column will return next week.
to the Right?
Balkans Trend That Isn't
by Nebojsa Malic
over the strong showing of the Radicals in Serbia's failed
presidential election has just subsided in the West, when
news came of Croatia's electoral results. Three years after
imploding upon the death of its leader, the Croatian Democratic
Union (HDZ) regained power
with a slim but respectable parliamentary majority. Reports
from Croatia, while nowhere near as impassionate as those
from Serbia, nonetheless sounded a note of alarm that the
center-left government has been replaced by nationalists.
HDZ's victory was even described as the "latest sign of a
broad shift to the right in the war-torn Balkans" (AFP).
are indeed trying a government with a different flavor, but
today's HDZ is hardly the fearsome, chauvinist, Holocaust-denying
movement of yesteryear. Its new leader, Ivo Sanader, even
pledged to respect
Serb property rights, in a bid to appear tolerant and
acceptable to the European thought police.
while HDZ and many other ascendant parties in the region can
be described as "socially conservative" bordering on outright
repression, the real conservatism – in terms of championing
a limited, rational government – is virtually nonexistent
in the Balkans.
while anticipating its success in the Sunday vote, Imperial
questions about HDZ's alleged break with demons of its
past. With the outgoing regime resisting demands to arrest
and extradite to the Hague Inquisition one of its generals
accused of war crimes, it is thought the HDZ would abjectly
refuse to do so. Putting Ante Gotovina on trial has been a
key part of the Inquisition's strategy to
appear impartial, while also giving leverage to Europe and
the Empire to pressure Croatia into doing their bidding.
it remains to be seen what the new government does about Gotovina,
there isn't much likelihood of repeating history, and for
three good reasons. One, Franjo Tudjman is dead;
love him or hate him, it's hard to deny he was a strong influence
on modern Croatia. Two, the Serbs are gone;
from almost 600,000 before the war (13%), only some 200,000
(4.5%) remain. Three, the war is over; while fighting raged
in Bosnia, Zagreb enjoyed US support (e.g. Robert Frasure's
"junkyard dogs" comment).
Once it ended, and Croatia served its purpose, the Empire
has been aloof at best.
the best indicator of how the times have changed is Tuesday's
of the HDZ by the leading ethnic Serb party in Croatia.
It really does appear that the Party of Tudjman has become
practically neutered (Transitions
Online), pretending to decency and respectability while
lining up for its turn at the public trough.
three years of safely sniping at the government, the HDZ has
now regained the poisoned chalice of power. It faces the same
problem now as any other government in the Balkans: having
enormous power over all aspects of life, it is expected to
have the corresponding responsibility for them. But while
a government can take away life and property, it cannot create
any; while it can throttle the economy with taxes and
regulations, it cannot boost it without their abolition –
and that is very unlikely. Taxation in the Balkans seems to
be governed by the Ferengi Rules of
Acquisition: Once they have your money, they never give
big challenge for HDZ, and Croatia's specific problem, is
dealing with the so-called Homeland War. Often mistakenly
described as a war for independence from Yugoslavia, it was
in fact a conflict over Serb-inhabited areas that tried to
secede upon Croatia's declaration of independence. The attempt
failed, and the Serb population was largely driven out. Tudjman
and HDZ succeeded where even Ante Pavelic's
Ustashe could not. So why are Croatians acting
as if they had lost? Every border dispute
and every accusation of war crimes are met with outbursts
of mass hysteria.
is, Croatia is independent for the first time since the XI
century; it is bigger than it ever was, except as a Nazi ally
during World War Two; and the Serbs are gone for good – except
to reclaim their property and sell it off to start anew somewhere
else (though Zagreb does its best to thwart
even that). The war is over. Now comes the hard part: lives
and property need to be protected, roads built, people allowed
to work and keep what they've earned. That's what a government
is supposed to do. All that matters is whether HDZ can do
it, or if it will choose to live in its glorious past instead.
Even the laurels of victory eventually wither and rot.
issue altogether is that commonly used political labels have
become devoid of meaning. Few can say what it means to be
"left", "right", or even "center" – and in relation to what
specifically. Socialists call themselves the Left and
consider it to mean being "progressive," humane, positive
and caring – yet their philosophy of property and individual
liberty ensures it won't be. Ideologies involving racist,
xenophobic or chauvinist views are somehow seen as Right,
even though by their economic views they properly belong among
the socialists. Nationalism in the Balkans has an especially
bad rep – entirely deservingly – but in the US it is falsely
branded "patriotism" and celebrated as such.
most cases, the distinctions are meaningless. Everyone believes
now. Both the "left" and the "right" seek to attain the power
of government and use it indiscriminately to achieve their
social and cultural goals. It is in those that they differ
to some extent, as some ape Western "values" of multi-cultist
moral relativism of mandatory "tolerance" and coercive "diversity,"
while others impose by force their religious or ideological
morality. But they both seek to impose their beliefs
on the rest through government force, a violation that surely
cancels out whatever nobility those beliefs may hold. Balkans
political morality is a twist on utilitarianism: greatest
good for the greatest power, and the extreme case of
"What's in it for me?"
it all is the misguided conviction that government can – and
should – find solutions to everyday problems. It cannot, and
therefore should not even try. Yet few share this perspective,
and even fewer dare utter it in public.
eventually comes down to the issue of obedience to the Empire.
Whoever is compliant with orders from Washington, Brussels
and The Hague is deemed a "moderate" or a "reformer," worthy
of support and praise (at least while they continue to obey).
Anyone who dares voice opposition is smeared as a "hard-line
ultra-nationalist," whatever that means.
real "conservative" party would champion national sovereignty,
not fealty to a super-government. Yet almost all current and
aspiring Balkans leaders eagerly promise their people the
glorious day of joining the European Union. While the Hague
Inquisition hangs over people's heads like the proverbial sword, joining
the EU is the sweet Siren
song, promising economic and social bliss at the expense
of liberty, property and tradition.
a price is too high to be paid voluntarily, but it seems easy
to relinquish something one's never had. Of course, the real
problem is that without liberty and property there can be
no economic prosperity (Communism has demonstrated this most
graphically), while there can be no social bliss without society,
without tradition. Much like the Empire, Europe promises things
to destroy, willingly or not.
do the victories of the HDZ, the Serbian Radicals, or the
nationalists in Bosnia really portend? Not much, in all honesty,
beyond the continued belief of voters in the power and ability
of government to help them climb out of the deepening abyss.
Governments' continual failure to do so is reflected in the
constant shift in voter allegiance, to the point where re-election
is an exception rather than a rule. It is painfully obvious
that the status quo isn't working for most people.
Things need to get better, and soon. Now is as good a time
as ever for new ideas and fresh perspectives.
the Balkans really should "return" to the Right, and try limited
government, rule of law, liberty and property for a change.
There's hardly anywhere to go but up.
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