Croatia’s largest parliamentary opposition party, the centre left that’s still carrying the torch for the oppressive communist Yugoslavia, Social Democratic Party/SDP – has its new leader in Davor Bernardic. He is relatively young. Born in January 1980 he was only a baby when Yugoslavia’s communist chief Josip Broz Tito died in May 1980. Evidently nurtured within Croatia’s odious communist heritage and ex public servants of communist Yugoslavia, that with other like-minded former communists resisted democratic changes planned for an independent Croatia after the war in Croatia had finished, at the age of 18 he joined SDP and soon climbed to the top of SDP Youth. From 2010 Bernardic’s SDP career spiralled to head its Zagreb branch and to become active Councillor at City of Zagreb local government assembly and has been a member of parliament since 2011. On Saturday 26 November Bernardic was elected president of SDP at second round of part leadership elections, beating his rival Ranko Ostojic – a minister in former Zoran Milanovic government.
Newly elected Social Democratic Party (SDP) president Davor Bernardic said at the 14th SDP electoral convention held in Zagreb on Saturday 3 November 2016 that Croatia needed change and that SDP must be the one to start it.
“Over the past 20 years, social inequality has been growing both globally and locally. People seek the setting of more humane goals. The SDP’s goal is to revive the humane agenda. We must awaken the spirit of collectivism as the antifascists did in 1945 and Croatian defenders in the early 90s,” he said.
“The goal of a good society is to reduce social inequality. A good society is one in which we build collective responsibility by encouraging a healthy individualism because, without the feeling of belonging to the community and to the people, there is no link which people need to make a fully creative contribution.”
First thing that is clear to all except Bernardic and his political comrades is that Croatia’s defenders in the early 1990’s did not awaken 1945 antifascist collectivism but they created the opportunities for togetherness towards an independent from communist Yugoslavia Croatia goal and Bernardic’s SDP was against this goal, even walking out of the Croatia parliament when secession was on the agenda.
I wish Bernardic would steer away from insulting Croatian veterans by comparing them to 1945 antifascists/communists.
While collectivism as in nurturing sense of community and belonging is a humane agenda it certainly was never a humane one under Bernardic’s antifascists. The antifascists he talk about we communist thugs who purged those that did not politically agree with them, sat themselves and their family members in important positions of power thus raking in personal wealth, stealing from “collective wealth”, while preaching how collectivism and equality were the social standards to aspire to. The problem with Bernardic’s thinking is that he chooses it seems to acknowledge that there had never been a time in the history of Croatia that produced more social equality than under the communist regime of former Yugoslavia that had equality as its daily mantra to the masses.
The change Croatia needs is not the one Bernardic fuzzily speaks of but the one that would finally eradicate Croatia’s antifascism (communism) from Croatia’s social and government milieu – any other needed changes for the creation of opportunities for all to prosper will follow with any political party at the helm.
With Bernardic’s announcement that SDP wanted Croatia “to be decentralised and to develop there where people live, in municipalities and cities, because strong municipalities and cities can attract investments, create jobs, remove red tape obstacles, and enable people to live better,” one can sense that Bernardic has difficulties in even understanding the equality he espouses let alone possessing the skills to achieve it on a national level. His idea of decentralisation clearly is a sure platform for the creation of inequality and eventual rule of bitterness, resentment and envy between various local municipalities where one thrives economically and the other doesn’t and, hence, living standards are far from equal between the two. Similar issues arose in former communist Yugoslavia as the “well-to-do” states could not subsidise enough those that were not so developed in order to create a social equality across the nation.
Generally, one would conclude that the pursuit of equality’s results in what people have been known to consider as unfair distribution of reward. Because individual capabilities are always different, equality cannot be achieved without taking rewards from the deserving and reallocating them to the undeserving. The sae principle would be applicable to municipal councils as also to different states; in the name of social justice and equality doing well eventually becomes penalised and not doing well (in whatever form) become rewarded. Berdanrdic and his SDP will need to think hard as to how and whether the equality they imagine can be achieved. It ceases to be fanciful rhetoric once it makes its way into party policies.
Bernardic’s argument for egalitarianism would probably encompass the need to combat the unfairness of what egalitarians commonly refer to as ‘privilege’. Egalitarians deem ‘privilege’ bad because privilege is a concept that is not meritocratic and it allows some to enjoy unearned benefits. Yet, since, as examples throughout the world would show us, egalitarian policies still create privileged classes of individuals, who unfairly enjoy unearned benefits, it achieves the opposite of its stated goal, merely transferring ‘privilege’ from one group to another. To achieve true equality that the new SDP slogan promotes (“First Among Equals”) Bernardic would need to step on Croatia’s political elites and on the tycoons who have thieved the country for personal wealth amassment in one form or another as part of or associated with the political elites – his speeches do not show any such intentions on his part.
Of course, many have and will agree that equality is not immoral if pursued voluntarily, even if those pursuing it experience a decline in their quality of life as a result. However, many will also agree that equality is immoral if it is imposed, by the state (with its implicit threat of violence) or through social pressure, upon those who have no wish to pursue it. And it is doubly immoral if the nonconformity of those in the latter group are, as a result, and as we have seen in communism for instance, denied their humanity.
Beranrdic further said last Saturday that the SDP will create public policies for better living and uncompromisingly defend the freedom and the rights of individuals to be different without fear of discrimination, to publicly practice their faith, not to feel inhibited because of their ethnicity or sexual orientation. In recent decades, diversity has been a catchword among egalitarians, politicians … and Bernardic has jumped on their bandwagon. Yet surely, the achievement of equality would appear the negation of difference. Almost every day we hear the phrase ‘different but equal’ has been the egalitarians’ attempt to have their cake and eat it, but it is a logical contradiction and therefore to be strongly rejected as guide for any social change. The implication that the equality Bernardic refers to is some new equality does not hold, because Croatia already has adequate laws that protect citizens from discrimination, facilitate religious freedom, encompass ethnic rights through minority rights etc.
It is a frightening thing to come across in 2016 a leader of the Opposition/Bernardic resurrecting as ideal the 1945 and post-WWII antifascist collectivism, which by the way had in practice failed miserably. Impoverished, post-WWII Croatia (Yugoslavia) led by communists (self-proclaimed antifascists, who due to their crimes should be banned from associating themselves with antifascist movements) lived a socialist utopia in which the Party told the ordinary people that common good and individual happiness were in perfect harmony; the people there of 1970’s and 1980’s no longer extolled the “dictated virtues” of collectivism. In terms of age of the society the idea, the practice –went down the toilet quite quickly.
Bernardic with his SDP wants to drag collectivism back out of the sewers. Make your own conclusion as to why that may be so but my conclusion is that sooner former and current communists are chased into the sewers of Croatia’s society amidst democratic progress the better. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)