By: Miha Kovač, Portal24
Jože Biščak is a long-time journalist and editor, he has worked for many Slovenian media. Among other things, he was a journalist for Delo, Mag, Finance, the Siol portal, Reporter, and in January 2018 he took over the editorial board of Demokracija, and in April of the same year he also took over the management of Nova obzorja. He is the author of three books: Zgodbe iz Kavarne Hayek, Zapisi konservativnega liberalca, and the dystopian novel Potovati z Orwellom. A few days ago, he resigned as the editor of Demokracija and the director of Nova obzorja for health reasons. This is the right time to talk to him.
The first thing that caught my eye was that you came to the interview in shorts.
(Laughter) That means I have taken a break and I am already on a long vacation with one foot. (Laughter)
Will you also take a break from monitoring events in society, politics, economics?
No. That is the curse of journalism. Just an occupational deformity. So, it will be for the rest of my life. This cannot be escaped.
So, you also watched Friday’s conversation with economist Janez Šušteršič on Nova24TV?
Of course. And I have to say that I mostly agree with him. Especially in the part where he spoke about the impending global crisis. He said that this time it was not an ordinary economic crisis. The economy grows in cycles, that is the economic reality. The goal of politics is to try to reduce the size of the variation or to keep the fall in economic growth as small as possible. Economic crises are therefore a completely natural cycle, so to speak, cleansing. It is different this time. This approaching crisis will be the result of wrong long-term policies, so the recovery will be longer; Šušteršič, for example, mentioned the field of energy.
Personally, I believe that the crisis will also be the result of the collapse of traditional values, the attempt to destroy national cultures and identities, moral decadence, the harmful and incredibly great influence of the “awakened”. Look, universities are firing top professors of economics to show companies the door to great managers – just because some people on the street think these people are racist, xenophobic, nationalistic, homophobic, or something. But their only sin is that they do not succumb to the madness prescribed by modern-day left-wing ideology.
In this way, society loses the best people, they are replaced by socially just social scientists or properly oriented globalists. This restricts the freedom of speech, the flow and confrontation of different ideas and concepts, which is necessary and is an inevitable prerequisite for a successful society. This human freedom is the foundation of all other freedoms, including economic freedom. No wonder the devil takes it all. And Boris Tomašič did an invaluable job because he invited Šušteršič to the studio. People have had the opportunity to see that there is still some common sense and logic among economists, one who thinks with his head.
You mention freedom of speech. You wrote a lot about it, discussed it, and were sworn at because of it. Some even believe that freedom of speech is a feature of the extreme conservative right and should be restricted.
The irony is that today conservatism is the one that defends freedom of speech and all the fundamental freedoms that no one can know exactly when they appeared. Above all, no one can answer the question of whether freedom of speech is a left-wing or right-wing idea, or whether freedom of speech is a progressive or conservative idea.
In fact, it is not important, it is (was) important that freedom of expression, regardless of the cultural and ideological differences of the individual, remains intact. Only in this way will the water stay where it should be – under the bridge. In the West, right-wingers and left-wingers were aware of this. There were disputes and oppositions, but only on political, social, and economic issues. There have been no serious controversies about fundamental human freedoms, where freedom of expression comes first – both sides have seen them as most important for the well-being of democracy. This story is now over.
It was different in Slovenia. However, we were a communist state for almost half a century, where ideological opponents were labelled class enemies and therefore persecuted.
When the Berlin Wall fell, freedom and democracy seemed to be coming, which we admired in those places only in democracies at the time. But the realisation after 30 years that the United States and Europe were already on the verge of moral ruin at the time and that Eastern Marxists were quick to find common ground with the Western left, a long-disguised socialist academic and intellectual alliance, was certainly painful.
Today we have what we have: everyone on the left (including the centre) aspires to the globalist religion of liberal democracy, which, as a murderous evil, subjugates common sense and, in the name of diversity, leads a group of murderers into a strange mixture of perversion and radical corruption. There, on the other side of the kidnapped rainbow, only what the dedicated elites allow is allowed. The right has (for now) remained as a necessary evil, as what is allowed in the meantime, but only for the sake of a good impression. Such editorial policy is also pursued by the media of the left media mainstream.
