And now we know it is easy. Reality refuses to bend to accommodate the law, and pragmatic people – change the law. The law says that a certain concentration of a certain substance in milk is a health hazard, and that the milk containing said substance over the prescribed limit cannot be used. Reality says that farmers in Serbia aren’t capable of producing milk which fulfills this condition, in the current situation and with the means available to them. Pragmatic people from the Government say – who has time to deal with milk, farmers, production conditions, the health of citizens – and they conclude: let’s change the law. One day, when the consequences of their decision become visible, they will not be here to adopt, for example, another law, according to which all people diagnosed with cancer have to be treated as healthy. This would also be very pragmatic – why waste funds on people with terminal illness. Since we are legally bound to prohibit the prevention of such illnesses, it is completely logical to legally protect ourselves from treating them.
Needless to say that our government is not the first to resort to this kind of solution. Once upon a time, in the mid-eighties, another government, led by Margaret Thatcher, also decided that it was neither practical nor cost-effective to change the food which was, at that time, fed to British cattle. Instead of prohibiting the feeding of cattle with processed beef, that Government published studies according to which the beef from cattle with mad cow disease was not harmful to human health. About ten years later, another British Government, under the pressure of the crushing facts, faced the demand to kill and incinerate around six million heads of cattle. Ms. Thatcher, however, was no longer in the position to face the consequences of her reckless decisions.
But why waste our time on the worries of the British. Let us get back to our own Government. It can be said that the Government demonstrated ultimate pragmatism when it changed the law which cannot be implemented. However, in doing so, it gave us the right to ask – why not change the Constitution then? The Serbian Constitution is also unenforceable – amend it and adapt it to reality. However, someone, following the milk logic, could say that such a constitutional change would be perilous to the survival of the Serbian national idea, just as amending the law in regard to milk threatens the health of citizens. However, in such reasoning, he or she would be wrong. Because, another logic which connects the amendments to the law on milk with protecting the senseless Constitution, is much stronger than the cursory analogy which strives to show that the possible amendment to the Constitution is as perilous as the recent amendments to the law on milk. It is the logic of harmfulness: in every situation where this government has to choose between general welfare and selfish interest, citizens can count on the fact that they will be drastically wronged.
Translated by Bojana Obradovic
Dejan Ilić (1965, Zemun), urednik izdavačke kuće FABRIKA KNJIGA i časopisa REČ. Diplomirao je na Filološkom fakultetu u Beogradu, magistrirao na Programu za studije roda i kulture na Centralnoevropskom univerzitetu u Budimpešti i doktorirao na istom univerzitetu na Odseku za rodne studije. Objavio je zbirke eseja „Osam i po ogleda iz razumevanja“ (2008), „Tranziciona pravda i tumačenje književnosti: srpski primer“ (2011), „Škola za 'petparačke' priče: predlozi za drugačiji kurikulum“ (2016) i „Dva lica patriotizma“ (2016).