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The politics of gay Europe

Politics may be an over the top term, when it comes to Eurovision…. but than again, maybe not. Politics always played a part of Eurovision and this year, despite the slogans and fluff about joining… it was very heated.

So there was a sing off between Russia and Ukraine. Too bad Ukrainian singer is actually supporter of fallen Yanukovich and thought man in hamster wheel is good stage prop. Had it been Ruslana or environmentally conscious Alyosha (who thought Pripyat is a good video prop), it would be even more satisfactory. And Ukraine mighta scored much higher. Even now lots of Ukraine votes were in fact fuck-you-Russia votes. Russian song was generic fluff as everything Russia sends to represent on Eurovision, because god forbid their song actually had some message, controversy or something. (Actually, to be honest, Yulia Savicheva was a good entry and so was Tartar Alsou. Speaking of Alsou… she has been Russia’s token Tartar announcing voting results), And Russia got booed a lot. Some people say they felt sorry for those sweet little blondes… but maybe this was the only way to show Russia how much Europe loves them (that and all the “are they gonna invade to rig the results” jokes on Eurovision webs over the internet). Media doesn’t let on lots of things in Russia…… but this was a clear message. Gay Europe hates you, Mr Putin. For hating gays, for the war… nil points for democracy.

(and yes, the song sounded like an annexation anthem. Annexation anthem for some shitty racist Disney movie…).

But you know, all this has nothing on winner of the contest…. Conchita Wurst a bearded lady with strong voice. Conchita, you know, is transgender. Or transvestite (but drag queens try to look as feminine as possible!). Intergender? Conchita (or Tom in civil life) explained that Wurst is not only a sausage intuendo, but it means “doesn’t matter” in slang, because her gender doesn’t matter. Interesting character. Of course her win is seen as proof of Europe’s decay in non-gay Europe parts (Russia and Belarus actually protested this singer before the contest). Apparently, she will doom us all. Forget the economic crisis or the war in Ukraine, forget neo-nazism and corrupt politicians. Bearded lady is coming out to get you… (this isn’t the first time Eurovision revelead some prejudice in some. We had non-white-enough Loreen and zomg-Muslims-from-hard-to-spell-country (Azerbaijan… to be honest, they have their problems…).

But before Russian commentators tell us about how decadent and godless and just overall horrible we are….let’s remind ourselves of their win (Dima Bilan) that deliberatelly pampared to the gay Europe. Sappy love ballad? CHeck. Sexy singer? Check…. maybe. Gays and little girls love him though. Baring chest? Check. Guy playing violin? Check. Figure skater on 2X2 portable ice ring…………. check (that part broke my gaydar… it hasn’t been right ever since). That entry was “gayer” than Dana International. Not quite as gay as Conchita…. but I don’t mind gayness coming from the heart. What I despite is pampering the gay population of a material gain. It’s wrong when Katy Perry does that (after using gay as insult in one of her songs). I could forgive it when it comes to TATU because they are Russian and it was almost brave to pull that act in Russia (and as much as they played on the sexy part, they managed to be controversial and it was not all about HEY-YOU-GAY-BUY-MY-RECORDS. That video when they kiss and cuddle while people watch them from behind barbed wire, so they look like animals on display, but in the end it turns the judgemental people are in cage and the girls walk away? That was great). So point being, Russian commentators have no right to say anything about European music taste… or our gaydom. Because it was the gays that voted your guy winner, back then.

 

In the end, I hope that Austria’s queer/intergender/trans/doesn’t really matter winner can stir a debate in Europe and bring on some tolerance and understanding. And if not… at least we have now some entertaimer like we never had before.

Yellow fields, skies of blue and burning barricades (dedicated to Ukraine)

 

Idealism is an ideology that supposes you believing in human goodness. No matter how many wars you’ve seen on Livestream, you need to believe that there are good people everywhere… they just want to be free and thrive.

I fell in love with yellow fields and skies of blue

The cities with their wide avenues and tragic histories

I fell in love with a nation

Whose perseverance could teach us thing or two

I fell in love with a nation that is known for its troubles

… but then again

I always been attracted to the troubled ones

 

The best of times

Never quite happened

Will they make it through the worst of times?

