by Velimir CURGUS KAZIMIR
I felt hurt by stupidity. And somehow personally. As if I was present when Bogdan Bogdanovic came upon that unbelievable formulation - "socialist Vienna". Who knows, perhaps in Vienna there are still some underground Freudian forces that push to the surface demons of guilt. In general, all attempts to repackage and redesign concrete life-related decisions into convenient objective reasons and motivations always seemed to me very silly and senseless. Intelligent people most easily offend by arrogant underestimation of somebody else's intellect. Namely, is there today in Serbia any informed person who does not know that Austria is today ruled by a conservative-rightist political party? The whole Europe is aware of Heider and his xenophobic program (close relations between Heider's party and the Democratic Party of Serbia are also interesting).
Besides, Austria is today in Serbia, regarding the proposal to return religious instruction to public schools, taken as holy gospel. Every once in a while one of the advocates of this idea in Serbia says - what about Austria? I do not know whether "socialist Vienna" remains autonomous and outside the influence of the central state authorities. Perhaps in Vienna, there is no religious instruction in schools? Perhaps only Klagenfurt is organized according to Heider's model of tolerance and democracy? On the other hand, Vienna is so red that it could not be any more red. And wherever there is a lot of red, there are not only roses but all the residents are sensitive gardeners.
A while ago, Mirko Kovac went to Croatia leaving behind threats and violence of the regime of Slobodan Milosevic. It occurred to some evil persons that it didn't make sense to run from Sloba to Franjo Tudman (that would sort of be as if running away from Stalin to Mussolini's Italy). However, I immediately figured out what was the matter.
Kovac did not leave Serbia for Croatia, but Serbia for Rovinj [small coastal town in Istria, western Croatia]. Everyone is aware that in Istria there was very little persecution and nationalist rage. The fact that General Norac sorted things out in Gospic, some hundred kilometers from Rovinj, had nothing to do with Kovac. Writers and intellectuals cannot take responsibility for everything, can they? Especially when they leave one evil and end up in another one. However, I recall that Mirko Kovac a few years ago, in an interview, published in a Sarajevo weekly, claimed that people who left Serbia were actually cowards who wanted Sloba to finish the bloody job of creation of Greater Serbia without them, so that hey could later, perhaps, return once all of that was over. That was when I for the first time suspected that Kovac chose Rovinj because it is a pretty, clean and comfortable coastal town. Only now I begin to understand that it is not by chance that Lenin spent so much time on Capri or in Switzerland. In order to overthrow the unjust tyrannical regime an individual needs concentration, peace, pretty and healthy landscapes and above all clear conscience. Naturally, one also needs loyal friends who must stay in Hell to the end as living witnesses of the sacrifices and hard labor of the exiles. Later, somehow, everything goes on effortlessly.
I understand everything. I do not condemn anyone, nor intend to forgive anyone. I am totally outside those judicial and moralist categories. I think that it was a very personal right of everyone to change his or her abode, society, national, religious or political affiliation. Whether anyone was objectively forced under Slobodan Milosevic's regime to leave this country is also not a matter for discussion. It is completely sufficient to feel uncomfortable and insecure to wish to leave (those who today claim that they never considered leaving are either lying or were privileged under Milosevic's regime). Many of my friends and relatives, some of whom were not directly, politically endangered, went to Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Holland... I was sad when they left and happy when they called back to report that they were doing well. It hasn't occurred to me to condemn them for "abandoning" us to fight Sloba on our own, for failing to share with us feeling of desperation and helplessness, for letting us feel alone and abandoned, without hearing from them, for being so helpless while surviving horrible shortages and winters... I somehow realized that people, even our loved ones, when they one day wake up in some new, distant world, especially if they have children, instinctively have a need to forget the Hell they had left behind. I do not criticize them for not calling me during the bombardment, or at least sending me a box of vitamins. There is something that, most likely, suppresses or erases human empathy and solidarity in crisis situations. Besides, who am I to judge behavior of others?
However, I must openly admit that I cannot stand that anyone, no matter from where he or she may come, lecture me about what I am like and what I am supposed to do. I am pretty intolerant that way. When I get angry, I sit down and write something, exactly the way I am doing it now.
