Es gibt keinen Staat in Europa

Es gibt keinen Staat in Europa

Slavoj Zizek

For many long years in left-wing (and not only left-wing) mythology the State appeared as the original source of Evil, as a living dead sponging off the body of the community. The repressive, particularly ideological machinery of the State was presented as the process of supervising and maintaining discipline, as armour shaping the healthy body of the community. The utopian perspective, which henceforth opened up towards both the radical left-wing as well as the antiliberal right-wing, was the abolition of the State or its subordination to the community.

Today's experience, summed up in the word "Bosnia", confronts us with the reality of this utopia.

What we are witnessing in Bosnia is the direct consequence of the disintegration of State authority or its submission to the power play between ethnic communities - what is missing in Bosnia is a unified State authority elevated above ethnic disputes. A similar tendency can be observed in Serbia where we are again dealing with a state which is not based on the modern concept of nationhood, but has fused with the pre-state ethnic mix, and thus in Kosovo paradoxically in the same territory two states coexist: the Serbian state authority and the para-State agencies of the Republic of Kosovo. The old left-wing disinclination towards the rule of law and order has thus come face to face with its own truth, manifested in Bosnia and Serbia where unsupervised local warlords are plundering, killing and settling private scores. In contrast to expectations it has become clear that there is nothing liberating about the breaking of state authority - on the contrary: we are consigned to corruption and the impervious game of local interests which are no longer restricted by a formal legal framework.

In a certain sense "Bosnia" is merely a metaphor for Europe as a whole. Europe is coming closer and closer to a state of non-statehood where state mechanisms are losing their binding character. The authority of the state is being eroded from the top by the trans-European regulations from Brussels and the international economic ties and from the bottom by local and ethnic interests, while none of these elements are strong enough to fully replace state authority.

Thus, Etienne Balibar has altogether appropriately labeled the current situation in Europe with the syntagma "Es gibt keinen Staat in Europa" ("There is no State in Europe").

From all this it is thus necessary to draw what at first glance seems a paradoxical, yet crucial conclusion: today the concept of utopia has made an about-face turn - utopian energy is no longer directed towards a stateless community, but towards a state without a nation, a state which would no longer be founded on an ethnic community and its territory, therefore simultaneously towards a state without territory, towards a purely artificial structure of principles and authority which will have severed the umbilical chords of ethnic origin, indigenousness and rootedness.

As far as art, according to definition, is subversive in relation to the existing establishment, any art which today wants to be up to the level of its assignment must be a state art in the service of a still-non-existent country. It must abandon the celebration of islands of privacy, seemingly insulated from the machinery of authority, and must voluntarily become a small cog in this machinery, a servant to the new Leviathan, which it is summoning like the genie from the bottle.

Ljubljana, 1993