Michael Totten on Belgrade and Serbia

This post is a about Michael Totten’s report “A Dark Corner of Europe” Part 1. You need to read this article for this post to make sense. Michael Totten’s article is mostly very good article, and I, perhaps unfairly, am focussing only on the negatives here.

Michael Totten is a great independent journalist who I have followed avidly over the last few years, especially as he reported from Lebanon.

He is supposedly the master of independent journalism and canny travelogues but my respect for him has been slightly tarnished after he visited Belgrade – my adopted home town – and filed a hatchet job about it that completely contradicts what every other visitor is reports. He suggests, in essence, that Belgrade is a “dark corner of Europe”, a squalid xenophobic and anti-Semitic hell hole full of “Communist architecture”.

Well OK, that may be a bit of a stretch, but the article is negative, at times snide (especially the photo captions), misleading about Belgrade (and Serbia) and very one sided in that is only presents an ultra-Liberal view of the situation here from the perspective of a local film-maker (Filip David).

The Belgrade of Michael’s report is nearly unrecognisable to me, a resident of three years. It says nothing about the real Belgrade that I have lived and worked in for three years, the booming vibrant cosmopolitan party town that rapidly growing numbers of appreciative visitors are flocking to in greater and greater numbers. Unfortunately I think it tells us plenty about Michael’s lack of research, poor planning, paucity of diverse contacts on the ground and his previously revealed touch of Serbophobia .

Perhaps an analysis of his post is in order to help illuminate some of the unfair points?

Michael and the Taxi Driver

The post starts off with Michael and Sean being berated by a taxi driver, who rips them off.

Even cursory research about Belgrade would have revealed the many warnings about the Taxi Mafia who operate from Belgrade airport.They have pretty much cleared out of the airport now, but for many years they have been a pest that both rip off visitors and ruin people’s first impressions of the city.

Well informed visitors simply call one of the many legitimate taxi companies or go to the taxi desk at arrivals and order a legal taxi. A ride into to any part of the city would normally not cost more than 1000 dinars (or on a Sunday, maximum 1500).

The Taxi Mafia are criminal scum, and as you would expect they represent the worst of the country. It comes as no surprise that the cab driver took his opportunity to berate Michael and Sean.

Michael writes that he was afraid to reveal he was a journalist, some 9 years after the bombing, and was worried for his safety because of then recent embassy attacks. It was an unfounded fear, because even in 1999 – at the hight of the bombing –  foreign journalists and citizens were treated (as they are now) with kindness, respect and hospitality. Take for example Marko Hoare, a British journalist and Balkan expert:

During the Kosovo War of 1999, I lived for more than a month in an ordinary Belgrade suburb, solely in the company of the native people of Belgrade and without any contact with other foreigners. Several times, during and immediately after this war, I crossed the Serbian international border. During this period, on not one single occasion did I, as a Briton, experience so much as a curse or a rude word from any Serbian citizen or border guard, despite the fact that my country’s airforce was bombing their country. One border guard even said to his colleague, in front of me, that what NATO was doing had nothing to do with me, but was the fault of higher powers. The Serbian people, for the most part, are not hooligans and do not engage in random acts of mob violence and destruction. Why should yesterday’s demonstrators have attacked McDonald’s restaurants, when during the Kosovo War the local management of these restaurants patriotically (as they saw it) supported the Serbian defence against NATO ? McDonald’s posters in 1999 Belgrade displayed the colours of the Serbian flag and promised a share of their profits to a fund for military invalids. Those who view themselves as engaged in a righteous act of national self-defence (as most Serbian people, however misguidedly, genuinely did in 1999), do not degrade themselves with acts of rioting and looting. One rioter was burned to death in the attack on the US embassy; this wave of violence, which has already produced dozens of injuries in recent days, is already violent in comparison with the revolution that overthrew Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000. [Emphasis mine Source]

Michael and the Hotels

Michael complains about the horrible Hotel Royal and denounces Belgrade’s hotels. He writes:

Most of the city’s hotels are in so-called New Belgrade. They are overpriced, far from the city center, and surrounded by communist-era monstrosity architecture.

No, they are not Michael. The two biggest ones are (Hyatt and Intercontinental), but most hotels are in the Old Town (Stari Grad). Many ARE overpriced, but that was because until now most visitors were businessmen – a captured market – and there was no competition.

Things have changed radically. A whole new generation of excellent and affordable hotels have opened in and around the Old Town. Had you done your research you would have found out that the Hotel Royal is one of the worst hotels in the city. Why did you not try Le Petit Piaf or Hotel City Code or any one of the brilliant hotels nearby?

Michael Looks for A Party

Michael and Sean set off in search of some fun, but only found a Ethno-Karaoke bar and a Turkish themed dive.

Michael you walked UP Kralja Petra, you should have walked DOWN to Strahinjica Bana (aka Silicone Valley) one of Belgrade’s famous “strips” where you would have found hundreds of glitterati partying on the many bars and restaurants. I have no idea what Karaoke Bar you found, but you were 100m away from Bar Central, a world class cocktail bar with brilliant music and crowd (it is out of shot to the left in the photo captioned “Belgrade after midnight”).

Had you asked anyone, they would have directed you to one of the clubbing areas (like the river party boats).

If only you had made contact with any of the expatriates in Belgrade we could have guided you away from the crap bars and shown you Belgrade’s incredible nightlife.

Belgrade is deservedly famous for being a fantastic party town. It is a real pity you did not have someone to show you around. Even people like Tom Merchant, founder of award winning travel company Black Tomato, have praised Belgrade lavishly , as have The Times of London , the New York Times and dozens more.

Michael and the Writer

Michael interviews a local writer who speaks for the ultra-liberals of Serbia.

I support the Liberal Democratic Party so the early part of Mr Filip David’s interview with Michael Totten  pretty much sums up what I think about much of the politics here.

That said, I am a foreigner and I have my own biases. But Mr David is unrepresentative of Serbs in general, and presents a deeply negative view of Serbia that even I would dispute.

Imagine I went to America and interviewed Michael Moore then reported back that his was the authentic voice of the USA? Well that is kind of how many Serbs will feel about Michael’s encounter with Filip David.

At times Michael and Mr David veer into speculation, generalization and stereotypes. They try and pass off Serbian anti-Americanism as the product mere propaganda and conspiracy theories.

It is true that the lunatic fringe and the Radical Party peddle absurd anti-Semitic and anti-American conspiracy theories but do not let that obscure the fact that Serbian anti-Americanism is firmly rooted in rightful outrage over the Clinton administration’s illegal and murderous bombing of the country in 1999. That bombing campaign is now widely seen to have been the result of being duped by the KLA, an attack on a sovreign state in supported Muslim separatist ethnic nationalists who went on to Ethnically Cleanse Serbs, Gorani and Roma from Kosovo and then turn the province into a corrupt and violent mafia state.

Had you Michael diversified his interview subjects, he may very well have come to understand that even those who support Kosovo independence here are outraged at the bombing and the general bullying manner in which post-Milosevic democratic Serbia has been treated by the US, EU and UN.

At one point Michael shocked me with this throw-away comment, writing:

Kosovo’s current prime minister Hashim Thaci, who really is a bit sketchy, was recently and absurdly accused of harvesting and selling Serb body parts. When you throw The Protocols of the Elders of Zion into the mix, it’s a good idea to fact-check what you hear – which is frankly good advice in the Balkans in general, not just in Serbia.

