Knowing politics superficially means that you know Kosovar politics very well. Political developments in Kosovo during the past 20 years after the war make it clear that parties and politicians in our country do not recognize consistency or tradition — they do not recognize ideology or long-term planning.
Its dynamics are strange, full of twists and turns and sudden breaks and unjustifiable combinations. But all these (non-)developments float to the surface, so their motives are clear enough to be considered superficial politics. I would like to say that they recognize interest, but when I think of the political suicides of some parties and politicians, even that term would not be fully inclusive.
Therefore, such lability makes it impossible for a genuine intellectual to join any of these political subjects. How can an intellectual whose opinion follows a sharply logical path, or who has an incomprehensible intuitive power against the charlatans with whom he may be surrounded, function in the realm of political nonsense? Thus, many intellectuals decide not to get involved with any of the parties and remain neutral in terms of affiliation — but not in terms of the situation.
But here is where trouble arises. Within the main struggle for the betterment of life and conditions in this country, there is also a great battle that can be lost in silence, drowned in the noise of anger and mass unrest. For some, it may seem like a minor complaint compared to the current problems in Kosovo, but it must be well ensured that along the common path to change there is no collateral damage to one of the main foundations for progress: Freedom — of thought, expression and action.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” Desmond Tutu once said. In my opinion, this statement is correct; the indifference of the United Nations to the genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia are two heart-wrenching cases when Tutu’s statement was true. But he specifies: Situation.
That is why I am reserved when angry people throw this quote at me; this is because changemakers require you to support them unconditionally in each situation for the sake of their path to general change. But paradise was not built with bricks from hell; when we legitimize the lie in favor of the “good,” this weapon becomes equally legitimate to be bought and used by liars we have been berated by all these years. Have we not been convinced by the myriad experiences of the past that the point is not to build anything, but to build something well?
Heroes or swindlers
In general, you have all sorts of neutrals. You have neutral cowards who know that whatever choice they make will cost them. You have indifferent neutrals who neither care nor feel the heel of chaos and oppression. You have neutral calculators who are waiting for the right moment to profit by jumping on the most prosperous wagon. However, among all these types, it cannot be denied that you have those who remain neutral for the sake of an eternal worship of the truth and the right to believe that they can always contribute, albeit passively.
The Cuban men of letters, Guillermo Cabrera Infante and Reinaldo Arenas, the former being a benefactor from the Cuban revolution and the other a member of it, turned against Fidel Castro when he extended his iron fist over their country. So, despite the situational impartiality during a time when the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista was being opposed, it was the objective perception of the situation that kept their feet on the ground and their eyes clear during the subsequent Castro regime.
If there is a vulnerable caste of thinkers, it is precisely those independents who we have often seen pushed towards the margins, ignored and ridiculed.
While taking sides in such situations is almost always a socio-moral imperative, this is not the case with the taking of sides. When I say affiliations, I am talking about committing constant readjustments in line with the decisions of a leader or political body in order to reach a general goal.
It may seem like I’m condemning the very concept of affiliation, but I’m not. All I am trying to explain is what it is like for a thoughtful person to have a political affiliation in Kosovo at this moment: He or she must come out and defend each action of the party or that of his or her leader even when that action is not fair, legitimate or constructive. In the end, if this is the sacrifice that thinkers have to make, let them do it.
But political entities should not denigrate thinkers who go against their parties when they want to preserve their intellectual integrity; to those who are most vulnerable because they want to call things for what they really think they are, and not always in the way it suits a politician or party best. If there is a vulnerable caste of thinkers, it is precisely those independents who we have often seen pushed toward the margins, ignored and ridiculed, falsely accused of being sold or wanting to increase their wealth.
Being neutral (not to a situation, but to a political affiliation) in Kosovo is almost like being homeless. It is like being at a crossroads, and all you can hear is the echo of your voice when you say what you sincerely believe is right, regardless of whether it sometimes suits the one you don’t like at all, or bashes the one you may like the most.
Depending on where rightfulness tips, sometimes you wake up as the hero of what the masses believe, and sometimes you are described as a swindler. What is right sometimes lines up with the crowd — which (unconsciously) makes you feel valued and appreciated, and sometimes it places you on the opposite side, where, as Kierkegaard says, the crowd is untruth.
Therefore, keeping your cool and reasonable thought in the face of the tempting flames of the masses or from the scorching sun of the controlling elites, puts you in danger of being left alone, but never to remain yourself; for a person with sufficient intellectual consciousness knows that he dies as a being when his or her thought dies.
Thus, it is sad to see prominent thinkers who — being either afraid of the rage of the masses, or obsessed with their approval — even when they do not think like them, adapt the bad faith that Sartre talks about in “Being and Nothingness.” To me it sounds like cowardice or reason flooded by uncontrollable anger when an intellectual begins to follow herd mentality or arranges his or her attitudes on the basis of what other people like to hear — what will bring them acceptance in the general public.
There is no politician or party that should dare claim that it has the exclusivity of issuing certificates of dignity, patriotism or genuine citizenship.
Therefore, regarding the political entities that are available in Kosovo, neutrality is resistance — to be more precise: The neutral affiliation, not the situational one. In a practical world, it is natural to go with the “the best of the worst.” So, when these “good ones” start bashing you mercilessly whenever you come out against them even though they know full well that you are not a sellout and do not have an agenda, then maybe you should still support them for the sake of what is generally presumed to be good.
How? Calculate all the circumstances and situations and finally reach an end result. And if the overall result is in favor of the “good ones,” who, although they accuse you even for the smallest things when you oppose them, then you still have to favor them — without having to take the membership badge of their organization. But, without being afraid to simultaneously tell citizens at the top of your lungs: There is no politician or party that should dare claim that it has the exclusivity of issuing certificates of dignity, patriotism or genuine citizenship.
The contribution of the neutral affiliation
Being neutral with dignity often means losing, but not being lost. Not being lost in the false segments of a straight line, but defining things as they happen and as you honestly see them. Being impartial is the closest thing to being sensible to the conscience of the people, although this privilege does not belong to anyone. This is because you can always say what you believe to be right and not interpret it in order to fit a leader or party in their journey to gain or retain power.
Sincere political neutrals — not situation neutrals — are good for these politicians because they too can serve as a conscience when the politician wants to warp the truth or the neutral can serve as a guardian of the common good when the latter risk curbing it as previous political parties have done in the past.
Without necessarily attacking the intellectuals who, as they have entered a party, have deviated to become authorities of thought, I would say that a neutral with dignity would go out and choose one of these political entities in certain situations. However, his independence enables him to count them all — virtues and mistakes. Those who have stolen and destroyed endlessly these past 20 years in Kosovo, as well as those who are currently occasionally trying to manipulate the mass emotionally and mentally (of course with due care so that he does not equate them).
The beauty of this is that despite the impartiality, what the independent intellectual says is not necessarily true or right, but at least the people are not dealing with a person with personal or petty motives. He expresses his thoughts and beliefs freely because he fights to be treated as a citizen with a normal political consciousness, and refuses to become a sheep that changes shepherds.
His life in Kosovo has remained simple precisely because he considers his greatest wealth to be the freedom and independence to say what he really thinks and believes. Therefore, he does not allow any individual or organization to overlap as a moral supremacy so as to confuse or devalue his thought. In times when some have mastered most of what is material, in which case some want to appropriate everything that is ideal, the corresponding neutrality means to rise to the top.
Feature image: Arrita Katona / K2.0.