Thursday, February 21, 2008

500,000: Kosovo is Serbia

Time magazine estimates the number of the participants of the today's "Kosovo is Serbia" rally in Belgrade to be around 500,000 (some others as 150,000-200,000), probably the greatest Serbian rally ever, surpassing anti-Miloševič democratic rallies in 2000. The number of people who are upset and who were able to gather on a single place is more than 1/4 of those who are supposed to be happier because of the "new country" that some people try to create.

It is unfortunate but not too surprising that a few hundreds of more passionate participants chose a more radical path and tried to burn the U.S. embassy. Well, 15% of the territory is equivalent to tens of thousands of such buildings so whether one such particular building is damaged is probably not one of the most relevant things right now. And those who would suggest that they didn't expect that there would be such attacks in reaction to the recognition of the secession seem to lack the sense of political reality and empathy which makes them rather inappropriate people for international politics.

Also, a charred body (probably a Serbian patriot) was found in the U.S. embassy which is even more sad but if you study the regional history, you will find out that a similar-size change of borders in the Balkans usually costs about 30,000 of lives in average so you should better neglect the body, too.

The only exception was the peaceful 1908 annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary. However, six years later, Danilo Ilić et al. were still so angry at Austria-Hungary that they killed a guy named Franz Ferdinand and his wife - who happened to be the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne - and a world war began, killing 40 million. ;-/

The happy colors above quantify the degree of global consensus about the attempted independence of Kosovo. Red is against, orange is mostly against, light blue is for in the near future, dark blue is for right now, the yellowish color is neutrality, and the gray color means silence.

I was thinking what is the main reason why so many Western countries so hastily support something so irresponsible, dangerous, and - in my opinion - unfair. My conclusion is that it is the media's fault. It seems that the Western media have been feeding their audiences with extremely oversimplified, biased, black-and-white, anti-Serbian, pro-Albanian stories from the Balkans. While one might hope that the audiences are not stupid to buy similar nonsense, the reality is different. Most of the audiences of course buy this crap. And many of them pay for it.

Most people don't listen to John Bolton who is against unilateral solutions, against terrible signals to the democracy-building Serbs, against support of Islamic extremism in Europe etc. I think he knows what he should know.

The contemporary media are obsessed with the underdogs. That's why various Smolins, loop quantum gravities, Garrett Lisis and loads of similar crap thrive in the media. That's why feminism and inverse racism has effectively become a part of the establishment. And sorry to say but that's also why Barack Obama is the leading presidential contender. Nothing against him, he is OK, but he could have only become the leading candidate because it is so cool to have such an underdog in the no-longer-quite-White House. ;-)

That's also why the ultrapoor Albanians are often almost painted as heroic warriors for freedom (and against the Serbian oppression?) even though they are just another nation that protects its own interests and uses both acceptable as unacceptable methods to do so. A nation that has killed many Serbs and burned their churches and that is falsifying the local history.

The current Kosovo prime minister Thaci is a criminal who was responsible for 10-15 percent for smuggling of arms, stolen cars, oil, cigarettes, and for prostitution, with numerous links to the Albanian mafia (more on his links). Is's somewhat hard for me to treat them as saints who are automatically given the moral right to divide and conquer countries.

With these indications, it is not too hard to believe that drug mafia is the entity that funded the Kosovo independence (bribes for the politicians who recognized it).

If all things are equal, I prefer top dogs over underdogs, based on some substantial criteria. However, in this postmodern era, underdogs according to substantial criteria automatically become top dogs according to the media criteria.

So are the Albanians white and are the Serbians black?

The actual situation couldn't be more different. The Balkans is a piece of land where the co-existence of various nations has always been difficult, territorial disputes and wars have taken place for centuries, and tough acts have occurred on all sides. More importantly, the Serbian nation is certainly not a bad nation that deserves to be screwed in this gigantic way that remotely resembles the Munich treaty.

Kosovo is Serbia's cradle. They know it from their songs and legends. Orthodox Serbia has been defending the Christian Europe against the Turks for quite some time. Perhaps the most famous battle against the Ottoman Empire was the 1389 battle of Kosovo. The Serbian army lost the battle and most of the 30,000-strong army and its leaders died. But it has become a legend.

That's why Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, a former dissident and Nobel prize winner, just sent greetings from his home in Vermont, calling on Serbs to "stand by your graves."

After the battle and similar battles, they partially evacuated Kosovo (moving to Vojvodina) and the Albanians started to spread over there. In the land that used to be purely Serbian for 500+ years, the population of the Albanian people started to increase. In the 19th century, it was already comparable to the Serbian population and in the 20th century, the Albanians surpassed the Serbians.

This process was amplified by Mussolini who supported a "Greater Albania" in order to hurt the Serbian state and was doing his best for these people to move to the Serbian territory. While Croatia happily lived under the Nazi protection, Serbia was revolting. So far, you can see that the Serbs have been on the "good side" in all major conflicts. They are no saints and all nations in the Balkans have a lot of temperament. But you won't find any rational reason for the focused anti-Serbian stereotypes that resemble Anti-Semitism lite.

