul withdraws.

I think we have chatted enough, by all means more than is necessary, for us to harmonise with each other in order to do your homework.


Socrates, Socrates...

Truly, truly I do not know...



(Henri now at last helps Shus formulate what is for him an enigmatic but crucial question in Endophasia II.): Is the nation a subject?


If the nation is a subject,

if it is a living being,

if it is a being as such, a being in itself, a being for itself,

then it is not a nation:

an economic structure, a structure of capitalism, of capital

or a political structure or national structure or the structure

of an armada or of administration

or a common religion, the structure of a church

or some other structure;

then the nation is not an institution and the nation’s essence cannot be defined, neither with state nor with republican boundaries, nor with national institutions, whether they be:

political, military, economical or even cultural institutions, and the nation cannot even be defined with a literary language, let alone political speech, for even literary language is not the living language of the nation but the formation of its institutions for it is vulnerable and subject to autocracy and power, its interventions, in the sense of Newspeak,

neither with history written through the optics of ideology,

nor with the planned common future based on trends,

visible present times, nor with the declared values of the future, including those concerning national independence and identity as a folkloric particularity, which is permitted by the community of nations, the nation cannot be defined.



If the nation is a subject, what is that for it, what does it mean for it?


If the nation is a subject, then it lives as a subject, in a relationship with other nations, freely, only then can we say that say that it is a nation. If it is so, then the nation’s freedom is its essence and it cannot be defined precisely because it is free, if this is how it is with its essence, it is also so with the nation itself, with all of its essence. In this case the nation cannot even be defined in its essence.


Every definition of the nation will corroborate some determinism, some integralism, some totalitarianism, some institutionalism. A defined nation is a dead nation, it is a paper nation, a nation on paper. There can be many things present in the definition of a nation that are of vital importance for the nation, for its existence; only freedom cannot be present in this definition. Where do you consider the uniqueness of a nation to come from?


If the nation is a subject, it will draw its uniqueness from within itself, from its desire for freedom, it will live and die in this way, when it exhausts its desire. When it no longer desires its own freedom, it will die (die out) as a nation. All that will remain will be a structure, defined within the framework of an institution, or alternatively, it will blend in with other nations and never with one nation alone.

If a nation is free, its nationality cannot be taken away from it by any other nation, no other power, no force, no weapons, war, occupation, or denationalisation can threaten it. The nation defends itself by increasing its desire for freedom; it extols its identity.


Concerning denationalisation...? What is denationalisation?


Denationalisation...? If the nation gradually gives up its identity, if its members agree to denationalisation, if the nation’s cores agree to it and at first unnoticeably, barely perceptibly, the nation as an indivisible whole agrees with it, the nation’s entire community, then the nation is threatened. However, it has not been threatened by any external force or pressure, it has been threatened by its consent. If the nation is free, it alone can choose to deny its lineage, it can deny its lineage only if it is free.

A nation that is very large in number and a nation whose population is dwindling is no less a nation than are other, great nations. This is so because nationality is not numerousness, for the greatness of a nation cannot be measured, neither by the size of the occupied territory nor by the number of its souls. Therefore those nearer the truth are those who say that the small nation can be freer than large nations, and what is important: freer than the communities of nations, if it does not give up yearning for freedom.


Concerning the members of the nation...: You do not appear to have a very high opinion of them. Just a (dry) opinion does not mean much. But desire does, if it is genuine. It is an unfortunate term: member. A member is someone who belongs to someone, who counts himself as belonging to someone. To be determined by the nation, to be imbued with its nationality is something completely different, it runs deep and has nothing to do with numbers.



And yet they keep counting the numbers of members of nations: with censuses, numbers are kept, their appurtenance to the nation is registered. The nationality could give up this number-counting with no harm and in truth the members of the nation do resist it, this counting disgusts them.


The truth of their appurtenance, the intensity of their identity cannot be measured.


Therefore, the freedom of the nation is imbued with the freedom of every free individual, his freedom can only be supplemented by free subjects. When the subject is threatened – the individual, this small particle in the nation, the nation is threatened, its peculiarity, its identity, we can say that the nation is endangering itself.


It must be so according to hypotheses, if the nation is a subject?


The freedom of the nation is alive only if, the freedom in the nation is revived, otherwise nationality becomes superficial patriotism, the exclusivity of secret societies. Propaganda is aimed at the subject: at the individual and the nation. Its aim is the objectivisation of both. Propaganda agitates the members, but that is only the external impression. Propaganda slogans are admittedly dead symbols, slogans which have magical power when they penetrate into the subject and become facts of consciousness.


This term »member of a nation« is truly unfortunate, it leads us away from what is essential.


But we are talking about two subjects. There is not only analogy between subjectivity or the uniqueness of the subject of the individual and the subjectivity of the subject of the nation; the tie is stronger. This connection stems from the universality of the virtue of freedom and it is fateful. Man and nation are fatefully connected to it. These are two subjects and I know no others.


If there is only one subject, is that man? Then the nation is not a subject and then these hypotheses mislead, they lead away from the truth.


