Friday, June 06, 2008

"Heavenly Serbia: From Myth to Genocide" by Branimir Anzulovic [11]


After noting that a great number of Serbs wanted no part of the "Greater Serbia" project, that a significant number of prominent individuals as well as large numbers of citizens in the streets and the voting booths stood up against the political/military/religious/academic elites and their military, police, and paramilitary forces, Anzulovic regretfully notes the democratic and liberal deficiencies of the opposition leaders--and this book was published before Kostunica showed his true colors. The future for a free, stable, peaceful and democratic Serbia is grim as long as nationalist tensions in Bosnia, the Kosova issue, and international ambivalence towards the region persist. He makes a strong and convincing plea for a better "realist" foreign policy than the narrow, selfish, and short-term goals of traditional realpolitik advocated by the craven Henry Kissinger among others.

It is unfortunate that the author ends this excellent book with the following assertion:

"Modern myths that have inspired genocides are based on the Enlightenment idea that man is by nature good and able to solve all problems with the help of his intellect. This concept provides the basis for the glorification of particular persons, classes, races, or nations as saviors who will eliminate the evil from history. Therefore, it is of vital importance to recognize the validity of the religious concept of Original Sin, which teaches that the capacity for evil is present in every human being."

This could not be more wrong. Anzulovic is ignoring the role of the Serbian Church and it's anti-rational embrace of myth and national stereotypes reinforced with religious certainty. Indeed, "secular" nationalist extremism and fascist ideologies are also anti-rational universal myths themselves. It was clear through this entire book that Anuzlovic takes a kinder view towards institutional religion and faith than I do; he frequently takes pains to distinguish between the teachings of the Serbian Church and "real" or "authentic" Christian teachings. This disconnect between what he wishes to believe about faith and the anti-rational nature of the nationalist passions he sincerely opposes takes us into a larger debate which will wait for another discussion.

Despite this jarring, if not completely unexpected, stumble at the finish line, this is an excellent book and I highly recommend it.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Kirk. There are different teachings of Christianity, and the Serbian Orthodox Church is a great example of hard core ultra-nationalism in action.

It seems to me that the Serbian Orthodox Church worships three things: (1) Radical nationalism, (2) Kosovo Myth (which started it all), and Saint Sava (who is equivalen to God).

Many people don't realize, but this is a very dangerous institution which during the war and under the oath claimed that there was no genocide and mass killings in Bosnia. This is the organization that supported, closely worked, and blessed Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic, and other war criminals.

The loss of Kosovo was the only way to hit the source of this sick nationalism, radicalism, and extremism that is persistent in Serbian society and propagated by the Serbian Orthodox Church and its political allies, namely Radical Party of Serbia.

Anthony said...

Long memories in this region -- just a little bit of humor.

One of my co-workers was in the region on a cruise that stopped in Croatia. They took a tour of Split, guided by a higly educted, very westernized woman. During the tour, she complained about constantly about Bosnia being given a small piece of Croatian land on the coast. She was incensed about it. She continued talked about it.

Not realizing this as going on, my co-worker asked when it happened.

"1458" she replied.

Yes, they have long memories there.