Version classiqueVersion mobile
OpenEdition Books

The Nonconformists

 | 
Nick Miller

Chapter 8. From Principle to Catharsis

Texte intégral

  • 1 Dobrica Ćosić, Promene (Novi Sad: Dnevnik, 1992) 22. Promene, published in 1992, is, according to (...)
  • 2 Ćosić, Promene, 19.
  • 3 Ćosić, Promene, 20–22.
  • 4 “Greh srpskih intelektualaca,” in Intervju (Belgrade) May 24, 1991, 45. This interview was transla (...)

1Several days after Tito died in 1980, Dobrica Ćosić found himself walking down Terazije in downtown Belgrade as long columns of Yugoslavs moved along a procession to visit Tito’s casket: “I felt a chill walking along the opposite side of the street from the people; I felt alone, totally separated, the first time I had felt such isolation, that division from the people, from the people of my country.”1 Ćosić felt that he understood something that had yet to dawn on his countrymen: that Tito, the “greatest enemy of my people in the last century,”2 had hated and manipulated the Serbs. He derisively (but privately) referred to Titoism as the “titovina” and the “titolatrija,” implying that Tito had become a system rather than a man. He refused to believe that the death of Tito would bring “the end of Stalinism, Titoism, bureaucratic tyranny.”3 Of course he was right: the people that Tito left behind to run Yugoslavia had little initiative and spent an inordinate amount of time buttressing their legitimacy by defending the dead leader’s name and reputation. Ćosić would gradually emerge from that darkness of May 1980 as more and more of his people came to share his convictions regarding Tito and Titoism. His role as messenger was critical in the 1980s, and by 1991, Ćosić felt comfortable enough to proclaim himself “Public Enemy Number One: good for 200 years in prison!”4 While he never spent a day in prison, this was an image that suited him.

2As an activist, Ćosić and others who followed his lead spent the 1980s implementing once again the strategy that he had tried in the late 1960s, via the directorate of the Serbian Literary Guild, when he gathered a cross-section of Serbian intellectuals of differing ideological persuasions in an attempt to nurture the dying tradition of intellectual involvement in the important public and governmental discussions of the day. Two important threads would initially run through this work: first, in spite of his own convinced socialist commitment, Ćosić would insist on the inclusion of ideological opponents in these initiatives; second, where appropriate, he would attempt to make them Yugoslav rather than Serbian in focus and composition. The committees that Ćosić initiated included the proposed editorial board of the journal Javnost (The Public), in 1980; the Committee for the Defense of the Freedom of Thought and Expression, active from 1984 to 1989; and the committee formed by the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1985 to formulate what would become known as the “Memorandum.” In addition, one could include the Committee for the Protection of Artistic Freedom, formed in 1982; various formal and informal groupings of intellectuals in and out of the Serbian Writers’ Association; and the signers of numerous protest petitions, among the results of the commitment to work across ideological boundaries to gather the best talent that Serbian had to offer. Together, the work of these committees and informal groupings illuminates not only the trajectory of the development of a Serbian nationalist movement in the 1980s, but also some of the incredibly strange attributes of that movement when it finally reached full flower. During the decade of the committees, a movement that began as a principled search for the freedom of expression turned into an outpouring of cathartic nationalism.

REACTIVATING THE BORBA MIŠLJENJA

  • 5 Besides Ćosić and Tadić, included were Dušan Bošković (sociologist), Zoran Djindjić (sociologist), (...)

3The first of the committees was a short-lived but enlightening failure. It was born in October of 1980, with a failed attempt to create a new “independent socialist” journal called Javnost, named after another journal founded by Svetozar Marković a century before. Ćosić and Ljubomir Tadić, in the name of a committee of nine, appealed to 410 intellectuals across Yugoslavia to support such an initiative. They claimed to have received 120 positive responses, with only 4 refusals.5 They outlined the journal’s task:

  • 6 “Pismo intelektualcima,” in Naša reč (London) December 1980, 2.

We will attempt to think about current intellectual and moral responsibilities, about material and spiritual creativity and morals, about social and human values, about the freedom and dignity of the human personality and civil rights in our country—in a word, about the developmental, ideological, and civilizational problems facing our society and its future, about the world in which we live and the place that we occupy in it, in the spirit of our people’s traditions of liberty and with a vision of socialism inseparable from democracy.6

4Ćosić clearly drafted this section, which rings with the idealistic yet imprecise rhetoric that dominated all of his philosophical pieces from the 1950s on. But the remainder of the long call to arms represented by the letter soliciting support for Javnost indicates Ćosić’s more aggressive visage, post-Tito, and offers insight into the goals and, perhaps more importantly, methods, of this “enemy number one of the regime” in 1981.

  • 7 “Pismo intelektualcima,” 2.
  • 8 “Pismo intelektualcima,” 3.
  • 9 “Pismo intelektualcima,” 2.
  • 10 Ćosić, Promene, 61.

5In suitably vague language, the letter addressed the problem of responsibility and succession in Yugoslavia, so compromised by Tito’s egoistic establishment of weak, rotating party and state presidencies. It also attacked the anti-intellectualism of late Titoism. Ćosić argued for the inclusion of intellectuals in the public’s business: “Our…paths to the future have never been more complicated and uncertain, and because of that we must share and distribute the responsibility for our survival …concern for the future dare not be anyone’s privilege…”7 According to the Ćosić/Tadić letter, the complications and uncertainties included bureaucracy, social inequality, national insularity, national inequality, closed decision-making processes, the fear of free expression, the existence of taboo themes, and the fear of those who disagreed with the governing ideology of self-management.8 The letter also described “a serious crisis in the organization of society…which conditions today’s economic crisis and has brought us to a distressing stagnation in society,” which could only have been an indictment of the 1974 constitution. The solution to these problems would begin with the “sharing of responsibility,” including public debate and open decision-making, with contributions from outside the party: “…there is no true public without the free expression of ideas about the general work and goals of the social community, nor without the free action of members of the community to the creation of their civil rights and the goals of society.”9 Without real change, there was danger that “the entire society will turn to the past, to the model which we successfully began to overcome in 1948…”—Stalinism, of course. In his diary, Ćosić would bemoan the fact that “in our society there is no possibility for the public use of the intellect. Such a situation makes our entire people historically immature.”10 Javnost was an attempt to overcome that immaturity, to place the cumulative intellects of Yugoslavia at the service of the state and its people. It was a direct challenge to the establishment of “moral-political suitability” as a litmus test for political competence after 1971.

6Ćosić reports that the journal had originally been planned in late 1979, but that respect for Tito, who was on his deathbed, precluded any public pronouncements at that point. Speaking in 1989, he said that

  • 11 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 248.

…today I am sorry [that they postponed it], because the rebellion in Poland quickly broke out, with the intellectuals of KOR standing behind it. Our cultural and political history was thus deprived of the modest advantage of having formulated a socialistic-alternative program for the reform of society and of Yugoslavia before the Poles [formulated theirs for Poland].11

  • 12 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 250.
  • 13 In particular, the army veterans association (SUBNOR) and General Kosta Nadj attacked Ćosić as the (...)

7In spite of the respect that they had shown the dying Tito, a year later their initiative would nonetheless be condemned by the party, and Ćosić would once again be labeled a nationalist for his efforts. In November 1980, for instance, the Belgrade committee of the Socialist Alliance of Working People called it an “attempt at the creation of an opposition platform, which would gather all enemies of our social system.”12 Those enemies would work from “anarcholiberal, nationalistic, and other anti-self-management positions in order to attack all of the achievements of our self-managing socialist society.”13 In the same month, the government refused the group’s application to publish Javnost.

  • 14 “It was the initiative of a group of Slovenian cultural workers of the younger-middle generation w (...)

8The Javnost letter presaged a great chasm that would emerge in the various diagnoses of Yugoslavia’s ills, post-Tito. While recognizing the same problem—the debt crisis and internal backwardness—proposed solutions continued to reflect regional, and then national, differences. For instance, a Slovene opposition would emphasize the need for more republican autonomy. The Slovenes also requested to be allowed to publish a new, critical journal, which they called Nova revija, in 1980, and did so using arguments that could well have been used by Ćosić and Tadić when proposing Javnost.14 One important difference was that the government allowed Nova revija to publish, where it had denied Javnost. Another was that Javnost was imagined as a Yugoslav journal, while Nova revija was strictly Slovenian. But the fact remains that in both instances, re-engagement, or more substantive engagement, was the goal of the journals’ promoters. Whereas the Slovenes would assert the right of republics to develop free of federal influence (eventually arguing that republics had the right to secession), the Serbian position was and would remain the opposite: that the confederation of the state had destroyed a unified market, which led to economic disfunction, and that the situation had been exacerbated by the ostracism of Yugoslavia’s intellectuals. The Serbian originators of Javnost offered a grand, universal solution to those problems: free speech and the engagement of intellectuals in the quest for solutions to Yugoslavia’s many problems. This would be the activist, societal counterpart to Ćosić’s novelistic crusade for “truth” and would galvanize the Serbian opposition in the 1980s. The Javnost episode kicked off the quest for free speech, which would become the focus of the work of Serbia’s intellectuals during the first half of the 1980s.

THE MIXED LESSON OF THE GOJKO DJOGO AFFAIR

  • 15 Jasna Dragović Soso, ‘Saviours of the Nation’: Serbia’s Intellectual Opposition and the Revival of (...)
  • 16 Gojko Djogo, Vunena vremena (Belgrade: Srpska književna zadruga, 1992). The title can also mean “f (...)
  • 17 This outline is taken from the indictment itself and from Stevan Stanić, “Kukavičije jaje Gojka Dj (...)
  • 18 The writer for NIN noted with suspicion that of all of the Prosveta house’s publications that spri (...)

9The second great gathering of talent in Serbia following the death of Tito came about without the obvious participation of Ćosić. Called the Committee for the Protection of Artistic Freedom, it was formed in May 1982 as the direct result of an extended shadow-play between the government and Serbian writers, which in turn gave rise to the first critical transition in the new borba mišljenja. The immediate occasion for the formation of the committee was the arrest and trial of a poet named Gojko Djogo, whose story has been told elsewhere in sufficient detail to allow us here to focus on its few critical details.15 In June 1981, the Serbian government accused Djogo of publishing “enemy propaganda” in the form of his poetry collection entitled Wooly Times (Vunena vremena).16 Wooly Times appeared in bookstores on April 30, 1981, just short of the one-year anniversary of Tito’s death, courtesy of the Prosveta publishing house, the largest in Serbia.17 On May 12, the editor-in-chief of Prosveta, the literary critic Petar Džadžić, received his complementary copy and apparently read the poems for the first time. The next day, Džadžić ordered remaining copies pulled from bookstores. The self-managing council of Prosveta then met and condemned the collection, “which,” it asserted, “insults our revolution and its achievements as well as the most holy personality of our revolution.” Twenty-six copies had already been sold, Djogo had given seven to friends, and he held twenty-two copies, all of which were confiscated and destroyed (save three that were turned over to the public prosecutor of the district of Belgrade).18 Journalists quoted Džadžić as saying that Wooly Times was

  • 19 Stanić, “Kukavičije jaje Gojka Djoga,” 30.

an unambiguously hostile book, with direct inflammatory allusions which are absolutely clear. No one can convince me that they have multiple meanings. They go in only one direction. I am a man of culture; for years I have worked in literary criticism, so how can you think that I would not defend poetry? I would defend it, but in this case, there is nothing for me to defend.19

10The writer for NIN declared extravagantly that Wooly Times was a product of an “unquenched malice” such as art had never seen. The issue, of course, was that several of the poems appeared to criticize Tito. On May 14, Djogo himself wrote to Džadžić to express his disbelief that a book of poetry could be condemned to destruction. He adopted a position diametrically opposed to that of Džadžić:

  • 20 Stanić, “Kukavičije jaje Gojka Djoga,” 30–31.