If there was only one subject and it was the nation, then I would not know about it, about my nation. Only the nation would know about me and it would not need me. But if it would need me, it would need me only as a means to realise the hierarchy of supermen without subjectivity, on the summit of which is just one subject, which has consumed all the others.


Quite a number of similar attempts in the history of nations have gone wrong. But still!


But we never learn anything from history, even if we constantly claim and above all proclaim the opposite. Until recently we had one sole historical subject: the ZK, »Zveza pravichnih« [Union of the Just]. From there stem the difficulties with understanding the subject of the individual and the nation.


But you are being tormented by a third subject.


It is true. Sometimes I ask myself, what if those who say that there are three subjects are right after all.


You are asking me if God is a subject. But didn’t you solve this truly important question in your conversation with John?


Of course I did, but doubt keeps on surfacing. To worship God as a person, i.e. as a subject, is our dominant religion. In view of the increasing number of new imported faiths and their members, a kind of planetary (global) neo-polytheism is again appearing. Their gods are singular or at least super-subjects.


But that is not your problem; you do not succumb to convictions or faith. There is something else. The essence...?


The certainty I am after sometimes seems nevertheless close to faith or conviction; it evades me; when I think I have it, it disappears.


»Of course we all know that the truth is a miracle, but it is only the death of knowledge; what miracle is knowledge then?« It is fundamentally obscured with the mixing up of levels of transcendence and reality. The essence...


Knowledge tells us that it is god who is the essence within us. In other words, the uniqueness of the individual and the nation, two subject therefore, is divine – god is in them.


So you see (he jokes), it should be enough for some time, to soothe your doubt. But what interests us is concrete individuality, the uniqueness of the self, the manifestation of the essence of yourself and your nation. »Hic Rodos! What is alive (vital) concerns you, does it not? ...«


(Shus beseeched Henri in his somewhat enraptured style):

If we overlooked the uniqueness of the nation,

if we sold out the land,

if we hired ourselves out to foreigners beyond the limits of good taste,

if we neglected the culture of the nation in favour of material comfort (a high living standard),

if we renounced our language wherever and whenever possible,

if we disowned our uniqueness to such an extent that it we could hardly notice it any longer,

(as has been the case thus far – in the history of the nation so far),

would we still be a nation?





(The two men remain silent, it is usually so, at least at the beginning of the conversation. Then they speak outside time, at the same time; but the way it happens cannot be written down. Their speech blends into one, or more precisely, it is imbued with Shus’ inner speech. At the end Shus sums up a few more of their extratemporal replies and he makes note of them as literally as he can under »their comments«! But he does not write them down literally because as he does this – it is enough simply to try or to strive for this – the two men go quiet for a moment. Alternatively, one could possibly say about this pause – their living words, thoughts – that the two men have stopped talking live to it. But he wants precisely that, to summarise the living meaning of their thoughts, not just dead words. He cannot grasp or read these living thoughts even twice in the same way. And he can only translate inner speech into living language, and this one alone can he express in his native »mother« tongue, if he makes a special effort also in literary language. Only this one can be translated into all languages. But we are conversing directly, in inner speech, aren’t we?)



(Henri now hears him at last.): And the concluding hypothesis! For the second time!


(Now Shus grows talkative, like a school pupil he recites his original concluding hypothesis from 1985, as well as the explanation or amendment to go with it.):


The concluding hypothesis – the first one: I will begin with the other subject: the other one is a negative hypothesis. It is unbelievably expanded and tangible; it is even objective; it stems from the fact that the person is an object, and according to it the nation is an objective formation, but the creative nation does not have a spirit and neither does the firm man or maybe they do have it, a spirit namely, but they still do not have themselves, for the possibility alone to have a spirit is given the subject only after the difference between having and being has been erased. In truth, there are heaps of these other hypotheses, but they nevertheless have a common direction and stem from the turning-point, that is why I speak of them as one sole.


Its problematic lies in the fact that it is also set up with a spirit, although against it alone, that is why I call it negative hypothesis, but I could just as well call it an inverted hypothesis, because of the ontological turn. You convince the nation and nations that the soul is nothing and matter everything (and things and their material order), while you rule with the spirit.


It is difficult for me to formulate a concluding hypothesis, the only one with which the spirit of the nation would be satisfied, and my spirit at peace. But already when I began, I knew that I will not be able to stop. The nation’s spirit yearns for freedom, it seeks it. It wonders: is it still unique, is the nation’s spirit even alive or is it only an illusion? His reason’s understanding replies somewhat unclearly:



»The freedom of the nation is a fact, there is no surer fact among the facts in his consciousness. But still he will never find it if he looks for it outside himself, in relationship to other nations. There is only one possibility, that he finds it, that he moves off the turning point, which is blocks his sight and he will see only that what he is looking for is himself.«

It is true, this is a very old hypothesis although not very well known and every time everyone must delve into its details if they want to understand it; persuasion will not help.

