Nationalism as abuse of citizens’ patriotic feelings
writes: Denko Malevski
I have answered the curious, excited and impatient public about what will happen after Macedonia becomes a UN member, that we will celebrate one day, but the next day we will have a lot of work to do. Namely, the international recognition of a country is not the end, but the beginning of its struggle for survival. Our country has yet to wait for adapting to the demands of neighbors and learning lessons from world politics. The notorious truth is that international politics is a dangerous area of human life, a place where it is decided on war and peace and where power and interests dominate. The public in Macedonia hardly understands that. Even the peaceful separation from the federation was considered something normal, and not for deliberate politics of people unwillingly determined for peace. Born in Europe in 1993, a time of enormous enthusiasm for a peace plan called the European Union, strongly supported by the United States, whose foreign policy was to give a chance to what was born to show its life-ability, the Republic of Macedonia did not exactly specify its strategy of survival. It felt so privileged by the attention, understanding and assistance it received from the West, believing that it was not us, but the world and our neighbors that should adapt to our existence. Thus, referring to the right to self-determination, politicians invented identity and history, contrary to the flows of world historiography. They declared the formal and legal equality of countries as a factual equality, contrary to the realities of world politics.
Such an attitude towards the world was a product of the “proud” Macedonian nationalism that politicians and intellectuals were flirting with. Thus, referring to international law, and disregarding the realities of world politics, they spent almost thirty years from the lives of the citizens of Macedonia. What on? On their own election and re-election in the government bodies and other institutions of the young country. The game of nationalism, known as the “defense of the name”, has become cost-effective and rarely has anyone, on the right and left, resisted not to profit in some way – with privileges, with money, with functions, with silence or loud talking. However, such populist policies have made it impossible for citizens to think about the complicated sphere of international relations and to recognize the hidden hierarchy of power and interests on which it is built. To understand, for example, that in 86 percent of cases of conflict between two countries, “justice” is on the stronger side. Walking on the wrong road, we turned a huge time circle, so today we are where we were in 1991. Namely, then the official Macedonian politics said that our identity was Slavic and originated from the language we spoke, that we did not want to take the cultural heritage of the ancient Macedonians, that we had no territorial pretensions towards Greece and that we were ready for a compromise that would make a distinction between our new country and the Greek province of Macedonia. If we had fulfilled the term “Macedonia” with this (Slavic) content, the compromise name would probably have been only for external use. We could have even preserved the name, if we had resolved the historical misunderstandings with Bulgaria earlier. Instead, our nationalism produced – “erga omnes”. Namely, the policy of antiquization that affected the entire society, including the school system, increased the price of compromise for us: now the compromise name had to be for internal use, too. It was the punishment paid by a society that first flirted, and then openly played on the card of nationalism. Therefore, objectively speaking, with the Prespa Agreement we have practically lost nothing different than what we had in 1991. Macedonian nationalism has lost, deciding to set the foundations of Macedonian identity on the territory that the Greeks consider part of their cultural and historical heritage. Contrary to all forecasts that indicated that such an identity conflict would not be resolved without capitulation of one party, and it was always clear which party would do so. The people and the country also lost, lagging behind the rest in the region that joined NATO and the EU. And now, look at the power of nationalism, that abuse of citizens’ patriotic feelings towards their country. The opposition is again getting ready to play on the same card, against the Prespa Agreement.
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