Since I have not been given the opportunity to say anything, I turn to you in this way in the crazy hope that I will at least contribute to the elimination of misunderstanding. That misunderstanding is, above all, aesthetic. I think that my poems are being read in precisely the way that poetry should not be read. Because he who agrees to “interpret” metaphors can attribute to them any meaning…20

11Djogo’s assertion would be taken up by his defenders, who insisted that the poetry in Wooly Times could not be treated literally, nor could it be allowed to be interpreted by a court of law. Above all, they argued that no one should be imprisoned for their art.

  • 21 All references are taken from Djogo, Vunena vremena. The translations are my own.

12The Gojko Djogo “affair” is more often the subject of comment than is Djogo’s poetry, which is worth a look, given the distinct and divergent positions taken by the state and the literary community of Belgrade.21 The collection included forty poems, of which several provoked particular outrage among the Serbian authorities. For instance, “The Shrine of Father Blackgod” lamented that

our year has lasted a torturous forty years
and still has not ended.
our saint will never die,
we count the years behind him,
he is younger than last year
and he has new teeth, canines…

13To this lament that while Tito (or some “saint”) had died, his spirit was younger and more vicious than ever, Djogo added “The Ballad of Caesar’s Head,” in which he described a bronze head that sustained and kept order in society:

one little spoonful of its brain
feeds twenty million heads.
When we slaughter each other around the table,
with a thunderbolt
it quiets both victims and killers.

14Tito—or better, his image—demands that his people be a perfect reflection of his image. That foundation myth of “brotherhood and unity” becomes, for Djogo, an excuse for “Caesar’s Head” to enforce ignorance of the dangerous national relations in the state “with a thunderbolt”—his voice, his word. “The Viper on Republic Square” refers to “the old rat from Dedinje,” and to Serbs who are “only stupid sheep.” And finally, “The Greatest Beast” describes an emperor who

strangled in the dark his best comrades
and swallowed his children.

And now he lies dead
and crazy animals lick his paws,
the cattle do not believe their snouts:
did he die, is he just silent?
No one dares touch his tail
or put a mirror to his nose,
the beast could be resurrected
and sit on the Throne.

15It is difficult not to pick up clear references to Tito, even without the most obvious of them all: “the rat from Dedinje.” Perhaps the most interesting line was that which asks “did he die, or is he just silent?” The underlying question was, would those who followed Tito in power in Yugoslavia—nonentities, because he had “strangled his best comrades”—liberate themselves from his crushing after-death presence, or continue to rule through his personal mythology? Djogo himself would be a victim of the insecurity felt by governing elite’s after Tito’s death—insecurity that drove them to defend the reputation of a dead man, because their own claim to legitimacy was so difficult to defend on its merits.

16At the various meetings that ensued—of the self-managing council of Prosveta, the district committee of the League of Communists, and of the City Committee of the Belgrade League of Communists—Djogo was not allowed to participate. His only defense before his trial was in the form of an emotional, somewhat pathetic letter to the Serbian Writers’ Association, written on May 23, 1981, and which was made public five months later by the emigre magazine Naša reč of London. In it, Djogo recounted the refusal of all of the authorities presiding over his prosecution to allow him to speak in his own defense. He explained that he wrote this letter to the UKS, following the destruction of his book, so that

a trace will at least remain. Even Jesus’ life was not as important as the trace he left behind. I think that the trace is the miserable hope of any writer….I came to tell you—because most of you know me as a writer and as a person—that this is all an unfortunate misunderstanding, a sad page in our culture and, regarding the book and regarding me, a repulsive lie.

  • 22 “U odbranu Gojka Djoga” in Naša reč (London) October, 1981, 2.

17Djogo insists that he has been misunderstood, that as art his poetry defies literal interpretation: “The poet is inside, the reader outside, before well-locked doors. Neither has a key.”22

  • 23 No one, in other words, attacked draconian Yugoslav laws that protected the image and work of Tito (...)
  • 24 Naša reč would be the most reliable source in the 1980s for such protests from within Serbia. Stoj (...)

18Much like Djogo, who claimed he was misinterpreted, those Serbian cultural figures who responded to Djogo’s plight chose to frame his conviction as an assault on artistic freedom: a poet should not be judged in a court of law for his poetry. Beyond that, supporters of Djogo asserted that the government position was based on a hostile understanding of his poetry, which could be read in many ways. This was not the only position that could have been adopted by Djogo’s supporters. After all, one year after Tito’s death, no one could be too confused about the nature and intent of Djogo’s poetry. Yet absolutely no one defended Djogo’s right to critique Tito, self-management, or the “achievements of the revolution.”23 Instead, those who rose in Djogo’s defense proposed that the poet may have been misinterpreted, that, as Djogo himself asserted, all of the censure he endured was a “repulsive lie.” The response of the more critical members of the intelligentsia to Djogo’s indictment was swift and asserted the principle of višeznačnost (multiple meanings). But their petitions were invisible to Yugoslavs, as they were only published abroad. Dozens of writers, including Ćosić, Mihiz, Pavle Ivić, and Antonije Isaković, fired off joint letters to the Presidency of the Republic of Serbia by mid-June, and Žika Stojković sent a protest letter to the district court of Belgrade, copying it to Politika and Književne novine. While those papers refused to publish it, London’s Naša reč did so, opening Stojković to accusations that he was in collusion with the anti-communist emigration.24 All of these protests insisted that the court was not the place to interpret poetry. Stojković went further:

  • 25 Živorad Stojković, “Otvorena molba sudijama pesniku,” in Naša reč (London) October, 1981, 4.

Like many others of his type, his crime is only that he is in fact a poet. In their greatest moments, poets escape themselves and the poem is not just their “other I,” but something totally its own, in and of itself. No one can fully understand poets, believe me!….Be suspicious, and of the poet Djogo, why not; anything can be found in the ashes of his collection, anything, but not something.25

  • 26 Miodrag Perišić used this phrase in a retrospective look at the activity of the UKS in the 1980s: (...)

19Forgive him, judge, he knows not what he writes! Or, in the cool estimation of the petition signed by Ćosić and Ivić, “poetry is judged by literary criticism,” not courts of law. Instead of defending Djogo’s right to criticize the system and its dead leader, they defended Djogo’s act, whose meaning, they would consistently argue, remained ultimately indecipherable. This approach entailed extended play-acting by the accused and his supporters—what a later observer would describe as “degradation of the poet, his colleagues, and the entire national culture” before the party-state.26 This defense of one’s right to say what one wished was principled and not without precedent in Serbia. The Praxis philosophers’ defense of Mihailo Djurić, which distanced itself from the substance of Djurić’s presentation while defending his right to speak freely, was an earlier example. The key difference in 1981 is that no one embraced or distanced themselves from Djogo’s characterization of Tito. Whereas the classic, Voltarian, conceptualization of free speech poses a dialectic relationship between speech and criticism of it, this free speech movement began with the setting of an idiosyncratic precedent according to which anything could be said and defended on principled grounds, while the content of that speech was not subjected to open critique. This approach would have some really ugly consequences.

20Djogo was arrested for violating Article 133 of the Yugoslav constitution, which defined the crime of verbalni delikt (verbal transgression), which, together with the application of the notion of “moralpolitical suitability,” stood as the most telling symbol of late Titoist bureaucratic administration. The verbalni delikt was, in the government’s eyes, a form of “hostile enemy propaganda,” and could be interpreted broadly at the discretion of the government. Djogo’s trial occupied two days in July 1981 and another in September. The trial did reveal some interesting details: that Djogo, for instance, had submitted a different collection of poems to Prosveta, which accepted them, and then substituted other poems in the final version, which the editors did not take the time to check. And the book’s editor, Branislav Petrović, claimed that the reason he did not perceive the negative allusions to Tito and the revolution was that he could “only link beautiful words” with “the greatest person of our epoch” and “the greatest symbol of our revolution.” Djogo himself made a similar argument: that the average reader would never have made the connection between his poetry and Tito, whom Yugoslavs universally loved. Nevertheless, he was sentenced to two years in prison on September 17, 1981.

  • 27 “Sastanak beogradskih pisaca” in Književne novine (Belgrade) May 27, 1982, p. 2. The committee is (...)
  • 28 Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 159; Danojlić, “Trenutak prijateljstva,” in Lične stvari, 172; on L (...)
  • 29 “Odbor za zaštitu umetničke slobode” in Književne novine (Belgrade) September 30, 1982, 2.

21The Djogo affair’s legendary offspring, the Committee for the Protection of Artistic Freedom, was formed on May 19, 198227 at a meeting of the Belgrade section of the Serbian Writers’ Association, at the urging of Biljana Jovanović, a young writer, and Dragoslav Mihailović, the survivor of Goli Otok and author of When the Pumpkins Blossomed, Petrija’s Wreath, and other novels. Its members included Desanka Maksimović, Borislav Mihajlović Mihiz, Stevan Raičković, Predrag Palavestra, Milovan Danojlić, Raša Livada, and Jovanović. Livada was elected first chairman of the committee, but he resigned after a year, and Danojlić took over as president. Ivan Čolović replaced Livada on the committee.28 The CPAF drafted an outline of its goals at its meeting of September 20, 1982. That draft included the following points: the CPAF would a) nurture the protection of artistic freedom; b) help expand support for artistic freedom in society; and c) take it upon itself to inform the public when artistic freedom was violated. The committee also agreed that its votes be taken by simple majority (Mihiz would later write that every communique issued by the committee was supported unanimously).29

  • 30 “Beogradska sekcija UKS” in Književne novine (Belgrade) February 10, 1983, 2–3.
  • 31 Miodrag Perišić, “Demokratija u 100 lekcija,” in NIN (Belgrade) Sept. 24, 1989, 63.
  • 32 “Iz Udruženje književnika Srbije,” in Književne novine (Belgrade) April 7, 1983, 2.

22By early 1983, the CPAF had issued several protests, addressing all of the known offenses against artistic and literary production to that point, including the cancellation of Jovan Radulović’s play Pigeon Hole (Golubnjača) and attacks on several notable books: Dobrica Ćosić’s The Real and the Possible (Stvarno i moguće), Antonije Isaković’s Flash II (Tren II), and Vuk Drašković’s The Knife (Nož).30 Then on March 28, 1983, Gojko Djogo left for prison to serve a reduced one-year sentence. That night, the UKS held its first “protest Monday,” as they would come to be called. At that point, in the view of Miodrag Perišić (later the editor of Književne novine), “the Writers’ Association was jerked from its long socialist-realist dream” and “began to protest openly.”31 Forty writers came to the UKS that night, including Ćosić and Mihiz, neither of whom was then a member.32 Others followed on April 11, April 18, and April 25. Mihiz later described the first “Djogo Monday,” which

  • 33 Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 160–61.

filled the hall of the entry to the Writers’ Association, its stairs, entryway, and the street, with listeners who for the first time in postwar Belgrade listened to publicly expressed protests against the behavior of the government. The police stashed wagons of militia in side streets to prevent any eventual attempt to turn the protest meeting into a street demonstration, but the liberated territory of Francuska 7 was never returned to the government.33

23“Francuska 7,” on the corner of Francuska and Simina and just a few short blocks from Simina 9a, became from that point a symbol of democratic renewal in Serbia. The nature of that renewal would change over time, but in 1983, there can be little doubt that this was the single institution in Serbia that had decided, collectively, to attempt to come to terms with its subservient past.