If the hypothesis reminds you of any person having a free spirit, who is wandering around in the dark looking for his spirit and asking whether his body has a soul, and because he is afraid for it he also asks what is threatening it and if it is mortal; you may have a good laugh.

The Upanishads sage is serious and says: »Wrong question, wrong answer. You have no spirit or soul, that is you alone.« There is an indescribable difference between what to have and what to be.


So what do you now say about your piece of work from those times?


I have hardly anything to add.


Then renew it at least in spirit. I do not hear it recited like this. (Henri jokes) You do not even hear it any more yourself. Concluding hypothesis – another one!


(tries to talk his way out of a pickle): it was hard for me to formulate a concluding hypothesis, the only one with which the spirit of the nation would be satisfied and my spirit at peace. I nevertheless did this fifteen years ago. (It was first published, if we can call twenty copies a publication, in the ISU report in 1985.) Already now I must complete it.

Although I believe that in a theoretical sense it continues to stand, it practically no longer has its material basis. It would be hard for me to say what its essence is now. May I take this opportunity to first of all repeat it (not completely literally):

The nation’s spirit yearns for freedom, it seeks it. It asks itself: is it still unique, is the spirit of the nation alive at all, was it just an illusion all along? The comprehension of reason answers it somewhat unclearly...


(Henri sees Shus’ growing pickle which is almost becoming hopeless; he helps him): »The freedom of a nation is a fact, there is no surer fact among the facts in his consciousness. But still, one thing is certain: he will never find freedom if he looks for it outside himself, in relation to other nations, even less so in their laps. There is only the possibility that he will find it, that he will shift from the turning-point, which is blocking the view, and he will only see that what he is looking for is himself.«


Nowadays I would say that my former hypothesis about the “free spirit” of my nation was nevertheless more of an illusion, which gradually grew, reached a climax when my nation decided to gain independence – ten years before the end of the second millennium. But independence does not yet mean freedom, i.e. freedom of the spirit. My nation directed all its spiritual energy outside of itself, precisely where it has no possibilities to remain uniquely unique. It not only directed them at relations with other nations but also at the community of nations of expansive Europe. The nation spiritually entered into “voluntary slavery”. It desires it so strongly (humiliating servility), that it has almost certainly forever lost its freedom, its uniqueness or, as we say nowadays, its identity. It wants to be a fruitful nation within it, at all costs, at its own expensive. If Europe really was a community of nations and if we did not have as much experience with communities of nations as we do, then one could understand this fateful error, one could accept it. But as it is? To be a fruitful nation at all costs? To have one’s own state and to neglect one’s identity...


But in your first concluding hypothesis something fundamental is lacking, that is the impression I have every time I hear this idea of yours. I reject the thought that he is resigned. However, he is impersonal and soulless, that is the impression I have. Will Socrates agree? Did he not warn you against succumbing to disappointment, or becoming dejected...



Yes: “against becoming dejection, in the face of this, perhaps final trial of my nation, for from it is growing hatred towards logos and the exploration of reason, similar to hatred for people. Both have their origin in disappointment”, he said. It would be too cheap an exit from my quandary (that is what you would say Henri), if you argued that it (the hypothesis) naturally lacks vivacity, something living or even life itself, that this does not exist in hypotheses. As the hypothesis speaks – I hope that is the way it is – precisely about the life beat of my nation in a given moment of time (fateful facts of consciousness for it).


Perhaps it lacks love for the nation. And I have in mind neither active love nor Paul’s love (from the triad: faith, hope, love). 


Perhaps love from three virtues (truth, freedom, love)? Yes, in his opinion love is imbued with truth, freedom. But tell me, Henri, how should I love my nation, which has voluntarily chosen servitude of spirit, which has betrayed itself, its uniqueness, that which makes it what it is? Is that not why Ivan was so angry with his nation that is also mine?


Ask him!


He will not answer me. I cannot tune into him. I thought perhaps because he was too angry with his nation (also mine). It is true, I sometimes have a similar feeling about the servility of my nation as he did, sometimes the very opposite. I really do not know...


This uncertainty comes from your hypothesis, how does it go...


(without any enthusiasm Shus reads out his hypothesis. About the servility of the nation, of which he was until recently particularly proud):

We so readily succumb to the effect of the actualised virtue of the servility of the Slovenian nation, and think that servility affects only farmhands and not landowners, that we are ashamed of the servility of farmhands but not of its authors. If someone calls me a farmhand, that does not bother me as much if they do that with contempt than if they do it with the purpose of keeping me in the role of farmhand.

However, this servility is only an alternation (modality) of loyalty and it helps create the structure (is constitutive) of every institutional hierarchy, the order of institutions.

Is the national colouring of Slovenian servility through the centuries so very characteristic of the Slovenians; is it so typical of them? It must be seen as it is in its pure form, this particularity of servility, without virtue loyalty, which is actually servility, characteristic of all nations on this earth, except that those who create their servility are of the same nationality as those who pretend to be farmhands. The servility of such a nation is not only less evident, but is also less propagated.

