“Now or never” is a false dichotomy

Of “now or never,” fear, and cowards

Remember: A decision to boycott is a “no” vote in the referendum. Boycott the referendum.

The chorus to the Elvis Presley song “Now or Never” of 1960 (and sung to the tune of the Italian song “O Sole mio”) goes like this:

“It’s now or never/Come hold me tight/Kiss me my darling/Be mine tonight/Tomorrow will be too late/It’s now or never/My love won’t wait.”

I actually despise the song. But that’s not relevant to today’s column. What is relevant is that many of the elites in and out of Macedonia are essentially demanding that Macedonians accept the Zaev/Tsipras capitulation and vote “Yes sir, please may I have another swat on my bottom!” in the upcoming referendum. And these elites are saying “It’s now or never NATO and the EU won’t wait.” (Try singing those lyrics).

Last week the shadowy “The Ohrid Group” (an organization which refuses to reveal its funding sources or the administrators behind it), pumped out a Tweet stating “Earlier today 67 MPs in Sobranie scheduled referendum for 30 September with question: ‘Are you for joining the EU and NATO by accepting the agreement with Greece?’ @TheOhridGroup welcomes this decision and reiterates its full support for #Macedonia in Europe. Now or never!” Others, of course, have said and are saying the same thing. The so-called “Balkans expert” James Ker Lindsay from LSE tweeted “The claim will be made that the name deal can be rejected and EU/NATO will still be an option. It won’t.”

Some questions for you to consider: If this agreement is rejected now, does that mean that Macedonia will never be allowed to join the EU or NATO at any point in the future? Why are there only two choices, “now” or “never?” These claims — “now or never” and “It won’t” are false. Not only are they false, they are dishonest and deceitful. “Now or never” is a false dichotomy for the simple reason that it presents only two possibilities and leaves out the entire range of other possibilities that occur in real life — not the in the fantasyland that “now or never” occupies. “The false dichotomy fallacy is often a manipulative tool designed to polarize the audience, heroicizing one side and demonizing the other. It’s common in political discourse as a way of strong-arming the public into supporting controversial legislation or policies,” according to “15 Logical Fallacies You Should Know Before Getting Into a Debate.”

Moving on. If you look up the dictionary definition of “coward” you might just find the following: “Coward: see Stephenson, David; formerly high-paid career official in the US State Department, stationed in Skopje, Macedonia, and serving as the political and economic officer, now a self-avowed “Strategist.” Still working in Skopje doing what no one knows.”

David is now working for, well, who the hell knows, serving as a “Strategist” for someone or something in Macedonia, but all in the service of the upcoming referendum. He’s blocked a number of folks on Twitter, such as your author, who simply want to have an informed debate over the merits of the agreement, and is now furiously tweeting such gems as “Those who have chosen to boycott have admitted defeat. They know they cannot win a fair fight. So they try to thwart the will of the majority.” This is ridiculous. First of all, the boycott is a fair tactic; SDSM used it in 2004 (supported by the international community) and it worked. Second, this isn’t really a fair fight when most of the foreign embassies and internationals are heavily in favor of the referendum and will be using their resources to push it forward; so a boycott becomes necessary. Third, the will of the majority is against this agreement, as shown by multiple polls but the majority doesn’t trust the Government of Macedonia and doesn’t trust the internationals. Fourth, David has actually never played hardball in the political arena and likely has little knowledge of the how the game works. Fifth, and to bring this back to “coward” we see in this tweet (and subsequent tweets of which there are many), that he is simply not willing to engage in a robust debate about the agreement — he wants one thing and one thing only — for the referendum to succeed and for the agreement to be implemented.

(And for a divertingly good story on “boycott” read the story of Charles Boycott whose name now lives forever)

This leads me to fear, the dictionary definition of which includes, again, a reference to David. Another tweet reveals his fear: “The goal of boycotiram is to ‘de-motivate’ 200k in an attempt to de-legitimize the votes of 700k. #NoworNever” and other ridiculous hashtags. I see nothing but fear in his tweet. And where does he come up with those numbers? From his bottom? He is afraid of his side losing so he lashes out in anger and fear.

Last point: remember that the success of the boycott does not just depend on you, as an individual, staying at home on September 30. Right now you must be patiently explaining to family, friends, and neighbors why the Zaev/Tsipras agreement is bad for Macedonia’s past, present, and future and that alternatives for the success of Macedonia exist and must be pursued. Encourage them to boycott the referendum because, as President Ivanov said last week on the celebration of Ilinden:

“You have the legitimate right to take care of and safeguard your Republic. The future of your, of our Republic of Macedonia is built by you with every position you take regarding any issue related to the Republic. History will judge about who has followed the path and respected the oath, never renouncing the light of Ilinden — a light that many tried to dim in order to prevent it from reaching future generations. Great necessities produce great hopes. Today, more than ever before, the destiny of the independent Republic of Macedonia is in the hands of Macedonians themselves and their historic obligation. I believe that our people are mature and wise enough to choose their own destiny and defend their Republic.”