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It's hard to find young and versatile people who are enthusiastic about changing the world and making it a better place to live. People think that you can't learn much from a younger generation, however, there are individuals who confute those claims with their work and dedication. One of them is a young Croatian philosopher, writer, political activist and translator Srecko Horvat. This young man is known around the world for his activities and the desire to do something different and better. He had the opportunity to meet with the famous Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and to talk to him.
Srecko was born in Osijek in 1983. He lived eight years in Germany, and he returned to Croatia in 1991. He came into the public interest for his book "Against Political Correctness", and since then he has written more than ten books, translated into a number of world languages. He positioned himself with his work as one of the most important intellectuals in the Balkans.
He spoke exclusively for Telegraf.rs about his work and activism, but also about the situation in Europe and in the world. He also commented on the situation on Balkans, as well as the case of Julian Assange, especially now when he was deprived of the internet access in the Embassy of Ecuador.
- They call you "one of the most exciting voices of the young generation." How do you feel about it and do you think that you can change things in the world with your attitude and engagement?
I am too old to look back on that, and I am too young to stop believing that we can still change the world with every decision we make. But we can't do it alone. And we cannot change it if we don't change ourselves at the same time.
- Your articles are published in the most influential media in the world. You also wrote numerous books. Do you think that what you have to say finds your audience and how did the situation change in the world since you started your work?
The world is certainly in a worse state than when I started to write and act publicly, today it is more and more difficult to write about everything that happens before our eyes or on screens, let alone to understand everything, and again, on the other hand, today we have a greater chance than ever, precisely because of global networking, we act both locally and globally at the same time. Perhaps the Apocalypse was in front of the door, but it was never more exciting to live and act.
- How do you choose things and phenomena in the society you are about to write about? What is the most likely to trigger your work?
One of the first books that I published with Ivan Colovic in Serbia at the XX Century Library was called "Against Political Correctness", and ten years later, precisely that topic is becoming a reality again. There were books on terrorism, totalitarianism, subversion, architecture, dissipation, but also love.
I am writing about everything that personally affects me, first of all, to explain the things to myself, because the writing process is also the process of thinking. Here, I have just finished a new book for Penguin called "Poetry of the Future", and I am slowly writing something new ... as much as I can, because I am on the road most of the time.
- What is currently the biggest problem that the world faces?
The disappearance of the world. Here is a team from Silicon Valley - not Silicone, as it is often translated here on Balkans - is already building bunkers, they are emigrating to New Zealand or sending cars to space, preparing everything for the upcoming Apocalypse.
Nuclear war, climate change, civil wars, everything is realistic and possible, even tomorrow. However, the biggest problem that the world faces is that the Apocalypse has already happened. In some other part of the world, or, literally, below your seat on the bus. Just like a month ago, when the young boy refugee held the bottom of the bus with his bare hands from Belgrade to Zagreb, while the passengers traveled without knowing that the human tragedy was happening, literally, below their seats. These parallel realities are the biggest problem today. Someone's world is coming to an end, and the others don't notice that.
- Do you think that Europe, and the whole world, will one day come to the point to realize their Utopian idea, and what does that really mean?
I don't know what is the Utopian idea of Europe, let alone of the entire world, the world is made up of different utopias... and dystopias. But if you ask me, will Europe and the world be a place without wars, refugees, drones, homeless, greed, and classic war, who am I to know the answer to that question.
Weather forecasts no longer know whether snow will fall in March or will we have spring, let alone what will happen in Europe in 2025? However, if it continues in this direction, one thing is certain: Europe, as we know it, will cease to exist, or we will have a continent before us of mutually isolated but closely autocratic regimes, like those of Schopenhauer's hedgehogs who are getting close because of the cold, but their spines are moving them away from each other.
- You had your show on Croatian state television but it was canceled. What were the reasons for this? Miljenko Jergovic wrote that this was because you wrote the truth about Croatia. What is the truth that your country does not want to hear?
They said that those were "austerity measures", but, as Miljenko Jergovic suggested, it coincided precisely with some of my texts in the Guardian. All of that happened long before the current purgation of Croatian TV, like in culture in general, long before the time of any Hasanbegovics and similar who would just abolish and remove anything that, according to their theory, is not "Croatian". That was in 2014, but the situation in Croatia today is even worse, unfortunately. It is not hard to be a prophet today, the situation will be even worse - if we don't change it ourselves!
- You established the DIEM25 movement with the former Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis, as an alternative to the EU. You point out that the democracy is slowly dying, so tell us what is the goal of that movement and how much success has it had so far?
We just had in Naples, one could say a historic meeting, where we agreed for the first time in European history to launch a transnational list for European elections which will be held in May 2019. Europe will have the opportunity to vote for the unique program for the first time, from Germany to Greece, France to Poland, Italy to Croatia, that program should prevent the worst, and that is the breakdown of European Union, and it should radically transform the existing European Union.
- What is the situation on Balkans regarding that issue? Can there be an improvement in relations between Serbia and Croatia and in what way?
