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
Fantastic read, thank you for sharing!
You wrote an excellent preview of what will happen in “China” as we know it today. Your takes of USA are all wrong. First, the Left or “opposition” has the idea that America is bad.The system of the Republic and the Constitution isn’t Being debated. The leftist movement is very Very small it’s only amplified by the media industry and the CCP. It appears much bigger if you’re seeing it online or from afar. Truth is that America Has pivoted and will be focused on truth, justice and, human rights and dignity. ccp will end in a single moment sometime soon.
The leftist movement is very small. It looks big because they make a loud noise. Lenin said that 1% of total population is enough to make revolution being a success in a country.
Wake up America!
The below is true. Don’t be afraid.
“The leftist movement is very Very small it’s only amplified by the media industry and the CCP. It appears much bigger if you’re seeing it online or from a far. Truth is that America Has pivoted and will be focused on truth, justice and, human rights and dignity. ccp will end in a single moment sometime soon.”
I agree with end conclusion, long short trade. Agree that divide will only deepen.
About former Yugoslavia, I have first hand experience. The reason for split was not multicultural , differences or prosperity. Reason, that split was possible (no matter if there were foreign attempts or not) was inequality. Each republic should have 1 vote in Yugoslavian ‘senate’. The biggest one (Serbia) managed to get majority. Serbia got 3 votes, one extra on behalf of Kosovo (residents of Kosovo never had own vote) and one from Vojvodina, part of Serbia that also had special treatment. Montenegro is basically Serbia, now joined, so that were 4 votes. Last one, to get majority, they got mostly from Bosia and Hercegovina. Or Serb was elected or someone that usually had Serbs interests at hearth. If this didn’t work, there were Macedonia or Croatia as long as they found one that they could black mail, they had 5 votes and majority. Not always, but most of the time in say last 10-15 years of Yugoslavia. Serbs, while not productive, they were milking and ruling federation. That was the main reason why Slovenians said, that’s it, we have enough and Slovenians left.
To compare this with USA, imagine if California would manage to get majority in congress and senate. Everything California would want, would happen across whole USA, no matter how crazy. That wouldn’t last either.
You perfectly hit the reason of Yugoslavia breaking apart.
As a former Yugoslavian, I am grateful to see such a factual and unbiased view how our old country unraveled. Up to 80s, there were loans flooding into the country and everything was good. But around the same time when Tito (iron fist) died, economics turned worse as well. Then, loans were not so plentiful or cheap any more.
Parallels with present USA are very apt. With wealth having been sucked out of the country the various ethnicities do seem to be clustering ever more closely together, and are increasingly competing for a steadily shrinking pie. The only thing that we in Yugo did have and Yanks still don’t, is a very active and overt destabilizing involvement of foreign parties. I suppose nobody dares yet to do to USA what USA and their gofers did to Yugo then. But hey hoy, life is full of surprises and I definitely agree with “watch this space”.
BTW Chris, you and your very eloquent colleagues should also at some point try and make a report on the effects that “multiculturalism” will have on countries in Western Europe in the next 10-20-30 years. The political classes have accelerated importation of people from afar over the last 20-30 years , focusing on them as economic units only, without any consideration of what impact a great accumulation of their cultural and religious baggage will have on the host countries. I can see problems not such a long time ahead in all these countries, including my adopted country, UK.
Thanks for your input. I did write about multiculturalism in Europe about 2 years ago here. https://capitalistexploits.at/the-curious-case-of-western-europe-vs-eastern-europe/
In short Eastern Europe and former CIS are far better positioned than Western Europe. The DNA of society is completely different.
… and I remember that after a beautiful Winter Olympics in Sarajevo (in 1984?) I couldn’t comprehend how, just a few years later, there was a full blown Civil War going on there. Things can indeed change fast. Something tells me that all Historically accumulated grievances, injustices etc, have to be resolved sooner or later. Though the US History is relatively short, there is no way to avoid the commotion. I enjoyed how Chris managed to pack a lot of information and in this short piece, makes you think…
Around the time he issued his infamous Fatwa in 1998, Osama bin Laden said that America was too complex culturally to remain unified and would someday break up into separate ethno-states. Paradoxically, it’s the supposed “Liberals” who are driving the closed-minded hate and rage. They have assumed the same political role as pro-slavery secessionists in the 1860s. Indeed, it’s been “Liberals” most determined to erode patriotism, a single common language, and the rule of law. These provide the very glue that holds a society together.
