Milena Rampoldi, Pro-Mosaik Manifesto


Since ProMosaik has existed, there has also been constructive as well as destructive criticism of our approach. At the same time, people ask us questions about what we do. People who find us online, read us or about us, ask themselves who we are, what we do and, above all, why we do what we do. As the founder of ProMosaik, I have therefore made the decision to give free rein to our ideas and our utopias tipped into reality in this book in order to promote a discussion on important topics such as identity, diversity, the meaning of life, activism, and the aesthetic revolution.

ProMosaik is not only a group of people and the totality of their convictions, hopes, their commitment and their vigour, but also an interaction and an encounter between contents, worldviews and different approaches to social and political life and the meaning of life and action in a holistic sense.

For us, action and life, knowledge and movement are very closely interwoven. For us, the dynamic movement of the social and political processes is a revolutionary shaping of the life of the individual, the society and the global community and the innovative change in the current state of the world, which, as we often emphasize, we do not like as it actually looks like.

And we have this feeling especially in our Covid-19 age, which is characterized by an extreme passivity of intellect and action and simply makes it clear in concrete terms how much people voluntarily allow themselves to be suppressed, destroyed, and restricted.

Our life has become a Winter’s Tale. For me personally, the status of the winter’s tale means that you don’t implement thoughts by letting your own political intellect dry up. In Chapter VI of his work “The Winter’s Tale” Heinrich Heine precisely addresses this fear that we Covid-19 citizens feel in the here and now just as the poet did back then.

Ideas are forgotten. Utopias are drying up. Dreams lose their chromatic intensity. The revolution remains closed in its words. It does not prevail. In his tale, Heine lets a demon appear and puts the following words into the demon’s mouth: “I am the deed of your thought”.

The demon thus holds the mirror up to the revolutionary who has become passive and dying and reveals himself to him as the action, the implementation of his intellectuality, which no longer seems to know the urge for forward, for the “pro” to transform the ideal dimension into a concrete reality. Consequently, in Heine’s piece, thinking and acting divide and lose their unity since the demon is an external force that calls the dying intellect to action. This creates dualism and division between the original utopia and its implementation in reality. And that promotes dictatorship, fatalism, passivity, superficial reform thinking and apolitical Biedermeier life.

In this sense, ProMosaik stands for an active and dynamic attitude towards life, towards people and towards society and politics. The name ProMosaik is made up of two positive words: on the one hand the affirmative “pro” and on the other hand the artistic symbol of diversity, the mosaic, which was created and cultivated similarly in so many cultures, religions, and civilizations.

The Latin preposition “pro” has different meanings, including “forwards, forwards instead of” and “for”. For us at ProMosaik it is ostensibly in the Socratic sense about the “emergence” of the work of the midwife as a female force of change, about the result of a search as a person and as part of a culture, society and politically thinking community and about the “for” that means the commitment to positive and open values. However, the “for” is only the last moment of this demonic implementation of this ideal into reality, which we do not like as it actually is.

I would like to describe this last step as “tipping utopia into reality”. We live happily and dynamically in a world which, however, does not correspond to us and which we therefore want to revolutionize and change. But that doesn’t mean that we do not love life, because this limited time in this world we don’t like is all we have. So, it is time to powerfully “tip” our ideals into this world in order to take away the smell of the garbage dump and make it more human.

This is the reason why ProMosaik is also the name of a contradiction, a radical and clear denial of the conditions of this world, which is characterized by militarism, hostility, lack of beauty, a radical, socially and politically founded and justified injustice, a profound and un-empathic inequality – characterized by racism, discrimination, misogyny, anti-Semitism, glorification of violence and islamophobia.

We also love gastronomy and its diversity, art, and its versatility, the special and at the same time the universal beauty existing in all cultures and civilizations.

We love the unique and the universality and their symbols that are hidden behind them. We want to eat well and therefore avoid any “Nazi soup” in the spirit of Thomas Bernhard, who missed the noodles in his plate full of Nazis that I miss today as much as the author did after the annexation of Austria. The brown soup is not for us, and we say that quite openly. We do not like it, and it does not look good either.

Instead, what we love is a colourful world of mosaics, in which every little stone retains its colour and cannot be chromatically assimilated. Between each stone and its neighbour there is a thin dividing line, a strip that draws the border between the two stones. The colour of this line is mostly white. White stands for purity, ideal, light and truth. This line also stands for the distance between the stones. And that’s a good thing because it is exactly our diversity which makes us strong.

Every stone has its own world and colour and gets in touch with the other stones of this world. The person living in a certain stone crosses this white line by a bridge that he/she builds and gets to know the other world, the world of the neighbouring stone. He/she approaches the other, yes, but at the same time he/she also gains the access to a world which is not his/her own world because it is simply a different one.

The I is only itself if it is in relation with the Thou, since, as Martin Buber so aptly put it, people become “I through the Thou”. However, I maintain my existence and my “I”, while the Thou remains the “Thou”.

The same happens in the relationship of the I to the Absolutely Other Thou, Who is God within the meaning attributed to It by the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. The I grows through its relationships with the Thou, which can be a human or a transcendent Thou. But the I does not merge with the Thou and it can also neither be consumed nor completely distorted by the Thou as it maintains its own identity. The result is a world of diversity that we would like to call the result of a successful communication and a fruitful contact between people.

Contact and diversity, closeness and distance, aesthetic, social and political perception, and recognition of diversity on all levels is what defines me personally as individuum, as a woman and as a Muslim, and this in my diversity on all levels.

