Fri Jan 18th, 2013 at 05:06:54 AM EST
Slavoj Žižek has a piece in The Guardian where he compares a decision of the Slovenian Constitutional Court to Ceausescian explanations for restricting freedom of movement. Ceausescu, he recalls, explained why Romanian citizens were not allowed to leave the country although the constitution guaranteed freedom of movement, by invoking a higher constitutional good: the constitutional right to a safe, prosperous home would be endangered by allowing Romanians to go abroad.
The west's crisis is one of democracy as much as finance | Slavoj Žižek | Comment is free | The Guardian
It seems that this same spirit is alive and well in Slovenia today. Last month the constitutional court found that a referendum on legislation to set up a "bad bank" and a sovereign holding would be unconstitutional – in effect banning a popular vote on the matter. The referendum was proposed by trade unions challenging the government's neoliberal economic politics, and the proposal got enough signatures to make it obligatory.
The idea of the "bad bank" was of a place to transfer all bad credit from main banks, which would then be salvaged by state money (ie at taxpayers' expense), so preventing any serious inquiry into who was responsible for this bad credit in the first place.
The grounds on which the court based its verdict? A higher constitutional good:
the referendum "would have caused unconstitutional consequences". How? The court conceded a constitutional right to a referendum, but claimed that its execution would endanger other constitutional values that should be given priority in an economic crisis: the efficient functioning of the state apparatus, especially in creating conditions for economic growth; the realisation of human rights, especially the rights to social security and to free economic initiative.
In short, in assessing the consequences of the referendum, the court simply accepted as fact that failing to obey the dictates of international financial institutions (or to meet their expectations) can lead to political and economic crisis, and is thus unconstitutional.
Neat. Above all let us not look into who is being protected from inquiry while the majority of the lesser-fortuned citizens foot the bill for neoliberal madness. "Stalinist sophistry" says Žižek of the Ceaucescu verdict. What should we call the Slovenian one?