By: Gašper Blažič
Older readers of Demokracija will likely remember the times when we acquired the last phase of Kardelj’s self-management with the introduction of the delegate system and new structures of economic companies, along with the last Yugoslav constitution (1974). As a result, in the second half of the 1970s, there was a sense of gradual depoliticisation of the social sphere.
Of course, it is clear that this was only an external impression. The self-management system envisaged what was called self-managing interest-based communication and the functioning of workers’ councils. However, both the leadership of the workers’ councils and the economic companies were appointed by the “avant-garde” of the League of Communists of Slovenia (ZKS). And since this system also produced a “pluralism of self-managing interests”, we lived in a kind of illusion of democracy and pluralism. As France Tomšič wrote in his book “From Strike to Party”, this was actually an “intelligent deception” that had to fail due to the lack of driving energy – simply because of the absence of interest polarisation, as well as the high costs of bureaucracy that accompanied the fragmentation of production into “TOZD” (“Basic Organisation of Joint Work”). However, interest polarisation could not occur because it would mean that the party is divided against itself.
However, it took some time for the self-management deception to be truly exposed. Due to favourable economic conditions associated with Yugoslavia’s foreign policy links with the so-called oil countries, as well as favourable Western loans, the late 1970s seemed to indicate that the party was stepping into the background and that the social subsystems were operating relatively autonomously. And few had the impression that the oppressive years from the early 1970s, when Tito’s crackdown on Stane Kavčič put an end to development-oriented and nationally oriented policies, were continuing. In fact, that is exactly what was happening: Party purges affected the university sphere, and several renowned professors were expelled from universities. Even all primary and secondary school teachers had to be “soldiers of the revolution”, and striving for an ideologically neutral school was considered a terrible blasphemy. Censorship and repression also permeated the media space, with numerous seizures of the press and convictions of editors throughout Yugoslavia. All in accordance with the legal definition of a “verbal offense”, which became part of the criminal legislation in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia with Article 133.
And all of this was happening under the guise of alleged “depoliticisation” of the social sphere at that time.
The wake-up call came in 1984, as Tomšič writes, when it was realised that the relatively comfortable life, reminiscent of the “seven fat cows”, was actually made possible by extensive borrowing from the West, and by that year, the debt had exceeded a staggering $24 billion. And, of course, as long as the debt repayment did not begin, there would be no new credits. In other words, inflation skyrocketed, real wages began to decline, and strikes began, which were no longer taboo even for regime-controlled media. This time, the repressive apparatus could not use the threat that Ivan Maček Matija used in 1958 against striking miners in Trbovlje, promising to flood them with water while having units of the police waiting at Trojane for his command. And, of course, none of the strikes were “apolitical”, but were considered acts of resistance against the “avant-garde” that was supposed to take exemplary care of the working class. At the same time, they were “withdrawing” from decision-making bodies since each of the socio-political organisations had already delegated their members to various assemblies and workers’ councils.
Why am I mentioning these facts? Primarily because of the details concerning the current events at RTV Slovenia, where everything is happening under the pretence of liberating the public media, which was supposedly politically hijacked by the previous government. The current government is now supposed to “liberate” it and completely hand it over to civil society, just as ZKS formally “liberated” civil society from its own influence in the 1970s. If, of course, you believe that. And, of course, international journalistic organisations, which loudly applauded the latest decision of the Constitutional Court yesterday (well, there were no such ovations in February this year), simply parroted the views of political activists from the “Club 571”. This was actually expected, as it would be illogical for the global woke elite gathered in these organisations to turn their backs on their subsidiary in Slovenia (i.e., the Slovene Journalists’ Association and similar organisations). Therefore, it is logical that the old delegate clientele, which we knew before the implementation of the “Grimm’s” Law on RTV about fifteen years ago, re-emerged with pre-signed permission from its global masters. And for these fifteen years, we have actually known who bears the political responsibility for appointing members of the RTVS Programming Council. Before that, it was not known, as, for example, the late former President of the RTVS Council, Janez Kocijančič, led this body as a formal delegate of the Olympic Committee of Slovenia, although it was known that he was a political functionary. And after fifteen years, we are back to square one. To that old delegate system where responsibility is obscured, where no one is accountable to anyone, where everyone is “apolitical”, where it is already known in advance who can have a representative in this body, where officials of “non-governmental” organisations, who can coincidentally also be government employees, dress up and lord over.
Of course, I assume that now, as the “emperor’s new clothes” are only being presented at RTV – Golob’s government took a whole year to conquer the fortress at Kolodvorska Street – you might cheer enthusiastically for the socio-political workers in this institution and their “non-governmental” friends. Because they have convinced you that they cannot create quality programmes due to “Janšism”. But wait a few months: in autumn, you will be able to assess the programming of the national public broadcaster once again. And judge whether it is worth paying the broadcasting fee every month for it. And if it is a public institution, then this institution must provide answers to the public.
And I bet that this autumn will sober up many people.