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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 18 | volume IV | January, 2001



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SLOVOKULT.DE
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                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 18January, 2001
Essays

Cautious Necessity of State Rituals

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p. 1
Aleš Debeljak

    Albert Camus, a hero of mine whose life as well as work – and this is a demanding standard to uphold – inspire both respect and admiration, wrote in the influential magazine Combat upon the liberation of Paris in 1944, that the banks of the Seine glittered not only in the light of liberation but also in the light of future freedom.
    This distinction comes to mind when I observe the attitude of the Slovenian people towards their state. With the necessary degree of simplification, the people in my country can be reduced to two main ideal-types: on the one side there are those who exhibit a resistance to everything that smells (or, rather: stinks – the term which representatives of this type would doubtless prefer to use themselves) of the state and its institutions, while on the other there are those who display enraptured enthusiasm for everything Slovene. The first group is composed, for the most part, of non-reconstructed leftists, perpetual complainers, nostalgic members of the 1980s civil initiative movements, attendant anarchists and people who refuse to see beyond their nose, all of them perversely claiming their attitude to be the culmination of »autonomy«.
    These characters in principle abhor all state structures, the three-part division of power, the mechanisms of a parliamentary democracy and even the symbols of the state such as the flag and the coat of arms. It seems that such an attitude was automatically inherited from the Yugoslav era when the now disintegrated state more-or-less operated as the incarnation of a communist oppressor as well as Serbian cultural customs, the latter having grown considerably in both its impact and public perception the closer we had all approached the ultimate disintegration of Yugoslavia. Such a deep-seated abhorrence implies that these individuals a priori refuse – without any particulars of a critical analysis – to see the principal raison d’être of the state. That is, they tend to dismiss the fact that the state provides the larger frame for the habits of collective existence of its citizens. It is precisely the abstract workings of state structures and its institutions which guarantee the plurality of public and private lifestyles within the limits and under the protection of the architecture of collective existence. In short, we are in a position to entertain and cultivate our own pleasures precisely because the framework of the state ensures that such a cultivation is possible.


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