Have We Learned Nothing?

Yesterday a year passed since Janez Drnovšek passed away. The good doctor has a beautiful post on this, where she also touches the other hot topic of this week – the Erased. Specifically, she has a lot to say about Mlada Slovenija, the youth organisation of Nova Slovenija.

The late President Drnovšek in Ambrus, December 2006 (source)

A memory-jogging exercise: Nova Slovenija (NSi) was one of the junior partners in the Janez Janša‘s goverment. It held various portfolios, finance and justice being the two most important for today’s post. Nova Slovenija was wiped off the electoral map in last year’s elections. It didn’t even make it past the 4 percent threshold. There are numerous reasons for that, but the bottom line is that the party which only four months ago was the second most powerful party in the coalition has now joined the ranks of Party of Slovene Nation, National Labour Party, Lipa, The Republicans (go figure), The Communist Party, Clean Drinking Water List and many other parties which linger at the outer limits of Slovene political arena.

This might go some way in explaining why the youth organisation of Nova Slovenija (self-described as Christian People’s Party) issued a statement saying that “instead of being given to the Erased, money should be transfered to students who need it more” (Slovene only). Also, it helps to know that ministry of the interior today started issuing decisions to some of the Erased, legalising their status as legal aliens with permanent residence in Slovenia since February 1992.

NSi of course is not the only political party to go apeshit. Had it not been for some other factors (given below), their rant would go almost unnoticed, especially since SDS the largest opposition party (or, some would say, coalition party), filed an interpellation (a bill of impeachment, for those of you in the US) against interior minister Katarina Kresal. The fact that SDS did it on the same day as decision started being issued proves that they were planing ahead (unlike some people…. I’m looking at you, Borut!). However, not to be outdone, KK already issued a rebuttal. And – adding insult to injury – she did it on Facebook, one of the many tools of 21st century SDS still has to master.

Basically, SDS and NSi are saying that decisions are laying a foundation for the Erased to claim massive damages from the state, thus endangering the state of public finances.. Aside from the interpellation, SDS again proved it does understand parliamentary rules and procedures and filed a constitutional law (basically, a change of the constitution), which would prevent the Erased from claiming back-pay for the time their status was unlawfully revoked.

Holy shit! Not even pengovsky is capable of such cynicism! Claiming that someone should not be able to sue the state because the coffers are empty is nothing less than a complete denial of the rule of law. What are we doing here? Saying that you can only sue the state if you are bound to lose? What’s next? Opposition saying that noone should get their overpaid taxes returned because it would endanger public finances?

Guys, I realise you’re the opposition now and that with this PM you can get away with pretty much anything, but… really? Have you no decency? Have you really fallen that low? I mean, curbing basic human rights in the name of economic crisis is just bad sport. It shows you lack both the courage and the intelligence to come up with a persuasive argument against settling the Erased problem, which has been imposed upon more than 25.000 people seventeen years ago!

But this shouldn’t come as a surprise. The political right has ridden the wave of hatred, nationalism and ethnic superiority for quite some time now. in 2006 this exploded in anti-Roma riots in village Ambrus, where Janša’s government succumbed to the mob and evicted a Roma family because the Slovenian majority didn’t want them there any more, although the Roma owned the land. There was pitchforks, riot police, bonfires and the whole shebang.

The Erased are only a big piece of an even bigger mosaic of paranoid nationalism. Rumours have it that a large anti-Muslim gathering is being organised to protest the construction of Ljubljana mosque. And then people ask how come a group of football hooligans with a deficiency in basic reasoning and a strong anti-Croatian sentiment can hold entire NATO by the balls.

On Christmas Day 2006 the late President Janez Drnovšek tried to help the then almost-evicted Roma family by delivering food, clothes and shelter. Regardless of his position and without a shred of respect or decency he was stopped by a mob of local villagers, who forbade him (him, the commander-in-chief!) to deliver the relief material, because they decided that the Roma family, freezing near the burnt remains of their house, doesn’t need the help and would leave soon if denied it.

President Drnovšek took on the mob (video, Slovene only), telling them that although they call themselves Christian, they don’t have a shred of Christianity in them because they would rather leave women and children freeze and starve than help them. Slightly more than two years later, NSi is calling for another group of second-class citizens to be denied their basic human rights. Seems like NSi as well is Christian only in name and not in the spirit.

Apparently, a lot of people learned nothing from President Drnovšek. May whichever god they believe in have mercy on their souls. I, for one, have none left.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

39 thoughts on “Have We Learned Nothing?”

