Do we live in a Global Fragmentary Civil War? – Franco “Bifo” Berardi on our recent situation

“Today, the Yugoslavia of the Nineties may well be a blueprint for the European future” – sais the Italian philosopher, Franco “Bifo” Berardi.

In a 2016 essay Bifo writes:

“Do you remember Yugoslavia? For some time, it was a rather healthy federation of twenty-five million people. Different ethnic and religious communities coexisted, factories were managed by workers, everybody had a privately owned house, and nobody suffered from hunger. Then came the International Monetary Fund, the Polish pope pushing Croatians into religious war against the Orthodox Serbs, and Germany delivering weapons to the fascist Ustaša.

In 1990, the United States cut off all forms of credit to Yugoslavia unless separate elections were held in each state of the federation within six months. As a consequence, Yugoslavia—no longer able to conduct foreign trade—was condemned to commercial bankruptcy, which reinforced the divisive tendencies of its states. The US then funded the individual states to dissolve the federation, also supporting parties and movements that promoted this process. Meanwhile, Germany shipped arms to Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina.

In March of 1991, fascist organizations in Croatia called for the overthrow of the Socialist government and the expulsion of all Serbs from Croatia. On March 5, 1991, they attacked the federal army base at Gospić, and civil war began.

The extreme right-wing Croatian party Democratic Union, which used the flag, emblems, and slogans of the pro-Nazi Ustaša party, seized power. Citizenship, property rights, employment, retirement benefits, and passports were granted only to Croats and to no other ethnic group. Thus, 300,000 Serbs armed themselves and entered the fray with unspeakable brutality.

The destruction of Yugoslavia can be seen as a return of Hitler’s ghost to the world scene. Ethnic-religious wars caused around 170,000 casualties, as ethnic cleansing was practiced in every area of the federation. After seven years of violence, a new state order emerged based on a paradigm of ethnic-religious identification, a principle thought to have been extinct after the end of the Second World War and the defeat of Nazism.

Twenty years after the Nazi-neoliberal wars of Yugoslavia, in all those small nation-states (except perhaps Slovenia) unemployment is rampant, people are impoverished, schools are privatized, and public infrastructure is in disrepair. Today, the Yugoslavia of the Nineties may well be a blueprint for the European future: German Ordoliberalism has impoverished social life, depleted public services all over the continent, and inflicted humiliation on Syriza which has jeopardized the core of European solidarity.

The failure to deal with the new wave of migrants from the East has exposed the political fragility of the European Union, and now fuels a new outburst of fear, racism, shame, and bad conscience.

From the Balkans to Greece, from Libya to Morocco, are the ten million people amassing at these borders going to be the perpetrators of the next terrorist wave? Or will they be the victims of the next Holocaust?”

the economy of fear and war: Michele Fiore, a Republican assemblywoman from Nevada, poses with her family for her Christmas card, 2015, with fireguns in their hands.

The icy wind of financial abstraction

Bifo goes on to say:

(…) the future of Europe is held captive by the opposition between financial violence and national violence. In order to grasp the dynamic that drives the global civil war, we first have to see the relation between the icy wind of financial abstraction and the reaction of the aggressive body of society separated from its brain.

Is there a way out?

According to him, “the only prospect we can pursue in such an obscurantist time: to create solidarity among the bodies of cognitive workers worldwide, and to build a techno-poetic platform for the collaboration of cognitive workers for the liberation of knowledge from both religious and economic dogma”.

So, the social body is detached from the general intellect. How could a brainless body react differently to the current ills of our civilisation? How could it transform fear into a different public sphere?

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