Red Velvet

Boris Buden

Drawings: Vladan Jeremić

Do you remember Vaclav Havel? Not only the most innocent among all the anti-communist dissidents, but he was the leader of the most innocent of all the so-called democratic revolutions of 1989-1990, the one called “Velvet”. Velvet, of course, is the name for a closely woven tufted fabric of silk, cotton, wool or any other natural or synthetic fibers. It is known for its softness and smoothness, which is why it is so popular as metaphor. In the case of the revolution in former Czechoslovakia, “velvet” seems to stand for its peaceful and nonviolent character.…1

It is believed that the art of velvet weaving originates in the Far East. The fabric was well-liked by nobles. History tells us that when Harun al-Rashid, the Fifth Caliph of the Abbasid dynasty, then the ruler of Baghdad, died at the beginning of the ninth century, five hundred pieces of velvet were found among the treasure he left behind. Known as the fabric of the royals, it was allegedly introduced to Baghdad by Kashmiri merchants.

The rule of Harun al-Rashid is also known as the peak of the so-called Islamic Golden Age, when Baghdad flourished as a center of knowledge, culture and trade. The fact that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid appears as a figure in some of the Tales from a Thousand and One Nights, also known as The Arabian Nights, gives the symbolic meaning of velvet a certain orientalist touch. A decade or so before his death, Harun al-Rashid moved his court and government from Baghdad to Ar-Raqqah, a city on the north bank of Euphrates River in Syria. Today, curiously, the city is located again in a caliphate. It was established in June 2014 and is ruled by Caliph Ibrahim, most commonly known by the nom de guerre Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of a terrorist organization, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), considered by international public to be worse than al-Qaeda. His rule, in contrast to the one of his predecessor Caliph Harun al-Rashid more than thousand years ago, will surely not be remembered as a golden age, a time of peace and stability in which knowledge and culture flourished along with overall economic prosperity. In Ar-Raqqah, now the headquarters of the jihadist movement, all educational institutions are closed, the city is cleansed of religious and other minorities, the cultural and social achievements of modern civilization annulled. It is a time of animal cruelty, mindless destruction, sheer stubborn regression—a condition for which the enlightened European mind, trading freedom for security, once coined the notion of a “state of nature”.

The question remains, what does all this have to do with Vaclav Havel?

Rock the Casbah

At the end of January 2003 Vaclav Havel was among the leaders of eight European states2 who issued a joint declaration of support for U.S.-led military intervention in Iraq.3 In the statement they hail the so-called transatlantic bond as “a guarantee of our freedom.” At stake is, of course, the bond between the United States and Europe, which as the authors want us to believe, consists of shared values: democracy, individual freedom, human rights and the Rule of Law; values that once, as they wrote, “crossed the Atlantic with those who sailed from Europe to help create the USA.” Their adversaries, the terrorists whom they vow to fight in Iraq, are defined as simply the enemies of these values. The September 11th, 2001 World Trade Center attacks showed how far they are prepared to go. Yet there is no reason to worry: the signatories of the Declaration assure us that the governments and people of the United States and Europe stand firm in defense of their common values. All that remains is to “rid the world of the danger posed by Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.”

Ideologically the statement is grounded in the common platitude of Europe being liberated from the two totalitarianisms, Nazism and Communism. As such it is far from being politically unbiased. Rather, it aligns its subscribers with European conservatives’s implicit evocation of the historical narrative of the Historikerstreit (historians’s quarrel) in the late 1980s in West Germany, and Ernst Nolte’s interpretation of Nazism as an excessive reaction to the threat of Communist totalitarianism, which was ultimately to blame for all the Nazi atrocities. It is therefore not by coincidence that Silvio Berlusconi was among the signatories of the Declaration. In September of the same year, 2003, he would provoke a public outcry by claiming that Benito Mussolini had never killed anyone but had just sent people on holiday to confine them. Berlusconi, however, has never been a person whom one would expect to deal with the world in a soft, gentle, if not to say a “velvety” manner. Is that in contrast to Havel?

A few years earlier, in October 1997, Havel was in Washington to give an address after receiving the Fulbright Prize. The title of his speech was somewhat curious: “The Charms of NATO”. He namely used the occasion to welcome the decision to include three Eastern European nations (Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic) in the Western military alliance. He enthusiastically called for America to assume its responsibility for the whole world. For Havel, only the United States can save our global civilization by acting on the premises imbued with its values that should be adopted by all cultures, all nations, as a condition of their survival.4

A year and a half later NATO, which now included its new Eastern European members,5 militarily intervened in a sovereign European country—to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe, as it was said in the language of “humanitarian interventionism” or, in its generally ignored political translation, to support the secession of an oppressed ethnic minority. It was in Serbia in 1999 and the minority at stake was Albanians in the then-still-Serbian province of Kosovo. Like the previous military intervention in Bosnia, this one, too, succeeded in pacifying armed conflict on the ground, yet failed to solve any political problem. It only reinforced new divisions along the ethno-confessional fault lines, tolerating even the cases of open segregation and leaving the entire region in a sort of permanent state of exception—a condition that has become the pattern for the results of western military interventions around the world; a condition in whose creation Vaclav Havel was so enthusiastically involved.6

In this case again, language is cleverer than the ideological kitsch called “Velvet Revolution”. It coined an idiom that better suits the reality: an “iron fist in a velvet glove.”

The story about “velvet”, a fabric so rich with symbolic meaning, does not end here. Only a year before NATO warplanes dropped their first bombs on Belgrade, Serbia, Vaclav Havel was guest of President Clinton in the White House. In fact, he came to the official dinner along with a special guest of his own, the legendary front man of The Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, who even played that evening in the famous East Room. In the early 1990s Havel welcomed Reed in his residency in the Prague Castle. Some believe that the Velvet Revolution actually owes its name to the famous American rock band.

Coming back to the already-mentioned orientalist touch obviously inherent in the notion of “velvet”, we might remember that the name of the band was actually taken from a book with the same title written by Michael Leigh, a contemporary paperback reporting on sexual subculture of the early 1960s in the USA. From New York, where he was at the time, Havel brought home the Velvet Underground’s Banana LP. It was the year 1968, the year of the Prague Spring and the subsequent Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia. It was also the year of the worldwide student revolts against conservative and authoritarian establishments, as well as the year of mass protests against the war in Vietnam; the year that still stands symbolically for the flourishing of all sorts of subcultures especially sexual ones. (Are we not following another symbolic trajectory of that fascinating fabric called “velvet”, the one that connects the Velvet Revolution with the Sexual one, and both with the anti-war protests?)

It might be reasonably assumed that the so-called western values include the achievements of sexual emancipation, which have significantly contributed to the liberation of women and various sexual minorities in addition to playing a role in the moral and political legacy of anarchism, pacifism and left-wing anti-militarism. This means that these values must also—as Havel, smitten with the irresistible charms of NATO suggests—be adopted by all cultures, all nations, not simply to increase their overall well-being or to improve the form of government but to secure nothing less than their ultimate survival. For Havel this was clearly the reason to support military intervention in Iraq. What then has happened to all these values out there between the Tigris and the Euphrates? Have they been swallowed in the no-more-velvet Arab nights or stolen by Caliph Ibrahim and his forty thousand terrorists?

The Thermidor’s Bloody Velvet

Igor Girkin, a.k.a. “Strelkov”, is the self-proclaimed leader of the so-called pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. Like Caliph Ibrahim, a mysterious person: messianic, militaristic, ultranationalist and reactionary.7 It seems, moreover, that he also shares similar values, best presented by his ideological advisor Igor Druz, a strong supporter of Orthodox Christian morality and the virtues of family. Needless to say, he equally strongly opposes homosexuality and would most probably agree with Caliph Ibrahim’s views on women. In short, he is disgusted by the above-mentioned achievements of the sexual revolution and woman’s liberation, things he perceives as Western decadence. Anti-militarism, too, is presumably for him nothing more than a “faggot’s ideology”. Yet what connects these two obscure figures of today’s crumbling international order even more is their deep, utopian-like wish to restore a previous condition, an allegedly better past. While Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi dreams of repeating and even surpassing by far the might and glory of the Caliphate from the early Middle Ages, for instance by raising the black banner of the Islamic State over St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, his Russian brother-in-arms Strelkov fights to revive Russia’s historic destiny and to re-establish a Czarist-Stalinist empire.

