Could the problem be the current zeitgeist, recently adopted by just about everyone? The ethics promoted by the state and society today go something like this: Power is its own right. The only right is the right of the strong. The strong are always right - if they demand something, give it to them. Do not fight those stronger than you, no matter the cause or circumstance. Yesterday doesn't matter, tomorrow is far away, the only thing that matters is now. You want something, take it. Take it today.
How can we expect the youth of today to obey any sort of moral code, when the state itself rejects it altogether? Why should anyone want to submit to humiliation in a country that keeps being humiliated? Why not play by the state's rules? There are two players in that game: the strong, thuggish one that can take anything he wants with impunity; and the weak, pathetic, incompetent victim who accepts the beatings, approves of them, and continues to crave the companionship of the strong, no matter how hard the beatings get.
I could not agree more. When people see the state act this way, when they see the individuals who act this way become rich and powerful (even to the point of calling themselves "elite"), it is but a matter of time when the bulk of the people will start acting and thinking the same way. At some point, belief in the "law of the jungle" becomes necessary for survival. Because human nature demands some kind of order, some kind of rules, no matter how irrational.
Among other things, the demise of Yugoslavia was made possible by the collapse of the values that country was built on. Once upon a time, Tito was everything. But by the time Yugoslavia began to crumble, he'd been dead for a decade, and the promised Marxist utopia had failed to arrive. What came were the bills for debts previously incurred, higher by the day. Then came the demagogues, and with them a "new order" favoring those that did the taking and the killing.
The violence "Jane" was talking about isn't limited to Serbia. Croatian crime pages are filled with similar stories: beatings, murders, ambushes, suicides. Bosnia is no different, either. There once used to be a sort of honor among thieves (not much of one, for they were, after all, thieves), now even that is gone. Violence has become random, unthinking, animalistic. There is no order anymore. There are no rules. And the leading exponents of such behavior are the very people whose job description requires them to uphold the rules and protect order. Instead, they merrily destroy both - in order to eventually save the people from themselves, I guess, by establishing a new set of rules, a new order, better suited to their ends.
Or have they done so already?