The Tree In The Woods

Say you’re caught standing over a dead body, blood dripping from your sleeves, a blood-stained knife in your hand and as you’re lead away, you’re screaming “I’m glad I killed the bastard!”. And then you’re acquitted because the prosecution could not prove you guilty. The question is – did you do it?


Now, the reason I’m asking is because I had a most interesting and fierce debate this evening. It all started with crossing the road at red light. Since noone saw me break the law – did I actually break it? Can you break the law as such (Das Gesetz an sich, to put in Kantian terms) or do you break the law only if and when you’re found to have broken it?

Or – as the old logical riddle goes – if a tree falls down in deep woods and noone hears it, did it actually fall down?

I may seem to be asking high-school trick questions, but it occured to me that answers to these and similar questions are the essence of one’s moral, political and social outlook. Not that one is inherently better than any other, but – if you’ll allow a slight generalisation – on one hand we have the conception of One Truth, where things either exist (happen, are said, etc…) or not. On the other hand, however, we have the Relativistic Conception, where things only exist if we and others perceive them as existing (happening, being said, etc…).

Ergo, if I’m convinced that reality is one and incontestible, I’ve broken the law. If, however, I’m convinced that reality is only what we perceive (in this case, what a court of law perceives), then I haven’t broken the law.

What do you think? Did the tree fall even if noone heard it fall?

Tommorrow: how the two conceptions create a cultural and political rift in Slovenia

Finally A New Poll

It’s been over a month since last poll was published and pengovsky was already starting to wonder where have all the polls(ters) gone, Ninamedia comes to the rescue. Sort of, anyway. Results in a nutshell: Social Democrats seem to have bounced back, SDS stopped its dive, while Lipa, SLS and NSi should perhaps start to worry.


Things are, naturally, not so simple. The past month has seen a flurry of activity spread over a number of fields. On one hand we have had what is becoming known as “tycoon takeovers”, including but not limited to takeovers of Laško Brewery (new owner Boško Šrot) and Istrabenz (new owner Igor Bavčar). On the other hand, we have regional legislation which promises to be a whole new pre-election front, as results of referenda will probably be anything but clear and finally, there’s the Patria arms affair (not extensively covered on this blog, but that might change in the future as its political rammifications are getting more and more clear.


We’ve covered that on more than one ocassion, but events of the past week showed that the government is intent on pushing regional legislation through no matter what. To this effect it had the parliament call a referendum on the issue. However, to get his way, Prime Minister Janez Janša had to ensure that at least two out of four DeSUS MPs vote in favour of ther referendum. Which in the end they did, but only after Janša promised additional 35 million euros for pensions. 17.5 mil a vote – not a bad deal, eh? So while the people are being fed yet another referendum (expect a turnout of about 30%, no more), DeSUS is making headlines on home ground. But not to overdo DeSUS angle too much (although we’ll get back to it), it must be said that the opposition had the good sense of scrapping another referendum which was to be held only a week after the one on regions.

You probably don’t know it, but in its anti-corruption drive this government decided to abolish an independent anticorruption commission and replace it with a coalition-controlled one. I shan’t bother you with details, suffice it to say that it’s personal between Drago Kos, head of the doomed commission and PM Janša. In any case, the anticorruption commision is to be no more and while the opposition tried to have this referendum held on the same day as the regional one (which would have made sense). But as this is not possible, the anticorruption commission is to be no more at least temporarily. Which brings us to…


Now that Boško Šrot confirmed what we all knew for a long time – that he is more or less the sole owner of Laško Brewery, he recevied a lot of bad press (not that he can’t afford it 😉 ). He became the textbook definition of corruption and centre of attention of the rediscovered anti-corruption drive of the ruling party.There are several problems with that picture, which – it seems – reflect on the polls as well:

Boško Šrot already made it clear that he made his moves in agreement with Janez Janša and that the two fell out only after Janša’s people started seriously mishandling Delo newspaper (the latter was part of the deal). This fact naturally did not go unnoticed by the public, especially when Igor Bavčar, Janša’s long time friend and CEO of Istrabenz, who took over his company in a similar manner. Not that the two are the only ones to have officially gotten filthy rich in the past couple of years. It is becoming more and more apparent that – willingly or unwillingly, but definitely contrary to preelection promises – Janša & Co. made it possible for a handful of people to continue ammasing wealth at an ever increasing pace.


Back to DeSUS and its president Karel Erjavec who just happens to be defence minister as well (what defence and pensions have in common other than “defending pensions” is way beyond me). In any case, under his tenure the ministry went about shopping for brand new heavy armoured vehicles and the 135 million deal ultimately went to Finnish Patria. Only to see questions being raised about what exactly Slovenian Army will get for this kind of money and ultimately whether or not people were bribed to secure the deal. At the moment there is at least one person in the cooler in Finland over it (whether or not charges will be pressed remains to be seen).

For a while it seemed that DeSUS’ president is in over his head but as the story drags on, more and more people from Janša’s immediate vicinity are popping up and that does little good to Janša’s ratings.

