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The Nonconformists

Nick Miller

Chapter 10. The Limits of Revelation

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1Between 1985 and 1991, Dobrica Ćosić focused on guiding Serbia’s intellectuals to a common position on the status of Serbia in Tito’s Yugoslavia. In doing so, he emphasized several themes: the guilt of Serbs for their own tragic fate, the negative role that communism had played among the Serbs, the Serbophobia of other nations of Yugoslavia, and the need for a national renaissance. He was successful in articulating and transmitting this vision of Serbia’s situation. Beyond that, he would argue that the burden was on Serbs themselves to solve their myriad problems in Yugoslavia. But, in spite of his constant and varied reiterations of that point, Ćosić was more successful at articulating the problem than he was at providing solutions, and he met with only marginal success in providing any positive and practical roadmap to that better future. It is possible, in fact, to argue that his job was done once his vision of Serbianness had taken hold, and by the mid-1980s, it probably had. He was, I think, more interesting as a developing nationalist than he was as the fully-fledged father of his nation. Nonetheless, his enormous influence commands our attention in this period, which would be capped by several really bad political decisions—decisions that helped seal the fate of his beloved Serbian people in the 1990s.


  • 1 Ćosić, Promene, 63.
  • 2 Ćosić, Promene, 64.
  • 3 Ćosić, Promene, 69–70.

2The impression left by Ćosić’s work in the late 1980s is of a narcissistic whiner. Following the death of Tito, Ćosić’s diaries began to fill with passages that went beyond his usual fulminations regarding the thanklessness of the Serbian position in Yugoslavia. In April, 1982, for instance, he wrote a long passage detailing the comprehensive de Serbianization processes that he believed were occurring in Yugoslavia. “The desire for an ‘ethnically pure Kosovo,’” he wrote, “ would not be possible without the parallel ethnic homogenization and assimilation of Serbs in other republics. Above all in Macedonia. The Macedonian communists simply Macedonianized the Serbs…committed ethnocide on the territory of their republic…”1 He questioned whether “that ‘fluctuating mass’ of Macedonian Slavs” should even be “recognized as a nationality.” Montenegro was another site of the assimilation of Serbs. “The de-Serbianization of Serbs in SR Montenegro, per Comintern decision and the directives of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, flowed stubbornly on…and at the same time, the assimilation of Serbs in Croatia and the persecution of the Serbs in Bosnia and Hercegovina was carried out.” Ultimately, “the Albanians…were just more radical and more brutal than our other ‘brothers.’”2 “The ‘socialist’ nations—Macedonians, Montenegrins, Muslims—are the product,” Ćosić asserted, “of the most reactionary and most insane lies about themselves, about their identities, which never existed in history. The past has been falsified…” Ćosić concluded this lengthy diatribe by proposing that “any future revolution in this country that communist Stalinists ruled needs to [start with] the burning of paper! The burning of all books, all texts and newspapers written by communists and under their rule. The burning of all ‘revolutionary’ printed texts from the First World War on. We need to begin our literacy anew…from the alphabet of Vuk…”3 Ćosić never proposed such a thing in public; one is reminded of his call for blood in his anti-peasant passages from the early 1950s, which he did not repeat publicly either.

  • 4 Ervin Dolenc, “Culture, Politics, and Slovene Identity,” in Jill Benderley and Evan Kraft, eds., I (...)

3Instead, as an actively engaged intellectual, Ćosić would spend the latter half of the 1980s trying futilely to find common ground with other Yugoslav nations. He generally ignored the so-called “socialistic nations,” the Montenegrins, Macedonians, and Muslims, all attributable in his mind to the initiatives of the Tito regime, without whom they would be Serbs. Instead he preferred to fall back on one of the more pervasive historical truisms about twentieth-century Yugoslavia: the idea that Serbia and Slovenia, Serbs and Slovenes, are the primary axis of stability in the state. When they work together, the truism goes, stability can be maintained. Periodically, we can find examples of such cooperation, and the postwar period was one of regular contact between Serbian and Slovenian intellectuals (in spite of, for instance, the Ćosić–Pirjevec debate of 1961/62). But one commentator notes that they had “parted ways by the mid-1980s at the latest.”4

  • 5 Excerpts from that edition of the journal can be found in Književne novine (Belgrade) March 15 and (...)
  • 6 Tomaž Mastnak, “From Social Movements to National Sovereignty,” in Benderley and Kraft, Independen (...)
  • 7 Mastnak, “From Social Movements to National Sovereignty,” 107.

4One early indication that the Slovenes preferred to go it alone was the refusal of Taras Kermauner and his Slovene colleagues to join forces in the Committee for the Defense of the Freedom of Speech and Expression in 1984. And Slovene intellectuals produced a complement of sorts to the Serbian Memorandum in 1987, with volume 57 of the journal Nova revija, entitled “Contributions to a Slovene National Program.”5 In this volume, Slovene writers asserted in a variety of ways the need for Slovene sovereignty in Yugoslavia. The contributors were contemporaries of Ćosić and his Serbian colleagues—people who had matured under Titoism, but had concluded that with his death Yugoslavia needed to address basic problems. The “Contributions” of these intellectuals responded to “the constant flow from Belgrade of accusations formulated in ethnic terms” with proposals that followed suit, emphasizing Slovenia’s subordinate status in Yugoslavia.6 There was another source of opposition in Slovenia, centered on the Slovene literary and artistic avant-garde, which focused less on ethnic mobilization and created a more civic-minded opposition, but, in the words of Tomaž Mastnak, “under the mounting antidemocratic pressure from the Serbian Yugoslav capital,” Slovenes were forced to adopt Slovenian sovereignty—independence—as a goal. “To a degree, Slovenian politics became the mirror image of Serbian exclusivism.”7

  • 8 Dobrica Ćosić, “Sastanak u ‘mraku’,” in Dobrica Ćosić, Srpsko pitanje—demokratsko pitanje (Belgrad (...)
  • 9 Ćosić, “Sastanak u ‘mraku’,” 73.

5Ćosić had a long history of conflict and collaboration with Slovenian intellectuals. The editor of (Niko Grafenauer) and contributors to (Taras Kermauner, Spomenka Hribar, and others) the Nova revija symposium were among his friends. The volume upset Ćosić and his Belgrade colleagues, who professed to be shocked by the contributors’ conclusion that Yugoslavia had nothing left to offer Slovenes. They may have been unnerved at the public nature of the volume’s proposals, but they couldn’t have been surprised: Ćosić, Ljubomir Tadić, and Mihailo Marković had met with the editors of Nova revija a bit over a year earlier, in Ljubljana, at the urging of Kermauner, to “organize a dialogue between the Serbian and Slovenian oppositions with the goal of creating a unified opposition platform.”8 The meeting took place on September 16, 1985, in a cafe called—too appropriately—“ Mrak” (darkness). The results discouraged the Serbian participants. According to Ćosić, with the exception of Kermauner, the Slovenes spoke as one (there were nine of them). The three Serbs allegedly mostly listened. The Slovene position was that “Yugoslavia is historically dead,” the only question remaining, “how could we create a new Yugoslavia, if such was possible?” The national question was critical for them. “I am a Slovene,” one said. “I am for Yugoslavia only if it enables me to be above all a Slovene.” Slovenia was a part of central Europe, but was being pulled away by its obligations in Yugoslavia; “we wish to be Europe; we want Europeanization for Serbia too. We expect Serbia to resist Asiatic totalitarianism.” And so on. One might suspect Ćosić’s recollections of this meeting, were these not all positions publicly taken by Slovenes in succeeding years, if not before. The Serbian response, in Ćosić’s version, was silence—of the dumbfounded variety: on the bus from Ljubljana to Zagreb, “we were beaten and speechless. We needed three hours before we could speak about the people in ‘Mrak’ and ask ourselves: Did we hear them right…?…If the Slovene people think like that, or if the Slovene people accept their approach, then Yugoslavia is finished.”9

6In a private response to Grafenauer, written two months later, Ćosić laid out some of his differences with the Slovenes he had met.

I was sorry that I did not hear a single word about your economic hegemonism, and fundamentally privileged position in Yugoslavia after 1918, and especially after 1945. I was rather surprised by your underestimation, in my opinion, of the genuine national euphoria…[and] anti-Serbianism that have overcome the youthful depths of the Slovene people….in national ideology, “no” and denial are always a stronger catalyst than “yes” and toleration…

7Serbs had no choice but to respond: “as far as contemporary Serbian nationalism is concerned, it was born of defense, as a reaction to existential endangerment…”

  • 10 Dobrica Ćosić, “Pismo Niku Grafenaueru,” in Ćosić, Srpsko pitanje, 77– 78.

I am worried that you do not realize how difficult, unequal, and degrading the position of the Serbian nation is in the existing political constellation of “self-managing Yugoslavia”; how hopeless the position of the Serbian nation is in the third, Brioni Yugoslavia, unless radical constitutional changes and democratic reforms of the entire political and economic order are accomplished as soon as possible, changes which the Slovenian bureaucratic oligarchy tirelessly opposes, while relying on the anti-Serbian coalition….I am sorry that you are uninformed about the Albanian genocide of the Serbian population in Kosovo and Metohija, how little the Slovenian public has sought the truth about Kosovo, in any case not even as much as we have worried about the Slovenian coast and Koruška…10

8The die was cast: the next six years would see growing conflict between Serbia and Slovenia, Serbian intellectuals and Slovene intellectuals, none of who could understand the language that the others were speaking. Many Serbs, Ćosić included, interpreted the refusal of the Slovenian communist leadership to prosecute the authors of the texts in Nova revija (57) as evidence that the ideas expressed in the journal were endorsed by that leadership. Another Serbian enemy was born, in the “darkness” of a Ljubljana cafe.

  • 11 For one examination of this theme, see Nicholas J. Miller, “Searching for a Serbian Havel,” in Pro (...)
  • 12 Dobrica Ćosić, “Srbi i Slovenci nekad i danas,” in Ćosić, Stvarno i moguće, 167 ff. From meetings (...)

9The Slovenian/Serbian dialogue of the deaf continued to the end of Yugoslavia; in fact, it continues to this day.11 It provided some of the most visible signposts on the road to the wars of the Yugoslav succession beginning in 1991. In 1987, a few months after the publication of the “Contributions to a Slovenian National Program,” the UKS sponsored a series of meetings between Serbian and Slovenian intellectuals that revisited the same themes. Here Ćosić credited the Slovenes and Serbs with having had generally good relations throughout their history; however, “along with the dominant tradition which I outlined rather simply and poorly, there is also in Slovene–Serbian relations a tradition of anti-Serbianism linked to militant Catholicism, the Austrian spirit, and the Comintern ideology of the Communist party.” By 1987, Ćosić had concluded that “for Slovenes, all evil emanates from Belgrade: economic exploitation, unitarism, centralism, militarism, and the štafeta.” Serbs are misunderstood, and Slovenes are indifferent to Serbia’s problems, especially in Kosovo. To Serbs, Ćosić insisted that overcoming this isolation, this indifference, demanded of them that they “clearly and loudly express this rational and categorical position: the Serbian question is only a democratic question.” Serbs needed to be clear on that point because “anti-democratic and anti- Serbian forces in the national bureaucracies and the publics that they manipulate…demand apriori the existence of Great Serbian nationalism, unitarism, or centralism.” In other words, the worst thing Serbs could do would be to allow tired old accusations to find traction thanks to any Serbian actions.12


  • 13 Dobrica Ćosić, “Koliko smo mi sami krivi” in Književne novine (Belgrade) June 1, 1987, 4.

10Slovenia mattered to Serbs because without the Slovenes, Serbs were alone in dealing with their real problem, which was Kosovo. By 1987, Kosovo had become the central metaphor for Serbian weakness in Yugoslavia. At a series of UKS meetings entitled “On Kosovo, For Kosovo,” held between May 15 to May 24, 1987, Ćosić delivered one of the most anticipated speeches.13 It clearly delineated Ćosić’s understanding of Serbia’s subordinate place in Yugoslavia. Kosovo presented Serbia with similar difficulties as “1914, 1915, and 1941.” His presentation then focused on two questions: the nature of the Kosovo problem itself, and the current character of the Serbian nation. Regarding the first issue: “How is it possible that in a European state at the end of the twentieth century…a nationality [Albanian] which by international law has the position of a national minority, in a time of peace, drives from its territory the majority nation in that state in order to conquer Serbian and Yugoslav territory for its home state of Albania?” “How can we solve the Kosovo question in a democratic and civilized fashion, when the Albanian side behaves only with force, antidemocratically and inhumanely, without the voice of historical reason?” Responsibility for this situation, for Ćosić, rested with Serbs. Serbs, by implication a more mature people who are capable of understanding the consequences of their behavior, had to realize that the lowlier Albanians would in fact “do that which they were allowed to do.”

11But what was the nature of Serbian responsibility? Here, for Ćosić, things get a bit complicated. Some Serbs deserved blame for their actions, others for their inaction, for the problem was that communism and its corruptions and entitlements drove the evil that was, by 1987, Kosovo. “What sorts of people,” for instance, “headed Serbia and the Serbian communists in the past thirty years and, in their political and moral capitulationism, collaborated in the creation of a Greater Albania, and why did they do this?” “Why,” Ćosić adds, “is the truth about the expulsion of nearly two hundred thousand Serbian souls from Kosovo and Metohija…[considered] an ideological sin…?” And the final insult: “Why is the Serbian nation today, although in the worst position in Yugoslavia, the nation which is most often distrusted by neighboring nations?” This was for Ćosić all “…a trial in which the Serbian nation will again prove before Europe and the world its historical maturity, level of civilization, democratic potential, and its political vision…” But outsiders must wonder what Ćosić meant by “historical maturity,” “level of civilization,” and “democratic potential.” Ćosić believed that Serbs would exhibit those qualities not in dealing with Albanians but in healing divisions among themselves and between themselves and the other constituent nations of Yugoslavia—the Slovenes and Croats, primarily—in finding a solution to the Kosovo problem. Like other Serbian opponents of Titoism, Ćosić had internalized the Titoist lexicon in national relations, which delineated “nations” and “nationalities,” the former constituent peoples with full rights and privileges, the latter less privileged legally, morally privileged by the fact that they were allowed to inhabit Yugoslav soil. Albanians, just a “nationality” in Titoist terminology that Ćosić otherwise rejected, were only as vital to this struggle as any other inanimate objects; neither Ćosić nor any other Serbian observers ever felt much of a compunction to deal with the Albanians in Kosovo democratically, because their legal status did not merit such treatment.

