A stick with two short ends

Belgrade, March 17, 2019, a policeman with a gun

Belgrade, March 17, 2019, photo: Konstantin Novakovic

Serbia has come closer to a state of political crisis that can’t end well for freedom and democracy, which are getting further and further away from us and remain terra incognita for Serbia until further notice. It is becoming increasingly evident that the demand for elementary, basic freedoms that the government continues to deny our society, is bringing together almost all those who are not in power, but without any coherent platform that would go beyond such basic things as free elections, the right to objective information, and other things which belong to the bare minimum of a democratic civilization. Such an agreement of the entire opposition required the sacrifice of many progressive cornerstones of their platform, and one of the things that didn’t make the cut is parliamentary democracy itself. (Instead, we are offered some clerical, expert, “nonpolitical” and even anti-political governments, and a contempt for party organizations and actions, etc.). This type of democratic minimalism can prove to be dysfunctional on the first day of any future change of government, because the state and society are much, much more than that. Political life in Serbia is breathing its last breath. The accusations against those who do not want to get into the fight for freedom and democracy alongside right-wing extremists do not always have to be baseless, but this is primarily a daunting testimony of the contamination of political life here, which does not allow even an assumption of any political principle.

Only in that twisted world, whose sick reality would be too much even for Lewis Carroll’s Mad Hatter, would it be possible for the leaders of the extreme right to appear right about anything. An aggressive outsider has become one of the most prominent figures of Serbian opposition and the opposition’s fight for democratic principles of political action. While the rise of various right-wing movements in other European countries can be explained by the misuse of the weakened institutions of a wobbling system of liberal democracy, in Serbia, the rise of the most extreme right is, de facto, happening in the very name of democracy! And this is the most severe political crime of this regime against the idea of a modern and democratic Serbia, which will haunt us for years to come.

The fascist – as one of the opposition leaders is (oh, irony!) called by the ruling party – was created by the party itself. Primarily, by its actions during the 1990s, when they, as Radicals, successfully poisoned Serbian society with the very ideas which the opposition right wing has now adopted (and “sanctified”, in the case of Dveri, with nonsense from the arsenal of Serbian Orthodox political narrow-mindedness). And additionally, by its manner of ruling this caged country, which they have turned into a prison, ruled by an incarnation of the timeless Karadjoz, the infamous warden from Andric’s novel, devoid of civil or political virtue. In this situation, anyone who is not a part of the clan which runs the prison can more or less convincingly present themselves as a freedom fighter.

The spirit which is, more and more, possessing the radicalized part of the protest is the bastard child of Vucic’s past and present. It is the unwanted child of problem parents, and their conflict is only a manifestation of the pathology of the Serbian nationalist family. If the fate of Serbia is tied to the result of this conflict, then this country, people, and society are again heading for a historical and civilizational Nowhere at full speed, on a road that gets narrower and closer to the cliff’s edge every time we travel along it.

Translated by Marijana Simic

Peščanik.net, 25.03.2019.