Most striking about both, however, is what they share with Vaclav Havel: the perspective of a world divided into normative identity blocks or “civilizations”, each defined by its own values and each occupying its own space in which these values are supposed to be at their proper, original location. While the former two still see some limits to the expansion of their delusional retro-projects, Havel wants the Western values to be adopted by the whole world, if necessary by the military forces of the USA and Europe. For him there is no alternative. Those who reject Western values are doomed to perish.

The picture clearly resembles Carl Schmitt’s vision of the world after the collapse of the old Westphalian order of sovereign nation states, or more precisely, the most pessimistic version of what he called the “Nomos of the Earth”: one of the parties has identified its particular position, grounded in no less particular values, with the position of the humanity as a whole. At stake is a Universalist stance, which makes it only more dangerous because it perceives all those who oppose it as absolute enemies. Their destruction becomes a pre-condition for humanity’s survival. In this perspective the enemies of the West are the enemies of humanity, and as such don’t deserve to be treated as humans. The notion of a “terrorist” today not only perfectly denotes Schmitt’s concept of the absolute enemy but also personifies a political waste product of the post-totalitarian ideology in which the West has absolved itself of the terror of the so-called two totalitarianisms. Moreover, it has washed itself of the violence in which the very values it claims today are grounded in, and were born, of the “terror” of the French Revolution.

“‘Terrorism’ and ‘terrorists’ are words that originated with Thermidor,” writes Sophie Wanich when defending the “terror” of the Great Revolution.8 At that time, the notion was applied to those who fought for a new world grounded in a political and symbolical egalitarianism, concretely to Robespierre, Saint-Just, the Jacobins and all who fought for “liberty or death”. It was also applied by those who defeated them, by the forces of the continuity with the old world of inherited inequalities, stable hierarchies and political passivity of citizens.9 It was the Thermidorians who invented the neologism “terrorist”. They, as Wanich argues, “not only anthropologized a violence that was also seen as popular, but they actively obscured what had given this terror a situational legitimacy: a juridico-political process of collective responsibility.”10 As a consequence, “terror” has become the name for an abstract evil that has lost any causal relation to the historical praxis. It has become an otherness without history.

More importantly, the notion of “terror”, according to Wanich, presupposes a process of active forgetting. It is a forgetting that is affected after the time of revolutionary foundation when the forces of counter-revolution restore the post-revolutionary “normality” in which they seek to reclaim their privileges and assure their rule. It erases from memory the traumatic truth of an irreducible contingency of historical praxis as well as its prospective openness. What the re-established normality wants people to forget is what they have learned in the revolution—that collective will can change the existing reality.

At stake is, as Sophie Wanich underlines, an active forgetting. It doesn’t simply erode the experience of the creative power of negation, acquired in the revolution, but reemploys it in the interest of the new order by turning it into the opposite direction. Instead of a better future one now creates a better past. This is how what was an uncertain outcome of revolutionary struggle, a contingent fact of victory or defeat, suddenly becomes a substantial value of the community’s identity that is deeply rooted in its unique genealogy and not only able to connect generations divided by centuries but unite them beyond any historical time.

A perfect example of such active forgetting offers the notion of “velvet” in the Czechoslovakian “Velvet Revolution”. Far from referring to the peaceful outcome of a thoroughly-contingent revolutionary transformation, the attribute “velvet” suddenly turns, as if by a miracle, into an essential quality of the new post-totalitarian order. Moreover, it seems to have articulated itself in the revolution only because it had always already been there as an identitarian value. ”Velvet” is now a value of an originally non-totalitarian and non-violent Czechoslovakian community, which was only temporarily suppressed by a foreign force of Communist totalitarianism and militarism, in addition to being a value that ties the community to a larger identity block, to a “civilization” called the West. Instead of metaphorically describing a contingent quality of a historical event, or if one insists, a uniquely and grandiosely bloodless character of a revolutionary act, the notion of “velvet” has become a mode of cultural belonging; a shared value that connects individuals and peoples not only beyond their actual differences but beyond history itself. This symbolic transformation, the translation of an attribute of practical deeds into a value, has, of course, far-reaching ideological effects.

First, it enabled Havel and the community he represented at that time to immediately swap one military block for another, without (even for a moment) claiming the liberation from the military blocks altogether and ultimately from the very logic of militarization of the political. Becoming an identitarian value, “velvet” helped the sovereignty of popular will that was forged in the act of revolution to avoid a traumatic encounter with the very openness of the historical praxis and to take the responsibility for the new it had just called into being. It has prevented, too, even more traumatic encounters with the powers of the status quo, which saw in the revolutions of 1989 and 1990 nothing but a desperate attempt of the historically-belated nations of Eastern Europe to catch up with the West.11

It was only after the “velvet” of the Prague revolution became the “velvet” of the West, a genuine value of its identity, that the veil of oblivion was woven out of that fabric; a veil that covered the whole of “The Democratic Revolutions of 1989–1990”. Similar to the Thermidorian concept of “terror”, it was generated in the process of active forgetting, both retrospectively and prospectively. Not only did the notion of “velvet” rid itself of its pacifist and anti-militarist meaning from the 1960s, the memory of the colonial terror in America and the eradication of indigenous people as well as the trans-Atlantic slave trade had also miraculously evaporated from Havel’s phantasy of western values, having once sailed from Europe to America.12 The iron fist of NATO had put on its velvet glove. What else could better hide its bloody and often-criminal history? Now, only the charms of this most powerful military association in today’s world could be seen, and not a trace whatsoever of its ugly dirt. So “velvet” became a magic means of whitewashing, able to restore the primal innocence of its wearer under all possible circumstances and within all dimensions of time. Even that responsibility for which Havel called the United States to take for the whole world could have turned into its opposite, a total irresponsibility for one’s own decisions and deeds. “Velvet” is today a general attribute for the double standards of the political and military engagement of the West around the world, and stands for its infinite impunity in the face of international criminal law.13

Now when we haven’t yet finished counting the victims of the Western world’s intervention in Iraq, of which Havel was a full-hearted supporter—so far at least 500,000 deaths, four million refugees, mass torture, ethnic cleansing and irreparable damage to the state of Iraq, as well as the unstoppable sliding into chaos and war of the whole region, with no political solution whatsoever in sight—the time has come to finally lift the velvet veil of oblivion. Not to disclose the moral shortcomings of the hero of the Velvet Revolution, but to lay bare the fatally-missed opportunity of radical change; to look fearlessly into the abyss of historical contingency and to recognize the tragic defeat in what has been celebrated as victory ever since the so-called fall of Communism. Even if the time to try anew hasn’t yet come, it is still not too late to reclaim the “velvet” from the forces of the new Thermidor.

Under the Terror of Values

When the website for The Guardian dubbed their new news region “The New East Network,” covering “fifteen countries that rose from the ashes of the USSR,” the Lithuanian ambassador to the UK protested. Asta Skaisgirytė-Liauškienė found it unbearable that the map of the former USSR included Lithuania. Although it is factually true that Lithuania was a part of the Soviet Union in the past, the ambassador was incensed to see the Guardian present former Soviet space as a somewhat homogeneous region today. This was misleading and unfair to the Lithuanian state, she argued: “Lithuania is a vibrant civic society, which is strongly committed to Western values.” That these values also include the magic fabric of velvet is beyond doubt. When in the mid 1990s in downtown Vilnius, the statue of Frank Zappa was erected to replace the torn-down one of Lenin, it was the Czech President Havel who was invited to unveil the new monument that marked the Lithuanian transition from the former communist East

to the civic future of the West.14 Not surprisingly, the velvet veil of oblivion was also deployed to facilitate this transition. It enabled Lithuanians to swap the homogeneity of the former Soviet space for a new one of so-called Western values, and to reinvent the community’s identity in terms of belonging to another identity block.

