Watching Croatia’s current political discourse (and deadlock, political and economic chaos, government crises, unrelenting emergence of the identity of communist revenge against the victory in Croatia’s Homeland War for self-determination, independence and democracy that labels as fascist even the slogan “For Home Ready” (Za Dom Spremni) under which in early 1990’s many sacrificed everything so that Croatia could be free of communist Yugoslavia …, I see a menacing lack of authentic discussion of the core values of sovereignty and democracy for which the Homeland War was fought that ought to be guiding the Croatian people as a society.
I see Croatia as morally adrift, as not having a clear sense of how to ground its people’s identity and actions to ultimate values that transcend time and place; it lacks clear moral compass or a foundational guide that stem out from its very own fight and sacrifice to abandon communism. Valuing the original goals because of which it exists (victoriously defending its 1990’s goal to secede from communist Yugoalsavia and install democracy) comes precisely because the roots of valuing are embedded in such a moral grounding, and this is disturbingly labile in mainstream Croatia. Unfortunately, much of Croatia seems to have lost or left far behind that moral grounding that was cemented in defending it from Serb and Yugoslav Army aggression.
With its ethnic minorities Croatia somewhat fits into a frame of a multicultural country, but it is vital that Croatia remembers all who fought and died during the Homeland war, all those defenders who survived it. Today, Croatia lives in a time of amplified politically and ideologically engineered social divisions, amplified name-calling, degradation and neglect of those who fought for its independence that’s coming from the so-called antifascist ranks, most of which never wanted an independent and democratic Croatia in the first place. The fascist or Ustashi labeling of “For Home Ready” greeting even from the realms of governing powers, while symbols of former communist totalitarian regime (against which the Homeland war was fought) run freely along the streets, and the politically-engendered fear of the Other (i.e. those that vie for decommunisation of the country and are labeled as fascists or neo-fascists). There is alarming lack of will to ensure that the history being taught was more accurate (particularly WWII and post-WWII history), more representative of the truth. It cannot be right that Croatia’s children must actively search for the truth of communist crimes and the oppression that post-WWII brought upon the Croatian people. This among other truths must become something they learn as a matter of course – that is the least Croatia owes to its children in honour of the Homeland war and freedom from communism fight.
Those who fought in the Homeland war gave up everything for the country, for the people. And all that’s been done about it is remembering those who lost their lives for Croatia; nothing much has been done to complete the goal of achieving full democracy in peacetime, far away from communist mindset and its established corrupt ways of doing business with the “state”, whether it be getting a job, setting up a business, public service customer relations, getting through court proceedings, or accessing aspects of medical care…
But honour is much more than mere remembrance.
In order to properly remember those who have died, Croatia must consider the conditions that led to the wars in which people gave their last full measure of devotion. Although Veterans Day is perceived as a day to honour Croatian warriors, it must be considered that it is, more broadly, a day to honour what they were fighting for: independent and democratic Croatia severed from any shape or form of communism. The latter is sadly and continuously swept under the carpet. In order to properly honour the defenders, Croatian people ought to examine their choices as a nation, where they succeeded and where they can more effectively ensure peace and uphold the principle of democracy that develops the nation and not the quasi-democracy where the communist mindset, denial and justification of communist crimes penetrate into all pores of society, holding it back from true progress reflected in a better living standard for all.
Instead of a moral compass, people have been given enormous freedom to construct their own lives and make their own moral decisions with regards to the Croatian state; even those moral decisions that go against the grain of the goals set for Croatia to achieve just prior the 1991 onwards Serb aggression against it. This, no doubt, resulted in the current political and ideological chaos that’s holding Croatia back in almost every sense of the word. To tolerate the maintenance of communist Yugoslavia system of public administration, unfriendly laws, antagonising red tape in business, tolerance of events and symbols of communist totalitarian regime against which the hard-fought war was won, etc. that stifle progress particularly in the economic sense is actually – madness!
A madness that must be addressed!
The only way to address it is lustration.
Instead of being banned by law, the symbols and rituals/practices of the communist Yugoslavia totalitarian regime continue to generate misery and outrage. No shame seems to be felt in much of the society for the atrocities of communist crimes; defending communism has promoted this shamelessness into a valid political position. It can be attacked only at the peril of seeming to take sides in Croatia’s political wars — which the mainstream media steadfastly refuse to do.
This has silenced much of the society from expressing a sense of outrage at positions that seem outside the moral system that Croatia set its sights upon when the people decided to abandon communist Yugoslavia. It has also prevented Croatia as a nation from having a debate not just about policy, but about an evidently spreading national morality that cheers death or poverty.
When shame dies, so does our moral sense. You can already hear the applause at the grave.
That the communist morality, and shamelessness, has usurped too much space in everyday lives of the people in Croatia is only too visible in the unacceptably high numbers of Homeland war veterans’ suicides and unacceptable levels of poverty and lack of livelihood prospects that have seen enormous numbers flee the country and emigrate.
The social and political environment in Croatia, in which everything and anything about the past communist totalitarian regime is gaining ground as a valid political position (which then trickles down into policies and practices) also means that a parallel moral compass whose effects ripple into further distancing of the independent and democratic nation from its original start-point and moral compass, is being embedded once-again into the cultural space Croatia fought hard to leave.
If Croatian values are to mean anything, there are some things the people need to get straight.
The importance of the Homeland War for all the Croatian people cannot be ignored. Nor can its influence on the values the nation should hold.
If people think pro-communist liberalism has the answers and can produce a set of values that will tie the society together, they need to go away and think a lot harder.
There needs to be a moral foundation that cannot be created out of nothing or out of something the nation fought against, lost thousands of lives because of it. Lumping positions from former communist regime together with positions that arose from the plight for freedom from communism under the Equality banner and assuming everyone will want to play along nicely is a recipe for disaster. That disaster must be averted by getting back on a national level to the values and the moral compass that were the heart of Croatia’s fight for democracy and freedom from communism, or communist antifascism.