By: Dr Stane Granda
During the period of Slovenian independence, and especially immediately after it, we began to encounter the term urban culture more and more often. The concept was not clear, much less uniformly used. For some, it meant middle-class culture and by referring to it they protested against the former socialist one, others wanted to be middle-class, even though they still smelled slightly of the barn of their grandparents’ homestead, others wanted to use it to emphasise the break with Slovenian traditional culture.
The phenomenon is all the more incomprehensible because urban culture set rural culture as its opposite. Inexplicable, because today farmers are the least important part of the population, both in terms of number and share of national income. We should not equate them with the dominant small landowners, who are closer to entrepreneurs than to our classic farmer. This is practically gone. They are just people who live in the countryside exactly the same or, due to the richness of the surrounding nature, even better than the townspeople. In times of climate change and drought, this is becoming something of a privilege.
Although the further development of the content of urban culture was not straightforward and is still not uniform today, it is increasingly dominated by urban culture – in the sense of suburban suburbs. To put it more simply: it is the rejection and contempt of the middle class, the dominance of the culture of the Balkan slums and even waving over the spatial and spiritual square of NUK, Drama, National Gallery, Slovene Society. At Friday’s demonstrations, we could hear the expulsion of the Slovenian police to “your villages”.
We Slovenes usually divided culture into high and low, good and bad… The middle class did not have the best reputation, as our bourgeois for centuries acted as Germans, culturally undemanding and contrary to the prevailing will of the Slovenes, who wanted to be culturally equal to their western cultural neighbours. Irrespective of the good and the bad, it is characteristic of the old, or better, classical Slovenian culture that it respected and worshiped the original creation, but not imitation or even copying. The famous Baraga was such an excellent copyist that he and his friend the painter Langus had problems separating his original from the missionary’s copy, but today nobody knows him as a painter. What bothers us the most about our urban “culturalists” is precisely the complete imitation of foreign models, even in clothing and mentality. Apology is never the way to progress. It is bad for the nation because it destroys its own, personal creativity. They are like those businessmen who saw progress and a solution in the former “lohn businesses”. The result was the disappearance of factories, for example Labod, Mura… The echo of this can also be felt in science. Especially in the humanities and social sciences, where they are completely uncritically involved in the international environment by parroting foreign attitudes and assessments. They deny Slovenian identity and describe it as a 19th century invention.
The aggressiveness of urban culture was initially most felt in the field of pop music. Not because of quality, but because of the drive against “beef” (for example, oberkrainer music), which is part of Slovenian identity. All Slovenian “entertainers” together did not contribute as much to the recognition of Slovenians as the Avsenik brothers. The problem is not that someone does not like their creation, but that they build their rise on intolerance and contempt for others. The influence of non-Slovene immigrants was noticeable here. They could identify with Slovenian fun music, but never with folk music. However, because they wanted to be active and leading in this field, they began to balkanise it into “turbo folk”, such as e.g., Atomic harmonik, through their like-minded people, probably sold Slovenian souls. The end result was that folk music virtually disappeared from mainstream radio. I see a (sub)conscious Slovenian reaction in the increasingly frequent occurrences of excellent or even superb modern adaptations of old folk songs.
The creation of an independent state is not only the greatest historical achievement of Slovenians, but also a major cultural break with the past. Even today, we are not able to seriously evaluate the transition from Austria-Hungary to Yugoslavia! Let alone the one in 1990/91. We dare not clearly admit that we have the largest number of non-Slovenes among us in history. This is a general European phenomenon. Therefore, the problem is not them, but us, who do not know how to set acceptable frameworks for them. Oto Pestner is a synth, but he is most “ours”. The sculptor Begić never hides his origins and is a classic of Slovenian sculpture. We have experienced something similar in history, not to mention the German colonisation between the 11th and 14th centuries when we were overrun by the Uskoks in the 16th century. In the Slovenian past, the main problem was not Germans or “southerners”, but our Slovenian Germans, Yugoslavs… people without backbone, self-confidence, clear and unambiguous values, and firm positions.
Currently, the greatest danger of the urbanisation of Slovenia is in the political sphere. If the participation of newcomers in the cultural field can be enriching, in the political field it is a prediction of disaster. The cry “Kill Janša!” requires not only moral condemnation, but uncompromising prosecution. Tito did not invent Barbara Pit massacre, Jama pod Krenom and hundreds of other murder sites, but transferred them from the Soviet Union, Spain, and the Balkans as a model of mass killing due to ideological intolerance and, above all, the struggle for power. The politics of “long knives” never had homeland rights in the South-Eastern Alpine area! The current Minister of Justice intends to abolish such and similar cases, which in this particular case can only mean encouragement. That is why we retirees, who would like to die of natural causes, and especially as people, fear Svoboda more and more.