Countless words you hear from the SPP may seem stupid, aggressive, vassal, repetitive and insulting to common sense. You feel like you’re being soft-soaped by a well-trained team of big- and small-time liars. They barely leave a small hole here and there through which the truth can come out. It is as if they’ve got a textbook they learn from. These nerds have prepared answers to any objection you might have, even the things you can see with you own eyes. If you say that the SPP doesn’t fight the tycoons, except for one, they say that only dishonest people and crooks deny Vucic’s magnificent fight against corruption. Even the EU admitted as much and you have objections. When you dispel this annoying racket, you remember the old saying: One does the scathe, and another gets the scorn. They shout “tycoons, tycoons” and it’s obvious that they are showered with money in this campaign. After all that fight against the tycoons and investigation of those 24 suspicious privatizations, it turned out that they didn’t find a single tycoon or state official. Tycoons, tycoons, so how come they didn’t burden them with extra tax to fill the budget, but instead taxed the educated people: doctors, professors, engineers and all of the other “fat cats” with salaries over RSD 60,000. Burden the educated, they are not our voters, so we’ll rip them off. And if you say – the SPP destroys banks for their mates too, and they run the entire banking system into bankruptcy, you get a powerful answer: full steam ahead into reforms, just like with the fight against corruption and crime. The circle closes, it’s no use trying to break it. If you say that the SPP destroys private sector too, like with the company BusPlus, the answer is super “reformative”: they will return it to the city’s ownership. And even that is not really true, because it is not a task of technical government to do that, it must be that one of their guys wants the company. If you say that the SPP employs party-family-friends brigades in public administration, public utility companies and institutions, they readily reply: how dare you ask that. You plundered and destroyed Serbia so those who vote for you are actually voting for Miskovic. You don’t have the right to exist, let alone say something.
That answer is the essence of the SPP story. What is that silencing based on? On the moral basis and intentions of that party to wave the banner of morality. They speak of themselves as perfect people – almost super-human, just and immaculate, almost saints. Everyone’s past is dirty and theirs is clean. Serbia and its citizens are the only things on their minds, they don’t care about positions, they don’t want anything for themselves, they are modest and hard-working. They keep telling us that we won’t find a single speck on their record, they are role-models, because they never stole anything. Morality is their brand. Out of that moral purity they took over all the institutions to exploit them and to command them. All others are thieves, careerists, lazybones and unprincipled sinners who say one thing today and another tomorrow. There are even those purely evil who, shame on them, don’t love Vucic as Vucic. And why? Out of pure spite and narrow-minded mentality which has to change. Instead of realizing that now it is Vucic’s turn to make himself comfortable in power as is his right, being all strong and grown out of the fight against corruption and furious reforms, those “others”, those criticizers and immoral people dared to speak freely, and even to walk freely.
All right, let’s leave aside all that honesty and fake fight against the tycoons. However, Vucic wants more, he wants to be a moral star according to the criteria of morality itself. The specificity of the moral domain includes human relations, human conscience, when you treat another as a goal, without relativization, i.e. as the supreme moral value. How will he achieve that and what does he do to win the title of moral saint? By investigating “state murders”. So, he seems to be the only one who remembered to investigate the murder of Slavko Curuvija. The investigation was so successful that, for a moment, it looked like everything was solved: murderers were identified, the indictment was written, some of them were already arrested. It turns out that there was no indictment, because the investigation is yet to start, but it will be filed before March. Criminals sentenced to many years in prison, protected witnesses, high UDBA officials who made their names in wars were questioned, and there are also respectable fellow journalists who diligently work in the Commission for Curuvija, with the moral sponsor – Vucic himself. Few people questioned how come the only living witness who identified Curuvija’s murderer, Curuvija’s wife Branka Prpa, wasn’t even mentioned, let alone called to testify. She already identified the murderer in the investigation carried out by Djindjic’s government and his name is known. Now it is no longer the murderer she saw and identified, but somebody else, someone Seselj identified. It is all a big parade, but it looks like the time has come when the easiest thing to do is to become a moral role-model. The same goes for the investigation of the political background of Zoran Djindjic’s assassination. Again we have the Commission of some people, including the BIA and the public prosecutor, meeting in Vucic’s office. Sofija Mandic wrote an excellent article on that moral idyll and its legality. Moral contagion is once again spreading: what do you want, this is better than doing nothing at all. And the election campaign is ongoing. Morality has taken such a hold that politicians are being called upon for not urging investigations of political background of assassination, like it’s a subject for mudslinging and cheering. As the moral wave rose to high heaven, it reached the living women, whom they only remember before the elections. Too bad there’s no women’s party, so we have somebody to vote for with our minds at ease.
