Slovaks are the ideal people to exploit, certainly in Europe.
Culturally there’s only a tiny nucleus of intellectuals centered around the Artforum book shops, SME, DennikN and Tyzden. Any serious person reads in Czech or English, not Slovak. The only newspaper that’s truly popular is Novy Cas, which is filled with celebrity gossip.
Labor unions are suspect and said to be corrupt, so workers do not organize and do not demand anything collectively.
The people are simple and want to do some job, any job, as long as it’s an office job, for a salary of around 1,000 euro, but many will settle for less.
Outside of work they like to go on trips, city trips, but also hiking in the mountains.
You don’t meet any other people around here. A job plus some hobby, and family. Family is important around here, society is not.
Slovakia is the pinnacle of neoliberal modernity
You have exploited workers who make very little money, and they don’t even know, nor care that they are exploited. They are an employer’s wet dream. Employers have found this out, and now there is such a demand for Slovak workers that there aren’t enough of them.
They are used as cheap labor, but they are also looked down upon. Especially Dutch employers seem to think of them as some sort of fascinating cattle. Slovaks are ok with this. They enjoy their underdog position.
They are also proud of liking beer, of not questioning anything, of not organizing, of not taking any initiative. In a way that’s also why there hasn’t been any serious war here for ages. Slovaks don’t protest, they just bend over for any foreign power. 500 well-trained and determined shock troops could take over the entire country in about three days, especially if they have a charismatic leader, and if they military take-over does not interrupt the supply of beer.
If you can’t provide a job for these people, you can’t do anything with them, you can’t really be friends with them, unless to partner up on Sundays and run to Church together. In some countries, like the Netherlands, there’s a great sense of humor to compensate for the repetitive bleakness of human existence, but not so in Slovakia. People have a simple sense of humor here and they are easily shocked. A sense of humor requires things to be unpredictable, and to have things being unpredictable is a Slovak’s worst nightmare. In 1,000 years these people will still eat their cabbage soup on Christmas eve. Officially the times change around here, but not in practice.
We run a cultural organisation to bring Dutch people, Slovak people and Belgian people closer together. We have quite a few members who have gladly paid a substantial once in a lifetime membership fee. Well, there’s only ONE Slovak member, and he lives in the Netherlands. Other than that there’s ZERO financial support from Slovaks, for an organisation that tries to promote Slovakia. It’s seems likely that Slovakia simply love their own obscurity.
They have no sense of an identity, in fact, they seem to have some sort of anti-identity. They seem to reason like this: Our identity is empty and we are proud of it, that’s our identity. We do not have links with the past, we do not reflect on our role within society and we are disconnected from society. The only way people still seem to interact with society, is by selling their labor and to buy simple entertainment in return. As long as they are able to do this, they do not care about anything else. Whole countries can sink into the ocean and they will not care, as long as their own personal situation is not affected.
You meet a lot of superficially nice people around here, but if drinking alcohol in a cabin in the mountains is not your idea of fun, then you’re basically fucked, because there’s nothing else. They don’t know their own culture and if you ask them about some famous Slovak writer, they will tell you they haven’t read any Slovak literature. And they blame the school system for this. Slovak literature is taught in the most boring way, according to Slovaks and that’s their excuse to not explore their own literature. The truth is that they simply don’t give a damn, and to be completely honest: Slovak literature is not particularly good.
Slovakia is exactly what happens when each individual citizen only cares about his own little job, his own little flat and his own little family. You get the sharks on top who exploit the completely oblivious, apathetic, hedonistic workers. Anything that requires a collective effort to maintain crumbles or is in bad shape. On the other hand private companies are excellent. There are private bus companies in Slovakia that blow anything Belgium has to offer away, probably because workers can easily be forced to work hard for very little.
The same is going to happen to Belgium. More jobs will move elsewhere, less people will be active in labor unions, more people will purely focus on their individual career paths, and more collective services will be replaced by the market and by overworked workers.
This is the price a society pays for hyperindividualism. If we all care only about ourselves we will be squeezed dry like lemons and we will perish.
At some point jobs will leave Slovakia as well, to countries where labor is even cheaper.
Lately I’ve come to think that humanity gets exactly what it deserves for its blind selfishness and extreme individualism and complete lack of interest in the bigger picture.