Exploring the Lessons Learned
Intro: The conversation on eco-socialist alternatives to the capitalist economy could learn from the post-socialist countries of Eastern Europe. After all, by rebelling against authoritarianism and impoverishment, various social movements in many of these countries radically challenged the prevailing system when they hit the streets at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s. Although the resulting transition was catalyzed by neoliberal shock therapies and nurtured new forms of authoritarianism and pauperization, it is nonetheless remarkable that both the sense and the impetus for resistance and solidarity within the populations could not be suppressed. Moreover, rediscovering the legacies of the “communist” and socialist past, there are ambitious attempts (including among younger generations) at repurposing for the present potentially useful elements such as cooperativism and collectivism. What do confrontations with the economic-ecological complex look like in Eastern Europe today? What can we learn from the social movements in the region?
As the name of the conference is “After extractivisim”, we have started off with discussing the term post-extractivism – are we already living it? Our discussion revolved around imagining futures where extractivism goes hand in hand with a just transition. In order to come up with a concrete form, we have discussed many topics: collectivism and its forms, how forms of organizations from the past can be useful today, utopian models, identifying social movements that can bring about change, how ecologic transition is still focusing on capital and how companies are expected to drive it. We have concluded that in order to change, the green transition and the systems it’s embedded in needs to be reshaken and rebuilt. We have invented the term planned ecology, a word play on the socialist planned economy, and discussed it’s potential meaning, feasibility and desirability.
Audio flashes & cards
In the end, we have identified and described concepts that played a role in socialist Yugoslavia and described them in a series of audio files we called ‘flashes’. The purpose of this flashes is to explain the concept and so create a prompt for the listener to think about how to apply them in the context of a just ecological transition. The listener is presented by a set of cards containing various parts of ecological and social systems that can then be re-thought through the flashes.
Re-enactment/ Planned ecologies – (re-)enacted economies?
This may take the form of the re-creation or re-enactment of past events/practicies, as part of the creative process. This is essentially a re-establishment of practices from the past adapted to new solutions in new circumstances.
the performance itself now acquires a new contextual and political value but not at all reproduction – To believe that a repeated performance would herald a movement for peace and new economic models in our societies and environment would mean deceiving ourself.
The ‘Post-1989 Lessons’ workshop consisted of: Ivana Dražić, Adriana Homolova, Holger Kral, Katarina Kušić, Aleksandar Matković, Zoran Pantelic, Christin Stühlen and Mihajlo Vujasin.
This project was conceived at the Berliner Gazette’s annual conference 2022 entitled AFTER EXTRACTIVISM.
All text and images: Creative Commons License 4.0 (CC-BY 4.0). All images were taken at the AFTER EXTRACTIVISM conference.