The second emanation of servility, and this one must be separated from the first one, is: the servility of the nation towards other nations. Once again the particularity of the historical servility of the Slovenians towards other nations is one thing and the giving way of one nation to another is a different thing. And there is no need to actualise the first of these particularities beyond all good taste as though it were a national dish of the finest sort.



If the nation of Slovenians is a clan of farmhands,

if “Slovenians are farmhands, born to be farmhands, brought up to be farmhands!”,

is Ivan’s scolding of his own nation, this anger with his own nation justifiable? If it is so then there is no need to turn things around and blame the symbolic and mobilising power of this ideological appeal to the nation which is directed with the desire to free its nation from servitude and not the other way round, with the desire to preside over the nation.

Things are things and symbols are things that do not stay just where you throw them. (I know I have hit a raw nerve.)

If this call spoke more strongly about the generation of servility instead of about the clan of farmhands, it would not be one of those calls that is so very strong and remains topical for so long. Whether he wanted to or not, Ivan contributed to the servility of his nation with this appeal. He was very angry when he made this appeal to the nation and he did not see this servility of his nation in the light of servility in nations and the servility of nations. To actualise servility as the fundamental sin of the nation or at least as its main national characteristic, is at least excessive, if not the gross oversimplification of a powerful symbol – an appeal that will perhaps last for centuries.

The burden of servility, the value orientation of one’s nation, is great, its connotation is negative, that is why it makes the nation feel servitude, servitude in the nation, and if such a value comes alive in the nations spirit, it certainly does not liberate it, does not lead to freedom. (If I express myself in a rather more complex way: the evaluation of this value and this appeal is intensive and negative and this cannot be concealed. However, intensity is immeasurable and can also be infinite.)

The appeal and the value in it are symbols; they are dead words on the outside but within themselves they contain magical power. Thrown into the world, the word is dead, but when you so much as touch it or it touches you with its spirit, it is as though it were alive and functioning and directing. Propagandists of every kind know this. They operate with an alienated symbol, an appeal and not with its meaning in context. The propagandist does not throw the book, he throws an appeal, and even that is only the external sign of what he is throwing.

If you ask me what I want with Ivan? I would want to reduce his influence, his power, the use of this power of his, and do not say that I want to establish the limitation of artistic freedom. So much only as an example, for great is the weight of the appeal concerning servitude of the nation. Ivan also felt a rage and fury against the nation, that is also mine, when he uttered this appeal, its magic works when a compatriot utters it, utters it in such a way that I feel this rage and fury. And this rage and fury affect me and not just the slogan, for them the slogan is just a cue, just a fellow passenger, their correlation, and if you ask me: what would I want with this? I would want to destroy its magic power.

Language says that the slogan is alive and strong, but it is not so. To be able to do this, I should be stronger than what is inside it, then I would revive the language and the language would be: alive.



(adds roguishly): the expression on your face is a little sour as you read it today. Not even fifteen years of your time have passed when you wrote it. If you saw your face when you recited the end of the striking appeal: will it perhaps last for centuries!?


I really do not know what to think of this unfortunate servility today, even less what I will think tomorrow. What do you think Henri?


Ask Étienne!




Ask him every time you need his answer, the insight of his spirit. Every time you will discover a broader dimension of his thoughts. Étienne is unique as regards this matter, concerning the voluntary servility of peoples, nations and clans.


As regards me, I am at peace (Shus literally repeated his concluding excuse from that time because he was particularly pleased with it): I tried to follow the comprehension of the subject as Henri Bergson understood it. This means: in this shifting of our perceptions of the nation I kept trying to speak only about direct facts of consciousness.









Concerning the nation from metareality – facts stemming directly from consciousness and our daily reality


»A correct notion (said Diotima to Socrates),

as you well know, is not based on evidence and therefore cannot be cognisance, for how could something that has not been proven be cognisance, and neither is it incognisance, for how could something that determines the truth be incognisance? It is therefore clear that a correct notion is somewhere halfway between cognisance and incognisance.«




(Shus wonders, he cannot understand, how can so rapid a turn in the nation’s self-confidence bi possible. »Was it just my false perception of it?« From somewhere in the background he cannot help thinking: a thought, a warning, a hint, a gibe. He does not himself know what to call this fact of consciousness, even less how to repel it. »That will be Socrates«, it occurs to him.):




Very well, without disappointment, dejection, but the facts of consciousness are saying that soon there will be only a handful of people that care about the Slovenian nation, its uniqueness, freedom, identity (as they like to say nowadays, they care little for what that really means). A handful of them...


Would they still be a nation?

Of course they would be,

but they would be a small nation, a nation that is disappearing,

whose number is again becoming decisive for its existence.

It seems to me, it really seems to me,

that we would be a nation, only a handful of them left,

who are only a peculiarity

for the historical memory (of the nation),

which was free for a moment.










(Shus implores: Socrates, Henri, Étienne):

Nothing has yet been said about the greatest opponents of the nation!

Who are They? (Shus asks himself):

Firstly it must be said that the nation itself conceives its greatest opponents.

The greatest opponents of the nation are neither foreigners,

nor its own rulers who first disowned it,

they are greater than them: nationalists among them.

They extolled the country – the state, and not the nation.

Although acts – the current history of once brotherly nations – have taught us most about this.

We liberated ourselves (or more precisely: they liberated us),

but not as a nation, but as a state!

The difference between a nation and a state is not small and is not only in the intensity of the national consciousness of the nation and the patriots.

We liberated ourselves or more precisely,

They (the visible and invisible representatives of the nation – the patriots),

liberated us.

From the fetters of Yugo-slave-ia they led us into freedom.

They said that we are no longer just a people, a clan, a community,

that we are now a State. That is a nation with its own country! –

in their opinion of course.

Our brothers until yesterday – the »Sclavi« from the South – were fooled by Them – their rulers and greatest patriots –

dreamers in SAN.

Their clan believed them and They also believed,

that they are no longer a nation among nations,

that they are themselves a chosen nation –

called to form a state for themselves and other non state-forming nations,

that they themselves will rule their smaller brothers,

only peoples and clans.

They were summoned to lead the new Nation – the State of Serbosclavia –

into a bright future.

And if not all, then at least those in whose soil are buried the bones of

Their: fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, the ancestors of the Serbs.

But these lie also under the walls of Vienna/Wienne/Vindobone,

when as Janissaries and vassals of the Turks we besieged the city the white city.

(That is what the more prudent ones said, but they did not listen to them.)

The slaughter began; I no longer know which number it is, but I know that it was the most inglorious and pointless one in the Balkans so far.

Brother murdered brother, slave murdered slave, one nation killed its brother nation.

For glory, for history, for a bright future

Them who have lost their sound judgement.




The war was as cruel as though there had never been any civilisation in the southern Balkans.

If necessary, we will (which means you will) eat grass, said They,

who grew rich in the war by robbing their conquerors,

and even more so by robbing their own nation.

Did anything happen to them?

Were their consciences stirred?

Some of the freer ones among them warned their compatriots,

in vain, they were blind and deaf for all, except for their leaders.

But they most believed Him, the One and Only,

who was free for all of them,

who consumed the freedom of their decision in its entirety

for a time of history that was not small.

His name was Slobodan, how strangely

history sometimes jokes with Their names.

The second in greatness was Tudzhman,

called to be a general-historian-ruler.

An imitator of Him, the One and Only –

oppressor of all the nations in the southern Balkans.

We Veneti were relatively lucky to have Milan.

The homestead, the homeland is his, but

he is the mildest of the rulers.

All(es) klein: small country, small president,

small personal legitimacy, few patriots,

but much despondency of the subjects. Far too much!

(In the official language it will be said):

All(es) klein: Klein/es/-Führer/s/ Kleinstaat,

kleine persönliche Herrschaft, Nationalisten wenig,

aber viel Kleinmut, viel Uterworfene. Viel zu viel!


(Shus thinks he hears Étienne’s warning):

»Have you not sufficiently offended him with the essay

“The roof of the world – The valley-dwellers visit the roof of the world”?«:

O, Étienne ... How can it be possible, Étienne, that the story of voluntary slavery of the nations to Them,

(the nationalists) in their nation, and Them,

in foreign nations, and that other which is inseparable from the first:

about the One and only that is constantly being repeated?

Is it eternal? It is being so obstinately renovated,

through all the history of the clans, peoples, nations?



(In the background we can hear a hymn of the great choir in the stadium and they are singing with them: one after another, they that are gathered here, soon to be a multitude, already hundreds, thousands of them.):



»If eternity exists,

if eternity has a name,

the name of eternity is Tito’s name.« 


(Shus is horrified... He pulls himself together and then he tries terribly hard to find someone to talk with, at least someone who would want to hear what this mighty choir is singing at the stadium while celebrating the day of youth): »He was God for them.« 



It is not enough to read a poetic text and to abandon oneself to it,

it is not the same if we analyse its meaning,

it is not the same when we also hear its melody,

it is not the same when we hear it that moment in duration,

when the multitudes hear it at the same time.

If you understand all this and also that which can be expressed

neither with words nor with melody, that which brings them into being as a correlate,

then you have understood the transcendental nature of values.

He was for us the One and only, he was God for us.

When he died (although for history He will never die),

His successors appeared on the scene.

At times there were six of them, at times there were eight,

(the first three – the three nations that once made up the SHS –

I have already presented).

But we can say that they are sometimes ten in total

(by all means I will not be too precise here),

time must move away, the facts of consciousness,

to see them more clearly, to harmonise ourselves with Them.

And there were now seven or eight nations.

A »new« nation of Bosniaks was born or reborn in blood,

so far it had only been acknowledged its religious uniqueness

(Muslim identity).

The nation of Albanians revolted,

their number is a doubled number.

They do not want to be just a national community, just a clan,

they want to be a Nation, the most numerous community of clans,

the strongest in the Balkans (or at least in the neighbouring lands).

