Bastards of Utopia: Living Radical Politics after Socialism

Bastards of Utopia: Living Radical Politics after Socialism

Bastards of Utopia: Living Radical Politics after Socialism

Bastards of Utopia: Living Radical Politics after Socialism

Synopsis

Bastards of Utopia, the companion to a feature documentary film of the same name, explores the experiences and political imagination of young radical activists in the former Yugoslavia, participants in what they call alterglobalization or "globalization from below." Ethnographer Maple Razsa follows individual activists from the transnational protests against globalization of the early 2000s through the Occupy encampments. His portrayal of activism is both empathetic and unflinching--an engaged, elegant meditation on the struggle to re-imagine leftist politics and the power of a country's youth. More information on the film can be found at www.der.org/films/bastards-of-utopia.html.

Excerpt

In May of 2003 an unruly “bicycle caravan” snarled midday traffic in Zagreb. Before police could respond to the unannounced protest, a few masked activists scarred the façade of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with antiwar graffiti. Numbering no more than forty, the caravan was the latest in a series of actions protesting Croatia’s support for the ongoing U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Official Croatian support allowed U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to include Croatia in both the “Coalition of the Willing” and “New Europe”— those compliant once-socialist states he contrasted favorably with the “Old Europe” of (antiwar) France and Germany. Before the caravan could reach the U.S. Embassy, armored Range Rovers blocked its forward progress. Activists bunched together, ringing their bikes to form a flimsy defensive barrier. As a plainclothes officer pointed out whom to arrest, a dozen police in riot gear waded into the small crowd. Soon bulky “RoboCops” were dragging protesters toward a prisoner van. Pero—one of my most important collaborators—was detained (watch “Down with Fortress Europe”).

Shortly after his release, I spoke with Pero at his jam-packed apartment. He sat among stacks of silk-screened T-shirts (“No War Between Nations, No Peace Between Classes”) and large rolls of “Enough Wars!” campaign posters that read, “We’ve been through war and we wouldn’t wish it on anyone else.” Pero reported, “They knew almost everything about me.” During his interrogation, police confronted him with a bulging security dossier. They knew Pero was affiliated with the Antifascist Front, the Zagreb Anarchist . . .

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