Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Terror of Minority Continues*

Zeljko Kardum, May 3, 2013

One of the most appropriate ways to learn more about a country, its problems and attitudes is by reading local press. That is why, from time to time we offer you herewith translations of some of the most colourful commentaries in the serious political and economic media in Croatia.

While following the macro economic indicators and the economic situation in the country, more and more often I hear the question: "Is there any reason for optimism at all?". This always confuses me. I don't understand. As if optimism needs a reason. Optimism is hope, belief in the future and successful exit. And hope and belief are not subject to material proof. It's a feeling. It is based on small things and on the moments of happiness. Those who do not recognise them are doomed to be eternally unhappy. It's stupid to rationalise optimism and pessimism. But some big philosophers and scientists made attempts in that direction. It is believed that renown mathematician Gottfried Leibniz is a representative of optimism, unlike Arthur Schopenhauer who is a representative of eternal pessimism. If they could look at Croatia today, I wonder who of the two would be right? Not to mention that both, because of their philosophical views, would probably shriek out from the various civil organisations for protection of tolerance of belief, home and women's rights.

But is there hope?

Can the Croats be satisfied and happy with the outcome from the last election for the European Parliament? Of course they can! At least they can be as happy as Einstein's mother Paulina was. How so? Very simple. In fact, Albert's mother initially strongly opposed her son's relationship and his marriage to the Serb Mileva Maric. The reasons were quite prosaic. Mileva was four years older than her son, she was not a Jew and she had one leg shorter than the other. But, did mother Paulina become completely happy and satisfied when everything changed in 1919? Her son Albert indeed got divorced her odious Mileva only to marry his own cousin Elsa! In the end of the day, the daughter of the sister of Einstein's mother became a daughter-in-law in just one night.

And Albert's aunt all of a sudden became a mother-in-law. But this was not the end of the internal family confusion. Things got additionally complicated by the fathers of the newly married couple. Everything else aside, Albert's and Elsa's fathers were nephews. Did all this bring happiness to the Einsteins is hard to say, but it strikingly reminds of our domestic political stage. It seems to me somewhat that Paulina and the Croats after all got through the same thing.

It is quite clear that eighty per cent of the voters, who decided not to go out to vote, said they did not want any of the politicians being offered to them. So? Nothing. The terror of minority continues. Media throughout the entire Sunday evening were informing us from the party headquarters. The demagogy of party leaders was overflowing from all sides. Interestingly, but no one asked anything those unsatisfied four fifths of the Croats, who abstained because they thought there was not much of a difference between Mileva and Elsa. Those who do not believe that whoever of those Brussels passengers would be of any use to Croatian taxpayers. And that is why, they decided not to let themselves being maltreated by the single day ostentatious democracy parade.

Who will pay for the party?

Are those who believe that Croatia would not have too much of a benefit from its membership in the European Union pessimists? Or the contemporary politicians? Or that they will be better off? And how then the other EU member states prospered? Analysts say that everything is a matter of timing. And of luck. Something we never had. That is why, now we join this European experiment pretty late. For starters, the party is almost over. There are only left a few dry sofas, semi-empty bottles and autistic DJs who have no luck in social contacts and who do not allow you to choose the music. However, the host is welcoming the guests. He believes that it is not bad to have another hand for tomorrow's cleaning up after the party. And to share the damage costs.

Times change. Financial magicians of the class of Warren Buffet and Georg Soros today would not be able to repeat the miracles they did between 1980 and 2007 during the big credit expansion. Neither Europe not America are still financial El Dorados. During that golden age it was wonderful to be an investor or a spender. No one ever asked about the price, nor any one intended to pay it in the end. Everyone were successful and happy. As long as everything went on. But every party sooner or later comes to an end. America and Europe have been for five years trying without success to get sober and move from the dead centre. Citizens watch with anxiety how their salaries and family incomes have been falling for ten years in a row. Even the genius Warren Buffet cannot stop all this. If you adjust his wealth to inflation, it is still below the level of what he had 12 years ago ... somewhere in the 2000s.

The world is now turning in the opposite direction to what it used to during the 1980s. Croatia too. Try today on the market to earn as much as you could before in the golden age of Pliva, Ina and HT [Croatia's biggest companies, until recently entirely state-owned]. The magic is over. Revenues of 20% per year are only a dream. Now everyone who want to watch clearly see who bluffed and from whose sleeves fell false trump-cards. What you were assured by local politicians will in the end be paid by everyone who attended the party. No matter whether they have arrived in the beginning or the end. It is only important in the negotiations about who owes how much that you do not sent the most stupid or the most narcissistic from your group.

But the way things are today, it's not much of a choice. Now, do you understand what poor Paulina felt?

*A text from the regular column by Croatian columnist Zeljko Kardum in the weekly magazine Globus (from the issue of April 19th). Translated by Adelina Marini

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