Recently, I came across posts on Facebook, claiming that politicians are importing refugees and migrants into their countries in order to get their votes. Since this is exactly what I proposed about six months ago I don’t have an issue with it, although I do not think it is happening, at least not in Slovenia. This was, however, not what I wanted to focus on today. I find the attitudes expressed in the comments sections interesting, not because of what they say, but because of what they assume.
The conversation in the comments sooner or later turns towards the ineptitude of the nominally left, but actually fairly conservative Slovene government.
Someone want to challenge my claim about the leanings of the current ruling party and claim they are left wing? Well, what are the prime minister’s positions towards abortion? (He is against it). Towards same sex marriage (he is not officially pro or contra, but the ruling party invested exactly zero effort into the recent referendum campaign). What is his position towards migrants? (Officially not having a problem with it, but building razor wire fencing around Slovenia at the same time). What is his position towards workers rights and benefits? (Austerity measures are the thing. No wages increases, no Universal Pay, etc). What is his position towards religion? (A practicing Catholic). Not incredibly left wing, don’t you agree?
Anyways. The conversation turns towards ineptitude of the Slovene government and how they pander to the members of former sister republics of SFRJ. The arguments given are that the lefties keep offering jobs to migrants in order to secure votes. And the proof? Well go to a governmental agency and see that “most” surnames hint at individuals being from former Yugoslav republics. The fun thing is that people do not assume at all that aptitude might have something to do with it. Now I am not saying that merit always plays a pivotal role in employment in Slovenia, but the fun thing is the deflection, still. The posters do not even entertain the idea that (a) they might be crap at the specific job and that the person filling might actually be quite good at it, and (b) they seem to assume that there are “genuine” natives here, who are interested in doing a specific job. This seems to also be happening in England – there are cases of people I know, who really would like to offer a job to a native English person, but when they advertise, people who apply are either not English, or are English, but do not want to do the job that was advertised (In this case, the guy is a farmer and he advertised for a farm hand. The only native English person who applied told the farmer that he did not drive a tractor and was not prepared to learn).
So, the defeatist attitude is hidden in our collective psyche. No Slovene native wants to be a garbage collector, but if the job is filled by a Bosnian man, that means that “they come over here and steal our jobs“. It is a job that nobody wanted, for God’s sake. I suppose you would be more content if no one collected garbage just as long as the bloody foreigners don’t make a living?
Then there is an idea of separating the ability to work from the ability to be politically active. The neoliberals would prefer this. Why? Seriously, what could possibly be the rationale in allowing someone to create a life somewhere, work and pay taxes and be a productive member of society, but when it comes to making actual decisions, they are treated like underage children? The irony is that England is somewhat similar in this respect. I am a resident, my primary domicile is in England and I am allowed to vote in local, but not general elections. I actually get a voting slip, but they do not allow me to vote (in general elections). This is bizzare. When I asked the nice lady at the polling place why this is the case, she told me that I am not a citizen and therefore I have no say in who gets voted into the parliament. When I asked her whether she did not find it problematic that me and people like me could vote in the local elections, she said that that is absolutely fine. I then asked why she did not worry about us subverting the system from the ground up – i.e. let’s say, we all vote labour. Therefore Cambridge gets a strong labour based city council and a labourist mayor, therefore labour policies get enacted unopposed, therefore the rest of England has a chance to compare the relative success of two opposing sides of governance. Therefore, they get a chance to vote for what works best in the general election. People like me, and me thus influence general elections whether the Brits like it or not. So why does she not find this problematic? And she said that we should have a say, after all we live and contribute here. My point exactly. And we started going in circles. Why do it halfway? Prevent me from voting altogether and be branded nationalist or allow me to vote.
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