July 19, 1999

"VREME"

Flush out the leader!
Milosevic and the intellectuals? Not again!
Teofil Pancic

There's an unprecedented intellectual offensive these days on the increasingly poorly defended powers of Federal President Slobodan Milosevic. "Friends of the people", presidents, ideologists, eminences grises, and the even greyer rank and file members of various budget civilian societies, from the Serbian Academy of Science and Art on up are asking, demanding even, that the president of the state resign. What will happen to him after not nobody mentions, it's not up to people of historic vision to go into details. The guilds including the most patriotic of all, the literary guild, are stirred up, hinting at some possible Summer or Autumn prank in "the wider social community", the union of composers went even further, publishing a "Letter to the Public" in which they lovingly postmortemed the unhappy reality pretty well (if only there were a Supreme Union of Writers with such powers of articulation) and also demanded that the state's top officials offer their resignations and be on their way, where that way may lead. So what can we say about the academics? A man who goes through ten-year-old newspapers and compares them with today's statements on Slobodan Milosevic from, say, Dobrica Cosic or Matija Beckovic, would, by the rules of stubborn logic, have to conclude that these were the words of some other D.C. or M.B. or at least that these two were speaking about some other S.M., some eminent statesman unconnected with this current Wrecker, except that they share the same name.

A Christian, a patriot, a humanist, can't help, somehow, after everything, but feel a little sorry for Milosevic. Twelve years after being acclaimed as the Leader, toasted in mineral water by Communist plenums and in ptomaine-ridden warm beer and genocidal brandy by others, Milosevic should now not only give up his position (horrible enough for a man who believes that Presidents of Something are the only intelligent life forms in the universe) but also to wear the mark of Cain, to the grave and beyond, for the grand political, economical, cultural and moral fall of Serbia and everything connected with it. In such a moral constellation how could the compassionate fail to appreciate the injustice? All these senior citizen mentalities, as Djordje Balasevic described them, who were diligently hammering in the boards and carrying the plaster to build a pedestal for the throne of the Returner of Dignity and then, since the beginning of the nineties becoming, one by one, disillusioned by the Leader and, after that, becoming certain that the moment, the meaning and the measure of the personal disappointment was equal to the pulsating of the national misery, finally demanded that the Leader step down. Aren't these people pretty ridiculous, not to put too fine a point on it? Having made their own Identi-Kit sketch of the Messiah by following the general shapes of their own kitsch and uncollected regeneration-unification daydreams, they refused to see the real Milosevic, a drab but unscrupulous apparatchik who was willing to se the whole world on fire for one more minute of power, until he slapped them in the face so hard that they were forced, finally to look at him. And they began to bore the hell out of decent folk, gnashing their teeth over the mighty backfiring of the Leader Project. This is too much, even for a classier circus where artists and jugglers fly through the air without a net! Imagine the Scientist from a pulp comic or a Z-movie demanding the resignation of his own freaky creation after it's gone pretty much out of control.

Do you ask for Alien's resignation? You gave him life, now you rock his cradle! And don't bother about the people coming up with ways to stop him. Of course this kind of thing doesn't happen in popular culture which, after all, has some respect for its audience. The characterisation may be a little shallow, but it's no all that meaningless.

If this country is to have any kind of a future we are, without a doubt, witnessing the end of the Slobodan Milosevic Era. Of course the end might drag out a bit and produce a lot more additional misery. This kind of historical side-effect doesn't leave the stage without a thunderous slamming of the door. But, for the sake of justice, out of moral prophylaxis for the days ahead, it should be noted that the most shameful period in the written history of Serbia is a collaborative work, however much it may be the truth that this is a regime of one man (and one woman) and that without his definite nod, everything else amounts to nothing. He should, however, not leave alone, or only in the company of his party comrades, that exotic world trained in thinking that a brain is something you eat and that any other use of it should be liable to punishment and proscription. Serbia will have a chance only when an irrevocable resignation for the happiness of the nation is tendered by all those characters who appear honourable only on account of their age, all those riffraff who have been drawing border maps for a decade, defining "the ethnic space" and meditating on "humane migrations", theorising futilely on "nations deserving and undeserving of statehood", holding various gatherings and pompous exhibitions of vanity. Only when all this marauding demimonde, which no longer even tries to conceal its necrophiliac tendencies, sneaks out on its toes into repentant silence (mumbling, outraged loneliness, more likely), will it by possible to put the Long Dying behind us.

Anno Domini 1999. Not only has the radically evil structure of authority and power which has turned Serbs into the poorest and most despairing people in Europe been declared illegitimate, but this Summer of the Ozone Hole also marks the twilight of the pathetic caste of devil's advocates, intellectuals, with or without quote marks, who by torturing thought for years, have ended up in complete irrelevance, unimportant in both space and time, confused and grotesquely angry with even-they-don't-know-who, furious with themselves and others, with their compatriots and the whole world, with Communism and Anti-Communism, the Komintern and NATO (the Pope, in the meantime, has been partially rehabilitated), Berija and Sterija, Old Uncle Tom Cobbly and All... but not with themselves and their fatal errors which they wear, in a showy string, like fake pearls on the breasts of a cheap hooker.

After a while it becomes sickening to speak about all these turbulent priests and zombie-protagonists of all the Storms in a Teacup which they have proudly caused in the mistaken belief that they can move moments. We should be doing something smarter, healing our souls. If you missed Partibrejkers on Wednesday you have Darkwood Dub on Friday. If you didn't get to Budapest to see REM, you'll soon have the Pepsi-sziget festival there; new translations of Gazdanov and MacEwan have just been published, Woody Allen is hocking his old (but good) jokes, you can easily reach applied Nirvana on the terrace of a restaurant. and everything else, after this time of nightmare and death and those who peddle them, the necroacademic Resignation-Demanders and Armchair-Defenders, we should flush down the drain as soon as possible in the name of Life which has not alternative than to resolutely defend itself.