bosnia report
New Series No. 9/10 April - July 1999
Serbia and Milosevic
by Milorad Popovic

Is the ten-year-old bloody circle now closing around Milosevic, at the same place where he announced the restoration of the Serbian state in its mediaeval borders? Will Serbia spend the next six hundred years building a new myth of Kosovo defeat, or will it - like Germany and Japan - use the tragedy of its na tional collapse to draw long-term lessons and return to the society of civilised nations?

To reduce the phenomenon of Serb nationalism to the personality of Slobodan Mi losevic is wrong, not only from the point of view of the depth and complexity of the danger in which contemporary Serbian society find itself today, but also from the point of view of identifying the cure which will be needed in order to de-nazify Serbia.

It is true that at the end of the 1980s Milosevic was supported by all intellec tual, political and ideological personalities in Serbia, except for a fee mar ginal pro-European democrats and stubborn Titoists. The tenacity and almost sui cidal perseverence of Serb nationalism in conflict with Western democratic states, however, above all has an empirical and ideological foundation different in many ways from other European and even close Orthodox nations. Contemporary European anti-Europeanism is manifested in a strange syncretism of Orthodox Com munism and the `God-Man' doctrine associated with St Sava [svetosavski bogocov jek]. The fiction of `the heavenly people' derives from the old fanciful notion that, as D. Mitrinovic puts it, `the Serb too can enter the cosmic plan and knock on the hall of eternity'.

Nevertheless, Milosevic was a fatal choice for implementation of the programme fashioned by the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Serb Orthodox Church, because he was the most capable and stubborn of pretenders to the Ser bian throne. Another politician of weaker will and lesser tactical skill would long ago have hesitated, given up or lost his effectiveness. In addition, Mi losevic's intelligentsia is more mafia-like than of a political or ideological nature: its power and wealth has been growing in proportion to Serbia's economic and social destruction. However, if Milosevic is not decisively defeated and faced with an indictment for war crimes issued by a Belgrade or international court, the Serb nation will believe that he is the reincarnation of Prince Lazar, and that all the crimes and suffering caused in the name of Greater Ser bia were necessary and justified and one need only wait for a new historical mo ment to realise the holy national goal. It is only after Milosevic and his co horts have been suitably punished thaÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÔ t the space for a Serb Adenauer will be created, and Serb man and woman will get a chance to replace the misery of tyr anny and isolation with the values of individual rights, multiculturalism and liberal society, without which a stable and prosperous democratic order is difficult to conceive.

This extract is translated from a text published by Dani (Sarajevo), 14 May1999. Milorad Popovic is a Montenegrin writer and editor of the cultural journal Ars. In 1988 Ars was closed down by the authorities on a charge of propagating Montenegrin nationalism, but the journal has recently been revived under the patronage of the Montenegrin Society of Independent Writers.


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