So after month-long break is seems that the right bloc managed to cut its losses, but failed to make any gains, while the left bloc (especially Pahor’s SD made at least some headway).

Pengovsky’s projection: Seeing the aftermath of these events will be interesting to say the least. However, right now the ruling coalition seems to have failed to grab the initiative. But PM Janša went on the record saying that he has little time to dwell on home issues, so one assumes that the balance of power will change dramatically when the Slovenia finishes its EU presidency on 31 June and PM Janša re-engages on home terrain with full force. Whether or not it will be soon enough and whether or not the referendum on regions will be boost his preelection campaing or whether it will backfire will be seen in about a month.


A rather nice flash animation on Reporter’s website

Remeber Silverster Šurla and all the brouhaha about Delo, Mag, Laško and Andrijana Starina Kosem?

Well, one of the results (apart from Delo becoming rabidly anti-government) is Tuesday’s launch of Reporter, a weekly magazine which promises to deliver a hundred pages of high quality content every week. Bringing attention to stories that are intentionally or otherwise overlooked by other media, Reporter team will conform to the highest journalistic and ethical standards.

So much for the pitch. How about reality?

Naturally, too early to say. Hats off to Šurla & Co. for having the balls to create a new magazine, although it seems obvious that they were driven by revenge because Mag magazine was “taken from them” rather than by a healthy journalistic drive. But it is of no matter – a fit of anger can be a good thing if channelled correctly.

Obviously Reporter is aimed at Mag’s “previous” readers, those who (I presume) gravitate to the right of political centre. Which is cool. However, as Reporter is trying to fill the void created by Mag’s new (wider and more general) orientation, it is – in my opinion – trying to emulate Mag as we knew it a bit too hard. I realize that it was a rush-job and that the team didn’t exactly dwell on the format of the magazine, but only re-created the one they knew, but (and I’m speaking out of experience here) once you start, it’s extremely hard to upgrade your design and layout.

Reporter does not offer anything new, neither in terms of design nor in terms of content. Which I think is a wasted opportunity. I assume Mag was not exactly heaven on Earth and one of the reasons for Delo buying the magazine in 2005 (while Janša and Šrot were still buddies) was to keep it from folding economicaly once again. So if Reporter is aiming for that same target population, it is in deep trouble from the beginning. Which would be a shame – assuming that its stated goals of proffesionalism and high standards are real, and for the moment I’m more than prepared to give Šurla & Co. the benefit of the doubt.

So, regardless of its political affiliation or orientation, I keep my fingers crossed for Reporter. A hundred pages every week is a lot, both in terms of money and content. And hopefully, the latter will be of interest to people who didn’t read Mag before and don’t read it now either.

The Diaspora (This Is How Wars Start)

This is going to be an extremely short post, but I’d like to show you how wars start in my part of the world. One of the main reasons for wars and correspondingly low capacity of a given society to survive social and economic transition is the urge to right the ancient wrongs. Put less politicaly correct, we are talking about the people who fled (or were fled, so to speak) the post-WWII socialism and now feel it’s payback time.

A rally by the Australian Slovenian Conference. Why are there so many Croatian flags?

Popularly called The Diaspora, they are usualy people who left the country (in this case Slovenia) decades ago, usually for political, but also for economic reasons. Especially those among them, who are politically active, tend to gravitate to the right of political centre (I’ve yet to find me a politically active left-wing Slovenian ex-pat). This is especially the case in the Land Down Under, which was a post-war destination of choice for many Slovenes, Croats, Serbs and so on. These people left their motherland some fourty-odd (or even more) years ago and obviously have a rather distorted – or at the very least severely outdated – perception of their county of origin.

And so it happens that I read in today’s Dnevnik, amond Letters to the Editor (always an exciting read, revealing the deep shallowness of Slovenian soul) a letter by the Australian Slovenian Conference addressed to Prime Minister Janez Janša, urging him to stop “carelessly and irresponsibly ceding Slovenian land to foreigners. We are certain that history will judge you harshly if you do not change your approach to the matter at hand and do not stand up for Slovene citizens and Slovene land” and goes on to add that “ex-Yugoslavia has ceded a large piece of Slovene land to Italy in exchange for a large piece of Croatian land, which Croatia claimed as its own after the breakup of Yugoslavia. How will Croatia compensate Slovenia for this loss?

You see, people of Slovenia and Croatia lived in peace throughout history. We may say bad things about each other, but in the end Slovenes like Croatian seaside and music and Croats like Slovene mountains and shops. And both hate each other’s roads. It’s only when people who are stuck in 1945 and have a 19th century mindset (i.e. land is power) start stirring the pot, that all hell breaks loose.

Australian Slovenian Conference did shit to get Slovenia where it is now (except maybe partly fund Janša’s party) and for that precise reason it should keep quiet, sit in the back of the class, listen to old records and do those silly little dances they think are the essence of being Slovenian. But PUH-LEASE don’t do politics. It is difficult enough without warmongers of the 19th centuty claiming land that was never our own.