When you mention the left-wing media: your resignation as editor of Demokracija and director of Nova obzorja did not only resonate on social media, but also ideologically opposed media, such as Delo and the national television portal, which are part of the left-wing mainstream media.
Extremely unusual, really. Given that these media have always claimed that Demokracija (and in addition, Nova24TV) is a marginal and obscure party medium with a low circulation and low influence, it is strange that I received this attention.
Yes, especially Odlazek’s media (and some others) keep labelling Demokracija as the party trumpet of the SDS. This is one of the school cases where modern-day awakeners give concepts a completely different meaning than they are. The SDS is a co-owner of Nova obzorja. We never hid this, the ownership of Nova obzorja, which publishes a magazine, was always transparent; more than in any other medium.
As far as I know, the SDS has its own newsletter, which is sent to party members every six months. This can be called a party newsletter, which is free and intended for party members. Much like a factory newsletter aimed at workers and employees of the company. Demokracija is a medium that is in a market that is dependent on sales, it is dependent on readers. If Demokracija is a party bulletin, then Delo is a factory bulletin of Kolektor, and Reporter is a bulletin of Odlazek’s all possible deals.
Until recently, the owners were also Hungarians.
The Hungarians sold their share. A perfectly normal transaction or change of ownership in the market. This is also the only truth that the left-wing media wrote. Most of the others (especially what the Necenzurirano portal wrote) are the result of the incredible imagination of journalists who consider themselves investigative. It is a modus operandi of reporting: if you add a grain of arsenic to aspirin, it is no longer a headache drug, but a poison. This is a two-stage truth that the media mainstream is talking about.
Do they simply invent, lie, write untruths, inflate?
It is hard to say exactly what it is all about. It is certainly one of the reasons that we are close to the SDS and Janša in terms of worldview, which they have been demonising all along. I will describe in a hypothetical case how the “information” on which they conclude is obtained.
Let’s say that Igor “dreams” that he picked bananas in Pokljuka. This is what he intimately wants to be true. He tells Vesna. Vesna meets Matej and tells him that she knows someone who picked bananas in Pokljuka. Then Matej tells Simon over coffee that bananas grow on this high plateau in Gorenjska. Information about bananas in Pokljuka reaches Melita, who meets Igor in the hallway and explains to him that there are already bananas near Rudno polje and that she knows someone who picks them. A lamp lights up above Igor’s head and he exclaims: “I knew, I was right.” Then he sat down at the computer and wrote a story about banana pickers in Pokljuka. And that the information was confirmed by an independent source.
I am convinced that all the stories that have been published about Nova24TV, Demokracija, and Hungarian owners have been created in this way.
And what kind of owners were the Hungarians?
Good. We had board meetings where, as real owners, they were only interested in one thing: whether the numbers are green. We had hard times, we had good times; this is repeated cyclically. There are even seasonal fluctuations in the medium, but when we drew the line at the end of the year, it was positive.
The left-wing media wrote that you and Boris Tomašič, the director of Nova24TV, are at the headquarters of the Slovenian co-owner, the SDS, almost every day.
Imagination and illusions, gossiping, something they would like it to be true, but it is not. Or if I paraphrase the French economist Bastiat and the parable of the broken window: what seemed to them and what was true. The truth is that the SDS did not interfere in my editorial work, for which I am grateful. However, since the party is a co-owner, it has the right to be a member of the board of directors, the assembly. Quite logical.
At these meetings, it behaved the way the Hungarian owners did: how the company is doing, what the sales are like. Of course, no one believes this, but I have neither the will nor the strength to convince the left-wing media to the contrary. When I was leaving for Demokracija, my former colleagues warned me, now you will see, they will not call you three or five times a day, but ten times and more.
After taking over the editorial office, I stared in disbelief at my cell phone for several days, waiting for a call. But there was nothing. But let them talk and think whatever they want is their right. They usually judge by themselves. And they think that if this is the case with them, it must be the same elsewhere.
What about Janez Janša, the president of the SDS and until recently also the Prime Minister? What is your relationship with him?
