Croatia: Taste Of Marx’s Theory Of Socialism In President’s Marginalisation

Banner at Zagreb Protest
against Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic
12 February 2018
Banner says: “Serbia must answer for genocide in Croatia
and pay war damages”
Photo: Davor Kovacevic

Stating her official presidential view about the people who protested against the arrival of Serbia’s president Aleksandar Vucic in Croatia, many of who were Croatia’s Homeland War veterans and war widows, Croatia’s president Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic said:

“…We cannot permit individuals from the margins of the political spectrum or from the margins of any type of thinking dictate our politics.” (HRT TV News 13 February 2017)
Prsident Grabar Kitarovic concluded that the policies and inter-state relations should be determined “by us, statesmen and stateswomen, as well as a vast majority of our citizens who support Mr Vucic’s visit to Croatia…”!

Marginalisation is defined as exclusion from meaningful participation in society. Marginalisation in a broader sense can refer to a lack access to vital information and public discussion and thereby the marginalised’s ability to participate in public affairs and act as citizens is thwarted or devalued.

The idea of powerlessness that marginalisation brings links to Marx’s theory of socialism: some people “have” power while others “have not”. The powerless are dominated by the ruling class and are situated to take orders and rarely have the right to give them.

Some of the fundamental injustices associated with powerlessness are inhibition to develop one’s capacities, lack of decision-making power, and exposure to disrespectful treatment because of the lowered status.

Oppression at its “best”.

Given that people who attended the protest come from all positions on the political spectrum (from left to right/ or vice versa) it is not clear which one of these the president considers marginal. It is also not clear whether she actually meant only to label as marginal citizens the individuals who dared to protest.

It is clear that by labeling protesters against Serbia’s president’s visit Grabar Kitarovic employed a yet another distasteful tactic to suppress the many attempts, including those by a number of Members of Croatian Parliament, that called for Aleksandar Vucic’s both personal and state apology for the horror of aggression they waged against Croatia in the early 1990’s.

It is clear that everyone attending the protest felt directly insulted by the president’s insinuation of marginality. The media went wild. The president won no brownie points within her electorate (the Croatian voters) but lost quite a few. The protesters won quite a swell in support throughout Croatia and resentment about being considered as marginal spread like the Bubonic plague.

Presideent Grabar Kitarovic would have done well for her political agenda had she researched the enormous potential in political power marginalised people can assemble. She would have discovered that, for instance, the people in Britain who felt that they had been pushed to the margins of society were actually the driving force behind Brexit (Joseph Rowntree Foundation 2016 research findings). While the marginal people in this case of Brexit votes are those belonging to society’s margins of income and education etc. the Croatian president has created marginal groups for public discussion input, which of course, could come back and bite her at next presidential elections were she in mind to run.

Vucic’s visit to Croatia accompanied by Grabar Kitarovic’s marginalisation of freedom of opinion of some and the angst, the revolts, the protests all this has caused among a significant part of the community may yet prove to be a “wake up call” for those who insist that reconciliation cannot occur unless the Homeland War history and associated issues are reconciled first. And they are many! Certainly they cannot depend on their president with much certainty. Vucic or Serbia will most likely never give in to demands for war damage reparation not for full disclosure of all missing persons from the War. And Vucic said as much during his visit to Zagreb.

In 1991, the government in Belgrade, Serbia, aided the rebellion of ethnic Serbs in Croatia, who seized control of nearly one-third of the country and expelled hundreds of thousands of Croats. The tables turned in 1995, when about 200,000 ethnic Serbs fled to Serbia, despite being asked by Croatia’s leadership to remain in Croatia, when the Croatian army retook the occupied territory. An estimated 20,000 people were killed and thousands are still missing from the five years of conflict.

As for the past, we agree on almost nothing, but at least we understand that the other side has a different view,” said Vucic, who as a lawmaker during the war urged Croatian ethnic Serbs to attack Croats and hold onto the occupied and ethnically cleansed of Croats territory. “However, Serbia and Croatia will have to forge much better relations in the future, whether politicians like it or not,” he concluded almost defiantly.

Since when did real and brutal aggression become a matter of view!?

With Grabar Kitarovic’s energy focused on the process of being more friendly with Serbia at the expense of blotting out or suppressing or pussyfooting around burning issues from the War and Serbia’s aggression, there’s a danger the concerns of people at home will be ignored further. And there you have a formula for endless more years of despair and disquiet.

So much for her being the president of all Croatians! She has just sent groups of Croatian citizens into marginalised social standing or outer limit or edge of society. She has excluded the protesters from participating with recognition on the discourse about genuine public interests. I do look toward coming across Grabar Kitarovic’s clarification as to which groups from the anti-Vucic protests she considers to be on margins of thinking or political spectrum. The Croatian Homeland War veterans involved have a duty towards the state of Croatia to seek clarification of this. Ina Vukic

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