Well Michael here is what you do not know: Those allegations came from noted UN prosecutor Carla Del Ponte in her book “The Hunt”. The do sound like rubbish, but as Human Rights Watch have noted, the underlying fact is that hundreds of Serbs have been “disappeared” since 1999 and the KLA are directly implicated. HRW have called for an investigation:

NEW YORK — A senior Human Rights Watch (HRW) official has called on Priština to investigate the fate of more than 400 missing non-Albanians in Kosovo.

In this way, Fred Abrahams argues in a commentary carried by BIRN, “it would prove it cared for all its citizens, regardless of ethnicity”.

Carla Del Ponte’s book, Abrahams says, with allegations concerning the possible trafficking of prisoners’ organs from a mysterious yellow house near the Albanian town of Burrel, “has led to Serbian officials exaggerating the claims, while officials in Priština and Tirana called them a slanderous lie”.

“The accusations and denials obscure a fundamental point. Whether or not it’s proven that a trade in human organs took place, no one denies that about 400 people – most of them Serbs – went missing in Kosovo after the war. [Source]

So he is not “a bit sketchy”, he oversees a government that allows the ongoing sectarian violence against Serbs, a government which is the inheritor of power from the KLA – a state department listed terrorist organisation and mafia enterprise that is directly implicated in the mass murder of both non-Albanians and Albanians in Kosovo.

For more on the Albanian organ harvesting case and Albanian mass murderers being freed by the Hague after killing all witnesses, see:

http://www.limbicnutrition.com/blog/harvesting-kidneys-from-abducted-civilians-in-organ-farms/

http://www.limbicnutrition.com/blog/hague-won’t-investigate-war-crimes-against-serb

You might notice that the point is not about whether the Organ Harvesting is true or not, but the blanket refusal of UN and other bodies to investigate alleged crimes against Serbs and other non-Albanians in Kosovo.

It is the double standard that irks Serbs. Every ridiculous claim but its enemies are reprinted as gospel truth whilst acknowledged war crimes like the abduction of 400 Serbian civilians remains investigated (and unreported) to this today.

Snide Remarks

Michaels photo captions are very snide at times. For example in one photo he captions a picture of Belgrade’s military museum and writes:

Serbia likes to show off its military hardware in public. “They’re just like Russians,” Sean said and laughed when he saw this. “And Arabs,” I said.”

Well no, Michael, it is a museum. Do American’s like to show off their military hardware in public too? I mean what the hell is the Intrepid doing moored at New York?

Serbia had not been bombed

During a walking tour Michael “saw virtually no evidence that Belgrade had ever been bombed.” A walk down Kralja Milena would have provided you with all the evidence required. There are multiple shattered building right across the road from the US Embassy.

Later he sees,

“[The] bombed-out Belgrade TV station building…[which]…stood out as one of the few remaining demolished buildings from the air campaign. It seems to be left as a show-piece. It’s hard to say, though, if this building was left in its condition to wave the bloody shirt against Americans or against the Milosevic regime.”

This is an interesting point because I have wondered why so many ruins have been left in place. Serb opinion is split. Some say it is, as Michael says “to wave a bloody shirt”. Other people have told me there are unexploded bombs, that it is massively expensive to clear the sites and that there are fears of Depleted Uranium. I am not sure if any of that is true.

Michael reveals his ignorance about what really happened in Kosovo

Michael writes that

“[Milosevic’s] ethnic-cleansing campaign turned 90 percent of Kosovar Albanians into refugees”.

This is a half-truth, and as such is one of the enduring anti-Serb myths of the war.

The typical story starts with genocidal Serbs picking on poor defenceless Albanians and ends with trains of Albanian civilians pouring out of Kosovo terrified for their lives, the survivors of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

CUT!

That is the KLA/Western Media version and has no bearing on reality. It was all media warfare.  The story should have started back in 1981 with the Pristina riots. It should have charted the KLA insurgency and, murderous campaign against Albanian rivals. It should include the ethnic warfare against Serbs that culminated in the Serbian Army being deployed to fight the KLA insurgency.

And of course the the story did not end with the Kosovar civilians leaving in droves. We later discovered that the massacres and ethnic cleansing claimed by NATO and the KLA did not happen. The civilians fled because they were warned to by the KLA and because they were terrified by the news reports from the duped Western media. They all returned home within a few months. And then they set about hounding, persecuting and ethnically slaughtering non-Albanians so that 90% of non-Albanians have been permanently Ethnically Cleansed from Kosovo since the NATO bombing.

So please shut up about the temporary, propaganda-driven KLA-orchestrated media stunt and pay some attention to the real outrage of Kosovo: The hundreds of thousands of deracinated Serbs, Gorani and Roma (not to mention the hundreds of missing, probably dead abductees), the illegal bombing of Serbian civilians, the human slave trafficking, the drug smuggling, the ongoing oppression of minorities in Kosovo. That is the real outrage in this story. You may very well see it first hand.

Since you are going to Kosovo. Make sure you visit the embattled Serb communities living in razor wire surrounded ghettos, guarded by foreign soldiers and under daily attack from Albanian sectarian violence.

Head to the south of the province, try and visit the village of Velika Hoca and the town of Orahovac. What you find will shock you.

Safe in Belgrade

Towards the end of the first instalment Michael asked Filip David “I feel like we’re safe here, is that true?”. Mr David replies “Yes, generally. But sometimes you will have somebody say they don’t like you if they hear you speak English.”

Michael notes that no-one had been rude to he or Sean. I think it is worth noting that Belgrade is one of the safest cities in the world. There is virtually no street crime and xenophobia is so are as to be almost unheard of. An American is in more danger in London than Belgrade where the overwhelming majority of encounters will be hospitable and helpful – more so than any Western European capital.

Final thoughts

Michael, if you read this, please get in touch with me next time you are in Belgrade. I am a fellow writer on Pajama’s Media [here and here ], a fan and an ideological fellow traveler.

I will introduce you to ideas that you have not explored, for example how it was the KLA who mastered Hizbollah-style media warfare and used it to dupe the West into unnecessary and illegal aggression against Serbia. I will give you Western conservative’s account of what happened here. I guarantee that there is a vast and nuanced complexity to the situation here that you are missing right now, a complexity that I can help explain.

And I will take you out and show you a proper Belgrade good time, I will make sure you are put up somewhere decent and I will get you to the airport for free.

Do we have a deal?

18 Comments Michael Totten on Belgrade and Serbia

  1. sean lafreniere

    Dear Limbic – I am Michael’s travel companion from this trip, Sean LaFreniere. Please be aware that the title of this post is borrowed from myself. A Dark Corner of Europe is taken from my report to him of my time in Cyprus two years ago.

    A few years back I was the guest of the rebel government in Northern Cyprus on the anniversary of Turkey’s invasion. I shared my time on the island with several Serb journalists (among over 80 nationalities of journalists represented, but no other Americans).

    While Michael and I went through our college years with a vague worry of being drafted to go to the Balkans to stop televised, UN overseen murder… I spent part of my grad school years with Serbs who “adopted me” and helped train me in photography and journalism.

    At the end of that trip I was to meet Michael in Lebanon… however, the IDF blew up the Beirut runway and I was then informed by Turkish Airlines that I would be rerouted to either Pristina or Tunis. I asked my Serb friends what to do and they replied that Kosovo was “a dark part of Europe”. They suggested that I chase the sunlight and relax in beautiful Tunis (about which Michael had also spoken well). So I went “soft” that summer and chose Tunis… and I always wondered if I should have seen Kosovo.

