Consolidation of the nation-state, not sovereign-state, is and should be at the very heart for progress in Croatia. Hence, at this time of political polarisation occurring around focus words for elections as prelude to imminent European Parliament elections in late May of this year (and general elections next year), the Independents for Croatia (Neovisni za Hrvatsku) got it right and Croatian Sovereignists (Hrvatski suverenisti) haven’t! The president of the Independents for Croatia, Bruna Esih, describes her party and its endeavours as “nationalistic”! That seems to set the mood and direction this party is taking: Croatian people!
The distinction between “Croatian sovereign-state” and “Croatian nation-state” is vast and it is hoped that voters in Croatia will recognise this.
The media hyped-up notion of “need to” unify, for the sake of unity alone, behind the political group “Croatian Sovereignists” has created a sense of disloyalty to Croatia if one doesn’t unite behind them! This group frequently mentions Croatian unity as the only socio-political value that would save Croatia! Consequently, many voters seem to be placed in an uncomfortable position when it comes to deciding whom to vote for. This is evidenced by many mainstream and independent media outputs as well as lamentations about some lack of unity one comes across in social media posts.
“Unity” is the new buzzword some politicians use to claim now is the time for all patriotic right-leaning political parties, citizens’ initiatives, individuals… to come together and heal the divides, which, according to them, even if the flesh of such divisions is not firmly defined, are to blame for everything that is going wrong and has gone wrong in Croatia in the past two decades. You know, unity sounds wonderful, especially in the midst of European Parliament, parliamentary or presidential election seasons in Croatia. If unity they talk of were to be achieved then one concludes that families would no longer be feuding about which individual politician each member will vote for, individuals do not need to choose between two, three…or more election candidates they like (equally?), and Facebook could return to being a place where we primarily share photos of our children, pets and meals.
Unity would be a welcome respite for those who are exhausted from the years of hard battles over decommunisation, engaging and including Croats living outside of Croatia in meaningful and impactful investment programs, Croatian citizenship process woes, brain drain or mass emigration, voting rights and justice issues, to name just a few of the concrete problems Croatia is grappling with.
Beware the sweet lull of that siren song calling for “unity” and for patriots to “come together”. It appears as the latest incarnation of the call for “civility,” and is just as dangerous. Unity for its own sake cannot be the goal for Croatia or anybody else. It serves well those holding power that thrive on the shrapnel that disperses itself across the community, causing mayhem and confusion. Sovereignty on its own cannot be the goal for Croatia as it has already been achieved in the strictest sense of the word and concept. The Homeland War and its defenders (veterans) had achieved the goal of a sovereign state of Croatia through blood, sweat and tears!
The goal Croatia had set itself (in its Constitution) prior to the escalation of Serb-aggression and Homeland War was to be “a state of Croatian people…” (giving acknowledgement to other national minorities). It is this goal that has not been achieved and the repetitive, ongoing devaluation and marginalisation of Croatia’s Homeland War as The foundation of the Croatian sovereign state serves as evidence of that fact.
Candidates or parties who run on their own platforms for the advancement of Croatian nation-state (as opposed to sovereignist state), who are either jointly or individually at the forefront of fighting for a vigorous justice system overhaul to reflect its independence from any former or current political baggage that breeds corruption, expanding access to Croatians living outside Croatia to the Croatian economic and political life, protecting Croatian voting rights across the globe, to just name a few, are suddenly painted as fringe or extreme in parts of the Croatian community at large.
Never mind the fact that these issues brought forward by those who have not succumbed to the latest political fad of “union of sovereignists”, such as the Independents for Croatia party (Neovisni za Hrvatsku), are not political, but moral. For, morality guides legislature! There is a moral obligation of all Croatians to ensure that in all its social and political layers Croatia develops into that which is bestowed upon it by its very Constitution: first and foremost “a state of the Croatian people…”. Once this is asserted (having in mind that the national minorities also mentioned in the Constitution as belonging to the state of Croatia) then Croatia is likely to shape up as intended: into a functional democratic state.
So, it appears obvious that the call for unity is really just a call to stop rocking the centrist boat; the boat of those whose allegiances appear to be distancing them away from the Croatian nation as a formidable factor and concept in local and world affairs.
Nation and nationalism – the former, a form of society, the latter, an ideology – are two complementary social realities that emerged from the capitalist revolution. Nationalists generally look for their national roots in bygone times, but today there is near-consensus among scholars to the effect that the nations and national revolutions that led to the formation of the nation-states are a modern phenomenon. And Croatians must not shy away from that, even when branded as ultra-nationalists!
No doubt in my mind – asserting a Croatian nation-state will reset Croatia to its intended moral values based on democracy, justice and freedom for Croatian people to carve their own destiny and role within the international community – and cement The Homeland War as the state’s foundation stone.
Nationalism remains essential as economic competition between nations becomes increasingly stiff the more the markets open to it – it is therefore a nationalism expressed through a national development strategy or national competition strategy: a conjunct of institutions, policies, agreements and practices that create investment opportunities for entrepreneurs and unify the nation. It is through nationalism that a society seals its identity and sets its goals. Nationalism is just this self-reflection, or, an authentic consciousness of the national reality. Nationalism is how a nation sees itself reflected in two fundamental objectives: economic autonomy and development.
The first nation-state in history was England, and it is no accident that Henry VIII was the pioneer in the practice by founding the Anglican Church!
There is a relationship of mutual reinforcement among the nation, State and nation-state: the first being a form of society; the second, its main institution; and the third, the politico-territorial unit proper to economic development and living standards. Territorial nationalism, the cause of many conflicts throughout history, is still alive and well (Serb aggression against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are one proof of that) but this is not the nationalism Bruna Esih is talking about. What one reads in those Esih words is the need to assert the Croatian nation-state, which is regretfully still in an arrested state of development. And politically placed siren calls for undefined “unity” being heard these days do no justice nor favour to asserting that Croatian state Croatia’s own Constitution speaks about.
The Croatian Party of Rights (HSP), headed by Karlo Starcevic, appear to have recognised this siren call of “unity” from the so-called sovereingnist camp for the buzzword it appears to stand for, and have joined forces with the Independents for Croatia European Parliament election list; where also the Croatian Parliament Independent Member for the Croatian Diaspora, general Zeljko Glasnovic, stands.
Article 9. of the Constitution of the Independents for Croatia party says that it is “a political party that represents and promotes Croatian national interests, the quintessence and identity of the Croatian people, its committal and the historical heritage, in particular the values of the Homeland War and the right of the Croatian people to a free and independent state.”
That is the nationalistic line Croatian voters should take on board and rally behind and vote for! Nationalism – also referred to as patriotism – fortifies and accentuates sovereignty. It does not happen the other way around.
So far, it’s been a tough-fought campaign, and it has only just started, with lots of strong candidates and piles of good ideas as well as self-serving rhetoric. But I think I’ve made my decision. I’m supporting the candidates who clearly stand behind a Croatian nation-state, and there are quite a few that stand out from various parties and groupings. Political parties’ “unity” has become an empty buzzword. It assumes unity for Croatia but does not define the essential tasks this union would work on for Croatia as a nation. Frankly, given the constraints for it we have been dealt lately, I’ve got “unity” fatigue.
Source: Ina Vukic – http://inavukic.com/2019/04/19/croatia-nationalist-or-sovereignist-vote/