  1. Oh dear, I shouldn’t have read that, and then — of course — I shouldn’t have clicked on the link to watch the video of those gap-toothed yokels yelling at Drnovšek (one of the few sane people who ever had any authority in this place). I am trying to not let Slovenia depress me with this stupidity, but it is so very very hard.

  2. Also, considering how much debt I and nearly all my friends have from taking loans to pay for our own university educations, I am SO TIRED of spoiled Slovenian students complaining. These kids noodle around in free university for nearly a decade, get to eat for cheap in nearly any restaurant in town, and thenva lot of them don’t even finish their thesis and get their degree. Not only am I still toiling to pay back all my debts but I had numerous jobs all throughout my university days. And mind you, my school fees were a bargain compared to many others since I attended a state-owned school!

    I used to be a big proponent of socially-funded education but watching the disgusting, unappreciative, and downright spoiled way a lot of these over-entitled students behave in this country, I am beginning to think that the university should shrink to half its size and have rigorous admissions standards. The rest of everyone else can go start a farm or something…

  3. Camille: actually, admissions standards and most of all, the conditions for being allowed to get on with one’s studies USED TO be relatively strict in my time (1991-1998)… I had to pass 2 entrance examinations to be allowed to study what I wanted, every year, we had to pass a largish amount of exams in order to qualify for the next study year and retain the grant. Apart from the grant, my only source of income was work, just like you.

    So, even though I am against huge school fees and corresponding debts, I was aware most of the time that there were requirements to fulfil if I wanted to get education.

    The reason they did away with entrance exams and let in almost everyone was (according to a friend of mine, I don’t know if there were changes) the funding: nowadays, faculties get money per capita, so all students are welcome.

  4. Be that as it may, alcessa, the issue at hand is not really the monetary non-issue NSi is claiming into existence ‘on behalf of the student populace’. Neither is blaming the the entire student population who probably for the most part are not NSi constituents and probably not even christians, Camille. The real issue, as P – and Dr. Fil. – pointed out so eloquently, is that a call goes forth to deny one part of Slovenija’s populace a basic right and the continued stigmatisation and exclusion that is behind this call.

    Take it from someone who has lived in that particular bubble for several years : christians, even though they claim to be, are no better than anyone else. A few exceptions aside (mostly in the flock, not the leadership), they are of the most intolerant people I have ever met in my life. And all this because they refuse to respect anyone who does not believe in the things they do. If you think what’s going on in Slovenija is bad, I dare you to read this forum thread.

    I came upon it because my band is mentioned as an example – among others – of a ‘godless goth’ band. Admittedly, it’s one of the most extreme examples out there, but it gives a good insight in how far some christians are willing to go to exclude anyone who doesn’t adhere to their belief system (and even advocates racism and murder, backed up by quotes from that ‘holy’ bible). VERY far removed from the message of their Christ, who, as I recall from my hours of bibly study, had no qualms about dining and conferring with outcasts without passing any judgement and told many parables about accepting people for who they are. At least, that’s how it’s portrayed in the gospels to my knowledge.

    NSi should literally take a leaf out of their most holy book and get back to the essence of their religion. It might help them get their priorities straight. But then, I will never trust any religion to do the right thing by people outside of their belief system anyway…

  5. Well, yes (I already discussed the Erased and their human rights on another blog today, I only wanted to tell Camille Slovenian students used to have hard lives like everywhere else, I guess some of them still do.), I agree with you: never trust a group declaring itself to be Christian and adamantly promoting Christian values 🙁

    I don’t know about Belgium (?), but we do have a Catholic majority in Slovenia, a Protestant minority (I used to belong to) and some others (Orthodox…). So it is the Catholic church that determines the Christian discourse in SLO, but… Just like everywhere else, I think they are loosing adherents… People may go to church and still “know” nothing about “the real” Christian values and stuff. They may still use Christianity or Church policies to discriminate against any outsiders (sorry to hear you have to deal with this bullsh*t), but I am not sure religion really plays an important role in spiritual lives of average Slovenes, which could be the reason the corresponding political parties are rather obscure …

    Pengovsky, dr. Fil. What Say You?

  6. Camille, interesting to see your POV. With a note that the stupidity you are noticing is a world-wide phenomenon and cannnot be claimed by Slovenia alone.

  7. On the note of slovene christianity:
    I found a new church being built not long ago. Only other countries in europe I’ve seen that is Poland and Ireland..

  8. @Camille:
    I was just so sad when this whole Ambrus thing started happening. Forgive me if I draw an unfitting parallel, but when I saw the bonfire being lit by the mob, I immediately thought of KKK and burning crosses. However, when they stopped Drle, my first reaction was that – being the CinC – he should send in the troops and kick the shit out of them. Thankfully, he didn’t as he was much too wise for that.