12No, maturity was called for only in relations with the other five constituent nations of Yugoslavia (Croats, Slovenes, Macedonians, Montenegrins, and Muslim Slavs). Ćosić believed that the leaders of other Yugoslav nations acted out of self-interest, and in the worst cases with conscious malice towards Serbs: he would again describe Yugoslavia as being led by an “anti-Serbian coalition” that would have to be replaced by a “democratic federation” for any progress to be made in Kosovo or for Serbs in general. But Ćosić always took for granted the hostility of non-Serbs for Serbs. More important than that hostility was the fact that Serbs themselves were to be blamed for their situation, for having let down their guard and allowed such a situation to develop in the first place, resulting in a tragically divided nation. Thus, a second way that their historical maturity and democratic potential would be put to use was internally, in relations between Serbs who were fatally divided along axes established by the Tito regime. Here Ćosić was consistent as of the mid-1980s, expanding on themes first introduced in his earlier novels. He described a process by which Serbian Partisans fought for the best of reasons; they took power with a pure vision of a “happy future”; power corrupted some of them, while others resisted the temptations of power, and divisions resulted; by the end of this sordid story, Serbs could only blame themselves for having embraced Tito as a representative of socialism, for having surrendered their national identity in the interests of general good, and for not having respected their own history, which revealed patterns of such behavior (along the moral-historical continuum of idealism—selfsacrifice – betrayal – corruption).

  • 14 Dobrica Ćosić, “Na kraju ‘srećne budućnosti’,” Književne novine (Belgrade) March 1–15, 1988, 5.

13Perhaps the most complete rendering of Ćosić’s narrative of Serbian self-destruction and self-delusion came in a piece that he wrote for Književne novine in 1988, as part of that journal’s forty-year anniversary: noting that he and Književne novine were the same age in literary terms, he briefly sketched out the period of their shared existence. “The generation to which I belong was historically and fatefully defined by the war and our divisions in it…”14 The end of the war brought euphoria: it “did not mean only liberation and peace; for us it represented the beginning of a ‘happy future.’” But the “happy future” was not all that happy—its construction, Ćosić asserted, demanded the manufacture of heretics and enemies and the fighting of a “brutal civil war in which heads were chopped off and souls were crushed.” After all of that idealism and violence, “it is time for the truth about ourselves, about those of us who tried to create a new society and found a ‘happy future’ for the nation and the people on our soil…” The legacy of the war and its aftermath was, for Ćosić, mixed: “our greatest historical achievement was the victory in the war and the conquest of power”; “in peace…we did not accomplish a single great task…that would outlive us.” For his generation, “self-confidence was more powerful than knowledge, egoism than ideals and morals, civil cowardice than national dignity.” As Serbs could blame only themselves for their failures, so they could find renewal only from within. Ćosić’s monologue was not one of unmitigated pessimism: “As it always happens in such historical trials and challenges, the time of the brave and intelligent has begun, of the gifted and honorable….[possibilities for change] appear along with the moral and intellectual readiness and courage for a great renaissance.”

  • 15 Ćosić, “Koliko smo mi sami krivi,” 4.

14Kosovo brought all of Ćosić’s themes together. If the reason for the creation of Yugoslavia was to provide a home in which the South Slavs could exist in harmony, then Kosovo was a problem which could prove the experiment untenable: “The solution to the Kosovo question is the new historical confirmation of the reasons and the sense of the existence of Yugoslavia…because in Kosovo, Kosovo does not fall; Yugoslavia falls.”15 If Yugoslavia’s imminent failure was a product of the inadequacies (utopianism, self-sacrifice) of the Serbian people, then Kosovo brought those failures home: “All that has happened in recent decades with the Serbian nation in Kosovo and Metohija…was made possible by the spiritual and moral division which has deeply driven into and taken over today’s generation…” Kosovo revealed the historical depth of those moral divisions: Serbia frankly embodied a “tradition of faithlessness and treason.” “Kosovo is not the final temptation of our nation, but Kosovo is the final warning.” “Our greatest enemy,” Ćosić wrote, “is within us.”

  • 16 Ćosić, Promene, 75.

15Ćosić was not tempted to relate Serbia’s degradation to the historical Kosovo mythology, as seductive as that was to other Serbian intellectuals. It was for him a product of the twentieth century. Serbian self-sacrifice during and after the First World War set the stage. After that war, believing that they had fought for the liberation of the South Slavs, understanding that their sacrifices entailed the subsuming of their own historically Serbian identity, Serbs endured constant conflict. “Since 1918, on the soil of Yugoslavia, there has been permanent civil war. Immediately after unification, the Croats began a civil war, and the communists, nationalists, all of those dissatisfied with the kingdom joined them. The political civil war became an armed civil war in 1941, with Ustaša genocide.” After the Second World War, “civil war smoldered, blazed up, quieted, but was never extinguished; it has the same primary focus, the same motivations: the national dissatisfactions with the state organization and with Yugoslavia as such.”16 Serbs, who sacrificed their identity for the new state that none of the other peoples appreciated, suffered as the primary natural antagonist for those dissatisfied nationalists. The ultimate insult for Ćosić, though, was the fact that after so much self-sacrifice in the name of a higher purpose—a “happy future”—Serbs were not only the objects of hatred of other Yugoslav nations, but the objects of open hostility from the regime that they had so idealistically supported.

  • 17 Dobrica Ćosić, “Potreba za kritičkim razmatranjem vladajuće ideoloske koncepcije u nacionalnoj pol (...)
  • 18 Milorad Vučelić, “Paradigma Ćosić,” in Književne novine (Belgrade) September 15, 1987, 3.

16As a symbol of Ćosić’s increasing relevance, on September 15, 1987, Književne novine published his 1968 speech to the Fourteenth Plenum of the Central Committee of the Serbian League of Communists.17 While the speech had long circulated in Serbian and Yugoslav society (it had been published in The Real and the Possible as early as 1983), its appearance in the leading literary journal in Serbia signified that the author had now re-emerged as a public figure, no longer the outsider he had been since the end of his tenure at the Serbian Literary Guild in 1972. Milorad Vučelić, the editor of Književne novine, wrote an accompanying article in which he argued that the speech had long been demonized as nationalistic, when it was really just “an expression of foresight” and not an anti-Albanian treatise.18 The change in Ćosić’s status was subtle at best. He had never been forbidden to publish his novels or his essays. Ćosić and the UKS had been the locus of opposition activity in Serbia since 1981, although they had not really teamed up in that regard: while Francuska 7 had been the scene of regular protest evenings since 1983, Ćosić had worked via the Committee for the Defense of the Freedom of Thought and Expression, which was not technically a UKS initiative. Now, though, Ćosić would become the leading figure in the UKS and a fixture on the pages of Književne novine, its official organ.

17Yugoslav Cains

18Ćosić’s influence derived not only from his literary stature and his early predictions regarding Kosovo—it also derived from a carefully crafted mea culpa, begun with Time of Evil and now continued in public presentations and especially interviews. In the late 1980s, Ćosić became the single most important point of reference for journalists describing the tumultuous events of that era. He was more than willing to elaborate his simple thesis that communism’s fundamental divisiveness had corrupted Serbia’s spirit. As we know, integral to Ćosić’s explanation of Serbia’s failure was a discussion of his own seduction by Titoism. After all, he had been one of those intellectuals who embraced the promise of the “happy future.” His understanding of Serbia’s poor position in Yugoslavia mirrored his description of his own progress as a communist intellectual; his behavior, and his diagnosis of Serbia’s problems, demanded an explanation from him. He had to pay a debt to Serbia for his prior service to the fratricidal Titoist/communist ideology. In part, he would pay that debt by putting to use his intimate knowledge of Titoist mechanisms of power to identify those people and things which served fratricidalism. In other words, he would offer up heroes and traitors to the Serbian historical cause.

  • 19 Slom and Čovek u svom vremenu.
  • 20 Ćosić, “Književnost i istorija danas,” 32.
  • 21 However, it must be said that in his novel Time of Death, he introduced the theme of Austrian geno (...)

19In his fratricidal Serbia, Ćosić gladly identified those guilty of the basest betrayal. In various lectures and interviews in the late 1980s, especially in two books by Slavoljub Djukić,19 he established a basic litmus test: if one had acquiesced in the gradual creation of semi-sovereign republics and provinces in Yugoslavia, one was a traitor to the Serbian people. Those people acted within a framework first elaborated by the late and unlamented Habsburg monarchy. In his famous speech to the Serbian Academy in 1977, Ćosić included Austria-Hungary in a list of perpetrators of genocide against the Serbs.20 A rather alarming claim in any context, it is especially startling to find it at such an early date.21 His accusation in 1977 laid the foundation for subsequent portrayals of the Austrian dynasty as fundamentally anti-Serbian. Ćosić was never particularly specific about the nature of Habsburg genocide. It may have been the simple fact of World War I—Time of Death would argue that the war Austria fought against Serbia was inhumane and undeserved at best. But presumably he also referred to the fact that the Habsburg monarchy had created persistent borders between communities of Orthodox Christian Serbs: Bosnia, Vojvodina, Croatia, Dalmatia. The Habsburgs of course had worked mightily before 1914 to contain Serbian nationalism and the connections between Serbs of Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia itself. But now, their crimes could be systematized as part of a broader historical process of persecution of Serbs (and so they were, not just by Ćosić but also by historians like Vasilije Krestić and Dragoljub Živojinović). The Habsburgs had engaged in “divide and rule” policies in order to control Serbs and, although Ćosić did not appreciate this detail, Croats, and the fact that Serbs often abetted that process only aided Ćosić’s analysis, which relied on the existence of Serbs who would betray their nation. The other noteworthy foreign enemy of Serbs was the international communist movement, in the form of the Comintern and the Bolsheviks, which had, according to Ćosić, used the Habsburg approach as its own template. Ćosić blamed the Communist International for its interwar policy of supporting national movements as revolutionary movements and for labeling the Serbian monarchy and the Serbian bourgeoisie as the primary culprits inhibiting progress in Yugoslavia. According to Ćosić, Tito utilized the same images of Serbia.

  • 22 Ćosić, Promene, 61.

20After the Second World War, Tito, a Stalinist, had allegedly crushed national sentiment in Serbia while fostering it elsewhere (Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bosnia). The shared crime of the Habsburgs and the Bolsheviks was to have sown divisions between South Slavs and among Serbs: they played upon the divisiveness of Serbs to find collaborators; they capitalized on the divisiveness of South Slavs, and especially hostility towards Serbs, to keep Serbia fragmented; all of this founded on their intense hatred of Serbs. The ease with which Ćosić not only integrated the Habsburgs and the Comintern into the pantheon of Serbia’s historic enemies, but even equated them, was rather stunning. “The FNRJ: that is the Comintern, Tito’s Yugoslavia, created or finally constituted with maximal respect for Austro-Hungarian ideology in the Balkans. The entire territorial structure of the FNRJ, that is the prewar organization of the KPJ, was founded on Austro-Hungarian administrative formations…”22 The simplest expression of this would be a common sort of portrayal of Tito among Serbs in the 1980s and 1990s: Tito, a bolshevik, a stalinist, was also half-Croat, half-Slovene, and his tactics harkened back to those of Franz Joseph. How, Vuk Drašković (one of Ćosić’s many heirs) later asked, could Tito help but be a Serbophobe?

  • 23 Vuk Drašković, “Jugoslavija i srpsko pitanje,” in Koekude, Srbijo (Belgrade: Nova knjiga, 1990) 43

21Raised in school and in childhood on official serbophobia, as an Austrian soldier sent to the front in 1914 against schismatic and hegemonistic Serbia, and later, as a communist and prospective cadre of the Comintern, given the opportunity anew to listen to the serbophobic lectures of his youth—such a Josip Broz, nonetheless, grew into a great Yugoslav, and perhaps it is improper to doubt the decency of all of his intentions. He probably never freed himself of the virus of serbophobia, but was it—one asks oneself—possible for him to forget overnight that which he was taught for the first fifty years of his life?23

  • 24 Kosta Čavoški, Tito—Tehnologija vlasti (Belgrade: Dosije, 1990).
  • 25 Čavoški, Tito—Tehnologija vlasti, 5.

22Ćosić’s construction was adopted by others as well. For instance, in his intriguing anatomy of Titoism, entitled Tito—The Technology of Power,24 Kosta Čavoški describes the methods Tito used to play brotherly nations off of each other. Čavoški explicitly acknowledges Ćosić’s influence, thanking Ćosić for reminding him “that the KPJ and Tito formulated the Serbian national question in the same way that the former Austria-Hungary, and then the Austro-Marxists, did.”25 This “way” was simple: divide and rule. Serbs suffered under Habsburg and communist rule as a result of the latters’ shared policy of treating Serbs as pawns in a manipulative game of geopolitical chess. Čavoški was right to thank Ćosić, who indeed had bequeathed that simplistic narrative to the Serbian intelligentsia, which embraced it and gave it life.

  • 26 Ćosić, Promene, 23.
  • 27 Ćosić: “[Kardelj] systematically, cleverly, evolutionarily, and, I would say, in a Machiavellian w (...)
  • 28 Ćosić, “Kritika vladajuće ideološke koncepcije,” 31.

23Outsiders provided the forms, insiders the content, for Tito relied on the enemies within to execute his nefarious plans. Although Ćosić’s ultimate condemnation for policies dividing Serbia would be reserved for Tito (that “Stalinist, tyrant, power-lover, hedonist, merciless and corrupt demagogue, skilled tactician…that status-seeker, ignoramus, careerist, unprincipled statesman…bureaucratic monarch…”26) and Edvard Kardelj27—a Slovene who was the only one of Tito’s three lieutenants (the others were Djilas and Ranković) to survive politically, he spotted the willingness to destroy Serbia even among Serbs themselves. Those Serbs who favored or acquiesced in the fragmentation of Yugoslavia, including the potential achievement of full republic status by Vojvodina and Kosovo, were for Ćosić Tito’s lackeys. They were supporters of srbijanstvo, which in the Serbian language refers to a Serbianism that reduces Serbia to a place south of the Danube and east of the Drina (thus, not including the Serbian communities of Croatia, Bosnia, and Vojvodina). Those Serbs who were willing to support such a narrow vision of Serbian interests were for Ćosić perpetrators of “that shameful cadre and personal policy that follows provincial affinities and criteria”—that is, nepotistic, narrow-minded, corrupt.28 Since Yugoslavia’s federal structure after 1974 reinforced precisely that narrow srbijanstvo, Ćosić identified those who favored the federalization of Yugoslavia as traitors to the Serbian community.

