Todays Date
August 5, 2020

Reason or emotion

Writes: Denko Maleski


Charles-Irénée Castel, abbé de Saint-Pierre (1658 – 1743) worked his whole life on improving his society. The endless belief in the reasonableness of human beings, in turn, enabled his contemporaries to regard him as a man who built towers in the air, and the president of the French government called him “a boring and disturbing agitator”. Even Rousseau, who deeply respected Saint-Pierre, wrote: “He would have been a very wise person, if he had not been so absurdly reasonable”. Words of warning from the great thinker that, in politics and in society, “emotion” has the advantage over “reason”.

Being cautious not to be “absurdly reasonable”, I always have these words in mind. “Reason” or “emotion”, what is dominant in Macedonian politics? The general rule is that in a highly emotional debate, as is always about the change of the name, the politics of reason has nowhere in the world had the advantage over the politics of emotion and passion. If, according to the name issue, the new leadership of VMRO-DPMNE, guided by its instinct for political survival, continues to play on the old card of Macedonian nationalism, they will have support among many captives of national myths. The fact that some of the leadership of the party themselves are not captives of these myths, but only make politics out of them, is another topic that talks about their character. But imagine the political consequences of a slogan such as this: Greeks have taken our Macedonian land, and now, with the Prespa agreement and the change of the name, the Macedonian soul, too. Down with the traitors! If you repeat this for a long time or do something similar and musically illustrate it with “VMROOOO…VMROOOO…”, the brains of the voters are not needed, the heart will do the job. The clever young politicians know this and they start the same game again.

The reason hardly opposes this strong emotion with an explanation that rests on a rational analysis for which, in the course of election campaigns, such as the future presidential, for example, there is no time anyway. How can it be reasonably explained that no matter how Macedonian politicians and the Macedonian people are willing to wait for some more favorable compromise, the Albanian voting body will be radicalized if the EU and NATO option remains too closed for them, causing “Ukrainization” of Macedonia? How to explain that once this radical situation is produced, the return to the previous one is very difficult, because, as with the collapse of a multinational Yugoslavia, missed time sequences can often not be compensated? How to explain that if the Prespa agreement does not pass, whether in Greece or Macedonia, the new one, at best, would be the same, or probably much worse for the Macedonians? Or how to explain that with the amnesty, the government may have received the necessary votes, but has received fierce enemies who are now free and will work with all their might against it? For these and many other things, there was a time to talk all these past months. But Macedonia does not have that mental potential and willpower for such an undertaking in its brawling intelligence. This is another reason why when the elections come, in the electoral chaos that occurs, the heart has the advantage over the head.

No, it does not have to be so, nor is it in all countries: reason to be inferior to emotion. However, defending the constitutional name for twenty-seven years and not considering a compromise, Macedonia’s politicians stimulated the “heart” against the “head”. The sudden drama caused by the change in the world geopolitics that produced the necessity for a quick solution to the “frozen conflict” between Macedonia and Greece, has caught the politicians and the people totally unprepared. Especially people whose emotions were abused from one election cycle to another. Namely, although it was known that alliances exist to defend the interests of their members, so there is no NATO and the EU without a resolved dispute with Greece, the political bidding who is a bigger patriot did not stop for decades. The call from the Social Democrats for the people to finally begin to think with their own head, was too little and too late to win the referendum. The irresponsible behavior of nationalists who played a double game, in the end to boycott the referendum, in turn, produced the silence of a large number of citizens. The reason? I have already said: when it comes to the name issue, our democracy has, since 1991, turned into a brutal profitable demagogy for winning elections. In the absence of ability and will of the parties to unite around the future of our country, we will see the consequences of that decade demagogue game in the upcoming presidential elections.


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