Political scientist and member of Levica
The renaming of the country from the Republic of Macedonia to the Republic of North Macedonia, as well as the way in which it was done, by violating all democratic norms and principles of the legal state, has brought a phenomenon to surface that will only become stronger in the upcoming period. A huge number of citizens, ethnic Macedonians, have so far felt the state as their own, only because of the reason that it was bearing the name of their ethnic group. Although that country, with its laws and with its selective application for the entire period of 28 years of its existence, forced many of them to live from day to day, basically reducing their life to surviving, not actual living. All the while others were getting rich on their behalf. With the change in the name of the country, the fig leaf that hid the essence has fallen, the umbilical relationship between the state and its subordinate population – was torn off. The feeling of self-identification with the country will continue to go down, the feeling that this country does not belong to us.
It’s not just that this country is not ours, it wasn’t ours even when it was called Republic of Macedonia. In fact, the name of the country is irrelevant from the point of view of the essence of the country. And, the essence of things tells us that this was and still is a country of corrupt political leaders and big capital, whose interests they protect, allowing it to pile up the treasure in its possession, but they themselves to grab their share of the cake. In doing so, they are throwing bones to their party soldiers for they themselves to have a piece. And are throwing crumbs to the people for it to continue to live in the illusion that the country is theirs, and that it is not in the service and in the interest of the oligarchs.
In this country, since its establishment to date, the oligarchy has been enabled to privatize social capital for pocket change, through tenders to suck out national money, through favorable legal provisions and breaking laws to accumulate social wealth in their own hands. And the workers? They were fired from the factories they built themselves, their rights were reduced by amending the laws, and those rights that they had left were violated in practice.
Their salaries are more to keep them alive than to provide them with a decent living. And you say that the country belonged to the workers, the ordinary people ?! If they hire someone else, just because that person has the right party membership card, is this your country? If you are the one punished even when you are not the one breaking the law, while the oligarchs and party leaders are forgiven for committing serious crimes, is this your country? If the country forces you to either accept this poor life you live or move out from the country in search of a better life, is this really your country?
The illusion that the state was ours was due to the predominance of the nationalist discourse. The goal of the nationalists (regardless of their ethnicity) is to form a political creation dominated by their ethnic community. And to maintain such a political creation as the property of their ethnic community. Such framing of things has an impact on how nationalists understand and represent freedom. According to them, a free nation is the one that has its “own” country, while it is not considered “free” if their ethnic group is part of another country, headed by people of different ethnicity than theirs. Consequently, Macedonians were not free before 1991, because they were part of the Yugoslav federation, and got “their own” country after their independence. The cancer wound of nationalist discourse is a common case when, after independence, many dictatorships are established in many new countries. So, the people in those countries are free just because the head of the state is a dictator from the same ethnic group as they are? Should the country be accept as one’s own as just because it is oppressed by a ruler or oligarchy that has the same ethnicity as yours? What is “national freedom” worth if it is not accompanied by real freedom for the people? What is it worth if it comes down to sucking the people dry by the oligarchy of your ethnicity instead of someone else’s?
When we say that this country is not ours, and that it was not ours since its formation 28 years ago, it is necessary to clarify two more things. The first question is: what does “our” mean, who are these “we”? The second question is: if this state is not ours, was the former state, Yugoslavia, ours?
That simple word “we” has a huge political weight. Are “we” we, the workers, we Macedonians or Albanians, or we citizens? Of course, we are all at the same time members of classes and members of certain ethnos, gender, sexual orientation, inhabitants of a certain city. But, as we primarily see ourselves, what we consider to be the main social and political entity to which we belong is an extremely important issue over which political ideologies constantly break the spears. Nationalists always insist that the most important entity is ethnic. But it is neither the only view of things, nor the essential way of looking at things. With whom does a poor Macedonian share the same tortures that his life entails? With a rich Macedonian or a poor Albanian? When I say that the country is not ours, I think of all of us against which the system operates, regardless of our ethnicity. The country is the oligarchy and its party servants in power, whether they are Macedonians, Albanians or others.
The former country, socialist Yugoslavia, was supposed to be ours. And it was to a certain extent. But, as the years went by, it was all the less a country of the working class, and more and more on the official caste, which after 1991 was renamed to the Social Democratic Union. However, despite its shortcomings, in socialist Yugoslavia, the interests of the common man were far more protective than what the present country is doing, of which many of our elderly fellow citizens can witness.
Another nationalistic trick is very easy to swallow. Nationalists create the impression that by declaring independence of a country, the country automatically becomes independent, independent, sovereign. If you do not take into account the difference between formal and factual, this seems to be true in itself. But in reality, many formally independent countries, especially when small, have very little factual autonomy and sovereignty. That is, often a great force, through informal mechanisms, essentially influences its decisions. In such a case, can we say that this country is a sovereign and independent country? Has this country made an essential step in this regard compared to the situation when it was part of a federation?
The influence of the United States in the most important political decisions of the country in which we live in is more than obvious. The United States, for its own geo-strategic interests, initiates constitutional changes, the United States is approves any trampling of democracy and the rule of law. And not just that. The US installs Vassal power in this country, and in the upcoming period we will see even more how much the sovereignty and independence of the country are on paper only.
This country is not ours, nor was it ever our country. Whether it is called Macedonia, North Macedonia or Tungusia. This is a country of the oligarchy and its party servants in power, who work in their own and its interests. And we, the workers, are second-class citizens in it, with minor factual rights and a poor life, unlike those who are privileged. Realizing that the country is not ours is the first step on the road to make our country our own. A small step, but of great importance.
Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik