The shopping mall of market democracy

This article originally appeared on 9 October in BalkanInsight

My dear Marxist friends of whatever denomination you may be – post, neo, proto, salon, caviar, vulgar…, here’s the bad news for you: Macedonia has outlived the fall of capitalism. It has been declared by its minister of health a “market democracy”. And on top it seems to be one that is deeply concerned with issues of health and hygiene.

It is not by accident that the opening of a new shopping mall in Skopje has seen scenes of unprecedented awareness: thousands of conscious citizens were fighting in one of the drugstores opened in the mall for subsidised toilet paper. Yes, my friends, past are the times of revolutionary sloppiness, past are the times of carelessness: a healthy market needs clean bottoms.

Conscious citizens, up to half a million, laid siege to the crown jewel of the city mall, a French hyper-market, loyal to the new slogan declaring that hyper is the new super. Cohorts of citizens emptied the stocks of reduced hardware, from pillows to laundry racks.

Little does it count that enemies of the market democracy tried to point out that the prices were inflated and that the sales were by no means real; little does it count that agents of the enemy tried to influence public opinion by comparing prices in the region and finding out that “hyper” might relate to the twenty to thirty percent above the regional average.

Loyal and conscious citizens did what their free conscience allowed them to do: consume. Yes, my dear friends, the essence of a market democracy is enshrined in its commercial announces.

Where else than here can you hear the heartfelt warm, metallic sound of a supermarket employee blasting at you and caress you with the magic formula: “Dear consumers! Do not forget to try the mandarins on sale today…” It is real, it is honest – you are not a dear guest, you are not a dear client. You are what you are: a consumer. ‘Cause it’s a market democracy.

And in a good market democracy, everything has its price and value. While toilet paper can be on sale, electricity doesn’t have to. Whether clean bottoms freeze is of no market value. Let those agents of the past just try and claim otherwise. Who cares? Not the stock exchange, for sure.

A good market democracy defines its own state of play. Let the world be in crisis, here we are amidst a beautiful, comfortable and positive recession. Production is going down? The economy grows slower than foreseen? At least the unemployment rate is constantly high at thirty-odd percent. And all that while the world around is falling into bits.

My friends, while you weep and whine about the revolution not wanting to come, here it is happening. A building revolution. No, for once I will not mention monuments. Let us stick to the essentials: the ratio of shopping centre per hundred inhabitants has been raised dramatically, the ratio of luxury residences per thousand inhabitants is rapidly catching up. Roads are being built to connect these two pillars of the market democracy.

Once the connection will be finalised and consumers will be able to drive on new roads from luxury residences to shopping malls, the GDP will catch up. It is the prime directive of a market democracy. The GDP is to catch up by decree. Or else… But no, today we only talk about good things.

Of course, the market can be brutal, it may require sacrifices. If it serves the purposes of the political market, the formerly highest institution in the state, the parliament, can be reduced to a stage for one individual. And if his contribution to the market democracy is several weeks of saying literally nothing, then so be it. He cannot be interrupted, since he is not saying anything. Which is most likely not equal to him having nothing to say.

Silence though is golden. And thus the good old Turkish “maytap”, the fuse that this MP is playing with can be used to blow away all illusions: consuming tax payers’ money to block the work of a parliamentary commission by saying nothing is generating capital. And that in itself is a contribution to the GDP. It’s the market, stupid! But you people just don’t want to see that.

Now of course it is not necessarily good for a market democracy if there are too many rumours that threaten to destroy the prices and generate a downward spiral, when so much has been done. By decriminalising punishment for libel, a solid basis has been created for the market to dictate the level of fines on the democratic principle of demand and offer.

This will help with levelling opinion to its actual democratic market level. The supreme judge to this will be the market itself. Give and take, Justicia’s [sic!] two real scales.

You see, my dear friends, things are moving, steaming ahead like the Potemkin back in the days. Or was it the Aurora? Whatever. As you will see later this week, Macedonia has exported the market democracy to Brussels, too. Give and take, demand and offer. A positive progress report in exchange for – ah, but this is another story.

¡Viva el mercado, compañeros!


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