    In part, our recent trip to the Balkans by Michael and myself was to redress my oversight, fill in the missing part of the world from our college years, and answer a burning question that I had ever since Cyprus… If the Serbs I met were so kind and educated, so utterly decent, how did the wars of the the 1990’s even happen?

    After a few days in Belgrade Michael and I had definitely seen “Silicone Valley”. We ate dinner at the cafe “Dorian Gray” and then wandered down the lane to find the Hooka Bar, the Karaoke Bar, and a strip of Lebanese-worthy night spots.

    In fact, we knew in advance about Belgrade’s night life and the “party barges”, Lonely Planet has covered the “scene” quite well, so great night life was not noteworthy per se. However, everywhere we went the waiters were very polite and friendly, even after hearing that were Yankees, and even after our embassy was burned. Many happening nightspots let us sit down, sip brandy, and speak English loudly (over the music and conversation) and even oggle the ladies. Never, not once, were we made to feel unwelcome, as Americans, in Belgrade.

    However, after several good nights out we were still left perplexed by the question of how such utterly decent people could have engaged in the wars that we knew were just completely awful.

    The writer we met, Fllip David, offered one explanation… “When we Serbs are good, we are very good, when we are bad, we are very bad.”

    And so it seemed, an honest waiter who saved my smokes and lighter was balanced by a taxi driver who robbed us blind, the same waiter who glossed over public opinion of Americans was balanced by a cabbie who advised us to say we were from Holland.

    BTW, Michael’s portrayal oft the Taxi driver at the airport was dead on… his first words really were “You bombed my country…” It happened just as Michael said. And there really was no other choice of cabbie at midnight at the Belgrade airport (quite small and lonely).

    Honestly, we later decided that this fellow had grossly over-reacted, we did not need to be from Holland. On the other hand, we DID have many experiences of the “Balkan stare”, people scrutinizing our license plates, and being shaken down for bribes and pay offs. The Balkans may be safe overall, and Belgrade felt extremely safe from pick pockets, but it also felt right on the knife’s edge of safety (as much from police as from criminals), which was very similar to my visit to Russia).

    As for the military hardware… I was also partly responsible for Michael commenting on the display of guns at the Belgrade citadel… I had previously recounted the Russian war memorial in Moscow, (very Klingon-esque) where I climbed a tank with some children and “invaded Moscow”. This park seemed typical of a nation that once (and now again) paraded tanks and nuclear hardware through the streets of the capital (by the way, so did Turkish Cyprus in 2006).

    Yes, the US has a few memorials and war museums… the sunken hulk of the USS Arizona and the old aircraft carrier, the USS Intrepid, in NY City. However, those ships represented the efforts of the United States to liberate the world during WWII and the Cold War. Those ships suffered numerous attacks by Japanese Kamikazes and the deaths of many thousands of US sailors. Those memorials serve to remind Americans of the high cost of freedom and the terrible loss of lives that war brings.

    The memorials in Moscow and Belgrade might well be just as cautionary as those in Hawaii and NY. On the other hand… the American memorials are very formal, children are hushed and vets walk through with tears in their eyes, meanwhile the tanks and howitzers in Moscow and Belgrade were crawling with kids (and myself).

    The emphasis in Moscow and Belgrade was on the greatness and power of old regimes, not on the ‘horrors of war’ (as far as we could tell). Perhaps the dark side of war is presumed in Russia and Serbia… but what we saw were weapons used as playthings in an open air park that was the focal point of the daily social promenade – the mood was quite different.

    Michael also noted that Arab countries, such as Iraq, also treat their old military hardware as a source of pride and of daily amusement, not as self-critical, naval-gazing such as in America. While Americans today are afraid of their own shadow and the opinion of the vanquished, nations such as China and Russia have no such conflict with their own use of force (and money) to influence the world.

    I realize that it can be quite frustrating to have one’s adoped home city “reviewed” by a foreign journalist. When a dark side is exposed we want to point out all the good times that we had there ourselves. But Michael is not a travel adviser or an academic researcher… his task is rather unusual and difficult… he is trying to help other Americans, who cannot or would not travel to the “dark corners” of the world, to understand the more subtle and broad nature of these places and their history.

    BTW, Michael and I are both well known for NOT having prejudices about people or places. If no one is on hand to defend a point of view either of us will argue on the other side of an issue to make sure that we are coming to an accurate conclusion. Please do not hesitate to engage us if you are truly interested in dialog.

    Sincerely, Sean LaFreniere

    Reply
  2. limbic

    Dear Sean,

    Thank you very much for taking the time to respond in such detail. I wrote that post last night in one sitting and today planned to tone it down. I did not expect you or anyone else to read it so soon.

    Regarding the the title of the post I will correct that immediately and will, with your permission, insert your commentary into the post. It will be better than a rewrite.

    I would dearly have loved to have met both you and Michael when you were here. When I say I am fan of his it is no word of a lie, I love his writing and know what he is trying to do (help limn out the dark places so most do not).

    Part of the problem is that I am heavily invested in Serbia in that I came here expecting to hate the place and instead fell in love. It really is a land of stark contradictions and Mr David – who really is a fine fellow – is bang on when he notes that Serbs can operate at the extremes in terms of evil and goodness. I would modify that the Serbs are not special in any way. All the Slavs of the region share this trait. In fact, that can pretty much be filed under “Human Traits”.

    My own activism (if you can call it that) is to try and answer some of the flagrant anti-Serb bigotry out there (which, believe me, is fairly widespread) whilst simultaneously taking on the self-pitying fascist element here.

    If you have some time, please read the first of my two articles on Pajamas Media, it does a decent job of explaining the difficulty for people like me. On the one hand battling the Radicals but simultaneously having to try and fight anti-Serb nonsense in the western media that radicals use as propaganda.

    http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/kosovo_and_the_myth_of_serbian/

    The cost of anti-Serb propaganda and residual sentiment is very high.

    It is both economic and psychological.

    Americans now know what it feels like to be relentlessly criticised and misrepresented. Image what it is like for this tiny country and its people to be on the receiving end of so much criticism, much of it based in ignorance and falsehoods.

    Anyway, thanks again for your comment.

    Reply
  3. Andrew

    A well written piece. Totten has his mind made up. I’m sorry to say this but he’s a stereotypical American abroad – hyper-moralistic and ignorant.

    Unfortunately, the US public will not hear the Serb side as they have no interest in details from abroad. They seem to pick sides in overseas conflicts based on US domestic politics.

    The Left that loves to talk about the missing WMD could not care less about the missing attempted ‘genocide’ in Kosovo that every international human rights investigation has failed to find evidence of. Meanwhile the the same conservatives who opposed Clinton’s ‘wag the dog’ war now use its ‘success’ to buttress their own arguments about Iraq. Finding out the truth does not appear to be as comforting as the conventional MSM wisdom.

    Limbic here: Thanks for this excellent comment Andrew. Great points.

    Reply
  4. albiqete

    Dobrica Cosic Former Serbian President “We lie to deceive ourselves, to console others; we lie for mercy, we lie to fight fear, to encourage ourselves, to hide our and somebody else’s misery. We lie for love and honesty. We lie because of freedom. Lying ie is the trait of our patriotism and the proof of our innate smartness. We lie creatively, imaginatively, inventively.”

