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Mladen Ancic: Cognitive disorder

Written 02.12.2009. 15:35
Politician's words or statements are certainly not scientific material - they are usually just rhetorical "acrobatics" which refer to the ephemera of the daily politics, and as such they are generally not to be taken too seriously. However, such statements say a lot about the one who pronounces them and, moreover- they may serve as indicators of the general condition of a society. They are also able, under certain circumstances and on certain occasions, to generate some general condition. The statement made by Mr. Kresimir Zubak, which is a part of his interview published in this year's first issue of Zagreb magazine Globus, points out that Bosnian Muslims "are not yet completely constituted as a nation and they will not become a nation - perhaps not even in the next fifty years, and therefore they cannot clearly and realistically formulate their political aims." In normal circumstances such a statement would certainly not draw big attention. Mr. Zubak simply elaborated somewhat extensively what had previously been said by Pope John Paul II and American president Bill Clinton, during their respective visits to Sarajevo; they spoke in public only about "Croats, Muslims and Serbs" in Bosnia.

But in spite of that, Mr. Zubak's statement "raised a lot of dust" in Sarajevo. The loudest and the most vociferous in his reactions was already mentioned occasional political and ideological grey eminence of the former and present Muslim authorities, dr. Muhamed Filipovic. In his response published in the "Dnevni avaz", a daily paper with the biggest circulation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (about 13,000 copies), dr.Filipovic "returned the serve" to Mr. Zubak. Referring to his (Filipovic's) "academic authority and reputation" as well as to the opinion of "many not only Bosnian but also international scientists" (pay attention to the interesting criterion for division of scientists into "Bosnian" and "international!") he asserted that "when it comes to the existence of nations in B&H it's perfectly obvious that there is one nation called "the Bosniak" whereas the "foundation of Croats and Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot be proven linguistically, territorially or according to any criterion for national affiliation". The discussion has later drawn the attention of the professor from the Faculty of Arts in Zadar and the ambassador of B&H in Budapest, historian Pavo Zivkovic, whose reply was followed by a new response from the part of dr. Filipovic, etc.etc.

My intention is not to retell the discussion which followed afterwards, but to warn about much wider social problem which festers in the background, or to be more specific, which feeds the instrumentalized "arguments" used by Mr. Filipovic. Although we deal with very skillful and capable professional ideologist, as has already been said, and therefore his views and words should be treated as the mirror of current political movements and not as founded views of a scientist - some things that Filipovic wrote, point to the hidden but also very dangerous well of current problems in B&H , which directly spring from his actions and from the actions of his ideological confreres. To illustrate these problems in a better way, we should leave Mr. Filipovic for a brief time and discuss the memoirs of the former High representative of the international community in B&H, Carl Bildt, published soon after his withdrawal from that duty. On a few occasions Bildt makes some remarks which illustrate the sort of the problems he dealt with in his contacts with the representatives of the Muslim political establishment in Sarajevo. There is something among that circle of people that could be called a "cognitive disorder" - a term used by Croat sociologist Ozren Zunec in 1995. when he was describing the condition of the Serb leadership in the "Krajina". That "disorder" is the result of continued and consistent propaganda actions generated by something one could term Filipovic's mindset coterie (which is, ironically, trapped within the very same disorder in a sort of double-bind connection).

What does Zunec say about that specific collective "cognitive disorder"? Analyzing the Croatian military operation "The Storm" in August the 1995th (which wiped out the Serbian "Krajina" parastate from Croatian soil for good) and the circumstances which led to it, the Zagreb sociologist states an extensive series of arguments and finally asserts that "Krajina" leader "in exile" (an ICTY indictee, by the way) Martic's invitation to "guerilla warfare", which followed the downfall of his "state" and the mass flight of the Serbs, is a definite "sign of obvious cognitive disorder". The facts that Bildt notices in Sarajevo are of the same origin. It is often repeated that "there will be no peace until the entire country is liberated by SDA (the main Muslim political party)", even though majority of the country didn't want to be "liberated" by the SDA. The Muslim politicians were given an alternative regarding the future: "30% of authority over 100% of Bosnia ,or 100% of authority over 30% of Bosnia", "but they are constantly thinking of 100% of authority over 100% of territory" which has never been "a possibility nor should have been", says Bildt.

We can state many other similar examples, such as the case with Mr. Alija Izetbegovic who, in the first months of 1992., when the Serbs had already started their conquests and ethnic cleansing campaign, was sending diplomatic protest notes around the world complaining about Croatia which, according to his words "committed armed aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina"- referring to hurried preparations for defence against the Serb aggressor in peripheral parts of B&H populated mainly by Croats. Another example is Mr. Haris Silajdzic who "prefers declarations in front of TV cameras more than negotiations about the details" in difficult talks about specific problems, says Bildt.

