On the island we can see how starkly capitalism (with its structural adjustments and consumerist culture) and historical revisionism (with its ultimate desire to erase all memory not in line with the current official ideology) go hand in hand. As two sides of the same coin, they reinforce each other. Where there was a memorial site, today there stands a bank. Where there was a refugee shelter, now there’s a restaurant. On the site of a factory is a ‘rent-a-kayak’. It’s not only Vis. Many small corners of Europe (in Spain, Greece, Italy and many other countries) have a similar wartime history of local resistance, of post-occupation reconstruction, of community.
While the fascist occupation imposed its language and rules by brute force, the current occupation achieves it through cultural hegemony that makes it impossible to do anything but accept the new order. And while Vis is commercialized and commodified in every aspect, the memory of its antifascist and emancipatory legacy is being erased, because if you remember or if you are able to speak a different language, you might come to the dangerous desire to resist. Remembering and speaking give birth to resistance.
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Without forgetting the past struggles, our strength must come from the future. From that voice which might one day be rediscovered and which would be able to say with pure admiration and respect: these people knew what they were fighting for. They had the absolute conviction that they were right and had faith in their ultimate fate. And it was a great and unique experience to be among them and be able to help them.
—Srećko Horvat, Poetry from the Future, (London: Allen Lane, 2019), 17‑18.
Pagari 1, Tallinn, former KGB headquarters, now has a vegan café on the ground floor and luxury apartments above.