Ana Peraica, in collaboration with Geert Lovink
The place where Empire could first be noticed was in the rubbish
containers, which expanded a point on privacy of the tale of the Emperors
new clothes; a
public place that becomes one of embarrassment. Capitalism seemed to be all about junk colorful, seductive, dangerous and conspiratorial at the same time; junk
that is hard to resist [and that is where the whole resistance of the socialist system failed; not even the candy store effect, but a trash inventory 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 silently, as a parallel phenomenon
to polite exchanges only that rubbish went on its diplomatic mission first.
the twentieth century is an archeology of un-disintegrated waste, trash yards
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 bunkered deep in the ground?
Archeology of rubbish replaces the naiveté of ecology, it is critical [it identifies and locates specifically].
In the Paleolithic of the West/East question Western tourists
thoughtlessly 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 could not survive without importing their own rubbish, and
Eastern illegal migrants could not survive without their own.
What happened next was the introduction of the rubbish economy.
Eastern Europe began storing nuclear and chemical waste at dumping prizes. The
turned into a huge dumpster of bad, used and outdated machinery. In exchange Eastern Europe sent human rubbish (gangsters, drug traffickers, weapon traders,
prostitutes) to the West. It was money for old rope marketing for both sides.
Before the rise of that economy of waste, leaving
garbage in a neighbors 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 became
perfumed, representable, but dangerous.
Rubbish in the East before 1989 was uniform. Most of it related to the union of
agricultural and factory workers 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, had mere pragmatic usage. The purpose of garbage was known.
A first symptom of the change of the large-scale economic system could be traced
in rubbish, which started to differentiate. With it, collectionarism appeared
new semiotics for reading the urban environments. Eastern Europe became a museum for Western junk. Emptied bins that German tourists had thrown in the sea,
boxes of American cigarettes were to be found everywhere on the streets.
Due to the isolomania syndrome [of being on the border of the
bizarre rubbish exchange, and getting only its side syndromes], messages were
decoded. And the
message was simple: the more colorful, the more expensive a package, the more it is going to be thrown away anyway, that is the more developed the world. The
design of the rubbish became important, as it had already been in the West.
With the diversity of it, leaving rubbish in
the neighbors yard became a public political statement. Since then, rubbish
has been hidden in black bags, as a
conspiracy, soft and sustainable for ages of non-disintegration to come, as a Pandoras box lurking on survival.
The first symptom of the new rubbish stratification could be seen not
only in its colors, but also in its quantity, that suddenly decreased. Rubbish
disintegration places started to show bizarre symptoms of social stratification, becoming a rare place for social interactions. Certain parts of society were
communicating through it, and in extreme cases about it.
People started arriving at the rubbish dumps. That was the official
fall of the idea of social justice. For the first time in Eastern Europe, junkies
appeared on the
streets. The junkyard became a perverted social place, and with it the whole idea of social equality.
A Catholic sentence of blaming
and controlling says: By your actions I will know you. Being deeply
rooted in the capitalist notion of the sinner, public
consumer, [as idiots incapable of and not invited to any exchange, who need to be led and informed, as opposed to the social term of atheism]. This sentence
can be translated as: By your garbage I will know who you are. And it entered into the East, infected [primitive?] atheistic societies.
In the neo-phase, the archeology of rubbish indicates a fusion
with the new global economy. Trash becomes global and predictable, while the hidden
all the colorful and designed trash imported is finally discovered. The world has identical garbage now, and its designers are known: Coca Cola, Nescafé, Dash,
Palmolive Garbage has names, that the public, the sinner, or consumer has lost, as they have lost a society. Society is on the dump today.
There is hardly any local garbage any more, though it has been a global problem
for a long time. Global brand names, once an object of desire, revealed their
real nature as secondary commodities.
Besides the phenomena
of the global rubbish economy, we may mention other levels of thinking about garbage
the semantic and political as well as the
ontological. All powers (interpretative, executive and hypothetical or desired) produce their own trash. And here the archeology of rubbish is called to raise a new
question about the passivity of the public, and the secrecy of interchange.
of anything is a tactic of conspiracy. Ontology notes existence [or hides it],
which is the most radical politicality. The ontology of rubbish recognizes
topics of the used and the no-more-used (abandoned). The latter is withdrawn in a second sort of existence waiting to be recycled, reinvented, or reused. If it
cannot be, if it cannot be controlled, that kind of rubbish is only an abandoned danger.
Forgotten rubbish, or the rubbish pushed into the
back of our consciousness, has the power to decide on accidental events. That
kind of garbage, hidden to our
attention, turns into the contrary of its positioning a compressed surprise, beyond the calculation of any economy or the prediction of any politics. It is that garbage
that will finally decide on both.
This happens even when the concept ends up on the rubbish dump,
when an ideology appears as historical junk. A trashcan of ideas was finally more
recycling, especially with the ecological movements of the eighties, which also indicated a fall of the over-theoretical rubbish of socialist ideology.
But what is the intrinsic relation between rubbish and communism?
that 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 did not
produce a wish to color and paint them.
Communism. It is a place without
rubbish, an ideal place of recycling and networking, in which everything is in
relation with something else. It is a utopia of
humankind without excrement, in which the focus on rubbish is social, not productive. There is 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
For those still dealing with it, not to recognize the historical rubbish means to leave it to the chance of its rebirth in an uncontrolled and unpredictable version.
Long live the rubbish of the Empire! The next fight will be underground.