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NO 117-118

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Helsinki Charter No. 117-118

March - April 2008

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By Velimir Curgus Kazimir

I was born in late September 1948. In the 19th century Europe the people of "eighty-four" were perceived as revolutionaries' intent to restrict the power of monarchy and introduce new, popular (national) rights. The Yugoslav experience of the year 48 of the 20th century was revolutionary and counter-revolutionary (revisionist) at the same time. Depending on interpreters of the break-up. And all of them were "original" communists.

When the Informbureau resolution against the Communist Party of Yugoslavia was publicized on June 28, 1948 my mother was in her seventh month of pregnancy. Both my mother and father declared themselves "properly:" for Tito and against Stalin. The mother, who was 22 at the time, used to tell later that she had voted for Tito mostly because she found Stalin physically disgusting. The father, of course, admired Russian power and might but never had second thoughts - our communism was by far better than Russian. (The father was an officer-ranger.) After 1956 and the events in Hungary the belief that Russian communism was wrong grew stronger and stronger. And when Russians invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968 it was clear to everyone that we had avoided great trouble and that everything over here was actually great.

In the meantime we have watched many Czech movies, read Solzhenitsyn, Shalamov, Mandelstam, Buglakov, let alone Kundera and Schworetsky. We were indoctrinated against Soviets but not against communism. For us, Suslov was a bleak communist Jesuit, and Che Guevara a romantic Zorro. That meant at the time that the future of communism was in Euro-communism that would eventually turn into social democracy of Swedish type. Of course, struggle against American imperialism was a must and in that context Russia was a major pillar. On the condition that it stays away from our borders.

Thinking today about all that mishmash I cannot avoid the impression that the general political chaos was a part of something much larger and much deeper, and primarily due to incredible generational energy that was overflowing all the deeply rooted ideological, cultural and national models, opening the space that would never again make a part of the untouchable and unique political and philosophical system with answers and solutions to all questions. I remember well the discussion I had with a rather influential ("enlightened") general in mid-seventies. He almost begged me to tell him how come that there was no longer a single, unique philosophical system. There are no more unique answers, no more a central philosopher, no more universal solutions. The time comes when we shall have to make all decisions on our own.

Of course, that was not exactly true. We still cannot make all decisions on our own. (Except in those most intimate, metaphysical and emotional matters.)

Of course, the Yugoslav, i.e. the Serb belief that "our" communism was authentic, natural and fully compatible with out character and tradition was nothing but a myth jointly forged by various departments and public figures with abundant support from the media and the educational system. Here we also had a kind of instinctive defense of the system that in forty years produced its own middle class fighting to safeguard its position and the future of its children like any other establishment.

Unlike other countries of the East European communism Yugoslavia never had a unified and consequent resistance movement. All there was speaking of resistance was an archipelago of individuals, sporadically expanded and activated, particularly in the times of major economic and social crises. There is not doubt that Milovan Djilas was the most important Yugoslav dissident. About him, people knew everything and nothing. He was a perfect case of the regime's ruthlessness and "altruism." (They haven't killed him!) Yugoslavia never had a strong trade unionist movement nor did churches influence the public opinion in some major way. (In this context, Eastern Orthodox churches were by far more cooperative with communist systems than Catholics and Protestants.) Victims of communist terror during the war and in its aftermath were taboos in the country. Yugoslav émigrés were the only to address the topic. The communist regime did its utmost to dispel any idea about the very existence of Yugoslav emigration. It was rather labeled nationalistic emigration, Ustashi and Chetniks in the first place. Their cooperation with Germans and other occupiers had totally disqualified them in terms of politics. It was common knowledge that the Service was liquidating some outstanding émigrés from time to time. Such stories were told and retold with a dose of admiration. The history was written by winners without in-depth understanding of the realities and the time to come.

Adam Michnik said that only anti-communism was worse than communism. That's not a metaphor - that's a statement. No other "ism" produces so widespread and variform manifestations as anti-communism. A normal human being can hardly support communist parties that oppose parliamentary democracy and advocate violent ousters and dictatorship of the proletariat. After all, advocates for such political system are fewer and fewer. When referring to anti-communism, in Serbia at least, we actually never fundamentally discuss the place and role of communist movements and parties throughout history but only engage in persecution of everything that fits not in the traditional, clerical and conservative value system resting on state authority, nationalistic tradition and historical messianism.

