I am super excited to publish this article - it was percolating a while back and now THIS has happened, making me as giddy as when Trump got elected two years ago...
( it also should really be called "Slovenian companies have been owned by foreigners FOR A WHILE NOW:WILL IT BE ABLE TO SAVE ITSELF?" )
I also got excited about seeing THIS a bit earlier in the weeks...
So the title of my article refers to the fact that through the years ensuing their independence from Yugoslavia, Slovenia's cultural and economic hallmarks have been slowly devoured by foreign entities ( the opportunity to do so being one of the main goals of Western powers encouraging them and manipulating ethnic squabbles to win their independence in the first place)
I grew up as the child of Slovenian immigrants in a region that still touts itself as being the place in America with the most Slovenian immigration, but that feels hollow and crusty now, as I doubt many are still around and they're not really coming here anymore in the first place...
I have memories of going to Slovenian places of business and my parents loading up on staples that pertain to this mythical part of the world (what? Because no one knows shit about it).
Corn meal for polenta, Slovenian sausages, soft cheeses, candies, chocolates, other dried goods, and the ultimate staple, Radenska mineral water
Culled from the mineral springs of Radenci, Slovenia, it is THE mineral water of Slovenia ( well, at least to me. I know there are other brands, but this one was and is the iconic water of Slovenia.)
Ironically when I lived in Slovenia, I didn't really drink it much. I drank the tap water, which you CAN actually drink worry-free ( not so in Cleveland, no matter how badly the city wants to convince you otherwise. Tap water here is disgusting, and reeks of chlorine; not so in Ljubljana. There isn't any fluoride either, but I know most people believe in their "need for that essential element" )
The three stars on the insignia refer to the three majority parts of the former Yugoslavia: the Slovenes, the Croats, and the Serbs. It is an iconically YUGOSLAV product, which a lot of the products and entities I will showcase here are. It is a fitting metaphor that while Yugoslavia has been physically destroyed, even its' cultural and culinary symbols have been compromised as well.
Radenska is still obviously sourced in Slovenia, but the company itself is no longer in Slovenian hands: it is owned by a Czech company
I continue to drink Radenska, because it is still possible to buy it in this area ( not telling you where, because I don't want you to take all of it), but another drink I think fondly of is Cockta
Slovenia's ( or rather, Yugoslavia's ) answer to Coca-Cola, its' taste is millions of miles better, and it has some health advantages. For one, it's a special formulation of herbs ( why the flavor is so unique), it doesn't contain phosphoric acid, high fructose corn syrup, or caffeine ( like the majority of soda pops do). And it comes in cute little glass bottles if you prefer to be gentle to the environment ( or you can be cruel and buy the big plastic liter bottles)
I am not a fan of sugary drinks, so Cockta, (which by the way, I recently located a new place to acquire it), is a dessert like treat; sugary drinks are always just desserts for me, and not used to quench thirst.
Anyway, Cockta, which is iconically Slovenian, and while still produced in Slovenia, is no longer under their ownership; Cockta was acquired by Droga Kolinska, which is a Slovenian company, but then that Slovenian company was purchased by a Croatian company, Atlanticgrupa, but does it really make it okay? Being owned by a Croatian company? Croatia? Who is always bullying Slovenia for more and more coastline?
An interlude glimmer of hope: a company that is not foreign-owned, and still holding its own with well-made and highly stylish footwear, is Alpina.
It's not as big as it used to be, and has foreign affiliates, but it's actually not owned by another country's corporations : amazing
This iconic hotel in downtown Ljubljana is the Hotel Slon ( "slon" means elephant in Slovenian).
Located across the street from the old post office ( Stara Posta) and at the head of Copova Ulica ( Copov Street ), I used to go with my folks for ledena kava ( iced coffee in Slovenian, and it's not cold brew; iced coffee in Slovenia is coffee with ice cream, but there are probably new gentrified cafes selling cold brew coffee in the American tradition )
It is no longer a Slovenian entity in Slovenia : it is owned by Best Western now
There are lots more stories like this one, and many other buildings and landmarks that are no longer in Slovenia's own grasp since its' "independence" ( isn't that ironic?)
The grocery store I remember from my extreme youth visiting Yugoslavia and later living in Slovenia is Mercator. Mercator was the major grocery store in Slovenia, and now not only is the property of a Croatian corporation Agrokor, but it has many competitors that have invaded Slovenia since the country's independence in 1991.
Lidl (from Austria) , Hofer ( which is Aldi's in America ), Interspar (Austrian) , LeClerque ( like French Target ), and Mueller (Austrian drugstore/record store). And speaking of stores in general, Slovenian companies have to contend now with stores like Harvey Norman (furniture store from Australia) and of course, your requisite and qorld-ubiquitous fashion stores like H&M, Mango ( Spain) and Zara ( Portugal) .
The world is just becoming a free-for-all for the most obnoxious big box stores, in pursuit of the realization of the most repulsive conformist capitalism
Observers complain that anywhere you go in America, you find the same McDonald's, the same gas stations, the same Targets and Walmarts. Europe is also acquiring a homogenous landscape, with all the same stores being available whether you live in Spain or Italy, and with a liberal spattering of American McDonald's.
But then you also see the conformist gentrification that occurs in response to the big-box conformity. I follow many Slovenian instagram accounts and they all sell products and style in the same manner as American indie companies and Instagram influencers. Gentrification seems to look the same in any country, and it's not a push for economic and cultural independence, it's a push to be JUST LIKE everyone else who is brewing local beer and making local soap and all the requisite products and services in a gentrification-driven economic and cultural movement.
But the thing that really frightened me when I was learning that entity after entity was being taken over by foreigners, was the thought that Slovenia itself would no longer exist, because how could it justify itself? Slovenians don't own hardly anything in their own country!!??!?!
And some of their land has already been taken by other countries ( parts of Slovenia, with Slovenian-speaking populations, exist in Italy, Austria, Croatia, and Hungary)
It is the vision of progress though. Once the world has been consolidated into a few mega states ruled by a few corporations, that is when aliens will of course land, and there will no longer be nationalities, we will all just be considered "human" as opposed to "the alien" that will have landed to explore our world ( if they would even bother)
But they will bother, because that's just how it works, and they will be bored. But the point IS, the era of Star Trek diplomacy will begin.
AT ANY RATE, I hate technology and I don't want to go to space, and I want nature to remain in power on Earth and I have strong feelings for the ethnic group ( actually, Yugoslavia as a whole) that my parents come from. I probably care about it more than most actual Slovenians ( because, obviously, I am not an authentic Slovenian ), and this is typical with people who are insecure as to their identity, and who tend to be more zealous to compensate for their lack of authenticity.
Irena Markarovic is not her real name in America. It's "Irene", and she married a guy with an Anglo-Saxon last name, so her full name is now Irene Smith; total cultural obliteration.