There are attempts to form the establishment out of chaos. For instance, if an economic expert supports what the government and Boris Tadic are doing, he will be noticed. Some nonpartisan figures appeared who belong to the parties and this phenomenon is on the rise. I noticed that it is even better to be a nonpartisan figure, and to be involved with the party, than to be a party member. Better positions are available to nonpartisan party members than to actual party members. These are the people who always praise things – yes, the budget is good, restrictive, just as we expected. They opportunistically secure chaos. It is opportunistic because, betraying their principles, those people want to gain some sort of advantage. That system is actually made by the authorities giving out calls left and right: “We don’t ask much of you, but if you show you support us, you will get something in return”.

My diagnosis was that, since May 11, when we got a pro-European government, something new happened. There had been a lot of criticism before that – why the insistence on the red demarcation line between the pro-European and anti-European camps, the so-called First and the Other Serbia. Many were against this division. I think Boris Tadic was the most vocal opponent of this demarcation line. He had shown this trait a long time ago – that he dislikes conflicts in societies and that he tries to resolve them. This does not mean that he is planning to abolish the multiparty system, but he did try to erase that line. I do not think that is good, because the division into the First and the Other Serbia, the pro-European and anti-European camps is not imaginary. The demarcation line between them is real. However, now it is blurred.

On May 11, we thought that the pro-European side had prevailed.  In fact, this division was only hidden from view. It did not really disappear.

When this demarcation line is removed, the issue of values begins to be relativized, because it is in fact a conflict of values. Tadic did that in two ways, through foreign policy, i.e. Kosovo, and through domestic policy, i.e. the reconciliation with Milosevic’s Socialists.

The first method is through foreign policy, through this toxic Kosovo bubble. What you have there is in fact a big nothing, a void you are beginning to build onto. Just like the global financial crisis began by building onto subprime mortgages, here we made a Kosovo bubble, a pyramid around something non-existent, something we do not have. So, the absurdity is growing, a huge amount of power is being directed to a place where we do not have any power at all. And where you have power, you are practically paralyzed. This paralysis is best seen through the paralysis of the Assembly’s procedure. It is the product of our attitude toward Kosovo. This is the cause of a big confusion of values.

Jeremic says there are three priorities of the Serbian foreign policy: the first one is Kosovo, the second the European Union, and the third regional cooperation. The second and third priorities are stymied by Kosovo, because when someone says he chooses both independent Kosovo and the EU, he chooses nothing. In addition, we are punishing the neighboring countries which have recognized Kosovo. We had occupied one third of Croatian territory and today in Parliament we have an exiled prime minister of Republic of Srpska, Milorad Buha, and yet we are angry at the Croats, who are closer to EU membership than any of us in the Balkans, for recognizing the independence of Kosovo.

When the initiative was launched to deplore Iran for violating human rights, because they cut off the arms and legs of minors, they execute them, they stone people, etc, Jeremic voted against it. I asked him what was the reason for this decision and he answered me directly in the Assembly: because of Kosovo. When asked about the Russian agreement, which is economically completely unsustainable for us, again he said, because of Kosovo. Therefore, the real question is: Europe or Kosovo. They do not go together because there are two conflicting value systems.

Another channel through which Tadic realized this relativization of values is the domestic policy. In this case, the drastic relativization of the line which separates the pro-European from the anti-European path was made through the coalition with the SPS. I do not mean the technical coalition, I mean the declaration of reconciliation. This declaration was meant to destroy the division between anti-Europeans and pro-Europeans, to abolish the red demarcation line which was such a nuisance to them all. That means that we no longer have any reasons to adjust our relationship with the past, we have no reason to question the nineties.

This attitude was reinforced by the division in the Radical Party. Toma Nikolic and some members of the Radical Party had realized that they should append that Europe to their program for the sake of power. So at the founding of his new party he said: we will be respectable members of the EU and best friends of the Russian Federation. So this polyvalence of approaches was made possible for all. But if you swing just a bit too far to the European side, they will immediately attack you, and if you overdo it with Kosovo, again you get into a conflict. Now, since our values are that we can do it both ways, everything is possible and allowed in this value system, no standards of behavior or normative order can be set.

There is an illusion in Serbia that a modern society is governed by interests alone. No, no society can be based exclusively on interests. I need to have a normative system of values. Even the worst spoiled child is functioning in some sort of a coordinate system. I choose my interests, but within the framework of a coordinate system. Steven Lukes – you published this article on your website – describes this dangerous condition of anomie in a society, in which both individuals and social groups have lost the standards of behavior. They no longer know what is good, what is bad, what is legitimate and what is not. For instance, you read a piece of information that some manager in the GSP bought his assistant a luxury car for 2.5 million dinars. He says, I could have bought him an even more expensive model. So the public tells him that what he did was not legitimate, and he asks – and where’s the law that prohibits it?

Each day we get new evidence that people don’t know how to behave. Everything is unconstrained and the question is raised what to do in this lack of constraint? It is like raising kids without parents, without any values or norms. What are the consequences – these children cannot be socialized. This is how we became an asocial society. Steven Lukes talks about anomie, for “nomos” means law, therefore, anomie literally means lawlessness. And in a fine enhanced figure of speech he calls it moral misery. A party state of the kind we have is actually nothing more than a system of unconstrained interests. It’s an unconstricted mass. It doesn’t have strength to put straight those unconstrained children who are doing whatever they want.

