Good morning! Hybrid modes are transitional, i.e. a temporary phenomenon. They turn into consolidated autocracies or democratize. Today, I will share with you some thoughts on the topic of what directions Montenegro can move in after the 30-August experiment.
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What will our hybrid regime turn into?
Hybrid regimes are transitional regimes, regimes in which the levers of political power are centralized and monopolized by one political structure or political class, while in parts of the social and economic spheres freedoms are allowed because they benefit the interests of the regime itself. Montenegro started the path from a one-party system to democracy and back during the DPS government.
Russian political scientist in exile, Ekaterina Schulmann, observing the nature of the system in her country, followed and analyzed the trajectory, i.e. the path of Russia’s movement from a hybrid regime to a stable autocracy, and its experience can serve us a lot to predict and prevent similar things from happening here.
The main goal of the hybrid regime is the preservation of power, writes Schulmann in her book Practical Political Science. Everything else is of secondary importance to her. In this, Schulmann sees the reason for resistance to modernization (as opposed to totalitarian regimes that were built around imagination and the promise of a wonderful and bright future). The wonderful bright future of hybrid regimes is – their past. At the same time, the mythologized past. “They want the restoration of something that never happened”, writes Schulmann, and continues to list the fixation with the Magnificent Age for the neo-Ottomans, Greater Serbia for the Serbian leaders of the 1990s and today, the glorious era of Simon Bolivar for Chávez and Maduro, or in the case of Russia today “a mixture of the Romanovs, atomic bombs and Slavic paganism”.
During a show where I was a guest with Latinka Draskovic, I realized for the first time after her wise words how much resentment is a strong emotion that can be so easily manipulated by the masses, how much the regimes in Russia and Serbia are in fact trapped in the past, and how much that anachronism is destructive not only for the country where it is practiced as a ruling ideology – but also for all its neighbours.
After a century of progress, which was not linear but was positive when the line was drawn, Montenegro is now returning to the ideology of resentment. That is the ruling ideology. An ideology that mythologizes the past and draws it according to the needs of the ruling elite. In our case, this manifests itself through the erasure of the Latin alphabet under the motto of the Cyrillic alphabet, the ideological rehabilitation of Chetniks and Bjelasi (*supporters of the unification of Montenegro with Serbia) ideology, and the breakdown of the Montenegrin identity and the re-composition of the identities (plurals) of Montenegro, in order to fit them into the future project of a Greater Serbia projected on the basis of the past.
However, if we believe Schulmann and her research, not everything is so dark. Hybrid regimes located within the sphere of influence of Western democracies have much more chances to democratize than those further away from them. The economic and integration interweaving of relations and common interests with the West can save Montenegro from being completely drowned in the anachronistic Great Serbian ideology. And that is important because hybrid modes know how to go the other way as we stated at the beginning. You should be patient here, but also invest in all your efforts to neutralize the center and source of this ideology. As long as the hybrid regime is consolidated and potent in Belgrade, our democracies in the surrounding area will be weak and exposed to malignant influences. I don’t know how the elections in Serbia will end, but any weakening of SNS and the autocracy of Aleksandar Vucic is good news.
That’s it for today. We wish you a pleasant rest of the day.
Ljubomir Filipovic, CdM analyst and columnist
(The opinions and views of the authors of the columns are not necessarily those of the CdM editorial staff)