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Ivogram: The Question of Independence (2x)


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1................. The Question of Independence
2................. What after the independence?


From: "Ivo Skoric" <ivo@reporters.net>
To: nettime-l@desk.nl
Date: Mon, 5 Jul 1999 01:23:20 -0400
Subject: The Question of Independence


The Question of Independence

Today some two hundred years ago this country declared the independence.
The country, from which the independence was declared, is today the main
ally of this country. The two countries spoke (and still speak) the same
language. Only Tony Blair came a long way from the (mad) king George. 

I don't see any reason why would KLA abandon its struggle for
independence, given the support among people, the years of suffering of
Kosova Albanians under Milosevic's troops and police, the recent
destruction brought upon Albanians by the Serbian forces, etc. Since it
would be a rather embarrassing precedent to openly support KLA's claim to
independence in the light of the recent death penalty judgement against
the Kurdish rebel leader in Turkey, Ocalan, the NATO West granted Serbia
de iure rule over Kosova, while effectively removing any Serb means of
exercising that rule from Kosova. In such a situation žsomebodyÓ has to
fill the vacuum, if, of course, we operate under the premise that
barbarians are incapable of self-rule. This can either be NATO, or that
can be KLA. KLA speaks the language, knows the customs. Yet at the same
time among KLA there is a lot of people brought up and educated in the
West, therefore more easily acceptable to the Westerners. As long as they
are able to prevail in the KLA ranks and as long as they are conducting
the KLA controlled civilian rule over Kosova the NATO West is not going to
oppose them, limiting itself to the military presence like in Bosnia. So
far the U.S. allies are grudgingly accepting that this is the easiest way
to run the province. That basically pushes NATO primarily in the ironical
role of protecting the Serbs, just as they barely concluded the air war
against them. 

Is KLA going to continue to fight for independence and against whom, now?
Will they ask for U.N. recognition and how would they react to the
rejection? Are they going to accept Yugoslav Dinar as the money of Kosova
- the last vestige of the Yugoslav control over Kosova, and the one that
Yugoslavia unwaveringly insist upon? 

Kosova has no economy. It is fully dependent on foreign help. It was
heavily dependent on the help from other republics in old Yugoslavia, too.
Macedonia, a country where Albanians already are more than a 1/3 of
population, is similarly poor. Worse, Albania itself is the most
devastated Albanian land: a country that for 45 years kept one third of
its own population in prison camps - whole families together, only to fall
a victim to pyramid money schemes instead of democracy and free market
economy. So, the angst among the part of American left of Albania under
NATO becoming žnew PhilippinesÓ has no echo among Albanians: from their
perspective Philippines may look just fine. In their quest for
independence, American revolutionaries (or terrorist if you take the
British perspective) readily took help from the King of France, who was
even bigger asshole than King George at that time. 

Meanwhile Yugoslavia was brought back to Middle Ages not just
technologically, but sociologically as well, and not only as a function of
NATO bombardment - since the sociological retreat to the mythical past
started much earlier. In seventies communist Yugoslavia under Tito had per
capita income comparable to Italy, a NATO member. In cities the standard
of living was on par with the West (that's how we got Žyuppies'). Yet in
eighties Yugoslavia was left to choke in its own pubescent vomit by the
adults of the world: Tito died, cold war collapsed, IMF and World Bank
ceased support, Tito's successors got mired in a seemingly unsolvable
squabble over the ever smaller pie, the rage was on the rise and the white
foam drooled down from the jaws. 

In Serbia as in the other essentially feudal societies, representative
democracy established after the declarative abandonment of communism, is
just a facade, a rubber stamp of approval for the undisputed king. The
rule of Milosevic is more similar to the rule of King George than to the
rule of Tony Blair. As in the Elizabethan England the real political power
in nowadays Serbia is impossible without armed backing. Djindjic and
Draskovic have the clout of court-jesters. Only people that have their own
forces like Vojislav Seselj (the žDukeÓ of Zemun), Zeljko Arkan
(Milosevic's žLord VaderÓ at large), Biljana Plavsic (her grace, the
Grand- Duchess of Banja Luka), Milo Djukanovic (the Prince of MonteNegro)
and the newly, by tanks of the returning troops, established Veljo Ilic,
the Earl of Cacak. As in the real feudal society, none of those nobles
full- heartedly supports the king, but they are all his vassals - even
those who declared themselves his enemies, eventually eyeing the throne.
Distinctively important is to notice that all of them have their own
troops under arms loyal to them, which is the sole reason why they are
taken seriously. Milosevic can royally crack on those who oppose him each
one separately, or given his present weakness, he can appease them into
compliance by giving them complete power over their domains. As we've
learned from the court intrigues of the past - a timely foreign support to
the right person, may overthrow the king. 

The lack of democratic traditions that the West attributes to Serbia
extends on it neighbors as well. The fact is that Ottoman Empire, once (in
14th century) very advanced and powerful, became an economic dwarf, a
backward feudal society with no industrial infrastructure, already weak
but still cruel to his subjects - Serbs, Macedonians, Albanians and Turks
themselves in the 18th and 19th century (despite all the unfounded
ovations it received in one New York Times op-ed not so long ago).
National liberation was never followed by the philosophical liberation. It
is as if the Ottoman Empire survived without the Ottomans. That's why the
West simply must put the Kurdish question now under the closer scrutiny.
It is not even the question of fairness: it is the question of *really*
helping that region deal with its own past, which seems, sadly, to be the
most important ingredient of their political thought. 

