Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Objectivity.


My opposition to Mr Trifkovic does not stem from his "Serbian-ness", rather, my opposition to him is more ideological, resting on a difference in opinion in his conception of "Conservativeness" and mine. At stake here is not an issue of Croatia vs Serbia, rather my version of Conservatism and his, and our opposition reflects what I consider a major problem in conservatism; who is in or out of the fold?

It is my opinion that Conservatism primarily is a philosophy that orientates itself around the "truth of things." The conservative therefore lives his life according to the truth, by the truth and for truth. As the Master said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set ye free", and the commandment, "Do not bear false witness", attest to the importance of truth in Christian thought. Our criticism of our liberal opponents ultimately boils down to their ignorance or denial of some aspect of the truth.

If we use "the primacy of the truth" as the definition of Conservatism, we approach the liberal-Conservative divide from a totally different perspective. Instead of seeing the Left as permissive and the Right as strict,  we can recategorise the Left-Right divide as being being a divide between those that are right and those that are wrong. It also lets us recognise that there can be both authoritarian and liberal wrongness. Stalin, Hitler and Noam Choamsky thus are easy to catergorise as being anti-conservative even though they sit poles apart on the authoritarian spectrum. The premises from which their respective philosophies arise are wrong with regard to the reality of the human condition.

Intelligent modern Christian Conservatism takes the tenets of Christianity as being true as well as the direct observations of the senses. Therefore Christian Conservatism has to exclude those people who deny Christianity in practice and those who misrepresent the nature of reality. Walter Duranty is outside the Christian fold as he deliberately misstated reality. So has Srdja Trifkovic. Not only with regard to his statements with regards to the nature of events during the Bosnian War, but also with regard to regime he allied himself with during it.

People have accused me of being either willfully or unwittingly biased against Mr Trifkovic because of his background. Personally, I find that offensive, not only because it makes gratuitous assumptions with regard to the nature of my character, but because it implies that no man can actually know the truth, all he can know is his version of it. Of course, this is straight out of the post-modernist philosophical playbook and is ultimately a denial of any sort of objective reality. In practice however, most people don't believe that.  Most people would hold that an intelligent English, American or Frenchman could discuss the dispassionately the events in Nazi Germany without prejudice. However when it comes to the events that have happened in Eastern Europe, particularly concerning the former Yugoslavia, there is an impression that people there just can't do the same. It a subtle form of condescension.

Still, some people have tried to look at the events dispassionately, even people from the region of the former Yugoslavia, in order to determine what actually did happen. Charles Ingrao, a American Historian from Purdue University,  set up the Scholars Initiative in order to determine what actually happened during the break up of Yugoslavia.  He describes how the study was organised and how it began with the approval of the Serbian Academy of Sciences. Over two hundred historians from different nationalities opted to join. The historians were then divided into eleven teams with the purpose of answering certain questions with regard to the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Given the overriding need to establish the project’s credibility throughout the former Yugoslavia, each of the eleven research teams was jointly headed by a Serb and non-Serb scholar who worked together in establishing and executing a common research agenda. As a rule, practical considerations (such as language, health, or personal preference) mandated an asymmetrical division of responsibilities, with one team leader emerging as the “principal investigator”. The two leaders’ chief responsibilities were to direct their team’s research activities and, eventually, draft the group’s final report.
The full report is lengthy (4MB) is lengthy but can be found here.
Shorter bullet point summaries can be found here.
Charles Ingrao gives a good talk on the study and its methodology here.(Audio)

It is perhaps the most objective history of the breakup of Yugoslavia to date produced.

With regard to the War in Croatia (and my last post), this passage from the summary is appropriate:
Belgrade played on these fears with a massive propaganda campaign that portrayed Croats as “genocidal killers” bent on a campaign of violence and genocide. At the same time, however, Serbs were motivated not only by an understandable fear, but by the desire to be part of a Greater Serbia, regardless of how they were treated by Zagreb.[Ed] Much as the quest for a Greater Serbia had helped drive Yugoslavia toward dissolution, it now played an equally important role in the war’s outbreak.
and from the summary on the break up of Yugoslavia:
But neither these national historical narratives nor the (perceived) injustices they recounted ‘caused’ Yugoslavia’s collapse. Rather, it contributed to the maintenance of inter-group boundaries, distrust, and resentment that would enable an ambitious politician to mobilize his own group against others. Indeed, it required human agency and a conscious strategy – and money -- to take a people who had been neighbors, in-laws, friends, and comrades and lead them into a fratricidal war. It was Slobodan Milosevic who exploited economic and other problems by leading a “national revitalization” movement within Serbia which sought political and territorial objectives incompatible with the interests of other republics and national groups. [Ed]
I'm not denying that the Croats and others contributed to the break up, but but the major dynamic which drove the war was a quest for Greater Serbia. Charles Ingrao pretty much states the same in his talk listed above (about a third of the way through). The Nationalist forces which arose in the different communities were a response to the Serbian Nationalist project.

The study also goes to show that claims of Muslim fundamentalism, especially in Bosnia, were non existent.  Trifkovic's claims that the Serbs were warring against the Jihad is bullshit. He is doing a Duranty. But it was meant for gullible Western Consumption--( the useful idiots of the right)-- and it continues to be pushed as a rehabilatory mechanism to counter negative public opinion earned by Serbian Nationalists during the War.

(That's not to say that Islam is compatible long term with the West. Personally, I don't think it is. Still killing innocent people is not the way to solve the problem. In the former Yugoslavia, the Muslims had adopted secularisation almost as enthusiastically as Christians do now in the West. It was the barbarities and brutalities meted out to them during the War (by Srdja's friends particularly) that radicalised them. BTW, Srdja's friends were quite happy to cut deals with the muslim invader whenever it suited their interests.)

Reality is a bitch.

24 comments:

spandrell said...

In Yugoslavia there were lots of Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia, and lots of Croats in Bosnia too. None contiguous. Ethnic cleansing ensued.

What was Serbia supposed to do, in your opinion? Just curious. Croatia also killed/expelled everyone it could and got a handsome piece of land.

GK Chesterton said...

Your conclusion is weak. If Islam is antithetical to Western Civilization, what was Serbia to do? That Greater Serbia was a dangerous idea is tangential to the methods used to rid yourself of a dangerous ideology.

I'm agreeing with you, but without a proposal on _how_ to stop the spread of said danger to Western Civ you sound like an appeaser. We need a solution.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Spandrell

Croatia also killed/expelled everyone it could and got a handsome piece of land.

Refer to the linked history please.

What was Serbia supposed to do, in your opinion?

How was it that the Czech and Slovak communities were able to separate without a fight? Or the atrocities? Despite minorities living in them.

Lots of things could have been totally handled differently. For instance, during the war many Croats in Serbia and Serbs in Croatia used to meet in Hungary or Austria to exchange properties peacefully. A commission could have been set up to facilitate a peaceful transfer of assets. A impartial umpire such as the UN could have come in policed disputed areas until a level of trust developed.

There are very few racially "pure" countries in Eastern Europe, each country has to learn to live with the minorities in it, Serbia should have learned the same.

The Croats and Slovenes have had several issues between themselves, but no group has taken the gun to the other. They've opted to sort things out peacefully.

@GK

That Greater Serbia was a dangerous idea is tangential to the methods used to rid yourself of a dangerous ideology.

True. The thing is though, the Islamic population in Bosnia was pretty thoroughly secularised before the break up of Yugoslavia. Their leader at the time, Alia Izetbegovic who was one of the most moderate Muslims ever (his Muslim opponents in Bosnia were even more secular), complained about how the Kosovo Albanians he met in Prison had "lost the faith". Serbian terror and Western indifference, radicalised them towards Islam. (The only countries which leant them material support were Iran and Saudi Arabia) If the Serbs had left them alone and incoroporated them peacefully into Greater Serbia they would not have had any problems with them. The Muslims were the ones most committed to Yugoslavia. They would not have been any problem in Serbia and would have been Serbs in all but name. Once again, refer to the unbiased reference. Bosnian Fundamenalism, just like Ustasha barbarity was a radical response to the ethnically-pure-Greater-Serbia problem.

Islam is a symptom and not the disease. The disease is secularism which strikes at Christianity's attempt to assert its superiority over other faiths. The first thing that needs to be done is a renewal of the Christian religion.