    Regarding students: what you wrote is only half of the story. The other one is students who work and study, sometimes work to study. More on student work here, but I guess a comprehensive post on this issue is forthcoming.

    @dr. Arf & alcessa:
    Very much to the point. I have nothing to add.

    @dr. fil:
    A blessing in disguise? 😈

    Is that the one in Podutik? Ivan Zidar built that one 🙂

  9. Dr. Fil. If you have time… 🙂 The gist is, I think people in Slovenia don’t really consider the Church (or Christian political parties) to be their spiritual leaders. I was wondering whether I am wrong in that.

    As to the fools: I think Mr. Gauss would have hated them, too, cause he didn’t care for stupid people. He would still have to admit that their proportions probably correspond to the curve he himself was the father of.

  10. @Dr. Arf: The forum link you provided; Was it serious? If so it’s rather scary but bizarely has an advert for “Kates Gothic Clothing Shop” at the top (at least it does for me).

    Sorry to go off topic on such an important subject but the irony amused me.

  11. @ Adriaan : unfortunately, this is as serious as it gets. This is a bona fide christian denomination over the pond and yes, it’s scary. The ad is just generated automatically by an ad bot that generate ads by key words, in this case ‘gothic’. How cynical can one get…

    @alcessa : Belgium, like Slovenija, used to be largely catholic, to the point where the separation between church and state was only theoretical. Things luckily started changing in the hedonistic 80’s. And don’t worry : I eat christians for breakfast. Uncooked. So I’m not at all worried about their sh*t. :mrgreen: I am their worst enemy, because I was once part of them and hence know what makes them tick…

  12. I get no sense of much of anyone here being particularly Catholic or Christian or that anything the church says dictates much of any one’s behaviours. I think xenophobic yokeldom* (of the kind displayed by hillbillies worldwide, indeed Dr. Fil) is mostly to blame for the situation(s). The sad difference, however, is that the yokels here in Slovenia seem to constitute the majority in a great many areas and have some semblance of political might. And of course, those who might be otherwise “good country folk” can often get swept up in the fervor. I’ve talked to quite a few people who will drape one arm around my brown shoulder and talk about how bad segregation was in America, while holding a pitchfork to the throat of a gypsy or a Bosnian, without feeling at all hypocritical or conflicted.

    *definition of yokel here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yokel

  13. Camille: you mean, a German telling ME in confidence how bad all those Aliens (= Turks) are? 😈

    Or stories like Novalas? 😆

  14. @Camille: Looks like your views are moving a little to the right. hehe j/k. Of course that is one of the downsides of social spending….all the people who get it for free, then piss it away and complain how bad they have it. Of course gov’t could monitor who they give the money too, but of course that makes too much sense for any gov’t in this day and age.

    @pengovsky: Just wondering if I read this correctly…but when you said “curbing basic human rights in the name of economic crisis is just bad sport.” We’re you implying suing the state as a basic human right? I don’t know if I’d go that far. I mean from all I’ve read on the “Erased” I believe they should get their citizenship back. On the other hand when it comes to the money issue, they should probably get some compensation. When I start hearing terms like “Damages” though, imo that starts to get into realm of lawyers trying to squeeze as much money as they can, regardless if it’s way way too much.

    @Dr. Arf: Well I think all religions are pretty much equally intolerant. I may be wrong here but their main goal is to convert people to their religion. As well as quite a few religions fall under the envelope of Christianity. Some imo, are just completely made up and their only real goal is filling their coffers w/ money.

    I mean I’m Catholic…but I would probably be considered a “bad Catholic” by others since I don’t go to church often. Of course I feel there are quite a few Catholics…not to mention all the other denominations that sit their butt in church for 1 hour a week…and use that to consider themselves being a “good Catholic”. All the while treating other people like $hit in their normal day to day lives. Myself I just treat others like I would like to be treated, be a nice guy and well when my time comes it’ll either be good enough or it won’t.

    About NSi: Honestly when it comes to politicians and their political groups…they can slap whatever name they want on there. It doesn’t mean they will conform to those ideals, in the end it’s just a gimmick to lure lazy voters who don’t study what each party is about. On top of that, they’re politicians…so they always will tell people what they want to hear, but in the end they have their own ideas of how it should be, and sadly that trumps everything.

  15. @Michael N: Hummm….

