Lesson for the West: The Berlin Wall fell but Croatia Balkanized

Previosly posted by Israel National News. 

The breakup of the artificial state of Yugoslavia was a result of the fall of an idea, symbolized by the fall of the Berlin Wall, but Croatia and Serbia are no better off than before. It seems statehood is not always all it is described to be.

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 did not occur out of the blue. It was preceded by a fall in enthusiasm for “real socialism” which so many European world-improvers had been in love with for a long period of time.  By the mid-1980s the communist project in Eastern Europe and Russia had turned out badly, to the point that local communists and their Western sympathizers — who had once decorated themselves with the titles of Castroists, Titoists or Maoists — ceased to believe in the Marxian mystique.

However, there is no need to delude oneself too much. Communism, as a social anthropology preaching egalitarianism, society without borders, multiculturalism, and eternal economic progress, had already come to fruition in a more insidious and more elegant way in the West. Even in comparison to famed communist repression in Eastern Europe, its Western counterpart had taken on far more sophisticated  features, of course under another garb and by using different signifiers such as “antifascism”, “multiculturalism”, “diversity”, etc.

The fall of the Wall, followed later by the breakup of Yugoslavia, was therefore a logical consequence of the fall of an idea that had been popular among many Western academics for quite some time. It must be recalled that the communist universe, including the multiethnic now-defunct Yugoslavia, derived much of its intellectual legitimacy from its Western scribes.

The breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991 and the birth of modern Croatia were not the result of a secret plot devised by Croatian and  Serb nationalists, as the mainstream media in the West often reports. The birth of Croatia in 1991 was an instinctive reaction of Croatian citizens to Yugoslav Army aggression and to the armed uprising by the Serb minority in Croatia.

It suffices to observe the profile of the current Croatian ruling class, Croatia’s higher education professors, as well as the pedigree of major movers and shakers in the Croat mainstream media. Almost all of them are either former communist apparatchiks or their offspring, albeit  rebranded now into proud liberal Europeanists.

In large part the current Croatian leadership used to be staunch Yugoslavs who, at the time of the country’s breakup in 1991, became Croats by default. One could easily draw an anthropological parallel with the Left in France, which around the same time period considered it more advantageous to pontificate about the free market than to continue indulging in Freudo-Marxist scholasticism.

“Every cloud has a silver lining” – goes an old English proverb. Croatia  has less legislative autonomy today than when it was a constituent republic of now-defunct Yugoslavia. The current chest pounding by Croat nationalists about upholding the sovereignty and independence of their country sounds obsolete, given that half of Croatia’s legislation has been imported from Brussels anyway.

Moreover, it should not be forgotten that on the eve of its breakup in 1991 Yugoslavia was highly prized by European leaders who saw in Yugoslavia a prime model of the future multicultural EU.  Praising The European Union to the skies, as Croatian government officials are doing, while at the same time lambasting the defunct communist and multicultural Yugoslavia is a contradictio in adjecto. In psychiatric terms, it is a deliberate self-denial process practiced by an overwhelming majority of Croatian politicians and intellectuals.

While the former Yugoslav yoke is being openly criticized with hindsight and ridiculed by many, Croatia’s ruling class enjoys being subjected to EU  ukases with very few voices to be heard against the grip of the new Brussels-based “euroslav” project. Not very different.

The additional problem consuming the energy of many Croat citizens is neighboring Serbia, a country which serves as an obsessive source of Croat negative identity. In popular Croat lingo one cannot be a good Croat unless one becomes a good anti-Serb first. Even in official discourse, Croatian politicians constantly regurgitate the mantra about “Greater Serbian aggression” without ever venturing to examine the ex-Yugoslav causes and the disastrous legacy of communism which were the origins of the 1991 war. Of course, such an anti-Serb rhetoric  exonerates former Croatian communists of any responsibility for crimes they committed during the Yugoslav era, It also provides them with an alibi for their failure to safeguard Yugoslavia whose eternal life they had preached for decades.

In truth, the war in the former Yugoslavia did not solve anything. For their part, Serbian politicians and historians continue wallowing in their antifascist victimology, inflating the figures of Serbs killed by the Croatian Ustashas between 1941 and 1945. Their victimology is supposed to serve them as a cover to conceal their own geopolitical aspirations of yesteryear and absolve them of crimes they committed during the last war in the former Yugoslavia.

