A prominent place on my "history, philosophy and politics" bookshelf is occupied by an autographed copy of "Democracy, The God That Failed" by Hans-Hermann Hoppe. I think of it every time I read or watch anything related to the current elections in Serbia. So much of what passes for debate there is just such pure, unadulterated nonsense.
On Sunday, Serbian voters will have a choice of two presidential candidates that made it into the second round: the incumbent Boris Tadic (Democratic Party, DS) and the challenger Tomislav Nikolic (Serbian Radical Party, SRS).
Nikolic runs with a simple message that has the benefit of being true: Tadic represents the forces that have run Serbia since October 2000, beholden to foreign powers, corrupt and craven.
Of course, one could hold it against Nikolic that his party was once allied with Milosevic (then again, professional Milosevic-hater Vuk Draskovic was once a minister in a Milosevic government...), or that its leader is in The Hague on trial for war crimes. Except, the charges against him are pretty much for "inciting hatred," i.e. crimethink, and not any specific action. People tried by the Inquisition are political prisoners; Seselj is more so than most. Nikolic is a Russophile; he once famously expressed regret that Serbia was not a Russian province. Instead, one supposes, he should have been ecstatic that Serbia is actually a whipping boy for the US and the EU?
What bugs me about Nikolic is that the Radicals don't mind the modern omnipotent state at all; they just think it would do better with them in charge. To the extent that a hypothetical Radical government (the president is the ceremonial head of state, nothing more - Tadic's power comes from being the Democrats' party leader) would not serve the Empire, that is correct; but would it really serve the people of Serbia?
It's not hard to be patriotic in comparison to Tadic, Ceda Jovanovic, and a variety of other quisling types currently riding on the backs of Serbians. But would the Radicals steal (i.e. tax) any less? Would they not support oligarchs? Would they not sell off government property to their preferred investors (Russians, rather than Germans or Americans)? Would they actually try to restore the property stolen from Serbs in 1945? Ha! That will be the day.
Tadic, on the other hand, is desperate. For years he has spoken of "Euro-Atlantic integrations" as a "path that has no alternative," promising Serbians a better future in the EU and NATO. Thankfully, the NATO part died somewhere along the way (the fact that it was even mentioned, after what happened in 1999, is depressing enough). The EU part is equally incongruous; far from being a haven of prosperity, the EU is a reincarnation of the USSR. Its totalitarianism may be more polite, but it's there nonetheless.
Then, of course, there's the demonstration of EU's true colors, as the Brussels Leviathan openly declared its support for the Albanian separatists and decided to take over the occupation of Kosovo. The EU has gone past demanding Serbia's acceptance of its dismemberment, to simply ignoring Serbian opinions altogether. Brussels isn't even making the indecent proposal of trading Kosovo for EU membership any more; the EU intends to detach Kosovo anyway, and maybe negotiate with Serbia about annexing it in some distant future. Just the kind of beacon of civilization one should aspire to, isn't it?
With his promises thus shown to be hollow, Tadic and the Democrats have turned to spreading panic and fear. If they don't hang on to power, they say, Serbia would return to the "dreadful nineties," isolated, blockaded, besieged, even bombed (though they aren't saying so explicitly). It amounts to a "lesser of two evils" approach: If you think we're bad, wait till those guys come to power! Such brazen arrogance may well drive voters to Nikolic's camp, if nothing than out of sheer Serbian spite (inat).
Or it could work, given that Serbs have been brainwashed not for years, but for decades, to feel inferior, guilty, and unworthy of their rulers. Having gone from blockade to postmodern, credit-funded consumerism, Serbians feel they are living better, and may fear to lose it. Yes, the whole selling out for a mess of pottage thing comes to mind here, but how does one argue that with someone who's mortgaged his soul for the sake of a suburban apartment and a mid-sized car?
After October 2000, the "elite" that imposed itself on Serbia (with a little help of Uncle Sam) has been a textbook definition of "transnational progressivism" in action. My own distaste for this sort of people and their politics requires a rant in its own right; suffice to say that I would shed no tears if they were thrown out on the curb and forced to make an honest living (they'd whore themselves out to the Empire elsewhere, though; it's just what they do).
Whoever becomes president on Monday, it won't make the slightest bit of difference when it comes to the Empire's project of Serbia's dismemberment, or Moscow's support, or the pathological hatred of Serbs harbored by Albanian separatists and others in the region. It may make a difference in how the Serbs respond to it all. If Nikolic succeeds in toppling Tadic, it may mean a shift in Serbian politics not favoring the Tranzis, but it won't really change the essence of the problem. Until Serbia can somehow wipe off the fetid muck of statism, it will be neither strong, nor prosperous, nor free.