  • 34 “Ko će suditi sudijama,” in Književne novine (Belgrade) June 24, 1982, 4.
  • 35 Boro Krivokapić, “Srbi su dvoglav narod,” in NIN (Belgrade) April 12, 1991.

24There remain some questions about the Djogo affair. For instance, why did Djogo and his supporters engage in the mental gymnastics of asserting the višeznačnost of poetry instead of simply acknowledging that in his poems he intended to call into question the Tito cult, which surely existed? Their argument for artistic freedom was valid whether they asserted the inscrutability of the poetic mind or that Tito’s cult needed to be questioned. After all, Djogo did mean to malign Tito. Nonetheless, it is possible that a permutation of the argument used in court has limited validity: not that readers would never read Tito into Djogo’s poetry, but that Yugoslavs—including Djogo’s writercolleagues—were not psychologically prepared to contest the cult of personality erected around Tito. And, some supporters apparently believed that an admission that he had intentionally insulted Tito would render jail time inevitable; their argument thus was the only one that would keep him free of prison.34 That argument would not have explained the behavior of Mihiz, Ćosić, or Stojković, however, as they were fully prepared to question Tito’s role. For them, a third explanation must be found. They—and Mihiz implicitly confirms this—believed that the višeznačnost argument had more potential for universal application. From the freedom of speech “flows all political freedoms,” as Mihiz put it in 1991.35 However, by defending the right to say anything rather than that which was actually said, the standard set by Francuska 7 was high on principle but opened the door to the uncritical acceptance of anything that was said. Any speech became, by definition, valid speech.

25Seven years after going off to jail, Djogo was asked how he felt answering before a court for his poetry. His answer:

  • 36 Ketman was a term that Czeslaw Milosz used for the intellectual collaborator, cloaking himself in (...)
  • 37 Dušica Milanović, “Vunena vremena—vremena straha” in Intervju (Belgrade) October 12, 1990, 48.

I am no saint. I lived in a society which forced me, as it did others, to act as a ketman.36 And no matter how much I sought an alibi in my writing or how I behaved as a man in certain circumstances, I cannot deny that I was an actor in a general theater. That which I stirred up at that moment was nothing unusual. I was forty years old and it seemed about time to ask myself why I was alive and living as I did….I asked myself how I would redeem myself for my grandchildren, how I would convince them that I was not a criminal…. I tried to reveal in verses my doubts and uncertainties, and if you like a doubtlessly contrary view of the world and the established system of values.37

26Far from involving an “aesthetic misunderstanding,” as he had claimed in 1981, Djogo acknowledged that he understood exactly what he was saying in his poetry, undermining his alleged incomprehension of how anyone could read the person of Tito into his poetry. So, the government’s attack on him was never based on a “repulsive lie.” That attack may have been absurd, misplaced, and a violation of a basic human right, but it was not based on a lie. The free speech movement in Serbia was founded on the basis of a very public charade—“ketmanism” taken to its absurd conclusion. One is left only to wonder why Djogo allowed himself to be degraded so; if he really wished to redeem himself for his grandchildren, should he not have claimed credit for being the first to openly dispute Tito’s legacy? Then he might have left a “trace” worthy of Jesus, his own role model.

BEYOND DJOGO

  • 38 The works of Drašković and Selenić are discussed in Wachtel, Making a Nation, Breaking a Nation, 2 (...)

27The death of Tito in May 1980 spurred many forms of questioning about Yugoslavia’s past, present, and future. Gojko Djogo’s aggressive yet strangely disavowed attack on Tito’s legacy was only one form that this questioning took. Between 1981 and 1984, Serbs produced some revealing and challenging literature that delved into many sacred issues of the Tito period, foremost Goli Otok. This literature included Antonije Isaković’s Flash II, one of the first novels in Yugoslavia to openly consider the fact of Goli Otok’s existence; Jovan Radulović’s Pigeon Hole, a play set in Dalmatia which dealt with communal violence during the Second World War; Dušan Jovanović’s The Karamazovs (Karamazovi), a story and play set during the anti-Cominformist purges; Mladen Markov’s The Expulsion of God (Isterivanje Boga), a novel that pulled the veil of secrecy away from the collectivization of agriculture after the Second World War; the novels of Slobodan Selenić, including Friends from Kosančić Venac 7 (Prijatelji sa Kosančićevog venca 7) and Heads, Tails (Pismo, glava); and Vuk Drašković’s The Knife, a horrifying tale about Muslims and Serbs in Bosnia.38 Also appearing in these first post-Tito years was Dobrica Ćosić’s The Real and the Possible, a collection of essays and lectures drawn from the 1960s and 1970s, including his 1968 warning to the Fourteenth Plenum and his 1977 speech to the Serbian Academy. These books all share a common trait: they questioned one or more of the sacrosanct “truths” of the Tito regime. Many of them were enormously popular.

  • 39 Central Committee of the League of Communists of Croatia, O nekim idejnim i političkim tendencijam (...)

28In response to this outpouring of historically revisionist speech, in March 1984 the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Croatia issued a report entitled “Concerning Some Ideological and Political Tendencies in Artistic Creation, Literature, Theater and Film Criticism, and in Public Remarks of a Number of Cultural Figures in Which Were Contained Politically Unacceptable Messages.”39 Known to a thankful public as the White Book, this report profoundly frightened, insulted, and angered the Serbian intellectual community, which felt the bulk of its attack. Noting that the report reminded them of a “police dossier,” the CPAF, now under Nikola Milošević’s presidency, wrote that

  • 40 “Saopštenje,” in Naša reč (London) November 1984, 8.

If in some unfortunate case, ideological cleansing were to be carried out, such as is demanded in this “document,” authentic artistic work would disappear here, artistic and social criticism would disappear, even humor would disappear, and the era of party-state art would begin, and the entire culture would be limited to the mere means for the spreading of politically acceptable “messages,” which is to say the means of naked propaganda.40

29Particularly galling to Serbs was the fact that of some 200 people mentioned in the report, 170 were Serbs. Additionally, the examples provided in the report were without exception published works, which immediately called into question their subversiveness if they had already squeezed through the censoring apparatus and had appeared in Yugoslavia’s restricted public space. The fact that the majority of the critiqued figures were from Serbia also pointed out that Serbia was the most open republic in Yugoslavia and that Belgrade was producing the most trenchant and coherent critique of the regime in the country as a whole.

30Serbian questioning of Tito’s legacy and the nature of Yugoslav statehood went deeper than that of other Yugoslavs. The questioning was not limited to intellectuals. Ironically, while the Serbian republican government persecuted Gojko Djogo, it also harbored the most revisionist members of any republic’s hierarchy. Most importantly, the Serbian League of Communists, whose leaders included Dragoslav (Draža) Marković, Petar Stambolić, and then Ivan Stambolić, wished—as did most aware Serbs—to revise the constitutional status of Kosovo and Vojvodina. But the glazed eyes and the droning rhetoric of the Serbian leadership’s mediocrities ultimately failed to inspire confidence, and as survivors of the 1972 purge and proponents of the 1974 constitution, their credibility with the critical intellectuals was shot in any case. By 1984, the Yugoslav government’s dedication to its own pathetic slogan, “After Tito—Tito,” had prompted it to extremes of petty harassment and persecution. While the party shrank in fear of action that might disrupt the stagnant equilibrium following Tito’s death, intellectuals embraced the opportunity to shake up that equilibrium. The jailing of Djogo, the cancellation of two plays (The Pigeon Hole and The Karamazovs), various less publicized abuses—all betrayed a government which, as Djogo had predicted, was so afraid that Tito really was dead that it attempted to maintain the Yugoslavia that had existed before his demise. In 1983 and 1984, though, the sheer number of arrests, trials, imprisonments, and proscriptions drove the free speech movement to a new, more open stage in its development, out of the UKS and into society at large, as it were. But, importantly (and with one important exception), that movement remained chained to the UKS strategy of defending speech per se, without critiquing the content of that speech. This could be good and bad.

  • 41 See the letter from Jovica Mihajlović in Naša reč (London) August– September 1984, 4. Mihajlović, (...)
  • 42 “Stanetu Dolancu, Saveznom sekretaru za unutrašnje poslove,” in Naša reč (London) June 1984, no. 3 (...)

31The boiling point was reached in April 1984, when Vojislav Šešelj was arrested in Sarajevo, and twenty-eight people, including Milovan Djilas, were arrested in Belgrade. Šešelj’s crime was to have written a contribution to a poll in the party organ Komunist on the subject “What is to be Done?” That contribution was confiscated and Šešelj was arrested before the piece could be published. The twenty-eight arrestees in Belgrade were accused of engaging in enemy propaganda over a period of seven years as part of the “flying university,” an underground institution which saw different apartments hosting regular lectures on various topics, it goes without saying subversive in the eyes of the government, on a regular basis. After the initial arrests, all were set free. But then on April 30, 1984, several days after his release, Radomir Radović, one of the original twenty-eight, was found dead in his apartment. Suspicions that Radović was killed by the police fed public outrage.41 On May 23, six of the original twenty-eight were rearrested and charged with counter-revolutionary activity. The death of Radović prompted a diverse group of Serbian intellectuals, including Ćosić, Popović, Mihiz, Isaković, Mihailo Marković, Matija Bećković, and others, to appeal to Stane Dolanc, the federal secretary for internal affairs, to clear up the circumstances of Radović’s death or to resign his post and his position in the federal presidency, which would indicate to them that he at least understood that “a member of this highest post in our country cannot be a man who has a young human life on his conscience.”42 Most observers believe that the arrest and trial of the Six was intended to send a message within Yugoslavia that would not resound outside the state—thus Djilas was not jailed. The maneuver failed, however, as the trials of the Six became an important galvanizing factor in the coalescence of an active opposition to the regime.

  • 43 The committee’s first public declaration was dated November 10, 1984 and can be found in Serbian i (...)
  • 44 M ihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 196.
  • 45 The first “Announcement of the Committee for the Defense of the Freedom of Thought and Expression” (...)
  • 46 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1981–1991), 128.
  • 47 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1981–1991), 128.