Nor are the Croats lagging much behind in their commemorations. They also display their own brand of victimhood  whose anticommunist trope is especially pronounced among grassroots Croats. Extensive Catholic Church-sponsored commemorations are held for the victims of communist massacres committed after 1945 in early Yugoslavia in which tens of thousands of Croats perished.

Indeed, the Croats seem to suffer from collective neurosis that in many aspects resembles that of the Germans. There is, however, a clear difference. While the historical trauma in Germany results in collective rituals of penitence and self-hatred, the Croat people, in order to bolster its tragic identity, keeps evoking the communist post-1945 killings fields and the real or surreal Serbian evil.

Although the current Croatian government is cozying up to EU directives by mimicking the EU codes of political correctness, Croatia, at least for the time being, has no laws restricting freedom of speech as is the case with France and Germany.

Nonetheless,  being trapped in its World War II historical narrative, it comes as no surprise that little mention is being made in Croatia of large waves of non-European migrants in its neighborhood. For example, in neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina, a dysfunctional and artificial state, there are around 50,000 non-European migrants en route to the West, whose rush may trigger an even more serious crisis in the Balkans any minute.  Willy-nilly migrants can further aggravate the persisting hatred lingering between Serbs, Croats and Bosnian Muslims.

The fall of the Wall, the breakup of Yugoslavia, the establishment of the European Union  – none of them bode well for the European “happy together.”

Dr. Tomislav Sunic is a writer, former Croatian diplomat, former professor of political science in the United States,  and author of the novel Titans are in Town (2017).  Born in Zagreb, he is an author, former US professor of political science, and former Croat diplomat. One of his recent books is “La Croatie ; un pays par défaut?” (2010). His views are often cited as part of the Nouvelle Droite movement in Europe.

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6 replies
  1. Curmudgeon
    Curmudgeon says:

    Thank you Mr. Sunic.
    From the mid 90s onward, I met a number of people from the former Yugoslavia, Serbs, Croats, and Bosnians. They were “ordinary” people fleeing the fray. I will briefly outline the “take” of 3 examples:
    – Couple 1: Both from Bosnia. He, very a “middle Eastern looking” Muslim, she, a tall round-faced blonde convert to Islam. There are crazy people on all sides causing trouble. The majority of people get along with each other and don’t care. One language, 3 religions, it’s stupid.
    – Couple 2: He a Serb, she a Croat, both Orthodox had lived in Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia with their 3 children. His brother joined the fray in Bosnia, and he couldn’t understand the zeal, but noted extremists on all sides. They left, primarily for the children’s safety, but posed the question – how can you live in a place where the guy across the street has a gun an says if you don’t leave, I’ll kill you. (A lot like my friend’s father telling his story of why his father left Ireland) They had little nice to say about Milosevic, but their main dislike was alleged corruption. Both claimed the Western media was completely distorting what was going on.
    – IT man. My employer hired an IT firm in the early 2000s. The primary person on site, was an ex- military Montenegran, who had lived for a number of years post discharge in Serbia. It was all about NATO. While imperfect, Yugoslavia presented a challenge, particularly for the US. Being non-aligned meant that Yugoslavia had access to weapons purchase from both the USSR cum Russia, and the NATO countries. They saw flaws in both, understood those shortcomings, and could compensate. An example was the “stealth” bombers were being easily tracked. Shooting them down was problematic, due to their small stockpile of weaponry. Even though the USSR had broken up, NATO was concerned that the Yugoslav military would pass on the flaws to Russia. The Kosovo narrative was pure bullshit. The Albanian “mafia” was in control of Kosovo and had no problem killing anyone, and their family, who spoke out or opposed them.
    How accurate these accounts are, is anyone’s guess. However, most of the others I met, who would talk about it, were more or less of the similar opinion. Interestingly, the newly arrived Croats and Serbians seemed to get along better with each other than the long established Croat and Serbian “communities” did. As for Slovenians, they disliked all of the above.