But, let us go back to "cognitive disorder" which can be recognized in Mr. Filipovic's statements when he speaks about different categories. According to his statements it is impossible to understand who are "the Bosniaks": once they are "the Muslims" from the 1971. Yugoslav population census (which is the case in the discusson inspired by Mr. Zubak's statement); next time they are all the citizens of modern Bosnia and Herzegovina (implicitly stated in the same discussion), and the third time they are all the Muslims (adherents of the Islamic faith) who lived on the territories of the Ottoman Empire from the Adriatic to Bratislava in Slovakia ("Bosniak policy" by the same author). Such confusion of terms is furthermore continued in the way in wich he gives arguments about the existence of the "Bosniak" people (nation). His statement that "the Bosniak" "is the only name used for the inhabitants of Bosnia throughout the history until the end of the 19th century" has indeed nothing to do with the collective identity of the people in those territories (in the terms which are nowadays used for European peoples and nations). That term is even more meaningless when used for all the members of the Muslim denomination who populate west provinces of the former Ottoman Empire. If, on the other hand, the term "Bosniak" includes today's Croats (Catholics) and Serbs (Orthodox), than the claim that those "Bosniaks" "practically ruled this country until the beginning of the 18th century and led an open fight for the independence of Bosnia in the beginning of the 19th century" is absurd, since "the Catholics" or "Ortodox" took no part in the rule of the country, as well as they did not participate in rebellions against the central authorities in the beginning of the 19th century.

Problems of cognitive nature are even clearer when it comes to terms such as "Bosnia and Herzegovina" and "state" in Filipovic Bosniakspeak. What he really means under the terms of "state" and "statehood" when he says that "the Bosniaks made their country state and kept alive the idea of the statehood throughout the entire history of Bosnia" is a real puzzle. It should be pointed out that after 1463. and the downfall of the medieval kingdom every historical memory of the state or statehood had disappeared (the memory of the Bosnian medieval kingdom grew pale and remote even for the Franciscans who, with their ecclesiastical province Bosnia Argentina, are the only state institution which has been continually in existence for 7/seven centuries), and Bosnia is reduced to an ordinary administrative unit of the Ottoman Empire. If we add a commonly known fact that today's Bosnia is partly made of territories which until the 16th century were an integral part of the Croatian kingdom (between 20-30% of the territory), as well as of the territories which were a part of the Croatian state in the early Middle Ages (south-west Bosnia) with "the densest" Croatian ethnic territory - then it really sounds strange when Filipovic says that the Croats from modern Bosnia "have no territorial continuity with the Croats from Croatia"; in other words that they "never lived in the same state".

It can be concluded that between the cognitive disorder of Mr. Filipovic and the same phenomenon among the political elite of "his" state exists the same relationship as it existed between the cognitive disorder of the Serbian political elite and some elite members of the Serbian academic establishment.

An illustrative example will make this point perfectly clear. Serbian politicians spent huge quantities of paper and ink trying to covince themselves and the world that Serbian rebellions in the beginning of the 19th century were real "revolutions", and that 19th century Serbia was an organized state with a strong liberal political trend. The Zadar University professor, Croat historian Ivan Pederin, who studied Austrian intelligence files and reports which are kept in the History Archives in Zadar, found out that those rebellions in the eyes of the contemporaries were just "the struggle for tax collection" led by "corrupt tax-gatherers of the Turkish taxes - Karadjordje and Milos Obrenovic, the latter still carrying the medieval oriental despotic title of "master". In eyes of contemporaries Serbian state was seen as "an alliance of illiterate tax lease - holders who created state clerkdom and bandit-like criminal militias which eventually "converted" to regular army" while "the priests acted as the state ideology pillars" (this description perfectly fits the description of the Serbian society from the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century which can be found in the works of great Serbian comedy writer Branislav Nusic. It should also be added that liberalism is characteristic for societies of mass industrial production and consumption, of universal literacy and education, while the 19th century Serbia is a country of almost exclusively common and illiterate peasants. Therefore it is obvious that if in such conditions one speaks about "bourgeois revolutions", "organized state" and "liberal trends"- they are suffering from "cognitive disorder".

Important guidelines of the current situation in the parts of Bosnia under the authority of the Muslims are the following: fatal consequences of socialist education, with the final product in the form of a "semi-intelligent"; decay of the social fibre and mass "brain drain" as the consequence of war; communication and spiritual isolation from the rest of the world, which in the prospective prepares the conditions in which the spirit of autistic Blakean "single vision", ie. monoideological consensus, in spite of illusion of democratic procedures, flourishes better than in the times when it was enforced by police. In addition to all above mentioned the Muslim mass-media are almost all identical even without mechanisms of force or censorship.

In such conditions skilful ideological manipulators come into their own, with the predictable final effect of their actions: the country irreversibly sinks into total darkness of self-isolation and xenophobia soaked with rhetoric which reflects the entire process in an inverse picture. The threat is the other.

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