Only those who see, recognize, endure, and live diversity can create a meaningful life and action in their own socio-cultural and political environment. Whoever sees himself/herself as an individuum being in relationship with the Thou who communicates, confronts one another, compares him/herself, exercises empathy and does not avoid conflicts, creates meaning, generates innovation, and shapes the revolution from an aesthetic, social and political point of view.

At this point, I would like to refer more to an art of revolution than to the art and revolution in the sense of Trotsky. However, I definitely want to stick to Trotsky’s definition of art as “an expression of the desire of the human being for a harmonious and fulfilled life”.

And this harmony has been completely lost due to the current state of the contemporary world in which we live and whose masks this Covid-19 virus is dropping.

The sense of utopia and acting for a utopia in the sense of the above-mentioned “pro” have also been lost. Martin Luther King’s motto “I have a dream” is the vision of the utopian notion of a dream tipping over into the hideous, bloody, and misanthropic reality that surrounds, encircles, and narrows us all. As Leon Trotsky wrote in a letter to the editor on the revolution in art in 1939:

“To find a solution to this impasse through art itself is impossible. It is a crisis which concerns all culture, beginning at its economic base and ending in the highest spheres of ideology. Art can neither escape the crisis nor partition itself off. Art cannot save itself. It will rot away inevitably – as Grecian art rotted beneath the ruins of a culture founded on slavery – unless present-day society is able to rebuild itself. This task is essentially revolutionary in character. For these reasons the function of art in our epoch is determined by its relation to the revolution.”

We will not get out of the Covid-19 trap either through an artistic upheaval or a revolution limited to art that saves art from being suffocated in passivity, but only through an aesthetic revolution that reveals itself at a visual level and in which social as well as political life as a whole come true.

There are two essentially significant verses in the Quran that I would like to bring into this discourse of the “pro” mosaic in the broadest sense. On the one hand there is verse 30 of the Sura “The Cow” which I would like to call the pessimistic angelic verse and in which it says:

“And (remember) when your Lord said to the angels, “I am about to place My Caliph in the earth”; they said, “Will You place (as a caliph) one who will spread turmoil in it and shed blood? Whereas we glorify You with praise and proclaim Your Sanctity”; He said, “I know what you do not.”

Allah therefore leaves open to the angels why he gives the human beings the freedom to opt for the evil and to shed blood in the world without learning anything from the past full of wars but the suicidal pseudo-doctrine of the continuation of armament and militarization through more technology and nuclear power.

However, at the same time Allah speaks of the diversity of cultures and civilizations as something positive and wanted by Him. In Quran 5: 48-49 it says:

“We have revealed to you ˹O Prophet˺ this Book with the truth, as a confirmation of previous Scriptures and a supreme authority on them. So judge between them by what Allah has revealed, and do not follow their desires over the truth that has come to you. To each of you We have ordained a code of law and a way of life. If Allah had willed, He would have made you one community, but His Will is to test you with what He has given ˹each of˺ you. So compete with one another in doing good. To Allah you will all return, then He will inform you ˹of the truth˺ regarding your differences.

And judge between them ˹O Prophet˺ by what Allah has revealed, and do not follow their desires. And beware, so they do not lure you away from some of what Allah has revealed to you. If they turn away ˹from Allah’s judgment˺, then know that it is Allah’s Will to repay them for some of their sins, and that many people are indeed rebellious.”

The human being has the task of practicing tolerance in this mosaic-shaped world, which should not be transformed into a brown soup since diversity is the “normal status” of human existence. The alignment and forced assimilation of people are exactly the opposite of what is really human. The human dimension stands for radical diversity, innovative difference, healthy distance, constructive debate, well-thought-out tolerance and also for retreat in case people reach the limits of their tolerance.

For ProMosaik, the focus on the equality of all people is essential. Regardless of skin colour, religion, culture, social origin, sexual orientation and state of health, every person has one and the same dignity he/she confirms by acting humanly, by respecting others and by complying with the principle following the golden rule of Hillel saying:

“What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”

Thus, in a world of diversity there is distance, the awareness of the limits of one’s own tolerance, the practice of empathy, the insufficient understanding of the Thou, but never open discrimination, ideological racism and right-wing extremist and ethnocentric superiority thinking degenerating into the blind violence and elimination of political opponents.

For this reason, ProMosaik stands for the conscious emphasis on diversity on all levels. Our goal is to practice intercultural relationships on a daily basis in order to promote global interculturalism based on humanist cosmopolitanism.

We are young, we are old, we are black, we are white, we are rich, and we are poor, we have a disability, we are healthy: we are the wonderful affirmation of diversity and inclusion, the living embodiment of the encounter around to share the joy of learning from each other.

And this learning is the result of the social changes we have made throughout history. Of course, this fundamental existential attitude in the sense of the “pro” mosaic has fundamental socio-political consequences.

We join the fight against slavery. We oppose predatory capitalism. We stand up for the rights of people with disabilities and their inclusion. We support anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist movements. We believe in justice and in “tipping” justice into the reality of the here and now. We speak out against any fatalism and act dynamically and communicatively. We contradict any kind of discrimination and racism. We stand for women’s rights and decolonisation of feminism. And we believe that there are no refugees but just human beings.

We believe that children are the future and that an innovative, intercultural education pattern is therefore a must in order to promote a society in the sense of peace, respect for diversity and equal opportunities, and also implement it in a revolutionary and aesthetic way.