This week’s guest on the show Interview (Intervju) with Jože Možina was Peter Jambrek, Ph.D., who is one of the most visible faces of Slovenian independence. He believes that the Slovenian transition is still not over, but he has noticed that we are at a turning point at the moment. However, he is convinced that several different frogs are being boiled in the pot of Slovenia’s independence. “Some of the frogs are constantly trying to jump out of the boiling water – I do not know where to, perhaps back into communism, or into some form of socialism with a human face under the control of the party, and then we, of course, also have the frogs who are happily swimming in hot water, but still, this comparison holds up pretty nicely,” he explained. Jambrek also noticed a connection of the previous system with today’s left. What the revolutionaries of that time and the protesters of our time have in common is their desire to liquidate people. “The liquidation with terror was a tactic of both the revolution and the civil war, with the sole purpose of achieving party power, and I see here that there is some connection with these real sources of the negative value centre of Slovenia.”
In an interview with Jože Možina, Dr Peter Jambrek explained how he sees the Slovenian society and politics of today. Jambrek was the first president of the Constitutional Court in independent Slovenia, the ideologue of Demos, co-author of the Slovenian constitution, and one of the initiators of the independence referendum. He graduated from the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana and received his doctorate from the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago in the United States. He began his academic career at the Faculty of Law of the University of Ljubljana, where he lectured from 1965 to 2000. As a visiting professor, he also lectured at the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Virginia, and the University of Zambia. Jambrek left a very good impression on his colleagues with his often inventive suggestions. According to his friends, there were many of those, and many also came to life.
He was also a member of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and a member of the European Commission for Democracy through Law – the so-called Venice Commission. Last but not least, he was also a judge of the European Court of Human Rights. Despite a brilliant career, he has kept a sense of humour and is also a great optimist in his personal life. He is also the author of numerous books, monographs and articles in the field of human rights and European law, as well as in the field of sociology. He left an indelible mark on Slovenia’s independence and the development of its constitutional democracy.
As Možina explained, in 1990, Jambrek sat with the leaders of DEMOS and their deputies in the famous hall in Poljče, where they initiated the independence process with the decision to hold a referendum. Jambrek said that if they had decided differently at the time, the whole independence process would have probably dragged on for a couple of years, or perhaps we would even have become part of all the Serbo-Croatian wars that took place in the early 1990s. “Perhaps, if Slovenia had not moved on so bravely on its own, regardless of the Croatians who followed us, always repeating and copying everything we did in Slovenia, from the referendum to the constitution, maybe in that scenario we would have found ourselves in the same chaos and mess like the mess that happened in Croatia,” he explained.
Yugoslavia would have fallen apart in any case due to its indebtedness
What could also have happened is that Yugoslavia would not have disintegrated at all, remaining a kind of Balkan formation, still doomed to collapse, which, in Jambrek’s opinion, would have only been able to get by for a few more years. At the time, within the inner circle at the Constitutional Court, they came to the conclusion that something needed to be done, and that time was running out. Back then, practically no one was told, not even the then-DEMOS government, what the actual purpose of the meeting of the DEMOS parliamentary club in Poljče was. They were very realistic and did not have any illusions about the actual remnants of the former regime following them in this idea. They also did not have the consent of Milan Kučan.
Jambrek said that if he was to take a look back at the situation in Slovenia in the last 30 years and compare it to a pot of “boiling frogs,” he would realise that several frogs are in the pot. “Some of the frogs are constantly trying to jump out of the boiling water – I do not know where to, perhaps back into communism, or into some form of socialism with a human face under the control of the party, and then we, of course, also have the frogs who are happily swimming in hot water, but still, this comparison holds up pretty nicely,” he explained. Slovenia has changed a lot in the last 30 years, and we are very much approaching the way of life that suits the entrepreneurial freedom, the economic initiative, and a multitude of small entrepreneurs, who operate and trade with the Western world wherever and whenever they can.
“However, the second question is, what is going on in the other systems, the sub-systems, for example, the national broadcasting service RTV, which is lagging behind,” he said, comparing the RTV to a piece of ice floating in the warm water. He emphasised that the Slovenian transition on RTV has stopped before it should have or is slower because certain institutions of the previous regime have managed to survive since then. “It is very difficult for a ruling class to give up its privileges and statuses while also doing everything they can to preserve them,” he added.
We are currently witnessing the collapse of the transitional system
Jambrek has noticed that we are currently witnessing the collapse of the transitional system. “Precisely because in the 30 years, the slow, unconscious flow within which Slovenia is soaking has transformed Slovenia so much by now that it has now found itself right where it currently is,” he illustrated the current situation. He noticed that there is still some nostalgia left for the old times within this system, mainly for old privileges, statuses, and for old corrupt connections and old class-privileged positions. “So, there is a sub-system here that is very diversified, tied to statism, to state ownership, to the fact that it is possible to appropriate the surplus value of the workers in Slovenia with taxes and by recording income as part of the budget, which a certain bureaucracy and the state institutions have at their disposal.”
He believes that the desire to return to the previous system coincided with the appointment of the new government in March last year, but the appointment of Janez Janša as the Prime Minister was likely a step too far for those layers of the institutions that feel threatened by a normal social market economy. Jambrek is convinced that there is a lack of wit on the left and that it is returning to its own DNA, to the communist mentality, the ultimate goal of which, in his opinion, is the monopoly of power. He also believes that these are the reasons for the protests of all those who are calling for the liquidation of Janša and his family, as well as all those who are bothered by the current government. “The liquidation with terror was a tactic of both the revolution and the civil war, with the sole purpose of achieving party power, and I see here that there is some connection with these real sources of the negative value centre of Slovenia.”
The communist revolutionaries were trained liquidators
He sees the revolutionaries of the previous system as intellectuals who were trained personnel in the Soviet Union. “They were basically trained liquidators, terrorists, comparable to today’s Islamic terrorists,” he explained. He is convinced that they were as indoctrinated as possible, paid by the Communist International, and worked following the commands from Moscow, from Stalin, whose system was trained to kill. He emphasised that we are still witnessing a similar system working today when politicians and their families are being threatened with violence and liquidation.
“There are a lot of neoliberal and capitalist elements in our transitional left. These are basically the state class elements that stand behind this ideology, which is far from the left; however, there is also a lot of the left element on the so-called right, so a lot of humiliated, disgraced, depressed and poor layers,” he explained. He believes that the left does not feel strong, which can be seen from the hysterical and nervous reactions to the current political events that have been happening since last March, while the old media system remains in place and is also helping the left. He sees the solution for the media, and for RTV in particular, in the idea that the reporting would be performed equally by both parties, which is similar to how they appoint judges of the constitutional court in Germany. “This is also how you get a balanced constitutional court, so why should the RTV not operate in a similar fashion?”
A development-oriented and inclusive coalition should be formed in Slovenia
As the co-founder of the Cathedral of Freedom (Katedrala svobode), he emphasised that they always wished for a coalition to be established, which would be development-oriented, inclusive, and in which a firm census on the reform development of Slovenia would be established and then also implemented. In contrast to Kučan, Jambrek expressed his desire for a central coalition years ago, in an interview with the newspaper Dnevnik – a central coalition which would be established in terms of development, programme and orientation, however, Kučan’s opinion won the elections, and later also at the establishment of Marjan Šarec’s coalition.