What is the most astonishing about this rather embarrassing public intervention is not the blatant counter-factuality of the diplomat’s retroactive spatialization of Lithuanian identity, but her arbitrary creation of another history in order to assure an absolutely consistent genealogy of a new belonging. It didn’t suffice to draw a radical boundary between the civilizations in real space. The same boundary had to be drawn, however falsely, throughout historical space.

In fact, there is no essential difference between what the Lithuanian diplomat has done to the factual history of her nation and what Caliph Ibrahim is doing to the legacy of the old Caliphate. Both have cut out of the past every trace of historical heterogeneity (the latter literally using knives) that could have interrupted the trans-historical continuity and spatial unity of their respective values. A community grounded in values presupposes an absolutely homogeneous time-space, which it can create only through active forgetting.

We have been witnessing something similar these days in the Ukraine, where people die and kill along a completely new boundary between two fabricated pasts, both claiming territory: one of a Czarist-Stalinist imperium in the East and another of the so-called Western values in the West. Although constructed from a historical perspective, both spaces are in fact ahistorical, which is why their values can be essentialized, canonized and petrified beyond any form of historical transformation, and why anything that contradicts these values must necessarily fall victim to oblivion. However, the more it is whitewashed from their values the more it returns as the dirt of political propaganda. This is the case of the legacy of the two totalitarianisms, which has in a monstrous way been revived today in the Ukraine as a cultural other of the respective identities, as something non-European, non-Western, non-Russian or, by the same token, non-Islamic; an element with no place within their historical genealogies. Both fascism and communism appear in historical retrospect as sort of temporary intruders from abroad (or in the Russian case, from the other world), who invaded Europe and victimized its innocent nations, only to be subsequently repelled by the strength and superiority of their values.

The real danger of the ideology of the two totalitarianisms, however, lies in its implicit premise that their horrors definitely belong to the past, and that the experience of these horrors is retrievable only in a form of cultural memory. This is the case in the Ukraine today, where the public frenetically searches for, or morbidly produces, fascists among the combatants in the East, recognizing them (on both belligerent sides) primarily by their cultural appearance, that is, only insofar they surface in historical costumes, with swastika-tattoos or Nazi salutes as though they had just escaped an ethnological museum.

Those who remember the past only culturally are doomed to repeat it politically. In Ukraine today it is the fascism of the actual reality that has been forgotten, not the one of the past — a fascism that is constitutive of the political conflict itself and of the ideological legitimations and self-representations of both sides, entrenched in their normative identity blocks, each killing and dying for their genuine values. It is a fascism that is inherent to a rather self-pitying resentment (which makes it no less dangerous) of the once-world power and its belated, parochial retro-imperialism. Nonetheless it is fascism, too, that feeds the spiral of militarization of the West and generates the diabolical logic of its self-justification: we are supposed to believe that the violence has broken out despite, not because of Western intervention, that it is escalating because NATO hasn’t yet sufficiently protected its East European allies rather than because of its expansion into the area, and that it won’t stop soon because there are too few, and not too many guns on the ground. It is in the repressive homogenization of what is historically heterogeneous and contingent, all in the name of the most “velvet” of values. Furthermore, it is in the violent territorialization of these values, which monstrously evokes and decadently repeats the horrors of colonial imposition of Western values, where we should recognize the symptoms of a fascism of tomorrow, not the traces of the one of yesteryear.15 It is, finally, this terror of values that should be called fascism today.

Let’s Swap Havel for Lenin and Space for Time

What could prevent the emergence of a new fascism, as well as stop the bloodshed, not only in the Ukraine but in the Middle East? Might a proper politics of memory offer a solution—one that would save the truth of historical heterogeneity from repressive oblivion, and remind Ukrainians from the east and the west of the country of their common values and shared history, however controversial and tragic; one that would make the supporters of Caliph Ibrahim aware of the tolerant, multi-confessional and multicultural reality of the old Caliphate? Do we not need a more accurate knowledge of what truly happened a hundred or a thousand years ago? Concretely, should we not remind western Ukrainians or Lithuanians who topple down Lenin statues, as well as those in the East who protect them that they both are wrong? The former, because it was precisely Lenin and the Bolsheviks who actively fostered, in a violent opposition to Czarist imperialism and Russian nationalism, the national liberation of Ukrainians, and their territorial, cultural and linguistic self-determination; and the latter, because they symbolically protect precisely what they destroy in reality. Could an accurate historical knowledge of who Lenin truly was and what the Bolsheviks really did end this tragedy of errors — especially regarding the legacy of their opposition to the very logic of capitalist militarization and imperialist wars?