While that is happening, the Muslim immigration must be stopped. Secondly, incentives must be given to get people to leave peacefully. Overt displays of religious adherence, (besides the Christian ones) must be banned, as in France with the Hajib. Outright hostility towards the State is quite legimately punished.

In essence the plan should involve.

1) The establishment of the primacy of the Christian Religion.
2) The cessation of immigration.
3) The promotion of voluntary emigration.
4) The public secularisation or Christianisation of migrants already present who don't want to leave.
5) The punishment or expulsion of those who resist the state.

Switzerland, for instance, deports a newly arrived migrant who commits a criminal offense within the first few years of their citizenship.. (and perhaps their family as well).

Had Hitler, for instance, wanting to rid himself of his "Jewish problem", taken a more humane approach to the matter, and aggressivley supported the settlement in Palestine of the European Jewry, there would probably be statues of him placed in Tel Aviv and New York. Instead, he was a murderous dickhead and deserves all the shit that is heaped on him.

To quote Shakespeare;

"when lenity and Cruely vie for a kingdom, it's the gentler gamester which is the soonest winner"

Anonymous said...

If conservatism is based on commitment to truth, then for a conservative to be Christian he has to establish the truth of Christianity. Since Christianity apparently contains a large number of internal inconsistencies, this is difficult.

Christian conservatives have to solve this problem first. Once this is done, then the problem of secularism can be disposed of directly. Christianity cannot assert its superiority over other faiths until it is, in fact, superior as a source of truth.

Fix your doctrine, fix your dogma, then lets get to work fixing the world.

Oh, and by "fixing" I of course don't mean going along with the obvious liberal silliness.

The Social Pathologist said...

then for a conservative to be Christian he has to establish the truth of Christianity.

As I have argued previously on this blog, faith is not the result of rational demonstration but a perceptual faculty given by God. See this post.

The thing is though, that there has to be a congruence with faith and reality: a faith which denies reality is an erroneous faith. Christianity's superiority is demonstrated simply by virtue of the fact that nothing better has come along to replace it. Hedonism is fun, but it too produces it's existential contradictions. Marxism promised much but failed. Fascism was a dismal failure, and all the other cultures of the world, Islam, Sikh, Mandarin never ever reached the heights of civilisation and technological process that the Christian civilisation did. See this post.

Chesterton gave the best defence for the superiority of Christianity.

The real trouble with this world of ours is not that it is an unreasonable world, nor even that it is a reasonable one. The commonest kind of trouble is that it is nearly reasonable, but not quite. Life is not an illogicality; yet it is a trap for logicians. It looks just a little more mathematical and regular than it is; its exactitude is obvious, but its inexactitude is hidden; its wildness lies in wait. I give one coarse instance of what I mean. Suppose some mathematical creature from the moon were to reckon up the human body; he would at once see that the essential thing about it was that it was duplicate. A man is two men, he on the right exactly resembling him on the left. Having noted that there was an arm on the right and one on the left, a leg on the right and one on the left, he might go further and still find on each side the same number of fingers, the same number of toes, twin eyes, twin ears, twin nostrils, and even twin lobes of the brain. At last he would take it as a law; and then, where he found a heart on one side, would deduce that there was another heart on the other. And just then, where he most felt he was right, he would be wrong

................

Now, actual insight or inspiration is best tested by whether it guesses these hidden malformations or surprises. If our mathematician from the moon saw the two arms and the two ears, he might deduce the two shoulder-blades and the two halves of the brain. But if he guessed that the man's heart was in the right place, then I should call him something more than a mathematician. Now, this is exactly the claim which I have since come to propound for Christianity. Not merely that it deduces logical truths, but that when it suddenly becomes illogical, it has found, so to speak, an illogical truth. It not only goes right about things, but it goes wrong (if one may say so) exactly where the things go wrong. Its plan suits the secret irregularities, and expects the unexpected. It is simple about the simple truth; but it is stubborn about the subtle truth. It will admit that a man has two hands, it will not admit (though all the Modernists wail to it) the obvious deduction that he has two hearts. It is my only purpose in this chapter to point this out; to show that whenever we feel there is something odd in Christian theology, we shall generally find that there is something odd in the truth.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I've processed the post you referenced. Here are some questions:

Does this faith sense tell you that the events of Matthew 27:52-53 are literally true? That many people other than Jesus were resurrected for the weekend and wandered around Jerusalem, but that none of the other Gospel writers or Roman scribes saw fit to record this unusual event?