Today's anti-communists exaltedly equalize proletarian internationalism and globalism (mondialism). The same as there was much talk about Vatican's, Comintern's and Masons' complot against Serbia and Serb national interest at the beginning of the Milosevic era, the fairy tale about communist plot has grown to paradoxical proportions today. A genre borrowed from science fiction is the most popular of all - the so-called parallel history where authors legitimately expound various theories and assumptions with perfect certainty and in detail. Playwright Dusan Kovacevic, known for his strong post-communist anti-communism, says that was it not for March 27, 1941 and the failure of the Tripartite Pact Serbia would have been a richer and a more developed country - for, it would have been defeated like Germany and then reconstructed, the same as Germany and Austria. Nikolaj Velimirovic, one of the pillars of Serb arch-anti-communism, was of the same opinion. One of my favorite authors, Philip Dick, wrote the novel "The Man in the High Castle" years ago. He described America occupied by the Japanese after the victory of the Axis powers. Allegedly, the Germans were the first to make A-bomb and conquered the world together with the Japanese.

Today the idea that history would have taken a different course had Serbs not fell for English con pragmatically utilized by communists is a part of a trivial anti-communist cliché that offhandedly equalizes Fascists and anti-Fascists, members of Obraz and the Liberal Democratic Party, psychopaths and small religious communities. In Serbia, anti-communism rests on criticism and equalization of political extremes, and glorification of liberal traditions seeing any demand for legal sanctions against violence, threat and hate speech as intolerance. Serbia's "serious" politicians deny to speak up about direct threats under the pretext of the country's democratic potential. Any restriction is immediately declared a relict of the communist era. Except, of course, for the case of Adem Demaqi and his twenty years in prison. (It's interesting to see with how much fondness Serb anti-communist speak about Aleksandar Rankovic.)

It goes without saying that modern Serb anti-communists know nothing about communism, let alone about functioning of democratic societies of today. Therefore, their ranks brim with admirers of Dimitrije Ljotic and Fidel Castro, Vladimir Putin and Noam Chomsky. Serb anti-communists admire the Chinese model, support severe measures against secessionists in Tibet and show understanding for Iran's nuclear program. They simultaneously support the just cause of the Palestinian people and are fascinated with Israel's efficiency in the war against Muslim fundamentalists. That was a look from the outside. A look from the inside shows support for liberal capitalism and, at the same time, support for the working class and Serb national interests. Serb anti-communists are fond of capitalism under the condition that it jeopardizes not Serb traditions and raise the rate of unemployment. (And, yes, under the condition that they profit from it the most.) They notably oppose the sale of the biggest companies to greedy Western bigwigs.

Modern Serb anti-communists take that the United States of America are the fruit of communist and Masons' complot. This is why the Serb parliament so readily adopts the Declaration of Support to Cuba, threatened by the biggest communist power in the world. Not long ago there was a news story about Cuban being allowed to have personal mobiles, vacation in their hotels and sunbathe in beautiful Cuban beaches. Hardly anyone paid any attention to this piece of news. Serb anti-communists are obviously poorly informed about the changes that threaten their part of the globe.

Film director Emir Kusturica is an anti-communist. He also strongly opposes globalization and the dictate of the American culture. Nebojsa Pajkic is an anti-communist, too. And Isidora Bjelica is in the club, let alone Hadzi Dragan Antic. Oh, how much all of them have suffered under communism. Listening to them one cannot but wonder how come that Desimir Tosic or Vane Ivanovic have never turned anti-communists though they had spent most of their lives stigmatized as emigrants.

I think the worst about communism. And yet, I've never considered myself as anti-communist. True, my heart is still on my left but I still don't feel amuck listening to "Moscow Evenings." I prefer Bulgakov and Pellevin to Dostoyevsky. In Serbia, anti-communist is often a universal excuse for any foul play and dirty trick. "Parlor" anti-communists are the loudest of all - and their anti-communism, gee, coincided with the rise of the Serb Radical Party.


NO 117-118

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