By dr. Dimitrij Rupel
Many of the questions we discussed thirty years ago are still being asked today, and at first glance it seems as if history is repeating itself; as if we had returned to where we had already been after thirty years. Ideas about a new Demos are emerging – albeit from an unexpected direction; there is talk about the reorganisation of the Balkan, of course about the reorganisation of the Slovenian party scene, about national reconciliation… Of course, in 30 years – thanks to a generation that tested itself in the hustle and bustle after the end of the Cold War; after all, thanks to the people who gathered on Rač Island in April 1991 – significant changes took place.
- Slovenia – with plebiscite support at home and with some reservations at the international level, which we successfully overcame – became an independent state with a democratic system,
- Slovenia – again with plebiscite support at home and with the trust of the international community – became a member of the European Union in 2004,
- Slovenia – at home with two-thirds support, as prescribed for constitutional changes, with the trust of democratic institutions and countries – became a member of NATO,
- Slovenia chaired the OSCE in 2005,
- Slovenia was a member of the UN Security Council between 1998 and 1999,
- Slovenia held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2008.
Returning some issues and debates after thirty years is unusual and contrary to the national interest. On Rač Island, we had to (especially Bavčar, Bučar, Feltrin, Gros, Janša, Oman, Peterle, Pučnik, and I) solve the main question: will we be ready for independence in time or not. Or, as France Bučar was relentless: do we really want to become independent or not? Bučar had to repeat the question twice: “Are we moving forward or not?” At that moment, independence may have seemed less important to anyone present than taking control of the economy, but in the end we all gave a positive answer.
The meeting on Rač Island should be understood in the context of what was happening in those days. Demos’ parties dealt with each other, sometimes in mutual polemics: differences between the parties, their “natural alliance”, possible unification, center or right wing orientation, state-forming; attitude towards the past (NOB), towards reconciliation and Yugoslavia, tendencies for replacements, including replacements or changes of leading representatives in Demos… Such questions have troubled us all these years, but it all got very complicated after 2008. Ten years ago, we heard a call from the rostrum at the national celebration (Day of Uprising Against the Occupation) that there is “enough merit” and that a “breakthrough with the delusions of our transition, a break with our transitional cover” is needed, meaning the policies of Demos and its successors.
I thought big problems were coming, when a year or two later I heard an evaluation from the then German ambassador in Ljubljana, Anna Elisabeth Prinz – in a conversation about the consequences of Slovene life under socialism – that the West Germans had learned something from the East Germans and vice versa. This reminded me of the assessment of another Slovenian president, who said that the Berlin Wall had collapsed on both sides.
The left is creating myths and forgeries
In the light of what has been said, what can we say about the new (left) Demos and about the Balkan (non-paper) plans that are attributed to the Slovenian government at home and abroad? Our rivals/opponents on the transitional left understandably cultivate and, of course, adapt those chapters of history in which they have proved (or declared themselves) winners; but they are infinitely offended because at the greatest historical achievement, i.e. Slovenian nation state, they proved to be losers. In their ideological/political zeal, they create the following myths or forgeries:
- that the Slovene uprising against Nazism/fascism began as early as April 1941,
- that Slovenian statehood originates from 1945,
- that Demos is therefore a continuation of the old regime;
- that Yugoslavia was never behind the Iron Curtain,
- that there was no Bolshevik socialism in Slovenia,
- that the plebiscite for an independent Slovenia was a fraud and a mistake;
- that the majority of Slovenes vote for the left,
- that the current center-right coalition is undemocratic or fascist,
- that the undemocratic/fascist right is planning a reorganisation of the Balkan borders;
- that the parties of the transitional left continue the tradition of resistance against fascism; and
- that these parties are therefore the only ones entitled to the name “democratic opposition”, so it is right
- that they are called “left Demos”; and
- that their platform is the manifesto of “21st Century Socialism”.
Our transitional leftists, despite acting on the wrong side of history, are neither unsuccessful nor lonely in this zeal. Similar inflammatory ideas are spreading in many parts of Europe, where eminent social scientists speak of the moral superiority of the left. These are not necessarily the same people who – without knowing the situation and without understanding Slovene – take on Slovene myths and forgeries.
Regarding the idea of a left Demos, I have two more remarks:
- The original Demos was not a unified and one-sided (conservative, right wing, ecclesiastical…) structure, but was a coalition of six parties covering all classical political orientations. In it were the Christian Democrats, the Peasant Party, the Liberals, and the Social Democrats; in addition to them, individual representatives of the parties of socialist self-government also participated in the government;
- With the same right as a future coalition would be called the “Left Demos”, the group of parties that make up the current government could be called the “Right Liberation Front”.