 

So TV tells me of revolutions and/or coups

Of the brave, the treasonous

About annexations, referendums, the separatists, the nationalists, the terrorists and the crimes

And it seems, everybody’s in the wrong

(but those are not the people I know…

That is not the country I know…)

They speak of strategic interests, treaties and unpretty histories

They fingerpoint the blame…

None of this I ever wanted to see happen

Especially to a place I love so

 

Idealism supposes people are inherently good. Everything can end up well, if they are given a chance.

 

I fell in love with troubled places

And they seem almost gone now

And I knew the history was always tragic

And I know that history is never at side of the people

I knew that all

… but I was hoping it might be different this time around

That they may get a pass, a chance

 

Idealism tells us a lot about how the world should be… but how to believe it in worst of times?

And if I ever get a chance

To go back again

It will be too different

If that times comes

Will it be still possible

To hope for the best of times?

(or at least for better days to come)

For us and especially for them

Won’t we all turn bitter?

 

This is my open letter

To the people

Let’s preserve one more time

So there is somebody to tell the tale

 

In my heart

I got a pain for a nation

In my head picturesque memories

And a tune about a barricade of burning tires… that didn’t let the wild dogs in…

Crime(a) and injustice

I admit I am politicore. Sometimes I just let my emotions take over my International relations degree. Sometimes I let historical injustices to skew my point of view.

But at least I admit this. Politics would never happen without emotions behind them. 90% of the wars would never be waged if it was up to rational decision (and this point was actually stressed in strategic studies and theories on war and peace. Better take away then ranges and codenames of ICBMs, I think).

So I am not rational about Crimea, I don’t even wanna be rational when it comes to superpower imperialism. So let me call Putin Voldemort (because they really are lookalikes). But even when I look at it rationally… annexation is not okay. 97% referendum results are usually fake… and this is very scary times and I never been grateful enough for the NATO membership that might save my country, New Europe… but who knows. It never paid to count on alliances. But there. I am being bitter over history again.

But emotionally… Crimea saved my life. Literally. I was at a low point when I went to Ukraine back then in 2012. It was not my first time in the country, but I ventured more into it. Teaching English near Kharkiv and fulfilling my political nerd dreams about going down to Yalta (despite being faded and carrying scars of time, Yalta is still fabulous) and visiting infamous Livadia, visiting and enjoying formerly forbidden Sevastopol (ditto Yalta) and going down the submarine silos of Balaclava… basking in the sunlight, enjoying the exchange rate, adoring the locals for their humility, their perseverance, their kindness (and their fashion style)… it all clicked right. It were all the good omens I needed to go on at the moment. Crimea mighta stole part of my soul, but so did other places. No words can express my gratitude to the peninsula.

So to see the lovely sunlit peninsula “ruined” (and ruined it will be at least in certain aspects… it will certainly be different and I am not sure if Russian rule can make a good difference anywhere). It makes me angry. Makes me sad. Makes me feel like something very dear to be was taken away from me.

I love Russian people, the everyday folks, but as Leonard Cohen said: I love the country, but i can’t stand the scene. I am afraid I might not get visa anyways. And as much as I want to be panslavist, because it feels as right stance, it seems so hard to do right now.

I know it’s not black and white. I know. I never said that about any situation. But this is just fucking sad. I am afraid post-cold war era is definitely over. Fukuyama was so very wrong. I am afraid this will be the same shit, all over. With Twitter and Facebook.

And as much as I love to pretend to be a strong slavic bitch, right now the history seems too much to handle.

There war not far from here….

warning: I am not trying to inform wholesomely on the Ukraine crisis. I am just reporting my thoughts about the whole thing at this moment.

 

I have been along with the rest of world nervously following the trouble in Ukraine. Spinning from what seemed to be business as usually in bitter aftermath of Orange revolution of protests against status quo, no matter what it was. It never been good. But at least you could more or less protest it. I been to Maidan personally few times… and seen few of these protests, back then innocent. But somehow it spun into situation resembling civil war, a coup, a power vacuum…. and an occupation of lovely Crimea.

