Boris Tadić’s ‘victory’ in the presidential elections was celebrated for only a day. You cheat me once – it’s your fault; you cheat me again – it’s your fault; you cheat me for a third time – it’s my fault. The voters who vote for the Democratic Party (DS) and Boris Tadić have been cheated many times. I think that they have no right to be angry with anyone else.

I often watch the political clowns of our nomenklatura on television. When the host asks them a sensible and clear question on any subject about the future – about what reaction they expect from their political opponents, or their estimate of the likelihood of their policy’s success – they typically reply: ‘I hope’.

We have thus spent much time ‘hoping’ that Kosovo would remain within Serbia ’s borders. Now that we know it won’t, we ‘hope’ that the European Union will change its mind. If, however, this does not happen, we ‘hope’ that this will nevertheless somehow happen at some point in the future.

The people who voted for Boris Tadić ‘hoped’ that their votes would oblige him to put up an effective resistance to the anti-European forces in Serbia . When in the mid 1990s I asked Mića Danojlić how he could write paeans of praise to Slobodan Milošević, since was it not quite clear to him what kind of person the latter was, he told me that he ‘hoped’ he could be trusted.

Every demagogue pines for people ready to vest their ‘hopes’ in him. It is his basic raw material. Đinđić put it well: stupidity costs, it does not come gratis. Šešelj used to laugh at the stupidity: thanks to such fools, we will remain in power.

The depression and disappointment of those who voted for Boris Tadić does not deserve compassion. It was perfectly clear that one should not vote for Tadić in either the first or the second round. One should have voted for people ready to stand by their (and their voters’) sincere convictions. It was necessary to vote for what we believed was best. One should not have voted for the ‘lesser evil’, because we shall find ourselves in the same situation at the next elections. Then too the illusory hope in the DS will rest precisely on the fact that in the previous (these) elections we gave them 2.3 million (albeit maybe insincere) votes. To whom are we lying? We shall then once again say that one should not ‘squander’ votes on better options which ‘stand no chance’. And they will ‘stand no chance’ precisely because at these elections, despite our experience, we chose the ‘lesser evil’ rather than the good. In the first round and in the second round (throwing the rope after the calf). We were realistic and clever. For how long are we to vote for an awful infinity? For the ‘given circumstances’ in which our expectations will be betrayed all over again and the ‘given circumstances’ cemented? For how long do we insist on ‘hoping’? And when shall we start to vote for what we really believe? Regardless of the momentary ‘likelihood’ of being with the majority? When shall we start to fight for what we believe in the long run? In matters of great importance there are no simple, straight paths, easy victories or shortcuts. When shall we begin to change what we alone can change – ourselves? We are the ‘given circumstances’. We – each of us in particular. One and again one – there is no ‘we’ a priori.

Đinđić had no chance in the ‘given circumstances’, but he commands respect precisely because he fought to change ‘the circumstances’, because he remained loyal to his convictions despite ‘the circumstances’. His rating was abysmally low at the time of his assassination. He was conscious of this, and therefore promised that he and we would nevertheless ‘meet at some point in the future’. He worked for the long run.

This should be pondered by those who vote for DS, and by those who sympathise with the Liberal-Democratic Party yet – despite their all-too-rational doubts in what they were doing – helped to create with their votes for the impotent and insincere Tadić a false image and a false hope in political reality. This should be pondered too by those who, having ‘hoped’ are now spreading defeatism. In this way we would come to the question of hope posed by Vesna Pešić on the Peščanik website. To the conclusion that politics demands hope and optimism. Someone else [Antonio Gramsci quoting Romain Rolland] once said that it is possible to have a more complex position: intellectual pessimism married to optimism of the will. This, I believe, was also Đinđić’s position.

One should have stuck to one’s reason and one’s conscience, regardless of the likely outcome.

Translation from Bosnian Institute

Pešč, 13.02.2008.

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Srđa Popović (1937-2013), jugoslovenski advokat ljudskih prava. Branio mladog Zorana Đinđića, Brigitte Mohnhaupt (Baader-Meinhof), Vojislava Šešelja, Dušana Makavejeva, Milorada Vučelića, Mihajla Markovića, Miću Popovića, Predraga Čudića, Nebojšu Popova, Vladimira Mijanovića (Vlada Revolucija), Milana Nikolića, Mihajla Mihailova, Dobroslava Paragu, Milana Milišića, Vladimira Šeksa, Andriju Artukovića, Beogradsku šestoricu, profesore izbačene sa Filozofskog fakulteta... Pokretač peticija za ukidanje člana 133 (delikt govora), ukidanje smrtne kazne, uvođenje višestranačja u SFRJ... 1990. pokrenuo prvi privatni medij u Jugoslaviji, nedeljnik Vreme. Posle dolaska Miloševića na vlast iselio se u SAD, vratio se 2001. Poslednji veliki sudski proces: atentat na Zorana Đinđića. Govorio u 60 emisija Peščanika. Knjige: Kosovski čvor 1990, Put u varvarstvo 2000, Tačka razlaza 2002, Poslednja instanca I, II, III 2003, Nezavršeni proces 2007, One gorke suze posle 2010.

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