Philosopher Srecko Horvat discusses the historical lessons we can learn from the guerrilla struggle against fascism waged by the Partisans in Yugoslavia during World War II. Horvat also talks about the recent surge in extreme right-wing political forces in Europe and what that trend and Julian Assange’s case mean for the future of democracy.
We aired an excerpt of this interview on Intercepted. What follows is the audio and transcript of the entire conversation. Intercepted is going on hiatus for the summer and will return with new episodes in September 2019.
Jeremy Scahill: This is Intercepted.
JS: I’m Jeremy Scahill coming to you from the offices of The Intercept in New York City and this is a special bonus episode of Intercepted.
Donald Trump has encouraged a new sort of alliance in the world, an alliance of fascists, authoritarians, dictators. It’s striking to contrast this emerging global coalition of thug-ery to a movement formed out of the rubble of World War II. It was known as the Non-Aligned Movement. Marshal Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia and the Indian Prime Minister Nehru along with Nasser of Egypt forged an alliance of nations that had agreed not to place themselves under the ideology or control of the two major emerging empires in the world at the time: the United States and the Soviet Union. In 1961, in Belgrade, the movement was officially formed and it included most nations of Asia and Africa as well as Latin American countries and others in the global south.
Among the most central figures in the creation of this movement was Tito of Yugoslavia. During World War II, he led a guerilla struggle against fascism under the banner of the Partisans. Their slogan “Death to fascism. Free people.” The Partisans came from across the Balkans and they successfully defeated both the Italian fascists and the Nazis. This struggle ultimately led to the unification of six territories under the banner of Yugoslavia. As president of this new country, Tito had to strike a balance between a Soviet Union that was enraged that Yugoslavia did not agree to be placed behind the Iron Curtain and a United States that was increasingly imperial in its global outlook.
Marshal Tito was famous for standing up to Stalin as well as Winston Churchill and the United States. And the country that he built was an incredible experiment in alternative ways of organizing society. Yugoslavia embraced the centrality of workers to the health of society and implemented socially owned factories. It emphasized national unity and respect for the diversity of its people and geography.
That Yugoslavia was crushed in the 1990s, in a brutally murderous civil war where extreme nationalists engaged in historical revisionism and the promotion of ethnocentric spheres of power. The Serbian leader Slobodan Miloševic and the Croat Franjo Tudjman both carried out murderous ethnic cleansing campaigns of mass slaughter and displacement. Much of the killing took place in the multi-ethnic republic of Bosnia which had the largest population of Muslims in Yugoslavia.
There’s much that we can learn from the struggle of the Partisans, the society that they sought to build and the horrifying end to the story of Yugoslavia. These lessons resonate strongly in our current moment in history.
Joining me now to talk about all of this, the philosopher and author Srecko Horvat. He is the author of “What Does Europe Want?: The Union and its Discontents” — which he wrote with Slavoj Žižek — “Welcome to the Desert of Post-Socialism,” as well as “The Radicality of Love.” With Yanis Varoufakis, he is one of the founders of the Democracy in Europe Movement. His latest book is “Poetry From the Future: Why a Global Liberation Movement is Our Civilization’s Last Chance.”
Srecko Horvat welcome to this bonus episode of Intercepted.
Srecko Horvat: Thanks for having me here.
JS: So, I want to ask you first, in a very big picture sense, you know, we in the United States, of course, have been following the rise of Donald Trump. And every time he tweets, or sneezes, or whatever, it becomes a big news story, but in Europe there have been sort of parallel movements that have been either rising to power or threatening to take power that seem to share a lot in common with Donald Trump and his world vision. Just for people who don’t follow it closely what has been happening around Europe with the kind of re-ascension of hard right or neo-fascistic movements?
SH: Well, I would first say that what we can witness in Europe today is that it’s not only that we have a rise of the hard right-wing, or as you called it, fascist movements and populists leaders who are already in power such as Matteo Salvini in Italy for instance, who doesn’t allow the refugees to sail into the Italian ports for instance, or Viktor Orbán who is in power in Hungary. You know, the one who is famous for saying that it’s finished with democracy and that we are living in the era of so-called “i-liberal democracy.” And then of course you also have different right-wing leaders such as the recent scandal in Austria with Strache which means that Europe is really shifting towards this right-wing, not only ideology, but reality.
But since you mentioned Donald Trump and that they are similar to Trump, I would say yes, they’re similar to Trump even if you take for instance, Umberto Eco’s work, the famous Italian writer, but also, a very interesting semiotician and political thinker who has written a very short text called “Ur-Fascism” where he names several characteristics of fascism and one among them is fear of strangers. The other one is misogyny, and then you have other characteristics which he places as you know, the original fascism. And if you take these characteristics for instance, and apply it to Trump, to Salvini, to Bolsonaro, to other leaders all across the world, you will see that the situation actual today is really resembling this kind of Ur-Fascism.
But what is important to say, because at this moment, Trump is in the U.K., visiting the U.K. Angela Merkel as you probably know delivered a speech at Harvard very recently. And what is the connection between this? I think what the liberals usually do, this kind of naive interpretation of the rise of the right-wing populist, is that they almost present it as if the right-wing ideology in reality fell from the sky. But Merkel at Harvard, you’ve probably seen in which way also the liberal media was writing about it: “Oh, finally a European leader who will teach Trump, you know, that we have to tear down the walls and so on.” But do you know where Angela Merkel was just a few weeks ago?
She visited Croatia the country where I come from, which was part of Yugoslavia. And she visited Croatia just before the European elections. And before the European elections, she held a speech rejecting, where she was talking about rejecting nationalism. And she held the speech at the political rally of the conservative Croatian party, which is very deep into historical revisionism also some problems on the border with refugees and so on. And while she was speaking about rejecting nationalism by actually de facto supporting nationalism.
And I think this is the problem, even when Angela Merkel speaks at Harvard, that we have to reject nationalism. What she did and what the political center did in Europe during the last years is that they actually created the monsters, you know. They were creating the fertile ground for the creation of Salvini, Orbán, Sebastian Kurz. In what way? By imposing austerity, for instance, new depths on the periphery of the European Union. Your listeners probably still remember the example of Greece and the 2015 Oxi referendum. And there is a parallel to the United States as well. Donald Trump didn’t fall from the sky. I think the liberal class in the U.S. really has to pose itself a very serious question: Where did Donald Trump actually come from?
JS: You’re, of course, talking about Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, she’s been on the cover of Time Magazine in the U.S., people have compared her here in the U.S. to Hillary Clinton that she’s the responsible adult on the world scene. And as you say, she’s the one that’s going to sort of stand up or issue corrective measures against Donald Trump.
