I am finally getting around to write about something that I’ve been really excited about for a couple of months now: Kajet Journal. It might just be my ignorance, but despite it being around for 4 years, I hadn’t heard of it until January, when I saw the most recent issue in a bookstore and decided not only to buy it but also to try and find all the other issues because, ironically, I get all consumerist when it comes to leftist things (a broad term referring to literally anything). Unfortunately, I was a bit late and had to read the first issue digitally, but I have the other ones physically and they’re just pure beauty. Yes, they’re worth it even if just for being so aesthetically pleasing, but they’re a lot more than that.
The ethos of Kajet is to bring unexplored, neglected Eastern European narratives to the fore.Kajet Manifesto
I’m not going to make an in-depth analysis of each of the four issues, as I don’t feel I could give a good enough account, but I think it’s worth mentioning that each has a central theme: On Communities, On Utopias, On Struggle, On Periphery. While being related to the central theme, each contribution (text, photographs and/or illustrations in the printed journal, but the digital version makes use of videos too) offers a completely different perspective, interpretation or instance of the topic so as to show the plurality of a world that is usually portrayed in a very unidimensional way by the mainstream Western narrative: Eastern Europe, the inferior Other.
Kajet aims to discredit this not by suggesting an equally limited counter-narrative, but by painting a complex picture: trivialising a culture or, even worse, multiple cultures to an easy to digest idea will never be satisfactory, however appealing it is to use such simplifications. In a world that cannot dream nor imagine the future, Eastern Europe is striving to forgo its past and history and get as close as possible to the neoliberal ideal, even if it means leaving a lot of people behind. Scrambling for an identity, we substitute it with a westernised chimaera that seems to be just a placeholder for something we are unable to make sense of.
What I really appreciated about each of these articles is that there is no fake impression of impartiality and they do not hold anything like that as their higher goal. Everything is unapologetically leftist, anti-capitalist, intersectional; each text has an embedded message and tries to be more than a superficial account of a phenomenon or situation: it’s not story-telling and it does not aim to be so. We are being presented with both further questions and conclusions without being told what to think – that is an equilibrium that is very hard to achieve without losing the complexity of the analysis.
One of the tendencies of these texts that really melted my anarchist heart was the continuous intention of redefining our relationship with the objects we possess, the buildings we live in, the places we occupy. The so-called inanimate bears the responsibility of our entire lives, but a capitalist society cannot allow us to build a deeper relationship based on this, as it would mean emancipation from our necessary roles as users and consumers. Addressing the topic of city-planning from a perspective that does not intend to aimlessly maximise productivity but to build communities and to entail mutual aid seems strange and unfamiliar, but it also feels like the appropriate way of designing something that we might end up calling home.
I could write about everything I loved about these journals all day, but I feel like I can’t actually make them seem any greater than they are so just go on http://kajetjournal.com/ and convince yourself. While being quite academic in formulation, I think that the writing is accessible for anyone that has some minimal knowledge of leftist theory and issues (and the references can be useful for learning more too).
Because I have no idea how to end this, I’ll just add another point from the Manifesto here:
Not being afraid to tackle apparently trivial matters, we consider that every socio-cultural development in the East shall be taken seriously. Everything needs to be questioned, doubted and interpreted accordingly.Kajet Manifesto