Does this faith sense tell you that Mary was certainly a virgin, despite the fact that a girl in that situation has every reason to lie, and that you wouldn't believe the same story from the sweetest of girls today?

Etc.

See, I can understand how this faith sense and its use may be necessary to save Western Civilization. The problem is that the people who are selling this idea are also trying to convince Moderns of the truth of the Bible. This isn't going to work, because the Bible is quite evidently not completely true.

I don't see how this can be fixed, because nobody within Christianity has the authority to make the necessary changes to the Bible. Christians are "attached" to it in its present form.

Christianity seems to deny certain aspects of reality and truth. As a tool, therefore, it can only be properly applied to people who can not see its flaws. To reclaim the elites and thus fix the societal mess, you are going to need something better -- I know not what.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Anon

Jesus's conception has never posed the slightest intellectual difficulty for me at all.

If God can create the universe out of thin air then what's the problem with creating a zygote out of thin air and implanting it in the uterus? I don't see any logical problems at all. The Bible explicitly deals with the issue because when Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant it indicates that he wants to walk. (Implying that he thought her pregnant by another man.) Joseph has to be supernaturally convinced that this is not the case.

As for Matthew 27; it's weird but I see no reason why it's intellectually difficult to apprehend.

1) As far as I'm aware, there are no Roman corroborations of the resurrection of Lazarus. So does that make it untrue? Lazarus's resurrection shows that raising dead people is not a problem for God.

2) What the Gospels do indicate is that there was some weird shit going down at the time of His crucifixion. The Roman Centurion who affirmed His divinity was clearly shit scared at the time of his utterance. It wasn't just another day at the office.

3) As for why the other writers of the Gospel did not record this issue, I clearly don't know and can only speculate. But my specualtion is just as good as anyone else's and therefore not really helpful on the matter.

The Greek historian Thallus makes mention of the darkness that covered Judea.

With due respect, I don't want to derail this thread into a discussion of biblical authenticity.

Maister said...

No informed person would dispute that Milosevic played the dominant role in the break-up of Yugoslavia; you're straw-manning here.

Yet: "The study also goes to show that claims of Muslim fundamentalism, especially in Bosnia, were non existent."

Not so. You're just citing liberal, bien pensant propaganda here. Since 9/11 there's been extensive research on this touchy subject and Islamic radicals indeed played an important role in the Bosnian war. What Al-Qa'ida and Iran were up to in Bosnia in the 1990s, with the full support of the Izetbegovic government, isn't a pretty story.

To be clear, none of this justifies crimes against Bosniak civilians - even though mujahidin units perpetrated a lot of massacres of Serb and Croat civilians during the 1992-95 war.

However, just because a Serb who hates Muslims makes a claim isn't proof that it can't be true; look into this one, it's messy and nasty.

There's a lot of decent literature now on this, I'd start with Unholy Terror (2007) since the author has no ethnic bias and worked in US intelligence, so it's a sort-of insider's account.

mdavid said...

SP, sorry to interject into such a fine debate, but I can't stand it any longer:

Where did the picture you use come from, the man with the hat and with shades?

The Social Pathologist said...

Not so. You're just citing liberal, bien pensant propaganda here


I'm citing the Scholar's project which is Serbian Academy of Sciences Approved. As someone with the a Croat background, I'm conscious that I'm going to be accused of bias, so the only source that I'm going to use is one that is:

a)factually correct.
b)and cross-corroborated by all sides, particularly the Serbian one.

There is no doubt that after the war began that the Muslims began to get radicalised, not before. The Yugoslav government ran the UDBA secret police which was quite effective at ferreting out any opponents, so any claim that there were armies of mujaheddin waiting to strike is just rubbish.

The Muslim resurgence in Bosnia was an "own goal" of the West's idiotic policy with regard to the break up of Yugoslavia.

BTW. The Clinton Administration, seeing the the Muslims were screwed and faced the very real prospect of genocide unless they got some help, turned a blind eye to both arms and "Advisors" from the Arab world. No one else wanted to help.