But I want to go back to you talking about her visit to Croatia. Srecko, one of the things that I’ve noticed over the past several years, and I’ve done a lot of traveling around the former Yugoslavia, including in Croatia, is that I’ve noticed that there’s been this move since the Yugoslav Civil War —the disintegration war of Yugoslavia—to tear down all of these anti-fascist monuments throughout the country in Croatia.
And they’re starting to be replaced with monuments that purport to be in honor of the victims of communism. And they often have sort of a Christian biblical overtones to them, but they’re also blowing up the names of people who fought and died to repel either the Italian fascist, or the Nazis from Germany. And there’s this massive historical revisionism going on right now in Croatia. And we can talk about other former republics of Yugoslavia. But given that you’re from Croatia, I just want to ask you about this erasing of history and then presenting a factually inaccurate new version of history in the form of monuments replacing those to the anti-fascist struggle.
SH: It’s a very good question, and I’m glad that you asked it. And I know that you traveled a lot through former Yugoslavia and even during the war, and people usually don’t understand on the one hand, the importance of the Yugoslav historical sequence and the experience of real existing socialism. Even Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary of U.K. when he visited Slovenia — which was one of the republics of Yugoslavia — at the press conference in front of the other Slovenian leaders, he even said that Slovenia was a Soviet vassal state. And you probably also know in the U.S. that Donald Trump even claimed that Yugoslavia fell apart in the Baltic, not in the Balkans. So you can see there is you know, a lot of confusion, even about geography, even if Melania comes from Slovenia— Actually, I don’t know how many people in the U.S. know that Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia.
JS: One of the hosts of an MSNBC show in the U.S., Joy-Ann Reid said it was — She’s from Soviet Yugoslavia.
SH: That’s precisely what’s happening all the time. Even when they present me they say, “Oh, he’s a philosopher from Soviet Yugoslavia.” Which brings us directly into, back to your question, because I think the Yugoslav experience was really special precisely because it wasn’t Soviet. You know, the creation of real existing socialism happened after Tito had a break with Stalin and didn’t want to follow the rules of the Comintern. What you had to come back to your question in the ’90s, after the collapse of Yugoslavia is really this erasure of history, which happened in different ways in different republics of Yugoslavia.
In Croatia, unfortunately, on the one hand, it took the form that they were really kicking out, dropping out books from schools connected to Marx to Engels and so on, but also to Dostoevsky, or Tolstoy. Most of the books I have today at my home library, were saved by the gypsies, sold in flea markets, and so on, and I bought it, and so on. But one even more, I would say traumatic consequence was the destruction of anti-fascist monuments. More than thousands of the monuments were destroyed in Croatia, which was really a deliberate move to erase the history of the Partisan struggle and well, I would say, a big modernization project, which happened here in Yugoslavia.
This situation is, I would say, not just specific for Croatia. It’s very interesting to see that this kind of historical revisionism, which is actually turning the defeated in the Second World War into those who succeeded to win, which is of course, false, but you can see that this trend is actually happening in many post communist countries. If you go to Poland, if you go to Hungary, like in Hungary, the György Lukács archive was closed, which I think is a big scandal. Then in Poland, of course, you have this rise of the conservative Christian forces connected to abortion and so on. In the same way as in the United States, you have this kind of science fiction Handmaid’s Tale going reality, in Poland, in the U.S., in these countries as well. And basically my conclusion of this is, why is this historical revisionism flourishing so much precisely in post-communist countries?
I would say precisely because the so-called transition period, as they call it in academic circles, transition meaning the transition from communism to capitalism didn’t succeed. It didn’t succeed because if you look at these countries — Croatia, Serbia, not to mention Bosnia, or Kosovo — you will see that these countries are semi-dependent peripheries of the European Union, which are in a kind of colonial situation with German, French, Italian companies basically owning all the companies, which were previously state-owned, the infrastructure, from banks to posts, and so on.
And then the question is really whether you have any kind of sovereignty. And if you don’t really have any kind of sovereignty, which is the case not only in these countries, but you’ve seen it with a series of experiences in Greece, if you don’t have real sovereignty, then the solution is very often historical revisionism which means building up a kind of identity in the sense of America first, Croatia first, whatever first. But this kind of fake identity of national identity, which I think in the 21st century is a very problematic idea given that the very concept of sovereignty will completely change in the next decades.
JS: I was recently in Belgrade, in Serbia and the Prime Minister of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic was Slobodan Miloševic’s information minister during the late 1990s and during the bombing of Yugoslavia over Kosovo. You have now Serbia trying to figure out which way it’s going to orient itself. Russia has increased its investment in Serbia. You also have the Emirates coming in to Serbia. Then you have Croatia, which is a kind of neo-liberal rump member of the European Union. And it seems as though in the areas of the former Yugoslavia, you have very similar dynamics that occurred in other European countries during the fall of Yugoslavia, where they’re kind of trying to figure out who the patron is going to be. And then Bosnia just continues to be punished economically as a people and is really in horrible economic shape and Bosnians have almost no opportunity. It used to be in Croatia, you would see a lot of Bosnians working in Croatia. Now that Croatia is an EU member, you see that less and less but talk about the landscape of these countries of the former Yugoslavia and the geopolitical games that are being played.
SH: I would say that the Balkans and ex-Yugoslavia this part of Europe is geopolitically becoming one of the most interesting, I would say, places for those who just follow it. But for those who live here, the situation is becoming very worrying, I would say, because you can see different trends in different countries. And of course, now we have new borders. Some countries are part of the European Union such as Slovenia, Croatia, then, you know, the European Union sends the Frontex, which is the army dealing with refugees and protecting outer borders. So it’s sending Frontex between Croatia and Bosnia, which then is creating an even bigger divide.
But what I find most interesting is Serbia. I spent a lot of time in Serbia, have many friends there, visit it very often. In Serbia, you can see in which way, you can see the failure of the European Union, on the one hand. Failure in the sense that the European Union is not anymore so attractive to accessing countries were 10 years ago, I think everyone in Serbia would have been keen to enter the European Union. If you go there today, there is no enthusiasm for it anymore. Instead of that, as you said, you have Russian capital, Russian influence.
Vladimir Putin recently, last year visited Belgrade. There were 100,000 people waiting for him, which was, of course, a theater show by Vucic, who basically paid the people, paid them bus tickets from villages in Serbia, and so on and sandwiches, literally like that to come to Belgrade. So, you can imagine what kind of dire situation the population of Serbia lives in these villages because they usually don’t have an opportunity even to come to Belgrade. But Putin did this for a very particular reason, which is called Nord Stream. So Nord Stream in the sense that you can see that Europe is in the middle of a new energy battle between the United States and Russia. You know, who will provide the natural gas to Europe? Will it be the Russians or will it be the U.S.? And you will see also in Germany, I was living the last two months in Germany. I followed the debate there. There is a big debate also about precisely the same question.
