Mihajlo Acimovic on Wed, 06 Oct 1999 14:17:40 +0100

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Syndicate: Re: Reactions and consequences

Well, I be damned, my writing is becoming like... constructive...

>...an anti-nationalist Serbia... 

"There is a healthy nationalism" - Vesna Pesic, October 1996, in an interview to the "On" magazine (time of no war, nationalism seemingly fading away)


I spent some time in Austria recently, living with some socially engaged people. I had a chance to observe Haider's work and to participate in some nice overpostering actions. I mean, overpostering those "Stop the asylum misuse/Stop dem asyl misbrauch" series. Does anyone have the election results? I just heard that "extreme" parties - FPO and Grun did much better and that SPO, OVP and Liberal Forum did bad.
A common thing when the elections focus on conflict. Then, parties that do have a firm opinion about the conflict will get more votes than those who don't.

> Suffice to say that there's a palpable absence of >slivo-swilling door-to-door death squads in Slovenia, >minority rights are quite well protected, and there's
>even state-funded Italian-language TV >and Hungarian-language radio.  

  In Serbia, there are state-funded media in ethnic minority languages and there is an education system permitting and supporting ethnic minorities to be educated in their own languages. Ethnic minority members are not neccessatrily excluded from having power. Only those that are considered hostile.
The difference is that Slovenia doesn't have large, militant ethnic minorities.
There are no active death squads for political opponents in Serbia, although paramilitaries and police have done ethnic cleansing (Sandzak, Kosovo). the only murders or disappearances, so far, have been to make an example, like the murder of Slavko Curuvija. That murder was an exception, not a rule.
Milosevic fears that if he starts killing his enemies, many would retaliate. He doesn't want that. It's also a question of who is his enemy?
In fact, the abscence of long time jail sentences or slaughtering of political opponents is one of the rare things about Milosevic's rule that differs him from dictators of Kenya, Panama, Guatemala... In that sence, Serbia is as civilised as Britain, aside that in Britain, there is no major Milosevic-funded opposition block and that there, politicians leave the dirty rhetorics to others like the buisiness-controlled media.
This is also the big reason why I fear change of the people in power. I fear that is one of the rare things that could be changed by his replacement. 

>> The winner are the Euroamerican buisiness interests
>Here I simply don't agree that it was any kind of >major motivation behind that "war"/"police action"

I reccomend books "Year 501" and "World Orders, Old and New", by Noam Chomsky. He gives a nice basic picture of U$ foreign policy, although I can't agree with a lot of his writing. Explaining would be too long.

>>I forgot Sonja Licht as the new rektor of Belgrade University and...
>Who is this Sonja Licht who you hate so much? Maybe I >should know. Do you have a picture of her on your dart-board, or?

Alas, I have no dart board and I have more urgent candidates for it. She is director of the Soros in Yugoslavia. The Boss, so to say. 
The executive board is made up partly of her oldtime friends and she had been running the foundation since it was founded. She is directly below George Soros (although there is a regional coordinator, but...)
I don't hate anyone.

>Why do I get the feeling that your sophisticated arguments are 
>primarily serving to back up your own sense of utter futility? 

Maybe I feel useful when I'm breaking up illusions, when I am giving information... Maybe I feel useful whe I hear people are throwing plums at Djindjic, marching on Milosevic's neighbourhood, etc. Maybe I feel that people's rallying to some structures must be broken so they can start rallying to something better. I think deconstruction is the right word.

> -- how about trying to change it, rather than just 
>letting "them" control "everything"?  ... Is the solution to throw up your hands and say 
>"it will always be so?"