The government of the Democratic Party headed by Boris Tadic is turning out to be extremely politically impotent. If we take the five goals this government had set, we can see that they didn’t manage to realize any of them. Just imagine if you failed to realize every goal you ever set for yourself in your personal life. This is how Durkheim explains suicide: if everything is zero what else can you do but shoot yourself in the face. Kosovo is zero in itself, the EU is also zero. So everything is delayed for 2009, 2010, for who knows when. And then they tell us that Europe maybe doesn’t want us, maybe we don’t want them, maybe we will have a policy of a European carpet with a hole shaped like Serbia, that is what Toma Nikolic is talking about. The European integrations are continuing and we are supposed to be that everlasting hole.

Have you heard Bajatovic’s idea? He said that the Russian pipeline is our crucial national interest, because we need to get our hands on this pipe that runs through Serbia, and we will direct one tentacle to the Republic of Srpska, and then we will consider what will go to Kosovo and Montenegro, because those are not our national interests. So, one of the Socialists who, with Milosevic’s military means, used to construct a great Serbia, is now enamored by the idea of getting his hands on the Russian pipe and realizing the great Serbian with it. They envision themselves turning the gas on and off, and becoming the biggest stars on the Balkans. And maybe they will mess a little with Austria too, maybe they will turn off their gas too.

That is why I think that this pipeline has a reflexive destructive meaning. What they are actually saying is, we renounced the military means, but we will accomplish our goals by pipe diplomacy.  This is what Jeremic is telling us. We are doing everything peacefully and diplomatically, but we are also preparing these pipes that cannot shoot, but perhaps can be turned off.

The situation in Serbian society has become inefficient, hung-over, anomic and pathological. And what is worse, now it is even backed up from abroad – what do you want, haven’t we helped you, now you also have a well-behaved Toma Nikolic, there is no danger of the Radicals any more. Naturally, an exit from this situation is a road toward the EU. But when we throw into that boiling pot the support to Iran, and our attitude toward Kosovo and Russia, that path is no longer certain. So we lost the certainty of getting out of the crisis by walking toward the EU. The current administration is not opening up to the LDP but to Toma Nikolic, and they also clashed with Dinkic. This government is saluted as pro-European, but this bubble will still have to burst, because it is politically impotent. This non-functionality is unsustainable, a system cannot be that close to the edge of complete chaos. This kind of obliteration of values and norms leads to breakdown.

The relativization of values which we have discussed in relation to Kosovo and national reconciliation has not taken into account the global recession. That is why it became dramatic, because by this global relativization, our capability to adapt to the outer world is lowered.  We are facing an economic collapse totally unprepared, and this can lead to aggression, just like in Greece. When society gets completely disintegrated, only pure anger remains. We ate the revolution of 2000, and we all know it failed. We are really left with the either the possibility of aggression or further retreat. We awfully easily get demoralized. I am constantly wandering around the Assembly, ambushing people from the Democratic Party in the elevator, asking them if they intended to start acting as a majority. Take this power and govern, darn it, the best you can, since you’ve been elected. Take the power and govern. We would feel better if they were to take power into their own hands. So, come on then, fight for that Kosovo, let’s see how that goes. They kicked Kostunica out because he was obsessive and because Kosovo was not a bubble to him. And for these guys, everything is a bubble.

Translated by Ivica Pavlovic

Pescanik, Radio B92, 19.12.2008.

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Vesna Pešić

Vesna Pešić, političarka, borkinja za ljudska prava i antiratna aktivistkinja, sociološkinja. Diplomirala na Filozofskom fakultetu u Beogradu, doktorirala na Pravnom, radila u Institutu za društvene nauke i Institutu za filozofiju i društvenu teoriju, bila profesorka sociologije. Od 70-ih pripada peticionaškom pokretu, 1982. bila zatvarana sa grupom disidenata. 1985. osnivačica Jugoslovenskog helsinškog komiteta. 1989. članica Udruženja za jugoslovensku demokratsku inicijativu. 1991. članica Evropskog pokreta u Jugoslaviji. 1991. osniva Centar za antiratnu akciju, prvu mirovnu organizaciju u Srbiji. 1992-1999. osnivačica i predsednica Građanskog saveza Srbije (GSS), nastalog ujedinjenjem Republikanskog kluba i Reformske stranke, sukcesora Saveza reformskih snaga Jugoslavije Ante Markovića. 1993-1997. jedna od vođa Koalicije Zajedno (sa Zoranom Đinđićem i Vukom Draškovićem). 2001-2005. ambasadorka SR Jugoslavije, pa SCG u Meksiku. Posle gašenja GSS 2007, njegovim prelaskom u Liberalno-demokratsku partiju (LDP), do 2011. predsednica Političkog saveta LDP-a, kada napušta ovu partiju. Narodna poslanica (1993-1997, 2007-2012).

Vesna Pešić

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