So, coming back to Serbia. So on the one hand, you can see Russia’s influence, which is connected to natural gas. On the other hand, Belgrade as a city is completely changing. It’s turning into a new Dubai. You have skyscrapers. You have the United Arab Emirates building these completely senseless, ugly projects in Belgrade. And then, of course, you have China. And then speaking about China, it becomes really interesting in which way, China is actually using the failure and utter incompetence of European foreign policy because there is no such thing as European foreign policy as you can see. On the one hand you have Angela Merkel giving a speech at Harvard, criticizing Trump, although she didn’t name him by name, but we know. And on the other hand, you have the royal family in London, greeting Trump as in a bad sort of Terry Gilliam, Brazil movie or something like that.
So Europe’s incompetence when it comes to foreign policy has created an open field in the Balkans for different geopolitical interests. With China it’s interesting that I would say, this is one of the biggest infrastructure projects of the early 21st century, the One Belt One Road project, building this speed railway from China to Europe. We should go a step back. In which way Europe’s foreign policy but also economic policy actually created the possibility for China to move in this big way into Europe, building the infrastructure.
And if you go back to Greece to 2015, which was quite an important momentum, because 61 percent of the Greek population voted “oxi” [no] at the referendum. They voted against austerity measures, which were imposed by European institutions, the European Central Bank, and others, which is this official line of Europe: you know that, you need more austerity, you need to sell off your public assets —your airports, your ports. And then what happened is, of course, that the Greek Syriza government was forced to sell the Port of Piraeus in Greece, which is one of the most strategic ports in the Mediterranean Sea, to the Chinese company called COSCO.
And the Chinese — that was 2015 — the Chinese in the meantime, of course, if you look at the map, if you can visualize the map, so you have Greece a bit down there. What they want to do now is by ships, they will transport the goods, and they’re already doing it directly to the port of Piraeus, then the railway will go up to Macedonia, then it will go to Bulgaria to Serbia. The Chinese Prime Minister was in Serbia last year, and they made an agreement together with Vucic and Viktor Orban, which means they’re now already in a project, I think, of building a new railway, from Belgrade to Budapest —
JS: And what are the consequences of this railway that China is laying down in the aftermath of the implosion of the Greek economy or the forced implosion of the Greek economy?
SH: Well, I think the consequences are really big. I mean, already now, today, it’s impossible to avoid Chinese products anywhere. But what they will do is what they realized, what China realized is that the transport of products by ships is just too slow. And then sometimes you also have the problem with the Somali pirates and so on. I don’t know whether they’re still active, but it’s just too slow. And time is money as the mantra of capitalism says, and they realize that if they are able to transport the products from Beijing to let’s say, Hamburg in two weeks, it will actually bring them to an even bigger geopolitical power. What it means for the Balkans and for the future of European Union, I will put it like this: Why isn’t it Europe itself, which is investing into big infrastructure projects? Why isn’t Europe building railway trains? Did you know that China builds every year more fast train railway tracks than Germany has altogether? You know
JS: We have none in the United States, Srecko. We don’t have any high speed trains in this country.
SH: Yeah, but you have, you will have Hyperloop and all this shit. I mean, I’m joking. But yeah, I know, it sounds as a European complaining to you who don’t have it. But let me tell you an anecdote. One year ago, or during this time, the trip from Zagreb to Belgrade by train is now taking around seven or eight hours. It is like 350-400 kilometers. And according to the data I found, this same trip during the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy, which was, you know, a lot of time ago, took less time than today. So you can see that the infrastructure is completely devastated. It’s devastated, of course, because of corruption, because of austerity and so on.
And for a Chinese train, this trip will take one hour, probably, but there is a problem, of course. You know, there is a problem that the constructs which the Chinese makes is that basically, these railway tracks, as far as I know, maybe I’m wrong, will not be used so much for passenger travels, but mainly for the transport of goods.
But to come back to Europe, you know, what you can detect here with all this what we have talked about, Serbia in this situation, Croatia in this situation, not to mention, you know, Austria, what’s happening there. There will be snap elections in September. There are now snap elections in Greece, with New Democracy rising this month. You can see that Europe is in a deep crisis. Europe is and it’s not just, you know, this kind of identity crisis, I think it’s a serious internal crisis and a serious geopolitical crisis. And while Europe is in this crisis, not being able to find a common political path, which will it will follow, and which it should follow. It is losing the ground, I would say, to other players to China, Russia, Arabs, and so on, and even the U.S. You can see it with Trump’s visit to the U.K.
So, you have a Europe which is not united anymore. You have a Europe, which is actually giving away its own infrastructure instead of investing in the infrastructure. You have a Europe which is maybe from the American point of view, Europe still looks like Paris in the movies, Rome and all this kind of utopian bullshit about Europe. But the situation here is actually very worrying. And what happens in Europe will have deep consequences on the U.S. on and on, as it always had on the rest of the world. Don’t forget that two world wars started in Europe, that in the 90s, we had the breakup of Yugoslavia, which also, as we can see now has also consequences on the rest of Europe.
JS: Of course, you had a Serbian guy, Gavrilo Princip, who is, you know, history states, ultimately, his assassination attempt on the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his concubine, was the inciting event for World War I and then of course, you also have Yugoslavia popping up in a very serious historically significant way in World War II. And part of why I wanted to talk to you is because you have this new book out “Poetry From the Future” which I highly recommend people pick up and read. And in it you talk about the significance of what became known as the Partisans establishing a new society and joining together these six republics into this country, Yugoslavia.
And you write, “Instead of being victims of their historical circumstances, the Yugoslav people took control of them and turned them to their own advantage. From the mountains of Bosnia, Herzegovina and Montenegro through the woods of Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia, and finally on the Island of Vis, fighting a guerrilla war against outnumbered Nazis and fascists including the local collaborators, the Ustaše and Chetniks. The Partisans succeeded not only in liberating the Yugoslav territory, but in establishing a new society based on the revolutionary struggle.” Before we talk about that building post-war, explain for people that don’t know this history the significance of Josip Broz Tito, known as Marshal Tito, and the Partisan forces that successfully defeated the Nazis and the Italian fascists.
SH: It’s a great question and I think the whole Yugoslav experimental experience has so many lessons for our situation today. So let me first say that I’m definitely not someone who is nostalgic. I’m someone who is very critical, at the same time of the Yugoslav experience for different reasons we can talk about. At the same time, I think, precisely this historical sequence from the second World War is so important today, because it shows several things. First of all, in order to understand it better, you have to imagine a map of Europe with the red color, and the red color represents the Nazis who occupied countries. And if you look at Europe in the ’40s, beginning of ’40s, for instance, of the last century, you will see that most of Europe is red. Not red in the sense of communism, but it is occupied by the Nazis.