32Under these tense conditions, a new, and ultimately far more influential committee, the Committee for the Defense of the Freedom of Thought and Expression was formed in November 1984.43 It was the inspiration of Dobrica Ćosić, Taras Kermauner (a Slovene), and Rudi Supek (a Croat), who envisioned a broadly Yugoslav forum that would take on causes similar to those embraced by the Committee for the Protection of Artistic Freedom. The presence of Ćosić, in the eyes of the government the standard-bearer of Serbian nationalism, and Supek, one of the leading leftist critics of Yugoslav socialism, made this a much more high-profile undertaking. Ćosić was responsible for bringing critical Serbian intellectuals into the fold, while Kermauner and Supek would work in the Slovenian and Croatian communities. Mihiz, one of the Serbian invitees, reported later that Kermauner and Supek failed to convince their colleagues to join the Serbs: the Slovenes, Kermauner found, wished to create such a committee composed just of Slovenes, while the Croatian response was resounding silence.44 The eventual members, all Serbs, included a cross-section of Belgrade’s intelligentsia, with Praxis (Mihailo Marković, Ljubomir Tadić), historians (Radovan Samardžić, Dimitrije Bogdanović), young but established critics (Kosta Čavoški, Ivan Janković), painters (Mića Popović, Mladen Srbinović), writers known to be hostile to the regime (Matija Bećković, Dragoslav Mihailović), veterans of the CPAF (Nikola Milošević, Predrag Palavestra, Mihiz), of course Ćosić, and five others (Neca Jovanov, Tanasije Mladenović, Gojko Nikoliš, Andrija Gams, and Dragoslav Srejović).45 They would meet in Popović’s atelier in the Serbian Academy, to which he had moved from the sajmište some years before.46 Ćosić envisioned it as a continuation of the board he composed for the Serbian Literary Guild in 1970: “a pluralistic forum of the Serbian intelligentsia, composed of people of the most contrasting beliefs and opposed ideological views,” which would “unite the struggle for the integrity of Serbian culture in Tito’s Yugoslavia…”47

33In their initial declaration, the committee noted that “trials of human thought, not only the ‘verbal delikt’ but also the censoring of manuscripts, [which are] ever more common in our country, [are] becoming an ideologically and legally legitimate method of political reckoning for the government with those who disagree with it.” Noting particularly the case of the Belgrade Six and Vojislav Šešelj and the application of the notion of moral-political suitability in the workplace, they proclaimed that

  • 48 “Saopštenje Odbora za odbranu slobode misli i izražavanja,” in Naša reč (London) January 1985, no. (...)

freedom of thought and expression are not the possession, gift, or privilege of any class, social group, party, or power of state; that freedom and that right belong to all human beings, and their fulfillment or endangerment are the business of the wisdom and conscience of all of the citizens of the social community. On that assumption, the Committee for the Freedom of Thought and Expression is organized.48

  • 49 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 265.

34The committee would operate through 1989, but its effect was minimal, even in the view of the notoriously self-congratulatory Ćosić: “No matter how much the petitions reflected honorable democratic resistance to the autocratic and bureaucratic regime, their political meaning was small.”49

35The cases of the Belgrade Six and Šešelj acted as others in a line—a line that would grow longer with each passing month—of symbolic opportunities to frame a particular type of opposition discourse in Serbia; the substance of their cases was radically different, but the principle on the basis of which they were defended was identical in each case: the freedom of speech and thought. But how did such a mixed bag of regime critics ever join a unified opposition? A partial answer would be that Ćosić, for all of his differences with the Praxis crowd, continued to see himself as a dedicated leftist. He had a long history of collaboration with Praxis itself. And by the mid-1980s, he could bring some of the fiercer non-communist critics, including Mihiz and Popović, into such an enterprise. Čavoški was developing a powerful reputation for principled opposition to the regime, especially drawing attention in his writings to the government’s sweeping application of constitutional provisions against the verbalni delikt, so his presence on the Committee was not remarkable. For Palavestra, Milošević, Mihailović, and Mihiz, the new committee was a natural continuation of the old CPAF (which still existed, chaired now by Milošević in a dual role). So there was a practical logic to the joining of these forces. But plainly these men, of varied ideological and personal backgrounds, pooled their talents because they believed that the defense of the freedom of speech was the single foundation upon which a unified opposition, and thence political freedom, could be attained. It was the only platform they could share.

  • 50 “Predsedništvima SFRJ i SR BiH,” in Naša reč (London) August– September 1986, no. 377, 2.

36But again, as with the Committee for the Protection of Artistic Freedom, having denied themselves the freedom to debate the ideological and practical content of those causes they chose to adopt, members of this new committee in essence blessed any persecuted idea, regardless its meaning. Laudably, this usually included the ideas of non-Serbs, some of which were contentious from a Serbian viewpoint. The committee defended the speech of, and protested the arrest of, anyone who was tried on the basis of article 133. Thus the two committees would not only tackle Serbian causes, but would also condemn the persecution of Bosnian Muslims like Alija Izetbegović, Albanian nationalists like Adem Demaci, and assorted others, especially in Croatia and Slovenia.50 In hindsight, one of the most interesting causes came in 1987, when the CDFTE produced an appeal to the presidencies of Yugoslavia and of Bosnia and Hercegovina protesting the continued incarceration of Izetbegović, one of the authors of the “Islamic Declaration,” who had been jailed in 1983 along with five other Bosnian Muslims. The committee complained that the punishment (nine years for Izetbegović) was draconian, incomprehensible, and pointless, but

  • 51 “Predsedništvu SFRJ, Predsedništvu SR BiH,” in Naša reč (London) November 1987, no. 389, 6.

is nonetheless less absurd than the reasons for which Izetbegović was convicted. He was held responsible for the “Islamic Declaration,” which he wrote as far back as 1970, and which for an entire thirteen years provoked no suspicions within the organs of persecution, only to be certified in 1983 as a counter-revolutionary attack on the state and societal order of Yugoslavia. It presents a vision of contemporary humanistic and tolerant Islam, represents the principle of equality of all people and the freedom of conscience, critiques the totalitarian framework of power and the cult of personality, rejects the principle that “the ends justify the means,” and contests the role of conservative hodžas and sheiks.51

37For those who are aware of the use to which the “Islamic Declaration” was put by Serbs during the Bosnian war, it is a rather striking example of just how much viewpoints can change, especially in the service of state propaganda.

  • 52 “Saopštenje br. 53,” in Naša reč (London) March 1987, no. 383, 7. By this time the CPAF membership (...)

38Another example would be the continued incarceration of Adem Demaci, an Albanian nationalist writer who was imprisoned in 1963, and whose situation was addressed by the CDFTE, but whose ideas were dealt with differently. In 1986, when the CDFTE took up Demaci’s cause, he had been in jail for 23 years. In this case, the committee was careful to distance itself from his “extreme” ideas: “We believe however that a principle is in question. If a writer is convicted just because of that which he thought, spoke, or wrote, it is the duty of this Committee to react.”52 In this regard, it is interesting to note that in the case of Šešelj, none of the protests from either of the committees or other individuals ever critiqued his essays, which called for the unity of Serbia and Montenegro and warned of the threat of militant Islam to Serbs in Bosnia; they were inflammatory, but their message was palatable to the average Serb. But, even so, the more general point is that the public campaign against the application of article 133 of the Yugoslav constitution was to the credit of the Serbian intellectual community in the 1980s.

FROM PRINCIPLE TO CATHARSIS, VIA KOSOVO

39At the point when Serbs’ euphoria over their rediscovered voice was born, a new issue burst into their consciousness, an issue that had been kept out of the public sphere for decades and was thus another example of alleged government mendacity. In March of 1981, Kosovo’s Albanian population erupted in a nationalistic rebellion. In the aftermath, the Serbian and Yugoslav Leagues of Communists admitted that the Kosovo party had fostered the growth of nationalism and separatism in the region. Therefore, Serbian intellectuals easily captured Kosovo within the rhetorical frame established by the movement for freedom of expression—if the truth about Kosovo had been known but suppressed, then speaking out about it must be good and, by definition, democratic. Alas, as the 1980s progressed, Kosovo would be the source of outrageous flights of rhetorical fancy among Serbs and the site of the growth of an aggressive and xenophobic Serbian nationalistic movement. Thus a paradox arose: while Serbs insisted that their opposition to communism was, and would remain, principled and democratic, to most outsiders that opposition appeared to be the opposite—irrational and intolerant. Just as Gojko Djogo’s poetry was defended as such and not according to its content, so would speech—any speech—about Kosovo be defended. Kosovo therefore came to link two sources of the Serbian national revival of the 1980s: the initial, reasoned and cerebral free-speech movement, and the later, cathartic and visceral movement of rage over the fate of Serbs in Tito’s Yugoslavia.

  • 53 This event is described best in Julie Mertus, Kososo: How Myths and Truths Started a War (Berkeley (...)

40The cathartic nature of Kosovo’s role in the Serbian consciousness became clear after May 1, 1985. On that day, a Serbian farmer named Djordje Martinović was found bleeding in his field near the town of Gnjilane in Kosovo, a bottle shoved into his rectum.53 Medical and police authorities were unable to reach a consensus regarding how Martinović received his injuries: for some this was an obvious case of masturbation gone awry, while for others Martinović was the clear victim of aggression by Albanians. During the weeks following the painful episode, these opposing interpretations took form. Serbs became convinced that Martinović was the victim of a political crime whose perpetrators wished to scare Serbs into leaving Kosovo. For them, Martinović had suffered the legendary Ottoman torture of impalement, signifying the revisitation of the entire Ottoman “occupation” and its horrible consequences for Serbia. The fact that this “truthful” rendition of the event was not immediately revealed by authorities provoked Serbian paranoia. Any official denial of the Serbian thesis worked its way into the Serbian syndrome of fear and suspicion, convincing Serbs ever more solidly that the state was in cahoots with Albanian separatists, as many believed it had been in 1981. The event itself was far less important than the affair that it provoked, as Martinović quickly entered the lexicon of Serbian martyrs and heroes from Kosovo. Nothing about the nature of the injuries that Djordje Martinović suffered has been settled by the uproar that attended them, but then the man’s private tragedy turned out to be secondary to the larger political, even mythical, significance of the “affair” to which it gave birth.

  • 54 Politika (Belgrade) May 4, 1985; quoted in Spasojević, Slučaj Martinović, 293.
  • 55 Jedinstvo (Priština) May 4, 1985; quoted in Spasojević, Slučaj Martinović, 294.
  • 56 Svetislav Spasojević, “Slučaj slučaja Martinović” NIN (Belgrade) June 16, 1985, 24.

41Because the state never adequately explained what happened to Martinović, the door opened for mythologists of all stripes. Circumstances conspired to render truth and myth equally satisfying. The fact that Martinović was injured in Kosovo likely meant that Albanian doctors and police would examine him and determine the nature of his injuries. The first Serbian press reports of the attack were hardly dispassionate: “two unidentified persons committed a true massacre.”54 And journalists immediately ascertained a convincing motive from Martinović’s family: Albanians had expressed interest in buying the family land, but the Martinovićes refused to sell. The event became “…another of the pressures on Serbs and Montenegrins to emigrate from Kosovo.”55 Initially the doctors and political authorities in Kosovo agreed that Martinović was attacked by others, but then, a week into the investigation, the papers reported that doctors and police, after investigating the wounds Martinović received and the site of the alleged attack, had concluded that Martinović had injured himself. And, Martinović allegedly admitted to a Serbian colonel in the Yugoslav Peoples’ Army that he injured himself masturbating. Martinović was then transferred to the War Medicine Academy in Belgrade, the Serbian republican ministry of the interior took over the investigation on May 11, and no official statement was issued for weeks. That left the issue to be debated in the press and in cafes. “This unfortunate method of public circulation of information and announcements on this tragic event has born unexpected fruit: instead of seeking the truth…people have begun to opt for either this or that piece of information, for this or that announcement.”56 Suffice it to say that within a couple of weeks, two “sides” had emerged, sides whose loyalty to one explanation or the other would not change. Because the government left the field open to competing scandalmongers, an accurate, accepted rendition of the case would never emerge. In such a situation, the Truth became something wholly relative.

