How would you describe the state of welfare justice
in Croatia from the perspective of politological research?
A> The concept of social justice depends on
social values. Until the year 1990 the concept of welfare
justice had totally different, not only ideological
but empirical meaning as well, then after the first
democratic elections, so one should have in mind transition
process. In the countries that call themselves socialistic,
the term of welfare justice was fit in one idealistic
concept of equality which varied between each
to its needs and each to its possibilities
(of society). In between, as for the former Yugoslavian
society is concerned, the problem of welfare justice,
towards the relation between the lowest and the highest
income, tried to be solved. As far as I remember it
was normally 1 to 4 ratio or 1 to 7. Everything that
was above 1 to 7 ratio, evoked sharp reactions, but
I think that 1 to 4 ratio was more present.
Q> The first democratic
elections, indicated the abandonment of socialistic
system and earlier understandings of welfare justice.
the 1990 the picture has totally changed,
due to the fact that in Croatia ideas of liberal
democracy have appeared in its rawest shape:
that everybody has a right to the maximum
of what can be realised in given conditions...
After the 1990 the picture has totally changed, due
to the fact that in Croatia ideas of liberal democracy
have appeared in its rawest shape: that everybody has
a right to the maximum of what can be realised in given
conditions, that we all create our own fortune, human
success or failure is an individual thing which one
is responsible for. The idea of welfare state, as much
as it is present in the papers of different political
parties and in our constitution, it was never introduced
as the process of creating one value system. Until the
1990 people were irritated by the fact that someone
has a lot (and a full stomach at the same time), and
after the 1990 they were hungry and were passing by
such wealth that earlier was unimaginable. New value
system has still not been developed, and each investigation
of someones wealth or source of wealth is usually
being rejected by those familiar words: This is no more
socialism, this is no more self-governance.
Q> On the cover of todays
issue of one Croatian daily newspaper, in the headline,
retold Government message can be read: Citizens must
take care of their own social security. Like one wants
to say that up to now the Government had set aside to
much money for that purpose.
A> I havent read that article and I
do not know if the Government had really sent out such
message, which by itself is rather one-sided and has
a far-reaching meaning.
We have to take into account, that Croatia, as well
as many other Eastern European countries, hasnt
been through those centuries of work and capital conflicts,
battle for eight hour working scheme, hasnt gone
through the exploitation phase of children labour, primary
capital accumulation, all of that, to use the expression,
that proletariat in western countries has gone through,
in the eighteenth, nineteenth and in the first half
of the twentieth century. In Croatia, as well as in
the other countries of former Yugoslavia, we crossed
over from one nearly feudalistic social system to social
security system regulated by state . That psihological
bounding tissue of one system of responsibilities towards
work, and understanding that one should live by its
own labour, hasnt been developed.
In such meaning, this kind of message makes sense, because
it warns people not to be spongers just waiting for
On the other hand, due to huge number of the unemployed,
hugh number of those who are not able to assure their
own existence, not by their own fault, the Government
should send out at least two more messages: first, that
they will create conditions in which one will be able
to carry responsibilities for his own existence, and
second, that one will not let down those who are not
able to assure existence to themselves and their children
by their own labour.
Q> Speaking of public and
political parties in Croatia, what is the level of their
awareness of the need to invest in science?
A> All researches in the world show that,
from a long term perspective, fund set aside for science,
are the most worthy investments, that will pay off,
sooner or later. In Croatia it is difficult to find
a party that considers future at least in middle terms,
if not longer. Those short-term considerations do not
even last till the next mandate, but only up to small
objectives on a daily based political fight. Highly
educated people and scientists present disregarded part
of the voting body, so the parties dont see its
immediate interest in it. Of course that 1% of the funds
set aside in Croatia, does not equal the amounts in
some wealthier European country. But the fact that Croatia
sets aside out off its GDP 5 to 10 times less then European
Union countries, tells us just about everything. The
only capital that Croatia owns is human resource, which
is the most valuable. Having 5 to 6% of educated people
in comparison with 12 to 20% in other countries, the
same educated people that have no possibilities of transferring
their knowledge into some new values, what can we hope
for? With our educational system, which equals European
at least at the academic level, and I dare to say that
in some aspects is even superior, in best case we can
export our specialists, mostly in the area of bio-technical
science. As for our humanities specialists, including
myself, we can use them as a source of unsatisfied quasi-intellectuals.
Q> How do you see future
development of the welfare justice in Croatia?
A> We always have to know the minimum level
of existential conditions we are considering. At the
low level of those conditions, the problem of social
justice or injustice can lead to massive social movement
and revolutions, as we experienced since the October
revolution towards now.
In Western European countries, USAs and
Japans level of social wealth, incentives for
such movements just do not exist. The question is, weather
the minimum of existential conditions that assure avoidance
of wider social conflicts, exist in Croatia ? Afterwards
we can discuss social justice as a kind of upgrade.
Q> Dont you expect
changes to happen fast?
Some processes are universal and can not be skipped,
and some rules are realy applicable. I often quote Darendorf
who in 1990 said that political system could be changed
in 6 months as it takes for laws to be changed, and
new constitution to be passed, that economical system
could be changed in 6 years, but to create civil society
and adequate political culture it takes 60 years. The
whole new generation that will socialise in new social
question is, weather the minimum of existential
conditions that assure avoidance of wider
social conflicts, exist in Croatia? Afterwards
we can discuss social justice as a kind of
Speaking of those processes,
Croatia is impartially, due to the war conditions, stiffed,
so therefor we lag behind some countries in transition
for 5 to 6 years. Whatever we think about those who
were in power until the year 2000, there are some excuses
there. There are no excuses for the political theft,
which transformed into new structure of ownership, but
there are excuses for loosing some markets, lag in technology.
Q> Can one talk about Croatian
role models in questions of social justice that should
A> Examples of Slovenia and even Hungry, are
likely to confirm Darendorfs thesis on 6 years
that are needed for economic system change, since the
moment of transition up to the moment of hastily development.
From 1990 to 1996 Slovenia had GDP just below the one
before 1990, and after 1996, in the last 5 to 6 years
Slovenia has grown rapidly. Same applies for Hungry.
We can expect that Croatia also, in spite of all RaËan'
s Government stupi-dity, will achieve that level of
development, due to the mentioned legality and not because
of the Government itself.
Q> Would you like to mention
any aspect of social moment in Croatia, which we forgot
to mention in our conversation?
A> Crucial problem today in Croatia is feeling
of apathy, feeling of desperateness and helplessness.
There is no worse valuation of social situation. In
such situation, various manipulations are possible and
people are subject to non-critical acceptance of various
ideas. People should be shown that chances exist and
that we should confront challenges in all levels of
the social life. That should be done by those who run
this country, by socially responsible intellectuals
(and there are some of them believe it or not), that
should be done by medias. Precisely in times of crisis
big social development opportunities exist. The only
problem is, shall we let those opportunities be handled
by responsible or irresponsible people, and beyond all,
that responsibility is ours. <
©iber is social and political psychology professor
at the Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb.