It’s all about perspective

Petar Arsovski

Everyone says our expectations are too high. I, however, think that they are too low. This past year may actually show how far our society has sunk in the previous decade. With every cycle of the already permanent systemic crisis – because it is not only political, it is caught in all the pores of our lives – we find new depths to which our occasions can be sunk. Thus, I have the impression that our saying “we have reached the bottom” is not true at all. The bottom is a flexible category for Macedonia, and we are constantly finding new depths to reach it. Perhaps the best proof of the real situation in which we are and from which we should slowly climb is the euphoria with which we welcome some epochal successes for us, but really quite normal flows of democracy. It is scary how easily our public discourse is satisfied, in our attempt to return to normality.

First evidence of this phenomenon is the way we welcome the unconditional recommendation for the start of negotiations by the European Commission. Here we celebrate it as a significant breakthrough, success, monumental step forward and quantum (or a kangaroo) leap forward. In fact, the recommendation is nothing but the restoration of the status we had in the distant 2009, a cycle that we close after 9 years. In doing so, the recommendation is more a reward for good intentions, than for some special successes. In the end, when we started this race, we were in competition with Croatia and Slovenia. We are now in the category with Albania and Bosnia, countries that were then a decade away from negotiations. This awareness is a real benchmark of how much we have been regressing in the meantime, that this progress seems to us as a success. Success, I agree, would be if we really get a date for negotiations.

Secondly, the initial and even minor progress in the reports of international organizations that monitor freedom of expression and democracy also seem like a significant shift, but in fact, however, such reports do not classify as only a partially free country, and the media still treat them as proprietary. From this I have the impression that we have become accustomed to the lack of freedom too easily, and that there is a risk that these small advances can be declared sufficient, fearing freedom and responsibility for their own fate that naturally follows it.
Third, the return of the opposition to the assembly is treated as normalization of the situation, as if the political crisis is over. That’s far from true. This is only a restitution of the norm of normality in the assembly, but political dialogue, national consensus, and inter-party cooperation remain thought-nouns. So I think we need to revisit the criteria for what is normal.

Fourth, these timely attempts to prosecute high-profile corruption, personified at this time through the efforts of the SPO, are also just a drop in the sea, and far from the normal situation in the country. It would be normal, for example, to have a special unit in the prosecution system, permanently protected, which would constantly deal with these problems and prosecute crimes by the authorities. As long as we do not reach this goal, and do not raise expectations to seek and insist on a lasting solution in this regard, we risk these efforts to be transient, transient, and not constitute an irreversible benefit to justice.

Finally, the negotiations with Greece, which we treat here as some derogations from our national interests, and “kneeling” in front of the international community, are nothing special than the mere good neighborly dialogue of two countries that have had an accident to find themselves in the Balkans, where there are more disputes than residents. The attempt to resolve these misunderstandings, despite the conservative domestic public, can be resolved by the two countries in a normal, adult atmosphere of a common agreement and a compromise, although for us it may be a surprise, they are not really an abnormal situation. Such, and even more difficult, disputes are resolved with unpleasant compromises that are constant throughout the world, every day. Hence, the emphasis on the sacrifice we make to open a dialogue with Greece is not a special contribution to our coming of age.

I think that the glorification of these, relatively ordinary projects, basically comes from our primordial fear of responsibility for our own destiny. Our exceptional authoritarianism always comes from there, the need for someone else to take on our sovereignty, and with the worry about our problems as well, so that we can remain free to mourn our destiny with kebabs and beer. We have just made the substitution of one authority with another. Therefore, we glorify the simple restitution of normality as a monumental breakthrough forward in an attempt to appeal to the new judge. Whether such a perspective will make us with permanently low criteria, without responsibility for our own fate, uncritical, without a real measure of normality, we will see it in the coming time. For now, this seems like a confirmation that we are anesthetized, trampled. As Dukovski says in his play “Powder Keg”: When you find yourself on the hemorrhoid of the anus of the ass of the world, from that perspective, the ass of the world looks like Palma de Mallorca.