The West and the "Serbian Question"

Of historic omissions and manipulations

(c) 2000 Celtoslavica
All Rights Reserved!

When the century-old dominion of the Turkish Ottomans over wide stretches of Southeastern Europe began to totter at the beginning of the 19th century, the so-called 'Oriental Question' became one of the most explosive problems of European politics. How was the area from Pannonia and the Carpathian mountains to the Adriatic sea, and from the Carnic alps to the Peloponnesus to be re-arranged; how could one bring about new, future-oriented living conditions for the local population in all its ethnic, linguistic, religious, cultural and social variety, especially, since in the Balkan peninsula, various political interest groups -- in particular Tsarist Russia, the Habsburg Monarchy and the British Empire -- sought to fill the widening vacuum.

The uprisings and wars that shook the Balkans since the beginning of the 19th century, with hardly any interruption, were always allied with terrible atrocities. When, for example, the rebellious Serbs under their leader, Djordje Petrovic, called Karadjordje, (Black George), recaptured Belgrade from the Turks on November 30, 1806, the hatred against the oppressor ran so deep, that a large part of the Mohammedan inhabitants of the city were killed. The Turkish rulers, on their part had tried, only a few years earlier, to execute systematically the local leaders of the Serbian peasants. Selective 'ethnic cleansing' that had the aim of completely eradicating a particular genealogical stream, belonged to a cruel tradition of old tribal customs that goes back a long way to pre-Christian (or rather not Christ-penetrated) times. Along with many other examples, one can read about the revenge the Israelites took upon the Medianites at the behest of Jahve. (Moses, Numbers 31)

It soon became apparent that the re-arrangement of the liberated regions of Southeastern Europe could not only be a political one, but that it had to be accompanied by an attempt to gradually resolve, or even eliminate, very old modes of life, and attitudes to thinking and feeling ingrained as a consequence of the long Turkish rule, but long since obsolete. This transformation had to be achieved not by force, but by creating spiritual and cultural conditions that could work towards a profound change in people's lives. The small class of well-educated people in the Balkans, largely shaped by central-European intellectual life, was faced by the large number of peasants who still lived in a mythical-magical world, where the most important laws and moral standards arose out of the instincts dictated by the 'thick blood' (debela krv). A seemingly archaic, patriarchal order that includes clan-thinking, bridal abduction, blood-brotherhood and vendetta, practised by Albanians as well as Serbs, veneration of the Slava (the family guardian spirit), practised by orthodox Serbs and Bulgarians as well as Catholic Croats, had practically mummyfied in the centuries of stagnation under Turkish rule, carrying these practices into an era in which the 'good blood forces' had alreaady withdrawn. Increasingly those instincts rumbled in the blood and they threatened to drag all humanity into decadence.

The pivotal question of how to perceive the life of nations arose in Europe at the latest in the mid-19th century, when the materialistic view of the world began to penetrate the conceptual life of humanity. The corrupting force leading into decadence, that developed its effectiveness stronger than ever in the blood stream, resulted from a spiritual event that reached its climax and conclusion in 1879, repeatedly referred to by Rudolf Steiner (1). The life of European nations should have been shaped, at this point in time, out of spiritual awareness, otherwise there was danger of the national soul forces drowning in the obsolete physical blood instincts of tribal and family bonds that were social dynamite. This is valid specifically for conditions in the Balkans.

With regard to the Balkans, one could adopt in the 19th century basically one of two attitudes: 1) The nations living there, with their various religions and traditions arranged like a mosaic, demanded a social order that had to be liberal and liberating at the same time; it had to create a framework for cultural openness and exchange, in order to guide the prevailing forces in a beneficial direction. Politically, this order had to be grounded on a federal or confederate basis and embrace a larger territory that included various nations with equal rights. 2) The other attitude related exclusively to aspects political power and influence; from this point of view the Balkan Peninsula and the forces generated there, were only the means to obtain and fortify a position as that of a European great power, a geopolitical building-block paving the way to political or commercial world domination. Concerning the second attitude, therefore, and inorder to achieve power goals, these forces had to be guided in a way that permitted them to remain unconscious within the population, thus dissipating their harmful effect.