Radical solutions prevail when moderate ones are ignored.

The Social Pathologist said...

mdavid

Double Indemnity with Fred McMurray.

Thanks for the digression !

Maister said...

99% of Bosniaks before the 1992-95 war were not radicalized at all; now the figure is, regrettably, a good deal higher.

But what mattered was the leadership and the SDA top level (Izetbegovic and the boys) in 1990-92 really were made of up Islamic radical activists, people from the Mladi Muslimani who had been imprisoned, many like Izzy more than once, by UDBA for extremism. The SDA put on a nice multi-culti face for the West, but it was an act. Izetbegovic was the one who invited the Iranians and the mujahidin in, quite early, and quite consciously.

If you don't think this is important, you are really quite biased and naive.

PS I'd look closely at Izetbegovic and what he was up to before 1990; ask Aco Vasiljevic if you really want to know.

Jason said...

Maister, I know quite a bit about Izetbegović and the Bosnian War in general, so I wanted to comment on the Schindler book you mentioned, Unholy Warriors, which I’ve read. Although he makes some good points about Izetbegović – who certainly was a flawed individual and leader – Schindler is also rather sloppy and often lacks perspective or nuance. For instance, SP is right concerning the reason for why the mujahideen were in Bosnia in the first place – namely as a quid pro quo for the arms and money Bosnia desperately needed as a result of the arms embargo – although certainly the Izetbegović government was very deficient in allowing 200 or so of the original 10,000 mujahideen to remain in Bosnia after the war was over and allowing a few Al'Qaida agents to establish a presence there (This presence was quickly removed after Sept. 11th). Critics like Schindler are overreaching when they try to find more significance in the matter than this. Indeed, this is the problem with guys like Srdja Trifković and John Schindler in general – they totally magnify and blow up out of proportion the legitimate criticisms to be made of the Izetbegović and the Bosnian government, while at the same time totally diminishing, rationalizing, or ignoring the crimes of the Serbian government (and those who supported it), which were frankly much, much worse.

Jason said...

Maister, I wrote the incorrect title in my last post - I should have written Unholy Terror rather than Unholy Warriors. You might want to also read Even Kohlmann's Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe: The Afghan-Bosnian Network, which I think is a better work on the mujahideen phenomenon than Schindler's book.

James A. Donald said...

You swallow left wing propaganda. Chomsky is a Stalinist.

Chomsky visited North Vietnam, which was at that time orthodox Stalinist. In Chapter 5 of "At war with Asia", in his account of his pilgrimage, he describes Vietnam as genuinely free and democratic, whereas he condemns western style democracy as unfree
and totalitarian.

Thus when Chomsky talks of workers democracy he means "democracy"

On pages 275-277 he tells us that Stalin style democratic centralism is ALREADY democratic, and on page 279, after hearing Le Duan explain Stalin's "Foundations of Leninism", on page 278, Chomsky then tells us that, were it not for US imperialism, the principles Le Duan has just explained would lead to true participatory democracy.

Here are some bits from Chomsky's "At War with Asia", page
275-277, describing his visit to North Vietnam:


: : A general meeting of the cooperative makes decisions
: : [....] An annual meeting of all adult members selects
: : an administrative committee for the cooperative.
: :
: : [...]
: :
: : Although there appears to be a high level of
: : democratic participation at the village and regional
: : levels, and some degree of leeway-limited, to be sure,
: : by the exigencies of war-for independent planning at
: : these levels [...] These plans are implemented by
: : governmental bodies selected by the National Assembly,
: : which also drafts specific plans. The ministries are
: : responsible to the Assembly, which is chosen by direct
: : election from local districts that extend over the
: : entire country, including the mountain tribesmen, who
: : are well represented. [...] Each factory has a
: : congress once a year of all workers, to which the
: : manager reports.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Jason,

Thanks

@James A Donald.

I'm not sure about the context of your comment. But it's true that the Left has supported the Nationalist Serb version of events. as opposed to the Serbian Academy of Sciences.

Maister said...

Jason: "a few Al'Qaida agents" -- if only the issue were so small. And Iran? The latter actually having played a much bigger role in Bosnia in the 1990s than AQ. The book is very good on that, which no one else seemed to mention.

