Ana Peraica on Wed, 14 Jun 2000 01:18:32 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> 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 embaressment. 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 dimplomatic 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 there are 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 bad 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 

What happened next was the introduction of the rubbish economy. Eastern 
Europe began storing nuclear and chemical waste for dumping prizes. The 
region turned into a huge trash bin of bad used and outdated machinery. In 
exchange Eastern Europe sent "human rubbish" (gangsters, drugs trafficers, 
weapon traders, prostitues) 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 neighbours' 
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 was therefore belonging 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 in 
the sea, boxes of American ciggaretes were to be found everywhere on the 

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 

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 it's 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 lead and informed, on the 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 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 

The ontology of anything is a tactic of conspiracy, ontology notes the 
existence [or hides the one] 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 on the contrary to it's 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 a 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 an 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 
wouldn't produce a wish to colour and paint them.

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 an 
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 it's value in a promised system. Therefore, 
in socialism; rubbish becomes expensive. And expensive is barely reachable, 
as today is 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.

(C-front, Plovdiv, 2000)

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