Around 1815 at the latest, it became obvious, that there was a nation which, owing to its innate spiritual dynamic and power, .was particularly suited to become politically the unifying force in the Balkans: the Serbs. Serbia was to be called the Piemont of the South-Slavic drive for union, Belgrade became the Balkan version of Turin. The force was there, the question being only how this force would be guided. Even then, Western politicians knew: In order to achieve geopolitical reforms in Europe and the adjoining extra-European world, it was very useful to apply a lever in the Balkans. It is no accident that right through this region run, at one time, the boundary between Eastern and Western Rome; that in this region occurred the first schism of Christianity, and that it became, in the 9th century, the dividing line between Occident and Orient, Latin and Orthodox christendom.

One could cite many examples from the 20th century that show how plans and blue-prints conceived with western objectives in mind, were transferred to the Balkans without considering the real needs of the people living there, and without helping them to cope with the spiritual problems. How, on the contrary, these spiritual problems were compounded and broadened through manipulative processes. Even if spiritual omissions incurred by people and nations of a particular region can in no way be justified or excused, it is, however, not appropriate when precisely those act as moral prosecutors, who have nurtured these omissions long enough for the sake of their own interests.

One can point at the influence exerted on Serbian politics by the Freemasonic Grand Orient de France at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century; at the development of the 'Yugoslavian Idea' in London after 1915; at the indoctrination with the idea of 'self-determination of the nations' of 1918/19; at the motives of Britain to deprive the royalist Cetniks of military support after 1943, transferring it to the communist partisans under Tito; at the agreements between Churchill and Stalin at the Moscow conference in 1944; at the activities of British and German secret services MI6 and BND in the 1980's; the open support given by the West in 1991-96 to.the Croat and Serbian heads of state and war criminals, the twins-in-spirit Franjo Tudjman and Slobodan Milosevic.

Let us look at one example in more detail. The real origin of the recently ill-famous 'Pan Serbia Idea', the gathering of all ethnic Serbs (or rather what was understood by this at various times) in one state, is not to be found in Belgrade, but in the western capitals London and Paris, and it was connected with considerably larger ambitions. The fundamental political ideas of 'Pan-Serbism', principally directed against the continuing existence of the Ottoman and the Habsburg Empires, were first formulated by the then Serbian foreign minister Ilija Garasanin (1812-1874) in a secret document (Nacertanije) in 1844, referring back to the plans of the Polish politician in exile, Adam Czartoryski (1770-1861).

Prince Czartoryski, who fled from Poland via England to Paris maintained, owing to his membership in several, mainly English Masonic lodges, good contacts in the western hemisphere. A particularly warm friendship existed between him and August Frederic, Duke of Sussex, Grand Master of England (3). Residing at the Hôtel Lambert, Czartoryski had set up an intelligence network that was designed to promote English and French interests in the Ottoman Empire, but opposed an Austrian and Russian advance in the Balkans (4). According to Czrtoryski's idea that corresponded to what Rudolf Steiner had mentioned as a concept conceived by 'well-informed occultists active in western Europe in the good times of West European occultism' (5). Serbia was to expand, for political and commercial reasons, as far as the Adriatic coast, in order to link up with the British centres of commerce on the Ionic islands and on Malta. The Balkan Federation coming into existence in this way, including Bosnia, Albania, Greece, Bulgaria, Moldavia, and Walachia, was to guarantee its several nations the greatest possible autonomy.

The whole plan, however, required a complete rearrangement of Europe, something Czartoryski had already contemplated when he was foreign minister in Russia under Tsar Alexander I, in 1806. The European rearrangement was to proceed under the leadership of England and France, by expanding the principle of national equality and solidarity among the 'self-determined' nations. Among others things, the plan provided for the overthrow of the Habsburg dynastic power, fragrnentaion of the Austrian and Spanish Empires into independent nation-states or federations; establishinent of a West German federation; of an Italian federation under the leadership of the pope; of independent kingdoms of Hungary and Bohemia; a commonwealth of Poland and the liberation of the Balkan Christians from the Turks. Furthermore, Czartoryski demanded the foundation of a Res Publica under the leadership of a supreme council, and an association of Amphictyons (semi-religious and political unions), together with shared military forces. He criticized the Habsburg Empire, saying that it was a mere agglomeration of regions without any natural basis, held together artificially by the dynasty (6). Czartoryski's biographer Marian Kukiel, director of many years standing of the Cracow Czartoryski Archive, mentions further that the design of the Pole-in-exile corresponded to a large extent to the map of Europe rearranged in 1919 through the Paris peace treaties, while his nationality concept seems like a blueprint of Wilsons's catchword of 'self-determination of nations'. In addition Kukiel discreetly indicates that the two Western powers would first have to win over Russia for Czartoryski's arrangement, having first of all to transform the entente cordiale into a triple entente for this purpose -- the constellation that existed on the eve of the first world war.

