By XHABIR DERALLA
The violence, irresponsibility, rage and anger have grown into unconcealed features of the right-wing political parties and their apologists and supporters among the public intellectuals. In their (social) immaturity and unpredictability, they show no intention of informing themselves about things, let alone offer answers to key questions of society and the state.
Intellectuals – or what that term implies according to some definitions – are often the “energy drink” of the radical structures. And it’s not about abuse of intellectuals and their thought for political (and criminal) purposes, but rather they consciously, often also uninvited, engage in creation or apologia of destruction and violence.
In recent and more distant pasts of these territories and of throughout the world, we see eminent intellectuals in whose words and thoughts, written or spoken, are the roots of monstrous doctrines. Their thoughts and actions have encouraged or justified unimaginable humiliation of Man, destruction, suffering and death of entire communities and nations. It’s the same now.
Parading around with their inflated ego
We see them both on the public and political scene, parading around with their inflated egos and boasting with “wisdoms” in defense of “values” that are under “threat” from “others”. Their national chauvinism, racism and general backwardness, perhaps concealed in the past, surface with their entire force precisely in periods when major decisions are being made and difficult and significant processes carried out.
They are the first to spread defeatism, distrust, skepticism and hatred. Some subtly weave their “awakening” theories in the style of “don’t break my locusts” (Balasevic) or “they don’t issue fiscal receipts, they don’t pay for electricity and taxes”. But most of them behave as a drunk sailor in public communication. Without scruples, without respect for any such standards and ethics, they simply engage in creating and spreading open hatred.
Why, oh, why the hell?
Is it because they weren’t in the first rows at major events? Or they were, but no longer are? Is it because they secretly nurtured political ambitions? Thirst for attention? Money? Positions? Vanity? Or because they have always been national chauvinists? The questions are not exhausted here, and the answers are not simple.
“George Orwell said that some ideas are so foolish that only an intellectual could believe them, for no ordinary man could be such a fool. The record of twentieth century intellectuals was especially appalling in this regard. Scarcely a mass-murdering dictator of the twentieth century was without his intellectual supporters, not simply in his own country, but also in foreign democracies, where people were free to say whatever they wished. Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Hitler all had their admirers, defenders, and apologists among the intelligentsia in Western democratic nations, despite the fact that these dictators each ended up killing people of their own country on a scale unprecedented even by despotic regimes that preceded them” – wrote Thomas Sowell in the preface of “Intellectuals and Society” (Basic Books, 2012, expanded edition).
In 2018, North Macedonia and Greece succeeded, with the courageous leadership moves of then prime ministers Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras, to overcome a three-decade old interstate dispute. We joined NATO. Then, particularly strong symptoms of the “disease” were noticed (which, in fact, is not new, the diagnosis is old as at least Yugoslavia).
In 2022, North Macedonia succeeds in getting all EU member states (plus the US) to put pressure on Bulgaria to give in and to raise the ramp that leads to the EU. Again, with wise and patient, but also bold diplomatic moves. After 17 years of waiting, North Macedonia started negotiations for EU membership. Then the “disease” exploded.
The intellectual “elite” found itself on the side of the rampageous street that shouted “pure Macedonia” and “death for Shqiptars” in days when Bulgaria was the topic (fitting, right?).
They live off state money their entire lives and do nothing
They are treated as an “elite”, yet behave as if they have come out of the darkest underground rooms of obliviousness. They live off state money their entire lives and do nothing, and what they do manage to do is bad, shallow and ugly, unworthy to be even called provincial. But that’s why they are in the front lines of “defending” national interests that have already been defended by others, truly capable and dedicated people.
I must say that I am not very surprised by the open national chauvinism and anti-Western views by which some public intellectuals and public opinion makers have been “celebrated”. Most of them live from the state budget that has incorporated multiculturalism and a pro-Western orientation in its foundations. Some of them have been make a living (and some getting rich) their entire lives from Western financial (donor) sources, but that doesn’t prevent them from shamelessly joining the anti-Western crowd. Without shame, “they opened up” and stood in the same line with the radicalized nationalist right-wing that is acting under the dictate of the Kremlin.
We are witnessing extreme abuse of the social position and abandoning of the progressive role of intellectuals in a society. They are a complicit in the killing of dialogue in society, which Gruevski’s regime carried out, and are now just infantryman in the propaganda war that is led by Russian installations.
“Propaganda ceases where simple dialogue begins” – writes Jacques Ellul in “Propaganda” (1962).
They know this. That is why they hold endless monologues about the purity of the nation, identity, language, pride…
A choice between disintegration and the benefits of democracy
People are faced with a choice. To recognize the disinformation and propaganda or to testify to the disintegration of their society and the end of the benefits of democracy. To carefully “read” the motives and the goals of intellectuals, media and politicians and to think about what they need, where they want to go and why they think so. Let them choose for themselves, if they don’t want to believe relevant and professional sources anymore. But if they follow the protagonists in this text, they will not arrive to a good place.
Mixed dice: They hate the Minister of Foreign Affairs because he is of Albanian origin. According to them, he as an Albanian, has no right to be involved in the negotiations with Bulgaria, which is setting obstacles for the Macedonian EU membership (which, actually, is a solved problem). The Minister is part of a government in which strategies are created and decisions made, and the ministers take part in that, and later also carry them out. No, that’s not mentioned anywhere, it’s as if was about children from the lower grades of primary school. And those who consider that Osmani did a good job (imagine, even though he is Albanian!), are traitors and mortal enemies of Macedonia (pure, of course). They can’t be anything else. If they are non-Macedonians, then surely they deserve the gas chamber.
Or: National chauvinists and rashists who swear by “Mother Russia”, hate the government for carrying out a pro-Western policy, hate a bunch of other things (Albanians, Roma, Turks, Bulgarians, Greeks, homosexuals, vaccines, Muslims, the EU, NATO, the US), but do apply for school, work or emmigration to the West (EU, US, NATO countries).
The luxury of turning a blind eye
The time has come when we cannot afford the luxury of turning a blind eye to those who are vulgarly and rudely abusing the benefits of democracy, and most of all, freedom of speech and (perhaps even more so) the state budget. Yes, they are not using, but rather abusing democracy and the budget.
We live in an extremely polarized world, in the middle of a brutal war in Europe (and not only in Europe), where all societies and institutional mechanisms have to provide an organized response. In parallel to that, everyone needs to face the challenges of social justice, poverty, health care, education, economy, digital transformation, climate change and (ultimately) security and military threats. And the radicalism that some public intellectuals support, as agile as it is irresponsible. It’s not easy, nor simple, but the time of comfort is long gone.
If you haven’t gotten up by now, maybe it’s too late to wake up. Continue sleeping. Good night.
Translation: N. Cvetkovska