42Dobrica Ćosić appealed to higher authorities to find and publicize the truth of the matter. His letter of May 13, 1985, sent to Dušan Čkrebić, the president of the presidency of the Serbian League of Communists and to Branko Mamula, the federal minister of defense, read as follows:

  • 57 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 267

You can make the truth known, with your authority, a truth with which one can, at least a bit, contribute to the calming of the general bitterness and the sense of civil and national depression that has seized all honorable people in our country…Know this: with the truth about Martinović, which needs to be transmitted to the people as soon as possible, the truth at all costs, we can save the remainder of our self-respect and dignity before the world. With that truth, you fulfill the pledge which you gave when accepting responsible and honorable duty which you execute. Do not allow political blind men, provocateurs, and chauvinist hypocrites to push us ever deeper into interethnc hatred, into an even more severe political and moral dead-end.57

43Even as he demanded that the authorities learn and publicize the truth about Martinović, Ćosić had already determined in his heart that the truth was that Martinović had been attacked.

  • 58 Both of these documents are reproduced in Spasojević, Slucaj Martinović, 63–69.
  • 59 Spasojević, Slučaj Martinović, 64.

44The Serbian Writers’ Association now stepped once again into the role it had adopted in 1982, pressing Yugoslavia’s governors to take action in the Martinović affair. On June 16, 1985, the assembly of the association composed two documents: one a letter to the Serbian republican skupština, the other a general statement entitled “The Positions of the Delegate Assembly of the UKS on the Occasion of the Situation in the SAP Kosovo.”58 The first called upon the Serbian skupština to form a special commission to examine the Martinović episode. It noted that the public explanation—that Martinović had harmed himself—could not be supported by the facts: “The injuries in question were accomplished with the broad [!] and not the narrow end of the bottle, in the light of day and in a place where a person could be seen from a distance of greater than three hundred meters.” Because of the dissonance between the facts and the public pronouncements, the situation “remains unresolved and as such open to manipulations of all sorts.” According to the UKS, a commission of the skupština would be the only constitutional means to ascertain the truth.59

  • 60 Spasojević, Slučaj Martinović, 65. Parenthetic remark is in original.
  • 61 Spasojević, Slučaj Martinović, 66.
  • 62 Spasojević, Slučaj Martinović, 67.
  • 63 Spasojević, Slučaj Martinović, 68.

45The UKS did not view the Martinović affair as isolated: it asserted that it was symptomatic of the situation in Kosovo. Zoran Gluščević asserted that “the affair is leading (or clearing the way) to the fracturing and breakup of our country.”60 He believed that the UKS should stand on the position that the episode concerned the “situation and atmosphere which governs Kosovo.” Serbian writers, Gluščević said, should follow the lead of French writers during the Dreyfus affair (“an incomparably less drastic business”), when they acted “in the name of a human and existential, metaphysical point of view…”61 The June 1985 “Positions” of the UKS emphasized the danger that the situation in Kosovo posed to the entire Yugoslav state: “Irredentist savagery, systematic violence known only in barbarian societies…imposes maximal damage to collective international relations in the SFRJ, and, by the same token, will have unforeseeable results for the democratic political future of Yugoslavia.”62 They called for other artistic organizations in other republics and provinces to respond “in such a way that it shows that these dimensions of Yugoslavia’s current fate concern them as well as us.”63 The “Positions” then demanded that those responsible for Albanian nationalist movement in Kosovo be fired from their positions.

  • 64 Milisav Savić, “Zapisi sa Kosova,” in Književne novine (Belgrade) September 1, 1985, 10–11.

46Kosovo became the Serbian national obsession; 1985 is as good a year as any to identify as the turning point. The Martinović episode and the petition movement opened the public, cathartic phase of a movement devoted to “truth” in which Kosovo dominated the Serbian psyche. The notorious Memorandum did not become public until late 1986, but it was conceived just after the Martinović nightmare began. From that point, the Serbian press began ever more to focus attention on Kosovo: reports of rape, kidnapping, forcible sales of land, murder (all by Albanians, against Serbs) appeared more and more often. One early but typical article by Milisav Savić, a Serbian writer, appeared in September 1985 in Književne novine. Entitled “Notes from Kosovo,” it was framed as a travelogue. Savić visited Danica Milinčić, whose son had been murdered as she watched three years before in the village of Samodreža: “I do not wish to get into the motives for all murders, but regarding [that of Danilo Milinčić] it is said that it was done with the intent to drive the Milinčić family from their holdings…” Savić also relates the story of two friends, one Albanian and one Serb. The Albanian contrived to drive down the price of the Serb’s land, and when the Serb would not sell, had his friend beaten. Relating the stories of raped children, families forced from their own land, and murdered Serbs, Savić concludes that there is but one solution: openness, public discussion, and the rule of law, for currently, the law did not apply to Serbs and a conspiracy of silence dominated the public. Savić also invited his non-Serbian writer colleagues (including by name Abdullah Sidran, Taras Kermauner, and Predrag Matvejević) to visit Kosovo to see for themselves.64 What moved Kosovo from national concern to national obsession? When Djordje Martinović was elevated to the status of national martyr instead of, for instance, remaining the individual victim of a horrifying act; when the Serbian Writers’ Association declared the Martinović episode to be reflective of the general situation in Kosovo instead of an exceptional event; and when the Memorandum of the Serbian Academy proclaimed that a state of“total war” had existed in Kosovo since 1981, something more than mere hyperbole was at work. Instead, Serbian society—or, those Serbs who partook of this obsession—had concluded that the essence of Serbianness was to be the object of other people’s depredations.

  • 65 The petition was published as “Zahtevi 2016 stanovnika Kosova,” in Književne novine (Belgrade) Dec (...)

47The linkage of free speech and openness with Kosovo received another stimulus in October 1985, when over 2,000 Serbs from Kosovo presented a petition to various governmental bodies.65 The designers of the petition produced an aggressive, challenging document, which they sent to the presidencies, assemblies, governments, and central committees of the Serbian and Yugoslav parties and state governments, as well as to the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the Serbian Writers’ Association, four individuals, and a few other institutions in Yugoslavia. One suspects that the forcefulness of the petition might have come as a shock to the Serbian and Yugoslav public consciousness, were it not for the Martinović episode that was barely five months old. This petition gave more formal structure to the fears engendered by the Martinović incident:

Exposed to violence unheard of in history…we the undersigned Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija undertake our final effort to protect our families’ right to life using legal means…The situation is in reality stunning: a part of Yugoslavia is occupied, the region of our historical and national essence, and genocide by fascists against us Serbs of Kosovo and Metohija has achieved the status of a civil right.

  • 66 For newcomers to the study of Serbia’s 1980s, one of the most bracing accusations against the gove (...)

48Two elements of this initial section of the petition would become the ritualized basis for Serbian grievances regarding Kosovo: that Kosovo was the core of Serbs’ historical “essence,” and that the law of this Yugoslavia was—inexcusably and unjustly—on the side of the Albanians, who were committing genocide against the Serbian population.66 The petition finished off with fourteen demands, including: that Serbia be given the same status as the other republics of Yugoslavia (that is, that it be unified and the autonomous provinces eliminated); that the names of those responsible for the genocide of Serbs be publicly announced; that no more Albanians be allowed to immigrate from Albania; that all sales agreements of Serbian property to Albanians be nullified; that Serbian families be enabled to return to Kosovo; that Ballists (Albanian nationalists from World War II) be rooted out; that the ethnic key be eliminated in determining employment in the province; and that the parliament of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia be convened, with the petition’s signatories present, to answer this petition by October 30, 1985.

  • 67 Naša reč reported 213 names; “Protiv gonjenja Srba na Kosovu,” Naša reč (London) March 1986, 2–4.

49When the federal and republican governments refused to consider the demands of the petitioners in the parliament and labeled them counter-revolutionaries, the transformation of Kosovo into the central grievance of the movement for free expression was complete. In January 1986, over two hundred influential Serbs forwarded a second petition to the federal parliament, demanding nothing specific of that body but announcing their hope that the Yugoslav public would rise in opposition to the government’s collaboration in genocide, by Albanians, of Serbs in Kosovo.67 As the work of Serbia’s intellectual elite, this document included much more florid language than the October petition:

  • 68 Danica Milinčić gained notoriety in June 1982, when her son Danilo was murdered in front of their (...)
  • 69 “Protiv gonjenja Srba na Kosovu,” 2. This petition is translated in Magaš, The Destruction of Yugo (...)

The methods [of persecution of Serbs] have remained the same: on old stakes there are again heads. The new Deacon Avakum is named Djordje Martinović, and the Mother of the Jugovićes is Danica Milinčić.68 Old women and nuns are raped, the feeble are beaten, cattle are blinded, stalls are built of grave stones, the church and its historic holy places are profaned and shamed, economic sabotage is tolerated, people are forced to sell their property for nothing…69

50Aside from extravagant claims expressed in lavish prose, the petitioners pointed out the duplicity of the government. “In 1981,” the petition continued, “it was publicly acknowledged that the true situation in Kosovo had been hidden and falsified; the hope was stoked that it would not happen again. For five years already we have witnessed uninterrupted anarchy and the collapse of hope that social and national relations in Kosovo and Metohija could be changed.” For these petitioners, the competition for Kosovo became a competition between public truths and governmental deception. The refusal of the government to receive the earlier Kosovo Serb petitioners became an attack on their right to speak. By cloaking the truth, the authorities became complicit in genocide, and thus did the movement for free expression come to focus primarily on Kosovo.

  • 70 Magaš, The Destruction of Yugoslavia, 52–55.
  • 71 Magaš, The Destruction of Yugoslavia, 57.

51This second petition was signed by representatives of virtually all possible factions within the Serbian critical intelligentsia. Signatories included Dobrica Ćosić, Borislav Mihajlović Mihiz, Mića Popović, Vera Bozičković-Popović, Vojislav Djurić, Mihailo Djurić, Bata Mihailović, and Žika Stojković of the siminovci; Ljubomir Tadić, Mihailo Marković, and Zagorka Golubović-Pešić of the Praxis group; over 30 members of the Serbian academy; a number of retired military officers; several priests; and dozens of others. Particularly surprising were the contingent from Praxis, who were called to answer for their signatures on what appeared to be an outlandish petition based on a mystical understanding of historical processes, rather than the dispassionate socio-economic analysis that might have been expected of them.70 To one commentator’s attack on them for signing on to Serbian nationalism, they responded that (a) there was nothing inconsistent in their support for an oppressed minority, be it Serbian or of some other nationality, and (b) that “all three of us are members of the Committee for the defense of freedom of public expression in Belgrade and raise our voices against all forms of repression in our country.”71 Their justification for their signatures was telling: Kosovo turns into just another occasion for the defense of freedom of expression, and the fight for the freedom of expression validates any interpretation of the roots of the crisis in Kosovo. Speech repressed became, by definition, good speech. The merging of two strands of opposition: the legalistic, reasoned, cerebral support for free expression, and the mystical, cathartic, visceral support for the Serbian minority in Kosovo, was now complete; they may have been intuitively incompatible, but in the progression of Serbian thought in the 1980s they were fully complementary.

THE MEMORANDUM OF THE SERBIAN ACADEMY

52The two strands merged most clearly in 1985, when Ćosić initiated another attempt at a more formal return to engagement, akin to his sponsorship of Javnost in 1980. The call to formal intellectual involvement (as opposed to the relatively chaotic petition campaign of the committees and unorganized intellectual groupings) embodied in the Javnost letter of October 1980 remained unanswered amid all of the prevarication and apparent disinterest of the regime. But in May 1984, Ćosić gave a speech to the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts upon passage of the Academy’s yearly report. He noted that contrary to the report’s spirit of normality, in his view an “irregular situation” prevailed in Yugoslav society. In those conditions, “it would be good to think about the activities and responsibilities of the Academy now and in the future.” Describing in familiar detail a Yugoslavia that was in “the deepest and most all-encompassing systemic crisis since its apearance,” he reiterated his belief that there was “unexploited and critically underdeveloped scholarly potential” in the country. Yugoslav society “does not have, and no one is creating” the “existential consciousness” necessary to dig itself out of its hole. The Yugoslavs were wasting time:

Are we doing our duty in the Academy, if along with being occupied with our specialties, we do not concern ourselves with general social and contemporary problematics, if we do not more powerfully spread critical thought, intellectual skepticism, moral courage and knowledge, and testimony to the truth about society and the world in which we live? Should the Academy work harder and talk louder in engagement on contemporary social and national problems…. Can the Academy mean and emanate something more than, and rise above, both political and cultural traditions of our soil and its conformist inertia?

  • 72 This speech was reprinted in Naša reč (London) October 1984, no. 358, p. 2–3.

53“I believe,” Ćosić proclaimed, “that the knowledge which the Academy possesses should not remain a matter of specialties, but should be integrated with wisdom, general experience, and collective strategic vision, and be offered to society. Offered energetically and argumentatively.” This call would be answered with the now-infamous “Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.”72

  • 73 Kosta Mihailović and Vasilije Krestić, The Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts: (...)
  • 74 This process is explained in Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti, Godišnjak v. 93 (Belgrade, 1987) (...)
  • 75 This synopsis is taken from Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 12– 14.

54On May 23, 1985, just after the Martinović episode and several months before the petitions of the Kosovo Serbs and the Belgrade intellectual elite were sent to the Federal Parliament, the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts met in general session and decided to produce a document outlining the problems Yugoslavia faced. The academy apparently debated long and hard over whether it should assemble such a document in the first place, since its bylaws required it to remain out of politics. But the general assembly of the academy ultimately agreed that Yugoslavia’s crisis demanded contributions from all of those resources at Yugoslavia’s disposal. “No one has the right to shut his eyes to what is happening and to what might happen,” said the assembly. “And this particularly holds true for the most venerable institution of scientific and cultural achievement of this nation.”73 The document would then be sent to the various governing bodies of the state. On June 13, 1985, the presidency of the Academy appointed a committee to prepare the outline. The committee consisted of Pavle Ivić, Antonije Isaković, Dušan Kanazir, Mihailo Marković, Miloš Macura, Dejan Medaković, Miroslav Pantić, Nikola Pantić, Ljubiša Rakić, Radovan Samardžić, Miomir Vukobratović, Vasilije Krestić, Ivan Maksimović, Kosta Mihailović, Stojan Ćelić, and Nikola Čobeljić.74 Four other academics were added to the committee in March 1986. Ivić and Medaković (an art historian) were siminovci; Marković was a leader of the Praxis group; Isaković a fiction writer who had been close to the siminovci; Samardžić and Krestić were leading historians; Mihailović was Serbia’s best-known economist; Ćelić was a painter. Members of the committee wrote those sections that fell within their expertise. When a draft of a section was completed, Isaković (the vice-president of the academy and the informal chair of the committee) would convene meetings which several additional academicians, including Dobrica Ćosić and Ljubomir Tadić, attended. By January 1986, the first full draft of the memorandum was prepared. In late September, after several months of editing, as the document neared completion, the Belgrade newspaper Večernje novosti revealed that the Academy was preparing it.75 From that point, it was known as the Memorandum.

  • 76 It was published in Zagreb’s Naše teme in 1989.

55This synopsis of the origins of the Memorandum is included because it clarifies some areas of real and alleged confusion regarding the document. First, it was not prepared secretly. The Academy had acknowledged that it was working on such a project. Second, it was not written by Dobrica Ćosić, although he has long been credited with authorship by non-Serbian commentators and he had promoted such a project. Unquestionably, his ideas did find their way into the document. Third, it was not completed. This point, repeated ad nauseum by the Academy, its members, and supporters, is accurate but ultimately beside the point, for none of the document’s authors or admirers have ever disavowed its contents. Nevertheless, the Memorandum, unfinished (and until 1989 unpublished76), entered the realm of public and political discourse in September 1986. It also entered the realm of the mythology accompanying the collapse of Yugoslavia.

  • 77 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 95.
  • 78 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 137. See also pages 105, 106, and 119.

56The Memorandum is formally divided into two parts: one on “the Crisis in the Yugoslav Economy and Society,” the other on “the Status of Serbia and the Serbian Nation.” That first portion, however, can be further broken down for the sake of clarity into three subsections: one on the economy, one which considers Yugoslavia’s constitutional order, and a third which treats cultural questions. With particular regard for the economic crisis, which would take up much of the Memorandum, the committee wrote that “a particular cause for anxiety is that official political circles are unwilling to acknowledge the true reasons for the economic crisis, making it impossible to take the steps necessary for economic recovery.”77 One perceives a rebuke: the party had failed in its task, and now those who really understood the situation had to step forth, in the same spirit that would compel the petitioners of January 1986 to do so. Aside from that, the Memorandum noted the party’s unwillingness to “acknowledge” the truth. The Memorandum’s complaints can be reduced to one fundamental problem as the committee saw it: the confederalization of Yugoslavia, as enshrined in the 1974 constitution, whose antecedents it traced to the early 1960s and which unfairly penalized Serbs. Underlying the great mistake of 1974 was an attitude that was born in the international communist movement: “the roots lie in the ideology propagated by the Comintern and in the CPY’s national policy before the Second World War.”78

  • 79 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 96.
  • 80 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 102.
  • 81 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 115.

57Economically, the Memorandum states, “the system of planning was disrupted” by the reforms leading to the constitution of 1974. “With the abolition of planning, the coordinating function of the federal government withered away, while the impeding of market forces stifled economic initiative.” Instead, “decentralization…degenerated into disintegration along territorial lines…eight economic areas were created, with the national economies as their ideological base.”79 The progress of self-management, which the Memorandum’s authors saw as a positive “substitution” for government, was disrupted, with regional, republican governments stepping in to pervert it. “Self-management is mere window dressing and not the pillar of society…There is no real plan, no real market, no real government, and no real selfmanagement.”80 The idea of self-management, the document asserts, “which pivots on the dis-alienation of politics, was replaced with the idea of decentralization, which led to the setting up of regional centres of alienated power.”81

  • 82 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 103–104.

58The constitution of 1974 then comes under direct attack in the Memorandum. The “confederation” which resulted from the constitution allowed for republican vetoes of federal legislation; it “opened the doors wide to the promotion of local interests at the expense of national interests”; “ethnic interests have taken precedence over class interests, and the provinces have insisted more on their status as a constituent element of the federation than on the fact that they are an integral part of Serbia.”82 The solution to this problem was

  • 83 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 105.

a democratic, integrating federalism, in which the principle of autonomy of the parts is in harmony with the principle of coordinating the parts within the framework of a single whole, in which political institutions at all levels of society are set up in a consistently democratic way, in which decision-making is preceded by free, rational, and public debate, and not by secret behind-thescenes maneuvering by cabals of self-styled and self-appointed champions of special ethnic interests.83

  • 84 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 110.

59If “democratization” was the solution, the Academy deemed the LCY incapable of such a process: the party had “become privatized.” The “revolutionary movement…changed into a party of vested interests.”84

  • 85 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 111.

60The Memorandum then asserted that a moral crisis pervaded Yugoslav society, whose roots could be found in the failure of ideology, “by a discrepancy between word and deed on the part of the political leadership…by moral conformism and reward of careerism…in short, by a lack of democratic public opinion which would act as the effective conscience of society.” The committee saw evidence of this moral crisis in unemployment, lack of initiative in the workplace, and the “small-minded peasant mentality, made worse by…a penchant for focusing on immediate interests in the here and now…”85 “The general public,” the document continues, “lacks a clear sense of civic duty, of working towards and sacrificing oneself for general social goals.”

  • 86 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 113.

This psychology, linked with an untrammeled primitivism, has greatly strengthened the propensity towards kitsch in literature, music, film, and entertainment of all types…genuine cultural values have failed to take root on a large scale in society, despite the large number of important accomplishments in Yugoslavia’s cultural life.86

61The confederalization of Yugoslavia had more general cultural consequences:

  • 87 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 113.

Cultural life is becoming more and more regionalized; the Yugoslav and universal significance of culture is becoming obliterated, and in large part it is putting itself in the service of republican and provincial aspirations to carve out their own fiefdoms in this sphere as well. The overall provincialism of cultural life lowers standards and makes it possible for the less talented to gain wide public recognition. Deep-rooted as they are in provincial cultural life, separatism and nationalism are becoming increasingly aggressive.87

62In these words, one senses Ćosić’s inspiration. His own proclamations on the role of culture in socialism rang with the same sort of open-ended rhetoric. The sentiments could easily have been found in one of Ćosić’s speeches or essays from the 1964/65 debate on Yugoslav writers, in which he argued for the creation of one, universal, Yugoslav culture.

  • 88 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 118.

63The second half of the Memorandum is the part that is most often quoted, for it includes the most inflammatory language and tenuous claims. Entitled “The Status of Serbia and the Serbian Nation,” it foreshadowed many of the themes that would come to dominate Serbian political and intellectual discourse in coming years, during which, among other things, “genocide” became an extremely mobile concept in Serbia. This section first identifies the three processes that the committee felt needed to be discussed: the “long-term lagging” of the Serbian economy; “unregulated legal relations with Yugoslavia and the provinces”; and “the genocide in Kosovo.”88

  • 89 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 120.
  • 90 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 121.
  • 91 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 122.
  • 92 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 124.

64In this section, the committee identified the fundamental basis for Serbia’s poor position in Yugoslavia as the Communist International’s identification of Serbia with hegemony in interwar Yugoslavia. This identification, the committee believed, had both economic and political results, all bad for Serbia. The communist party’s assertion that Serbia had dominated the interwar economy of Yugoslavia was never tested, but rather simply accepted. Thus, the Serbian people were subjected to “a feeling of historical guilt in the hope of weakening their opposition to the political and economic subordination to which they were consistently subjected.” Serbian leaders “did not have the initiative in a single key issue having to do with the political and economic system” because of the assumed hegemony of Serbia in interwar Yugoslavia.89 The Memorandum attributes this situation to the “inviolable authority” of Tito and Edvard Kardelj.90 Due to this interwar inheritance, the CPY refused to endorse the formation of a Communist Party of Serbia until after the war, which meant that Serbia was under-represented in AVNOJ, which decided Yugoslavia’s postwar territorial and social order.91 The result: “Yugoslavia appears not as a community of equal citizens or equal nations and nationalities but rather as a community of eight equal territories. And yet not even here is Serbia equal, because of its special legal and political status, which reflects the desire to keep the Serbian people constantly under control.”92 The 1974 Constitution was nothing but the end result of the application of bolshevik assumptions about Serbia.

65While much of the Memorandum retains a scholarly—or at least analytical—tone, the portions concerning Serbia’s relations with its autonomous provinces, and the life of Serbs in those provinces, are quite extravagant. The Memorandum initiates its discussion of these topics by pronouncing them existential, rather than constitutional, issues.

