In one TV show someone criticized Vucic’s list of MPs because it’s comprised of literally everyone, including conflicting political options: from the Russian vicar Nenad Popovic to Vuk Draskovic who advocates for membership in NATO. His answer to this remark was very symbolic. All those different species on Vucic’s list are – Serbia! And Vucic is the same as Serbia, i.e. the sum of all those differences – from Russia to NATO lovers. That mess is advertised for the elections under the slogan “Serbia wins – Aleksandar Vucic”. Over whom is Serbia winning? Some external competitors or enemies? No, it wins over all those options which are not part of Vucic’s list and, therefore, not Serbia. Serbia must win, i.e. Vucic, which is basically the same. This seems to me like the collective individual identified by Nadezda Milenkovic. Vucic is not just a leader of one political option competing for power in the state; he is the state itself.
By taking the position of the state Vucic has secured a possibility to steal from all other parties’ political programs and secretly establish the standards on what today’s Serbia actually is. In these four years, we’ve heard about Max Weber and modernization of Serbia, stepping into the future where great successes await, especially regarding EU integration and quality of life. But our value layout hasn’t changed in the slightest. On the contrary, it’s been permanently shaped into peripheral and anti-Western nationalism as a compensatory mechanism for Serbia’s failure in transforming into a rational and modern society. That compensatory mechanism of „protecting the dignity“ is particularly evident in underdeveloped countries in tribal feelings which are always used to defend „our cause“, even if this means the crimes committed in the past wars. The government has gloriously defended us from the British resolution which was trying to make us look like a „genocidal nation“; it has kept Kosovo safe by preventing it from entering Unesco; we won the „customs war“ against Croatia, whatever that means. The Hague Tribunal is a notorious place prosecuting only Serbs for imaginary crimes. Those who come back from the Hague prison are welcomed as „honourable people“, while the documents on „honourable generals“ are kept hidden from domestic war crime tribunals.
The words of a representative of Dveri, a party which is considered „decent“ and which is trying to be appealing to the middle class and youth, that the heroes Karadzic and Mladic must be mentioned in all Serbian textbooks, sound terrifying. And no one in the studio said a word to this. This talk of „decent Dveri“ has always been the talk of Seselj’s radicals. So, here we are, this is what today’s Serbia looks like: it’s dominantly radical, in a wide meaning of that word, neglected and suffering from an autoimmune disease. It’s tying a noose for itself, doing everything it can to avoid becoming a normal and liveable country. This is not done publicly, in a radical manner, but peacefully and slowly, in the form of Vucic who is staying in power thanks to the support of the West. He deliberately speaks in multiple voices which seem to be conflicted (Dejan Ilic wrote an excellent article on this subject), while he’s actually trying to relativize the bad past which he is responsible for. By trying to escape his past and present, he has thrown us into a mess which is hard to get out of. While he was shuffling the cards, the main infrastructural work was done by the media managed by the editors appointed by Vucic. They (Vecernje novosti, Politika, Blic, Pink, Informer, etc.) pumped up the nationalism, lies, attacks against the opposition and a counterfeit image of the past. And such mainstream values go well with the collapse of institutions.
And what do we have now, before these unnecessary elections? Vucic’s megalomaniac position „Serbia – that is me“ in rainbow colours, the original radicals and Seselj himself, DSS-Dveri as a devious (religious) nationalism and the fading SPS which is trying to sneak into the government. On the other hand, we have four decent „civil options“ which are competing for a relatively small number of mostly well-educated voters. The regime is tirelessly attacking the Democratic party, probably because it’s the only party rooted into the poor democratic tradition of Serbia. Let’s hope that these four options will cross the census. It would be encouraging, but it’s not realistic.
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).