I am grateful to Bogdan Bogdanovic for spotting the phenomenon named Vladeta Jerotic, the man who turned from a follower and student of Karl Gustav Jung into a prisoner of Eastern Orthodox mysticism and advocate of Eastern Orthodox education, psychology, philosophy and mathematics, I suppose. It is not surprising that the current advocates of Orthodoxy are attacking Marxism so strongly considering that, obviously, they would like Orthodoxy to take over the most important characteristics of Marxism. Unfortunately, Bogdan Bogdanovic in the phenomenon named Vladeta Jerotic still sees what it was some twenty years ago. In the meantime, however, we have developed. So that even those things that were glorified some twenty years ago do not seem glorious anymore. I am sorry but That is not so terribly impressive anymore. Here Dobrica Cosic is most frequently mentioned as an example of bad judgment and wrong policy and it is ignored that in our public life there are so many fakers and pseudo-great individuals - from mathematics to history and literature. I am sorry, not only those people who discredited themselves by supporting and collaborating with the regime of S.M. are not that impressive, but the same applies to many who courageously and consistently fought against him to the end. One of the worst characteristics of this region is that terrible servility and courting of Great Men from various fields. I don't know whether this is the product of spiritual inferiority or simply conformism - the fear of scandal and of making someone angry. However, one thing is clear - there are people abroad and people in the country who are jointly trying to continue the same game with the same values, abandoned some twenty years ago. That simply won't work.
The time of Taras Kermanuer, Stanko Lasic, Dobrica Cosic, Muhamed Filipovic (I cannot recall all the national mandarins) is behind us. Simply, it is over! And I do not regret that it is over. If I do regret something then I do feel sorry for all those young men who are either not alive or do not live here anymore. Only because of them I sometimes feel rage towards intellectual mandarins and their petrified arrogance, egoism, and emptiness. They, all together, are very responsible for everything that took place Here.
The life abroad has one danger - time seems frozen, from the moment the exile leaves the country. And when the exile, briefly, returns to his homeland, then everything seems strange and unreal. Especially old acquaintances and friends. That is how Bora Cosic experienced Belgrade when he came to the promotion of his books. His books were published by Radio B92 without any illusion that they would be a commercial success. Bora Cosic was later rather poisonous in his criticism of Belgrade. Belgrade, obviously, did not justify his hopes. Mutual disappointments are a frequent phenomenon in difficult times. And no one should get angry because of that. But similarly no one should try to portray their decision to emigrate of stay abroad as a heroic deed or martyrdom.
Actually, who is prepared to openly admit to what extent Master Chance decided whether one should stay or leave? To what extent the decision depended on savings, likelihood of getting financial assistance abroad, ownership of a house or apartment, relatives or wealthy friends living abroad, a job offer...? Besides refugees who lost everything in the war, others, on the other hand, had choice. How many people, who were not refugees in the true sense of that word, left without a plan or support? How many of them stayed here because they had obligations towards elderly parents, someone's grave or cats? How many of them stayed behind to take care of apartments and houses of those who left? One should not toy with human fates and decisions. I notice that that usually happens to those who actually never experienced poverty and despair.
Fortunately, in Belgrade and Serbia this sort of thought is not as strong and widespread as in Sarajevo. It is however, much more present as a sort of political discourse, as criticism that nothing has changed here and that here there is no hope that anything will ever significantly change. That criticism, coming from abroad is increasingly turning into personal alibis and defense from responsibility for everything taking place in the country. It would be much more ethical to face the fact that life in "socialist Vienna" is far more comfortable, organized and secure, than it will ever be here, and that that is more than enough to stay there.
"Socialist Vienna" is, naturally, only an excuse for a much wider topic. Bogdan Bogdanovic, as a former mayor of Belgrade, most definitely knows that it is difficult to run a big city. And he most definitely knows that Belgrade needs a lot of time to become a comfortable, civilized, and secure city. In the meantime, Belgrade is headed by a lady from the party that was never rightist or conservative [Radmila Hrustanovic from the Civic Alliance of Serbia]. And Seselj is not the Prime Minister of Serbia.