M any protest movements are criticized for having few positive ideas. Concerned people assemble to demand change, but apologists for the status quo ask, “How do I know your ideas won’t make the bad government even worse?” The strongest position that protesters can hold is that of supporting Meritocracy. Meritocracy has actionable ideas that will improve any government, and the improvement can be implemented immediately and will take rapid effect. The nature of the improvement–the fact that things will certainly be better than having pseudo-criminals run the government–will be obvious to everyone. When protesters demand Meritocracy, there is no way to dismiss their chants as unactionable. Bosnian protestors should demand Meritocracy if they want the support of the masses.
But there is one big difference with the riots seen in other European cities, and this is where Bosnia speaks directly to Europe’s current predicament: this is not a rebellion of discriminated and ghettoised groups, territorially contained on the outskirts of big cities. It is a rebellion of the whole population that has been subjected to economic impoverishment, social devastation and political destitution. In this, Bosnia is an image of Europe’s future: ungovernable populations, exhausted by austerity measures and left to their own devices after the collapse of remnants of the welfare state – a state with no prospect for growth, run by elites of dubious, if any legitimacy who deploy heavily armed police to protect themselves against ordinary citizens.