And ex-Yugoslavia, at that time, it was Yugoslavia, but not socialist yet, was occupied as well. You had puppet regimes in Croatia. You had collaborators in Serbia and in this situation, there was a communist guerrilla movement. Basically, it was really a guerrilla movement, even before the guerrilla movements in Latin America, and so on. Because the terrain in Yugoslavia is full of mountains, rivers, islands, and so on. And the Yugoslav Partisans led by Tito and many others, also women, was actually the only resistance movement I would say in Europe. We had resistance movements as we know, resistance in France. We had the Greek resistance movement and so on but I would say the Yugoslav Partisans are the only ones which succeeded to use the situation of war and total occupation in order to create a social revolution, you know. It wasn’t just, oh, we came out of the war and then everything has to change so that everything can stay the same, as Lampedusa would say.
Here, it wasn’t like that. It wasn’t just a continuation of a liberal kind of system. It was an attempt to radically transform the society. And you mentioned Gavrilo Princip, who was the one who shot at Franz Ferdinand. People say he’s the one responsible for the first world war. Well, during the time when Gavrilo Princip left, this is the beginning of the 20th century. At that time, 95 percent of the Bosnian population Gavrilo Princip came from — I mean he was there — 95 percent of the population in Bosnia were illiterate.
Now, the situation is completely the opposite. You know, because of the modernization project of Yugoslavia, which was you know, building highways, building architecture, you know, in MoMA, the museum in New York recently had an exhibition, a really good one called Concrete Utopia, about Yugoslav architecture. And it’s really sad that here in Croatia, in Serbia, and so on these fantastic buildings which look like science fiction, are devastated, ruined, no one really cares. And then you have the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which is showing us what kind of architecture we had. So it was architecture, it was a modernization project, which included all spheres of the life.
And well, I could talk more about it, but let me just say that if there are three lessons of the Yugoslav experience, I would say the first one — three lessons for our dark, dystopian times today — the first lesson is anti-fascism and in which way you can actually lead a successful struggle against fascism. Here it is also important to name all the negotiations which took place between Tito and Fitzroy Maclean — on the one hand who was the true inspiration for the character of James Bond, and who was fighting together with the Partisans from Bosnia to the Island of Vis — and Winston Churchill whom I don’t find the most positive character in history. But, and that’s a big lesson I would say, Winston Churchill realized that the only way to win the second World War is to make an alliance even with those whom he despised the most, namely the communists, but he did it because for strategic reasons.
And I think this is, you know, a failure today where you can see that the liberal establishment, the so-called political center is very afraid of alliances with the left. Instead of having alliances with the left, they’re doing everything in order to diminish the left. Yugoslavia is a good lesson, I would say, to show that if we really want to get out of this today’s very dangerous geopolitical situation, we will need some new alliances, even if they are just tactical.
The second lesson — so, the first lesson is anti-fascism and which way to defeat fascism. The second lesson is self-management. This is why I’m really so annoyed when all these people talk about Soviet Yugoslavia. The main difference was really what Tito did in 1948, is that when he broke with Stalin and the Comintern, is that he introduced the project of self-management which in practice well, it didn’t really function but the idea was good. The idea was that the surplus value of the work done by workers wouldn’t go, you know, to the managers and to the bankers and so on but would go back and they could decide on their future. So, it’s not just democracy. It was supposed to be economic democracy.
For different reasons that didn’t succeed. We can talk about it as well but I think today it’s a very important idea as well where you know, a manager in a company as CEO has 400 or 1,000 times bigger salary than a worker in the same company and this is what started with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Regan, this trend in the ’70s and so on.
JS: Before you go to the third, I just want to also just share one fact that I’ve always found incredible about the story of Yugoslavia and that is that when Yugoslavia existed and they were experimenting with socially-owned property, the most common way that workers got a home in Yugoslavia was through their work. In the same way that Americans are dependent on employers for healthcare, which is a bad system, in Yugoslavia, the way that most people graduated from living with their parents, you know, with their young families to their own apartment is that they would earn an apartment through their labor. And that was the most common way that people were obtaining a place to live, right?
SH: Yes, thanks for this because I think it’s becoming also a relevant topic today. You know, I just came back from Berlin and in Berlin, there have, like in all European cities, there is a huge housing crisis, which is on the one hand, the consequence of monopoly capitalism. You know, big companies buying a lot of flats in a city and then the prices are rising and on the other side, it’s a consequence of so-called platform capitalism which means Airbnb-ization of everything. Which you know to put it very simple, it means that if a student from a small Croatian or Spanish village wants to come to Barcelona or to Zagreb, the price, everyone, it’s very difficult to find even a flat to live in the center of the city because it’s much more profitable to rent an apartment to Airbnb and that’s a big problem.
In Berlin, they had such a problem that one company that’s very recent, one company succeeded to own more than 3,000 flats in Berlin and it completely changed the whole market of housing in Berlin. Because if you have 3,000 flats, basically, you’re the one who can decide on the prices. It’s called monopoly capitalism. In Yugoslavia, and like that we had social housing. Not only that it might surprise you because it will sound as fake news as if I invented it just now but come to the Croatian Coast, you will know, you’ve been to the Croatian Coast. You will see even hotels where the workers would go for vacation which was part of their contract.
JS: Part of what I think is so fascinating, to give the concrete examples that we’re talking about here is because it’s such a foreign concept to people in the United States, but last summer I was in a small village on the Adriatic Coast outside of the city of Zadar and I saw this abandoned, what looked like a series of really nice bungalows and it’s going to be razed to the ground and there’s going to be some high rise condos or a hotel put there probably with Turkish money. A lot of Turkish companies are now investing on the Adriatic coast. But what it was under Yugoslavia were summer bungalows for postal workers from all around Yugoslavia. They had a right to go there on vacation every year and it was a series of bungalows just for postal workers to take their time off.
SH: Yeah, but that’s precisely that’s the fascinating thing. I think most of the people who are listening to us now will think that we came from a communist past, you know, this kind of propaganda department, but it is not. You know, you go to the I mean, I don’t know whether it’s open but the Concrete Utopia exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York also shows these hotels as bungalows, and so on. And besides just giving all these people, the workers the opportunity to go for vacation on the coast, you know, it also I think, was very important for the diversity and exchange between the different countries of Yugoslavia, because I think really, you know, Europe had or still has this program of Erasmus, which is mainly for students who then get a scholarship to travel around Europe. But I think what we need today is a kind of universal Erasmus, you know. What if for instance, a British postal worker could go to Croatia and the Croatian postal worker could go to London and there will be an organized system of exchanges and so on? I would say that you would immediately see the downfall of right-wing populism and so on because most of the people just don’t travel that’s a big problem.