    Reply
  2. Tom
    Tom says:

    Excellent observations as always by Dr. Sunic. For whatever reason, I paid little to no attention to the Balkan crisis of the 90s. Perhaps this was due to the western media’s simplistic and “Holocaust-tainted” perceptions of the events in the region. After all, it’s common for western media types to dismiss a tangle of issues when those issues emanate from the “little peoples” of the world. We understand of course that “little peoples” are brutish, unintelligent, and morally-challenged – hence the need for brilliant global entities such as the EU and NATO to set things straight.
    Anyway, what I took as a lesson from the Balkan crisis was to question why the concept of the “indivisibility of nations” is so prevalent as an article of faith in the west. Nations in fact are perfectly divisible along a whole host of lines. Yet this religion of indivisibility is everywhere and it is deferred to uncritically as an absolute. Then there’s the primary political imperative of the west – the creation of nations that should not possess individuals infused with any collective consciousness (racial, ethnic, religious) but instead individuals infused exclusively with the idea of their existences as being typified by a complete atomized autonomy from all others. Moreover, our western global powers have decided to forcefully mandate that individual autonomy must be secured, even at the point of a gun. The contradiction of course lies in the vain attempt to create a western political collective vacuous of content except for the supposed binding generality that “we are all humans”. The absurdity of this was uttered by Macron when he declared a while back that France was not French. However, if autonomy is the highest political end attainable, I wonder what gives the EU the right to prevent autonomous individuals from deciding not only who they should associate with, but more importantly who they decide they ought not associate with.

    Reply
  3. Charles Frey
    Charles Frey says:

    Some disparate and shallow comments: as is my wont:

    01 During the period under consideration here, some Ministry or other in Ottawa warned all potentially warring groups in Canada to keep their problems in Europe. Or else.

    02 I prefer central-, eastern- and southern European food but hesitated to frequent a Serbian restaurant with an overly large glass front window, facing a fast road. I threw caution aside, but still chose a table well in the back.

    To their credit none of these idiots got after one another in their new home: unlike the East Indians in British Columbia.

    03 I am repeating myself, but a nationally televised program out of Toronto, featured an interview with a former head of the Munich/Pullach based BND, or Bundes Nachrichten Dienst; the successor to General Gehlen’s Foreign Armies East: Germany’s CIA.

    This INSIDER stated, shortly after that internecine war, that it was engendered by the west’s perceived benefit to bring the entire region under its international financial control structure. What better method than to front our shared values of democracy, human and civil rights and the suppressed in Kosovo, decorated by media-photos of crowded barbed wire cages: falling short of lampshades.

    Reply
  4. Tudor
    Tudor says:

    It will be useful to know your opinion regarding Krajna, Military Frontier and Statuta Valachorum. Are the relocated Serbs from Krajina to Serbia, 1993, actually the assimilated Walachs?

    Reply
  5. Joe Glasnovic
    Joe Glasnovic says:

    The genesis of conflict in the former artificial Serb-dominated entity called Yugoslavia is Serbian colonization,occupation and state terror which from 1912 up to 1990,not to mention the conflicts from 1991,under the royalist and communist banner killed hundreds of thousands of Albanians,Croats,Muslims,Macedonians,Montenegrins and members of the German and Hungarian minority,often in peacetime.Serbs began the murder of Croats even before the creation of the first Yugoslavia.In 1916 in Odessa Serbian troops killed at the very least hundreds of Croatian POWs,members of the Austro-Hungarian Army,who refused to join the Serbian military.In 1935 alone,in peacetime,Serbian state terror in Croatia killed two Catholic priests and at least 112 Croatian peasents.From 1918. to 1941 thousands of Croats endured torture in Serbian jails.While the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia was under way,Serbian troops and paramilitaries killed 300 Croats including dozens of women and children.The Croat offensive to regain its occupied territories in 1995 signalled the beggining of the end end to the bloodiest tyranny in the history of Southeastern Europe and buried once and for all the dream of a Greater Serbia.The bottom line is that the Serbs put the devil behind the wheel in 1912 and the ride is not over yet.It is simply uncanny that after nearly 30 years many historically illiterates in the West who do not understand this dynamic and many even side with Serb fantasies and mythology.In the final analysis the worst enemies of the Serbs to this day remain their politicians and so-called intellectuals.Anyone voicing support of the Serbs in this day and age is on the wrong side of history and a useful idiot.

    Reply

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