Sunday, June 24, 2007

"To Kill A Nation" by Michael Parenti [8]



The bald revisionism of this chapter--a ten page "summary" of the wars in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia--is breathtaking. I truly do not know where to begin.

Having blamed the breakup of Yugoslavia entirely on Western economic pressures (which were, we are told, all part of a deliberate plan), he only needs to mention that Slovenia and Croatia were "more prosperous" to explain why they left first. It is true that these were the wealthiest republics, and that some separatist sentiment could be attributed to resentment at having to subsidize the economies of some of the poorer republics, so Parenti has the kernel of truth that every conspiracy needs.

Then he gets to the "Serb Autonomous District of Krajina," and any pretensions Parenti might have to intellectual serious go up in smoke. His claim that the situation is

"...parallel to the the US Civil War. When Virginia seceded from the United States, the northwestern region of that state seceded from Virginia to form West Virginia, in a successful effort to remain a loyal part of the Union."

is ridiculously oversimplified--how many "ethnic Virginians" were driven out by ethnic "West Virginians"? More problematically, this is the point where Parenti echoes the racially-based collectivism which is the central premise of Diana Johnstone's "Fools' Crusade." Like Johnstone, Parenti doesn't even seem to realize what a moral quagmire he has wandered in to. Put simply--Parenti defends the Serbs right of "self-determination" by claiming that ethnic Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia had the same right to break away from those republics as those republics had to break away from Yugoslavia, yet he completely ignores the fundamental question--where do you draw the borders when group ethnicity, rather than geopolitical entities, are the core unit of state sovereignty? How could "the Serbs" (or any ethnic/cultural/relgious/other) group in a mixed region exercise self-determination? Diana Johnstone managed to write 269 pages about the breakup of Yugoslavia, all the while championing ethnic nationalism, without ever addressing this question. Parenti, on page 28, stumbles into the same problem. As we shall see, his evasiveness is, if anything, even more callous and anti-modern.

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