Of course, with climate change and the climate crisis, we could also pose other questions whether people should travel so much. You mentioned tourism. A big problem for these countries of the periphery of the European Union — Spain, Portugal, Greece, Croatia included— is tourism. Why is it a problem? It’s a problem because — I’ll give you just the figures for Croatia — Croatia and Malta are the two top countries in the world when it comes to the share of GDP for tourism. For Croatia, I think it’s over 18 percent now which means that basically you have an economy which is completely dependent on tourism.
And you know, when you are completely dependent on tourism, then you are also dependent on the weather, for instance or if some geopolitical situation changes or you have a terrorist attack as in Tunisia for instance, everything can change and then there is no 18 percent of the GDP anymore and there is no industry anymore because we don’t have any industry anymore after the so-called period of transition from communism to capitalism. This is a big problem.
It’s like a semi-colonial situation in which we are here today and not to mention also the climate costs in which way it is ruining the coast, in which way it is ruining small communities, which were dependent on fishing, for instance. Now, they’re dependent on Airbnb.
JS: You know, when Woody Guthrie wrote and would sing, “This land is your land,” you know, every American knows at least part of that song because it’s used in you know, commercials, and it’s become part of pop culture. But if you dig down into the other verses of it, he has a line where he talks about a sign on the side of the road and one side said private property. And the other side of it was blank. And he says that that land was made for you and me meaning, you know, he was taking a stand against the notion of private property. And in Croatia right now, one of the biggest political issues is what you’re talking about that you have this dependence on tourism, you have this gorgeous coastal territory and it is. It’s remarkable. Anyone who’s been to Croatia will tell you it’s absolutely stunningly gorgeous. And what is being —
SH: Don’t mention that. Even more people will come —
JS: The flip side of this is that of the staples of the former Yugoslavia was the notion that the coastline belongs to no one. It belongs to everyone. And yes, you had government corruption including under Tito and you had private islands and all of that but in general, the coastal areas of Yugoslavia were considered common property that anyone could use. And now, you have these huge hotel conglomerates, you have foreign investors coming in. And they’re saying no, we want to be able to have a private beach, because the current law would allow anyone to go even to a five star resort’s so-called private beach, and they can say, I have a right to put my towel next to your fancy chairs. I can sit on this beach because it belongs to the people. Well now, that may change and it’s for the exact reasons you’re talking about. It’s the privatization. It’s the dependence on tourism and then it’s very aggressive foreign investors working with corrupt Croatian business people to backdoor privatize the coast that belongs to the people.
SH: Yes, you described it as it is. I would say it’s even a bit worse. That, yes, certainly you have a privatization of the coast. I mean we already had this trend. You know, the first things which were privatized after the, just during actually, the breakup of Yugoslavia were for instance water sources. Coca-Cola bought several water sources in Bosnia and Croatia and so on, in the ’90s when the war was still going on, which was really this kind of shock doctrine — what Naomi Klein talks about, in the sense that you have a situation of a shock of a war and then basically you sell off, the corrupt Croatian politicians together with the corrupt Western politicians make deals to sell off the natural resources.
And this, what is happening now to the coast is a logical consequence of it. But why I’m saying it’s even worse, it’s even worse because precisely in Croatia, you can see all the problems of global capitalism. On the one hand, you know, we are happy that we are now connected to the world and so on. But all these EasyJet flights, this EasyJet culture and so on is not only contributing to the climate crisis, and I think actually, people should travel more by train, but there is no functioning train system in Croatia because Europe didn’t or Croatia didn’t invest in it and so on. So we are opening again the same problems we have.
But it’s not only EasyJet. I don’t know, you notice probably that recently, Croatia also became a set for big Hollywood movies. Like when I was in Dubrovnik recently, and there are so many Chinese and also American tourists. Basically, Dubrovnik is a fascinating city. It’s history is even more fascinating.
JS: No, no, no, it’s just King’s Landing. There’s no history. It’s just King’s Landing, man.
SH: Yeah, Game of Thrones. And, you know, and everyone just recognizes this. And if you go to the Island of Vis, it is an island, which recently became the set for the famous Mamma Mia movie. And, you know, OK, you could say this is making Croatia even more popular, which will be good because the local people will then rent their apartments and so on. But it’s really, it’s a sort of, I would say, you know, that movie called Idiocracy, you know, where people watch a movie, and then they will go there and then they will say, oh, King’s Landing, you know. No, it’s not just the King’s Landing, actually, it has a much more important and much more fascinating history than the Game of Thrones.
But you can see that these countries are kind of, even in that way, in the visual representation, it’s again, becoming a sort of colony or just a set of for a movie. And that’s bad, of course, I mean, it’s bad for the local culture. I’m not saying we have to retreat and go back to the local culture. I’m not so naive. I don’t believe in it. But yes, habits are being lost. Local languages are being lost, not to mention the rising skyrocketing prices of properties in cities such as Dubrovnik or others on the coast, precisely because of a Hollywood movie, and so on.
And then if you go to Dubrovnik or any other Croatian touristic city in the winter, you will find no people in the center of the city. There, the cities are basically dead, even split and so on. Because most of the people are just doing tourism. No one lives there anymore in the center. It’s like Venice, for instance, take Venice, take the recent accident which happened with a big cruiser in Venice. I mean, it’s disgusting. You know, the human civilization is really ruining itself. I’m not against tourism. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t travel. I think they should travel much more precisely to meet other cultures. And some people also need vacation from time to time. But I think we have to radically rethink global tourism and what it means and in which way it could be more sustainable, how it can be connected to a Green New Deal, to massive investment into public infrastructure—trains, other sorts of transport. There is so much to be done when it comes to tourism.
JS: I know we need to get to your third lesson that we can take from this but the reason that I’m drilling down and people may think “Oh, these guys are just talking in the weeds,” is because I think you cited my colleague and friend Naomi Klein, and her writing in the “Shock Doctrine.” And of course, much of what she’s doing now is focused on the climate catastrophe that we are facing in this world. And I think that in these neoliberal states that converted from socialism or communism into whatever it is now that you have multinational banks. You have powerful Western countries imposing austerity measures, etc, on smaller countries that are new members of the non-communist club, is that you also have climate disaster in Croatia in the form of these either wildfires or fires that are started by somebody who threw a cigarette out and there is no effective response and people are kind of left to maybe the state is going to send planes or helicopters to put out our fire or maybe we need to hire private individuals to do this?