A solution is to live a happy life inspite of what is happening. "Do something for Serbia, by doing nothing for them". That is my solution to start with. 
When nobody goes to demos of the Alliance For Change parties, when many people realise the only way to help themselves is to organise and do something themselves, to organise their own demos, something would start changing. That was a thing many young people saw and hence the student protests as alternatives to going to leader-organised demos. In 1997, there were more spontaneous demos than I can remember. Union-organised demos are the missing link. They exist, but the leaderships of those unions are behaving like politicians. They fragmentate over "who is the boss". They do what the funders (guess who) tell them and they are in excellent relations with AFC political parties. The "Nezavisnost" syndicate is the biggest non-government labor union in the country. Their leader=boss is Branislav Canak. He says Nezavisnost is the only and biggest (in those words) independent union in the country, or just that it is the only relevant one.
Er, back to change, people had already stopped going to party demos in 1998. There was one united demo, mostly by the same parties that are in the AFC, where they gathered maybe 2000 people in total. In other words, someting like a public congress for their local members. 
Maybe a month later, I was distributing leaflets of the Antiwar Campaign at Bajlonova Pijaca (a downtown market) and old women were coming to me, saying "Bravo, son, keep going, you are our hope". I almost cried at the site of the simple solidarity there. 
Then the ground fighting seemed to be ending and the bombing came to liven it. 
After the bombing, the Alliance For Change came, with promises of U$ reconstruction money, after they take over. 
Everyone who disgusted what was done during the war and who were desperate with the low intensity of resistance, used the opportunity to make some noise. 
Those who wanted U$ money used the opportunity to ask for it publicly. Result: biggest demos in a while. 
And then the AFC seems popular... 
Without the U$ money, the support the Democratic Party would get at elections would be the combined number of their members and their friends and families. Though I don't think they would have members if there wasn't for the money.
As for integrity, have you heard of the Socialdemocratic Union/Youth? They are not too loaded with integrity, but I believe they would bring big change. They consist mainly of youth. Most were in the Civic Alliance of Serbia (CAS), during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia. They split up in May of 1997.
The Belgrade CAS is worthless without them. 
Some of their members initiated the Antiwar Campaign, co-organised several student protests, etc.
Another interesting group is the Serb Liberal Party. They have a picture of Draza Mihailovic on the wall, but some of their youth leaders had been very engaged in Anrtiwar Campaign, Resistance, student protests, etc. 
The Serb Liberal Party has boycotted every election so far.

> But the"movement" as you call it was busy digging its own grave as soon as it
>was allotted it's small share of power and patronage. Resulting, among
>other things, in your (unfortunately partially justified) cynicism. 

Er, the leaders are not the movement. I said the leaders systematically (so I presume deliberately) tore up the movement. I will elaborate in a future email.

> But it would be nice to see a 
>public trial, where victims have a chance to testify. >An important 
>effect of actual justice is that it gives people a >chance to heal. 

Unless Bill Clinton, Gerhard Schroeder, Franjo Tudjman, Alija Izetbegovic, Bujar Bukoshi, etc. are put on the same kind of trial, such a trial would simply be a demonstration of "who is the Boss". It would show that winners still write the history, while loosers are burnt as whitches.
I am sure that you didn't have such an effect in mind.

I propose something like a Student Protest, although I am already aware which people would be most of the leadership. So, an SP, supported by workers, political parties, NGO's, media etc. 
Something neutral. 
Something that would allow participants to later say that they didn't go to demos so these people could replace those. 
Also, I support that nobody gets the microphone 
- Turn on music and let the people jump around and speak to each other. 
The result of giving the mike to wanna-be-student-leaders is Cedomir Jovanovic, a hybrid of politician, actor and mannequin, with which I've had the honor of doing an election boycott campaign. He held fiery speeches and every other 15-year-old girl who was at the student protests was hot for him. Alternatively, these girls would be talking to real people, instead of watching him and clapping.
The last I heard about Cedomir Jovanovic, the police in plain clothes had surrounded the Democratic Party headquarters (he is an employee of the Party, or of Djindjic, however you look upon it) and were waiting for him to come out, so they could arrest him.

So, I suggest, a self-organised muntiny, concentrated on liberation from fear and on education. 
This means A LOT OF DISCUSSION between the participants about what they want in the future and what could help make that happen. 
A Reclaim The City party and after that discussions between people on what kind of social system they are in and what kind of social system they are trying to achieve. It would last a very long time and it would have a most desireable effect on those people, wether they oust Milosevic or not. The problem with defeating Milosevic isn't that many people are supporting him, it is that those who oppose him do it for radically different motives and purposes. If there can be a real consensus after real communication between them, I will support it. 


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