There are three great passions – alcohol, gambling and power, wrote Meša Selimović in his work “The Fortress”. The first two passions, which I would call vices, maybe can be cured, but the third cannot. Power is the biggest and most difficult vice. Because of it, people kill, people lose, the human character is lost. It is magical and attractive as a magical stone because it acquires power, promises fulfillment of all sorts of desires. The man who is in power and whose ego is fed by flatterers, is encouraged by cowards, supported by those with personal interests, and his image of himself is always more beautiful than the truth. This person considers all people as stupid, because they hide their true opinion from him, while he thinks that he knows everything and people accept that about him. No one in power is smart, because smart ones lose their minds quickly, and nobody is patient because they hate change. They immediately begin to create eternal laws, eternal principles, eternal arrangement, and by tying their power to the Lord, they want to make their power eternal.
From the beginning of mankind to this day, regardless of its progress, the power and the notion of it have not progressed much. Regardless of the way people come to it, with the inheritance of the throne, with power and force, by vote and election, in the end, everything comes down to the same, the desire to come to power and stay there longer.
The one who pretends to come to the throne in his own power struggle always promises much and most often refers to justice, equality, responsibility, the desire for a better future, a better life, but when they sit on the throne of power, the promised things quickly disappear, and even more quickly they are forgotten. Yesterday resembles today just as tomorrow will be the same. Great ideas and words, big promises remain forgotten and unrealized, and most often for such a thing is blamed the predecessor, who until yesterday sat on the same throne with the same promises and great unrealized words and ideas. It is ridiculous and absurd to justify that there is no progress and the realization of ideas and promises because the “new” were not aware of how the “old” had ruined the system, the institutions and how much we are indebted. How can they not be aware, when it was solely what they talked about their entire opposition’s term, but power is power and it is always right.
The vocabulary and the behavior of the politicians is interesting, and even if you do not know who to which party belong to, it would be very difficult to distinguish them, because words, ideas, slogans and promises are all the same. The only thing you can be certain of is whether someone is in the position or opposition. The opposition usually defends fundamental human rights and values, it is concerned about the state and its functioning, the efforts for equality are woven into all programs and proposals, and it lasts until it comes to power. Then the vocabulary changes and begins to complain and make excuses how it is not possible for the promised to be fulfilled quickly because either the laws that the previous government brought them still protects it, or the state is so ruined and exhausted that there is no possibility for quick solutions, or that those from the “Old” power are infiltrated everywhere. And all of this takes place while in power, and as a result of the change of power, the vocabulary changes. Sometimes it seems to me that in addition to the mandate of the “new”, a dictionary that contains phrases, speeches, and excuses is given to you when you are in power. Normally those that are now “old” are inheriting the opposition vocabulary.
In addition to justifications, the excuses and dictionary, the “new” also inherit the vanity of the “old”. Vanity is proportional to power and goes hand in hand with it. Until yesterday, any criticism that had been addressed while in opposition and was considered constructive and viewed as a wish for the people for better solutions and better tomorrow, suddenly becomes a daily political oppression of the political opponent. The people that criticize are no longer people with equal rights, free to share their opinion, but become a misled mass influenced by the opposition and its daily political fabrications.
Privileges and untouchability, separation from the people, everyday life and yesterday’s habits come with power. Suddenly, the traffic is stopped for the leaders of the people with rotary lights and sirens, clearly expressing the urgency and importance of the task that went on in the name of the people to finish. Slowly but surely, everyday places, markets, shops, and habits change, and the “new” is less present in the old places and forgets the old habits, and how it could be different when there is now a nation on its back, with all their worries and desires. The “old” slowly begin to recall old habits and places, memory returns to them, so you can see them on foot or on a bicycle more often, going to the market or at a grocery store without police escort.
When it comes to power, even the communication with the environment changes, not only in terms of the words and phrases according to the principle “it is difficult and responsible”, “if I knew that I would have so much work, I would not have accepted it”, “I do this for you”, but go ahead and tell them to leave office to see what will happen to you. The numbers of the phones and the directories in them are also changed. Sudden old numbers for the “new” do not apply and you have no chance of getting them. Those who left the government are slowly starting to return their old numbers and even call their old friends themselves for no reason.
And it all goes in circles in that manner, in power or in opposition, the same characters for years with the same promises, excuses and failures, and before the same people who briefly remember and quickly forget, who has not learned anything and did not grow up in these past two decades. In two decades, mountains have grown in some other places.
(The author is a lawyer)