Ivo

p.s.
Arkan is not only a war criminal: he was a criminal wanted for murder in
Europe BEFORE the war started. Why didn't they arrest him earlier?

---------------------------------/////////--------------------------

From: "Ivo Skoric" <ivo@reporters.net>
To: nettime-l@desk.nl
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 1999 01:02:25 -0400

What after the independence?

Less than a hundred years after declaring independence the U.S.
experienced one of the most brutal wars in history: The American Civil
War. The first truly modern war - where the ability of the North to
destroy the infrastructure, industry and supply routes to the South, while
at the same time managing to keep its considerable procurement potential
in New England virtually untouched, won the victory of the war, despite
the variable luck and skill of the fighting armies on the battlefield.
That war saw the first use of submarines (semi-submersibles with spar
torpedoes), aerial reconnaissance (balloons), machine guns (at the very
end of the war, though) and landmines. 

The Civil War was then followed by the mass removal of American Natives to
the reservations in the most inhospitable parts of this country. In
today's political parlance that would be called žethnic cleansingÓ, or
even worse: genocide and holocaust. 

But I want to make another point here: it took time for democracy to take
roots in the U.S., so that today major disputes are solved politically and
legally rather than militarily. However, even in 1960-s Kennedy
administration had to send National Guard to the streets in the South to
protect the Yankee law upholding the equality of all American citizens
regardless of the color of their skin. I am making this point to cool off
some Anglo-Saxon heads currently steaming about Balkan and general Slavic
recalcitrance (e.g. stopping the Russian reinforcements from entering
Kosova). 

Yugoslavia was an artificial creation. But which country wasn't? The
assumption that circulates in the circles close to the government of
Croatia, that Yugoslavia was an artificial creation, is based on the
premise that only ethnically based states are naturally created. This of
course would make at least some sense (it fails completely in the case of
the U.S., for example) only if one treats the ethnicity as a constant,
unmovable historic category. But Croats are made of Istrians, Dalmatians,
Slavonians, etc. - as the titles of early Croatian kings confirm and as
the history of Croatian language demonstrates. At one point those
sub-entities begun declaring themselves as Croats, the same as Prussians
and Bavarians became Germans and as English and Welsh became British, and
as the Croats and Serbs might have become Yugoslavs if there was more time
allowed. 

Yugoslavia was definitely a difficult attempt at country building. It was
born out of idealism of the romantic young intellectuals from the North
and out of opportunism of the calculated politicians from the up and
coming wanna be regional power in the South. The cruel joke on Serbs, that
hoped to play the role of the Piedmont of the Balkans, was that the North
in Yugoslavia was far more developed. Nations that comprised Yugoslavia
spent centuries of their histories on the margins of two opposed empires:
Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman. But while Austro- Hungarian empire went
through (although to a lesser extent) the general developments that
happened in the West (renaissance, steam power, railroads, electricity,
etc.) the Ottomans and their provinces lagged severely behind. Parts of
Ottoman empire still lived in 16th century in 1918. 

Yugoslavia was a backward peasant kingdom that Serbs ruled with the gloves
off for barely twenty years and just about as an agreement between to
major bourgeoisie was to be reached, that perhaps would have opened the
road to democratic development, the Second World War started with Italy
and Germany, heavily playing on ethnic hatred between major Yugoslav
ethnic groups, that was provoked through those twenty years of the
unenlightened rule of the Serbian dynasty, forever destroying whatever
might have had happened should that process was left alone. 

After the war, communists having no patience to wait for the agreement
between Yugoslavs to re-emerge (or actually fearing such genuine grass-
roots agreement would put them out of business), imposed in rush their
rule of žbrotherhood and unityÓ over the people who just as of yesterday
were involved in the fratricidal war. That worked, but again it did not
work out of free will, but out of fear, and fear is not a democracy
builder. Forty years in communist Yugoslavia a new generation came of age
- that did not have the prejudice of the past and that was ready to
embrace Yugoslavia as their country, with their kids perhaps growing up as
Yugoslavs. But the country collapsed before they had kids or before them
kids learned how to read or write. When they did, they already lived in
Bosnia, Croatia or Serbia (the latest schizophrenically kept still calling
itself Yugoslavia). Yugoslavia was simply not given enough time to survive
as a viable idea. 

This time the war did not come from the outside. It came from the
inability of regional leaders to reach an agreement on how to make a
transition from the cold war communist regime to a modern free market
democracy. In a different world, where things that needed time were
allowed to take that needed time and brew at their pace, as it was a few
hundred years ago, before the graphic revolution and the pressing need to
have a picture of something new happening at some corner of the world in
our evening news every night, maybe the common ground would be reached
after a while and Yugoslavia would survive by becoming a strong
E.U.-worthy country. While I agree that the West played considerable role
in the process of Yugoslavia's helter-skelter break-up - by withholding
money from Yugoslavia and by promising help to each regional leader
separately and on separate terms, the primary blame lies with those
regional leaders who allowed to be schemed into sacrificing the well-being
of their populace for satisfying their personal greed and vanity
(furthermore - principally with the one who controlled the largest
military might - Milosevic). Were England and France any stronger in 19th
century they could have helped North and South annihilate each other and
then send peacekeepers into their former colonies to žprotectÓ them. To
destroy Milosevic now, after he already did the bidding for those who
wanted to see Yugoslavia dismembered and its pieces žprotectedÓ by foreign
troops, is an unusually cruel joke on all ex-pat ex-Yugoslavs. To let him
stay in power is sadistic to the people left to him to play with them. 

That's perhaps why we are all so damn sarcastic. 

Ivo