Sadly enough, Josip Tito who was 50% Slovenian, 50% Croat wanted to subtly weaken the Serbs within Yugoslavia, too. That's why he created autonomous regions in Serbia but not in the remaining states of Yugoslavia - the seeds of future destruction - and why he allowed people to emigrate from the catastrophically hyperpoor neighboring communist country of Albania.

At the end, the Serbs became a minority on their own territory. A decade ago, I was disgusted by Miloševič's methods to achieve his goals and I was more or less grateful to the U.S.-led NATO for calming the situation down, adding Yugoslavia to the list of countries where the U.S. presence has been very useful.

If I had known that a few years later, so many resolutions, promises, and international conventions would be broken and a group of Western nations would openly join the separatists and try to cut 15% of the territory from Serbia, I would have had a different opinion and it is plausible that I would have considered the attempts to transfer the Albanians out of the province to be the best solution among the bad ones that existed in such a difficult situation.

A day ago or so, police has erected metal barricades and barbed wire to guarantee that the Serbs can't enter their territory, unlike 2 million people who shouldn't really be there at all if the law and decency were followed in the last 200 years. It's a new iron curtain but no one seems to care: we are building freedom, aren't we? The media will surely explain their audiences that it is a good iron curtain. They will also explain them that while unification is generally very good, in the case of the Balkans, the Balkanization is much better.

The Kosovo country, if it is born, will also be the least independent country in the world for many years because it will have to be controlled by NATO and the EU forces for quite some time. The media will explain it differently. If necessary, the Serbs will be presented as even worse devils than before, to make it clear that freedom has been brought to the region.

And while it is good to sacrifice thousands of lives in a Muslim country with a goal that recently became somewhat unclear, it is equally good to take 15% of a Christian country and give it to a poor Muslim nation for free to create its second Muslim-dominated country inside the eurozone. People will buy anything because most people are just way too dumb.

The current Serbian political representation has done the best to introduce democracy, freedom, and market economy to their country and they have dealt with their ethnic groups fairly, too. They probably hoped that they would simply be treated as full-fledged members of the democratic community of nations which is where they clearly belong today, many years after the authoritative legacy of Miloševič was terminated. Instead, they are being treated as villains whose country should be ruptured into pieces.

Nevertheless, they are - much like 70% of the Serbian population - brave enough to say that they still want to belong to the European Union sometime in the future. The president urges calm all the time. I am kind of impressed. After the 1938 Munich Betrayal - when Stalin (not to be confused with Putin) was the only big guy who opposed the change of borders - the Western powers have arguably lost more influence over the Czech minds than what they lost now over the Serbian minds. Ten years later, the Czech nation happily adopted Stalin's social system because of related experiences.

Some people seem to be very excited about the process of fragmentation of the Balkans - a process that is referred to as the Balkanization - and the tool kit that this partial success gives to radical groups in dozens of other problematic regions in the world. Well, some Americans think that Budapest is the capital of France which is not a country, unlike Europe.

But is it really necessary for them to try to influence things that they obviously cannot understand? Shouldn't the citizens of those Western countries that want to recognize the Kosovo Republic admit that they have problems to remember the location of the countries that exist today and the situation only becomes worse when new countries are created?

Can't they understand that a new country doesn't really solve anything? That Kosovo is a piece of land but certainly not one nation but a place where several different nations with co-existence difficulties live? Can't they get rid of their childish "Hooray, a new country is born: we are witnessing history!"?

Abraham Lincoln liked to ask:
If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?
Five? No, calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg. The case of the Kosovo nation is analogous, as James Jatras explains above.


  1. I wholly agree with you.

    I'm not sure how I stumbled across your blog, but I've been enjoying it for a couple of weeks now.

    As an American trying to become as proficient as you are in English in Czech, I'm very impressed with your blog and your insights into various matters. I am also one of a few Americans who agrees with you on climate change.

  2. I have to admit your posts on foreign policy are a bit painful. I quite agree that black and white paintings of complex foreign policy issues, so beloved of both media and politicians, are simplistic and often downright dangerous.

    But on the subject of Kosovo, Serbia and the Balkans several of your facts are downright wrong!

    Cf: "Kosovo is Serbia's cradle. They know it from their songs and legends. Orthodox Serbia has been defending the Christian Europe against the Turks for quite some time."

    It's not actually the cradle of Serbia, the cradle of Serbia was the medieval principality of Raška, in modern day Sandžak, straddling the border with Montenegro.

    Orthodox Serbia was not defending Europe against the Turks for quite some time. In fact, after the battle of Kosovo polje (which was actually quite undecided - both sides retreated and we might speak of a status quo ante bellum) Serbia's leaders gradually became vassals of the Turks and actually participated actively in the conquest of Constantinople, the real bulwark of Christianity - if we were to use those terms. The bulwark that was almost terminally weakened by the Fourth Crusade.

    Cf 2: "After the battle and similar battles, they partially evacuated Kosovo (moving to Vojvodina) and the Albanians started to spread over there."

    Actually, it is rather questionable who really lived in Kosovo. Before the Serbs conquered it in the 12th century *someone* obviously lived there, and the "rude country populace" was probably a mixture of various peoples of illyro-thracian descent - somewhat like what you might call Albanians.

    Also, notice that the Albanians were pretty much Christians at this point in time, becoming partly islamized for economic reasons (reduced taxation and better career opportunities under the Ottomans).

    Cf 3: "In the land that used to be purely Serbian for 500+ years, the population of the Albanian people started to increase."

    Again - questionable. Either the Serbs took their land through genocide, when the conquered Kosovo in the 12th century, or there was a mixture of people there even then. After their exodus in 1690 (yes, there was an uprising following an Austrian invasion and many Serbs subsequently fled). You see, it's been very long since this land was purely this or that ... and go far enough, and we might start reasserting Roman or Gothic or Byzantine or Greek or whatever claims ...

    But see, I'm repeating myself. My point is that the water is churned and muddy, the international law being broken here is far from 200 years old (being established with the UN after WW2, based on several earlier pacts following WW1 but not followed) and international law in any case is much more malleable, ugly, malformed and misapplied field than civil law, for the simple fact that it attempts to govern relations between sovereign nations.

    The facts on the ground are what they are - we have a region where 90% of the population feels oppressed and wants to be free. Following decades of persecution, an attempted 'ethnic cleansing' and years of military protectorate, speaking of this situation as a normal example of sovereign territory is somewhat ... ridiculous.

    Now, don't get me wrong - I understand how and why the Serbs feel, but I'm surprised you don't see their sentiments as mostly based on old fashioned national chauvinism and nothing resembling reason. If they were thinking straight, they'd be thankful to be rid of all the bother of administering and running a backward slab of land called Kosovo, while retaining full access to their holy places - which will remain under international protection. Maybe they'd stop with the silly religious drivel their priests, like those of all colours and shapes, so like to spout.

    To conclude - if Kosovo is Serbia, then why shouldn't Texas be Mexico, Colorado be Apache, Silesia and Pomerania be Germany, Crimea and Ukraine be the Golden Horde? Live in a myth of a Golden Age 600 years ago and you can start demanding what you will.

  3. Ok, I've read your commentary on other commentary to your post and I'm sorry I spent so much time writing my response.

    Please just stick to science. Politics is much messier and doesn't work that way, foreign politics even less.

  4. One possible strategic reason for the US to support a Muslim Kosovo is to gain some support with the Muslims in general. It could be a kind of counter-point to the Iraq problems. I'm just guessing so don't crucify me. ;-)

  5. Thanks, Lucien Nicholson! This is really cool about your Czech. Are you interacting verbally with someone or do you have enough books and sources to read or videos to watch?

    Dear lukc, sorry that you don't appreciate what I wrote much like, unfortunately, I don't appreciate your attempts to "improve" my analysis. Not sure how you define the cradle but I have somewhat consistent reasons to use the word for what it is used for. It's where they established their first important churches and fought the important ancient battles. The place where they still inthrone their patriarchs and that they can still remember in their collective songs.

    The place is Kosovo.

    Some people(s) may have lived there before Slavs got there but the word "probably" makes a difference. One surely can't claim a territory because someone remotely related could have "probably" lived there 900 years ago.

    That's very exciting if those completely original - and unrelated to others - Illyrian tribes lived there in the 12th century and it's completely plausible. But I don't see any evidence that they are culturally associated with the land or they gave something to our civilization. And sorry to say, I do care about these things.

    But the main question here should be about the current international law, not about 12th century memories, anyway.

    Your black-and-white comments about oppression are nothing new. The Serbs have been as oppressed by the Albanians as the other way around.

    Finally, one thing about chauvinism and rationality. I don't understand how you want to use rationality to decide about basic values such as those related to the nation, history, family, love in general etc. These things are irrational pretty much by definition. If you declare their patriotism to be "irrational chauvinism", it is your choice. I don't share your values and consider them heart-free and uninteresting for me.

    It is completely OK for you and all of Slovenia to dissolve in the surrounding sea of the EU in order to get to their GDP level most quickly etc. or whatever you think is the right rational approach. But you shouldn't expect that these priorities of yours will excite me. I don't care about your GDP - you are doing it for yourself, I guess, so don't expect others to be happy about it - and if I had to decide what I think about your appraisal of the patriotic values and memories about their nation's past that you consider irrational bigotry, I just wouldn't use too positive words about your approach, OK? I think that the people who think in this "rational" way are spiritually emptier and they are losing one (or many) of the meaning and senses of life.

    Please feel more than free not to visit this blog but as I have indicated many times (as you can guess, comments like yours are not exactly pleasant and I won't pretend that I am dreaming about this kind of comments), I will not tolerate the attempts of random readers to dictate me what I should "stick" to. Thanks for your understanding.

  6. "if I had to decide what I think about your appraisal of the patriotic values and memories about their nation's past that you consider irrational bigotry, I just wouldn't use too positive words about your approach, OK? I think that the people who think in this "rational" way are spiritually emptier and they are losing one (or many) of the meaning and senses of life."

    What a bunch of thick baloney!
    This is how much the Serbs are grieving the loss of their spiritual cradle:

    The heroes of the Serbian revolution are swapping Kosovo for an armful of looted adidas. Yeah, they got a spiritual sense of life alright.

  7. Dear Dritan, quite on the contrary. The women show the rational, pragmatic, national-history-ignoring approach that was promoted by lukc above. ;-)

  8. And incidentally, if you wanted to use the video to describe all Serbs, then let me mention an obvious fact that you are a Nazi-like bigot who should better disappear from this planet sooner rather than later.

    People exactly like you would shoot others who would point out such statistics in the case of blacks and others but when the target is "legitimate", such as Serbs, then it's OK, right?

    Looting was just much more likely in the uncontrollable situation of a huge rally in which the Serbs vent their understandable anger caused by the attempts to steal 15% of their land.

  9. "then let me mention an obvious fact that you are a Nazi-like bigot who should better disappear from this planet sooner rather than later.

    People exactly like you would shoot others..."

    LOL! Easy there buddy, you'll catch fire with all this anger that you have. You are making a lot of assumptions here. And BTW, you're a bigot too for blaming all Albanians from the actions of a few.

    "steal 15% of their land." 15%?? Better check your math. And speaking of stealing ... lol, forget it

  10. Wow! I just learned of this blog and read this post. Lots to digest.

    My parents (Orthodox Christians) came to the U.S. from Albania in the early 30's where I was born shortly there after, so as is obvious, I'm an old timer.

    The situation in Serbia is complex as are all the situations in the Balkans.

    The Moslems in Albania, even though they are in the majority, have been living peacefully with their fellow countrymen for many decades. Kosovars are no doubt agitating and as soon as they’re a bona fide country, they’ll step up the heat on Albania to join them in spreading terror.

    This was a very bad move and as much as I support Bush, this will come back to bite us and the rest of the Anglosphere.

  11. Lumo, I read your blog more often than I comment, so I suppose I'm no more a random reader than anybody else. However, what you do and propose is inexcusable.

    You often criticise narratives on global warming and bad science. And I agree - often stories, especially big stories, tend to take over from the facts.

    But what you're doing is no different. You're letting big stories of "Cradles" and "Nations" take over from the little stories that really matter - the stories of ordinary people with ordinary lives.

    A single person killed to protect or promote the "Cradle of a Nation", the "Holy Word of God", "Manifest Destiny", the "Proletariat" or the "Free Market" is a single person killed too many.

    Big ideas cause big problems for little people trying to live good lives. And you promote big ideas and big solutions. Cutting a state in half and sending people scurrying hither and thither. Do put yourself in the shoes of one of those people. Put yourself in the shoes of any one person forced to leave their home, because you happen to be of the wrong ethnic group.

    Do that and really try to imagine it and then tell me that living in a world where we respect real, actually existing and living human beings is a worse thing than living in a world where we respect abstract notions of "cradles" and "ethnic memories".

    Cradles, nations, material dialectics, free markets, Allahs and Gods ... they're all ideas that do not shed tears or blood, feel anguish or pain. Tell me, why should I feel any attachments to these excuses for bigotry, hatred and violence?

  12. Dear lukc, fair enough. Nation and its history and interests is a "big" value detached from the "ordinary" small life in the very same sense in which "global warming" is such a thing.

    So let's live with the difference that you are opposing all values that are "big" in this fashion but I am not. In my optics, global warming is a fashionable trend of a decade but a nation and its identity and heritage is something that exists for a millenium or so. I don't expect the Serbs to throw it out of the window easily - but I wouldn't expect Persians to do such things either.

    While there is a similarity between the big values, there is also a substantial difference here, although a quantitative one.

    Pretty much every organized enough group has a certain philosophy that it considers important. Focusing on small issues of everyday life and dismissing everything that tries to transcend it is a life philosophy, too. Not everyone is required to accept it, is he?

  13. Dear Lumo,

    I would quibble a bit first - this is pure semantics, but I can't help myself. I believe a better word than philosophy would be ideology. Philosophy is the love of knowledge, ideology is the idea-complex that underlies a world view.

    I would agree that my perspective might be termed a life philosphy. Closer to daoism than confucianism, let us say. I have trouble seeing nationalism as a life philosophy, as it is so rarely linked with either love or knowledge.

    There is indeed an ideology underlying my personal life philosophy and it is more or less a utilitarian one, nodding in the direction of Bentham and other early economists who understood that economics isn't about production but about happiness.

    Now, having laid some terminological fundaments, would you not agree that mine is a more rational ideology? One focused on preventing suffering and abuse at the only level it can be truly measured - the personal and individual level?

    You speak of a quantitive difference and I can only assume you mean the difference in time. We could construct a simple measure of ideologies as a product of the number of people believing them and the time they spend believing them. This is a simple mathematical procedure, whereby idea size (IS) = # people * # years.

    To this I will posit a counter-argument. The length of time and the number of people believing something to be true, does not make it true. It does increase the amount of tradition surrounding it, but that is all.

    I believe it is similar for moral and ethical judgement of a situation. The length of time and the number of people who believe and have believed something to be good and right does not make it so.

    For most of Western history our greatest minds have seriously wondered whether women have souls and have been quite certain that women have no right deciding affairs of their own (a point of view still in vogue in many parts of the world). Does this make it so? I contend, it does not.

    I also contend that nationalism stands, and ultimately falls, by the same moral and ethical yardstick. As a product of early modernity, the nation-state as a homogenous ethnic entity became popular first in 18th century Britain and reached it's cataclysmic apogee in the wars of the 20th century*. But does that make it right? Do centuries of intolerance and mutual violence make it necessary, normal or even right? No, they don't.

    Which is why I applaud a rare, too-rare, instance of actual international action being taken to promote something as basic as *individual* human rights from oppression, fear, torture, murder, etc. etc.

    *this might be debatable, but even if you extend the argument back to the 5th century, it's substance does not change.

  14. Dear lukc, first semantics: love for knowledge is the translation i.e. etymology of the word "philosophy", but the meaning of the word "philosophy" is different and it is exactly the meaning I use it for. See e.g. Wikipedia on philosophy:

    "Philosophy is the discipline concerned with questions of how one should live (ethics); what sorts of things exist and what are their essential natures (metaphysics); what counts as genuine knowledge (epistemology); and what are the correct principles of reasoning (logic).[1][2] The word is of Greek origin: φιλοσοφία (philosophía), meaning love of wisdom."

    Your definition of "ideology" is a pretty good definition of "philosophy": it is the idea-complex that defines a world view. The main difference between "philosophy" and "ideology" is the negative flavor of "ideology" meaning that someone is closed-minded. But it is just an ideological :-) or propagandistic trick in most cases, certainly yours, because you are at least as closed-minded about these questions as I am. ;-)

    I might agree, under some circumstances, that your utilitarian ideology is more rational but it doesn't make it more ethical or more moral or more valuable. And I have problems with your implicit assumption that the questions of nation can't influence happiness at a personal level. Of course that they can, much like the other utilitarian things that influence your happiness.

    When you ask whether national values are valuable, it is simply not a scientific question that can be answered rationally. It is a question about a value system that is irrational almost by definition.

    And finally, I want to say that I don't share your idea that the concept of a nation and its role for European countries is an obsolete concept, a matter of the past. It's clearly not. It might be the optics of Slovenia that has chosen a utilitarian approach of being mixed up with the rest of the Western world but it's not a general feature of Europe (or other continents, for that matter).

    There are very strong indications that for many important issues, the national identity plays as important a role as it played 50 or 80 years ago. And many young people adopt these things just like their grandfathers did. The continent and the world is not a uniform body of gray matter where everyone is identical and everyone wants to make the same profit in the same currency with the same methods to measure his happiness as you have. Get used to it.

    Best wishes

  15. Lubos,

    Although your thesis, that the MSM is responsible, could explain why the average Westerner believes the Albanians should be supported over the Serbs, that doesn't explain why Western leaders make that error. They should well know the danger, as well as the injustice, of their foolish support for an Albanian state ripped from the heart of Serbia based on lies and with far more bloodshed than the Serbs were even alleged to have caused. They have no excuse.

    Maybe you want to add your opinion to the State Department Blog?

  16. Dear Lumo,

    why do you insist on introducing ad hominem argumentation and unwarranted generalisations? Calling my open and forthright discussion an 'ideological and propagandistic' trick? I find that a low blow, and I'm sure others might agree. As for my opinions reflecting the general Slovenian outlook? I am afraid I am neither God Emperor of Slovenia nor the Average Slovenian off the street, so I see utterly no reason to associate my viewpoint with the viewpoint of Slovenia, a country to which I belong, but which doesn't have the balls to stand by what it says.

    But that's not such a problem. What I find problematic is, for example, that I can find the following quote in the same article on philosophy, in the paragraph directly following your quote:

    Though no single definition of philosophy is uncontroversial, and the field has historically expanded and changed depending upon what kinds of questions were interesting or relevant in a given era, it is generally agreed that philosophy is a method, rather than a set of claims, propositions, or theories. Its investigations are based upon rational thinking, striving to make no unexamined assumptions and no leaps based on faith or pure analogy.

