Bolshevism is bad, but nationalism is worse.
Found an older newspaper clipping. Montreal Gazette, October 29, 1997, page B3. “Conflicting visions”, an opinion piece by Dr. Charles Ingrao, of the Department of History at Purdue University. Citing fact after fact of how Yugoslavia had been so culturally blended, before nationalism led to ethnic cleansing:
…there is…a battle all Serbs are fighting within themselves over two fundamentally incompatible views of their Balkan heritage.
One is the well-known story of struggle against foreign oppressors, a vision tirelessly “taught” by the nation’s leaders, against another, more sober reality of multi-ethnic coexistence that (Biljana) Plavsic, (Radovan) Karadzic and generations of Serbs have actually experienced.
Indeed, Plavsic earned her doctorate in biology in Zagreb, the Croatian capital, not Belgrade. …Karadzic also spent his prewar years in Sarajevo, residing comfortably in an ethnically mixed apartment house, practising psychiatry. He also presented poetry to members of the city’s cosmopolitan community…
The two combatants’ prewar acceptance of multi-ethnic coexistence typifies the real experiences of intellectuals on all sides of the conflict. Croatia’s historian-president Franjo Tudjman is of German ancestry and counts a Bosnian Muslim sister-in-law and Serb son-in-law within his immediate family. Even the Serb Radical Party’s sociophobic social scientist, Vojislav Seselj, is part Croatian.
This reality of coexistence and intermixing has, however, been forgotten in the headlong quest for ethnically homogenous nation-states. The war converted Karadzic from an affable nonentity, who merely was chided for writing atrocious poetry, to the twice-indicted apostle of ethnic genocide. It inspired Plavsic to embrace the notorious paramilitary leader Arkan and then betray her integrity as a biologist by imputing a “degenerate gene” to Bosnia’s Muslims.
Another national day celebration in Canada, July 1. Yet all seems so much more positive. Perhaps because we see ourselves as friends of the world, and what nationalistic sentiments exist are not referenced to collective strength against some enemy force, real or imagined. Wonder how easily it could turn. Seems that whenever nationalism gets fired up based on a common enemy, cult-like behaviours and intolerances result, and good people become very bad. Wondering how many parallels there are to the outcomes in the former Yugoslavia and the outcomes leading to World War II Germany. And for how long do the scars of human debasement remain? The war crimes trials resulting from the Serbo-Croatian-Bosnian conflict–the new Nuremberg?
All too chilling. Don’t know as much as I need to.