  • 93 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 126. Note that the rhetoric of “worse defeats in peacetime (...)

The relationships between Serbia and its provinces cannot be seen solely or even predominantly in terms of an interpretation of the two constitutions from a legal standpoint. The question concerns the Serbian nation and its state. A nation which after a long and bloody struggle regained its own state, which fought for and achieved a civil democracy, and which in the last two wars lost 2.5 million of its members, has lived to see the day when a Party committee of apparatchiks decrees that after four decades in the new Yugoslavia it alone is not allowed to have its own state. A worse historical defeat in peacetime cannot be imagined.93

66Serbia’s relationship to its provinces is thus removed from the realm of administrative efficiency and legal consistency and raised to the level of a question of historical justice, as the Memorandum itself moves from the cerebral to the visceral.

  • 94 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 126.
  • 95 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 127.
  • 96 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 128.
  • 97 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 128.
  • 98 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 132.
  • 99 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 133.

67With regard to Kosovo, the Memorandum states that “in the spring of 1981, open and total war was declared on the Serbian people.”94 That war, which brought “the physical, political, legal, and cultural genocide of the Serbian population of Kosovo and Metohija,” had now continued for five years. Fantastically, even stunningly, given the recent return of 1915 to the Serbian conscience, the authors of the Memorandum claimed that Kosovo was “worse than any defeat experienced in the liberation wars waged by Serbia from the First Serbian Uprising in 1804 to the uprising in 1941.” The fault for it lies at the doorstep of Serbian communists, who “are always on the defensive and always worried more about what others think of them and their timid overtures at raising the issue of Serbia’s status than about the objective facts affecting the future of the nation which they lead.”95 Those Serbian communists had also “hushed up” and “glossed over” the crimes of Albanians in Kosovo, resulting in “a false, ‘sanitized’ picture of conditions in Kosovo.” The committee used the Martinović case (“reminiscent of the darkest days of the Turkish practice of impalement”) as an example of “the stubborn refusal to let a court of law determine and acknowledge the truth.”96 The document then records what had become a common litany of grievances of Serbs in Kosovo: that their cultural heritage was being destroyed, that they were being forced to emigrate, that although “they are living in the cradle of the Serbs’ historical existence,” they were second-class citizens.97 Croatia then comes into the line of fire of the Academy: “Except for the time under the Independent State of Croatia, the Serbs in Croatia have never before been as jeopardized as they are today.”98 Vojvodina does not escape scrutiny: “The political leaders of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina are not trying to promote togetherness; instead, they are seeking greater independence and secession from the Republic of Serbia.”99

  • 100 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 134.

68Finally, the Academy attacks the atomization of Serbian culture, according to which “children are taught that Njegoš is not a Serbian writer” and “the Serbian cultural and spiritual heritage is made out to be less than it really is, and the Serbian people are thus denied access to an important fountainhead of their moral and historical identity.”100 To this discussion of the denigration of Serbia’s cultural contributions, the Memorandum closed with a call for cultural and political rejuvenation and reawakening that is the most important passage in the document. It merits a long extract:

  • 101 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 137.

The establishment of the Serbian people’s complete national and cultural integrity, regardless of which republic or province they might be living in, is their historical and democratic right. The acquisition of equal rights and an independent development for the Serbian nation have a more profound historical significance. In less than fifty years, for two successive generations, the Serbs were twice subjected to physical annihilation, forced assimilation, conversion to a different religion, cultural genocide, ideological indoctrination, denigration and compulsion to renounce their own traditions because of an imposed guilt complex. Intellectually and political [sic] unmanned, the Serbian nation has had to bear trials and tribulations that are too severe not to leave deep scars in their psyche, and at the close of this century of great technological feats of the human mind, this fact must not be ignored. If they want to have a future in the family of cultured and civilized nations of the world, the Serbian people must be allowed to find themselves again and become an historical personality in their own right, to regain a sense of their historical and spiritual being, to make a clear assessment of their economic and cultural interests, to devise a modern social and national programme which will inspire present generations and generations to come.101

  • 102 It should be noted that the Memorandum continues with a warning against the dangers of Serbian nat (...)

69This remarkable passage, virtually demanding a national renaissance, indicates that the narrowed path that Ćosić had followed since 1968 had become the choice of much of Serbia’s intellectual elite. Just as Ćosić had moved from a universalist position of support for an amorphous new Yugoslav identity to a restrictive Serbianness, now the (unofficial, unfinished, unpublished) Memorandum of the Serbian Academy followed suit. This call for Serbs to “find themselves again” and “devise a modern social and national programme” amounts to a call for national consolidation and renewal. Having exhausted themselves in the search for a completely new identity that would drown particular national identities, they now gave in to, and even embraced, their own particular national identity.102

  • 103 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 280.

70At the time of the Memorandum affair (late 1986), many in Serbia suspected that Ćosić had been the author of the document. That suspicion gradually became accepted wisdom by non-Serbian commentators thereafter. However, Ćosić has denied any active role in the formulation of the Memorandum, and we should take his word for that. He says that he sat in on sessions in which the Memorandum was to be edited; one journalist claims to have seen sixteen pages of amendments that Ćosić had prepared.103 Since Ćosić saw nothing shameful in the Memorandum, there is no reason to assume that he would have hidden his responsibility. And, the Memorandum itself is obviously an amalgam of contributions from various people, and many of those contributions are fairly easy to identify. For instance, Vasilije Krestić, a historian of the Serbs of the Habsburg Monarchy, surely prepared the sections on Croatia; the ideas of Kosta Mihailović, an economist active since the early 1960s, are readily apparent in those sections concerning the economy; and the various commentaries on self-management and the alienating function of government seem likely to have come from the pen of Mihailo Marković. Certainly the thoughts of Ćosić found their way into the Memorandum, but that fact reflects more his general influence rather than his direct participation in the Memorandum’s creation.

  • 104 Dobrica Ćosić, “O memorandumu srpske akademije nauka i umetnosti,” in Ćosić, Stvarno i moguće, 158

71On December 18, 1986, Ćosić spoke at an extraordinary meeting of the Serbian Academy, called to discuss the public response to the Memorandum and, more specifically, governmental demands that those academics who were responsible for the document be condemned publicly for their actions (Isaković, as day-to-day manager of the group, was identified as the main culprit). The thrust of Ćosić’s commentary was that in forming a commission to compile a memorandum, the academy had “confirmed its readiness to…collaborate with responsible social factors and the entire creative intelligentsia” in helping Yugoslavia “emerge from the difficult temptations in which it finds itself.”104 Publicly condemned, subjected to a campaign of public censure, the academy and its members were once again reminded just how little intellectuals were valued in Serbia and Yugoslavia:

  • 105 Ćosić, “O memorandumu,” 156.

That campaign against the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts revealed the political hypocrisy of government towards the creative intelligentsia of this society and disclosed its actual social position: powerlessness and subordination. And that by no means occurred by accident or coincidentally. It was the logical act of a tireless and disastrous policy in this country, which proclaims truth to be Serbian nationalism and an enemy act.105

  • 106 Ćosić, “O memorandumu,” 156–57.

72How, Ćosić asked, could the academy be accused of nationalism when it had only addressed problems that the rest of Yugoslav society wished to avoid? He enumerated those problems, which included: “general existential crisis,” “the appearance of a second Albanian state on Serbian and Yugoslav territory,” “bureaucratic feudalism in Vojvodina and Albanian separatism in Kosovo” which had become factors in “the destruction of the national and social integrity, historical and spiritual essence of Serbia,” “moral and spiritual crisis of the entire society,” “general developmental collapse of Yugoslavia to the floor of European civilization” and many others—all of which had found their way into the Memorandum itself.106 Thus, Ćosić and likely most of the Serbian intellectual elite missed the point: the problem was less that the academy had produced a memorandum, than that the academy produced a memorandum which said what it said. The Memorandum was the Serbian intellectual’s antidote to 1974: outside, expert voices would be heard; alas, they were heard in a spirit of catharsis rather than deliberation.

CONCLUSIONS

73The purpose of this chapter has been to trace the development of a renewed Serbian movement for intellectual engagement following the death of Tito in May 1980. I have been less concerned here with examining the intellectual development of the nonconformists than I have with merely establishing when, where, and how they were participants in this movement. The most important single point to be drawn from this chapter concerns the disturbing transition in the movement from a pure—perhaps overly pure—emphasis on the principle of free expression to a cathartic embrace of Kosovo as a reflection of all of the ills faced by Serbia and even Yugoslavia. The key to that transition can easily be found in the very nature of the origins of the free expression movement: that movement treated speech and artistic expression as not merely rights to be exercised, but nearly sacred obligations that somehow transcended the necessity for criticism. Thus, Gojko Djogo had the right to say what he wished, but nobody reminded his supporters that they had the duty to criticize his poetry’s content. Kosovo slid into that pre-existing framework, and a Serbian intellectual elite, prepped to promote and defend any speech at all, resisted attempts to criticize that speech. Of course, their disinclination to give or accept criticism had to with more than a simple behavior pattern established during the Djogo uproar. It also involved a predisposition to believe that bolshevism’s evil intent made rational critique impossible.

Notes

1 Dobrica Ćosić, Promene (Novi Sad: Dnevnik, 1992) 22. Promene, published in 1992, is, according to its author, his notebooks for the early 1990s. However, the reader is warned that there is internal evidence that he did in fact go back and insert new information later. I include passages from Promene that seem consistent with his other reflections; I will not rely on it for any factual information.

2 Ćosić, Promene, 19.

3 Ćosić, Promene, 20–22.

4 “Greh srpskih intelektualaca,” in Intervju (Belgrade) May 24, 1991, 45. This interview was translated from the original French version, published in Journal de Geneve, by Andjelka Cvijić.

5 Besides Ćosić and Tadić, included were Dušan Bošković (sociologist), Zoran Djindjić (sociologist), Zoran Gavrilović (literary critic), Nebojša Popov (Praxis group sociologist), Svetozar Stojanović (Praxis group philosopher), Vojislav Stojanović, and Lazar Trifunović (art critic); “Pismo osnivača—saradnicima,” in Naša reč (London) January 1981, 4. See also Slavoljub Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 246–47.

6 “Pismo intelektualcima,” in Naša reč (London) December 1980, 2.

7 “Pismo intelektualcima,” 2.

8 “Pismo intelektualcima,” 3.

9 “Pismo intelektualcima,” 2.

10 Ćosić, Promene, 61.

11 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 248.

12 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 250.

13 In particular, the army veterans association (SUBNOR) and General Kosta Nadj attacked Ćosić as the nerve-center of Serbian nationalism. In response, Ćosić demanded that Nadj “publicly cite from Time of Death, from any of my published books, or the banned book Power and Fear, from any of my public texts—a single sentence with nationalistic or counterrevolutionary content.” Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 252–54. By nationalism, Ćosić understood “chauvinism,” of which there are no unambiguous examples in his writings. However, there are more ways to express nationalism than blatant attacks on other nations: Ćosić had already begun to call for a Serbian national consolidation, and those calls would develop into demands for a full scale national revival by the late 1980s.

