What a difficult and turbulent week! Mind-boggling series of events: the beginning of the country’s name change, scandal after scandal in the government, a tragic traffic accident with many lost lives, an easy intellectual abortion with a serious threat to presidential candidacy, a problematic choice of a member of the anticipated anti-corruption commission and many other events! An abundance of stimuli and incentives to think! Not by chance, the Polish sociologist, Professor Marian Niezgoda, sees Macedonia as a real sociological laboratory! And anything can happen in a laboratory. The adrenaline is consistently high, the concentration of unplanned consequences is maximal. It is anything but boring here. It’s hard and nasty living in such conditions, but at least it’s not boring. On the other hand, people are looking for more interesting and pleasant places to live and leave this country.
In such a climate even the Minister of Information Society and Administration shared his concerns with the public about the situation. In defense of criticism of party hires, he warned of the danger that members and supporters of his ruling party would leave the country if do not get jobs in the state administration or in some of the public enterprises with better pay, even now they are in power! In his defense, other prominent representatives of the ruling party and coalition emerged with similar issues and arguments.
It seems to me that there is one, single thread that goes through such reactions and disputed events that caused the reaction of the public – the way of understanding “all” from the slogan “one society for all”. The thing is that “all” did not mean what it literally meant, and that’s all of us citizens of our country, nor North Macedonia. Here “all” meant all of theirs. All of their children, all their relatives, all their mistresses and lovers, all of their party associates. Or, in general, all of their customers for using the public goods that the promoters of the slogan one society for all. At the time when it was launched, we could not even know that “all” did not mean every citizen, nor how many are their “all”. In particular that this slogan went together with the slogan “No justice, no peace”. Both slogans were the idea weapons to free the captured state from the clientelist and patronage practices of the previous authorities.
It’s been nearly two years since justice is obstructing peace. Appetites for public resources began to reappear, freer, more aggressive and increasingly scandalous. The problem arises with the fact that one society of all their party clients turns out to be so great that the state is becoming too small. The state-owned companies turn out to be too small and poor to pick all of them up. That is why they are expanding to the quasi-state enterprises in which the state has its own shares. This is why they are bothered by the reactions of the citizens from the environment who feel pushed out of the broader idea of society as a home to all, regardless of nationality, religion, and above all, regardless of party affiliation.
According to the Minister’s logic, their people have been the most discriminated citizens in the country for ten years because they were forbidden from getting hired in the public and private sectors. And he is partially right. It is true that the previous government only hired and shared public resources according strictly to party criteria, especially after 2008. Such a political patronage, although not interpreted in a formal and legal prohibition, nevertheless it produced de facto discrimination. But the problem is that the minister expresses concern only to those who are discriminated from his party ranks, and not to all discriminated citizens. Some of them have long gone abroad, escaping from discrimination. Others stayed hoping that the project one society for all would end the preferential employment and treating the citizens, in general.
From this perspective, the current favored recruitment of party members and sympathizers can be interpreted as the implementation of a policy of selective positive discrimination or a selective affirmative action. As if the current favoring of its own represents a fair compensation for the discrimination suffered in the previous period. But the members or supporters of this or that former opposition party were not the only ones that were discriminated. Hence, what would be an affirmative action that does not cover all previously discriminated. It does not discriminate against previous discriminators now because they are protected by existing institutional arrangements and rights. Such a selective affirmative action on employment only now, de facto means new discrimination on the backs of the independent and party indefinite. They have suffered before, suffer now, and they will probably suffer in the future. Nobody will protect them and selectively affirm them or free them from discrimination.
This shows that neither the present government is freeing the state, nor itself, from the tyranny of the political method of party patronage and clientelist rule. And not only that, but with the aforementioned statements, such a method of governance before the mass with increased appetites is defended and shown as quite normal. The claim that the parties are like snakes has been confirmed. They are not guided by the head but by the tail. And the tail is very long…
Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik