The Political Quackery and the Incompetent Citizen of the Balkan State

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The Balkans are not just a geographical location but a mindset as well. For almost 1,000 years we Croats have been part of Western empires, Hungarian, Austrian, Austro-Hungarian and for hundreds of years we were the bulwark of Christianity stopping the Ottoman advance into Europe. Today though we are still not a part of The West. We want to be Western but we do not know how to be Western and for that reason we are politically unsophisticated and easily susceptible to political quackery.

I am fully aware that many will call me an asshole for writing this.
.... but it needs to be said.


Tihomir Dujmovic, a “pro-Croatia / anti-communist” journalist came to Toronto to promote his book about the children of communism and how they are responsible for the ruin of Croatia. In typical Balkan fashion 98% of the speech was about the communists carrying out their evil deeds and how they are destroying Croatia. There was hardly anything in his presentation that took responsibility for the failures of “our side” and no presentation of ideas for solutions.

Complaining without presenting a solution is whining.

As a Croat with a conservative Canadian mindset I look at problems from a different perspective focusing more on what I have done wrong rather than what the other party has done right. I take responsibility for my failures. I try not to live bounded by a victim mentality.

You don't blame the winner for winning. For example, if the Toronto Maple Leafs (my team) lose in the hockey game against the Montreal Canadiens, like they usually do, should I blame he Canadiens for my team losing? Of course not. The team that plays the better game wins and the loss is the responsibility of the losing team. The losing team needs to take responsibility, learn from the loss and improve their game so that they win in the future. Responsibility is important.

In the same way we, the anti-communists, need to take responsibility for our losses, learn from them and improve our game so that we win the next game.

Active Citizens

No stream rises higher than its source. What ever man might build could never express or reflect more than he was. He could record neither more nor less than he had learned of life when the buildings were built.
- Frank Lloyd Wright

In politics, like nature and Wright’s architecture philosophy, no government will rise above the level of the people that form and empower the government. For the most part, in Croatia, people pick a political party which becomes their social in-group, they define themselves by this in-group and then support it blindly and unquestioningly. This is not the role of a responsible active citizen.

Active citizens are responsible citizens. Active citizens do not just complain about what is happening. Active citizens take an interest in not only being informed of the issues (and who is to blame) but also actively contribute to the public debate and influence the decision making process. Active citizens will be thought leaders and action leaders.

When the people take their responsibility of being active citizens seriously and the citizens start electing educated and competent people of good character to represent them Croatia will start to emerge from the Balkan quagmire.

Think global and act local. Active citizens will look around the world and find best practices and ideas that they like and then bring them home and localize them and integrate them into the Croatian way of doing things.

Political Quackery

When we are sick we seek doctors that have proven that they know what they are doing – they have been educated and proven that they meet minimal standards of professional knowledge. Few people would knowingly go to a medial quack for treatment yet in Croatia people readily and happily support political quacks.

  • a charlatan, a snake oil salesman
  • a fraudulent or ignorant pretender to medical skill.
  • a person who pretends, professionally or publicly, to skill, knowledge, or qualifications he or she does not possess;
  • a person who dishonestly pretends to have medical skills or knowledge

  • the promotion of fraudulent or ignorant medical practices.
  • medical methods that do not work and are only intended to make money

Political quacks, like medical quacks, are political charlatans with few legitimate credentials that sell solutions, cure-alls, to unsophisticated voters using charisma and deceptive sales strategies. There are far too many political quacks peddling their fraudulent elixirs in Croatia and far too many citizens buying ineffective elixirs.

The people have the government they deserve. The vast majority of Croatian politicians are ego-driven, self-interested, ignorant political quacks. They are pretenders tbat have very little experience in what the role requirements of office they wish to hold and the unsophisticated masses, the people that Franjo Tuđman called “stoka sitnog zuba” (sheep with herd mentality) blindly support these charlatans that are destroying the common good. The people are ignorant and unsophisticated and are not active citizens.

Croatian politics and political power is not much more than political bullying used to maintain political elite status. Political power is developed through a political network through which collective force can be applied as a reward (favoritism) or punishment. This style of politics is not much more than an extension of the high school clique and bully phenomenon. Sadly people willingly support this unsophisticated brutish form of politics.

Being a part of the West

Expect more
Demand more
Act more

Having a Western mindset and worldview means that we believe in rationalism, self-criticism, the disinterested search for truth, the separation of church and state, the rule of law, equality before the law, freedom of conscience and expression, human rights and liberal representative democracy.

Being a part of “The West” requires individual critical thinking rather than blind loyalty to party and party chairman. Critical thinking requires having a healthy distrust of any power structures because we know that power corrupts and holders of power will abuse their positions of power for self-interest rather than common good.

The Western mindset is not alien to Croats that leave Croatia.

For 1,000 years Croatia was a distant province from the centers of power and sophistication in Vienna and Budapest. Many great soldiers and adventurers developed there but relatively few intellectuals (of world status). Most people find success after they leave Croatia.