Listen, I belong to the generation who is sickened when they ask us "Where were you in '91?" and I ask them: It wasn't enough for you that you destroyed our economy and the future of all of these countries in the nineties, but you are doing the same today, drawing out the last profit of formerly successful companies and factories, while you are selling us some "reconciliation", first as a tragedy and now as a farce?
In other words, Kolinda needs Vucic in the same way that Vucic needs Kolinda. It seems to me that other people are working on real reconciliation, actors, like my friend Goran Bogdan who is often acting in Serbia, and like many of my Serbian friends living and working in Croatia, I also think that initiatives like "Zagreb is ours", and "Do not strangle Belgrade" are doing more for improving the relationship, because they are not speaking about the fictive Croats and Serbs, but they want to improve the concrete situation in their cities, where Croats and Serbs live, and where the biggest problems are not nationalities, but the fact that they need hours every morning to get to their work because of the dysfunctional public transportation, or the fact that you don't have enough money to make a sandwich for your child for school.
- How do you explain the many comments about the fact that Europe is increasingly turning to the right-wing political option? In more and more EU countries, this option is getting stronger and it is somewhere in power. Can we deal with it and does the Left-wing have a future in such an atmosphere?
Europe is not the only one which is turning to the right-wing political option, but the entire world, including our Balkans. And the world is not turning only to the right political option, but it is increasingly turning to the authoritarian regimes which put journalists in prison, deport refugees or they place them in camps, and they hit protestants with water cannons, or they throw them in prisons. It is not the question if the left has any future in that atmosphere, but if there is any future without the left? And I am not thinking about this or that left, whatever that might mean, but about a broad front of the fight against something that is best called the "extreme center".
- We had the opportunity to see from your texts that you've met the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange at the Ecuador Embassy in London. How was it like to see firsthand the situation and the environment where a single man lives who was "against the system" in his own way. What was your impression and how did it affect your later work?
I know Julian and I have been visiting him for several years now. Frankly, he is in a very difficult situation, imagine that you haven't left your own room for six years, that you haven't seen the sky or felt the sun on your skin. Now imagine that you are surrounded by cameras and sophisticated eavesdropping devices, while the head of the CIA tells you that you should be treated as a "hostile organization".
Assange sees all of that on daily basis. And even though UN urgently urged Great Britain to release Assange to freedom, he is still in Ecuador embassy. It is an honor for me that I can call Assange a friend of mine, that I celebrated one of his birthdays with him in the embassy of Ecuador and that we talked for hours about technology, geopolitics, love, future of the world, and many other subjects. Of course, it affected my work, there are few men like Assange.
- Do you think that he is the "real picture" of today's situation in the world, where values are becoming slowly twisted and where decisions are made behind closed doors? Where no one cares about the "little man"?
Unfortunately, Assange is the best example how world geopolitics and relations can break down on the back of one man, or when someone who fights against this twisted world can lose freedom.
- The court in London refused to release Assange again. Do you think that the proceedings against him will be finished, and in what way? Will he have the opportunity to walk and work freely? Why is Great Britain so unforgiving towards him?
Great Britain doesn't want to publish whether the USA asked to extradite Assange there, so he could end up like the prisoners in Guantanamo. That is the main reason Assange is not leaving the embassy. If you look that what recently happened with the murder of a reporter on Malta or recent brutal murder of Marielle Franco, I think that freedom for Assange would have new dangers. No matter how you look at it, he already paid a high price for his courage and work. However, it is high time he got out to freedom and for UK to guarantee that they will not extradite him to the USA.
- Julian Assange lost his internet in the Ecuador embassy in London at the end of March. What do you think, why did they cut his access to the internet? Why now and what do they want to achieve?
Having access to the internet today is a human right. If you are confined in a cramped space for six years, and then they prohibit visits, then you don't have basic rights the prisoners have. Assange has been in that kind of situation for dozen days, the total isolation from the outside world. Everything happened because Assange tweeted about the recent arrest of the Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont in Germany, and the Ecuador embassy, under the pressure of USA, Spain and Great Britain, decided to do so. It is obvious that many people don't want Assange talking about the problems like the independence of Catalonia or the war in Syria.
- Is it psychological pressure on him now? Is it possible that Ecuador's embassy is now turning against him?
You have to understand that Assange is under great psychological pressure from the start. Who wouldn't be under that kind of - psychological and physical - pressure of the world's most powerful forces? But we have to say that Ecuadorian government has done everything to protect Assange. That is why we recently asked in the public appeal to the Ecuadorian government to urgently give him access to the internet and to continue protecting his life. The letter was signed by Noam Chomsky, Vivienne Westwood, Brian Eno, Oliver Stone, Zizek, and many others. The problem, however, is not just Ecuador, the most important thing would be for Great Britain to guarantee that they won't extradite him to the USA.
- What are your further plans?
The new book is finished, and now a lot of travels and DIEM25 until the rest of the summer, and then going to the island, and the European elections. After that, I hope that I can devote myself a bit more to writing or ... picking the olives, but who knows what will happen, just like the parrots in Huxley's "Island" said: "Attention, attention! Here and now!". We should plan, but also live - here and now.
(Telegraf.co.uk / A. Taskovic - email@example.com)