Cultural memory, which has long ago taken the position of historiography in our dealing with the past, is itself part of the problem, not a solution. It has emerged out of the destruction of what was once historical experience — a destruction arranged and executed by the powers of the new Thermidor. However accurate and emancipation-minded, it will never liberate the past from its identitarian confinement in which the genuine heterogeneity and contingency of historical praxis are necessarily lost to oblivion. This is precisely what happened to the legacy of Lenin. Preserved only in the form of cultural memory and reduced to a piece of cultural heritage, Lenin finally became Russian, even worse, a Russian nationalist: a commemorative embodiment of the Czarist imperialism, which in the reality of historical praxis he mercilessly fought.

There is no way to retrieve the truth of the past without frontally challenging the forces of its identitarian confinement in the reality of their political institutions and ideological apparatuses. The past is not a battlefield for a better future. Rather it is the actual historical praxis in which one has to take responsibility, not simply for what we do now but also for what all those whose footsteps we walk in have done. The ground of this responsibility is historical experience, not cultural memory; its dimension is prospective creation, not a retrospective preservation; its medium is a resurrected revolutionary praxis, not a realpolitik.

A new, radical politics of peace, which is urgently needed today, doesn’t necessarily imply taking responsibility for a more democratic state that would properly commemorate the past and so eliminate the casus belli fabricated out of imagined histories. It is already too late for that. The current wars do not destroy an existing order; they are waged out of its decay. This is why a responsibility to peace today can no longer rely on its principles and institutions, both national and international. Rather, it emerges from an open confrontation with the forms of their degeneration and abuse — concretely, with the wreck of what was once a sovereign nation state, and its corrupt, either compradorial or imperialistic, elites and its repressive and often criminal role in the neoliberal destruction of the very order for which it had for so long been both an agent and a beneficiary. Those who want peace today must radically oppose the current division of the world into normative identity blocks, and never allow themselves to be squeezed into one of the new global containers of values that threaten to plunge us in an endless war.

What cultural memory cannot remember but what a true historical experience already knows is that this destructive development does not rely on historical necessity. One can remember the creative power of negation only by activating it in one’s own historical praxis. This is what responsibility today is about. It must be taken in the midst of historical contingency as an act of radical negation beyond any sort of moralistic innocence. Moreover, it must be able to resist the Thermidorian blackmail imposed on a whole epoch with its (seemingly opposed) shock concepts of “terror” and “velvet”. Yet to restore the historical experience and reactivate the emancipatory potential stored within, one also must dare to say that “yes, Lenin and the Bolsheviks were right to take arms against capitalist exploitation; yes, they were right to liberate the nations (including Lithuanians and Ukrainians) oppressed by Czarist imperialism; yes, they were right to foster the emancipation of women, right to decriminalize abortions and homosexuality; yes, they were also right to look at traditional bourgeois art and culture with disgust; and finally they were right, too, to pull Russia out of an imperialist war,” and in the same breath: “No, the execution of the Romanovs in Ekaterinburg in 1918 was not a terror.” Rather it was a revolutionary terror, just as the decapitation of Louis XVI of France and Marie Antoinette was a century earlier. “Revolutionary terror is not terrorism,” writes Sophie Wanich.16 Indeed, there is not and there will never be an equivalence between the sending to guillotine of the Louis XVI by the National Convention in 1793, and the recent beheading of the American journalist by Caliph Ibrahim’s butchers. No, a decapitation is not always decapitation; a crime is not always crime; terror is not always terror, although sometimes it is “velvet”, like the red velvet of 1917.

