Todays Date
June 1, 2020

Freedom from fear

Writes: Denko Maleski


“Being Macedonian is firstly a sacred thing, then a curse and restlessness…The Macedonian rises above injustice and releases his cry for his rights. North is not my homeland…It is not the people’s. Our country is only Macedonia, and it will remain like that…”; betrayal, echoes from the camp of Macedonian nationalists, as an echo of Greek nationalism. Threats are heard: “…My mother’s murderers (Macedonia) have a name and surname. I swear in my Macedonian blood, before the entire Macedonian public … “that I will revenge”. Let there be no dilemmas: this is the authentic voice of Macedonian nationalism that, like any other nationalism, is threatening. In extreme situations, threatening not only to individuals, but also to the peace in the country or between countries. History is full of examples that nationalism and war are synonymous. It is here that there is a difference between nationalists and those who do not threaten anyone, in favor of freedom of expression and the right to have a full range of political options that respect the principles of pluralist democracy. The latter, “pluralists” to call them, know that they live in peace and democracy because everyone has the right to express themselves to fight for their political views. Therefore, although I do not agree with anything I said, that “being Macedonian is a sacred thing,” that I feel some kind of “curse” and some kind of “restlessness” that “North is not my homeland”, that “I swear in my Macedonian blood “that I will revenge, however, I stand behind the freedom of speech. For, I confess, these can be sincere words of ordinary indignant people, victims of nationalist indoctrination, who just say what lies to their hearts. They need to be helped, explained that the past cannot be changed, but that the present and the future are in their hands. But when it comes to politicians and intellectuals, I do not forget that these may be the words of nationalist demagogues, the same as those who fired the bloody ethnic wars in the Yugoslav federation. I have never forgotten that the wars in Yugoslavia started with the ruthless nationalistic rhetoric of the then politicians and intelligentsia. From the mouths of the nationalists, the words rolled into the streets and stadiums, turning into real bullets and bombs.

I repeat, the dangerous lexicon is already heard and, by itself, is a testimony witness why we could not solve the problem with Greece earlier with a compromise, and when we solved it, the price was higher. Our ultranationalism, therefore, is alive and kicking, which is normal in a Balkan, and every other, democracy. And yet, something has changed. There is no longer fear of such a threatening rhetoric that does not solve absolutely anything, but it has, for decades, paralyzed the political opponents who may have been willing for different politics. Politics in favor of the security and well-being of the common man. For, I remember times and situations when people from the top of the Macedonian politics retreated to nationalistic verbal tirades. Later, the Macedonian nationalists filled the easily conquered space with ancient Greek content, turning not only Greece, but also the world against us. So, there is no longer fear of Macedonian nationalism (and I do not see any of Greek in Greece), but it has changed and its roots are not embedded in the state politics of our country (and Greece). This, from the root, will change the Macedonian nationalist party: in time, it will become only one of the many parties, without a monopoly on the nation’s consciousness, representing itself as a sole defense attorney.

I am thinking: it could have been different if we had not been afraid and we had not met that Macedonian nationalism. But what to do? The breakdown of the communist ideology in Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as our variant called self-governing socialism, together with the federation that protected, left us only with the cohesive power of Macedonian nationalism. The fear of the survival of the young nation and country, the fear of our “shallow identity,” made reasonable people blind to the forgeries of history, which, in turn, encouraged counterfeiters to subdue the country into the depths of ancient Greek history, of which we barely came alive. The rational mind says that we could have otherwise solved domestic and international situations, but, in real life today, “could have” means nothing. Perhaps some kind of personal satisfaction for someone who warned in time, but for the society, the missed occasions are missed, and the time sequences that have passed cannot be returned. So, there is only what it is. But what is now present is very valuable: the fear and paralyzing effect of both ultranationalist, Greek and Macedonian, is past. A new generation of politicians on both sides of the border stood up in dignity and, with strong support from the United States and the EU, came to a compromise. In both cases, without a fear of their own nationalisms, almost thirty years old. That is the difference between then and now.


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