“Music can change circumstances” (Josipović, 2023).
Thinking in the realm of politics, dialogue and choice tyranny, introspection of different angles and interpretations is more than welcome. Rarely one can witness highlighting ideas, rushing into the mind as a wind of change or new opportunities, transferring the old into something sublime. It is true; what we focus on, that flourishes. Where is the concentration of mental, spiritual, intellectual, and emotional power, there is our now, our reality. Our guest in May showed us perception not commonly used in politic. Yes, music can be the answer to so many inner and outer quests facing.
Last gathering, music as a wow moment
Adding to his years-long series, in early May 2022, prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic conducted and moderated two distinguished days of fresh insights, noble ideas, and stamina by believing in the power of dialogue. Excellency Ivo Josipovic, President of Croatia was opening the 9th Geneva round 2022/23 as a part of the Executive program that invites academicians and practitioners from the field of politics, education, and diplomacy, vocalized in special theme, involving music.
Our prestigious guest, H.E. Ivo Josipović (1957), a Croatian academic, jurist, and politician who served as President of Croatia from 2010 to 2015, a fruitful and marvellous lecturer, storyteller, and presenter of another approach to politics.
Josipović entered politics young, actively participating in the democratic transformation of the League of Communists of Croatia (SKH) into the Social Democratic Party (SDP), as the author of its first statute. He left politics in 1994, but returned in 2003, winning a seat in the Croatian Parliament, running as an independent candidate on the SDP party list. He won re-election to parliament as a member of the SDP in 2007. In addition to politics, Josipović has also worked as a university professor, legal expert, musician, and composer, and holds a Ph.D. in Law and advanced degrees in music composition. Following the end of his first term in Parliament in January 2008, he ran in the 2009–10 presidential election as the candidate of the Social Democrats, which he had re-joined in January 2008. In the first round he topped eleven rivals with 32.4% of the vote and entered the run-off with independent conservative populist candidate and Mayor of Zagreb, Milan Bandić, who had secured 14.8%. He won the election with 60.26% of the vote in the second round of the election.
His campaign was titled “Nova pravednost” (New Justice), calling for a new legal framework to address deep social injustice, corruption, and organised crime.
Two realms, one code
In this manner our guest portrayed a series of musical and interpretive arguments, supporting his main message. Both realms are subjective, artistic and intangible. Whoever is entering the doors of such majestic vocal wave, needs to correspond to momentum coherence. Nothing is solid though; only the tones and words are stringing one beside another, and artist need to predict the right tone in current situation. To the wholeness of harmonies, given by each speaker e.g. musician, one needs to bow, and there the real Art begins. We can equate the dyad music-politics as music is politics and politics is music:
“Politics and music: both lead and seduce and both can be useful and dangerous at the same time” (Josipović, 2023).
“The very nature of politics is, like music, rooted in conflict and harmony. The heart of music is the interplay of the physical and the mental, as the compromise between them forms a cohesive whole. Compromise is also the heart of the political process, trying to find common ground and consensus solutions to problems of society through open communication” (Thomson, 2016).
How language of subconsciousness binds
H.E. Josipović stated some facts about the two realms under our scrutiny. In both cases we can agree that listening is a precondition of success; in politics we ought to listen not with the sole aim to reply but mostly, to understand. Understanding requires analysis and inner readiness to accept the strange, the foreign and the outer. As in music, we must listen to accept tones and melodies and create sounds, describing deeper or intended emotions – our guest stressed to him both realms do offer creativity and visions, where especially in communication with the audience he cocreates balance between enthusiasm and reality.
He as well portrayed cases, how discipline and freedom tackle both politics and music, and how a strong, trustworthy person with integrity soothes the clashes and possible sidewalks. For him, both realms are adventures of the spirit. And the inner voice, connecting us to the subconsciousness and ethical, is louder in silence than in perfect harmony. That is the reason why compromise needs to be sought in silence after the fireworks of harmonies and disharmonies, tones, voices, words, and accords. Where one phase is concluded, another one yields its shelter: (inner) silence should be the center of political reflections. In this manner we can finally comprehend how discontinuities knit the thread of continuity. And the necessity of pauses and out of the box thinking, for which mental and cognitive indolence is ruinous, can only burst in the open and supportive setting.
Our guest has given us cases, historic reflections and shown how bright ideas and music can be misused (Wagner in Hitler’s Third Reich) or given as a spiritual glaze (John Lennon and Imagine).
In general, the connection between music and politics, particularly political expression in songs has been envisaged in many cultures. Through centuries music touches the symbolic expression, which lays deeper in our subconscious mind, having the tendency to bind stronger and hold as a glue of inclusions, especially in the times of sorrow, trials, and other tests of life.
Music can unite in the fight against fear (war songs, battle songs, motivative songs). As well it mobilises to fight in the interest of the group (battle trans, preparing soldiers to sacrifice their own life); music can also hold as a means of cultivating new fear through noble visons and identification of other and outlaw. Certainly, it can be corresponded as a catharsis for societies of recent trauma.
Music can as well express anti-establishment or protest themes, including anti-war songs. Although music influences political movements and rituals, it is not totally clear how or to what extent general audiences relate to music on a political level. Since we cannot measure all the correlated variables in complex situations in which each conflict is embedded, the symbolic, as music is, remains one of the most mesmerising moments one can experience.
Songs can be used to portray a specific political message. Our guest has shown his own example of his political query when he ran the president elections. What is surprising and uncommon, he was supported by many distinguished singers and artists of his homeland Croatia. In the intro song of his party “Nova pravednost” they sing about truth, values, and norms they are willing to live by.
“However, there may be barriers to the transmission of such messages; even overtly political songs are often shaped by and reference their contemporary political context, making an understanding of the history and events, that inspired the music, necessary in order to fully comprehend the message” (Josipović, 2023).
Later, we discussed the dyad politics-psychological reflections of a leader (including the use of emotional charge in politics). Our guest was struggling for the right expression of patriotism as well:
“Patriotism cannot be shown in laud singing of national songs, waving with flags, and screaming key words. It should be shown by the act of paying taxes, respecting the rule of law and democracy” (Josipović, 2023).
Most inspiring stories on music diplomacy from all over the world, bringing together experiences and reflections from musicians, scholars, experts, diplomats, activists, and journalists working in the field. Music diplomacy as a particular form of cultural diplomacy, is full of potential. As a universal language, music breaks down language barriers and cultural differences, with promoting cooperation, understanding and mutual respect among people, communities, and nations.
Josipović has been a visiting researcher at several prestigious institutes including the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Freiburg in Breisgau, Germany, the Institute for Criminal Law of the University of Graz, Austria, as well as the HEUNI Institute (European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control) in Helsinki, Finland. He has also spent time as a private researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and Private International Law in Hamburg, Germany as well the Yale University in the United States. As member of several domestic and international legal and artists’ associations he published over 85 academic and professional papers in domestic and international journals. In year 1994, he co-founded the independent Hrvatski pravni centar (Croatian Law Center).
Josipović helped to save 180 Croatian prisoners of war from Serbian detention centres and has represented Croatia before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
He participated in several international projects and acted as a Council of Europe expert in evaluation of prisons in Ukraine, Mongolia and Azerbaijan.