Russia acting as typical bully, hoping to get away with it, threatening (the now denied ultimatum), to most absurd “it’s not our army” claims. Putin is certainly very nervous (and makes me wonder what it took for Russian revolutionary happenings to fizzle out the way they did). Putin tried to defend this occupation on humanitarian basis. Threatened threateningly. World threatens but rather carefully. After all, nobody is going to start WWIII… even over Crimea. After all Crimea these days doesn’t matter as much as it did back then. On the other side… I could see it as a good omen that somebody actually cares, talks, offers tangible help… and money.

It’s so absurd, so scary and unbeliavable that I cannot predict where this is gonna go. I pray each night for lovely penninsula and for things being alright. Not for the countries. But for the people. They deserve a break from the bad that history brings. Lovely harbour of Sevastopol deserves to be a site of beauty for once… rather than strategic point and a battlefield.

The paranoid part of me is for once glad my country is member of NATO… even if we “burn money on trying to appear that we matter” or are “trying to play with the big kids”. Paranoid me listens to planes flying over my place with bit of fear.  But rationally, I know WE will be okay. Not so sure about Ukraine.

Glitter and White Phosphorus

I wear glitter when I go out
I wear glitter as my shield
Glitter is the mask that hides
all the secrets I won’t yield

I put on pretty to hide what’s inside
I talk dark, cause it makes me feel brave
don’t own nothing, don’t own this night
just glitter mask and one soul to save

I always go out like it’s the last time
I make amends in case I shall not return
Love and peace, please remember me
among the stars I shall burn

What does today bring for us?
In glitter and white phoshorus…

ruins, debris or star dust
nobody will care for us

I got glitter in my blood
makes me eyes shine, like bright stars
Lipstick and kohl are my sole weapons
I wear glitter to hide my scars

Sometimes I call on other souls
when laying awake in the night
There must more of us out there
there must a way to make it right

And maybe there’s some hope for us
we’re glitter and white phosphorus

air pollution smells like star dust
but nobody would die for us

Beauty from times gone makes me hopeful
but the pretty streets, they do not speak
History is my place to go to
Without it, I would feel so weak

I wear glitter and talk cynical
It’s my iron curtain, my barbed wire
And if I act cold, it’s just how I protect myself
When I see the world on fire

We don’t know what is right for us
my eyes burn like white phosphorus

As the whole world crumbles to dust
Of glitter and white phosphorus

Aside

I sometimes cry, I sometimes pray
does that make me pitiful?
Maybe I should starve myself
would that make me beautiful?Maybe I should dress more trendy
and not think of the history
maybe I should be like others
maybe I should stop being me

Maybe I should change who I am
to fit in this city
wear shoes and life that don’t fit
would that make me pretty?

TV tells me to by myself
by becoming one of them
The news channels says, that we are doomed
we had a hope, but that was then

People tell my eyes look dreamy
… that’s cause they seen many foreign places
I wandered around way too much
I hope that I left some traces

I remind myself that I am lucky
I survived so far, so maybe it’s not that bad
I got my memories and maybe my future
so why on the earth I feel so sad?

Should I toss my morals
for your adoration?
Should I damn my soul
to save my nation?

As I lay awake in the night
what to do with this life?
I can as well die for something
no way I am getting out alive…………

Just because we can doesn’t mean we should

“You cannot look at wars from moral perspective”, I have been told, some time ago, when submitting my first draft of my diploma thesis. Might not been the greatest one, but it was straight from the heart. And brain.

Silly me trying to look at Kosovo and Libya this way. Maybe I should try to look at it scientifically, two rogues, one country, whoever allies NATO wins, that equals a mess squared. Maybe I can try to look at it as a realist (humans are evil and want power… though as somebody who visited Kosovo I cannot ever understand why all the genocidal wars… even though the landscape is nice, most of meaning of the land is in narratives and mythologies and it’s emotional. Sorry, Mr. Morgenthau). I could be a neo-realist and think we wage wars because of anarchistic structure…but how does this explain civil wars? I doubt that Libyans and Kosovars fought just because they could. I really do. I could try to look at it as marxist… but to be honest, the only way I find sufficient is post-modernism…. and it doesn’t tell us much.

Dehumanizing things that involve living breathing human beings does not make a good science. Admitting we know a little and we cannot predict how things will go… is not a weakness and does not make one unwise.

