From crisis of socialism to financial crisis

The Crisis of Resistance

The initial response of authorities to the uprisings was mainly repression and violence, characterized with some attributes of state of emergency. For the first time in the history of Slovenian state we had witnessed the use of tear gas and water cannons, which was followed by arrests, pre-emptive detentions, court procedures and widespread moral panic. A tense atmosphere was created by the use of police helicopters, horses and dogs alongside the attempt to dissolve the protests by claiming they are illegal. This is the setting that led to full-blown escalation and the clash between protesters and the police in the struggle for the control of the urban territory and the right to assemble.

The violent attempt to suffocate the uprisings was completely unsuccessful – in fact, it has produced the opposite reaction, namely the increase of the number of protests and the level of their determination – and for that reason two of the other methods of normalizing the ways of expressing discontent publicly started to develop. First was the division of protesters between “good” and “bad”, criminalizing the latter and imposing a discourse on protesting in the “right manner”. The second method of the process of normalization, complementary to the first, was a desperate search for representatives of the uprising who ought to be capable and have the legitimacy to start a dialogue with authorities.

One important result of the process of normalization mentioned was that the heterogeneous composition of protesters and demands was overridden by the agenda of various actors who have been channelling the uprisings through focusing merely on the issues of representation and articulation. As in the case of London riots, the prevalent belief was that “without a political organization or mode of expression beyond the eruption of rioting, the social conflict they highlighted could not be taken forward. Instead there was repression that could not be countered by a left, seemingly paralyzed by the enormity of the events and the obvious lack of care for a forgotten generation and class of young people” (Brown et al. 2012, 73). Therefore, the second phase of uprisings saw majority of the discussions being concentrated on establishing models for new political parties and developing new democratic mechanisms that would guarantee the obedience of the formal representatives. This framework increasingly pushed out themes more closely connected with social issues and austerity measures on national and European level, such as questions of growing precariousness, the access to housing, education, health care et cetera.

The questions and processes of representation and criminalization co-existed, or rather, reinforced each other. This is how in the case of Slovene uprisings the productivity of power was used: it did not suffocate uprising, it rather channelled it into a specific form of existence and practice. To put it roughly, by clearing the protests of the conflicting social dimension, it was possible to bend and mould them according to the old prescribed codification of consensual protests, which legitimates the existing relations of power. Today there is not much discussion about this early phase of the uprisings, which combined civil disobedience and an insurrectionist momentum. Especially the later remains de-politicized and categorically excluded from the legitimate repertoire of the uprisings. Yet the rehabilitation of the existing situation – the return to a supposedly corruption-free form of representative democracy, this time in a form of a coalition led by self-proclaimed (centre) left party – developed directly out of the gains of the „dirty job“ of insurrection and conflict.

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