14 “It was the initiative of a group of Slovenian cultural workers of the younger-middle generation who after several months of discussion and search for the possibility to found a new cultural review in Slovenia, and indeed after long years of disappointment with the Slovenian cultural situation” collected signatures and made the formal request. The actual proposal was also amazingly similar to that for Javnost: points included a more open flow of cultural political viewpoints, rejection of the ideologization of scientific and artistic creation; critique of stalinistic, bourgeois, petit bourgeois, technobureaucratic and other outmoded tendencies in culture and art; etc. Rupel, Od vojnog do civilnog društva, 174, 180–81.

15 Jasna Dragović Soso, ‘Saviours of the Nation’: Serbia’s Intellectual Opposition and the Revival of Nationalism (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2002) 54–56.

16 Gojko Djogo, Vunena vremena (Belgrade: Srpska književna zadruga, 1992). The title can also mean “fearful times.” The indictment was dated June 12, 1981, before the district court of Belgrade. Književne novine published it in its edition of November 5, 1981.

17 This outline is taken from the indictment itself and from Stevan Stanić, “Kukavičije jaje Gojka Djoga” in NIN (Belgrade) May 24, 1981, 30–31.

18 The writer for NIN noted with suspicion that of all of the Prosveta house’s publications that spring, only Djogo’s book had sold any copies—causing him to wonder if there was a minor conspiracy afoot. Stanić, “Kukavičije jaje Gojka Djoga,” 30.

19 Stanić, “Kukavičije jaje Gojka Djoga,” 30.

20 Stanić, “Kukavičije jaje Gojka Djoga,” 30–31.

21 All references are taken from Djogo, Vunena vremena. The translations are my own.

22 “U odbranu Gojka Djoga” in Naša reč (London) October, 1981, 2.

23 No one, in other words, attacked draconian Yugoslav laws that protected the image and work of Tito even after his death. Instead, they chose to skirt that obstacle and simply argue that the state should stay out of the interpretation of art. See below on the verbalni delikt.

24 Naša reč would be the most reliable source in the 1980s for such protests from within Serbia. Stojković’s and others’ protests appeared in the October, 1981 issue.

25 Živorad Stojković, “Otvorena molba sudijama pesniku,” in Naša reč (London) October, 1981, 4.

26 Miodrag Perišić used this phrase in a retrospective look at the activity of the UKS in the 1980s: “Demokratija u 100 lekcija,” in NIN (Belgrade) Sept. 24, 1989, 63.

27 “Sastanak beogradskih pisaca” in Književne novine (Belgrade) May 27, 1982, p. 2. The committee is referred to in this article as the Committee for the Protection of Artistic Freedoms (plural). But from that point on, “freedom” (singular) would be used.

28 Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 159; Danojlić, “Trenutak prijateljstva,” in Lične stvari, 172; on Livada, see Odbor za zaštitu umetničke slobode, “Izveštaj o radu,” in Naša reč (London) June 1984, no. 356, p. 5. By late 1984, only Dragoslav Mihailović, Nikola Milošević, and Biljana Jovanović would remain; Djordije Vuković, Julija Najman, and Alek Vukadinović had joined the committee by then.

29 “Odbor za zaštitu umetničke slobode” in Književne novine (Belgrade) September 30, 1982, 2.

30 “Beogradska sekcija UKS” in Književne novine (Belgrade) February 10, 1983, 2–3.

31 Miodrag Perišić, “Demokratija u 100 lekcija,” in NIN (Belgrade) Sept. 24, 1989, 63.

32 “Iz Udruženje književnika Srbije,” in Književne novine (Belgrade) April 7, 1983, 2.

33 Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 160–61.

34 “Ko će suditi sudijama,” in Književne novine (Belgrade) June 24, 1982, 4.

35 Boro Krivokapić, “Srbi su dvoglav narod,” in NIN (Belgrade) April 12, 1991.

36 Ketman was a term that Czeslaw Milosz used for the intellectual collaborator, cloaking himself in the linguistic garb of the regime while keeping his contrary views to himself.

37 Dušica Milanović, “Vunena vremena—vremena straha” in Intervju (Belgrade) October 12, 1990, 48.

38 The works of Drašković and Selenić are discussed in Wachtel, Making a Nation, Breaking a Nation, 205–209, 219–21.

39 Central Committee of the League of Communists of Croatia, O nekim idejnim i političkim tendencijama u umjetničkom stvaralaštvu, književnoj, kazališnoj i filmskoj kritici, te o javnim istupima jednog broja kulturnih stvaralaca u kojima su sadržane politički neprihvatljive poruke (Zagreb: Centar CK SKH za informiranje i propagandu, 1984).

40 “Saopštenje,” in Naša reč (London) November 1984, 8.

41 See the letter from Jovica Mihajlović in Naša reč (London) August– September 1984, 4. Mihajlović, in a letter intended for, but not published in, NIN, describes how he was beaten in the same sweep.

42 “Stanetu Dolancu, Saveznom sekretaru za unutrašnje poslove,” in Naša reč (London) June 1984, no. 356, p. 2.

43 The committee’s first public declaration was dated November 10, 1984 and can be found in Serbian in Naša reč (London) January 1985, 6; a translation is in Oskar Gruenwald and Karen Rosenblum-Cale, eds., Human Rights in Yugoslavia (New York: Irvington Publishers, 1986) 644–48.

44 M ihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 196.

45 The first “Announcement of the Committee for the Defense of the Freedom of Thought and Expression” was published in Naša reč (London) in its January 1985 issue (p. 6). An English translation is in Gruenwald and Rosenblum-Cale, eds., Human Rights in Yugoslavia, 644–48. Mihiz describes its formation in Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 194–98, Ćosić in Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 264.

46 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1981–1991), 128.

47 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1981–1991), 128.

48 “Saopštenje Odbora za odbranu slobode misli i izražavanja,” in Naša reč (London) January 1985, no. 361.

49 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 265.

50 “Predsedništvima SFRJ i SR BiH,” in Naša reč (London) August– September 1986, no. 377, 2.

51 “Predsedništvu SFRJ, Predsedništvu SR BiH,” in Naša reč (London) November 1987, no. 389, 6.

52 “Saopštenje br. 53,” in Naša reč (London) March 1987, no. 383, 7. By this time the CPAF membership had turned over completely, with Najman, Vukadinović, Vladislav Ribnikar, Ljiljana Šop, Svetlana Slapsak, Zoran Gluščević, Slobodan Rakitić, Vladeta Janković, Dušan Vukajlović, Aleksandar Petrov, and Gojko Djogo on board. Slapsak wrote the communique regarding Demaci.

53 This event is described best in Julie Mertus, Kososo: How Myths and Truths Started a War (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999) 100–114; see also Noel Malcolm, Kosovo: A Short History (New York: New York University Press, 1998) 338, 340. For a compilation of Yugoslav reporting that provides the Serbian perspective on the affair, see Svetislav Spasojević, Slučaj Martinović (Belgrade: Izdavačko-publicistička delatnost, 1986). Spasojević was the reporter who covered the story for NIN. The event is often misused by opponents of Serbia and/or Milošević. For instance, Dubravka Ugrešić writes that “the case of Martinović simply confirmed the belief of the Serbian people that the Serbian leader Milošević’s decision—to change the constitution violently and revoke the autonomy of Kosovo and Vojvodina—was more than justified!” But Milošević did not even appear on the scene until a year later, and his decision to revoke Kosovo’s autonomy followed two years after that, so Ugrešić’s logic is at least careless. The Serbian psychosis was wild enough to require no embellishment. See Ugrešić, The Culture of Lies: Antipolitical Essays (University Park, Pa.: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998) 71.

54 Politika (Belgrade) May 4, 1985; quoted in Spasojević, Slučaj Martinović, 293.

55 Jedinstvo (Priština) May 4, 1985; quoted in Spasojević, Slučaj Martinović, 294.

56 Svetislav Spasojević, “Slučaj slučaja Martinović” NIN (Belgrade) June 16, 1985, 24.

57 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 267

58 Both of these documents are reproduced in Spasojević, Slucaj Martinović, 63–69.

59 Spasojević, Slučaj Martinović, 64.

60 Spasojević, Slučaj Martinović, 65. Parenthetic remark is in original.

61 Spasojević, Slučaj Martinović, 66.

62 Spasojević, Slučaj Martinović, 67.

63 Spasojević, Slučaj Martinović, 68.

64 Milisav Savić, “Zapisi sa Kosova,” in Književne novine (Belgrade) September 1, 1985, 10–11.

65 The petition was published as “Zahtevi 2016 stanovnika Kosova,” in Književne novine (Belgrade) December 15, 1985, 3.

66 For newcomers to the study of Serbia’s 1980s, one of the most bracing accusations against the government and against Albanians in Kosovo was that of “genocide.” The term was tossed around quite loosely to an outsider’s ears; for Serbs, the genocide was a given and required no explanation. In 1986, Dimitrije Bogdanović, the author of a very contentious book entitled Knjiga o Kosovu (Belgrade: SANU, 1985), was interviewed by the Slovenian magazine Mladina. Asked “what sort of genocide are we speaking of here,” Bogdanović answered: “It concerns genocide of the Serbian nation, of Kosovo Serbs and Montenegrins. We can speak of genocide because it concerns the conscious relations towards the ethnic entirety of the nation in Kosovo and Metohija. The aspirations to force the Serbs and Montenegrins from this district and to eliminate them as a cultural, demographic, and biological factor in Kosovo and Metohija are visible. All of those are elements of genocide, according to the definition in international legal decrees.” Dimitrije Bogdanović, Razgovori o Kosovu (Belgrade: Kosmos, 1986) 106.

67 Naša reč reported 213 names; “Protiv gonjenja Srba na Kosovu,” Naša reč (London) March 1986, 2–4.

68 Danica Milinčić gained notoriety in June 1982, when her son Danilo was murdered in front of their home in the village of Samodreža.

69 “Protiv gonjenja Srba na Kosovu,” 2. This petition is translated in Magaš, The Destruction of Yugoslavia, 49–52.

70 Magaš, The Destruction of Yugoslavia, 52–55.

71 Magaš, The Destruction of Yugoslavia, 57.

72 This speech was reprinted in Naša reč (London) October 1984, no. 358, p. 2–3.

73 Kosta Mihailović and Vasilije Krestić, The Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts: Answers to Criticisms (Belgrade: Kultura, 1995) 94.

74 This process is explained in Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti, Godišnjak v. 93 (Belgrade, 1987) 105.

75 This synopsis is taken from Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 12– 14.

76 It was published in Zagreb’s Naše teme in 1989.

77 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 95.

78 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 137. See also pages 105, 106, and 119.

79 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 96.

80 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 102.

81 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 115.

82 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 103–104.

83 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 105.

84 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 110.

85 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 111.

86 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 113.

87 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 113.

88 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 118.

89 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 120.

90 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 121.

91 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 122.

92 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 124.

93 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 126. Note that the rhetoric of “worse defeats in peacetime” comes straight from Ćosić’s Time of Death and his SANU speech of 1977.

94 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 126.

95 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 127.

96 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 128.

97 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 128.

98 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 132.

99 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 133.

100 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 134.

101 Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 137.

102 It should be noted that the Memorandum continues with a warning against the dangers of Serbian nationalism; Mihailović and Krestić, The Memorandum, 137.

103 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 280.

104 Dobrica Ćosić, “O memorandumu srpske akademije nauka i umetnosti,” in Ćosić, Stvarno i moguće, 158.

105 Ćosić, “O memorandumu,” 156.

106 Ćosić, “O memorandumu,” 156–57.

© Central European University Press, 2007

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540