The editor-in-chief of Kosovo 2.0 Besa Luci published an article that deserves a reaction. Entitled “Specialist Chambers ‘Inat’ Should Be Recognized and Faced” refers to and summarizes the perspectives of various social groups on the Special Court. The author clearly identifies with one of them — the absent “inat”’ (which roughly translates to “spite” or “malice” in the Albanian language).
The article begins with the author dishing out her sentiments about Hashim Thaçi. It proceeds with excerpts of people’s opinions against the Court, despite their overt support for solving the crimes. Then, she designates “inat” as the operating notion of the article. When we take into consideration the volume of crimes committed by Serbia, and how little responsibility is taken on the other side of the border, one can understand the grievances people here have with these judicial processes. The author understands the spiteful, but in no way justifies them. For her, objections against the Special Court can be recapitulated with a reaction like “why us and not them?”
There are two ways to start this critique: The terminology she chooses to explain the situation (the “inat”), and the tools and methods. We see an empirical balance rather than a political position. We see a chronology, a summary of facts but very little interest about history. Both methods lead us to the same conclusion.
The article makes a numerical difference of the consequences of the war. But from this difference, from this asymmetry that continues to be expressed as an attack — even today — toward Kosovo, we cannot draw political conclusions. It seems that they are there as a type of acceptance that calms the subject so that they continue on the same road.
The etymology of the word stands out in the beginning. “Inat,” as Besa explains, is of Arabic origin, reaching the Balkans via Turkish. This explanation remains a bit vague and very reserved. The article then continues on its course but it seems that the etymology does not serve the argument at all. It is neither a central argument, nor a peripheral one. It is neither a conclusion, nor a transition. Yet, we cannot consider it redundant as the etymological breakdown taken from the dictionary is the feature image of the article.
One way is to raise a question about absence. What’s missing? How does the fact that “inat” is of Arabic and Turkish origin relate to the article? As such, “inat” is desubjectivizing. All that a person afflicted by “inat” can articulate is a primary sentiment. They are unable to articulate, to oppress, to alienate or to sublimate. We’re talking about a civilization. Allusions lead to orientalist discourse, but she made sure to contain it as a taste and atmosphere rather than a word with a clear marker. It is not exactly Orientalism, just like the Other in the Balkans is not exactly Oriental. The article does not suggest that people afflicted by “inat” belong to Arabs or Turks, but that they do not work toward justice out of spite. So, they do not understand the universality of justice.
On the other hand, “inat” is a character description. What Besa does is collective psychologization. If we chose this method, the explanation would be different, as would the instruments. The problem starts with the ego, which is understood as the autonomy and unity of an individual. In an erroneous explanation with reactionary consequences, the ego is the medium between biological, animalistic instincts and culture. Even if it is assumed, this is the implication of “inat” — a reaction of the ego. Let’s teach people afflicted by “inat” that justice is apolitical, it is a right of the victim. Understanding their inat, and caressing them to sleep. The article talks about confronting oneself, but the approach numbs and muffles the symptom.
In fact, the wound is graver than Besa suggests. The approach moves through language and symptoms toward the disorder that leads us astray and disorients us. The ego, as a unique and autonomous instance of judgment, has been alienated (i.e. ideologized) itself a long time ago. It has been a relationship with the Other from the very beginning. The so-called “mirror phase” is the first instance when a child recognizes itself in an early stage because it sees that the head, the arms and the legs belong to a whole. It sees for the first time that this fragmented ensemble is in fact unique and constitutes his or her person — the realization that “this is me.”
The “mirror phase” is the primary shaping, the recognition of oneself in the world, it is when one’s image begins. This moment itself is enabled by the other — it is the mirror that provides the image, a smaller one could do just as well. This is where we need to dig to find the knot. In our symbolic order, the KLA shapes our understanding of our relationship with Serbia. The KLA is the authenticity of the struggle for liberation, and this is the marker that tells us about occupied Kosovo. This is how we know ourselves, we were born in these circumstances. When we talk about history, we refer precisely to this relationship, to this subversion that threatens to smash the mirror. This, instead of an ideologized individual, we get a fragmented subject. This is the place we need to get back and dig into if we want to handle it.
Such themes require strenuous work. A sense of altruism for the ones who passed away is not enough. It is too little. Is war itself not an extreme situation of existence? Where language and words clash with the frontiers of the human condition. When everything you say leaves an absence. It’s exactly the wall between language and reality. This irreducible absence is the main question, “desire” as a condition for symbolic structuring. Tell me, how can this be concealed under the discourse of transitional justice?!
In addition to this, digging around a fragmented subject reveals the fragmentation within us. For this, too, the remedy the article provides is the same: Concealment, levelling. The article attempts to explain a time that is known for a multitude of harsh contradictions between the politics of consensus that came after the war, which continue to be the dominant ideological discourse today.
The article arranges events one after the other and places them in one big stack. Events of different valences, of different significance, and bearers who had different worlds, deeds and purposes are put in one row. All together and the same. PDK and LDK may be the same today, they may even merge into one party; many from the former illegal movement may say that they have finished picking bones with the Kosovar elite of the former Yugoslavia,
But this is not to do with the discussion. Irrespective of these, they will remain as incompatible ideological currents and political traditions. Phrases that speak of the Adem Jashari – Ibrahim Rugova binary and about how pacifism and resistance are complementary do not reach the core of pain and trauma. They are stupefactions caused by the therapy of consensus. The same logic hides behind the conception of time. To her, the KLA seems exclusive and this bothers her because historical developments relating to it do not include displacement or discontinuation, but only a linear and a somewhat intrinsic timeline.
To conclude, we will follow the character description. It is not “inat” it is madness. The mad ones created an army when deep-seated fear agreed with the rational thought of official politics. This is the singular situation, one needed courage in order to be smart.
Then, we saw, felt and understood fragmentation. As per my strong conviction, the right term to describe dissatisfaction, in relation to the idea of the KLA itself, is: “Revolt.”
Feature image: Atdhe Mulla / K2.0.