We sometimes talk of might making right and how awful things are done for greater good. Of course. I admit as much. Sometimes you need to do the right thing, in other cases, you need to do the wrong thing for the right reason. But when it comes to determining right and wrong… it depends. Just because landmines between North and South Korea are least awful of awful scenarios, does not mean it’s okay to plant landmines all around, just because you want that piece of territory them fuckers have. Just because allies carpet bombed Dressden and won WWII (and let’s be honest, one can argue even about strategic value of this act) doesn’t mean it is okay to do so. Just because…

Yes, I am moral relativist, but that does not mean I don’t have no morals. I don’t wanna be a “let me help you” destructive idiot, so I often admit that I know a little. I just wish other would do it too.

In politics or normal everyday life… sometimes you don’t know what is best for others. Sometimes you do bad things and it’s alright because it ended well, but that does not mean you can do bad things all time.

Thinking of humans as statistics does not make you enlightened and wise. Soviets were that way, progressive new humans. “there is enough humans in the world”…. But one human can mean a world to their friends, family and lovers. That one human killed in battle of how-the-hell-you-spell-its-name could have been the next big thing. WWI once seemed all just and right and war to end wars and we all know how that ended.

I wish we could do away with language of collateral damage, of thinking of world in terms of “awful things happen… oopps!”. Realism is just another perception of reality and it doesn’t mean you perceive the reality correctly. “Truth” is after all bound in time and space. Often it’s just collective delusion. A delusion accepted by majority. Something that next generations will learn about and ask their teachers “what the hell were the fools thinking?” And it will be hard to explain and grasp. Maybe when we are all old, we will have time to understand our thinking of younger days as well. Maybe we should think of “how would we explain this to our progressive grandchildren” when we make major political decisions. But maybe even that wouldn’t help. One gets caught in the moment and current paradigms. Accepting “we don’t know it all” and “there is not one way” could might save us a lot of mess. But it is something that is not a mainstream philosophy. You cannot run in election under “Others might be right, too”.

They say truth will set one free. But I think that accepting that truth is a very relative thing and that our “truth” is more of “what we know at this moment and how we perceive the said information” may be the true answer. Problem with post-modernism is that you cannot prove or push the paradigm, because if you do, you will disprove it. But maybe we could give it a shot, since all other ideologies seemed to have failed us so far, don’t you think?

International relations in a four line stanza

Francis proclaimed end of the history
when we torn down the walls
samuel opposed, said Muslims will clash with us
and burn down our malls

(yes, I needed to spend numerous years in academia to come up with this).

Sevastopol… the good, the bad, the pretty and the formerly classified

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Sevastopol is perfect place for many things. You may have heard about the pretty beaches. About the sights. And the clubs with cheap vodka and pretty girls. But if you are nerd for the things political and studied history of Cold war… it’s place perfect for you. Sevastopol is like Cold War wikileak. Not that you learn that much and you probably knew it before… but it’s the excitement of getting behind the curtain of formerly strictly secret. And the landscape is pretty too. And the food is good and cheap. And so is the vodka.

Sevastopol itself was a closed city during the Cold War times. And it still has plenty of military no-go-zones, marked in pink on map. There’s Russian Black Sea fleet docking in the bay and you can go see them when you pay for a “progulka” – a boat ride. I paid three euro after some hassling about the price. Boat driver managed to make several phonecalls and spoke in fast Russian about what we can see. Russian girl on the boat told me in low voice that what we see are Russian “secret ships”. They were there in their all monstrosity.

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And of course if you are Cold War nerd, you need to take trip to Balaclava and go see the former submarine factory. There’s no submarines anymore, just their models, but there’s plenty of writtings on the walls in cyrilics about how you should keep the state secrets and think twice before speaking. And there’s parts of submarines, weapons, torpedoes and of course the silo itself. Eerie. Foreigners are asked to pay more, but if you manage to speak bit Russian, you’ll get the locals price. Which may or may not feel like winning the Cold War over again. Then go back into harbour and have beer or a coctail to the fact we made it, neither red or dead. Or if you feel hot, catch a boat to one of the fancy beaches and let yourself forget the history for hour and two.