This Balkan Federation, guided by the West, was to eliminate, to a large extent, the Central European (Habsburg) influence in this territory, and above all, the spiritual and cultural one. (In 1915 a similar concept of 'Yugoslavism', based on the same principles, was proposed by Tomas Garrigue Masaryk in London.) Czartoryski had planted the seed; the Serbian minister Garasanin bred it eagerly. Garasanin, however, changed it to the effect that he substituted a federation that was based largely on equality of Croats and Serbs for a centralistic and unitarian national concept. Garasanin thought that the natural allies of Serbia in its struggle against the Ottoman empire and Austria were Russia next to France and England. In the Danube Monarchy he saw the eternal enemy of Serbia:

    'Thus, it may be reasoned, Austria must always be the eternal enemy of a Serbian state. For the Serbs, then, agreement and understanding with Austria, is a political impossibility; in such a case they would voluntarily be hanging themselves.'(8).

In the decades that followed, Garasanin's project became the guiding principle for all political actions, especially among the Serbian officer caste. Ultimately it inspired the murderers of the Austrian heir to the throne, Franz Ferdinand.

Beginning with the 19th century, the question of a spiritual revival of the Balkans was inseparably bound up with the future of a culturally healthy Europe. The people of the Balkans are responsible for their omissions, but some of the blame must be apportioned to the one-sided political power influence of the West. The anachronistic use of computer-guided missiles against the excesses of the uninhibited vendetta points to a much deeper problem. The recent horrors -- systematic expulsion and murder of Albanians by Serbs, and the bombardment and murder of Serbs and Albanians by NATO -- are ultimately a symptom of the unanswered questions that arose during the course of European humanity's evolution in Modem Times. Today, the West is confronted by the rotten fruits of its own concepts and ideas that have sown nothing but hatred in the Balkans -- beginning with the nationality principle and the idea of nation-state centralism to Marxism-Leninism, from eugenics to the 'Clash of Civilizations' by Samuel Huntington. As long as the West propagates a human image that is based on the principles of competition, hostility and strife, as happens in the case of Harvard professor and security expert Huntington, nothing will change. concerning the real problems in the Kosovo conflict. On the contrary, they will get worse, there and elsewhere.

Of course, ideas as those held by Huntington, must be seen in a larger context, in connection with goals that are not openly stated. These goals imply that the 'West' must be prepared for a time of coming conflicts, compared to which the war against Yugoslavia will appear like an exercise. Focal points of these desired future conflicts are to be found in Central Asia with its enormous energy resources in oil and gas, and in East Asia. Insofar, Huntington equated the West with his own future, when he wrote:

    'For people who look for their identity and reinvent their ethnicity, enemies are indispensable, and we encounter the potentially most dangerous hostilities at the fault line dividing great civilizations.' (9).

He proceeds, as a matter of course, from the assumption, that inhabitants of a certain region can find their personal identity by identifying, at the highest possible level, with the civilization, culture or religion to which they belong as a consequence of their physical birth. One identity, however, Huntington does not mention: the human one, Man. Words like man or human will not be found in his vocabulary but in one instance when he bluntly states: 'Hatred is human'. Proceeding from his view of the world that defines a human being exclusively as the product of a genealogical stream and envirorirnental influences, he fails to recognize this identity and therefore does not think of asking the question: What am I as a human being? What is it that makes me human, what makes me a member of the human race? He replies merely: 'If not civilization, what?' (10).

