In central eastern Europe, memories of 1989–1990 mean strong support for Catalan independence. On the other hand, many of these countries fear Russian separatism within their territories. Is the comparison with eastern Europe entirely misleading? An interview with two representatives of Catalan politics and culture.
Lithuanian social critic, essayist, and novelist. He analyzes the geopolitics of the Baltic region and European identity issues and lectures at the Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas at the Faculty of Political Sciences and Diplomacy. Member of Lithuanian PEN. Tomas_Kavaliauskas@yahoo.com
Ullrich Kockel in interview
In a wide-ranging discussion of European identity and regional separatisms, scholar of European ethnology Ullrich Kockel considers how competing memories need not lead to conflict but can be turned into a creative force through cultural engagement based on mutual respect.
A conversation with Tatiana Zhurzhenko
In an interview conducted before Euromaidan commenced, Tatiana Zhurzhenko discusses the intricacies of regional tensions surrounding Ukraine, taking into consideration questions of memory, language and a putative civic, liberal Ukrainian nationalism.
Why do we so uncritically buy the “democratic rhetoric” of our rulers instead of countering their selfish designs? How was it possible in too many post-communist countries that incredible riches accumulated in the hands of the parasitic few? Why is political power so often fused with wealth? These are only a few of the questions debated by two philosophers in search of an answer to what went wrong in the post-communist world after 1989.
A Baltic-Balkan comparison
Lithuania and Bulgaria: two nations on the peripheries of central Europe, both bearing strong traces of former Empires. Subjected to neoliberal forces of disintegration, historical identities re-pattern along new lines of conflict, the politics of ’89 now redundant in the regulated zone of market democracy that is new Europe. Ivaylo Ditchev and Tomas Kavaliauskas share Baltic-Balkan perspectives on the present.
No one in eastern central Europe suspected that once the fight for independence was won, democracy would become a parody of itself, writes Tomas Kavaliauskas. Open disrespect for the public jars with the ideals of the Baltic Way that existed before and after 1989.
Identity and consumerist morality
The capitalist order implies that the ultimate objective of citizens is to be consumers. Yet consumerism grounded in indebtedness means financial dependence as opposed to democratic freedom, writes Tomas Kavaliauskas. In the consumerist system, the individual who asserts him or herself through authentic freedom is regarded as a non-efficient citizen.
The desire for peace and political unity in Europe after WWII can be seen as the action of the Platonist Demiurge, creator of the ideal state. But today it seems the Demiurge is in thrall to realpolitik, and realpolitik sets not nearly so straight a course. A Lithuanian philospher asks what historical necessity might mean in today’s EU.
The difficult balancing acts of the new EU member states
Tomas Kavaliauskas outlines the reasons why the countries of “new Europe” such as Lithuania and Poland took a pro-war stance and considers the implications for the relations to “old Europe” and within Nato.
The main error committed by Western Europe, Kavaliauskas argues was to integrate the newcoming member states only in the areas of economics and culture while politically classifying them still as “post-socialist countries”, who are only slowly awakening to the values of “true” democracy. Meanwhile, Kavaliauskas questions the sense of moral superiority of the new members who like to pride themselves on the notion that they will restore Europe’s moral emptiness and replace consumerism with spiritual values.
The new member states, he concludes, must continue to tread carefully between Western European attitudes and their own to eventually bridge the gaps.