Many Croats flee the narrow-minded ignorance of Croatian society and they do quite well in nations that value open-mindedness, reason and hard work. Croats that live in Canada are on average better off than the average Canadian – that is better educated with a better standard of living. These Croats are living proof that the Western Mindset is not something alien to Croatian “genetic programming”. People are people and psychology is psychology no matter where you are in the world (for the most part).

If Croats can succeed in a Canadian culture under Canadian ideas in Canada, then why would proven Canadian ideas not work in Croatia? Why would Canadian ideas be alien and unworkable in Croatia? Why can’t proven successful Western best practices be imported and localized to help in the evolution of Croatian society?

The Balkan mindset in Croatia

Croatia today is not a part of the West in mindset. Croatia is a nation ruled by the passions of ignorant provincial bullies that are adept at using fear and power for self-aggrandizement rather than benevolent and sophisticated open-minded members of a community. Croatia is a Balkan state.

I can say this because I live outside of Croatia. I have a broader perspective and ability to benchmark between nations. Based on the Hofstede Centre (compare Croatia to Western European countries and the World Giving Index (how much time and money do we donate) Croatia clearly has more in common with the Balkan region than it does with The West. Slovenia is far more a part of The West than is Croatia.

I also base my assessment on personal experience with amateur politicians and people that are politically involved and their common response to new ideas and best practices from the West. Try to talk to a Croatian political leader about election campaign issues based on marketing strategy, sociology and psychology and the common response to proven concepts is “This is Croatia, this is not Canada, your ideas will not work here.” That is the heart of provincialism.

Ignorance and our willingness to stay ignorant is our downfall. Being ignorant does not mean unintelligent. Being ignorant means that you do not have the information and knowledge required to carry out a task. Being willfully ignorant might be a sign of lack of intelligence and wisdom.

  • lacking knowledge or awareness in general; uneducated or unsophisticated.
  • not informed about or aware of something
  • being illiterate

  • state of having concern for purely local matters
  • those who are inward-looking and parochial
  • way of life or mode of thought characteristic of the regions outside the capital city
  • narrowness of mind, ignorance, or the like, considered as resulting from lack of exposure to cultural or intellectual activity.
  • lack of sophistication or perspective.
  • attitudes of people who do not easily accept new or different ideas

Parochialism is the state of mind, whereby one focuses on small sections of an issue rather than considering its wider context. More generally, it consists of being narrow in scope.

Subsidiarity and localism are good.
Provincialism is bad.

Subsidiarity is an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. The Oxford English Dictionary defines subsidiarity as the idea that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level.

The political principle of localism is that which supports local production and consumption of goods, local control of government, and local culture and identity. Localist politics have been approached from many directions by different groups. Nevertheless, localism can generally be described as related to regionalism, and in opposition to centralism.

What is it about the Croatian culture, the mindset and worldview that acts like quicksand for progress? Why do we proclaim ourselves to be Catholics, a nation that believes in God but we quite often do not live by the Word of God.

We truly are a people of the Balkans.
  • ego is our center, passion trumps reason
  • stubbornness is a virtue, we are unapologetic and non-compromising
  • exclusive in-groups that dwell on differences rather than find commonalities that unite
  • tribalism creates an quarrelsome ineffectual political state
  • would rather fight among their own people than unite against a common enemy
  • fight old feuds that never end rather than look to build ideas for a better future.
  • glorify historic leaders, fight over Tito and Tesla, rather than build modern statesmen
  • sabotage those that are successful rather than to cooperate for the common good.
  • know what we are fighting against but don’t know what we are fighting for
  • you are either with us or against us
  • satisfied with minimal standards

Croatia does not need more political quacks. Croatia needs a statesman (male or female) that have credentials and is competent. The people must become active citizens that carry out their responsibilities in the civic space demanding professionalism in their representatives and accountability in the government.

Without this, we will be stuck in the Balkan mindset for generations.

How can we help?

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over, but expecting different results.

Croatian politicians keep talking about how they want to reconnect the Diaspora and the Homeland and how much they need our help. The talk the talk but they do not walk the walk.

We Diaspora Croats want to help. We also know that we can’t help people that do not want to be helped and actively fight any help that is offered. One amateur politician told me “I do not need your ideas. I know what I need to do all I need is money and media.”

To me it seems all they want a 'yes men' that will support them and their ideas. If you are not a 'yes man' you are an enemy because Balkanite in-group mentality requires 100% commitment to party doctrine. Our ideas are too advanced and therefore our ideas are a threat. Money, in the form of investment and hiring connected party members, political party contributions and bribes are "friendly" and helpful.

Trying to help people that act like defensive petulant children when you point out their shortcomings and provide insights for improved behavior is a waste of time. Why should any Croat with an enlightened mindset and worldview waste their time and effort trying to help a Croatia that does not want to be helped?

We are not insane.

Updated 9th-April-2015 at 03:28 PM by Željko Zidarić

Željko Zidarić