I mean, this is the reality that we are now facing also in parts of the United States in California where people have to hire or have insurance through private companies that if my house is on fire, I’m going to have a private fire force that’s going to make sure to put out my fire first, rather than wait for 911 dispatchers to send out a fire truck. So, explain how climate is affecting Croatia and then it’s compounded by the kind of implosion of state services or the disappearance of it and the move toward privatized disaster response.
SH: The example from California which you gave is excellent because it proves that Margaret Thatcher’s mantra is completely right today, unfortunately. You know when Margaret Thatcher said that famously, that there is no such thing as society, only individuals. And you can see it in California and other countries and so on where more and more you have a private sector which will basically just help the rich people. I mean it’s simple as that.
When it comes to Europe what you can see connected to the climate crisis is it’s not just wildfires, for instance. Croatia, for instance, and the Croatian Coast and islands has a big problem with plastics and the waste. Which it goes like this, you know, I come every year to a certain island in Croatia and if I come in the spring, the beaches are full of plastic. And then me and local friends — and I’m coming to the lesson also of one of the lessons of Yugoslavia, I would say — me and my friends go there on the beach, we clean the beach, and so on. And the very next day the plastic comes back.
If you look from where the products come half of them are Albanian, and others are French or German —French or German medical equipment, for instance. And then you ask yourself, “OK, why is there Albanian, French and German garbage on Croatian islands?” And then you have to come to the source of this problem. And the source is that, on the one hand, Albania after the collapse of the communist regime there, doesn’t really have a sustainable waste management system. On the other hand —and here we come to a more global problem— the rich countries of the European Union including Germany, France, and so on are basically sending a lot of waste including medical equipment to Albania. And then following sea currents, the waste from Albania, together with Albanian waste and from Western Europe comes to the Croatian islands.
And what is then the lesson of Yugoslavia? The lesson is that even if I clean the beach every fucking day, the next day the plastics will come. Even if there is no plastics on the beaches, we are all already eating microplastics, you know. Scientists have found microplastics from the Swiss Alps to the Antarctic.
So, there is no way out in that way and the only way out is and this is one of the lessons of Yugoslavia, which has to be rethought seriously, is the Non-Aligned Movement namely that was the movement of the 20th century which was founded by Nehru, Tito, and Nasser with the basic idea that the countries of the global south have to cooperate together. Of course, it was a situation of the Cold War where the main reason for the foundation of the Non-Aligned Movement was that you don’t join Soviet Russia and you don’t join the United States, but you actually try to create a genuine third option and I think we need that more and more today.
You’ve seen probably in the news recently that Malaysia was sending back the waste which the Western countries were sending to Malaysia. I think that’s a very good thing and it also shows, because I follow the debate in the United States. I respect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a lot. Although, I think she should speak much more about Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange but that’s another topic. But what she’s doing and I think that’s really good is really to push forward the Green New Deal.
But what is also important with the Green New Deal, which is basically very often forgotten — like now here after the European elections, everyone is talking about the so-called green wave, you know, the Green Party did very well, and so on. This is proof that Europe is going in a better direction. Well, I’m old enough, though, I’m not so old. But I’m old enough to remember that the Green Party supported the war in Afghanistan, and so on, and they didn’t really do much things for the so-called green transition in Germany.
So, the lesson of this is that even with Malaysia or the waste which is coming to Albania and then to Croatia, the lesson is that there is no Green New Deal only in one country and that the Green New Deal has to be not only social but anti-capitalist or more precisely post-capitalist. So you cannot have a green New Deal just in Germany, which is now exporting the diesel cars to the periphery of the European Union to Hungary, which is the second country in the world of premature deaths because of air pollution.
So, you know, you could imagine the kind of world which resembles the science fiction from China now, which I think is one of the best, you know, most interesting science fiction where you have a world which is basically divided. You have countries where people enjoy beautiful air, you know, sand and so on beaches, and you have countries which are literally, literally drowning in garbage. And I think that’s so important with the Green New Deal because I see two dangers for the Green New Deal. One danger for the Green New Deal is that it might soon become a sort of new green capitalism, you know, that capitalism will realize, well, maybe it’s better to turn to solar panels and so on. It’s already realizing it.
JS: This was the Barack Obama sort of idea about the Green New Deal was sort of green capitalism.
SH: Yeah, I mean, you see it now even The Greens in Germany. What else is it? I mean, it’s the same I would say, and that’s a big danger. And capitalism is already working on co-optation and making profits out of it. And the other fear I have is that you’ve seen it, for instance, with Le Pen recently during the European elections is something what we should call eco-fascism. And it’s not something completely new, if you go back to Hitler — to Hitler’s Germany —and if you look at the photos, you will see for instance, Eva Brown who was his mistress, doing yoga on a beautiful lake and then all the ideology was a kind of return to the you know, blut und boden [blood and soil.]
And you can see it today as well that this is precisely the fascists who are also using their — OK, they’re not talking about the Green New Deal, but they are also speaking about the return to the nature and so on, which is a very, very dangerous trend, I would say. So, these are the two dangers for the Green New Deal.
And I think the lesson of the Non-Aligned Movement from the 20th century, which was founded by the Tito, Nehru, Nasser, and many countries joined is that instead of following, let’s say the Western countries, which are the countries which are most responsible for the climate crisis, the global south should build new ways of cooperation. And it should send its garbage back to the Western countries.
JS: Yeah, I want to talk a little bit more about the Non-Aligned Movement because I think it’s such an important history, particularly for young people to study. You know, you mentioned Nehru, Nasser, and Tito but ultimately dozens and dozens of countries joined together to declare: We are not under the Soviet Union and we are not under the American empire capitalistic program.
And they tried to carve out their own third way, and then you had these liberation movements from around Asia and Africa joining together with Yugoslavia, with India, with Egypt and other countries to say we don’t want to participate in what you’re now calling this Cold War. We want to build an alternative model for how societies can interact with each other and organize. And in fact, Malcolm X talked about the Non-Aligned Movement in some of his speeches and the Bandung Conference in the mid-1950s.
And now all of these nations came together and realized that neither the Soviet Union nor the United States were going to solve the world’s problems and that the disempowered or the economic global south countries needed to join together to create a third way so that they wouldn’t be economically dependent on these two opposing empires, but also so that they could forge their own moral, social, and justice-oriented visions of how the world should be organized.
SH: I would say, yes, we definitely need something similar today, although the problem is that the whole situation changed of course. We are not in a Cold war anymore. We don’t have, you know, this kind of a polar world where on the one hand you have the United States, on the other hand, you have Soviet Russia —
JS: Have you watch television in the United States lately? Because that’s all they talk about is how we have this new Cold War and the Bolsheviks are coming to steal our elections.
