Poor buggers

Time to pay the Devil his due — civil society organizations in Macedonia

And so the time has come to pay the Devil his due — certain “civil society organizations” (CSOs as they have become to be known) are now demanding payment from the new government in Macedonia for their help in bringing said government into power through the violence of the so-called “colorful revolution” and other actions (worth remembering: the revolution, eventually, devours its own). The so-called leaders of these groups are now attaining both high government jobs and a seat at the legislative table in making laws (with the government’s aim of making CSOs an “equal partner”), despite the fact that no one voted for them.

Alexis de Tocqueville was a 19th century French diplomat, historian and author who spent a considerable of time in America in the early part of that century. His classic, Democracy in America, published in two volumes in 1835 and 1840, addresses many aspects of the relatively new nation including the role of civil society. While Tocqueville had great respect for Americans’ propensity to join into organizations to tackle all kinds of issues and problems (what we would now call civil society), he also warned against potential abuses, writing “The tyranny of a faction is no less to be feared than that of a single man….At such a time, it is not uncommon to see on that vast world stage, just as you do in the theater, a whole host of people represented by a few players who alone speak on behalf of an absent or blasé crowd, who are alone active in the midst of the general immobility, who manage everything according to their own whim, who change laws at will and exert a tyrannical influence over the moral standards. It is a source of astonishment to see a great nation falling into the hands of such a small number of weak and unworthy people.”

And as for the current fad of establishing equality — by force if necessary — Tocqueville had thoughts on that as well writing “But men will never establish an entirely satisfying equality. No matter what a nation does, it will never succeed in reaching perfectly equal conditions. If it did have the misfortune to achieve an absolute and complete leveling, there would still remain the inequalities of intelligence which come directly from God and will always elude the lawmakers.” In the twentieth century, economist F. A. Hayek said “There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal” while economist Milton Friedman noted that “The society that puts equality before freedom will end up with neither. The society that puts freedom before equality will end up with a great measure of both.” (The issue of what “equality” actually means is for another time).

In this current century, Polish philosopher and MEP Ryszard Legutko writes in his excellent tome, The Demon in Democracy, that these self-interested groups are seeking to capture the institutions of state to pursue their own interests. He writes “…there emerged people voicing demands called rights and acting within the scope of organized groups. These groups subsequently petitioned state institutions and exerted pressure on them to change legislation and political practices; over time, they began to affect judicial decisions by the courts, demanding legal acceptance of their position and acquired privileges. In the final outcome the state in liberal democracy ceased to be an institution pursuing the common good but became a hostage of groups that treated it solely as an instrument of change securing their interest.” Note that Legutko is writing in past tense — meaning these are events that have already taken place in the West. But do you see a familiar pattern here with regard to Macedonia?

Because of these actions — self-seeking privilege-groups intent on capturing the state — the state has had to give “privileges to certain groups” and take them away from others, meaning individuals. The entire circus becomes accelerated with “The government, the courts and the legislative bodies…under constant pressure to continue their policy of distributing further privileges and granting further rights.” Now here comes the kicker and the ultimate goal of these self-seeking privilege-groups: long-term and lasting power. Legutko makes the case that politicians will soon discover that “giving way to this pressure” (from self-seeking privilege-groups) or even pre-empting it by giving these groups what they want is the best way to acquire votes and stay in power. And this is the plan of CSOs in Macedonia.

The entire sordid affair becomes much darker when you throw in the assistance of the Western embassies and foreign money and the Hungarian government has taken a lead on trying to reduce this darkness. “Attempts by foreign entities to influence politics has become a growing concern in many democracies” writes Zoltan Kovacs, government spokesman for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. He continues, writing “We understand the important role that NGOs [CSOs] play in a democratic society. What these and other critics overlook, however, is that NGOs, because of the legitimacy they seem to offer, are increasingly used by foreign interests — with neither democratic mandate nor accountability to the citizens — to influence the internal politics and sometimes election outcomes of a country.”

Irish author Os Guinness echoes that when he writes about how these CSOs have become (willingly or not) captured by the state (in Macedonia’s case, foreign states) or foreign money and identifies those doing so (secularists) stating “How do secularists hope to help the advanced modern world rise above a hedonistic mass culture and civilization when they have no strong values to offer, let alone transcendent values, when they have deliberately destroyed such institutions as tradition and family, and when they are now intent on gutting the independence of the world of civil society and allowing it to be invaded by the forces of the state and market?” That last issue — invasion by state and market — speaks to the fact that governments are, all too often now, funding civil society (witness USAID and others) and that markets — witness Soros and his wealth — are as well.

Should CSOs be able to voice their opinion about what is happening in society and advocate, through the dissemination of information, their views on policy? Of course. But that does not mean they should be able to physically advocate violence much less use violence while doing so nor should they be willing puppets of foreign interests. There is a proper and important role for civil society in any country — but the way it has played out in Macedonia over the past few years has been anything but proper.

Proud American & Arizonan w/Hungarian ethnicity & passion for Macedonia, Hungary & Estonia. Traveler, PR man, history buff & wine, craft beer & cigar enthusiast