I’ve been studying the breakup of Yugoslavia for many months now. It is, as far as I can tell, like a marriage. Complex.
To be fair, grievances amongst different ethnic and religious groups had been simmering for hundreds of years before the last Yugoslavian civil war erupted, splintering the nation into its now multiple new parts.
Going back in time a bit, context is needed…
The Paris Peace Conference at the end of the first World War created “the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes” out of territory from the Austrian and Turkish empires. The allies (being naive) looked at this group of people and said, “Meh, they all look and sound the same… so hey must all be basically the same. Stick them in one pot. It’ll be fine.”
Their hope — dumb as it was — remained that these folks would forge a new common identity based on their shared status as “Southern Slavs”. Lost in discussion at the time was that Croats and Slovenes were Roman Catholic, used the Latin alphabet, and aligned more closely with the west than the Serbs, Macedonians, and Montenegrins, who had been under the repressive autocratic control of the Ottoman Turks and practiced an Eastern Orthodox religion, used the Cyrillic alphabet, and were far less economically developed.
Bosnians, for their part practiced Bogomilism, something I’d never heard of but is a Christian neo-Gnostic sect founded in the First Bulgarian Empire.
The other thing to remember with the Bosnians was that they had been forced to convert to Islam in exchange for autonomy and protection by the Turks. That was to prove somewhat problematic.
Another point… the Serbs had regularly challenged the Turks, who had ruled over them with Nazi/Jew like care and affection. In fact, during the second World War these antagonisms flared into outright slaughter as the Nazi controlled ethnically Croat Ustashe puppet regime went about murdering innocent Serbs, Jews, and others.
The point is that Yugoslavia had multiple stresses lurking going into the war.
Two Ways to Keep a Pot From Boiling Over
With such simmering tensions typically there are two ways to keep things from unraveling:
- Rule with an iron fist. Dictator style. This was Saddam Hussein ruling over Arabs, Turks, and Shi’ite’s, which is why with him now gone sectarianism has and will continue to be a feature going forward with him gone. That is until Iraq redraws its borders just as Yugoslavia did.
- Create prosperity. When folks are making money they will set aside differences. Consider the most fascinating and wonderful cities of the world. They have typically been melting pots in times of prosperity. Sadly this method is in decline right now… certainly in the West.
Which is why now is such a dangerous time. It is in times of economic distress that simmering problems rise to the surface. Multicultural societies find all that was interesting and wonderful to be the very opposite as folks turn tribal. Those with distinctive value systems tend to fair better. Japan is a good example. So is Russia today. As is much of Eastern Europe.
Diverse cultures are amazing… when times are good. When times are bad, however, we bipeds turn tribal. It’s just how we are.
A well-fed populace will set aside differences, but when the going gets tough, old animosities rise to the surface.
And this leads me to present day United States…
It’s easy enough to see that as of this writing the US is engaged in a low scale civil war. There are those who hope that the up coming November elections, once concluded, will settle things down so that some sort of normality can return.
I don’t think so…
Think of divorce. Far as I can tell, divorce is like that. Or so I understand. I’ve never given it a whirl and hope things remain that way.
In any event, I understand it’s overrated. The point is that folks reach a point where differences are irreconcilable. One minute you’re in the passage and the F word is bandied about and you’re rather excited by the prospects… and the next you’re in the passage with the F word has taken on an entirely different meaning and it’s not particularly good.
I’ve long been saying that as far as US elections go, at this point it doesn’t matter who wins the election in November. Why?
Because the differences are now “irreconcilable” and the animosities likely to explode.
As I talk with friends in the US it seems clear to me that people are already moving towards their clan, so to speak.
California is emptying, and who could blame those leaving? I’d have had a guts full of all the “progressive” politics of high taxes, poor to non-existent policing, crumbling infrastructure, and retarded energy policies that are causing brownouts… to name but a few.
The same thing is happening in New York and DC. And then we have Washington state, where lawlessness is the new normal. There are other reasons people are moving. Violence, being an obvious one.
These ideas are all well and good until a thug with a bat takes your phone and ability to walk properly. And if you dare to suggest this is absurd, you’ll be called a racist, a Nazi, or have your employee “cancel” you for not having the “correct” political opinion. This, folks, is divorce. It’s hard to see any sort of truce here.
I’m reminded that in 1776 the 13 colonies wanted to rid themselves of the pointy shoes in London, and today many states in the South want to rid themselves of the pointy shoes in DC. That’s now. Can you imagine what it looks like with a Democrat led government?
The problem this time is that the ideology of the socialists doesn’t allow for free movement of anything which includes people. Everyone must “pay their fair share”. It’s why those dolts in California are now looking into at a retroactive exit tax. Expect more of this… much more. It is literally Hotel California where you can checkout but you can never leave.
What happens next? Only time will tell. But one thing that I’ve noticed, perhaps from watching financial markets for so long is this… If you watch capital flows ahead of time you can often see where money is moving in anticipation of something. It isn’t always correct, mind you, but more often than not it provides better than even odds of being correct. And as mentioned, capital is flowing right now. Especially human capital.
So back to the breakup of Yugoslavia. Just as they are today, people began moving ahead of time. They sought out their “safety”. That was their own ethnic and religious “tribe”. All across Yugoslavia this began taking place. As soon as the people had moved, the next step was to the defend their clan.
Witness what is happening today in the US. The country is more divided on issues that even just a couple years ago wouldn’t have been an issue. Today friendships are being destroyed. Marriages, even families have stopped talking to each other. Tell me this isn’t like a divorce.
So no, I don’t think the outcome of US elections will matter.
It is after the elections that the divorce will become obvious even to the most optimistic among us. No side will accept any outcome other than “their guy” winning. The chant “not my president” from 4 years ago was just a precursor to what I think is coming. What happens should Trump win and California or New York State says “not my president”? Civil war is what happens and the country does a Yugoslavia. It splinters. Yugoslavia had ethnicity and religion as a divisive tool, the US has race and politics.
What happens to the markets?
The Fed will panic and see this as a reason to spend way more money than usual. With “usual” being, as you know, already blimmin unusual.
What do you buy? Well, let me answer that with a question. Please show me any civil war that’s been deflationary.
As a side note: The former Yugoslavian countries went through what the US went through only 25 odd years ago. It is fresh enough in their memory to not go through it again. Plus they’ve already split into their own new countries. Looking at this from the 40,000 foot view it makes more sense to me to be long real estate in a place like Croatia or Montenegro and short real estate in LA or NYC.
Few combinations are more poisonous than race and politics. That combination has torn whole nations apart and led to the slaughters of millions in countries around the world.Thomas Sowell