SH: Yeah, I didn’t, but I’ve seen — but that, you can also see that it’s not just the Bolsheviks, it’s also the Chinese, you know. It’s not just the Russians anymore with the trade war with the Chinese. So, even if you watch television, you will see that there are different players now. So I would say it also reflects the fact that we live in a multicentric world, which is kind of different, but yeah, the propaganda and the ideology is very similar to the Cold War, you know.
Although it’s much more dangerous, because today, you know, it’s not just about seizing the means of production. I would say today, it’s about seizing the memes of production. You can see that this propaganda is much more successful, because of technology and memes, on the one hand, which is, you know, this creation of images for a very short attention span, and pretty popular, as you have seen with Bolsonaro, for instance, and the role of What’s App. And on the other hand, you have a sort of pre-programming of politics, like with the case of Cambridge Analytica, for instance, and Facebook showed.
So, that’s very dangerous, but precisely in this kind of situation, you need a sort of new global liberation movement, which would learn the lessons of the Non-Aligned Movement. What was successful and what were the failures? Because the Non-Aligned Movement nominally still exists today and well, how often do you hear about it? It tells a lot.
I would say one of the problems and one thing which we have to really rethink is that the Non-Aligned Movement consisted only of nation-states that was the 20th century. I think even if you have today everywhere the retreat to the nation-state, America first, Hungary first, Somalia first, whatever, I think the nation-state as a concept given the trend towards an even bigger climate crisis, might be a concept from the past.
What do I mean by that? If you have rising sea levels, if according to the — I think, it was even the World Bank. If according to their statistics, by 2050, you will have hundreds of millions of refugees mainly from the global South trying to come to Europe, then the very concept of the nation-state has to change. The very concept of sovereignty has to change and we will need more global cooperation, you know.
I don’t know if you recently watched, so I don’t watch U.S. television, unfortunately. I would love to watch it. I love to watch ideology and deconstruct it. But I’ve been recently watching Chinese science fiction and on Netflix, I don’t know if I can mention them. But they’ve been doing some good stuff as well, not only will Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, which appeared there. But recently, a Chinese blockbuster science fiction movie appeared on Netflix. And it’s amazing, actually, whatever you think about the quality and the narrative, and so on. But the story is actually very interesting, very unusual, where you know, you have a situation in which the sun is turning into a red giant, so that the whole world has to unite. They form a sort of world government, you know, this old Emmanuel Kant’s idea that the candidates, the states would come together and create a world government. To create a world government —sounds completely crazy what I will say now — they install 10,000 motors on the back of the planet of Earth, and then they try to bring planet Earth out of its orbit towards a new sun. And, you know, OK, it’s science fiction, but couldn’t have imagined that — You know, I think we cannot even imagine what might be happening because of the climate crisis.
For instance, take the Arctic, take the melting ice, which is now making true what Fredric Jameson said, you know, that it’s possible to imagine everything, even the end of the world but not the end of capitalism. So, you know, you can imagine the end of the world. Ice is melting and so on but capitalism will go on.
Last year, Donald Trump gave the permission for the drilling of the Arctic. You’ve seen also that NATO had one of its biggest — I was just there in Norway at that time. So, I remember it. It had the biggest military exercises precisely in the Arctic. So, there is a big interest for that area and you can see that the climate crisis will create new routes not only for transport of goods but also for the exploitation of fossil fuels. Or take for instance, permafrost. Not many people speak about permafrost, but with disappearing permafrost, it might be even more dangerous than with climate change. And we cannot even predict what might happen because of that.
So, if you have these trends, if you have hundreds of millions of refugees in the next two or three decades coming to the U.S. or to Europe and so on, I think we will need a kind of global cooperation which never existed yet in the history of humanity, I would say, because you will also need to use for instance the army, you know, not to lead wars, you know, but to help people, you know, to provide routes to save them and so on. And unfortunately, I see that we are already going in that direction. Unless we are able to create a global community which would be a result of a global liberation movement and a sort of new realigned movement, I would say, which would be realigned against capitalism, against exploitation of natural resources, against the commodification of humans, their emotions and free will —what is happening with technology —unless we succeed to create this global movement and global society, which would be the first truly global society, I’m afraid that by 2050, we will see a world which would really resemble Chinese science fiction in the worst way.
JS: I want to end by asking you about where we should look for hope. You write, “What we need more than ever today is hope without optimism. This is the only path from resistance to liberation.” Explain what you mean.
SH: I would say optimism in the same way, pessimism is a very dangerous concept. Because if you’re a pessimist, then you don’t even have the will to wake up, and you know, to be active in society. Optimism is also dangerous because it promises false hopes. And that’s why I think we need hope, without optimism. Hope, I think for the 21st century is the most crucial concept, I would say. Hope in the sense that I think the progressives around the world have to stop just criticizing capitalism, the rise of right-wing populism, authoritarianism, and so on and they have to offer not only hope, but a vision of a society in which we want to live, you know, to really go in the direction to imagine things which are unimaginable.
For instance, let me give you a completely crazy idea which could be done tomorrow morning, if there was a global government. Of course, it cannot be done tomorrow morning because to arrive to sort of global government, we need a lot of time. And then there is a question because I have an anarchist past as well, whether you want the government or not, that’s not important. But let’s imagine that we succeed to create the kind of system of redistribution of international flights on the global level, because we know that international flights are contributing to the rising levels of CO2 and to the climate crisis. So couldn’t we imagine, for instance, or work on this kind of program that, well, if you want to fly, you can fly twice a year, for instance? I know that many people who fly to Bilderberg these days wouldn’t be happy about this particularly.
But then if you don’t want to fly, you can, for instance, you could imagine a sort of market where you could sell your flight to someone else who wants to fly. Although I don’t think that the market is a good solution we’ve seen it with air pollution as well, in which way you can then just outsource it. But I think we have to imagine, you know, the Green New Deal, I think, as long as it remains anti-capitalist and post-capitalist is a means of not only imagining, but creating this kind of future with the hope, you know, why wouldn’t we travel more by trains than by cars? I mean, if you go to the United States, every time I come to the United States, I’m immediately depressed as soon as I leave the airport, when I come to the highway, and I’ll see so many bloody cars. And when you see that, in every car there is one single person, you know, instead of four people inside of it, for instance, or instead of having trains.
This is — how to say it? It’s an offense for human rationality that we still drive all these cars, I would say, you know. And a future which is coming with the automation and technological advancement will basically, you know, what’s happening to the truck drivers in the United States, that 3.5 million of them in the next decade or two, will lose their jobs. I don’t think that the solution then is, you know, to go back into this kind of green capitalism or something, but to really create new means of transport, which would be at the same time public and not privately owned.