    Ideology, meanwhile, I use as an academic term - a sociological and political science term, to be precise. And there it's meaning is very precisely pegged. For an exhaustive overview:, but here is a short quote from that same article:

    "An ideology is an organized collection of ideas."

    Ideology and philosophy are quite different things. Yes, some philosophies do also become ideologies. But philosophy and ideology are not synonyms. Before we can debate, we have to have our terms straight.

    For simplicity, we may say that philosophy is a method of questioning and thinking about the world, while ideology represents a collection of ideas, preconceptions, misconceptions, reconceptions ... etc., basically the "common sense worldview". Ideology is precisely what philosophy must question. Not something integral to physics, I'm sure, but integral to developing a humanist outlook on the human world nonetheless.

    I will now pose several questions for you, before answering your own:

    1) Why is a utilitarian way of organizing society (see, dodging the ideology / philosophy issue here) less moral and less valuable than one based on nationalism and tradition?

    2.a) Why do you conceive of value systems as inherently irrational?

    2.b) In 2.a I was refering to:

    "When you ask whether national values are valuable, it is simply not a scientific question that can be answered rationally."

    Please let us first distinguish national (referring to a nation) and nationalistic (referring to a nationalistic ideology cf:

    I agree, it is not a question on the lines of "does Mars have a moon?". But it is a question that can be argued rationally instead of being shrugged off. Now, my question:

    Do you think that nationalism and by extension nationalist values, which have demonstrably been responsible for numerous atrocities in recent history, are valuable and if so why?

    2.c) If you think they (cf. 2.b) are more valuable than utilitarianism based on maximizing happiness while minimizing suffering, and related utilitarian values, please explain why.

    Now some responses from me:

    Far be it from me thinking that nationalism is obsolete. It is, however, by modern Western standards (however hypocritic) and by standards of human rights (however idealistic), old-fashioned and rather barbarous.

    I am very well aware of the role ethnic, linguistic, religious and other identities play in fostering both in-group and out-group relations - both amiable and conflictual. I am also aware of the numerous distinctions between people.

    Nevertheless, there is not a human being on Earth that does not feel pain, does not bleed and does not feel anguish when repressed. By that very token I can and do assert that certain basic human rights, enshrined among other things in that modern, much-misused "Holy Text" - the UN Charter (, see already article 2 of the preamble) - are universal and should be inalienable.

    That they are often alienated makes it no less untenable when they are! Do you not agree?

    A concluding statement on polical realism etc.

    I am certain that being aware of a political and social situation does not automatically require that I condone it. I am aware torture is wide-spread, but I do not condone it. I am aware repression of women is wide-spread, but I do not condone it. By the same token, in the example of Kosovo, I am well aware of the historical situation, and that situation led to organized repression and violence (note how carefully I tiptoe against volatile words like genocide, ethnocide and ethnic cleansing) against the Kosovar non-Serb population, particularly the Albanians.

    Much as with the Apollo moon landings, you will find people who claim the opposite. Often these are people with a vested interest in the repression and violence not being punished or even continuing. In the case of Serbia, the people with vested interests are quite obviously the same people who co-ordinated, carried out and condoned the acts in question.

    This leaves us with a (semblance of) a debate, with a testable hypothesis:

    h1) Did the Serb state ruled from Belgrade discriminate, oppress and kill ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in the period 1980 to 2000 for no other reason than their ethnicity?

    I, the EU, the UN, Amnesty International, the OSCE, the USA, most other democratic countries and probably a majority of independent academic and legal contend that this did happen.

    Please, falsify my answer to my hypothesis. I doubt you can. But do try. It is indeed quite a testable proposition, n'est pas?

    I will leave my concluding statement untyped as I need to get some sleep.

    Good night.


  17. Hmm ... and I apologise for the overlong post. But it was hard to make it shorter.

  18. Dear lukc,

    if two people A and B disagree and present two a priori equally valid points of view - and A says that while A's opinions are philosophy, B's opinions are ideology, then A has made a propagandistic trick (because the word "ideology" has negative connotations) or revealed a bias that he believes himself.

    I have read the Wikipedia paragraph about philosophy and I consider it to be a speculative and un-scientific nonsense. It has been a belief of many philosophers - and indeed, the philosophers who deserve this name most of all - that one can understand new things about the world without making any assumptions, by pure thought. It's a nonsensical wishful thinking that has been debunked by virtually all of the progress of mankind. One must always try to make various assumptions and test how they're consistent internally and with observations. Without this exercise, we couldn't have learned almost anything.

    I am not using words as important as "philosophy" for something that can't exist.

