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Macedonia and Klein's "Shock Doctrine"
A TV interview never broadcasted



Biljana Vankovska

May 15, 2008

“The Shock Doctrine” of the brilliant Naomi Klein is a book with power to shake one’s philosophical viewpoint, but also to inspire changes of the world of the galloping corporative capitalism and militarism. It fortified my personal awareness about many developments I knew existed but failed to put the puzzle together. It helped me easily recognize Milton Friedman’s free capitalism in Macedonia too (the flat taxes, privileges for the foreign investors at the expense of the domestic ones, the regulatory guillotine, degradation of the environment for the sake of the profit-making, etc.).

According to Klein, when a state or a nation is subjected to the shock doctrine (intentionally or not), it turns into an ideal opportunity for introducing new “reforms” which would have been unacceptable without the shock and disorientation of the population. The shock opens windows of opportunities; it is such a state of affairs in which unimaginable endeavors succeed without any resistance; the society becomes a clean slate on which new ideas for profit-making flourish, although they are in contrast with the basic principles of social justice and ethics as well as against the basic human needs.

However, the reason for taking the shock doctrine as a title of this text is not primarily economic. I have recognized it in the context of a completely different process that is ongoing in the Macedonian society. The shock doctrine is employed by the mass media through an intensive brainwashing, which involves an army of carefully selected speakers and ‘experts’ who perfectly agree over everything concerning NATO membership.

The outcome of these public and ‘democratic’ debates is fear mongering and general schizophrenia. In the meantime, politicians are suspiciously silent, because none of them dares make a public choice between the name of Macedonia and the NATO membership. It seems as if time has stopped in Macedonia: state institutions are on stand-by, we all await what is going to happen next. Even people who are well informed and rational can hardly stay immune of the general contiguous atmosphere (including myself).

For some time I decided to simply avoid all TV and other media debates that spread fatalism, fear and unanimity (who is not with us is against us). But lately many citizens have approached me, asking for clear answers on what would be Macedonia’s fate if the country does not get NATO membership invitation. Clearly, the situation is out of control and something should be done to stop this psychological war over the minds of the Macedonian citizens.

On the one hand, there are official messages from the political leadership that they are united, i.e. that there is a strong political and national consensus over the name issue in the negotiations with Greece. The international factors also claim that Macedonia has met all the membership criteria.

In contrast to these calming signals, some well-known missioners such as Edward Joseph from the International Crisis Group, come to deliver a completely different message: unless a NATO member-state, Macedonia will cease to exist!

From the point of view of democratic society, I have nothing against the fact that the majority is wholeheartedly for NATO status, but I have very much against when this agenda is presented through fear mongering. I have very much against when some portrait NATO as Eden and a remedy for all problems of the country. In normal states, such as Slovenia for example, there was a referendum for the NATO membership (which passed with a tiny margin). In Macedonia, unfortunately, there is no atmosphere even for a normal democratic exchange of different views. Instead of a debate over pros and cons with regard to NATO membership, here the debate is focused on one central issue: what we are to sacrifice in order to get NATO invitation?

Whenever I give a statement or an interview to a Macedonian media, later on I can’t recognize my own words: sentences taken out of the context, spinned or censored! So now I wonder: what I am to do? Should I just keep quiet in order to avoid misinterpretation?

No, I decided to write this column (in hope it will be published), which should be taken as a written version of a TV interview that was made but never broadcasted:

The journalist argues: the NATO membership is going to establish the Macedonian state for good (i.e. it will eliminate all doubts about our survival).
My answer: This way of reasoning is nothing but a clear manifestation of one’s own complex of inferiority and lack of self-confidence in one’s own statehood capacity. How is it possible that Macedonia exists de jure and de facto as an independent state, and we still do not believe the fact?

The journalist continues: NATO is going to guarantee our territorial integrity and sovereignty (meaning, elimination of the threat of internal division along ethnic lines).
My answer:
First of all, NATO is not a supranational organization and must not interfere in the internal affairs of its member-states; if so, then why NATO does not prevent Belgium’s gradual degradation, or why it does not take any counter-measures against ETA, IRA, etc? 

The journalist insists: but, if we don’t get into NATO, the nationalism will flourish even more than now!
My answer: if NATO were indeed a remedy for such Balkan illnesses, the first cured ‘patient’ would have been Greece! The NATO membership cannot possibly change the fact that Macedonia is a divided society, in which politics is run between the tribal leaders, who make deals and blackmail each other, under the close monitoring of the internationals. The political constitution provides for this kind of consociation, and there is nothing NATO can do to change the fact.

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The journalist: Membership of NATO will bring economic progress and higher living standard.
My answer: After the NATO Summit, if at all we get an invitation, we shall still be the very same country with 400 thousands unemployed people and 1/3 of the population living below the poverty line. The state, as a procurer (pimp) will continue to offer the country resources to the foreign investors, telling them that the Macedonians work hard for peanuts. As long as there is a frozen conflict in our neighborhood (in Kosovo), the investors will not be very enthusiastic to even consider these offers. Furthermore, NATO is also about high military expenditure, weapons modernization, possible loss of lives in faraway operations and other expenses.

The journalist argue: For the sake of NATO membership, we have already invested so much, implemented a lot of reforms, and even we had some human loss (i.e. the helicopter crash that killed 11 soldiers coming back from the mission in Bosnia). We can’t say “No” now, can we?
My answer: Indeed, we invested a lot, but as a full-fledged member we are going to invest continuously and far more than now. NATO is not winning the war in Afghanistan, Washington does not exactly help make this world a safer place. This truth should be honestly told the general public, who believes that being a NATO member means life in peace and safety.
Finally, NATO becomes a dysfunctional organization and many already make prognoses about its limited duration and existence. 



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