The Vojvodina community has gone temporarily quiet.

Their dukes are leading the wars in principled fashion

(they are at the head only at the beginning of the war).

Half of the nation of Montenegrins were also liberating themselves

(through Them that did not trust the ‘White City’ [Belgrade]).



The Macedonians kept to themselves as much as they could,

Their leaders sought their identity amongst the Greeks and the Bulgarians

(they are afraid of the Greeks and »their Albanians« even more than they are of the Serbs).

On the horizon of history is appearing the smallest possible Serbia,

so small that no Serb patriot can see it,

and if he sees it, then he can see hardly any Serb in it.

And there arose a mighty Croatia (the »Ustasha« in it),

Its historians wrote a provisional history,

saying that it is the only victor in this war.

It occupied all its dream-historical territories,

(except for all the »subalpine Croats« – the Veneti – the Slovenians).


(»But this song can only be heard if you listen to it to the accompaniment of the Gusle«, claimed Shus. The gusle is the most popular folk instrument in the southern Balkans. The people say that even Homer knew how to play it.)






(This was Shus’ cry, then he calmed down, aware that the musical instrument, his music, had taken him into a state of consciousness that we call pathos. He tried to continue in a more peaceful, more reconcilable tone. Of course, he did not succeed immediately.): 



I could say that my people are a »nation« or now (more correctly) a »national community« or even just a clan of compatriots. That it is giving more than it is receiving or expecting because it is giving itself, its unique identity. When it blends in, drowns or assimilates in the promised land that is the EU.

Of course, the representatives of the great land will claim the opposite. And the third group, the most intelligent ones, will say that it depends only on the point of view. Of course, if you are a European – a member of the »European nation« – then you have nothing to lose, you have already disowned your uniqueness and national identity. You have deprived yourself of it, that is your problem, but in doing so you also deprive your own people of it, people who were until recently your compatriots.

Have we not just survived the fiasco of just one »Yugoslav nation«? We are always lured by the path to the promised land or a bright future.

We became free only for a short time, we sold ourselves for the illusion of freedom, that as a nation we had forgotten caution and the tenacity of self-defence. We did not listen to Slovenians living just outside our borders, we had forgotten them, disowned them a long time ago.

They used to fly to Belgrade, now they fly to Brussels. To negotiate? Really? Who will believe them in fifty years time?

Germanisation from the north, Italianisation from the west, Hungarisation from the east. Tudzhman is strutting about in the south. He say we are subalpine Croats.


(wonders in desperation): And what is this promised land of Europe like? Bureaucratised, greedy, oppressing; militarily cowardly. Except when it is hit by history, when its nations start fighting each other. So far they have only stirred up two world wars (on this planet Earth). Only two super-nations are nationally dominant: the Germans and the French. And it is bursting at these seams, already now as it is coming about. Its most penetrating individuals-emigrants are still fuelling the New World – the US. In terms of faith it is divided, culturally it is arrogant. It adorns itself with standing up for human rights and forgets about the rights of entire nations. (The welfare of the declared fight for the right to work is particularly felt by the growing armada of unemployed persons.) It curtails, and more, even negates the rights of smaller nations and minorities to their own cultural identity. It thoughtlessly, treacherously assimilates them, yes, just as They were instructed by Niccolo.


»Is it true that you have agreed as to what will be our official language in the EU? Why do we (our generation) have to learn so many languages of occupying nations?«

Better not ask me which ones. In return you offer us European identity, which will perhaps never exist. And what hurts me most in this is the hypocrisy of the modern-day expansion of the super-system(s). They used to expand with open religious expansion – piety – Christianisation and with the sword – armies with mercenaries of all types. Nowadays, in modern times, this is happening with the expansion of the capital of multinational companies using all means. Now they are testing what has so far been the lesser known (by all means most hidden) form of expansion, when nations themselves beg to be occupied. In this they humble themselves shamefully and are proud of their progress. They give themselves voluntarily into slavery with the conviction that they are going into a promised land. Concerned only with not missing the TRANSITION, i.e. the transport of voluntary slaves. It is better not to ask me who persuaded them to do this.

O Étienne ..., the people here talk about nothing else but the timetable. Who will be first and who will be the last, who will perhaps miss the train that leads to the EU. We are not interested in our rapid stratification into hundreds of thousands of poor and miserable people which is caused by the change in system. (Sociologists learnedly refer to it as restratification and the transformation of the system, but for now it is keeping cautiously quiet about it. They told them that it is not so...) Even the scandalous privileges of a handful of people, the new economic elites and parvenus in government do not upset us too much.

But of course this is not the only way of rapidly ridding oneself of one’s identity. There is also SECI – originally a southern European trade community, later perhaps to be a political, military and then, of course, a veritable SEU (Southern European Union). Will another war be necessary between its wealthy north and backward south, for the continued development of humanity, before the USA realises the project of globalising the planet? But this is (at least for now) the reserve scenario, regarding which They have not yet reached a full agreement.

