Croatian Antifascists (a.k.a. Communists) losing the plot on democracy

Croatia's President Ivo Josipovic

Croatian president Ivo Josipovic delivered a speech at the “Days of Antifascism in Opatija” 7 – 9 March.

Given his past political affiliations, one could say that there’s nothing unusual about his  attendance of the Days of Antifascism. He had been an active member of the League of Yugoslav Communists for years (1980 – 1990); later he aligned himself with the Social Democratic Party in Croatia (in government currently), which arose from the League of Communists. Antifascist is just an another name for Communist as far as the mindset and political orientation go.

But, he declared himself politically independent in the office of the president and his attendance of antifascist meetings and keynote speaking causes concern and places serious doubts as to his political independence, or neutrality.

His speech in Opatija sounds with alarm bells, clearly and loudly: Josipovic is telling the world that right-wing politics don’t practice democracy, or can’t be trusted to practice it. Furthermore, he steers in the direction that “radicalism” is attributable to right wing politics and not the left. He suggests that protests and demonstrations are not an expression of democratic processes but rather some evil force of right wing politics devoid of good intentions for the people. And to top it all off he imputes reprehension and aggressive tendencies against the European people who have voted right wing politicians into parliaments.

He preaches that democracy should include the rights of all, and yet he denies the peoples’ rights to vote in accordance with their beliefs, to be radical, to express their national feelings, their disenchantments, their demands for a different or better outcome in their lives. Last time I looked even radicalism is considered a right within democracy.

Is Josipovic losing his plot when it comes to recognizing the plethora of democratic existence and practice, I wonder? But then again, deep down, he may still be stuck in the extreme leftist radicalism of Communism where there was no democracy.

Josipovic said on Friday March 9: “In the modern European society there is no danger from left radicalism and extremism. The right radicalism is threatening European democracy, right-wingers win a serious number of places in parliaments. What to do so that history doesn’t repeat itself? The key word is democracy which will prevent aggressive political movements, but democracy is not enough, especially not as a technique.”

He stressed that fascism and antifascism in Croatia are associated with World War II.

So why on earth would he attend the Days of Antifascism and give them a current relevance? Bizarre.

He warned that the disempowered parts of society are inclined towards undemocratic options, that it’s easy to gain their following, there are, for example, offensive words directed towards players of different colour at a football match, he said and continued:

“We must not forget that the virus of radicalism can easily contaminate the society. Social crisis is where this virus finds fruitful ground. One model has come against the wall, liberal kind of capitalism obviously gives no answers to the problems which we encounter. What’s happening in Greece and elsewhere is a dangerous symptom we must think about, I’m not sure that we have recognised the right way out of this. The problem is how to create more in socially acceptable ways, and the key of success is to find a way to work more and better. Work is the foundation of prosperity and democracy, and the essence is in fair allocation. If we don’t find a way for economic recovery in Europe and in Croatia we’ll face a crisis of large consequences. Croatia is predominantly a democratic society, it’s sensitivity to social justice is pronounced, but all that won’t be enough if every day, in every activity, we are not ready to work at the essence of democracy, in the first instance at freedom, social equality and equal chances for all. Let’s do everything so that Croatia gets as close as possible to that ideal.”

It’s obvious that Josipovic and Croatian antifascists are mimicking the sentiments of leftist (antifascist) organisations of UK and other Western countries where the economic woes resulting in unemployment and poverty are used to advance the idea that left politics are the “savior” of democracy or peace. For example, in September 2011, Jamie Pitman, a UK left inclined, in response to the English Defence League protests said:   “…in times of austerity and a poor economic climate, fascism and racism can flourish. We need to beat fascism by turning out in bigger numbers than them – not resorting to violence but providing a bigger show of strength.”

So, Josipovic is saying nothing original when he said: “Social crisis is where this virus finds fruitful ground”. It’s really what Pitman said a few months ago in London and what other leftists have undoubtedly said before him.

The Croatian Antifascist (a.k.a. Communist) political currents are keeping “Fascism” alive through their rhetoric and scaremongering while purposefully suppressing the very facts upon which Communism arose as a political force that seized state power. It was back in 1917, October Revolution in Russia – the Communists were the extremist radicals (if we’re to use Josipovic’s label for modern movements of national pride fuelled by economic crises). The Yugoslav Communists were no better than the Russian ones; while fighting against “Fascism” they also cut the finishing blow in 1945 by deposing the King. It’s difficult to give credence to Antifascists’ finger pointing at Fascists when it comes to aggression and radicalism when Antifascists practiced the same; they just haven’t been answerable for their aggressive and radical deeds.

As a point of interest, the former president of Croatia, Stjepan Mesic, also attended the Days of Antifascism in Opatije. He too shed his political party membership when he became the president in 2000.

There doesn’t seem to be much of political independence in either Josipovic’s or Mesic’s office of the president of Croatia. One wonders whether their activities in the Antifascist arena keep a nation (Croatia) at constant loggerheads for its World War II history; stifle the smooth progress of democracy. How difficult can it be to place both Fascism and Antifascism firmly into history, not just say they belong to history?

Franjo Tudjman

The thought flows with nostalgia to the days when dr Franjo Tudjman sat in that office, reconciling the past belongings, pursuing ways to unite historically divided political winds of Croatia into a spanking new democracy where both the right and the left politics had a place and the mandate to compete for peoples’ trust, without the decades old history calling the shots. Ina Vukic, Prof.; B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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