Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Three [22]



In this section, Johnstone summarizes the first 900-1000 years of Croatian history in three quick pages. With a focus on the development of Croatian nationalism, of course. And what is the nature of Croatian nationalism? While the Slovenes are dismissed as elitist, money-grubbing sellouts, the Croats are ungrateful pretenders whose nationalism is half-baked and cowardly, compared to the heroic Serbs next door.

Cue the trumpets...


While the Serbs rose up from squalor and oppression to fight a working-class revolt of the peasants against their perfidious Muslim overlords, the Croats schemed and plotted in the comfort and safety of the Catholic Hapsburg Empire. That, anyway, is the gist of the first paragraph.

The rest of the opening section of part 3 is a triumph of selective history and what can only be a deliberately clueless summary of the development of Croatian nationalism--clueless because, while the (selectively gathered) facts she deploys are not, on the face of it, inaccurate, they are deployed to bolster a biased and ignorant reading not only of Croatian and Serbian nationalism, but of the phenomena of nationalism itself.

We encounter Johnstone at her most disingenuous here; raising questions against one side of an argument while blatantly failing to apply the same rigorous standards of proof against the other. While grossly oversimplifying the process by which Serbian nationalism developed, she puts the development of Croatian nationalism under a microscope--while ignoring evidence that the development of national identity was never a straightforward, clear-cut, or organic process. Rather than lie about the complexities and contradictions of the Croat experience, she rather more cleverly ignores the same in the experience of the Serbs and others.

We shall see this process at work in the next post.

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