What do you say, Etienne, about this misfortune of ours? Is this natural...?





(almost indignant): Have we not already discussed this numerous times?



Of course we have... But this time I will listen to you more attentively. My daily routine informs me that you are telling me about voluntary servitude more clearly than any contemporary.



Let us try then!



I already understand. (Shus reads the first two paragraphs from his Treatise on Freedom: Concerning voluntary servitude. He reads it and wonders... »Étienne, this is as though I heard you for the first time«.):



To be perfectly honest, it is unproductive to discuss whether freedom is natural. The first reason being that no-one can be in servitude without being forced to suffer some kind of evil. And there is nothing that would be so much opposed to the world, that is ruled by nature, which is intelligent, than injustice itself.



All that we can say is that freedom is natural, and therefore, in my opinion, not only are we born with our own freedom, but also with the will to defend it. If we ever doubt about this and if we are so estranged from ourselves that we can no longer recognise neither our essence nor our innate inclination, then I must honour you by, so to speak, lifting the wild beasts onto the pedestal in order to show you your nature and your state.



I could not have received a clearer answer to the question that has been tormenting me more and more each day. Oh Étienne, eternal thanks go to you from all who are wavering when they are being deprived of the will to defend themselves, their freedom.




(Étienne now prays, although many would nowadays say that he is reciting one of his poems or that he is practising his rhetoric. Shus knows very will that this is not so. True prayer is a one-off, you cannot erase its meaning having heard it once because it is recorded in eternity. But what is strange is that in your soul you never hear it twice the same way, never the same way.):




O God, help me;

when people are deaf,

beasts howl: Long live freedom.

Many of them die immediately after they are caught;

as a fish dies, as soon as it is not in water,

in this way many beings leave the light of day,

do not wish to survive the loss of their natural freedom.

If there was a hierarchy amongst animals,

then beasts that die immediately after being caught,

would belong to the animal nobility.



But the other animals, from the smallest to the largest,

when they are caught, put up so much resistance,

with claws, horns, beaks,

that they speak clearly enough this way,

how much do they care about what they have lost.

Being completely caught,

they give us so many clear signs of their disgust,

that it can clearly be seen

that from this moment onwards they are vegetating rather than living,

that they are restraining their lives rather

to deplore their lost advantage,

than to continue enjoying their servitude.

Even oxen groan under the yoke. Birds melt away in the cage...




So, every being that feels its existence, feels the crime of subjugation and tends to freedom; if even animals that have been tamed to serve man can be subjugated only after their contrary desire has been suppressed, what misfortune this can be for man who alone is truly born to live freely. It has made him so unnatural that he has lost his ancient memory of his original state and his desire to revive it.



Is servitude for man then the consequence of the lost original memory of our natural, original state of consciousness? Why then do some people keep putting up resistance against servitude and act naturally, in primeval fashion?



There are always some that are happier than others, those that are born under a lucky star, that feel the weight of the yoke and cannot help shaking it off; the people that never grow accustomed to the yoke.



(Shus did not dare interrupt him any more, or disturb him with his inappropriate questions. Endophasia was now almost ideally in tune. With occasional pauses, Étienne continued his visionary meditation):




And if freedom were lost completely, outside this world, these people would revive it in their perceptions, they would feel it in their spirit and keep enjoying it. Servitude does not suit their taste, not even when it is embellished, no! ...

It is therefore certain that with the loss of freedom, bravery is also lost. And subjects, in contrast, show neither enthusiasm nor anger in battle: they approach danger as though they were bound, numb; they do not even feel that deep inside them the passionate desire for freedom is burning, giving them the strength to ignore danger, and creating the desire for fame and honour given by a beautiful death surrounded by comrades.



O good God!

What could this be?

What shall we call this?

What misfortune is this?

What kind of a flaw is this, what immense flaw is this,

that a multitude of people is not only obedient but actually servile?



Let fifty thousand armed persons

stand on two sides,

let them take up fighting positions and fight;

some are free and fight for their freedom,

others use war to try and take it away from them;

who will win, which side will go more heartily into battle:

those that hope that the prize for victory will be

the preservation of their own freedom,

or those that expect only the other party’s servitude

as a prize for the blows inflicted and the blows received?

But what? If it is enough to desire freedom,

if all that is needed for it is willpower,

will there be a nation that believes,

that is has paid its freedom too dearly, if it knows,

that it can be attained simply through desire?



But of all the good things of this world that the people so strongly desire, there is only one value, for which people, I do not know why, lose the desire – and that thing is freedom – so great a value, so pleasant a good things. If this good thing is lost, all the evils will well up, and the good things that remain through it and that are corrupted in slavery lose their taste and odour.



Freedom is the only thing that people do not desire,

and that, it would appear,

for just one reason:

if they desired it, they would have it;

they reject freedom, this jewel,

because it is too easily attainable.








