"...when established politics is dead and trivial, and politicians are demonstrably part of the problem not the solution, culture becomes the only democratising agent."This from the latest in a long line of superb, angry journalism from Ed Vulliamy on the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. It is about the organisation, War Child, born out of the war in Bosnia, when, as Vulliamy puts it,
... the so-called "international community" responded to this carnage with carefully calculated neutrality. While civilians were raped, incarcerated, "ethnically cleansed" and mass-murdered, the diplomatic community stuck defiantly to a policy of non-intervention beyond a mandate to deliver humanitarian aid. The British were to the fore in ensuring that nothing was done:It is well worth your time reading the whole piece, a testimony to human resilience and resistance in the face of organised cruelty and international indifference, but here are two snippets. The first from Nigel Osborne, composer and music professor and one of the earliest activists.
"Rock'n'roll, is inherently democratic, whatever is done in its name. Against third-rate politics, in Bosnia and across Europe, we pitched first-rate music. If the local fascist politicians were going to have their speaker system in the John Major government and at the UN, then we were going to have our speaker system too."And it is not just rock music, Vulliamy recalls,
I remember on my 39th birthday in 1993, after the massacre by shelling of civilians queuing for water in a suburb called Dobrinje, going to a lunchtime concert by the Sarajevo String Quartet in the blacked-out National theatre. The Serbs would usually attack such events, and one mortar landed so close to the theatre that the building shook and the viola player's stand fell over during an especially delicate moment of Haydn's String Quartet in D Major Op. 64, No 5, "The Lark". The first violinist, Dzevad Sabanagic, waited for his colleague to replace the score, called out the number of a bar prior to the interruption, and the quartet played on.How many divisions have the arts? More than you might imagine.
You see Will, I obeyed.