Home Social Economy – From Traditional Serbian Hat ”Šajkača” to Coronavirus

Economy – From Traditional Serbian Hat ”Šajkača” to Coronavirus


Our everyday life – enclosed within walls, with limited movement and suggested behavioral measures … In such environment, a reasonable person begins to question the cause of this condition, what went wrong and which way to go.

Television, radio and internet portals do not provide a precise answer, except the one we hear daily: the global crisis is coming and large number of people are losing their jobs. It is as if the time of poverty is coming again, although it was believed that in the modern world there would be no hunger. It is illogical that large metropolises, modern industry and developed health systems, as pillars of the phenomenon of globalisation, cannot fulfil the basic needs and protect the people. The world does not remember a time when Easter was not celebrated in Temples.

Much evil has gone against our planet, but Temples haven’t been closed. Moreover, they are indirectly leaving us to fight alone. By looking at the globalisation as a bus, many of today’s generations were in a hurry to enter the front door as soon as possible, believing that they had solved all their problems by doing so.

They didn’t think what they were giving up. Their priority was only material existence. Now, when the invisible virus has cut us down and the global economic crisis is threatening us, it looks like we are getting out of the bus with our heads bowed, our pockets torn and empty, at the back door, worried that we have nowhere to go. Many will be worried, wondering what is going on?! Embarrassed and scared as if wanting it to be, by some kind of miracle, as it once was.

We were rushing into globalisation, because we were listening stories of a hard life before. Today, I stand sniffled, powerless, having no vision of how to move forward, only with an image of a grandfather with a crooked hat and a smile on his face in front of my eyes. We don’t wear hats, we gave up our traditional hat ”šajkača”. We used to wear caps and hats, and today we don’t even have that. I remember well, when we were inviting our old people to come to town to live, their answer was, why should they come when they had everything in the countryside, claiming that they could not last a single day in town. Asphalt simply cannot provide existence and security. Did they know then what we don’t know now?! Trying to look at their view of life, I compared the economy of the time past and now. I chose economy because it is a good indicator of quality of life.

One of the definitions that best depicts the economy of the past is the hat, or ”šajkača”. The ”šajkača” represents the character of our people (society). That is why people wore it with pride, being happy and content. People weren’t divided and alienated at the time. They did not act individually, prioritising personal interest over the interest of society. Aspiring to the social existence of a man was the goal of that time. Everyone who wore the ”šajkača” had history, customs, habits, culture and traditions of their people, in their priority. In the economic sense – they fought for the stability and security of every member of society, in the psychological sense – mental serenity without stress, in the spiritual sense – the Faith as a motivation for everything they do, and in the biological sense – orientation towards social existence and development. Being so united with God and nature, one can understand why they didn’t rush to the city, but wanted to stay on their land, for as long as possible, in order to harvest the fruits of their labor, breathe clean air and drink clear water. The money was not worth much and the aspiration towards easy money was irrelevant. Economy was based on the production of material goods that made possible the social existence of man. Man had his own country, history, customs and habits by which he was recognised, and he tried to pass this from generation to generation. One was ready to fight for what was theirs, giving up nothing. That is why the ”šajkača” is considered a symbol of freedom. In a similar way as the ”šajkača”, the Montenegrin hat depicts the character and struggle for freedom.

By recognising to ourselves that we are somehow ashamed of it today, it is no wonder that we have lost ourselves in the global world. We have lost our identity. We have renounced all values ​​that were the basis of our society, in order to accept something that is not ours. We believed that that was our blessedness. Today, wandering confusedly and with a lot of fear, we neither wear the ”šajkača”, nor have an economy.

For two decades, in our region and beyond, the national economy, in its original meaning, no longer exists. What is being talked about today is business, and it is not an upgrade or a modern approach to economy. Moreover, as an instrument of globalisation, it is its greatest enemy. The philosophy of business is to put the individual interests, not social existence, in the forefront. There are several events that have put business in the forefront. In the early unfortunate nineties, the privatisation process was the first trigger for the suppression of public property and the national economy. We were not prepared and adequately trained to accept the transformation processes of our economy.

As such, we have not paid much attention to the fact that national standards were disappearing one by one and that the global world was imposing its own rules.

The second step was the introduction of a Currency Board and the separation of our currency from the national economy. Stability was tied to a currency other than ours. Although, there had been some bad experiences from other countries that had accepted this system, we did not look back. Entering the new millennium was as if we have entered the global family and finally found our happiness. We no longer needed to worry, because we stepped into a modern world, an orderly system that took care of each individual. Many took their severance pay and started family businesses. Since our financial system is preoccupied with banks, more in particular the foreign ones, the first borrowings began. The first wave of borrowing was the process of mortgaging real estates, and the second one was reprogramming the same loan. Additional borrowing and extension of the repayment period. We found ourselves thinking how it is possible that in the modern world, we are leaving debts to our generations to come, and our forbears, in the traditional approach, left us with a stable and secure basis for further development. This is where the national economy lost all meaning, and business began to take over. We rushed into making easy profits, thinking that salvation is only in material existence.

Today, when we are trapped within four walls of our home, without jobs and ways to protect ourselves, we have neither business nor health. We were interested in the peoples who were slowly populating our areas and developing our economy. We didn’t appreciate ours, and instead we bought their cheaper products. It is interesting that imported products are nicer to us, eventhough we don’t know their actual shelf life and quality, compared to domestic production. At that point, we did not understand that their aim was to stifle our economy by selling cheap products, suppress our customs, habits and culture, and impose their own rules of conduct. The fact is that there are those who have profited in all of this. These are the obedient and eligible ones who only supported the suppression of our values ​​at the expense of their own self-interest, without looking back that they achieved that with a high level of humility and obedience to the superpowers. The third step was losing ones business and oneself. We read comments, a glance to the future, as if we are preparing for a new approach to life, the so-called technocracy. Separated from each other, perhaps technocracy – the virtual world also will bring us separation from ourselves. Generally, there is no way to fight for freedom again, in a way our ancestors did, and admitt that we were wrong.

The conclusion is that the ultimate goal of business is a global economic crisis. The economic crisis, in economic terms, should bring many of us into poverty and produce mental distress and neuroticism. Furthermore, in a spiritual sense it could lead us to blasphemy. Becoming helpless, waiting for robots, in the biological sense, we could be faced with disappearance.

Believing that the hope and will can point the way to restoring things back to normal, we need to start believing in each other again. We need to understand that we cannot work without one another and that we should fight together to recover our society and its values. Much has been lost and we are indebted, but one way out is to protect agriculture in the first place, then to recover the national economy, and finally to link authorities, the entrepreneurship and other institutions to an open system aiming to develop the society. Guided by this approach, at certain point, we are likely to start proudly wearing the ”šajkača” of our forbears.

Prof.dr. Srđan Lalić

Translation: Dragan Mišković

Source: Frontal


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