Saturday, January 27, 2007

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Three [27]



A short section, worthy of little if any commentary. Beginning with the true-enough observation that people often don't hate the other who are different but rather the other who, in many ways, are very similar (putting aside the issue of causation), she proceeds to extrapolate one more criticism of Croatian nationalism from this unexamined bit of insight.

Essentially, her point is that Croatian nationalism was not a "broad liberation movement" like that of their poor, pig-farming cousins the Serbs, but rather a "fairly narrow effort to gain prestige within a hierarchical order." Remember, the Croats developed their national identity in the context of being a subject people of the Catholic Hapsburg Empire. Johnstone believes that there is a hierarchical order of nationalisms as well, and the Serbs are much higher up the chain the snobbish, elitist Croats, who upon independence were, in her telling, dismayed to find themselves lumped in with all those dirty, Orthodox Slavs to the south.

Of course, it is easy to find bigoted, racist, and elitist statements by leading Croats, including Ante Staveric, the founder of the Croatian Party of Rights. Establish a direct line between the chauvinism of Staveric to the outright insane bigotry of Pavelic, demonstrate that many hard-line Ustashe went into exile after World War II, and you've got yourself one sinister-looking piece of damning evidence.

That's about it for this section, which is only two pages long. Again, I have no love for the Ustashe or its ideology. I shouldn't have to make that disclaimer, but in Johnstone's version of history I must--all Croatian nationalism, in her version of history, revolves around the Ustashe. Croatian nationalism, in her telling, was a direct line leading the Pavelic's regime. All Croatian history after the War was simply a long period of waiting before Croatia's true nature would again reveal itself.

One last note--it's very distressing how lively and focused Johnstone's prose is in this section; her writing is much more direct and less cluttered with unrelated trivia. I fear she is enjoying this dragging through the muck just as much as I find it depressing.

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