Monday, May 12, 2008

"Heavenly Serbia: From Myth to Genocide" by Branimir Anzulovic [2]


After noting that lamenting the loss of Kosovo has been a genuine element of Serbian culture for quite some time, the author further acknowledges that "significant loss of power is always a traumatic event." This is fair, as is the following observation that the "strong expansionist trend" Serbia displayed after gaining independence was typical of the countries which achieved independence as nation-states in the nineteenth century "after a long period of foreign domination or political fragmentation." It is important to maintain a measure of balance and to avoid demonizing an entire nation or group. One of the primary themes of this blog is the evil of collectivism, specifically collective guilt. Any attempt to deal with recent events in the former Yugoslavia, unfortunately, risks charges of being "anti-Serb" from various hysterical factions. I want to take special care not to lend any legitimacy to such charges.

At any rate, Anzulovic is careful to note that theories of a certain "fascist psychology" are wanting at best; the psychological impulse we need to understand is not some individual pathology shared by many members of a particular group but rather the universal trait of strong group membership, a trait which is not exclusive to our species but which in our case may have outlived its evolutionary usefulness. There is a pathology at work, but it is not an abnormal psychological trait peculiar to members of a particular group. The author notes:

"Thus, the primary driving force leading to genocide is not the pathology of the individuals organizing and committing the genocide, but the pathology of the ideas guiding them."

Anzulovic wants to examine how

"the old myth of an innocent, suffering Serbia, and the concomitant myth of foreign evildoers who conspire against its very existence influened the behavior of Serbs at the close of the twentieth century."

The rest of introduction summarizes each chapter rather neatly; if you ever come across a copy of this book while remaining unsure if you want to read it, I encourage you to at least read the Introduction, which serves to at least encapsulate the theme Anzulovic covers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Quote: "One of the primary themes of this blog is the evil of collectivism, specifically collective guilt."

It takes time and a great deal of rational 'self-challenge' to understand the flaws of collectivism. Unfortunately, Serbian government and the Serbian Orthodox Church have for a long time painted most Croats as Nazi Fascists and most Bosniaks (and Muslims in general) as Blood-Thirsty Turks. But there is still hope. Younger generations in Serbia have started to challenge traditional teachings and they seem to be hard-core pro-Europe oriented.

There is a hope, there is a positive side, and there is a bright future waiting for all Balkan nations.

The worst is behind us.