By: Keith Miles
Lustration in the 1990 in countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic was not a resounding success but it was certainly useful. There was the problem of the accuracy of records, as in particular informants to the secret police deliberately invented connections to get payments.However the very basic information such as membership of the Communist Party was relevant. The important facts were available so that in the new democratic system the voters knew who was high up in the system and who were just local fellow travellers. This matter of fellow travellers in Slovenia with the communist revolution is not surprising because the Communist Party won the civil war. Also it is interesting to note that the Communist Party in Slovenia before World War Two was very small. This should mean that lustration would not have affected this group of fellow travellers very much other than local opprobrium and they were probably known locally anyway.
However those in high positions such as in the courts or secret police or police or military need to have their records shown. Germany after re-unification not only made these available but also prosecuted those who carried out illegal acts such as shootings on the internal border with the German Democratic Republic.
For democracy this was sensible, as was the banning of the Communist Party. Out of the ashes of the Communist Party came Die Linke which now claims to be a Social Democratic Party. At least the Germans know the backgrounds of the people. It should not have been only left to such as Pezdir, Dezman, Omerza, Leljak, and others in Slovenia. For democracy it is important that the background of every candidate is known. I do not think former communists seeking public election need to be punished by a loss of civil rights because that decision should be left to the voters. I do not think that the prohibition of the Communist Party should have been applied however understandable and sensible for Germany but at least they know that they have been renamed as Die Linke who now claim to be democrats – but then communist always claimed that. In Slovenia most voters do not know where the former communists have gone to. Young people do not often see this clearly but just ask them if they would vote for a party or person that supported state sponsored murder or abuse of human rights. They would say no but they do not have the full facts about some people.
In areas where the voter does not have a choice such as the Judiciary the situation is different and recent press stories illustrate this clearly. This means that the principle of lustration should be permanent for public officials. After all public employees are paid out of taxes. This obviously does not need to apply to every public employee but should apply to those in positions of authority. I know that this is supposed to be covered at least partly by corruption regulation but that is not the point. The point is the public should know the facts. Democracy depends on open information in all respects except national security and that should be properly controlled.
Hayek said that in a free market the most importation matter was information. In an information society we know the value of information technology and we have seen recently the distortions coming out of Russia in the unprovoked aggression against the Ukraine.
As with Hayek on economy and the free market , information, truthful information and full facts, are perhaps the most important matters in a democracy.
Keith Miles is an academic, retired financier, and publicist. He is the honorary president of the Slovenian-British Friendship Association. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance, a master’s degree in philosophy (MA) and has worked for more than 40 years as a financial and auditor in both the public and private sectors, particularly in the UK.