You know, you could even go so far to say that what Elon Musk is doing with Tesla forcing the other competitors on the market to deploy also this technology and to go into electric cars is actually, it might be good. Although, I might criticize Elon Musk for many, many things, as many people do. But it might be good because you could imagine, and that’s something Yanis Varoufakis gave me that idea while we were talking, unfortunately, in a car in Germany, during the electoral campaign we had a few weeks ago. And then he said, but imagine a future where basically, a government could nationalize all these electric cars which will then exist in five years.
I know nationalization and expropriation is not really something which is popular, but why wouldn’t we imagine an electric, 100 percent clean public transport which is not owned, you know, this kind of stupid situation where humans really look like those actors in the movie, Idiocracy, you know. One person, one car, fossil fuels, and just driving around, not even driving. I mean, if you looked at the U.S. highways, people are not even driving. They’re just standing and sitting, you know, in these stupid cars, and they have to own the car. Why do they have to own the car? Well, it’s capitalist ideology, because for all these decades, they were convincing us that you are a successful man or woman if you own a car, if you own a house, if you own, if you buy, buy, buy, and use the same shitty products.
JS: So, as we know Julian Assange, one of the founders of WikiLeaks, is now in British prison. We understand that his health is deteriorating. He was moved to the Belmar Medical Ward. He is facing 17 espionage counts in the United States right now. The U.S. is demanding his extradition. This is very clearly a war against all publishers not just Assange. And at the same time, Chelsea Manning is once again, in jail for refusing to give testimony in the grand jury proceedings that led to these new indictments under the Espionage Act of Julian Assange. You and Ai Weiwei and other international figures have been protesting against the, first, the arrest of Assange, now the imprisonment of Assange and the facing of these espionage charges. Why are you taking time out of your life to protest the treatment of Julian Assange?
SH: Because he took the time out of his life to fight for us. And when I say to fight for us to fight for the very possibility to have information. To have information, what the most powerful governments or secret organizations or companies are doing in the world, from the war in Afghanistan to the war in Iraq. Wouldn’t it be great that, for instance, now with all these tensions with Iran someone would leak actually what the Pentagon and what Bolton and Pompeo and all these white male warriors are actually plotting against Iran? And what WikiLeaks did is that for the first time in modern history, it created a system where you can protect those courageous whistle blowers like Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and others who would then publish this information and it would be available to all of us. Precisely in this world of fake news and memes and this situation which truth doesn’t matter anymore. I found already the arbitrary detention at the Ecuadorian Embassy a big scandal for Western democracies.
I visited Julian quite often at the Ecuadorian Embassy and the scene when you would enter the Ecuadorian Embassy at Knightsbridge in London tells you everything that is wrong with today’s world. You know, he was basically for seven years arbitrarily detained in a very small space of the Ecuadorian embassy. Before you enter the Ecuadorian embassy, you will see this most luxurious shopping center called Harrods. You would see Ferraris, Lamborghinis, just in front of the Ecuadorian embassy with Saudi Arabian plates. You will see that, you know, a publisher was already for seven years basically imprisoned. He got a political asylum by the former courageous Ecuadorian government, unlike the current one, which is selling off Julian for loans with the IMF and so on. And that was already a scandal. What is happening now, I think, it’s an even bigger scandal because democracy in the West is dying if someone like Julian Assange is in prison.
And I found, Jeremy Hunt, what he recently said about Julian Assange that he could have walked out anytime I find, I mean, I find Jeremy Hunt the worst foreign secretary in the history of U.K. Not only because he called Slovenia a vassal state, and he obviously doesn’t know even geography or history compared to leaders such as Churchill, and so on, who at least had an understanding of geography and geopolitics, but also his stance over Julian Assange. What you can see what is happening today is that all these governments, Ecuador, now even U.K., they are meeting with John Bolton, with Pompeo, with the U.S. officials who want Julian Assange to be extradited to the United States as soon as possible.
And why is this dangerous? If that happens, I think, to even speak about democracy anymore will be impossible because there is no democracy without the freedom of speech. There is no democracy without the First Amendment in the U.S. There is no democracy without the freedom of press. And there is no democracy if you don’t have the ability to check the information, to have information, what is happening on a daily level, not only in foreign countries, such as Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, but in your own country.
How deeply for instance, the Democratic Party was corrupted? And instead of having Bernie Sanders as a candidate, they’d chosen Hillary Clinton and Hillary Clinton was making fun of Trump thinking that Trump was the best candidate because he stands no chance. I mean, this was revealed by WikiLeaks, not to mention also the revelations about the role of one of the most powerful global corporations Google in the U.S. elections, or what for instance, Palantir is doing now with the detention camps for children, wouldn’t it be great that we have an organization which would publish all this information which is still secret?
So, if the extradition of Julian Assange happens, I think it will be impossible to speak about democracy anymore. Many other people, including journalists, might end up in prison as well. And this is not happening in China. This is not happening in Russia. This is happening in the center of European civilization, in London. It’s happening in Europe. And I think this is the biggest scandal of the early 21st century. The very fact that someone who didn’t kill anyone is kept in a prison with mass murderers, with terrorists and other people basically 23 hours in his cell.
JS: Well, Srecko Horvat, I want to thank you very much for all the work that you’ve done and continue to do and thanks for being with us here on Intercepted.
SH: Thank you a lot and I also want to thank you for all the work which Intercepted is doing. It’s very important. Not only in the United States but also for Europe to have this kind of media which we miss more than ever.
JS: Srecko Horvat is a philosopher and poet from Croatia in the former Yugoslavia. He’s the author of “What Does Europe Want?: The Union and its Discontents” as well as, “Welcome to the Desert of Post-Socialism,” and “The Radicality of Love.” With Yanis Varoufakis, he is one of the founders of the Democracy in Europe Movement. His latest book is “Poetry From the Future: Why a Global Liberation Movement is Our Civilization’s Last Chance.”
And that does it for this special bonus episode of Intercepted. You can follow us on Twitter. Our handle is @intercepted. If you like what we do, support this show by going to theintercept.com/join and become a sustaining member. Intercepted is a production of First Look Media and The Intercept. Our lead producer is Jack D’Isidoro. Our producer is Laura Flynn. Elise Swain is our associate producer and graphic designer. Our executive producer is Leital Molad. Betsy Reed is editor in chief of The Intercept. Rick Kwan mixed the show. Transcription for this program is done by Nuria Marquez Martinez. Our music, as always, was composed by DJ Spooky. Until next time, I’m Jeremy Scahill.