    Article 26 of the Slovenian constitution
    (chapter II, human rights and fundamental freedoms)

    Everyone has the right to compensation for damage caused through unlawful actions in connection with the performance of any function or other activity by a person or authority performing such function or activity within a state or local community authority or as a bearer of public authority.

    Any person suffering damage has the right to demand, in accordance with the law, compensation also directly from the person or authority that has caused such damage.

    I think this is a clear as it can get. This is why SDS is trying to sneak in a constitutional law – so it can curb the decision of the Constitutional court by amending constitution.

  16. @pengovsky: 😛 ok, got me there. Well like I said, I wasn’t saying they shouldn’t get compensated. More like, defining “the right to sue” as a basic human right is kind of setting a dangerous precedent.

    Wouldn’t want to see Slovenia become the “sue happy” nation the USA has become. 🙂

  17. Sorry I’ve got a backlog here so coming in late 😉

    alcessa, do you think a couple of reasons for letting all those students in could possibly be:
    1/ Lisbon strategy
    2/ decrease in the potential student pool due to smaller birth rates, in combination with previous efforts of constructing new facilities for higher education studies

    As far as religion, Slovenian society and political parties go, I feel – but could be wrong – that most declared “people of faith” are churchgoers, but not truly spiritually religious. And I don’t think this is a situation specific to Slovenia.

    In societies driven by the pursuit of a better life perceived as a life of comfort in abundance of material wealth, spiritual values which – in my view – ALL major religions propagate, are not being given much consideration. They may be accepted as a given, but not really given much thought.

    Alcessa, I’m afraid the average Slovenian doesn’t have much of a spiritual life. It is true that in times of crisis people tend to reconnect to their spiritual side, so we may well see a change there. What direction the change will take remains to be seen. I don’t think politicians are seen as spiritual leaders in any regular western democratic society and Slovenia is no exception. A popular rock band… or a reality show persona… now that could be a different matter altogether :mrgreen:

  18. @Michael N: It is of the utmost importance to distinguish between “sue happy” citizens and corporations going for each other’s throats and the relationship between a citizen and the State. The State is infinitely stronger than any individual as it actually makes the laws according to which the entire process is conducted. The apparatus that is built to preserve the society and protect the best interests of citizens must be subject to constant and strict monitoring. Through lawsuits if need be.

  19. Well people can still sue. But make it so it doesn’t sound like it’s every persons god given right to sue for anything.

    I guess that section included fundamental freedoms. So it more applies to that. I just think calling it a Human Right would give people a sense of entitlement, that I can sue for anything I want regardless of how frivolous it is. I guess it would be ok if we had lawyers, & judges in this world that would throw out the truly moronic cases. Of course, in the USA we see you can’t bet on that thought process.

  20. Michael, Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.”

    No, you can’t sue for anything. But you sure can and should be able to sue for what you’re entitled to. While the sue happy mentality is tiresome to say the least, an environment limiting your right to seek justice in court would be much more problematic.

  21. @Dr. Fil: I agree. I’m not saying no lawsuits. I guess we are more disagreeing on semantics. My point was, I just wouldn’t label suing as a Human Right. That’s not me saying you can’t sue the gov’t/corporation/person.

    @all: I thought I would get more comments on my other points, guess I replied too late. 😛

  22. Michael, sorry to be anal, but actually the quoted Article 8 sort of defines it as a Human Right 😉

    And I for one didn’t comment on your other points for the simple reason of agreeing with them :mrgreen:

  23. @dr. Fil: Well main difference between those 2 examples yours, & the one peng copied from the Slovenian constitution. Is this one makes no mention specifically of compensation (i.e. money). Whereas the one in the constitution specifically talks about compensation.

    Article 8 sounds perfectly ok…I prefer how it’s written compared to Article 26.

  24. @dr Fil: hehe sorry. My post went up before your last one did so I didn’t see it when I wrote that.

    Well, it’s purposefully ambiguous. Honestly all it says is you can take them to court. Imo, taking someone to court for punishment, is something different then suing. They can be combined or not. I would apply it more to acts of violence/genocide. Regardless it leaves it up to each constitution, where it would be defined in more detail.

    My other points: Cool. I never know if people think i’m off the wall and don’t want to waste the time replying or if they agree. 🙂

  25. Well, I knew I should not follow the redirection to your page, since I am always struggling not to know what is happening around me. I like my bubble. I like my fantasy world, that keeps me creative and distant from this kind of surreal world, that is more imaginative than mine. And the video proves it. So does the illness and premature death of a good, great man, who really believed, that something could be done. Well it can´t. And that is the fact. We, the people are still just animals who deal with politics… Those words were said more than two thousands years ago and I think they still apply to this day… Sad…

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