Inside the populist machine

Linked with Svetlana Slapsak – Slovenia.

published on Uni Graz, by Svetlana Slapšak, not dated.

Inside the populist machine – Elites, intellectuals, narrativeproviders.

excerpt: … The other case links three generations of writers, united in pointing to the worst common enemy: not the nationalists, but the anti-war profiteers. This strategy is far more refined, and shows how precious intellectuals are in the populist public discourse. The oldest is represented by Predrag Palavestra, Serbian PEN President for some ten years, today PEN’s Secretary and one of the initiators of the new Writers’ Association.

He presented a daring fabrication to the International PEN in 1994, a collection of statements by the prominent Serbian nationalist writers, academics, and artists, in order to show they were not nationalist. Nobody at International PEN never cared to check the authenticity of statements, or what these persons were really writing and saying. At the same time, Palavestra attacked the anti-war profiteers as the real enemies of the Serbian people.


There is a subtle message in this manipulation: The anti-war profiteers are thus isolated as the only group which really needed war! Several years later, after the Dayton peace accord, a younger group of writers (now active initiators of the new Association) also attacked the anti-war profiteers, as a possible competition as soon as the situation is more stabilized.

Finally, the youngest generation, presented by a dramatist Biljana Srbljanović, attacked the anti-war profiteers in an interview in July 2000, asking the imaginary public what should to be done with these people once the war is over. In the third case, we deal with a clear attempt to condemn the memory, even of the most recent years.

Should we put the people who remember and who did not comply with war, nationalism, not even with a modest measure of commodity – in the concentration camps? Some kind of censorship should stop the anti-war profiteers from recalling their memory, publishing, saying what they saw and lived through.

All the three generations/groups have obviously the same problem, how to cover up their activities during the war and in Milošević’ regime.

But these intellectuals would not have exposed themselves so openly if they did not have had the urge of positioning themselves in a totalitarian culture. Self-defined, they offer themselves to an analysis which might conclude that we are dealing here with the unique phaenomenon in the history of populist cultures … (full long text).

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