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Macedonia: Political Parties Obsess Over Facebook ‘Likes,’ Myth-Making

Politics as a hot topic in Macedonia expands to Facebook, notes [MKD] Viktor Arsovski of IT.com.mk, informing that major parties started caring about how many “Likes” they get after they realized that most of the citizens use this service:

“Today we celebrate a small jubilee,” stated [SDSM] in a text [MKD] on how the Facebook profile of [party president Branko Crvenkovski] gained 25,000 fans.

Several hours later, [VMRO-DPMNE] tweeted a link to the Facebook profile of [party president and current prime minister Nikola Gruevski, who currently has a couple of thousand of fans more.]

[…]

“But what now?” asked Jane Gjorgjioski – Ribaro on his Facebook wall.

“It would be understandable if they communicated directly with their supporters, but it is total nonsense to offer no interaction whatsoever over the social media and brag about it!” he said.

Even though social networks offer opportunities for creative communication and interaction, Macedonian parties do not use their potential. Similar to the offline world, neither SDSM, nor VMRO are involved in any communication with their fans on their “esteemed” Facebook profiles. Without communication these pages become only places for the fans to express their love towards the political leaders.

Besides the lack of interest in civic participation, blogger Roberto Belicanec writes [MKD] about lack of substance of political communication. Instead of consistent ideology and solving particular issues…

…The myth of the Golden Age rocks Macedonia and completely dominates its political scene. The pauperized nation, totally lost in the contemporary world and entirely incapable of facing reality, hooked on escapism… perpetuates a deadly political [civil] war through the myths of the Golden Age and the return of the king.

The myth of the Golden Age is common to almost all human communities. It is a period when we were strong, without blemish, and life was beautiful and peaceful. Those days of glory and might serve as a source of strength to endure the fall. The key element of constructing this myth is that after the Golden Age comes the inevitable fall, banishment from Paradise (such as in the Golden Age myth of Adam and Eve) due to an error of the ancestors or a force of evil (personified by the Snake in the above example). Time of suffering follows the fall, until the restoration comes with return of the king (the hero, the champion, etc.). The king returns, defeats evil, and establishes the order of good (for instance, the Second coming of Christ). Odysseus who kicks his wife’s suitors from his own house and re-establishes peace is also an example of such an archetypal king.

During the subsequent discussion (122 comment so far), blogger Dzhaman reminded readers that he, too, referred once [MKD] to the myth of a sleeping hero, common in northern Europe, noting that the Russian PM Vladimir Putin exploits the same pattern and is in turn often mentioned in Macedonia as an example to follow.

Continued Belicanec:

At the moment, this narrative is the only moving force in the Macedonian politics. The struggle is bitter because one half claims that the mythical Golden Age was the time of Alexander the Great, placing the myth in the ancient times, while the other half murmurs that the Golden Age was Yugoslavia, with [Tito] in the role of the departed king. [More about it, in this GV post.]

This clash is fundamentally divisive and completely needless. Incapable of producing a new narrative turned towards the present and the future, [the two major options] generate political byproducts as extensions of these two myths. SDSM presents the accession to the [EU] as some kind of a return of Yugoslavia. This backfires, as their competitors recognize the analogies of the arguments that our path to the EU has an “economic” basis, or provides “safety and integration,” i.e. avoiding Armageddon. It’s the psychology of a lost child who seeks its parent to feed it and warm it. SDSM does not look upon Europe and NATO from the political aspect of national interest, as an opportunity to end identity conflicts and take part in policy creation to influence both the future of Macedonia and the entire continent.

On the other hand, VMRO’s entanglement with imagining restoration of the Golden Age has reduced politics to fetishism. [Skopje 2014] represents a battle with history and reinvention of the contemporary identity by establishing alternative history that never happened. These [baroque] burlesques are in fact the Macedonian cultural heritage that would have been made if Alexander had not died prematurely in Babylon, or if King Perseus had not suffered defeat in battle by the [Ancient Romans]. Skopje 2014 is a phantasm of the Macedonian history based on the principle what-would-have-been-if… […]

In essence, both of these are dangerous follies that redirect the energy of the nation into a nostalgia for lost paradise and its reconstruction, instead of creating a contemporary society able to respond to today’s challenges.

And we the people remain screwed by this mythology, unable to pick up a stick and chase away those who spread fog, so we can finally discover the calendar and start living today.

Thumbnail source: illustration “Facebook duel” by IT.com.mk.

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