I have never hidden that the worldview he represents is similar to mine. I say “similar” because if everyone thought the same, they would have one mind. We humans are also different: physically and mentally. No thing or thought can ever be the same, it can only be similar. And here we connected. In addition to having almost 40 years of experience working in the media. But there was never enough time to talk and debate anymore. I am sorry for this, because he is a very well-read man, with clear and principled thoughts. What I like most about Janša is how he thinks about freedom. None of the Slovenian politicians valued freedom and talked about it as much as he did. Everyone else is just talking about democracy.
It must be borne in mind that democracy is only a way of governing that cannot be achieved without freedom. I cannot agree more with him when he says that Slovenia has become independent, but not liberated. Slovenia has not yet experienced true freedom (neither personal nor economic) because it has never really dealt with the past. At independence, for example, the president became a man who a few weeks before was at the head of the Slovene Communists (and thus also the Udba, the political police), who systematically suppressed freedom. This has been transferred to (at least on a declarative level) parliamentary democracy: key positions have been and still are held by people who act in the same way as in a totalitarian regime. Rado Pezdir writes well about this in his book The Parallel Mechanism of the Deep State, as does Igor Omerza in his books on Udba. It is no wonder that Janša has always been a thorn in the side of the parallel mechanism and that they are constantly trying to disable and remove him.
If I remember correctly, the Reporter wrote that Janša was editing Demokracija.
Reporter is Mladina today, which is published on Mondays. If Janša did everything that is attributed to him, he would have to be in several places at the same time, he should have 48 or 72 hours a day.
You often write about freedom. The centre-right government was accused of suppressing freedom, authoritarian rule.
You mean during the time of the health crisis?
It is perfectly normal to restrict certain freedoms in emergencies such as those of the Chinese virus pandemic. But look. They began to accuse the authoritarian rule to Janša even before the centre-right government was even appointed. And that then dragged on to this day. No matter what he would have done, the media mainstream would label him authoritarian. Which is far from the truth.
However, if self-proclaimed representatives of civil society, who blocked the city centre or even the northern Ljubljana bypass on Wednesdays and Fridays, are punished for their actions, this is not authoritative rule, but respect for the rule of law. No one restricted the protests, no one restricted freedom of expression. Protesters should be aware that our regulations stipulate that such a rally must be registered. Not for civil servants in the administrative unit to decide ideologically or politically whether the rally is appropriate or not.
The state does not have this right (so it made mistakes in the case of Thompson and the ban on his concert). Registration is necessary so that others who are not protesting know when and where their movement will be restricted; a permit is also required to know who the organiser is, who must ensure safety at the venue and is also responsible for any damage caused.
I argue that Janša’s government did not cross the Rubicon of Freedom with its short-lived measures (it would have crossed it if it had introduced universal compulsory vaccination, but it did not). Moreover, the measures were among the most lenient not only in Europe but also in the world. Just look at what the governments of so-called EU nuclear countries like Germany and France have been doing to the protesters.
In some circles, at least because of your records and the Kavarna Hayek blog, you are considered one of the ideologues of the SDS or the right.
I do not know which circles you are talking about, but I consider myself a conservative liberal: a conservative by values, a liberal in economic terms. If I am an ideologue of a political party because of this and my records, that is okay. I take it as a compliment. I will repeat once again: the worldview – or ideology, if you will – represented by the SDS is similar to mine, close to mine. There are deviations, of course, but the SDS is a political party, and politics is the art of the possible and the ability to compromise when you are in a coalition that is not exactly on the same wavelength.
So, you did not resign for ideological or other reasons, as some media outlets suggest?
Absolutely not. The reasons are medical. There are two heart attacks behind me, I have six vascular splints.
Being an editor and director is exhausting, stressful, you are always on the move and on adrenaline. Especially if the owner is someone who is constantly demonised by the left and lies are spread about him being funded through the medium you run. Eventually you get thick skin for their lies, but you cannot throw anything over your shoulders. It is time to take a little care of my health, so I have now taken a longer vacation. I will keep fit with Kavarna Hayek.