Con/FRONT! radio-active ideology junk

[second hand truths about east and west]

by Ana Peraica, in collaboration with Geert Lovink

The place where the Empire first could be noticed was in the rubbish containers, as expanding a privacy point of the Emperor's new clothes tale; a public place that becomes the one of embarrassment. Capitalism seemed to be all about junk - colorful, seductive, dangerous and conspirative at the same time; junk that is hard to resist (and there is where the whole resistence of the socialist system failed; not even the "candy store effect", but a trash inventorium of delight].

The ecological movements of the eighties have been networking West and East (and all other directions), implanting radical versions of junk catastrophes into the popular awareness, making the world aware of the globality of the side-effects of after-usage. Junk of the world was inter-changed in a silent manner, as a parallel happening to polite exchanges, although; rubbish went first in a diplomatic mission.

Archaeology of the twentieth century is an archeology of un-disintegrated waste, trashyards are taking more space underground than all graveyards. That archeology deals not with the dead, but with what was made to survive death. And is that only plastic, or are there different seeds bunkerised deep in the ground? Archeology of rubbish replaces naivety of ecology, it is critical [it identifies and locates specifically].

In the paleolith of the West/East question Western tourists mindlessly polluted the sea with a variety of sun-creams, bins and plastic bottles. At the same time Eastern European cheap and badly designed products were floating towards the West, Western tourists couldn't survive without importing their own rubbish, and Eastern illegal migrants couldn't survive without their own.

What happened next was the introduction of the rubbish economy. Eastern Europe began storing nuclear and chemical waste at dumping prices. The region turned into a huge trash bin of bad used and outdated machinery. In exchange Eastern Europe sent "human rubbish" (gangsters, drugs traffickers, weapon traders, prostitutes) into the West. It was a "money for old rope" marketing for both sides.

Before the rise of that economy of waste, leaving garbage in a neighbour's yard was a normal thing to do. Later on this became an act of conspiracy. Everyone against everyone. Getting rid of waste and protecting oneself from it had become one of the main issues of the underdeveloped world. Smelly and ugly waste become perfumed, representable, but dangerous.

Rubbish in the East, before 1989, was identical. Most of it related to the union of agricultural and factory worker's heaven of exchange. Organic junk was collected and sent to villages for fertilization, while the technological was sent to cities for recycling or reinventing. There were only few products, few designs. The content of trash bins was not interesting at all. Rubbish therefore belonged to local area networks, with mere pragmatic usage. The purpose of a garbage was known.

A first symptom of the change of the large-scale economic system could be traced in rubbish that started to differentiate. With it, collectionarism appeared, a new semiotics of reading the urban environments. Eastern Europe became a museum for Western junk; emptied bins that German tourists threw into the sea, boxes of American cigarettes could be found everywhere on the streets.

Due to the isolomania syndrome [of being on the border of the bizzare rubbish exchange, and getting only its side-syndromes], messages were decoded. And the message was simple; the more colourful, more expensive a package, the more it is going to be thrown anyway, that is - the more developed world. The design of the rubbish became important, as it is in the West.

With the diversity of it, leaving rubbish in the neighbours' yard became a public political statement. Since then, rubbish is hidden in black bags, as a conspiracy, soft and sustainable for ages of non-disintegration to come, as a survival Pandora's box.

The first symptom of the new rubbish stratification could be seen not only in its colours, but also in its quantity, that suddenly decreased. Rubbish containers and disintegration places started to show bizarre symptoms of social stratification, becoming a rare place for social interactions; certain parts of society were communicating by it, and in extreme cases, about it.

People started arriving on the rubbish dumps. That was the official fall of the idea of social justice. For the first time in Eastern Europe, junkees appeared on the streets. The junk yard was becoming a perverse social place, and with it the whole idea of social equality.

A Catholic sentence of blaming and controlling says "according to your actions I am able to know you". Deeply being rooted in the capitalist notion of the "sinner", "public" or "consumer", [as idiots incapable and not invited on any exchange, that needs to be led and informed, contrary to the "social" term of atheism], this sentence can be translated as; "according to your garbage I will know who you are". And it entered into the East, it infected [primitive?] atheistic societies.

In the neo-phase, archeology of rubbish indicates a fusion with the new global economy; trash becomes global and predictable, finally discovering the hidden message of all colourful and designed trash imported. The world has identical garbage now, and designers of it are known: Coca Cola, Nescafe, Dash, Palmolive... Garbage has names, that a public, a sinner, or consumer lost, as it lost a society. Society is on the dump today.

There is hardly any local garbage any more, except they have been a global problem for a long time. Global brand names, once an object of desire, revealed their "real" nature of secondary commodities.

Aside global rubbish-economy phenomena, we may speak as well of other levels of thinking about garbage - the semantic and political as well as ontological. All powers (interpetative, executive and hypothetical or desired), all produce their own trash. And here the archeology of rubbish is called to raise a new question of the passivity of the public, and secrecy of interchange.

The ontology of anything is a tactic of conspiracy, ontology notes the existence [or hides it] that is most radical politicality. Ontology of rubbish recognises topics of the used and the no-more-used (abandoned). The latter is withdrawn in the second sort of existence; on waiting to be recycled, reinvented, or reused. If it can not be so, if it can not be controlled - that kind of a rubbish is only an abandoned danger.

Forgotten rubbish, or the one pushed into the back of the conscience decides more on accidental happenings. That kind of garbage, withdrawn from the attention, becomes contrary to its positioning - a compressed surprise, beyond calculation of any economy, or prediction of any politics. But it would finally decide on both.

That happens even when the concept finishes on the rubbish dump, when an ideology appears as junk of history. A trashcan of ideas was finally more active in recycling, especially with ecological movements of the eighties, that at the same time started to indicate a fall of the over-theoretical rubbish of socialist ideology.

But what is the intrisic relation of the rubbish and communism?

It seems, socialism turned out to be only a badly designed version. Maybe it would never have fallen if the human need to glorify their own excrement didn't produce a wish to colour and paint it.

Communism - it is a place without rubbish, an ideal place of cycling and networking, in which all have some relation to something else. It is a utopia of humankind without excrement, in which the focus on rubbish is social, not productive. There is a social rubbish, denied and used in the eyes of Marxism, that would gain its value in a promised system. Therefore, in socialism, rubbish becomes expensive. And the expensive is barely reachable, as is today the whole concept of communism.

For those still dealing with it, not to recognise the historical rubbish means to leave it to the accidents of its rebirth in an uncontrolled and unpredictable version.

Long live the rubbish of the Empire! The next fight will be underground.