Not Slobodan Milosevic, but one of the most influential thinkers of the Western world, whose presence is assured at many important 'opinion-shaping' conferences within the 'Atlantic Community', wrote the sentence:

    'What counts for people in overcoming an identity crisis are blood and conviction, faith and family. People join others who are of the same descent, religion and language, have the same values and institutions -- and keep their distance from those who do not. An officer can identify institutionally with his company, his regiment, his division and his type of service. In the same way, people can identify culturally with their clan, their ethnic group, their nationality, their religion, their civilization.. In a world where culture counts, clans and ethnic groups are the platoons, nations the regiments, civilizations the armies. Civilizations are the most comprehensive cultural quantity; therefore conflicts between groups of different civilizations are crucial for global politics.'(11).

'Ethnic cleansing' in Bosnia, Kosovo and elsewhere in the world, illustrate the only logical consequence that arises out of such ideas. Huntington is one of their spiritual fathers?

On the plane of the spiritual reality of thoughts, the 'West' therefore, fights in Serbia its own dark double or Doppelgaenger.


1. Rudolf Steiner: Der Sturz der Geister der Finsternis (The Fall of the Spirits of Darkness, GA 177), 14 October, 1917; Innere Entwickelungsimpulse der Menschheit (Inner evolutionary impulses of humanity, GA 171), 13 November 1917; Die soziale Grundforderung unserer Zeit (The basic social demand of our time, GA 186), 29 November 1918; cf. as well Markus Osterrieder: 'Die große Krise des Menschseins. Gedanken zum 'Krieg aller gegen alle' (The great crisis of being human. Thoughts on 'War of All Against All'). Der Krieg aller gegen alle und die Geburt einer neuen Brüderlichkeit. (The War of All Against All and the Birth of a New Brotherlyness.) Stuttgart: Urachhaus 1998, pp. 44-65.

2. Cf. Markus Osterrieder: Sonnenkreuz und Lebensbaum. Irland, der Schwarzmeer-Raum und die Christianisierung der europäischen Mitte (Sun-Cross and Tree of Life. Ireland, the Black Sea Region and the Christianization of the European Centre). Stuttgart, Urachhaus 1995.

3. Ludwik Hass: Wolnomularstwo w Europie srodkowo-wschodniej. Tom 1: W XVIII i XIX wieku (Freemasonry in Eastern Central Europe. Vol.1: 18th-19th centuries). wroclaw 1982, p. 273sq.; Marian Kukiel: Czartoryski and European Unity 1770-1861. Princeton 1955, p.224 sq.

4. Cf.: Paul N. Hehn: 'Prince Adam Czartoryski and the South Slavs'. Polish Review 8 (1963). pp.76-86; Id.: 'The Origins of Pan-Serbism: The 1844 Nacertanije of Ilija Garasanin'. In: East European Quarterly 9 (1975/76), pp.153-171; Dragoslav Stranjakovic: 'Kako je postalo Garasaninovo "Nacertanije"' (How Garasanin's 'Project' Came Into Being). Spomenik Srpske Kraljevske Akademije XCI, drugi razred 70, 1939, pp. 75-97; Wolf Dietrich Behschnitt: Nationalismus bei Serben und Kroaten 1830-1914 (Nationalism with Serbs and Croats 1830-1914). Munich 1980, pp. 54ff; Robert A. Berry: Czartoryski and Balkan Politics of the Hotel Lambert, 1632-1847. Diss. Ann Arbor/Mich. 1975.

5. Rudolf Steiner: Zeitgeschichtliche Betrachtungen (The Karma of Untruthfulness, vol.1 (GA 173), December 11, 1916.

6. Kukiel: Czartoryski and European Unity, p.156sq.

7. Kukiel : Czartoryski and European Unity, p. 48sq.

8. Quoted by Hehn: The Origins of Modern Pan-Serbism, p.159.

9. Samuel Huntington: Der Kampf der Kulturen. The Clash of Civilizations. Die Neugestaltung der Weltpolitik im 21. Jahrhundert. Munchen, Wien 1996, p. 18. (English original title: The Clash of Civilizations. New York 1996).

10. Samuel Huntington: 'If not Civilizations, What? Paradigms of the Post-Cold War World'. Foreign Affairs 72:5 (1993), pp. 186-194, here p. 186.

11. Huntington: Der Kampf der Kulturen, p. 194, 199f.


| Bibliothek | CeltoSlavica Home |