  • 29 Djukić, Slom, 149.

24On the individual level, those Serbian communists who survived the tumultuous years of 1966 (when Ranković was removed) and 1972 (when Tito purged the remainder of the Serbian party), and were in power in 1974 (when the 1974 constitution federalizing the state was proclaimed), come in for Ćosić’s harshest condemnations, because those were the years in which Serbia’s divided fate was finalized. In his view, “mediocrity and political cowardice” defined them.29 Here Ćosić would again affirm his love of the historical metaphor: the vast majority of Serbian communist leaders after 1974 were, for Ćosić, inheritors of the mantle of Prince Miloš Obrenović, whom many Serbs, including Ćosić, liked to compare unfavorably to his revolutionary rival Djordje Petrović (Karadjordje).

  • 30 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 283.

25In Serbian history, as you know, there exist two fundamental, I would say antipodal types, which are symbolically represented in prince Miloš and Karadjordje. Prince Djordje was a representative of the rebellious, epic, liberational, revolutionary tradition. Prince Miloš represents politics as skill, which begins with despot Stefan and finishes, I hope, with Petar Stambolić and Dragoslav Marković, not to mention many other Serbian communist “luminaries”…30

  • 31 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 282.
  • 32 Djukić, Slom, 157.
  • 33 Djukić, Slom, 161.
  • 34 Djukić, Slom, 165.

26Since the skilled Miloš had the freedom-seeking Karadjordje executed in 1817, the purpose of the image is clear—Serbia is plagued by amoral masters who are always ready sacrifice Serbia’s true revolutionaries. Post-1974 Serbian leaders, including Petar Stambolić, Draža Marković, Miloš Minić, Tihomir Vlaškalić, and Dušan Petrović Šane, Ćosić believed, were interested in power only for the sake of power, even at the expense of the heirs of Karadjordje. Stambolić (“the prince of Serbian bureaucracy,” “after King Milutin, the longest serving Serbian ruler”31) symbolized “the political and moral ruin of the revolutionary movement and the Serbian nation.”32 Marković was “a representative of the negative in Serbian political tradition, that ‘marketplace Serbia’…of which I am ashamed.”33 Vlaškalić reflected Tito’s “unerring talent for finding political lackeys.”34 These men, nearly universally loathed in Serbia after 1980, were guilty of working with rather than against the federalization of Yugoslavia, and there is little doubt that they were above all political survivors. But for Ćosić they reflected timeless divisions in Serbian society, by contributing to a plot drawn up on high to fragment Serbia and create small states within Yugoslavia’s borders, leaving ordinary Serbs in a state of slackjawed depression (just look at Mica Popović’s Serbs in a Waiting Room, which captures the essence of Ćosić’s vision of modern Serbs). When Stambolić, Marković, Vlaškalić, Petrović, and others collaborated with Tito and Kardelj, in Ćosić’s mind they worked for the destruction of Yugoslavia and Serbia.

  • 35 Ćosić, Promene, 97.
  • 36 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 178.

27As Ćosić established his enemies list, he also built a list of modern Serbian heroes, victims of Titoism, whose only unifying features were that they were Serbs and had fallen from grace. For instance, he idealized and personally rehabilitated Aleksandar Ranković. Similarly, Ćosić would praise Blagoje Nešković, who was removed from the politburo of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia in 1949 under accusations of Stalinism, and Slobodan Penezić Krcun, a regime watchdog whose reputation as a defender of Serbian interests grew posthumously (he died in 1964 in an automobile accident).35 But Ranković must appear at the head of Ćosić’s list, as he has long been the subject of polarized opinion in Yugoslavia. Ranković is hard to picture as a victim of Titoism, given the fact that he was the head of state security after the liberation of Belgrade in October 1944 and thus responsible for the purge of Stalinists and others after 1948, the prison camp for “cominformists” on Goli Otok, and the suppression of dissent in general in Yugoslavia. However, by the early 1980s, Ranković had become a cause celebre for anti-Titoists. As Ćosić himself noted, Ranković’s funeral in August 1983 was “above all a nationalist demonstration. It was a true, widely effective gesture, a real nationalist uprising [of] solidarity with a noted Serbian communist who was the victim of a great injustice.”36 The question that begs an answer: where is the injustice? Why was Ranković’s demise not just another round in the bolshevik game he was playing?

  • 37 Zoran Sekulić, Pad i čutnja Aleksandra Rankovića (Belgrade: Dositej, 1989) 151.
  • 38 Sekulić, Pad i čutnja, 186. Remember, though, that Mihajlo Švabić actually said he was “ashamed as (...)

28There are a couple of legitimate reasons why Ranković’s demotion was perceived by many Serbs as more than just a bolshevik hatchet job. First, the regime linked Ranković to interwar Serbian “hegemonism,” which was an integral part of the Yugoslav communists’ attack on the interwar Serbian monarchy. At the Sixth Plenum of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Serbia, convened after the Brioni Plenum which saw the demotion of Ranković, Dušan Petrović Šane remarked that “Ranković and his group are…a living example of the hegemonistic tendencies which they tried to bring to life in Serbia.”37 When another Serbian communist (allegedly) announced to the central committee of the Serbian League of Communists following Ranković’s fall that he was “ashamed to be a Serb,” he (apocryphally but usefull) revived language used to blacken the reputation of interwar Serbia: that the Serbian bourgeoisie and the Serbian monarchy had behaved shamefully in the interwar period.38 Second, as we have seen with the cases of Kosovo, Bosnia, and Croatia, the demotion of Ranković initiated a period of real, profound change in Yugoslavia, which could also be viewed as anti-Serbian. Ranković, demonized by those whom Ćosić labeled lackeys of an anti-Serbian regime, later prospered as a result of his alleged resistance to the federalization of Serbia, but also, importantly, because of his very demonization. He played the heroic Karadjordje to Tito’s miserable Miloš.

  • 39 Ćosić, Promene, 19.
  • 40 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 174.
  • 41 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 174.
  • 42 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 172–73.
  • 43 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 177.
  • 44 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 177.

29As Ćosić progressively concluded that Tito was fundamentally anti- Serbian (by 1980 he was “the greatest enemy of my people in the last century”39), he found ever more noble qualities in Ranković. In 1988, Ćosić asserted that he “had never heard anyone accuse [Ranković] of injustice, of vengefulness, of playing personalities, of moral dishonor.”40 Further, this coarse revolutionary, the head of UDBa, the state security service, had a special place in his heart for writers, personally saving some authors from imprisonment and authorizing others’ publications (as Ćosić’s interviewer noted, “such breadth is not often included in the typical picture of the chief of police and organizational secretary”).41 Ranković, according to Ćosić, was only fully understood by the Serbian peasant. “While the intellectuals and the entire party bureaucracy believed that it was good that Ranković fell, the peasants saw in him a man who defended Yugoslavia and represented Serbia at the head of the party, convinced that he was an honorable and statesmanlike man.”42 Ranković was bad, according to Ćosić, but “no more cruel or merciless than Tito, Kardelj, Djilas, Kidrič, Blaže Jovanović…”43 Ćosić’s view was not entirely clouded—he recognized that ideology could not “justify the many, many evils which we committed ‘in the name of good.’ Among the first to submit to that judgment, that responsibility, is Aleksandar Ranković. But the tragedy of his fate will remain to writers and philosophers to interpret.”44 Ćosić, writer and occasional philosopher, seeker of transcendent truths, determined that Ranković’s fate was an injustice. His attitude to Ranković was founded upon his dual understanding of the function of “division” in Serbia: Ranković resisted Serbia’s geopolitical division, and Ranković was cast out of Tito’s brotherhood, fratricidally.