    I don't think that you have presented any rational reason why the words "philosophy" and "ideology" in this debate should have a different meaning except that you want to use the P.R. better term for yourself and the P.R. worse one for my position. I insist it is a biased propagandistic trick of yours and I strongly urge you not to do it again.

    1) Because utilitarianism is a form of egotism, a person's focus on himself, and while I view it as legitimate, I simply consider it less moral than the readiness of an individual to make sacrifices for more general values, including those associated with his or her nation. I can't give you any scientific proof because

    2a) values can never be proven rationally. Science - and its generalizations - only explains how things work and what they do under certain circumstances but it can never say which outcome is morally good and which of them is morally bad.

    2b) Your flagrant ideological bias is obvious even in your questions such as

    "Do you think that nationalism and by extension nationalist values, which have demonstrably been responsible for numerous atrocities in recent history, are valuable and if so why?"

    Are you serious? Why are you adding the purely negative propagandistic crap to an otherwise legitimate question about the purpose of national values? Your question reminds me of the Stalinist propaganda of the schools in the 1950s that wanted to make sure that the answer won't contain anything positive about the subject described negatively in the "question". Sorry, I won't play this dirty game.

    Utilitarian approaches have led to a lot of nastiness and crime, too. Does it mean that I must add these things to every sentence and every question involving the word utilitarian?

    Don't you really realize that what you are doing is a very cheap form of propaganda?

    If you asked the question in a legitimate way, I would explain that the role of nations is net positive for very similar reasons why countries - as a related concept - make sense. It creates a coherence among many people that allows them to do things they couldn't do as individuals or families or other groups smaller than a nation.

    In the case of nations, it is primarily about the culture and social knowledge, improved ways to communicate with each other, about the help to bring a meaning to parts of lives of the individuals, primarily by giving them their identity (and it is still most of it) and role within a time frame that exceeds their daily worries and even their lifetime, and about the security of the individuals in a group.

    Most of the achievements of the human civilization were made in the context of a nation and in a significant portion of them, the existence of the nation was even relevant.

    Again, I don't follow your difference between the debate about "nation" and "nationalism". While "nation" and "nationalism" have two inequivalent meanings, one is a group of people while the other is an idea, the debate about a "nation" is obviously the very same debate as the debate about "nationalism". "Nationalism" is a set of ideas importantly including the assertion that nations should exist and bring about (also/mostly?) positive effects, usually (but not always) used in the context of the nation(s) that the speakers themselves belong to. :-)

    Concerning your conflicts, nationalism has led to many conflicts but it also leads to many good and positive things. And to make some essential viewpoints even more clear, I want to emphasize that even the conflicts have been a net positive throughout the thousands of years because statistically speaking, it helped to choose better, or at least more viable, forms of the life of the society, much like the competition between species of life was necessary for evolution and progress of life.

    Your explicit assumption that things that have ever led to conflicts should be abandoned (or eliminated by a systematic pressure) is an extreme, hysterical form of political correctness which is, incidentally, internally inconsistent because it leads to a conflict by itself. Such a P.C. methodology tries to kill not only nations but also the open debate, competition of any form between people and their organized entities, elimination of wrong hypotheses in science - because it is also a small atrocity against someone or his ideas - etc. It is a proposal to destroy virtually everything that makes our world a functioning world where something happens and that is able to move somewhere. It is an attempt to change mankind - and the biosphere - into a gigantic uniform piece of mushed potatoes.

    I know that many people subscribe to your viewpoint but I view your ideology to be as dangerous for the future as communism or another one of this kind. Much like them, you are trying to squeeze all people into an extremely narrow mental box and create problems for those who don't fit.

    2c) I can't explain scientifically why I have the values that I have because of 2a. But I simply view some people's readiness to do something for their nation - or other people in general - to be a moral net positive and these net positives have often been helpful in saving the life and decent future of many individuals etc. While I don't have a rational proof, I just don't want to make this basic thing controversial. Egotist individual utilitarianism is the norm that has, in my viewpoint, no moral sign.

    In the following paragraphs, you are effectively saying that human rights and charters are incompatible with the existence of nations. Do I understand it well? Why are you saying these big things? Why are the United Nations called "Nations" if their basic point is that nations shouldn't exist or shouldn't matter, as you say?

    Nations and things associated with them are just one of several major players that can't disappear and that always play a role in a debate about human rights and values in general. With your fundamentalist approach to human rights, the cleanest way to guarantee the human rights of everyone is to ban all activities and beliefs and later to exterminate the mankind and achieve "zero" of cases of violation and tension. No, thank you.

    Finally, I don't know why you're so obsessed exactly with the U.N. charter. I don't view it as a holy text and its content is effectively included in many documents that play a similar, non-negligible role in our lives (e.g. the constitutions and their charters). But I don't view them in the same way as Christians used to view ten commandments.

