Thursday, February 26, 2009

Marko Attila Hoare on Seymours "The Liberal Case for Murder"

While I am in the middle of reviewing his mother's book, historian Marko Attila Hoare has tackled yet another in a long line of books adding to the genre of Bosnian/Balkan revisionism and Srebrenica Genocide denial literature. You can--and should--read his thorough demolition of what seems to be yet another example of this dreary, incestuous (revisionists always, ALWAYS quote each other), morally suspect school of disingenuous polemic here. I have some other works of this revisionism in my sights, but Dr. Hoare has pretty systematically made any commentary I would add redundant at best.

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I apologize that it has been over a week since my last post on The Destruction of Yugoslavia: Tracking the Breakup 1980-92. I can only promise that I have not abandoned the project, I simply have been busier than usual lately. I will be posting on Part Three in the next day or two.

Also, in my original post on the book I said I would be writing four posts on the book, one for each Part. Which sounds sensible, except that the book has five parts, not four. Hopefully nobody who read that is already familiar with the book was concerned that my American edition was abridged!

11 comments:

Daniel said...

The blogger Richard Seymour and his book "The Liberal Defence of Murder" could be classified as another toilet paper intelect. He is a self-admitted Communist - member of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) - and a Srebrenica genocide denier.

I don't care about his Communist political leanings, but those who deny Srebrenica genocide are nothing but worthless garbage.

As Dr. Marko Attila Hoare pointed out, "As Seymour makes clear, he does not believe that Milosevic and his Serb forces were fascist, or that genocide occurred, or that the Serb forces ran concentration camps."

These days, everybody can write and publish a book - even nutcases like Richard Seymour.

I should probably start working on writing my own book detailing years of my research about Srebrenica genocide. I could also include survivor testimonies. I will seriously think about this.

Owen said...

You're working too hard, Kirk!

Sarah Franco said...

Daniel, you should really consider writing your book. I understand that is a difficult thing to do, but I'm sure you'll get all the support you need from your friends and readers.

I'm not saying this because of poisonous haters like this Seymor, but because, despite so much information being already available, I find so many people who fail to understand the true meaning of what a genocide is about.

It's understandable that they fail to realize it, because the contrast with their normal life is so huge that it almost becomes inconceivable, but awareness is needed. Paying respect to the victims is important, but this transcends it. People must be given means to understand with evil.

Owen said...

I'm not sure Marko should be wasting the time of day on Richard Seynour except insofar as he has an intimate knowledge of the subjects that Seynour comments on. Unfortunately with some honourable exceptions my experience of SWP members in the UK has been of people who operate as divisive opportunists with an apparent lack of fundamental principles that leads them into some very strange situations. People on the left should not end up acting as apologists for genocide.

Kirk Johnson said...

Owen, I disagree simply because people like Seymour unfortunately help to establish the parameters of leftist/progressive interpretations of the Yugoslav wars. Not among pundits or specialists or people like who care about the region, but among general readers who don't follow the region carefully and who are on the one hand unable to detect bias and dishonest use of sources, yet on the other hand are all too willing to believe the worst of a Western-led military action against a small, ostensibly "socialist" state. I have met many well-meaning left-of-center people who have been duped into a lazy, "all sides were guilty" interpretation of the Bosnian War, and I'm sure you know a few people like that as well.

We need to call these people out and never, ever let their lies stand unchallenged. Not to change their minds, mind you--I have no doubt that Michael Parenti, for example, is at some level manipulating the truth in pursuit of what he would consider a "greater good" and therefore uninterested in a real debate on the gross errors and falsehoods in his work--but to rebut them publicly so that less-informed readers, who might otherwise be persuaded by reasonable-sounding arguments, will have a counterpoint availalbe.

Marko Attila Hoare said...

Thanks for the post, Kirk.

In response to Owen's comment; the reason I bother with Seymour is not because his book has any value, or because I'm trying to convince SWP supporters of what rubbish it is. It is because it has received a lot of attention in more mainstream liberal circles: it's been reviewed in the Guardian and the Independent, the UK's two principal liberal daily papers, and in the New Statesman, our principal liberal current affairs weekly. Two out of three of these reviews were written by political sympathisers and were therefore undeservedly positive.

But now, anyone who googles 'Richard Seymour Liberal Defence Murder' will find my review, and will quickly find out what utter rubbish the book is :-)

Marko Attila Hoare said...

I'd also like to second Sarah's plea for Daniel to write a book on the Srebrenica massacre. We don't yet have a proper, in-depth account and study of the massacre, and this is necessary not just to counter the deniers - though that is always important - but so that people can actually understand what happened. And I mean particularly the mechanics: how the massacre was organised; who carried it out; who was killed; how the bodies were disposed of; how they have been recovered; etc.

Nobody is better qualified to write such a book than Daniel. It would be a terrible shame if his great expertise were only available to people who read blogs. Once this expertise results in a book, then the wider intellectual and academic community will have to take note of it. Then, a proper understanding of the massacre will enter the mainstream.

Sarah Franco said...

Kirk's right.

In Portugal, believe it or not, the only book that is translated into portuguese about the former Yugoslavia is... Fools Cruzade, by Diana Jonhstone, published by a publishing house that has the reputation of being serious.

The wider audience gets more of that than the work of serious researchers, who I think should pay a bit more attention to this audience instead of writing only to their peers.

Kirk Johnson said...

Daniel, allow me to join the chorus of voices urging you to write a book.

Owen said...

Marko, I take your point, I hadn't realised Seymour had been taken so seriously. Thank you very much for your response.

Sadly I hesitate to endorse your recommendation that Daniel should right a book because rather selfishly I think he is doing much too important a job in combating the deniers and criminals on a day to day basis to give it up for the speculative venture of writing a book. However important the truth about a subject is, you still need a publisher to take you on.

Hasan Nuhanovic has self-published a his step-by-step account of what happened at Srebrenica itself in Under the UN Flag but even after a tendentious account like Resolution 819 has had extensive distribution there don't appear to be any commercial or academic publishers interested in following it up by republishing Hasan's book and giving it a wider distribution.

I've read Hasan's book and it's so solid that there's plenty of scope there for an academic or commercial publisher to take it on and adapt it to the specific requirements of their particular readership without massive redrafting. If the truth that Hasan tells with all his personal authority isn't good enough for a wider readership, how is Dan going to be able to get through to the publishing world?

And in the meanwhile, as you point out, Dan is providing invaluable material here for all of us to circulate more widely. If we're to lose that it has to be for some concrete project. I would hate to see Dan suffer the disappointment Hasan has experienced - not so much disappointment at the apparent waste of so much personal effort but disappointment at the knowledge that the truth is not regarded as important.

Marko Attila Hoare said...

Owen, I appreciate your point, but I don't agree. However, I'm beginning to feel we shouldn't continue this discussion in a public forum; I'll send you all an email.