Only after saying this openly will we be able to behold those historical heterogeneities and continuities that the current terror of values has blinded us to. We will see the East that once was, and that can still be again, more Western than the West itself; we will see Lenin marching in the steps of the fifth Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid when the East also was ahead of the West; and, following both, those anti-colonial fighters who became more western than the West precisely by waging war on it. We will see, too, the monuments to Lou Reed and Frank Zappa erected not in the place of, but beside that of Lenin. We will see a deep historical affinity between the October Revolution and the sexual one in the 1960s,17 as well as the radical anti-militarism of both. In short, we will see a legacy to claim where the Thermidorians have dumped the trash of history that they expect us to be ashamed of. Only then we will also be able to actively and responsibly oppose the ongoing war, which is not ours—in a reactivated memory of what Lenin did in March 1918 in Brest-Litovsk. As it is well known, he traded, as he explicitly said, “space for time”. We must do the same today — forget the space and choose the time — for only then it will come over to our side.

  • 1. The Slovaks, however, prefer to call the revolution “gentle”.
  • 2. The other seven were: José María Aznar, Spain; José Manuel Durão Barroso, Portugal; Silvio Berlusconi, Italy; Tony Blair, United Kingdom; Péter Medgyessy, Hungary; Leszek Miller, Poland; Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Denmark.
  • 3. See “Leaders’ statement on Iraq: Full text”, BBC News, World Edition, Thursday, 30 January, 2003, (Kind thanks to Přemysl Houda for reminding me of this text).
  • 4. Vaclav Havel, “The Charms of NATO,” The New York Review of Books LXV (15 January 1998).
  • 5. Who according to Donald Rumsfeld represent a “New Europe”, which in contrast to the “old” hesitant one, was unconditionally willing to send armed forces to Iraq.
  • 6. See Boris Buden, “Saving Private Havel: The Official Bastard (ARKZIN) Statement on the War in Yugoslavia“,, last accessed 20 September 2014.
  • 7. See Noah Sneider, “Shadowy Rebel Wields Iron Fist in Ukraine Fight”, New York Times, July 10, 2014., last accessed 20 September 2014.
  • 8. Sophie Wanich, In Defense of the Terror. Liberty or Death in the French Revolution (London, New York: Verso, 2012), 99.
  • 9. That is, by the forces who sought “the establishment of property-based suffrage and the abolition of the right of resistance to an oppression which refused [the people] any active citizenship.” Ibid.
  • 10. Ibid., 100.
  • 11. See especially Jürgen Habermas’s concepts of «die nachholende Revolution» (The Catching Up Revolution) and «die rückspulende Revolution» (The Rewinding Revolution). In Jürgen Habermas, “Nachholende Revolution und linker Revisionsbedarf. Was heißt Sozialismus heute?”, in J. Habermas, Die nachholende Revolution (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1990), 179–203.
  • 12. There is, of course, a radically different perspective on the issue of «travelling values» between Europe and America; an anti-colonial one: «Two centuries ago, a former European colony decided to catch up with Europe. It succeeded so well that the United States of America became a monster, in which the taints, the sickness and the inhumanity of Europe have grown to appalling dimensions.” Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press, 1963), 313.
  • 13. Of which the greatest beneficiaries today are political leaders and military commanders of Israel. See Richard Falk, “Massacre in Gaza. Can International Law Provide Justice for Palestinians?” Al Jazeera, Doha, Quatar, 2 July 2014,, last accessed 20 September 2014.
  • 14. See Kate Connolly, “They tore down Lenin’s statue—and raised one to Frank Zappa,” The Guardian, London, England,, last accessed 20 September 2014.
  • 15. See Jon Solomon, «After Iraq: Trends Underlying the Initiation of Generalized, Global War,» Journal of Futures Studies, 8(1) August 2003, 115–122. At:, last accessed 20 September 2014.
  • 16. Ibid., 102.
  • 17. See Bini Adamczak, “Gender and The New Man: Emancipation and the Russian Revolution?” Platypus Review 62, December–January 2013,, last accessed 20 September 2014.