User's photos, Neda Radulović-Viswanatha

User’s photos, Neda Radulović-Viswanatha

„The difference between a capitalist multimillionaire in France or Sweden and Ivica Todoric in Croatia is the fact that the Frenchman or the Swede – however powerful they may be – have to obey French or Swedish laws, while in Croatia the laws have to obey Ivica Todoric. This inversion is the basic precondition for the development of the gods of transition who walk among us.”

The author of this article wrote the previous paragraph almost ten years ago predicting today’s passing of the so-called Lex Agrokor, the law which, unlike the previous ones, doesn’t even bother with mimicry and packaging, but whose only purpose is to “obey Ivica Todoric” in all aspects of his demise.

The reason then was somewhat different – the article in question was about one of the most colorful examples of usurpation of public good. According to the location license and General Urban Plan (GUP) of the City of Zagreb which were valid back then, Kulmer castle on Sljemen, occupied by the Todoric family, was meant to be a hotel with 40 rooms, i.e. “an object of public purpose in the protected green zone”, but, after purchasing it, the family of the Agrokor owner had been using it as a private residence for years.

Furthermore, the procedure to change the GUP was initiated back then in order to change the purpose and enable the owners to formally use the castle for private purposes. The new GUP envisaged the redesign of the whole “protected green zone” and increase of residential capacities. Creative city officials even stated that “complex residential objects” may be built on “parcels bigger than 15,000 square meters”. It was clear that the whole administrative procedure regarding “new management” of the public good was initiated to satisfy private interests of Ivica Todoric: his parcel was exactly 15,100 square meters.

The prize bull  of Croatian capitalist elite used the same method to create all of his feudal haunts: the surroundings of his mansion near Lovran, where he got a concession over the public beach only to put up a fence and turn it into a private beach several kilometers in length; the woods on Mljet and on the slopes of Biokovo, where he got a concession over hunting grounds, only to use it to hunt wild hogs with his business partners; and that island in middle Dalmacija, also under concession, also private, off of which fishermen and Feral reporters were chased…

However, there is something even more important in this farcical relation between public and private: just like he owned a private castle formally equipped with public (hotel) purpose, Ivica Todoric also owned private machinery equipped with public attributes. He had at his disposal private mayors, private prime ministers, private ministers of interior and other items from the butler collection, carrying white gloves, silver platters, and important state jurisdictions. In the final round, he even appointed his private minister of finance, bred in the accounting section of his company, trained so good that none of his personal features, including the haircut, stands out from corporate logo design.

And here’s the miserly drafted basis for the creation of Lex Agrokor, the law whose only purpose is to “obey Ivica Todoric”. You could say that this law, at least in its first iteration, concludes the circle of evolution of Croatian capitalism: from private usurpation of public good to public overtake of private breakdown.

Naturally, the mogul immediately submitted to its healing powers. Why would Ivica Todoric disobey the law that obeys Ivica Todoric? After activating it one day after its adoption in the parliament, he gave us these wise words which will serve as a reminder of Croatia’s withered statehood long after Croatia is gone:

“I’ve invested 40 years of myself into building the whole Croatia and the region and, therefore, I am a proud man because today I’ve given everything I’ve built to the state of Croatia.”

Once again, with all grammatical errors, written in festive cursive:

“I’ve invested 40 years of myself into building the whole Croatia and the region and, therefore, I am a proud man because today I’ve given everything I’ve built to the state of Croatia.”

And so, the Croatian capitalist fairytale ends in a cheap nationalist narrative, the same one it started with. We can choose any one of the hundreds of images of the early nineties as its symbolic beginning. One of them may be that organized coming of workers of Split shipyard, led by furious union leaders, to the JNA city command, where an unidentified individual, yearning to kickstart the war, had shot the soldier Sasko Gesovski. After they came back to the shipyard with their dreams of statehood now realized, several thousands of them got laid off without any severance pay, the yard was reduced to dust and the remaining handful of workers now have their destiny decided by a screw manufacturer.

What Ivica Todoric “gave to the state of Croatia” the other day is a debt of almost 50 billion kunas, which will be paid back patiently to Russian and other bankers by a solitary community called “the Croatian people”. While he was building his business empire, i.e. leading “the building of the whole Croatia”, the owner of Agrokor didn’t give the state of Croatia (or, God forbid, its citizens) his annual profit: as we’ve learned, it ended up in the basements of Kulmer castle, which, according to the GUP of the Republic of Croatia, reach all the way to Cayman, and similar islands.

And that is the only important truth about the state of Croatia, a creation which enables a failed magnate to feel like a “proud man” while watching everything except his Sljeme habitats and associated basement goods collapse, because all the protective mechanisms for his breed are built into its foundations, and because, from the very beginning – following the model of “mythology for you – resources for us” – big capitalist aspirations and great nationalist narrative have been marching in the same nation-building machine. While a famous curve-lipped figure was shouting “We’ve got Croatia” from a balcony in Agram center, “We’ve got exploitation” echoed on the ground, but hardly anyone was ready to hear it.

Under the pressure of my innate modesty, I can’t resist quoting the same author from the beginning of this article: “Socialism was heroically destroyed and Croatia emerged from the rivers of blood, only and exclusively in order to enable Todoric to live in a forty-room castle and to turn the former self-managers, who were easily persuaded that they’ve been dreaming about an independent capitalist state from the seventh century, into feudal servants.”

And, in this sense, Lex Agrokor truly is Lex Croatia. To think, however, that Croatia will fail together with Agrokor, is completely wrong: Croatia, as an independent and sovereign state of free people, failed over a quarter of a century ago, right at the moment of its founding – at the moment when the government planted the capitalist greed of the coming oligarchy as a national dream only to have the people, including the socialist proletariat, happily accept it.

Translated by Marijana Simic

Peščanik.net, 20.04.2017.

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Viktor Ivančić
Rođen je u Sarajevu 1960. Osnovnu i srednju školu završio je u Splitu, a u novinarstvo ulazi kao student elektrotehnike. Za studentski list FESB, na čijim se stranama vide zameci potonjeg “Ferala”, Ivančić 1984. dobija nagradu Sedam sekretara SKOJ-a. Urednik je i jedan od osnivača nedeljnika “Feral Tribune”. U biblioteci “Feral Tribune” objavio je “Bilježnicu Robija K.” (četiri izdanja: 1994, 1996, 1997. i 2001), i studiju “Točka na U” (dva izdanja: 1998, 2000). Izabrane novinske tekstove objavio je 2003. u dve knjige, i to oglede o tuđmanizmu pod naslovom “Lomača za protuhrvatski blud”, a oglede o posttuđmanizmu pod naslovom “Šamaranje vjetra”. Prvi roman “Vita activa” objavio je 2005. Od 2005. “Fabrika knjiga” objavila je sledeće Ivančićeve knjige: “Robi K.” (2006), u dva toma; a onda i “Robi K. Treći juriš!” (2011); zbirke ogleda “Animal Croatica” (2007), “Zašto ne pišem i drugi eseji” (2010), “Jugoslavija živi vječno” (2011) i “Sviranje srednjem kursu” (2015, u saradnji sa “Peščanikom”); romane “Vita activa” (2005, drugo izdanje ) i “Planinski zrak” (2009), te zbirku priča “Radnici i seljaci” (2014, u saradnji sa “Peščanikom”). Godine 2018. Fabrika knjiga u pet svezaka objavljuje “Robi K. 1984-2018” (zajedno sa Peščanikom i riječkim Ex librisom). Redovno piše za tjednik Srpskog narodnog vijeća Novosti i za Peščanik. Živi u Splitu.