Macedonia is witnessing a moment in which the traditions of an anti-democratic political culture and the elimination of economic and political incentives within the post-socialist transition have combined with neoliberal capitalist economic policies pursued by political elites and have successfully seized the state and pushed the population into poverty. The complexity of this current state of affairs thus requires a multifaceted “solution.” The “colorful revolution” and the #Протестирам movement are a part of that solution.
The role of the colorful revolution and #Протестирам is within the confines of the arena of civil society, which includes formal and informal actors such as non-governmental organizations as well as social movements, initiatives, and most importantly independent citizens. Thus, these movements have a role to play in the democratization of society as a whole in that they are the embers to fueling a new democratic political culture which prioritizes democratic governance over economic security, collective participation over a cult of personality, and individual responsibility over political apathy. However, they must be wary of their own elitism and politicization. Without sowing the seeds of individual responsibility touphold democratic values, the crux of our democracy, Macedonia will see no change. This is what the colorful revolution and #Протестирам can work to foster in our society.
What these movements cannot do is free the captured state. What these movements cannot do is pursue economic policies which are rooted in the principles of social justice for the working class. What these movements cannot do is serve as the party-political structures of the state. What these movements cannot do is insure that the law applies to everyone. These movements are a part of a broader understanding of civil society which cannot replace the political society, state apparatus (institutions), economic society, or rule of law. For this reason the solution to the current crisis is multifaceted and time consuming. It is inevitably so if the solution is going to be an actual solution and not a temporary one.
This does not mean that the colorful revolution and #Протестирам are a waste of time or useless. To the contrary, these movements are essential to waking up the conscious of all citizens in Macedonia as to their role within society. They are necessary to overcoming a historically authoritarian political culture rooted in the governing practices and structures of Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire, and the elitist state-socialism of Yugoslavia which prioritized economic security and authoritarianism and resulted in political apathy and the pacification of the demos.
However, simultaneous to this process needs to be the involvement of economic society, political society, the rule of law, and the state apparatus as well as their revamping away from the authoritarian and neoliberal capitalist order which allowed for the current situation to emerge. A new economic order needs to be pursued which prioritizes workers and citizens around the principles of social justice and equality rather than the current status quo of simply benefiting the political elite. A new political society will need to be implemented in which political parties are internally democratic, new and young political faces come to the scene, the political process becomes transparent and accountable, and most importantly that it is rooted in the participation of the demos. The rule of law will need to be returned which requires that all are held accountable under the law. A new state apparatus needs to be created which prioritizes merit and critical thought over power, money, and connections.
In order for this to take place I believe that the colorful revolution should continue, however, that it should be aware of its role and limitations. Furthermore, in the short term, there needs to be a radicalization (not violent) of the actions being taken by citizens to counter the policies of the ruling elite. Street protests are ineffective in an anti-democratic and captured state in which institutions have no loyalty and accountability to the demos. Thus, the current situation is one in which the demos needs to prevent illegitimate institutions from taking further action as all action is in the interest of the political and economic elite of the state. The demos must prevent the activities of all state institutions by, ironically, recapturing them and bringing them to a halt. Civil disobedience is crucial to accomplishing this. Until this happens the demands of the movements and people in Macedonia will either be compromised negatively or simply remain unmet.
Once this happens an expert-led government must be formed which will “govern” for at least two to three years. It is within these two to three years that, hopefully, there will be a departyization of the everyday lives of citizens and in which criminals will be held accountable for their actions, the rule of law will be returned, new and young political forces will emerge, and economic policies will be pursued in the interest of the working class and not the elite. This is obviously an extremely complex and multifaceted process, however, it is only through this that an actual solution will be reached. If we pursue temporary solutions which will simply be facades over the past then we are lying to ourselves that the future will be democratic and in the interest of all and not just the few.