    Six pivotal themes in Serbian propaganda are

    1. Victimization, in which Serbs were constructed as collective victims first of the NDH, then of Tito’s Yugoslavia, and more specifically of Croats, Albanians, Bosnians, and other non-Serbs.

    2. Dehumanization of designated ‘others’, in which Croats were depicted as ‘genocidal’ and as ‘Ustaše’, Bosnians were portrayed as ‘fanatical fundamentalists’, and Albanians were represented as not fully human. These processes of dehumanization effectively removed these designated ‘others’ from the moral field, sanctifying their murder or expulsion.

    3. Belittlement, in which Serbia’s enemies were represented as
    beneath contempt.

    4. Conspiracy, in which Croats, Slovenes, Albanians, the Vatican,
    Germany, Austria, and sometimes also the Bosnians as well as the U.S. and other foreign states, were seen as united in a conspiracy to break up the SFRY and hurt Serbia. In this way, the Belgrade regime’s obstinate disregard for the fundamental standards of international law was dressed up as heroic defiance of an anti-Serb conspiracy.

    5. Entitlement, in which the Serbs were constructed as ‘entitled’ to create a Greater
    Serbian state to which parts of Croatia and Bosnia would be attached, under the motto,’ All Serbs should live in one state.’

    6. Superhuman powers and divine sanction. The Serbs were told that they were, in some sense, “super”. They were the best fighters on the planet, they could stand up to the entire world, and they were sanctioned by God himself, because of Tsar Lazar and the fact that Lazar had chosen the heavenly kingdom. Moreover, since Lazar had chosen the heavenly kingdom, the Serbs, encouraged to view themselves as Lazar’s heirs, were entitled to the earthly kingdom which Lazar had repudiated, as their patrimony.

    Serbian society began to stray down the path to war more or less unwittingly.
    Already in the years 1981—86, long before the other republics experienced anything
    like a ‘national awakening’, Serbia (and here one may include Kosovo too) was
    already sliding into a syndrome in which myths, threats, the allure of victory, and
    belligerent rhetoric filled the public discourse, giving Serbs a sense of common
    destiny but also separating them, psychologically, from the other peoples of socialist
    Yugoslavia. That this was an unhealthy state of collective mind is clear from the
    prominence of the themes of victimization, conspiracy, national entitlement, and
    divine sanction of the Serbian national project, as well as from the insistent campaigns of dehumanization, demonization, and belittlement of Croats, Bosnian Muslims, and Albanians, as well as other peoples and states, which began at this time. This syndrome, in an individual, would be considered psychotic; to the extent that it permeated much of Serbian society, perhaps especially in the countryside, one may speak of Serbia having been sucked into a kind of collective psychosis. And to the extent that Serbian war propaganda aimed at reinforcing and stimulating this state of mind, we may say that it aimed at inculcating and reinforcing neurotic and
    psychotic syndromes in Serbian society. This psychosis had its cultic saints – portraitsof Miloševiæ and Chetnik leader Draža Mihailoviæ were often displayed alongside those of saints canonized by the Church – had its bards (such as Simonida Stankoviæ and Ceca Ražnjatoviæ), and even had its official music – “turbo-folk”, a pop mixtureof folk-ethnic style with a rhythmic pounding beat. Moreover, this psychosis could even transport those infected to a state of consciousness which they mistook for a better world. Miloševi, for example, arriving dramatically at Kosovo polje in a helicopter on 28 June 1989, told those gathered for the six hundredth anniversary of Serbia’s mythic confrontation with its national destiny, that in that
    the – century battle, Serbia had defended not just herself but all of European culture and civilization. Fine oratory might even be called the elixir of national psychosis.

    Reply
  5. limbic

    Thanks for the comment Albiqete.

    Two things.

    The quote from Dobrica Cosic is from a work of fiction. He no more “said” that

    Blake Edwards said “Not now Cato!” (Pink Panther).

    As for your six pivotal themes in Serbian propaganda, they are interesting except I would ask you, do you really think Serbs are exceptional? I see the same themes in ALL propaganda.

    Reply
  6. albiqete

    Limbic

    I have seen you in u tube and I know very well how you think. You should not be that sure that you know everything. If you are not a Serb who came back to his father’s land that is ok with me because you are suppose to defend your father’s land which in fact is Albanian land up to Nish, but if you are not a Serb then it shows that some thing is in Beograd’s water, air, or food or whatever it is makes you to not see further than your small nose.
    Thank you for the Sarcasm but I’m not laughing. To me this seems something without any taste.
    Well as for your argument that Covic did not quote about Serbian lies here it is my friend
    Quote from “Deobe”(Divisions) 1961.Volume I, page 135: “A lie, trait of our patriotism” “We lie to deceive ourselves, to console others, we lie for mercy, we lie to fight fear, to encourage ourselves, to hide our and somebody else’s misery. We lie for love and honesty. We lie because of freedom. Lying is a trait of our patriotism and the proof of our innate intelligence. We lie creatively, imaginatively and inventively.”
    After you do your own research and find out that what I’m saying is the truth then acknowledges that you are wrong. A descent and a clever person hears the both sides and then based on the facts comes up with the right conclusions.
    As for the Serbs that say they are exceptional I think exceptional in the bad sense of the word. I grew up in Albania and never met any Serb in my life but during a contractual job worked with some Serbs who by the way though they were better than everybody else without any merit whatsoever but found out that we are now in the 21 century and mentality wise they are very far back on Dark Ages.
    PS. If you have any question for Albania I will be happy to answer.

    Reply
  7. albiqete

    What occurred in Serbia in the years 1981—87 could be described as a massive tectonic shift in which perceptions, values, and expectations changed dramatically, preparing the way for Slobodan Miloševiæ’s seizure of power within the Serbian party apparatus and his launching of his abortive ‘anti-bureaucratic revolution’. Even the terminology here is significant: a libidinal leader inevitably finds himself at war with the quasi-rationalism of bureaucracies. But the 1980s were also years in which Serbs increasingly revisited the past, raising questions about the prison camps at Goli Otok and Lepoglava, about Tito’s establishment of Kosovo as an autonomous province, about the removal of factories from Serbia to the highlands in Slovenia and Croatia at the height of the Stalin-Tito conflict, and about the denigration of Draža Mihailoviæ and his Chetniks by Tito-era historiography, and parading the bones of Tsar Dušan in a macabre clerical demonstration of national commitment.
    Particularly poisonous was Vasilije Kresti’s 1986 article, “On the Origin of the
    Genocide of Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia”, which argued that the “genocide against the Serbs in [Ustaša] Croatia is a specific phenomenon in our [Serbian] centuries-old common life with the Croats. The protracted development of the genocidal idea in certain centers of Croatian society…[which] did not necessarily have some narrow – but rather a broad – base, took deep roots in the consciousness of many generations [of Croats].”
    Where Tito-era historiography had vilified both the Ustaše and the Chetniks, Serbian historiography after 1983 increasingly sought to rehabilitate the Chetniks, while ignoring the roles played by Ljoti and Nedi and exaggerating the numbers of Serbs dying during World War Two. The result was that the Croatian fascists took on ever darker hues in the thinking of both Serbian intellectuals and the Serbian public at this time, while corresponding Serbian renegades were either whitewashed or disappeared from view. This phenomenon is known to psychologists as dysphonic rumination, which
    is defined as “the tendency for individuals to unhappily reimagine, rethink, and relive pleasant or unpleasant events…[resulting in an] increase [in] negative thinking about those events and contribut[ing] to a pessimistic explanatory style when trying to explain them.”
    Dysphoric rumination is considered a contributory factor to paranoid cognition.
    It was also in the mid-1980s that Vladimir Dedijer and others began to ruminate about a Vatican-Comintern conspiracy, to which various other states were said to have subscribed. This increasing tendency to treat the Vatican, Germany, Austria, and other states as enemies, even before the breakup of 1991, culminated in Miloševi’s claim in a public speech in November 1988 – astounding some of his listeners – that “Serbia’s enemies outside the country are plotting against it, along with those in[side] the country.”
    To the extent that such claims became part of the public discourse of Serbian society in the late 1980s, one may say that Serbia was increasingly given to exaggerated perceptions of conspiracy. As Kramer and Messick note, this tendency involves the overestimation of “…the extent to which [the group’s] perceived out-group enemies or adversaries are engaged in coordinated
    and concerted hostile or malevolent actions against them.”
    In the latter half of the 1980s, Serbs were also repeatedly hearing (and believing) reports of Albanian rapes of Serbian women, the revival of Ustaša mentality among Croats, and the like, with not only Croats and Kosovar Albanians, but also the Hungarians of Vojvodina and the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina cast as villains in rumors. What interests me here is not the question of the extent to which one or another rumor had some truth to it, but rather the composite character of the deluge of rumors which – seemingly uniformly – attributed ill intentions to the non-
    Serbs of Yugoslavia. This syndrome, known as sinister attribution error, involves the “…tendency…to over attribute hostile intentions and malevolent motives to others.” And, given the foregoing, Serbs increasingly felt the need to be vigilant about their co-ethnics in Kosovo and Croatia especially. These concerns were effusively articulated in the infamous Memorandum drafted by members of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Art and leaked to the press in September 1986; according to the ‘Memorandum’, the federal system had been designed by Tito specifically to weaken Serbia, neither Bosnia-Herzegovina nor Montenegro had any legitimate claim to republic status, and the threat then posed to the Serbs of Croatia by their Croatian neighbors (in what was still communist-ruled Croatia) could only be compared to the fascist depredations of the NDH! The Serbian Writers’ Association on the Francuska ulica in Belgrade began to host weekly meetings to discuss the tribulations of the Serbs, and books and special issues of magazines were published detailing the situation of Serbs in Kosovo. Serbia, thus, slid into a habit of hyper vigilant social information processing, a dangerous habit, in which every move taken by Croats, Albanians, and Muslims, was subjected to scrutiny and given potentially enormous significance. One more element is needed in the equation – the belief in a just world. This belief, hypothesized by M. J. Lerner, involves people’s need to believe that the world is basically just and that people get what they deserve. In the late 1980s, this belief fueled nationalist Serbs’ confidence that they would get what they thought they deserved – a Greater Serbia, in which few non-Serbs would remain. As the nationalist discourse became dominant, justice was increasingly understood in terms of the national program.
    The aforementioned reactions – dysphoric rumination, exaggerated perceptions of conspiracy, sinister attribution error, and hyper vigilant social information processing – are associated, according to Kramer and Messick, with collective paranoia, manifested in social alienation, heightened antagonism toward others, and an attitude of hostility toward the outside world.

    To the extent that Serbian society already manifested these symptoms by the late 1980s, it was already susceptible to the themes of Serbian war propaganda and vulnerable to manipulation. Fearful of the gathering conspiracies which it fancied were being concocted by its enemies and ever more troubled by the evolving memories of the national past, and perhaps especially of the sufferings associated with World War
    Two, Serbian society was receptive to a libidinal leader who would lift the weight from their shoulders and give Serbs what they “justly” deserved.
    Perhaps Serbs might even experience the fulfillment of their historical aspirations, once associated, by Serb followers of Slovak Ljudevit Štúr and Czech Jan Kollár, with the unification of Slavs “under the holy Slav lime-tree.”

    Reply
  8. Sunchaser

    Hi, Jonathan.

    I just wandered onto Michael Totten’s blog and this response. Since it is next to impossible to reply to all the Mr. Totten’s outrageously racist views and holier-than-thou-ignorant-Serbs presumptions expressed there (and, unfortunately, here, some of them), I’ll try to address an especially ugly label, the anti-Semitic one. Which you seem to be supporting, sadly.

    Now, this:

    “It is true that the lunatic fringe and the Radical Party peddle absurd anti-Semitic and anti-American conspiracy theories”

    is a shameful lie. And you know it. I mean, c’mon. “Radicals peddle the anti-Semitic garbage”. When and where? I might not be particularly delighted with the Radicals (or any other of Serbia’s conservative/patriotic organizations) for a whole bulk of reasons, but discrediting any of them in such a dishonest manner is simply a dastardly little prank. The truth is (as can be checked easily in ANY of their views expressed on the subject) that the Radicals (as well as Kostunica’s DSS, or any of the smaller nationalist NGOs, such as “1389”, or “Dveri”, “Miletic” et al) STRONGLY OPPOSED AND CONDEMNED any attempt made by a lunatic fringe (mostly, US-style, be they self-loathing ‘white nationalists’ or conspiracy freaks) to inject the anti-Semitic crap into the mainstream Serbian ideology.

    Having said all that, it is almost too obvious that the conspiracy fringe and the Sorosite NGO and media scene act almost in a brotherly harmony on that attempt. There is no more than a handful of lunatics, present almost entirely on the Internet and boycotted by ANY self-respecting Serbian organization or individual, and there are TV B92 and Soros/NED-funded NGOs (along with Mr. David’s party, LDP) to popularize their abominations by constantly reporting about their shameful activities. And that is the whole truth. And you know it, if you live in Serbia. And I can offer the tons of stuff to support my claims, and I’m asking you to back up yours with one (ONE!) relevant source. If there is such, please, share it with me. So I can join the ranks of fighting fascist crap peddled and expressed by the Radicals. If not, please, stop slandering them with such heavy accusations. See, it’s a very emotional question to us Serbs. Serbs and Jews (along with Roma population) suffered TOGETHER in the the most brutal genocide during the WW2 committed by German, Croat, Hungarian and Albanian Nazi units who occupied our country.

    And yes, like it or not, the Serbian nationalism of the 1990’s variety is the ONLY Balkan nationalism COMPLETELY founded on the grounds of “1941, never again” sentiment. Esp. among the Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia. While the neighboring groups had their ways in REVIVING the old traits of waving the fascist flags their fathers used to fight under. Esp. in Croatia, whose ruling party, the HDZ, seized the power in 1990 with the OPENLY Nazi Ustasha agenda, and an outrightly stated anti-Serbianist and anti-Semitic sentiment. Not to mention the current Western darlings, Kosoovo Albanians, who name their “army” units with the SS-Skanderbeg names and open the bizzare restaurants designed in Hitlerite fashion. Or de-Serbicized Sarajevo, where one can buy the “heroic” DVDs of the “brave” mujahedeen mutilating the captured Serbs, along with Nazi SS-Hanjar paraphernalia being sold on every downtown corner.

    Reply
  9. Sunchaser

    ALBIQUETE wrote:

    “Particularly poisonous was Vasilije Kresti’s 1986 article, “On the Origin of the
    Genocide of Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia”, which argued that the “genocide against the Serbs in [Ustaša] Croatia is a specific phenomenon in our [Serbian] centuries-old common life with the Croats. The protracted development of the genocidal idea in certain centers of Croatian society…[which] did not necessarily have some narrow – but rather a broad – base, took deep roots in the consciousness of many generations [of Croats].” ”

    Prof. Krestic is one of the most prominent Serbian historians of the 2nd half of the XX century, and surely one of the greatest authorities on Serbo-Croat relations. You can like him or not, but the man has done his scientific researches. His books are stuffed with evidence to every claim he made. More sadly, the RESULTS of the Croat Nazi genocide are even more obvious. Or you have a more common problem of DENYING the Ustasha genocide? You know, there are some folks who are into that stuff and they are usually called the Holocaust deniers. The fact that the Ustasha campaign campaign of mass SLAUGHTER of Serbs, Jews and Roma was actually the FIRST chapter of Nazi “final solution” is not some Serbian fringe cartoon, but the phenomenon studied and explained by such Holocaust experts as the late Dr. Raul Hilberg and Dr. Jonathan Steinberg, among others. Moreover, Dr. Krestic has NEVER accused the WHOLE Croatian people, as you imply. In fact, if you check out his “History of the Serbs in Croatia and Slavonia 1848-1918” (available in English, but not-easy-to-find) or “Through genocide to Greater Croatia” (available in English, over at the US Serbian Unity Congress website), you won’t miss his effort to EMPHASIZE any progressive strain in Croatian politics related to Serbs. Even at the expense of the historical odds, ie. he insisted on the importance of pro-Yugoslav and more democratic wings in the Croatian politics of the XIXth century, despite the saddening fact that the most rabid, disgustingly anti-Serbian, racist, proto-fascist ideology dominated through the most part of it. I’m talking about Ante Starcevic and his lunatic crowd, anti-Serbian pogroms of Zagreb and elsewhere in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and the fact that this unholy tradition of Croatian politics sinisterly inspired the (Hitler/Musolini/Horthy-backed) Ustasha movement of 1930’s and the monster Ante Pavelic himself. The result is known. Its name is Jasenovac. Or Jadovno. Or Jastrebarsko. And at lkeast a SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND of Serbian victims, along with the TENS OF THOUSANDS of Jews and Roma. Women, children, elderly people… Or the hundreds of unmarked mass graves of Bosnian, Herzegovinian and Lika Serbs, massacred in the manner so brutal that it ashamed even the Ustasha masters, the Nazis.

    Shame on you for denying the Balkan Holocaust.

    Reply
  10. albiqete

    REDESIGNING THE EGO
    How does a nation view itself and its place in the world? To the extent that one may speak of a national ‘ego’ or self-identity of the nation, that ego may become the subject of conscious manipulation, aiming at the redefinition and redesigning of the national ego itself. Insofar as the national ego, the self-identity of a nation, includes concepts of its relationship to other nations and its attitude toward those living within its territory, any redesign of the national ego will have consequences for issues of democracy vs. authoritarianism.
    In the course of the 1980s and 1990s, Serbia’s myth-makers, whether literary figures such as Dobrica Osi or ordinary propagandists, painted Serbia in ever grander hues. Here was a Serbia existing beyond time and space,a Serbia simultaneously non-European and the most European of all,
    a Serbia standing guard over the most important spiritual values against the shallow materialism “of the extortionist- atheistic and demonic international community,” a Serbia which, in its dreams of “complete separation” from this decadent world, went into orbit as the tenth planet of the solar system – “the Serbian planet”.

    As Ivan Olovi has recounted in a brilliant work first published in 1997, the Serbian national political myth – which is to say, the set of propositions in wide circulation in Serbia – holds that Serbia is the oldest nation in the world, the nation from which all other nations developed, so that, as Relja Novakovi has urged, the peoples inhabiting states “from Great Britain to India” may ultimately trace their national origin back to the Serbian Urvolk.
    Serbs were wont to boast about their martial prowess and about their fierceness in battle,but also claimed some special advantage in the sexual realm as well. As Danilo Kiš put it, in a gloss on a poem written by Jan Kollár,

    “[O]ther peoples have good fortune, tradition, erudition, history, ratio, but genitals are ours alone.”

    And hence, the Serbian Insurrectionary War (1991—95) offered the prospect of the dawn of a new age for all of Europe, if not for the entire world. Serbia, compared variously (in the pages of Pravoslavlje and Književne novine ) to Job, to the Jewish people, even to Christ himself, offered itself as the new savior. And just as Christ had to die on the cross, in order to rise again after three days, to claim his place in the Kingdom of Heaven, so too Serbia, whose tsar, Lazar, had renounced the earthly kingdom for a heavenly one in 1389, had to wait for six centuries before rising again, to claim its earthly kingdom, earned through long suffering. This grandiose redesign of the national ego was, at the same time, libidinal in nature in that it began the process of unleashing the energies of the libido and bringing about the conquest of the national ego by the nationalist libido. The claim that “All Serbs should live in one state” was, moreover, not universalizable, because it was premised on the notion that lands with mixed populations (Serbs and non-Serbs) should be assigned to the Serbian national state rather than to the national state of one or another non-Serb nation. This claim was, thus, a claim to unique entitlement, a claim which could be
    registered only in the realm of the libido.
    As the national myth gained in strength, Serbian society became convinced of
    its unique role in history, its special suffering, and its entitlement to realize “heavenly Serbia” on earth. As Lerner noted in 1987, this entitlement “…is experienced affectively and motivationally as an imperative, a sense of requiredness between the actor’s perceived outcomes and the person’s attributes or acts.”
    Or, to put it another way, as the 1980s wore on, Serbia was reaching the point that Raskolnikov reached in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment as he reflected on whether he occupied some unique niche in the moral universe. But for Serbia, as for Raskolnikov, there were moral reservations to the fateful breach of the moral order – expressed by the Serbian students who bravely marched on the streets of Belgrade on 9 March 1991 or by the anti-war protestors led by Patriarch Pavle on 14 June 1992, who demanded that Miloševiæ resign. But these reservations, though significant, did not carry the day. The Super-Ego would be stilled.

    Reply
  11. albiqete

    THE STILLING OF THE SUPER-EGO

    The processes of instilling in Serbs feelings of victimization and of entitlement to
    grandeur, and of their uniqueness, and of fears of various sorts of conspiracies
    against them were not all orchestrated. Neither the Serbian Church’s “Appeal on
    Behalf of the Serbian Residents of Kosovo and Their Holy Shrines” (of 1982) nor the SANU Memorandum (of 1986) was part of a strategy orchestrated by the political establishment; the former came on the initiative of some of the priests in the Church, while the latter was the result of the autonomous decision taken by the Academy at a time when the ruling party of Serbia (a branch of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia) was still holding to the line that “every nationalism is (potentially) dangerous.” But after Miloševiæ’s seizure of power in the Serbian party in late 1987, that party quickly took up the tasks dictated by that Memorandum and at that point, the continuation of these processes of ‘neuroticization’ or even ‘psychotici-zation’ of the Serbian public became a matter of official policy. Not only were the Serbs unique among the peoples of the planet, even constituting in some extra- spatial sense, their own planet, but they enjoyed the special favor of God. In talking of ‘heavenly Serbia’, the clerics of the Serbian Orthodox Church laid claim to divine sanction for the program of Serbian territorial expansionism and, in the pages of Pravoslavlje, offered historical arguments for Serbian annexation of portions of eastern Slavonia. Later, it would even be claimed that God had specifically bequeathed Bosnia to the Serbs.
    Karadžiæ himself claimed to be doing God’s work and was, in turn, described by Dragan Nedeljkovi as “one of the heroes of this end of the twentieth century.”
    But in spite of these changes to the national ego, which – as is well known –
    came at a time of shrinking economic capacities and general economic crisis, the
    collective ‘super-ego’ remained, as already mentioned, an obstacle even though, by early 1990, if not before, Miloševiæ had decided on war against Croatia and perhaps also other republics.
    To convert an already fearful population into soldiers prepared to fight against their former neighbors and friends (often in a literal sense), they had to be released from moral constraints and infused with hatred for the target peoples. As osi noted in a widely read work of fiction, “[D]riven by hatred, all men will fight…; hatred is the force which gathers and unites all energies.”
    Moral disengagement, as Albert Bandura, a widely respected expert on the subject, noted in a 1999 article, can be achieved through a combination of displacement of responsibility (with, in this case, the Miloševiæ government assuming moral responsibility for the war), diffusion of responsibility (so that harm can always be attributed to the agency of others or to peer pressure), distortion of the consequences (aptly represented by the Bosnian Serb newspaper Javnost’ s representation of the massacre at Srebrenica as the “cleansing of a blot on the map”), and, perhaps above all, dehumanization and demonization.
    In Serbian war propaganda, as is well known, Croats were routinely described as fascistic and genocidal by nature, referred to as “Ustaše”, and accused of wanting to revive the NDH (a charge which was true of some Croats, to be sure, but not of the majority of Croats). In the eyes of Serb propagandists, all Bosnian Muslims were “Islamic fundamentalists” and all Albanians were “rapists” and secessionists. Demonization specifically makes it possible for perpetrators of atrocities to maintain a positive self-image even while victimizing innocent civilians – on the argument that “no one is innocent.”

    Thus, paradoxically, Serb nationalists engaged in the war typically upheld two contradictory theses: that they themselves were innocent victims of Croats, Albanians, Bosnian Muslims, et al., and that all sides were guilty and no one innocent! Since they never uttered these sentences sequentially, the blatant absurdity of this belief system was never, as far as I am aware, exposed by the media of any nation. Even the demonization of Germany for its alleged responsibility in plotting the dismantlement of socialist Yugoslavia and for its alleged culpability in starting the war in the first place through its advocacy of the recognition of Slovenia and Croatia (after the outbreak of hostilities) played a useful role in Serbian war propaganda. As Voltaire later Serbian claim that the tensions between Croats and Croatian Serbs began only after the election of Franjo Tudjman to the Croatian presidency is therefore contrary to fact. once said, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”
    We know that the process of moral disengagement was still far from complete at
    the time the war broke out (it was, in fact, never complete as such), because many of the JNA soldiers expressed confusion as to why they were suddenly fighting their fellow ‘Yugoslavs’, while many others went AWOL, even fleeing the country, rather than serve in the subsequent war against the Zagreb government. But several processes contributed to further stilling the stirrings of the Super-Ego.
    First, as the violence continued, it became part of the daily routine, it became unsurprising and many people ceased to be as shocked and outraged as they were when the fighting first broke out.
    Second, the role of some of the hierarchy of the Serbian Orthodox Church in sanctioning the violence first in Croatia and later in Bosnia-Herzegovina made a significant contribution toward moral desensitization. After all, if some of the official guardians of spirituality and morality have no qualms about supporting the war, why should ordinary Serbs worry about it? Moreover, insofar as the Church placed itself, thus, in alliance first with the Miloševi regime and then with Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžiæ, the classic syndrome of the agentic state came into play. Experiments conducted by S. Milgram more than 30 years ago demonstrated that the desire of individuals to obey and please authorities is often sufficient to override moral reservations, even in the absence of any feelings of having been victimized by those on whom the experimental subject was prepared to inflict harm.
    In the agentic state, individuals do not abandon their moral principles. Rather, they engage in moral rationalization, thereby convincing themselves that their actions are, in spite of appearances to the contrary, consistent with their core moral standards.
    Other processes used to dull the moral sense include(d) the use of euphemistic
    language (in which mass murder and the forcible expulsion of non-Serbs were
    prettified by the term ‘ethnic cleansing’), advantageous comparison (in which
    Muslims and Croats were said to have behaved far worse than the Serbs: for example, Patriarch Pavle joined Karadžiæ in claiming that there had been no rape camps operated by Serbs and no systematic rapes carried out by Serbs, even while accusing Croats and Muslims of having done precisely those things), diffusion or displacement of responsibility, and instances of blaming the victim. The last mentioned tactic was employed not only in the obvious sense of claiming that, for example, Tudjman’s firing of Serbs from positions in the police justified an insurrection against Zagreb, but also in the more brazen sense of actually blaming the victims for the atrocities which they suffered. Thus, in Serbian propaganda, it was the Croats themselves who had rocketed Tudjman’s presidential palace in 1991, it was the Croats themselves who had laid siege to the port city of Dubrovnik and were shelling the Croatian seaside town of Šibenik, it was the Muslims themselves who had fired upon their own co-ethnics in the Pirkala marketplace in 1994, and it was the Muslims themselves who had carried out the massacre at Srebrenica with the help of German and American operatives.
    The Serbs even had an explanation for the alleged, consistent idiocy of
    their antagonists: they did these things in order to make the Serbs look bad.
    These various methods of moral rationalization and disengagement had some
    unintended side-effects.
    The first was that the habituation to violence led to an
    escalation of violence within the family, with husbands beating wives and fathers
    beating children.
    Second, moral disengagement made it impossible to return to
    the behaviors and patterns of the pre-war days. As Jo-Ann Tsang explains, in an
    article published in the Review of General Psychology, “…the commission of immoral behavior makes it more costly [in terms of self-image] to act morally in the future, increasing the likelihood of further evil.”
    After all, to take pride in subscribing to an ethic of, let us say, non-violence, is virtually impossible for someone who has established a persona based on killing large numbers of “enemies of the nation.”
    UNLEASHING THE LIBIDO
    If modern warfare may be thought of as a libidinal state, then mobilizing people for war requires more than redesigning the national ego and stilling the super-ego. It also involves and requires an unleashing of the energies of the libido in the service of the national fantasy. As I have already noted, the process of unleashing the libido began simultaneously with the redesigning of the national ego, indeed was, from the beginning, an essential part of the Serb nationalist strategy of transforming the mood, values, expectations, hopes, ambitions, and thinking of ordinary Serbs.
    Sometimes the libidinal character of Serbian war propaganda was implicit, for
    example when Vuk Draškovic said of the Serbian Army, “This is an army with the soul of a girl, the behavior of a priest, and the heart of Obilic.”
    At other times, sexuality was made explicit, whether through the use of highly attractive young women dressed in uniform to beguile young men into associating war with sex or by explicitly advising young men that soldiers were sexually attractive to young women or through the sublimation of sexuality into the fetish of weapons, as in the refrain, “My companion is my rifle,…My bride is now my cartridge belt.”
    But, as Freud knew, the libido embraces much more than just sexuality, and war
    finds its libidinal character not just in sex, but in violence itself. Richard Morrock
    notes how “in lynch mobs…[t]he killers do not look like people forced to take
    unpleasant measures in order to protect their communities from criminals – their own rationalizations for their sadistic acts. Instead, they look like they are having a good time.”
    The positive pleasure experienced in violence is reinforced by moral
    inversion (in which the Serbs imagined themselves as “remnants of a slaughtered
    people”, as Serbian writer Matija Beèkoviæ put it) and by the belittlement of one’s
    antagonists. Again this results in paradox: if one’s enemies are threatening demons, how can they be fools? Or if they are fools, how can they be taken seriously as demons? But propaganda does not have to be consistent to be effective. On the contrary, by playing on contradictory themes, propaganda may actually be more effective than if it were entirely consistent.
    Here the psychiatrists of both Belgrade and Zagreb played their part in creating
    belittling national stereotypes. Zagreb psychiatrists E. Klein and M. Jakovljevi both portrayed Serbs as suffering from a collective inferiority complex, with the latter attributing patterns of “pathological possessiveness” to the Serbs as a nation. Belgrade psychiatrist J. Maric, for his part, found (in a work published in 1998) that Serbs were well-meaning and pacifist and had “never resorted to bad-mouthing or vilifying other peoples,” while Croats were allegedly “egoistic” and were “not keen on giving themselves to other human beings” having been “enslaved by objects” (unlike the Serbs).
    Jovan Raškovic, at one time professor of psychiatry at the University
    of Belgrade and the later co-founder of the Serbian Democratic Party in Croatia,
    famously discovered that Croats were, as a people, suffering from a castration
    complex, living in fear that “something terrible” was going to happen to them and
    irrationally “afraid of being deceived.” Judging that Serbs had “aggressive oedipal traits,” Raškoviæ concluded that “people who have a castration type of personality structure are obsessed by a fear of those who have aggressive oedipal traits.”
    But belittlement need not be confined to national groups, as proven by the
    Serbian propaganda machine’s charge that Tudjman had tried to kill himself “in
    order to spite Serbia.” Of course, this portrayed Tudjman simultaneously as self-
    destructive and as a bungler unable even to kill himself; in combination, this
    suggested that Tudjman was an unworthy adversary. Moreover, it is well known
    that in rape situations, it is common for the rapist to insult and disparage his victim, thereby communicating to her that she “deserved” to be raped.
    Nationalism does not have to assume a libidinal form, perhaps not even in war.
    But in order to conduct an offensive war it is a huge advantage if those engaged in
    it, first, actively, even passionately, deny the fact of the war’s being offensive, and
    second, succumb to a libidinal fever in which the murder of one’s adversaries
    becomes both pleasurable and the object of cult worship. One need only think of
    the cult which grew up around Serbian war “hero” Željko Ražnjatoviæ ‘Arkan’ to see the point. And yet, this embrace of Thanatos and Libido – death instinct and life instinct – at one and the same time banishes the nation to a “spectral” world
    occupying the twilight between life and death. Indeed, in the species of “eroticism”, if that is the word, represented by a well-known (to Serbs) poem by Desanka Maksimoviæ,
    Love exists only if it is deprived of touch, only in some sentimental, trashy
    suffering, from a distance, which is, however, the condition of [the] possibility of
    love, since [the] very closeness, every touch, deadens love; the body is the death of
    the life of love, the other is loved only as apparition, only as the spectre that is held at a distance: “Oh no, do not approach, I want from [a] distance to love and kiss these two eyes of yours”; in fact, we are not bodies at all, we are not alive either, we are somehow un-dead (to say nothing about the fact that the dead themselves can also approach us)…[O]ur bodies are not alive, or [rather], they are living graves; they are not in any way a source of enjoyment, and that is why the love relation should be spectral, un-dead.

