Europe And Its “Accursed“ Share

  • Abstract:
    Once upon a time, in the middle eighties of Romania (before the ’89 revolution) one of the Romanian intellectuals ended up in the postmodern liberal capitalist country of Austria – more concretely in an Austrian mall. His greatest shock was not related to the abundance of goods and needs, but rather to the gift of free plastic bags. At that time, in Romania, the plastic bag (le petit objet a roumain) was very hard to come by. Of course, gifted with commodity-form par excellence, namely the plastic bag, in the mind of the Romanian intellectual just one logical choice appeared, to get as many of those possible. Asked by the cashier of his nationality, my fellow conational ironically answered: Bulgarian. This little true story gives us, in nuce, the constitutive elements of the complex rapport between the Eastern and the Western Europe, le point du capiton being in this case the fetishism of the commodity-form. The hegelian distance between this concept and its realization being played along the limits of the again fetishized border, between the East and the West, that cuts (and pastes) Europe in half. Seen from across the ocean(s) Europe may appear as a united and unitary political, cultural and economical entity (beyond its heterogeneous constituency), but in fact since the great schism from 1054 the old continent stands in division with itself. There are a great number of ways in which this border is articulated, namely politically, economically, cultural and through different discursive configurations and practices. We are concerned here with the critique of the border-fetish our aim being the lucid deconstruction and analysis of this concept through the lens of the political economy of the East/West separation-fetish. We are of course guided here by the rigours of the rational deliberation upon the European structures, but also by the evil genius of ironic humour regarding the self-cunning rationality of Europe, that repeatedly fails to realize the Freudian goal of the wo es war, soll Ich werden. The West and the „accursed“ East remain divided, although their various entanglements keep them in never-ending tension and complicity.