  • 45 From Yugoslav sources, cited in Sabrina P. Ramet, Nationalism and Federalism in Yugoslavia, 1962–1 (...)

30With his diagnosis of Serbia’s and Yugoslavia’s problems firmly established, Ćosić could proceed accordingly, applying that diagnosis to new problems and changes as they occurred in the late 1980s, which was a period of constant turmoil in Yugoslavia. While Serbia simmered under the influence of events in Kosovo and the intellectuals’ embrace of the free speech movement, other republics began to respond. Croatia, Bosnia, and Macedonia remained quiet until 1990; Slovenia, however, had enjoyed a renaissance of sorts itself—one which paralleled that in Serbia, but differed from it in important ways. Slovenes did not face the critical problem confronting the Serbian intelligentsia: the dispersion of the Serbian people in many of Yugoslavia’s federal units. Slovenia was virtually homogenously Slovenian (90 percent in 198145).

31By 1987, “anti-Serbianism” and “serbophobia” had become standards in Ćosić’s vocabulary: they were a fundamental feature of life in Yugoslavia. Characteristically, Ćosić believed that Serbs had contributed to the flourishing of serbophobia, but not because Serbs had behaved aggressively or done anything legitimately to be feared by other Yugoslavs.

  • 46 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 307.

[Serbs contributed to serbophobia] very much. Above all with our state-creating Yugoslavism. In the name of Comintern internationalism, we denied ourselves our Serbian identity. Communists from other Yugoslav nations, in the name of that internationalism, defended their national interests, and, especially in recent decades, only strengthened their nations. Inheriting the complex guilt of the so-called governing nation, we never had the daring to speak the real truth about international relations in economics, politics, or the spiritual sphere. While in Croatia and Slovenia they have spoken for decades of the theft that is undertaken by Belgrade, official Serbian policy, the Serbian government, never said a word of truth about that. It agreed to a lie. That Serbian “open-heartedness” was political stupidity; such Serbian Yugoslavism was the worst Yugoslavism. With that we objectively provided a foundation for Serbophobia.46

32The fundamental sin of the Serbs was that they had so closely associated themselves with a state and an ideology that had come to be loathed by others. Yugoslavism, embraced by Serbs because of its idealistic potential and because it brought Serbian unity, had planted the seeds of its own destruction by ultimately encouraging other nations to affirm themselves. Thus, Serbs were duped. “Serbophobia” emerged as a result of their embrace of Titoist Yugoslavism. This would be a tragic process, did it not thoroughly underestimate the maturity of Slovenes, Croats, Macedonians, and others, who in Ćosić’s scheme emerge as peoples who act formulaically, according to a script in which they are written in as, at best, fundamentally hostile to Serbs. All Serbs could have done was to have recognized their own need for self-defense sooner; instead, in their graciousness, they had denied themselves their identity and opened themselves to the hostility that lied in wait for them.


33In 1990, Ćosić articulated a thought that had been on the tip of his tongue for several years. He drew upon the words of Njegoš: “our greatest evil is within ourselves, our greatest enemy is among us. Thus we cannot postpone the struggle with ourselves and with our own….The future of the Serbian nation is decisively dependent on the conquering of the evil within it.” To overcome that evil, he called for a full national revival:

  • 47 Dobrica Ćosić, “Ne maćem—nego duhom,” in Knjževne novine (November 1, 1990) 1; from his speech at (...)

Today, nothing meaningful and great can be done in this country if we do not experience a spiritual renaissance. And it begins with the selection of those national traditions which have the energy for a new era and the establishment of a hierarchy of lasting values in the individual and in society. Given that assumption, it is also reasonable to affirm in the ethos of our culture the courage to find the truth, above all about ourselves, and to push away with the spirit of tolerance…the passion for division and conflict…47

  • 48 Nezavisna svetlost (October 6–12, 1996); quoted in Miller, “Searching for a Serbian Havel,” 5.

34Ćosić’s call to renewal included extraordinarily few specific suggestions—his task, as he would later put it, was to “serve my people…as a writer…by speaking some truth about its existence…”48; his people should rediscover their own values and, apparently, find their own way. However, one thing that he clearly believed was needed was a leader: “A characteristic of all national movements is the appearance of national leaders.” An apparent answer to his call emerged after April 24, 1987, when Slobodan Milošević, the chairman of the League of Communists of Serbia, gave an apparently impromptu speech to Serbian demonstrators in the town of Kosovo Polje. In that speech, he infamously declared that no one “dared” beat them (as Serbian opponents of the current order in Kosovo, these demonstrators represented the oppressed, not the ruling, nation in Kosovo). The speech elevated Milošević above the run-of-the-mill bureaucrats that headed the League of Communists of Serbia. By December of 1987, capitalizing on his newfound role as defender of Serbian interests, Milošević had engineered the LCS’s repudiation of Serbian President Ivan Stambolić, who was Petar’s nephew and Milošević’s own political patron, and his own installation as president of the republic.

  • 49 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 282.
  • 50 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 282.
  • 51 Ćosić, Promene, 140.
  • 52 Ćosić, Promene, 141.

35Ćosić claims to have been cautiously optimistic at the rise of Milošević. The mere fact that the post-1974 Serbian party leaders had left the stage was cause for elation: “the worst political tradition of the Serbian people—radical politics, love of power, nepotism, careerism, the political vassalism of [that tradition’s] brilliant founder Miloš Obrenović, through to the prince of contemporary Serbian bureaucracy Petar Stambolić—were defeated.”49 While acknowledging that Milošević overthrew Stambolić using “traditional communistic and titoistic methods” (akin to those which undid Aleksandar Ranković),50 Ćosić also believed that Milošević made his bureaucratic position as Serbian president more meaningful through his own “abilities and charisma as a leader”: “the party did not make Milošević the Serbian leader, nor did socialist ideology; only the nation’s energy and [his] statesmanship could have made him such.”51 Milošević alone would determine if he would remain a national leader or merely the leader of a Serbian party. If the latter, “then he will only be a comet whose appearance and passing in the heavens of Serbian history will be remembered for a short time.”52 To be a national leader would mean subsuming his own ambitions in the interest of “the defense of Serbs and the renewal of the modern Serbian state.” If he did so, he would “achieve the reputation and meaning which no one among the Serbs has had since Pašić.”

  • 53 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 305.

