Between Hope and Despair

An Election That Might Matter

In two weeks, Serbia will head to the polls to elect a president and a parliament. According to the most recent reports, the current government has no intention of organizing the vote in the occupied province of Kosovo (declared independent by an ethnic Albanian regime propped up by NATO and the EU), even in the areas where Serbs still resist the occupation authorities. Most of the parties in the running won’t even pretend to care about Serbian interests, competing who would best serve the Empire instead. So, why does this election matter?

Emma Goldman once famously quipped that voting doesn’t change anything; if it did, “they’d make it illegal.” Ever since the “democratic revolution” of 2000, that has certainly been the case in Serbia. Even when the people voted overwhelmingly against more of the same, the Empire and its servants found ways to subvert their will. Democracy? Certainly – but only as the Empire defines it.

Basically, a country is deemed “democratic” only if it elects a government the Empire approves of. This was the conclusion of one observer following the Serbian elections in 2007. The previous government had been too “intransigent,” so Washington pressured it into allying with the properly democratic Democrats. A year hence, they’d destroyed the government from within and paralyzed the country just in time for Kosovo to declare “independence.”

The Unelected

Even so, the general election that followed saw the parties officially supporting the Empire come up short – at which point a major opposition party caved and joined the government. The result was a grand coalition that no one in the entire country actually voted for – an unelected government, which over the past four years had complete control of the entire apparatus of state, the media, and the economy, leading Serbia ever deeper into the pit of despair.

The defection of the Socialists – once a party of Slobodan Milosevic, seen as unlikely to ever serve the Empire – was followed by strife within the Radical party. With its leader, Vojislav Seselj, on trial by the Hague Inquisition on spurious charges of “inciting hatred,” the party was led by Tomislav Nikolic. Whether he was tired of being Empire’s designated bogeyman, or being in Seselj’s shadow, in 2009 Nikolic formed his own “Progressive” party and took many Radical MPs along. The media hyped the Progs up as the principal opposition to the government, though they’d never stood for election, and their views on the Empire, EU and NATO didn’t differ from the government’s in the least.

The best anyone has ever said of the Progs is that they might be shameless opportunists, telling the Empire what it wants to hear while intending to do something else. In any case, the bad blood between them and the Radicals – and between both of them and the waffling ex-PM’s Serbian Democrats – has all but ensured the electoral triumph of forces loyal first and foremost to the Empire. At least that’s what the government, the media, and the paid pollsters would have everyone think.

A Trojan Revolution

Serbian politics of today date entirely from the events in October 2000. In 1999, the Empire tried to gain control over the vestigial Yugoslavia through the Rambouillet ultimatum, and the subsequent Kosovo War, but ultimately fell short of the objective. Plan B was to organize a grand coalition of politicians, call them the “Democratic Opposition of Serbia” and challenge Milosevic at the ballot box. Or not, as the case may be.

In October 2000, after months of training, preparation and propaganda, the DOS accused Milosevic of stealing the Yugoslav presidential vote, organized massive protests and stormed the Parliament, torching the ballots and proclaiming their candidate the victor. Abandoned by the police and the military, Milosevic resigned. He was arrested and sent to The Hague in 2001, where he subsequently died.

This “Trojan revolution” worked as intended. Yugoslavia was quickly “reorganized,” leading to the 2006 secession of Montenegro. Serbia itself was robbed of Kosovo in 2008, while the unelected coalition has encouraged ethnic and religious separatism in the north and southwest of the country. And all along, the primary objective has been to serve the Empire.

Basically, only parties descended from DOS, or the ones who agree to join the fold – like the Socialists and the Progressives – stand a chance of being classified as “democratic” and receiving the approval of Washington and Brussels. The Radicals, who steadfastly refuse to collaborate, are routinely branded “hardline,” “ultranationalists” and so on.

Even the Serbian Democrats – whose leader once translated the Federalist Papers and was the Empire’s preferred figurehead for DOS – have been demonized and smeared for daring to entertain even slightly the heretical belief that their job was to serve Serbia, rather than its outside overlords.

An Uncivil Campaign

The current campaign makes American elections look like an example of dignified restraint. President Tadic’s Democrats alternate between promising a better life just around the corner and threatening apocalypse if anyone else is elected: hope and fear, expertly dosed by experts in political propaganda. Their current coalition partner, the Socialists, pledge patriotism and fealty to Brussels in the same breath. An echo rather than a choice, the Progressives do the same.

On the lunatic fringe, a former DOS firebrand has joined a former Communist-turned-royalist-turned-NATO booster in a coalition called “Reversal,” preaching the gospel of bliss through unconditional surrender (!). Another player is a conman who ran Serbia into the ground through his “economic expertise” over the past decade, having now reinvented himself as a “regional advocate.”

The Radicals are running the wife of their jailed leader. The Serbian Democrats are campaigning on the grandiose idea of “neutrality,” while a bevy of minority and regional parties aim to bolster their claims to money, power and eventually, land.

A minor media sensation right now is “None of the above,” a small party exploiting a loophole in the electoral law giving preferential treatment to ethnic minorities. Their parliamentary ticket is led by a notable columnist, political analyst and pollster.

There is one wild card: Dveri, formerly an Orthodox youth organization, seek to overhaul the entire political system, advocate closer ties with Russia and openly reject the Empire, EU and NATO. Unofficial polls show them having substantial support, while official polls ignore them entirely. They aren’t even being demonized by the local media and the Empire, but rather simply subjected to the kind of media blackout Ron Paul supporters in the U.S. are intimately familiar with.

Pour Encourager Les Autres

In 2008, Serbians had a “Franklin’s choice” between fighting for liberty and Empire’s promise of security in bondage. Muddled as it was at the ballot box, their choice was taken away entirely when the current government was installed in power. Now the choice is starker still: oppose the Empire and survive, or continue to serve and perish by a thousand cuts.

What they choose to do on May 6 and thereafter, however, will have importance beyond Serbia. During the 1990s, the Empire created the fantasy of Serbs-as-monsters so it could play the brave knight riding to the rescue. The murder of Yugoslavia and the gradual march of interventionism there paved the way for wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. Likewise, Belgrade’s “Trojan revolution” is being exported throughout the world, accomplishing by subterfuge what boots and bombs cannot.

It all adds up to a carefully constructed perception: resistance to Empire must be futile, if this once-implacable enemy is now so loyal, it is eager to serve at its own detriment.

But is it? If Serbia were to challenge the revolutionary regime and break free, that would wreak havoc on Empire’s smoke and mirrors show. And then the message coming out of Belgrade would be one of hope, rather than despair. Washington knows this. So do others.

Author: Nebojsa Malic

Nebojsa Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo. As a historian who specializes in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia, and Serbian politics. His exclusive column for debuted in November 2000.