The Seal of the Righteous

Zharko Nastoski, journalist and editor of the "Sloboden Pechat" website / photo: Dragan Mitreski / SP

Our attitude towards fascism is no less important today than it was in that stormy time, when, while the libertarian world was celebrating the defeat of fascist tyranny, Macedonians for the first time realized the deepest urge of every nation - to have their own state, to decide for themselves, to recognize that he is his own

There is no day that is not appropriate to use as a reminder that fascism is still alive and well today, that it has many faces and they are all ugly. But today's date is special – it offers a stronger reason to reconsider our attitude towards fascism, which objectively rests on the foundations of modern Macedonia. This relationship is no less important today than it was in that turbulent time, when, while the libertarian world was celebrating the defeat of fascist tyranny, Macedonians for the first time realized the deepest urge of every nation - to have their own state, to decide for themselves, to admit that is his own.

On March 27, 82 years ago, in Yugoslavia, with us, the still unrecognized Macedonians, mass demonstrations and a military coup took place, in which the government fell that two days earlier had signed the country's accession to the fascist axis of Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito. Motives, circumstances or details are not important at all, such as how much role the support from Britain and Russia (each for their own reasons) played in the success of that coup - with it, the country de facto stands against fascism. That decision is fateful for Yugoslavia and for us in it. We have chosen the side of justice, of unequivocal Good versus Evil at that historical moment.

To reject Hitler then meant a certain humiliation under his boot and a struggle for bare survival with countless casualties and an uncertain outcome. From that struggle, from blood and suffering and tears and despair, in the entire victory of the anti-fascist world, the Macedonians came out among the greatest winners. For the first time, we have been given the opportunity ourselves, in the spirit of unity and equality, to build the new state on the solid foundations of that election - to stand in the anti-fascist front, alongside the righteous and the winners.

It is clear, of course, that it is naive to talk about justice when trying to interpret multifaceted historical processes and events, especially those in which we ourselves have been actors. In the new, post-war world, the bitter memories of fascist atrocities kept the distinction between good and evil, between the righteous and the unrighteous, clear and tangible for a while. But soon, under the rift of the bloc division and the Cold War, entire nations are suffering again, and fascism, in various forms and everywhere, is slowly beginning to return and be tolerated.

Yesterday's undisputed righteous: America, with the aura of the savior of the world and the Soviet Union - dressed in the mantle of the hero-martyr who gave the most victims in the clash with fascism, a new, merciless and dirty, colonialist struggle begins, in which all the small nations that will suffer they got in the way of their interests. Some under the pretext of bringing freedom and democracy, and others carrying false dreams of a world without classes, systematically inflict injustices on entire countries, divide and bleed nations, make wars. It is already much more difficult to distinguish the "bad" from the "good", it is more and more difficult to choose the righteous side and not suffer.

Tito's Yugoslavia, in a specific position between the blocs after the split with Stalin and his Warsaw vassals, takes advantage of the situation - "pulls" money from the West, cooperates with the East, later builds influence by building the young states of non-aligned friends... but it also sells weapons and it feeds the world's injustices, helping brutal regimes in Cambodia and Uganda, for example, to kill their own citizens.

In Yugoslavia and Macedonia, the new communist government unfairly monopolized the anti-fascist struggle, and in addition to many who deserved it, some who did not deserve it were declared as domestic traitors, enemies of the people and the state. Some were unjustly imprisoned, tortured or expelled. Some were killed without being tried at all. History textbooks were written, in which, like all others, Yugoslav and Macedonian state historians set narratives forged by official ideology, state interests and appropriate interpretations of history. When we became fully independent, the maintenance of some of these distorted narratives harmed us for decades, serving as a basis for all kinds of games with the Macedonian identity.

Today, when our struggles are different but still ongoing, and we have to fight again and prove that we exist, it may be wise to first clear up our own myths and misconceptions. Let's discard the hardened prejudices, facing boldly the unpleasant truths: that history is not black and white and in it there are usually not completely innocent and complete victims, completely righteous and fully guilty, that everything we have learned in our textbooks is certainly not true, that no one is to blame for some of our miseries but ourselves... It is the long-delayed test of our maturity before ourselves, which we had to "report" long ago.

And when we pass it, let's stand straighter and prouder to fight for our present justices, against the strengthened former losers and their modern fascisms and denials. We will have another shiny seal of justice and truth on our chest that they don't have, and no one can dispute or take it away from us - just like the one that we deserved a long time ago in the anti-fascist struggle.

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