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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

To be the president of all

By: Dr France Cukjati

It used to be the custom for a new king, when he was enthroned, to first visit those who did not support him. With this, he first benevolently offered them his hand, and not only to win over them, but to show his will to take care of “all” the inhabitants. We did not notice such a political culture during the last elections. The new rulers were even overtaken by euphoric hatred towards the one third of the population who did not vote for them. Right from the beginning, we experienced a flood of personnel purges and a lightning-fast ideological attack, from the abolition of the demographic fund and the independence museum to the humiliation of marriage. The new government has made it clear that it will only take care of “its own” and humiliate, insult, and oppress others with all its arsenal of power.

A democratic system works only there and only when people who carry the principles of political culture are elected in the elections. For example, did the Minister of Culture show respect for those 90 percent of citizens who decided in plebiscite for Slovenian independence? Did the Minister of Family Affairs show respect for the marriage of husband and wife when this union was so quickly degraded to a union of “two persons” and father and mother consequently became “Parent 1” and “Parent 2”? Although a hundred times more classic unions between a man and a woman are concluded every year than same-sex unions, the latter having already had their respective marriages for 15 years. And what should we say about the Prime Minister, who sees his first task as a leader in radical personnel purges not only in ministries, but also in public institutions and even state-owned enterprises?

The new government has not shown that it feels responsible for “all” citizens. It let us know: “now you are going to see the devil!”, as someone said behind the bar. We have become an extreme form of exclusionary society, as described by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson in the book: Why Nations Fail (UMco 2015).

In the book, they prove that it is of crucial importance for society whether its arrangement is “inclusive” or “extractive”. Either economic and political activity is accessible to everyone, or the system is set up in such a way that all doors are wide open for some ideological-party members, but tightly closed for others. Yes, tightly closed, whether it is management functions in public institutions or even jobs in state-owned enterprises. Extractive (exhaustive, exclusionary) regulation is intended to “deplete the income and wealth of one social class from other classes”, say the authors (p. 89).

A free economic environment means an incentive for people to get a better education, to save and invest, to innovate and use new technologies. A democratic political environment guarantees citizens the right to control politicians and influence their behaviour so that they do not abuse the powers entrusted to them for personal enrichment and to assert their interests to the detriment of citizens. If economic and political institutions become “extractive”, exclusive, closed to talented, capable, and hard-working people, who may be of a different political colour, then the nation is doomed to collapse in the long run.

The authors cite the Soviet Union as an example. “Although Stalin and his successors succeeded in achieving economic growth, it was not permanent. By the 1970s, it had almost died out. The Soviet system hit a wall: lack of innovation and weak economic incentives prevented further development” (p. 142). Without freedom and equality, there is no democracy, and no development either.

Today, D. Acemoglu and J. A. Robinson would cite Slovenia as a fresh example, which is falling into the abyss of exclusivity and is even showing signs of blind hatred. The Prime Minister – the one who is supposed to be the Prime Minister of “all” citizens – set himself as his first task as a statesman that everyone who got a job during Janša’s government would lose it. Just like Herod, who had all the babies killed in Bethlehem in the belief that he would also kill Jesus, his political rival, among them.

Anyone who does not know political culture is not suitable for leadership positions in a democratic system. He is even dangerous, because the democratic system is not brutally aggressive and can easily be manipulated by an autocratic-selfish politician.

The first step to healing is to realise what kind of unculture has overwhelmed us.

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