Rescuing a nation
In my last column, “The dead, the unborn, the living, and a contract,” I made the Burkean case, (after Edmund Burke) that there is an unwritten contact between our ancestors who have passed on, the dead, those of us who are alive right now, the living, and those who are yet to be born, the unborn. This contract, which extends to the past and to the future, gives those generations — the dead and the unborn — a vote in where we go, a vote in where any country goes as it lives on.
In the case of Macedonia, I made the point that these two additional generations — again, the dead and the unborn — have a right to voice their opinion in Macedonian affairs. I also made the point that under the current regime of Zoran Zaev and his government, Macedonia has been subjected to many injustices and that those must be reversed if Macedonia is to continue on and succeed as Macedonia.
In this column, I want to make the case that Macedonia can — and must — be rescued, and I want to make a limited case in how to accomplish that task.
In his column, “To Rescue a Nation,” the late Angelo Codevilla, who was a Senior Fellow of the Claremont Institute and professor emeritus of International Relations at Boston University, writes that history offers many examples of nations rescued and re-founded, but that most of those cases involved overthrowing a foreign power who had come to occupy them. He also writes that “the removal of foreign influence is almost always much less than half the battle,” arguing that when the elites of society, those who control the commanding heights of culture, go their own way and ignore the traditions and truths of that society and those who believe in them, then society begins to fracture. He notes that Machiavelli wrote that rescuing a nation is considerably more difficult than founding it in the first place.
And this is where Macedonia is today: the elites of society who control the commanding heights of political culture, the NGOs, the media, academia, and more, have changed and continue to attempt changing Macedonia into something it never was — starting with the name change, but continuing to a change of its identity, its history, its culture, its heritage, and more. These changes, forced on Macedonians who never consented to this, corrupts the very nature of Macedonia and the Macedonians. Going back to my previous column, these Macedonians know for a fact that the dead would never have agreed to this and are certain that the unborn never would agree to it.
Lightly paraphrasing Codevilla’s paragraph as he wrote it for an American audience we then read the following: The process of rescue necessarily consists of the would-be leaders of Macedonians who believe in Macedonia, and Macedonia’s right to its name, identity, heritage, culture and more, and convincing their followers to ignore, to disdain, to resist, the directions from society’s commanding heights in favor of what they believe is more consistent with what Macedonia had been and should be again. It is essentially a revolutionary (or counter-revolutionary) process that requires equal doses of negation and affirmation. In other words, to live not by lies, to quote Solzhenitsyn.
Continuing with Solzhenitsyn from another book, we find this truth: “I understand, I sense that you’re tired. But you have not yet really suffered the terrible trials of the 20th century which have rained down on the old continent… You’re tired, but the Communists who want to destroy your system are not; they’re not tired at all.” Or, paraphrasing this slightly, I would argue that Macedonians are indeed tired of the current regime in Macedonia and the terrible trials it has rained down on Macedonia just over the past four years. But the current regime, who wants to remake Macedonia into something that it is not, is not tired at all.
So, how can we make the current Macedonian government tired? Or, how can we “rescue” Macedonia from them?
It takes uniting, first of all. Macedonians who are committed to Macedonia and what it was and is meant to be, must see themselves together, in the same boat as it were. They must put aside their petty and small differences and act as one. As Codevilla writes, “Like any other way of life based on self-rule, ours can be re-founded only by the people themselves.” Macedonia can only be taken back and rescued by the Macedonian people themselves.
Second, and going back to Solzhenitsyn, it means living not by the lies of the Zaev regime. It means standing up to them, refuting them, and telling the truth.
Finally, it means remembering that the Macedonians who believe in truth, beauty, tradition, and so much more that make life worth living and make Macedonia worth fighting for are in the majority. Don’t let a small, tyrannical minority dictate the present or the future.
We know the following to be true: Bulgaria is not giving up in its demands that Macedonians declare their language and identity as deriving from Bulgarian. And, since history should be our guide, it is likely that Zoran Zaev will cave into their demands. In the meantime, Greece says that Macedonia has not fully implemented the so-called Prespa agreement and so they too, will demand more concessions from Macedonia. EU membership is now either out of the question or a decade or more from now; and what will the EU look like then? To say nothing of the myriad problems facing Macedonia internally — corruption, rising crime, public debt, denial of any responsibility by the government for any wrongs, ethnic tensions, lack of foreign investment, inflation, the changing of school history books, and so much more.
On the last point — and I need to stress it in a separate paragraph — if Zaev gets his way with changing Macedonian educational curriculum, a generation of Macedonians will be raised to despise Macedonia. And that will be the end of Macedonia.
But allow me to finish on a high note: in all of this, be a Happy Warrior! In other words, be cheerful, not about your plight, but about your fight, because Macedonia is worth fighting for and it is entirely possible — I would argue it is necessary — to have a good attitude about all of this. Sour, angry, and resentful attitudes will not persuade anyone nor are these attitudes good for body, mind, or spirit. But the attitude of a Happy Warrior? Oh yeah, that is what wins battles and wars.