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(Pic 1: Don’t tell everything you know. Know what are you telling

Pic 2: Protect the military secrets!

Pic 3, 4: the silo

Pic 5: Voguing it on some old torpedo

Pic 6: one of the hallways of the silo)

If you care for all wars, being either a bellicose hawk, a nerd or bleeding heart liberal, go see Panorama… a well done… panoramatic art of Crimean war (and feel creeped out how this thriving city that is so alive and buzzing was fought over so many times in the history).

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You will feel history in Sevastopol, it’s terrifying impact…. but you will feel so alive with the breeze from the Black Sea. You will feel history under your feet, you will see lot of beautiful people and striking architecture… but if you are not totally unaware you will feel implications of the times past. You will feel greateful you are here.

 

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Kvas – a refreshing drink made of bread and yeast. It’s the opposite of communism. You know how communism sounds great, but is horrible in reality? Kvas sounds horrible, right? It’s great.

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A peak into the pink zone. You will find that sometimes map is misleading. And that sometimes a wrong turn means walking straight into creepy. Leave the secrets as they lay. Not saying it is so, but you may not make it back from the pink zones. And the rest of the city is oh-so-pretty.

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Yet another war memorial.

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Memorial of some general. Category called (by us cynical pacifists) as “swine on piedestal”.

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Memorial to the war in Afghanistan (the one that Soviets lead, not the current one). The cross stands in a red star. I hurt my toe there, because I was not expecting a star on the ground. Shows how much communism can suprise you.

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And of course the things for beauty, that the city kept for herself (and the Might USSR) for so long.

The things I learned through my university years

I recently graduated Master’s (brag brag brag) and now I am off the real world, wondering how to use my knowledge effectively in it… I think it’s time to revise all I learned.

So here it is:
Economics: If you wanna make your country thrive, of course you can act protectionist. But you ave to be careful about not protecting ineffective sectors of your economy.
And… we shouldn’t talk much about the economics crisis. It’s like Voldemort. It shouldn’t be mentioned.

Future of Europe: Czechs eat horrible and drink a lot. And foreigners love that about our country.

Russian language: Russians are weird. And that “b” like letter is a bitch.

Stratetic studies: Russia bad. America good. we only purchase weapons to protect peace. Nuclear weapons are good, unless Russia, Iran or North Korea get them (shhhh, about Israel. *points to other shiny things*).
In warfare invetion is crucial. And if everything fails, try to extract important information from enemy’s concubines (thanks Sun Tzu).

Geopolitics: Heartland, Rimland, shatterbelt, blah blah blah, Chinese are going to get us.

History of 20th century: Stalin had yellow eyes. And during Lenin’s early days in Kremlin, there was a lot of crows and Lenin was highly disturbed by them. So they started to shooting them, only it disturbed Lenin even more. And all the movies about Samurais are untrue.

The USA and New Europe: Bush wasn’t that bad, ya’ll. And New Europe is not that new actually.

Theories of war and peace: I actually learned a lot about conflict resolution in this class. Only it’s never been implemented in real world. At least not succesfully. I may try to implement these in some hellzone, if I ever feel suicidal.
Also: theory of democratic peace works. Actually, it doesn’t! Actually, it DOES! No, it don’t!
And that one PhD student is hot, has nice legs and knows about modern wars. Wonder if she has boyfriend. Or girlfriend.

Transnational studies: I got to discuss one of my fave artists here, M.I.A. and be totally academic about it.
(and I guess yakking in English on Czech University among Europeans about problems of Latin American migration is transnationalism too).

Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction: current mayor of Nagasaki does not reply to e-mails of peace activists.
And there’s lot of sketch countries in the world.

Middle Eastern studies: Of course I learned about terrorists and dictators, Islamists and Zionists (and anti-Zionists too!). But the most memorable thing I learned and something we all I think will remember is… that back in the day, Leila Khaled was a slamming hottie. Who
hijacked plane (and probably looked good doing it).

Human evolution and politics: Muslims commit suicide bombing because in polygamous society non-alpha males have hard chances of getting laid.

I guess my life is fuller now. But I still have no idea how to use this for good of the state and society.

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