Morally inspired, they ask why I support the Democratic Party, like it’s morally forbidden. The motive is very simple and adjusted to situation: voting for the DP means defending democracy in the broadest sense and a way, maybe uncertain, to stop Aleksandar Vucic, who I didn’t vote for, who set out to finish off the dying Serbia by lying and accumulating personal power. He especially pounced on that party with civil background, because it’s clear that he can’t stand such opposition and such criticism. Out of those of that kind, he will tolerate only the parties that decided to join the National front after the elections and accept his dominance. However, the problem is much deeper than the survival of one party and democracy in Serbia. Attacking the DP means not only attacking a party, but also its voters. Actually, even more than that – the middle class, educated, urban and enlightened people, those who even see Serbian nation in that light. How is it manifested and how is Vucic doing it?
In two different ways. One is social and another is cultural, or maybe I should say identity- related. It is obvious that the SPP’s exaggerations that offend reason, like “I live to help Serbia”, “they constantly attack us”, “they have all joined forces against Vucic”, “we choose between Vucic and Miskovic” are not directed at those who favor the rational over the emotional. Those are slogans for people who are drawn to Vucic, i.e. all those who respond to vindictive emotions: we overthrew the rich who stole the people’s money (“Djilas, give back the people’s money”); October 5th is annulled and the thugs from DOS are gone and our people have come into power – protectors of the poor, of the nation and faith. Although such people vote for the SPP and their emotions must be well fed, there are not enough of them to completely defeat civil Serbia. And that is the goal. What did Vucic think of? To seduce civil Serbia. Whose concept is the “modernization” he is so committed to? It is the concept of civil Serbia promoted by the prime minister Zoran Djindjic. Vucic started to flirt with enlightened Serbia but, having seen that this door is closed and they can’t be fooled, he thought of getting the votes of civil Serbia indirectly, by splitting the Democratic party. A parallel, new democratic party was created, which will be under his protectorate. The media show how important it is to him that Boris Tadic’s party gets more votes than the Democratic party, which turned out be stubborn and didn’t surrender. No mischief regarding that would surprise me. So I admit that I want the DP to get more votes, I would consider that a success of civil Serbia, a proof that it is mature enough to recognize the plot. Jovanovic and his LDP have already crossed over to Vucic’s camp, fighting savagely with Tadic for Vucic’s first pick.
Another attack against civil Serbia was made against its identity values, and it could have long-term consequences because it affects more than just one segment of society. It was carried out through the back door by signing the protocol between the technical city administration (represented by Zorana Mihajlovic and Sinisa Mali) and the Serbian Orthodox Church represented by Patriarch Irinej. A deal was made to transfer the urn with Nikola Tesla’s ashes from the museum named after him to Sveti Sava Temple, under the church’s wing. Suddenly and unexpectedly the civil Serbia awoke so much that it decided to protest on March 8th in front of the Nikola Tesla Museum against placing that the remains of the great scientist in the Temple. Ivan Medenica diagnosed this properly in Pescanik when he said that this is about confirming the anti-modern definition of the Serbian nation once again by reducing its identity to religious affiliation, i.e. orthodoxy. You can’t be a Serb only by citizenship (citizen’s status), not even by some non-religious national trait, nor if you’re an atheist or belong to some other religion, nor if you belong to LGBT population. That exclusive orthodox identity of Serbian nation should have been confirmed by transferring Tesla into the property of Serbian Orthodox Church. The fight to discard religious identity of Serbian nation is long and far-reaching. It is a fight for modern and civil Serbia. The government has yielded, the transfer was postponed till after the elections, which means that only one argument was accepted: not to move the urn during the election campaign. This is why I say that “Defending Tesla” must be continued, because its results could be far-reaching. The fact that our nation is based on religion is a built-in national mistake that causes such poor integrative capacity of Serbia, slow modernization, its remoteness from European values and modern nations and its continual national defeats that leave us an underdeveloped society of the poor. Ivan Medenica might have missed the connection between this government and the transfer of Tesla’s urn, which manifests itself not only in the fact that the government wanted to use Tesla for the campaign, but also in the fact that there is no grand-Serbian identity without the orthodox identity of the Serbian nation, no Grand Serbia, our whole world would turn upside down. This is why the issue mustn’t be left to chance, because we see the connection, because we know that the current government was an extreme flag-bearer of the Grand Serbia. If this action continues, and it should, we must go all the way and say that we will no longer be a religious nation, which is just a different name for backwardness. It is the most important thing that would change our worldview, as well as our perspectives.
And in conclusion: if the Democratic party wants to turn itself into an important and modern party, it should leave behind all the national junk it has been dragging, it should realize what should be its new inspiration and fight for a European Serbia. The “Tesla case” has proven this and it is an issue of national identity. It should find its way across that field, search what Serbia has been missing for centuries and find a starting framework for its new politics by removing this medieval implant.
Translated by Marijana Simic
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).