Chris, you predict there will be violence no matter who wins the US election, as if it’s two equally violent factions. Truth is, if Biden and the Democrats win, there will be little if any violence at all. But if Trump and the Republicans win, all hell will bear loose, with an extremely violent left wing minority refusing to accept the majority vote.
While it’s true there are some examples of right wing violence, it is usually in reaction to being attacked. Virtually all of the violence is initiated by the left.
The informal polls seem to show Biden ahead at the moment. But this is a delusion. There is a major factor involved causing distorted poll results: When voters walking a city street or sitting in a cafe are approached by a pollster and asked who they are going to vote for, if they’re intending to vote for Trump they will lie and say Biden, simply to protect themselves from being physically assaulted.
But the truth emerges when they get to the voting station, or mail in their vote incognito. The result? FAR more votes for Trump. I’m all for a calmer world, and in some ways maybe it would be best if Biden won, but I don’t see how the Democrats can hope to win when their approach is so relentlessly mean spirited and negative. They avoid ruling out packing the Supreme Court, avoid condemning BLM violence (a good but hijacked cause,) They look the other way when Antifa strikes violently, and suggest defunding the police. (Really?)
It’ll be interesting to see if the (entirely left wing) main stream US media has effectively conned the US public that all of this is good idea. I doubt it. Middle America isn’t saying anything at all right now, because it doesn’t want to be called a whole string of “ists” and punched in the mouth.
The ballot box remains all powerful – for the moment.
I must disagree with the articles interpretation. All that is happening in America is that at long last the Left and Globalist agenda to destroy America is coming to be recognized by everyday people.
The Pushback against this will bring America back to its Founding principles. Supreme Court is only the start which is now firmly in hands of those who take US Constitution seriously.
The Plantation system of Government is in collapse and not everyone is on the Reservation either.
Get ready for strong growth and renewal coming to America as the Rot gets excised.
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I certainly support a breakup of the US for many of the actual reasons that the former Yugoslavia broke up. Despite the “months of research” from the author of this horribly written article, (Bogumilism…hahahahaha) there actually are similarities between the US and Yugoslavia. Specifically, the most significant similarity comes down to administrative and economic minority rule.
Yugoslavia was a federation made up of 6 constituent republics and 2 autonomous entities within a republic. According to the 1991 census, Serbs comprised 39% of the total population of Yugoslavia, but held disproportionately more senior positions throughout all of the republics particularly in police, military and important administrative functions. Economically, Croatia and Slovenia were the most western and largest economic engines (remittances from non-Serbs working abroad who were forced out of the country by serb policies were also an important economic factor). On the eve of the beginning of the war, Slobodan Milosevic transferred billions from the federal treasury into the Serbian republic’s treasury. Despite a constitution that allowed for the right to secede, the Serbs insisted that despite independence votes that supported self determination in Croatia and Bosnia, that Serbs had territorial claims to all areas inhabited by even a single serb. The “civil war” was then an attempt of an entrenched minority to maintain dominance in spite of democratic change.
The US, similarly maintains structural minority rule through obsolete partisan institutions like the Supreme Court and the Senate. Just as crazy right wingers (on all sides) whipped up nationalist frenzy in Yugoslavia, “real Americans” work toward maintaining artificial structural overrepresentation and suppressing representation of those perceived as “not as American”.
Additionally, just as Croatia and Slovenia were the economic drivers of the Yugoslav economy which Serbia sucked dry, the US is disproportionately sucked dry by shithole, impoverished red states that take in far more than they produce: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/05/which-states-are-givers-and-which-are-takers/361668/.
Because the US really only functions at a state level, I do think that the answer lies in creating some sort of confederation of 4-5 regional entities. High fences make good neighbors.