The Social Pathologist said...

@ Maister

99% of Bosniaks before the 1992-95 war were not radicalized at all; now the figure is, regrettably, a good deal higher

Don't derail the topic.

What radicalised them in the early 90's?

Maister said...

The SDA radicalized them. The importation of the Saudi variant of Sunni Islam ("Wahhabism") was a project of the SDA - it is foreign to the Balkans and an import. That was not "caused" by the Serbs and Croats, don't even try.

Unfortunately, this foreign and virulent faith has taken root in BiH over the last two decades, mainly due to Saudi money, which the SDA leadership took their cut of.

Been to the King Fahd Mosque?Somehow, I doubt it.

You should - it would be an education.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Maister

You might be happier commenting on another blog. I don't subscribe to the Trifkovic school of revisionism which you appear to do.

The consensus scholarly opinion (and basic common sense) is that the war radicalised a previously secular Muslim community. Your assertion, that the current very mild overt Islamisation of Bosnia is due to deliberate SDA action is at odds with the established facts and seems more to indicate a prejudice on your behalf rather than any objectivity. First and final warning.

I'm not fan of Islam, but understanding the forces that feed its radicalisation is important if only to combat it. U.S. and Russian policy with regard to the Muslims have done more harm than good and played into the hands of the militant Ayatollahs. U.S policy, in particular, seems designed to score as many "own goals" as possible.

Maister said...

"You disagree with me - go away."

Wow.

Since you are an MD and not a credentialed scholar, and certainly no expert in the subject you're pontificating about here, you may be unaware that telling your intellectual opponents to cease and desist when they disagree with you is considered something less than procedure in scholarly circles.

It's also what you do when you have no argument left. Yelling "revisionist" is something done by ideologues, not bona fide experts.

I am not a member of the imaginary Trifkovic revisionist school (and when did "revisionism" become bad? when I got a PhD it was considered a perfectly normal, indeed fundamental, part of this historical process), but I do believe that the standard liberal account of the Balkans is, at best, one-dimensional and, at worst, flat-out wrong.

Your comments indicate that you've never been to Bosnia and your awareness, such as it is, is based on a selective list of readings.

Says it all. Your blog is a waste of time - sretan put!

The Social Pathologist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Social Pathologist said...

@Maister.

Attila Hoare does a good takedown of your recommended book. I know he is a leftist, but he also seems to be a reputable academic and a research officer at the ICTY. He's too soft on the Communists by the way, but he doesn't make up bullshit about them, though. The extreme left really hate him.

No, I haven't been to Bosnia, but I suspect that you have, and I've got the sneaking feeling that you've met some very interesting people there. I've had quite a bit of experience with the refugees from the former Yugoslavia (all groups) and basically not even the Serbs from there mentioned the Muslims.

There is currently a group of women in the local mothers group who call themselves Bosniaks. They're Muslims since the Serbs call themselves Serbs and the Croats, Croats. Bosnia is going to be a failed state. There are no fundies amongst them and amongst the soldiers that I spoke to from over there, radical Islam was not an issue.

Says it all. Your blog is a waste of time - sretan put!

See Ya.

Maister said...

I said sretan put but I simply must add:

1. There are plenty of "fundies" (your word, not mine) in BiH these days. In 1990, there were bascially none. There has been a good deal more radicalization since 1995 than during the war years, so stop blaming Serbs, Croats, anybody but Bosniaks for this.

2. I have spent quite a bit of time in BiH and have friends (and enemies) among all groups. I can say honestly I possess no animus towards any of them as a group. Per the cliche, some of my very best friends are Bosniaks - and they, too, hate the presence of radical Islam among them.

3. Marko Attila Hoare is a far-left nutcase, a supporter of Communist crimes (including genocide), and a very unpleasant person. He's not taken seriously by anyone outside lefty circles. The review was a hatchet job, which is his thing. Not a serious piece of work.

Your blog is neat, I'm not sure why you've gone done the rathole here. Hoare (the name itself!) isn't a hill to die on, I assure you.

There is a lot of safe space between ideologues like Hoare and Trifkovic, I suggest you find it.

Peace out ...