    I disapprove your discussion about the violence "particularly" (or mostly? or exclusively?) against Albanians etc. This is simply a blatantly dishonest description of reality and history of the Balkans. It is also a lie that the current political representation of Serbia is pretty much the same thing as the past representation that was doing the least humane things. The opposite statement to yours is much more true than your statement. Again, there is no 100% clean truth here because things are mixed, ill-defined, and complicated but I just view your statement to be mostly a malicious lie.

    h1) Strictly speaking, no. Serbia was just a part of the Yugoslav federation. Your description of the history is more problematic for more serious reasons. There was simply a civil war at places of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. It had some underlying reasons - in which the Albanians were closer to being the culprits - and it has led to less-than-human acts on both sides.

    "Your, EU, USA, UN..." say this happened, you write. Give me a break. I don't doubt that there are people in all these bodies that have an extremely black-and-white and idiotic understanding of these conflicts but that doesn't make their viewpoint more true. Are you trying to threaten me by putting yourself in the same group with the "USA, EU, UN etc."? What sort of discussion is this? You behave like a Nazi. You know very well that there are important people who completely disagree with your position about Kosovo, including the ex-U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Bolton.

    Are you trying to impose these evil and untrue interpretations on everyone by finding a sufficiently powerful clique of people across the world who share it?

    All the best


    Caroline Glick says, ...
    "Kosovo's US-backed declaration of independence is deeply troubling. By setting a precedent of legitimizing the secession of disaffected minorities, it weakens the long-term viability of multi-ethnic states. In so doing, it destabilizes the already stressed state-based international system."

    David Warren says...
    "the fact that Kosovo had a significant ethnic majority of Albanian Muslims over Serbian Christians was not, in itself, sufficient argument to detach it from Serbia by main force. For if that is the argument, the state system which provides the only order the planet currently enjoys will tend to disintegrate."

    The above links were found here.

    Now, as to "propaganda," lukc asks, pseudo-rhetorically...
    "h1) Did the Serb state ruled from Belgrade discriminate, oppress and kill ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in the period 1980 to 2000 for no other reason than their ethnicity?"

    The answer is EMPHATICALLY NO!!! Dritan SHOULD know that based on my exchanges with him over at GatewayPundit. As I pointed out to him there . . .
    "You may not like this link, but it's based on reports from BBC, and Wall St. Journal, etc., and is a pretty good summary of the findings. NO GENOCIDE BY SERBIANS."
    ... and ...
    "The bottom line is
    "The court [International Court Of Justice, ICJ] concluded that there was no genocide in Bosnia, except for the massacres in July 1995 around Srebrenica. . . . [and also that Serbia] . . . was not responsible for “complicity in [that] genocide. . . ”."

    ... and ...
    "Will someone please tell him that . . .
    'Former OSCE Observer Speaks Out No evidence of genocide or ethnic cleansing [by SERBS] in Kosovo'."

    And just because a few righteous Muslims saved a few Jews he wants us to forget that The Evil Mufti of Jerusalem raised 20,000 Balkan Muslims to help Hitler eradicate Jews (and Christians, while they were at it). In that perspective, the "we helped the Jews so you should help us" rings pretty hollow.

    They relentlessly regurgitate the SAME debunked falsehoods, over and over and over, despite the fact that they KNOW they are wrong.

  20. Sorry the link in this quote didn't work...
    "…the Evil Mufti of Jerusalem raised 20,000 Balkan Muslims to help Hitler eradicate Jews..."

    It's (hopefully) fixed now.

    And, for good measure, here's another.

  21. THIS JUST IN...

    They deserve something, all right, but it is most definitely NOT a country!

    "A Muslim youth snaps a picture of his friend urinating into the ruins
    of a church freshly destroyed by other Muslims
    (Kosovo, 2004)."

    See more on how the "religion of peace" is mucking up the world, here

  22. Lubos, you will perhaps enjoy Patrick Buchanan's commentary on Kosovo, which I more or less agree with. The problem is that Buchanan, and the traditional "isolationist conservatives" are currently such a minority in the US that his opinions are ignored. And that's in the Republican party. It was the Democrats who bombed Serbia the first time.

  23. I absolutely agree with the author of this blog. I am a student from Belgrade and I have been a first-hand witness for many fatal events that took place in this part of the world. I just have one question to anyone willing to read it and it is matter of principals: If a man comes into your livin room and sits in your arm-chair, and from that moment he claims that your chair is his just because his butt is sitting on it, would you let him that chair? If you would then there is no problem for you with Kosovo's indenpendence.In every major city in the world there are ethnicly clean quarters. If they don't like the society they live in, do they have a privilege to separate from that society? Can I proclaim my house for a new state if I don't like the rest of Serbia? What is a criteria for independance proclamation? What about minorities in your country? Do they have the same rights to act as Albanians in Serbia? Why is Serbia allways a poligon for new ehtnical experiments of "brilliant" minds from some other countries? Try to apply the same principals in your own home and you will have no state and no stability, only chaos and ask yourselves is it ok what you are doing here in Serbia.