By: Dr Andreja Valič Zver
Bombastic headline, you might say. Let me reassure you. It is not – at least not yet – a real nuclear confrontation of apocalyptic proportions. Although, in light of the accelerated Iranian rattling with nuclear weapons, it would be worth considering and preparing for.
This time, we will first revive the historical memory of the late Yugoslavia, and then contextualise the matter in the spirit of the recent suicidal attempts by some powerful elements in the European Union to push the European ship into the mud of “unitarism and centralism”. With such learned expressions, the dirty fact that Slovenian newspapers (!) named “Down the Sava to Belgrade” after World War I was once concealed. Everything, absolutely everything, but especially Slovenian money, was decided in Belgrade. I think I do not need to emphasise that the “Belgrade bazaar” managed things excellently. But it is also unnecessary to explain how the Yugoslav Titanic sank for the first and second time.
But let’s go back to the time of the first adoption of the constitution in the early twenties of the last century when Belgrade unitarists were shaping the first Yugoslav state. In February 1921, prominent Slovenian cultural creators of virtually all political orientations strongly protested against this. The so-called autonomist statement was signed by 49 signatories. In addition to economic and administrative autonomy, they especially demanded cultural autonomy. They were aware that without an independent educational system or Slovenian schools, there would be no more Slovenian nation. At least concerning cultural autonomy, the conscious Slovenes succeeded at that time.
The autonomy of Slovenian schools and culture, in general, was under even greater pressure in the so-called Tito’s Yugoslavia. The ruling communists and their subordinates responded to the increasingly tense situation in the 1980s by strengthening repression (house searches, raids, surveillance by secret political police, political trials, prisons, murders of dissidents abroad, etc.) and strong indoctrination. But according to the old, often seen and used Gramscian theory, it was also necessary to fertilise the field of education and culture. Because indoctrinated minds are much easier to conquer, and a standardised educational system is, in colloquial terms, a “meat grinder” that tries to squeeze diverse personalities through the same sieve. Then, whatever will be, will be.
Therefore, in Belgrade, the so-called joint programmatic cores were fabricated in the education system. The share of teaching material intended for the teaching of the Slovenian language and literature was supposed to shrink in favour of the teaching of other so-called “Yugoslav literatures”. Simply put: less of Cankar and more of Nušić. But the reformers did not stop at the mother tongue. They also intended to introduce more “Yugoslav history” in the history classes since the Slovenian one was considered more servile anyway. Well, we Slovenes successfully resisted Belgrade’s attempts even then. This prompted a scornful reaction from Belgrade authorities, not just political. Recall that the Serbian musician Bora Đorđević derogatorily referred to Slovenes as “bećke konjušare” in one of his songs. By the way, as it sounds, Đorđević is said to reside in Slovenia today, which is more than perverse.
In short, the joint programmatic cores fell for the second time. In the 1980s, Slovenes once again demonstrated a high degree of patriotism, courage, and lucidity to preserve their language and culture in difficult circumstances. After all, these were the two most important pillars of shaping the Slovenian national identity.
Since Slovenia joined the European Union, the Slovenian language has been developing rapidly and enjoying a good life. Culture and education are within the sovereign competence of member states, and no one can dictate in this area. That was the case until recently. But look at the devil! Last week, a proposal to change the European treaties was adopted in the European Parliament, aiming to introduce new common policies and regulations detrimental to member states, including in the field of education, reminiscent of the previous joint programmatic cores. Are we, historically speaking, approaching the third “core” strike?
Interestingly, this patchwork, whose main author is the fading liberal politician Verhofstadt, was also supported by Slovenian MPs from the left political spectrum. As has often been the case before, leftists are willing to sell Slovenian national identity in the name of creating an imaginary “European people”. This is a step that should be firmly and resolutely resisted.