36When, during 1988 and 1989, Milošević sponsored the so-called “yoghurt revolution” that toppled the leaderships of Montenegro and Vojvodina, Ćosić applauded: “I must admit that I am very happy that I lived through a true people’s revolution, which, as far as I know, given its lack of violence, is singular in the postwar history of Europe. It is unheard of that a bureaucratic government, such as that in the Vojvodina, could be overthrown with some yoghurt and three broken windows….For the first time, as far as I know, a CP has accepted the demands of the masses. That is to Milošević’s political credit and his innovation, pray God it is not a manipulation.”53 As it turned out, of course, it was indeed a manipulation. Ćosić’s tenuous embrace of Milošević was a product of two qualities: his blind hatred of the bureaucratic party, whose existence he had bemoaned since the early 1960s, and Milošević’s embrace of Kosovo as a symbol of the oppression of Serbs in Tito’s Yugoslavia. In September 1989, he gave Milošević some qualified public support:

  • 54 “Šta je Ćosić stvarno rekao,” in NIN (Belgrade) Sept. 10, 1989, 67.

I do not know him personally. He is young, brave, decisive and intelligent. He speaks well. He has an exceptional ability to communicate with the masses. He is undoubtedly the most popular person the Serbian people have had in the twentieth century. He does not fear the opposition and gave it the possibility to destroy Titoism. Since he left the party to take power, he has initiated a new political discussion and given more space for confrontation. Djilas can now say what he likes. Even on television. I repeat that he has no ambitions to become the new Tito. Finally, my opinion of Milošević: it is too early to be enthused by him, but it is also too early to judge him negatively.54

  • 55 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1981–1991), 275.

37Perhaps as important was the fact that, as he wrote in his diary two months later, Milošević “is the first party functionary in Serbia who has given principled support to the Academy and to Francuska 7!”55

  • 56 Milovan Danojlić, “Koreni srpskog gneva,” in Nasa reč (London) December 1988, no. 400, p. 2.

38Others shared Ćosić’s optimism. Milovan Danojlić, one of the original members of the Committee for the Protection of Artistic Freedom, wrote in November 1988 that Serbs, whose “strong personalities in the party and the government (Žujović, Djilas, Ranković, Nešković, Nikezić, Koča Popović) were thrown into disfavor,” had embraced Milošević for various reasons, not least because he had “called to the people for help.” The Serbia intelligentsia waited nervously but hopefully. “The number of banned books and criminal prosecutions of ‘thought crime’” had “fallen notably….in some Belgrade bookstores I saw books…in which the method by which Milošević came to power was mercilessly attacked. The atmosphere is de facto liberal…”56 These were all reasons to rejoice, but Danojlić was certain to note that he was not sure whether this “liberal” atmosphere was a result of Milošević’s inclinations or momentary political needs.

  • 57 Slavoljub Djukić, Lovljenje vetra: Politička ispovest Dobrice Ćosića (Belgrade: Samizdat B92, 2001 (...)
  • 58 Djukić, Lovljenje vetra, 161.
  • 59 Dušan Radulović and Nebojša Spaić, U potrazi za demokratijom (Belgrade: Dosije, 1991) 36–38.
  • 60 Radulović and Spaić, U potrazi za demokratijom, 36–37.

39Unlike some Serbian intellectual leaders (Antonije Isaković and Mihailo Marković, for instance), Ćosić had no personal contact with Milošević until the beginning of 1990.57 While Ćosić claims never to have chosen to work with the ruling party, he did offer very public signs of his approval of Milošević. For instance, on July 16, 1990, the Socialist Party of Serbia held its founding congress (this was the renamed Serbian League of Communists), which he attended together with Antonije Isaković and Brana Crnćević. While he insists that he was merely an interested outsider, he was photographed meeting with Milošević, which sent Serbs a clear message of approval of the regime.58 Soon thereafter, Ćosić did provide Milošević one service that has resounded in Serbia ever since: at a time when political discourse was focused on the issue of a new constitution for Serbia, Ćosić publicly rejected opposition calls for the election of a constituent assembly, instead arguing that the current (Milošević) government of Serbia should formulate the new constitution.59 His voice was authoritative enough that his argument, which included some desultory remarks regarding the newly formed opposition parties, carried the day and Milošević was able to create a constitution to his liking.60

  • 61 “Prilog javnoj raspravi o ustavu,” in Književne novine (April 1, 1988) 1.
  • 62 “Javni zahtev,” in Književne novine (Belgrade) January 15, 1990, 2.
  • 63 Djukić, Lovljenje vetra, 163.
  • 64 Djukić, Lovljenje vetra, 164.

40The constitutional question—the Yugoslav constitutional question until 1990—had of course been one of the more prominent ones on the minds of oppositionists in Serbia for several years. Ćosić, in fact, had presided over the formulation of a UKS proposal as early as March 28, 1988. Titled “Contribution to Public Debate on the Constitution,” it demanded an end to the party monopoly in political life in Yugoslavia, direct voting, freedom of the press, a right to privacy, an independent judiciary, the right to private property, the establishment of the “national, spiritual, and cultural integrity of each Yugoslav nation individually, independently of republics or regions in which they lie,” and a Serbia which “has the same rights and duties which other republics which comprise the Yugoslav state association possess.”61 A year and a half later, in entirely different conditions, Borislav Mihajlović Mihiz, Matija Bećković, and Mića Popović together issued a “Public Demand” Jan. 1, 1990, in which they called for a constitutional convention to be elected within six months, which they argued necessitated the formation of political parties, an end leading role of party; an end to communist organizations in the army, police, businesses, and institutions; an end to public financing of the League of Communists; equal treatment in media of all parties; no more protection of the person and works of Tito; and full freedom of press.62 Ultimately, Ćosić acted as though these debates had not occurred. “I fooled myself and was fooled by them,” he said. “I had then information that the Slovenes and Albanians were preparing declarations on secession, which was accurate, and I thought that we must hurry to carry a new constitution that would put Serbia in a better position. And I said then: first the Constitution, by which I understood the participation of opposition parties in its creation. That was the agreement with Milošević but he did not keep his promise.”63 And, whatever his true relationship with Milošević, he did ultimately vote for him in Serbia’s first post-communist presidential election in December 1990: “In spite of all the good intentions of Ante Marković, no reform was possible on the ruins of Brioni Yugoslavia.” “In that competition, I vote for Milošević.”64

  • 65 Djukić, Lovljenje vetra, 168.
  • 66 Djukić, Lovljenje vetra, 172.