    Reply
  12. albiqete

    Were we to construct a psychological profile of an individual who viewed himself as a perennial victim of various contemptible ‘others’ who had sought to overcome their inferiority by uniting in a conspiracy against him and who considered himself’ entitled’ to vastly more than was his lot, and who was determined to punish the conspirators and take their possessions, we would say that the person in question was a paranoid schizophrenic with neurotic or psychotic delusions. We would also conclude that he could be dangerous to those coming into contact with him. Where individuals are concerned, aggressive behavior is generally dysfunctional, but formations going to war, heightened aggressiveness may be all too functional. It is for
    this reason that nations setting out on premeditated wars of conquest – and what wars of conquest are not premeditated? – are apt to adopt a calculated policy of inculcating mass paranoid schizophrenia in the public. The media can readily be used to make paranoia mainstream, and as paranoia becomes mainstream, it becomes ever harder for citizens to resist its snares, temptations, and over- simplifications.
    A further conclusion may also be inferred, viz., that if one can define collective syndromes which reveal a society’s lapses into mental illness, then one can define what characteristics are constitutive of a society’s good mental health and outline at least the rudiments of such policies and structures as are conducive to such health.

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  13. Sunchaser

    Oh, c’mon, now, Albiqete. In your own words, please. I directly addressed your previous notion as a Serbophobic, genocide-denying mumbo-jumbo, and you should’ve responded in the similar manner. Or kept silent, which would be an answer as well. But you’ve chosen just to play an arrogant ignoramus instead, which seems to suit you well. Get a grip, man. You’re not impressing anyone with copying/pasting a tiresome passages of someone else’s words.

    Reply
  14. albiqete

    whose word os those os Merde trafkovic. you seem a very low vermin sunchster you canoot bet the message but you want to bet the mesenger.
    if even I have used copy and pace it is a mastepiece of exploring Serbian propaganda bullshit.
    you ignorance and arrogance and bigotry has no limit so I do not expect any think good comming from you
    lying is your inate trait so shut the fuck up you son of a moster nation

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  15. limbic

    It seems Albiqete has revealed herself as the bigot we all suspected was in there.

    “Shut the fuck up you son of a moster nation”.

    Charming work there, Albi, you are really winning neutrals to your cause 🙂

    Reply
  16. albiqete

    Seems to me that you limbic are the biggest bigot of all and I’m not she I’m He. Probably you want to change you sexuality not me or maybe you are a transvestite.
    It is very interesting that you do not have any thing to say about my comments but when I said something that actually it true to Sunchaser (he is the dark since he is chasing the Sun) you have no answer. I pity you man. How about that Dobrica of yours
    How about your big lie that you are not a Serb
    Quote from your piece
    “If only you had made contact (talking to Michael) with any of the expatriates in Belgrade we could have guided you away from the crap bars and shown you Belgrade’s incredible nightlife.”
    We could have you guided………. That is your lie right there.
    And do not steal Julia Goring structure test of lies even though I’m pretty sure that she is not able to write those pieces of garbage herself.
    And by the way I’m not Kejda. My name is Alban
    As for winning neutral we have won them my friend. I told you before something is in the Beograd saris or water of food that does not let you see further that your small nose. (I say small)

    Reply
  17. limbic

    Hmmm… a man called Alban, who posts under the handle Albiqete, with a (fake) email address svetlana@xxxxx.com and you think I am the one confused about my sexuality.

    You are a raving lunatic Alban. I mean “All of you Serbs born with a dysfunctional brain“?

    A proud Albanian living in the USA. Yet another one of the lost generation of emmigrants, cut off from their culture and homeland and compensating by becoming bigots and fanatics.

    I know, and pity, your type. What I don’t do is bother talking to you.

    Reply
  18. Belgrade Hotels

    Omg it seems that the author hasn’t visited Belgrad for a long period of time. There are plenty of nice hotels nowadays and some of them have really nice offers. I also Agree on Hyatt hotels, if you can afford booking there nothing will be able to spoil your vacation in Belgrad.

    Reply

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