Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Hundred-Year Haunting

Yesterday - not a month earlier - was the true anniversary of the "Great War" - July 28, the day when the Royal and Imperial government of Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. The declaration was preceded by an ultimatum designed to be rejected (weeks prior, in fact), and war followed despite Serbia's willingness to bend over backwards without compromising its sovereignty.

Austria-Hungary wanted Serbia wiped off the map, and its leaders thought this would be a quick and easy victory, and that Russia would either stay out of it, or be handled by Germany. None of that proved to be the case. Instead, Europe - and the world - plunged into unprecedented slaughter that would go on till 11/11 1918.

Gavrilo Princip - the student whose bullet struck Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28 - did not live to see the end of the war. He died in April 1918 in Terezin, a Czech fortress that would later be used by the Nazis as a way station for Jews destined for death camps. Deprived of books and paper, Princip reportedly scratched on the walls of his cell the following epigram: "Our shadows shall wander Vienna, haunting the court, frightening the lords."

A year and a half ago, Sara Hoyt argued that the present-day nihilism of the West can be traced to the trauma of the Great War:
...we’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water. We’ve thrown out the idea of honor, even when honor means “looking after yourself and those who depend on you.” We’ve thrown out the confidence in our own culture. We went looking for some mythical noble savage who was never there...

... we've fallen into the rabbit hole of this sort of anti-hierarchy hierarchy, where greater power is given to those who claim (even while making d*mn sure no one unseats them) to want to “smash the establishment” and where greatest honor is given to those who hate their own culture and who glorify some mythical “other” who will never come close to their imagined greatness. Power is attained by claiming a wish to commit cultural suicide.And the sad thing is that some of these people actually mean it.

The story has come unmoored and is flapping in the wind, like a shroud. The specter of WWI is haunting western civilization. It’s time to lay the ghost to rest.
To the extent that the few in the West recognize and regret this, most fall into the trap of blaming the Orthodox Other - Serbia, but also Russia (!) - for allegedly starting it all. Because in this post-post-postmodernist mess that passes for "Western civilization" today, there are different kinds of Other: the mythical perfect Good ones (victims, martyrs, the oppressed, etc.) and the mythical perfectly Evil ones - the "oppressors", "enemies of progress" and "reactionaries", among other things. And who fits where isn't based on any semblance of logic, or reason, or facts, but on the current feelings of the person doing the sorting.

How did it come to this?

Perhaps understanding what the powers involved in the war actually fought for might help. Germany, Italy, France and the Ottomans wanted land. Britain wanted to prevent Germany from dominating Europe - and thus endangering the world-spanning British empire. Austria-Hungary fought to destroy Serbia and master the Balkans: not just a land grab, but the outright destruction of a nation whose insistence on independence was seen as a threat to the Hapsburg empire.

Serbia did not want war, and tried to avoid it to the very last minute: the Austro-Hungarian attack on Belgrade, in the night between July 28 and 29, ran into unexpected resistance of the Serbian militia and customs police, not the regular military. But once war came, the Serbs fought: by the end of 1914, two more Austro-Hungarian invasions were beaten back, at heavy cost. The third - joined by Germany and Bulgaria in 1915, and preceded by a deadly typhoid epidemic - forced a retreat across Albania to the sea. The starving and frozen Serbs would have been left for dead by their British and French "allies", had the Russians not threatened to withdraw from the war.

Gloating Austrian jailers had told Princip that Serbia was "dead" - occupied by the Central Powers, its army perished in the retreat. But in 1916, those remnants of the Serbian Army played a key role in securing a major peak on the Macedonian Front, which in September 1918 enabled a breakthrough that knocked Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary out of the war. Only then did the Germans sue for peace. So much for the "dead" Serbia!

As you see, there is no reason whatsoever for the Serbs to resent their ancestors from 1914. They may harbor a grudge against the politicians who decided on "brotherhood" with the Hapsburgs' Catholic Slav subjects - Slovenes and Croats - that made the Yugoslav state dysfunctional almost from day one, led to the WW2 mass murder of Serbs by the Hitler-allied Croatian state, and ultimately to the postwar anti-Serb dictatorship by a Western-allied "Communist" Tito. But none of that can be, or has ever been, laid at the feet of the soldiers and generals who fought in the Great War with honor, courage and dignity.

Russia paid a steep price for its chivalrous defense of the Serbs: Tsar Nicholas was deposed in 1917, and murdered with his entire family in July 1918. After the Red October, Russia plunged into civil war, starvation, and ideological experiments, the consequences of which linger to this day. Yet it has has recovered remarkably, and what nihilism exists there today is an import from the West, "liberalism" that was fashionable during the terrible 1990s.

Only the West is still wallowing in nihilism - and insists on imposing it on everyone, everywhere. The Romans "made a wasteland and called it peace" (Tacitus); the Atlantic Empire makes despair, and calls it progress.

How long can a civilization hate itself, before it hates itself out of existence?


Branko said...

Sorry, not a comment on your good post, but I didn't know how else to contact you. Will you comment on the recent news of the American prosecutor (for a European investigation, so why American?) announcing that the KLA had killed and harvested the organs of only two handfuls of people? Among other heinous acts. So that was the best they could do to whitewash it! Looking forward to a column our post from you on that.

CubuCoko said...

I have heard the news. Can't exactly say I'm surprised - the conclusion was foregone at the moment he was appointed. That's how these things work in the "democratic" West. But I will write something about it in the next day or two.

Сербство said...

Panika u državnom vrhu i tajnim službama Srbije
Sprečiti izdavanje knjige „Lov“ Karle del Ponte
Tanja Nikolić Đaković | 08. 03. 2008. - 07:38h

Although organ trafficking is not mentioned in the article, it might be the real reason for the Serbian government’s efforts to stop Del Ponte’s book from getting published.

CubuCoko said...

Bah, this would require me to soil my screen by opening that link... "Blic" is the vilest of Empire's propaganda rags, and the only possible use of it is to guess what the Quisling Cult (not even the government) might be thinking. Or rather, feeling.
Williamson's inquest was supposed to be a farce from the start. By throwing a couple low-level KLA (competition to Ramush, Hashim and Co.) under the bus, they want to whitewash "Kosovia" and fend off Marty's accusations. The current regime in Belgrade is more than happy to help them do that.