(was visibly overcome with emotion, moved to tears, even though he did not have a real reason for tears): Etienne, I think we are friends, if not, you would not be speaking with me, I would not be able to hear you in the inner speech. Or at least not in this way. I still cannot understand how it is possible, that I thought and of course also wrote about the value of freedom (in »The Value systems of the institutional structure«, in 1985), although I cannot compare myself with you, not even in my dreams, and yet we are similar in essence and in spirit. Was that because I moved Henri ... or did he move me? Unfortunately I was not acquainted with your »Discourse on Voluntary Servitude«. And I am not saying this to gain favour with you; I am only surprised and it is as though I was being told that in Endophasia there is something that surpasses human reason and this gives the cognisance in it startling certainty. At least I feel this is so.


Ask him! ... But you do not even need to, for if you were not searching for cognisance – the cognisance of ancient memory that is in all people, then your effort would be in vain, you would not understand what I am telling you. You would not hear your inner voice. You would not be talking to me, nor with Henri, nor with Socrates.


I would like to hear your cognisance on the rule of One once again. The system of the One and Only fascinates me more and more by the day. It fascinates me as the direct fact of our consciousness, our togetherness. How is it possible, Étienne, that this servitude within us is so almighty?


Now you could do something on your own, in your own way, you could present me, summarise my ideas in your normal speech!


It is worth trying; perhaps it will be possible (he goes quiet and reflects...):

I will now allow myself some freedom and briefly summarise the ideas of Étienne de La Boétie concerning that other form of unfreedom – voluntary servitude, as they would say to me today, when the language is a little more complex – structured. That is, concerning voluntary servitude, stemming from the very nature of institutions, the hierarchy of the system, the value foundation of their order. The essence is the same, as Étienne de La Boétie says about it – it cannot be more beautiful, it is only a little more difficult to recognise as that is precisely what we do not want!









Let One alone be master,

Let One alone represent us,

Let One Alone be the representative of all he can represent.

That is what Homer would say nowadays,

But Étienne would only smile

and reply something like this:


For the present I should like merely to understand how it happens that so many men, so many villages, so many cities, so many nations, sometimes (in their history)

suffer under a single tyrant

who has no other power than the power they give him;

who is able to harm them only to the extent to

which they have the willingness to bear with him;

who could do them absolutely no injury unless

they preferred to put up with him rather than contradict him.

Surely a striking situation!

Yet it is so common that one must grieve the more and wonder

the less at the spectacle of a million men serving in wretchedness,

their necks under the yoke,

not constrained by a greater multitude than they,

but simply, it would seem, delighted and charmed

by the name of one man alone

whose power they need not fear,

for he is evidently the one person

whose qualities they cannot admire

because of his inhumanity and brutality toward them.




But O good Lord!

What strange phenomenon is this?

What name shall we give to it?

What is the nature of this misfortune?

What vice is it, or, rather, what degradation?

To see an endless multitude of people not merely obeying,

but driven to servility?

Not ruled, but tyrannized over?

These wretches have no wealth, no kin, nor wife nor children,

not even life itself that they can call their own.

They suffer plundering, wantonness, cruelty,

not from an army, not from a barbarian horde,

on account of whom they must shed their blood

and sacrifice their lives, but from a single man.

Shall we call subjection to such a leader cowardice?

Shall we say that those who serve him are cowardly and faint-hearted?

If two, if three, if four, do not defend themselves from the one,

we might call that circumstance surprising but nevertheless conceivable.

In such a case one might be justified in suspecting a lack of courage.


But if a hundred, if a thousand endure the caprice of a single man, should we not rather say that they lack not the courage

but the desire to rise against him,

and that such an attitude indicates

indifference rather than cowardice?

When not a hundred, not a thousand men,

but a hundred provinces, a thousand cities, a million men,

refuse to assail a single man from whom

the kindest treatment received is the infliction of serfdom and slavery, what shall we call that?

Is it cowardice?





What monstrous vice, then,

is this which does not even deserve to be called cowardice,

a vice for which no term can be found vile enough,

which nature herself disavows

and our tongues refuse to name?

But it is not essential that he alone is deprived of something,

but in that he is not given anything.

Nations themselves allow this,

they act in such a way that they are subdued,

for only by rejecting servitude

they would be free.

The nation subjugates itself,

the same nation that can choose:

between servitude and freedom.











P.S.: Propagating Freedom from TRACTATE ON FREEDOM: »Concerning national institutions» and

»The value system of the nation», do not belong to this game, added Shus.

Shus’ comment: The title of the original: Étienne de La Boétie: LE DISCOURS DE LASERVITUDE VOLONTAIRE; translation used: RASPRAVA O DOBROVOLJNOM ROPSTVU; translated by Ivan Vejvoda, Belgrade 1986.




published in:

Rajko Shushtarshich, Endofazija II – O narodu iz metastvarnosti, Revija SRP 29/30, 1999


Rajko Shushtarshich, Endofazija I – O narodu iz metastvarnosti, Revija SRP 11/12, 1995



Translated from Slovenian by Marko Petrovich



(continued: Endophasia III)



Slovenian (gajica)

Slovenian (bohorichica)