41Real political initiatives are not a large part of Ćosić’s record, but he was undoubtedly instrumental in the choices of Jovan Rašković and Radovan Karadžić to lead the Serbian Democratic parties of Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina, respectively.65 Rašković was an old friend; they had met in the mid-1960s and regularly vacationed together thereafter. There is no indication that Karadžić and Ćosić were friends before 1990, but Ćosić nonetheless felt comfortable in annointing him the leader of Bosnia’s Serbs: “with his intelligence, decisiveness, and militance, he was the right person to lead the Bosnian Serbs.”66 On Nov. 2, 1990, the SDS BiH met at Sava Centar in Belgrade. Ćosić gave the opening speech. “Here among us in Belgrade are our own representatives of the Serbian Democratic Party of Bosnia and Hercegovina, which denotes the beginning of the spiritual and political renaissance of the Serbian nation in Bosnia and Hercegovina, till yesterday the raja of Tito’s vezirs…” As evidence of (at the very least) Ćosić’s poor judgment of character, he continued by announcing that he was

  • 67 “Pozdrav,” in NIN (Belgrade) November 9, 1990, 15.

convinced that the SDS BiH seeks…the creation of a democratic and educated society in which tolerance of difference and respect for national, spiritual, and religious identities of the Muslims, Croats, and all nationalities and confessions—is a fundamental principle of its politics, with brotherly desires and hope in the success of the historical mission of the SDS, I welcome its leadership and membership.67

42Disappointment awaited on all fronts. The student demonstrations of March 9, 1991 disillusioned Ćosić and many others among Serbia’s intellectual supporters of the regime. The demonstrations were led by the Serbian Renewal Movement and its leader Vuk Drašković, with the goal of loosening SPS control of the media in Serbia. The regime’s response was swift and violent; Drašković was arrested and beaten, and students and others fought the police and military on the streets of downtown Belgrade. Among others, Mihiz, whose initial fondness for Milošević had by now disappeared, spoke to the demonstrators. The mere fact that the Serbian army was brought out to fight against Serbs, at a time when most Serbs believed they were threatened by Albanian, Croatian, and Slovenian actions, contributed to their disillusionment. Ćosić, who condemned the brutality of the Serbian regime, nevertheless retained some respect for Milošević. In September, after the war in Slovenia had concluded but that in Croatia raged, he told the daily Politika that

  • 68 I nterview in Politika, September 13, 1991, quoted in Djukić, Lovljenje vetra, 181.

…I believe that after Nikola Pašić, in the First World War, no politician has had more difficult conditions and more worries than Slobodan Milošević. He bravely attended the renewal of the Serbian state and the salvation of the Serbian nation from a new enslavement and destruction, to that end confronting many and more powerful enemies and obstacles….Slobodan Milošević, has in my opinion, of all Serbian politicians in the last five decades done the most for the Serbian nation. His general national policy, strategy, and tactics, I believe are realistic and well directed.68

  • 69 Djukić, Lovljenje vetra, 188.

43By May 1992, Ćosić would become disappointed in yet another leader of the new Serbia, Radovan Karadžić. Noting that he was in daily contact with Karadžić during those first two months of the Bosnian war, Ćosić remembers asking him “Why the destruction of Sarajevo? What’s with that Serbian foolishness against the entire world? That represents the final collapse of the Serbian question.”69 If Ćosić’s response to the actions of his man Karadžić seem to be very little and very late, they could not keep him from succumbing to the final seduction for the writer who proposes to be seen as the voice of his nation: on June 15, 1992, Ćosić became the president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He lasted until the end of May, 1993, when he was forced from his position by a coalition of Socialist and Radical party representatives in the federal assembly. His time as president saw him futilely working to improve Serbia’s image abroad; in fact, this was the function that Milošević imagined for him when he became president. When Ćosić began to push Milošević rather than to follow him, his fate was sealed. It was a political performance more than worthy of a man who professed never to want to be involved in politics. It also marked the end of Ćosić’s public life.


  • 70 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 30–36.
  • 71 For instance, Petar Nešić, “Krivica i stradanje profesora Djurića,” Intervju (Belgrade) July 21, 1 (...)

44While Ćosić had achieved a preeminent position among Serbian intellectual oppositionists, his Simina 9a friends had also re-emerged on the public scene. Where the catalog for Mića Popović’s 1974 exhibition had established the very notion that there had been such a thing as a Simina 9a collective, other sources now reinforced the idea. In Slavoljub Djukić’s book of interviews with Ćosić, A Man in his Times: Conversations with Dobrica Ćosić, published in 1989, Simina 9a gained its own chapter.70 At the same point, the new newsmagazine Intervju devoted several issues to the rehabilitation of Mihailo Djurić at the time that his issue—the constitution of Serbia and Yugoslavia—had begun to truly obsess ordinary Serbs (with the encouragement of the regime-controlled press, of course).71 It is only a slight exaggeration to say that Intervju served as the siminovci’s vehicle for personal rehabilitation. Pavle Ivić became a prime source for language politics and the Serbian question in Croatia; Stojković’s “heroic” publication of the works of Dragisa Vasić and Slobodan Jovanović earned him a special role. The magazine turned regularly to all of them, plus Mihiz, for commentary on the Serbian dilemma.

  • 72 Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 198–204.
  • 73 “Izveštaj o dvogodišnjem radu UKS 1986–1988,” in Književne novine (Belgrade) June 1–15, 1988, 4.

45Mihiz played a prominent, but not leading, role in the deliberations of the Committee for the Defense of the Freedom of Thought and Expression. He contributed to the writing of The “Proposal for the Free and Critical Reinvestigation of the Historical Role of Josip Broz Tito,” issued in June 1988, whose primary authors were Čavoški and Koštunica.72 He was elected vice-president of the UKS in 1988–90; Matija Bećković was elected president.73 He was the author of “Serbia and Democracy, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” which was a product of the UKS, in May 1989. This document, prepared as opposition and public demands for governmental reforms grew in strength, laid out a case for Serbia’s democratic heritage. It detailed the history of Serbian unification in the nineteenth century, and emphasized the argument that democracy in Serbia and Yugoslavia only began to founder after Serbia magnanimously fought for the freedom of others as well. Now,

  • 74 Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 172–73.

after fourty five years of uninterrupted control by one party, the country finds itself on the brink of economic collapse and at one of the lowest levels of economic development in Europe, mired in extremely dangerous national conflicts, without prospects for development and progress, as a terminally ill patient of the contemporary world. One of the essential factors and causes of the general Yugoslav crisis has been the long-term absence of democratic freedoms and rights.74

  • 75 Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 175.

46Mihiz describes the problem for Yugoslavia at that point as a conflict between two concepts of democracy, one which believes in the principle “one-man-one-vote,” and the other which would restrict that principle and funnel democratic impulses through the republics.75

  • 76 Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 218–19.
  • 77 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1981–1991) 276.

47Ultimately, Mihiz’s own logic led him to the conclusion that “a free Yugoslavia is impossible,” which he expressed in an interview published by Intervju in October 1990. “The second that democracy brings the right of self-determination,” he argues, “Yugoslavia is finished. The Croats and Slovenes want their independent states, which is their uncontestable right. It would be good if Serbs finally figured that out.” His obvious conclusion: “that the Serbian national program must have as its first point the creation of an independent and free Serbia.”76 Although Ćosić would not publicly admit it, he had come to agree with Mihiz on that point: “We in the opposition believe that Yugoslavia can only exist on the basis of the inequality of the Serbian nation. Djilas thinks that is the price of the survival of Yugoslavia. He believes that Yugoslavia deserves that Serbian sacrifice. In that we do not agree. Nor does Matija [Bećković] agree with him on that.”77

  • 78 Žika Stojković, “Život u vanrednom stanju,” in Žika Stojković, Otisci: 1951– 1996 (Belgrade: BIGZ, (...)
  • 79 Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 221.

48It is probably not surprising that when one ventures beyond Ćosić, who chose to express himself in abstractions, one can find more subtle approaches to the problem of Serbo-Albanian relations in Kosovo. Žika Stojković, for instance, expressed a more conciliatory approach to the Kosovo question. Where Ćosić would rhetorically argue that Serbs and Albanians needed to work together, the burden was always on the genocidal Albanians, who in Ćosić’s worldview were irredeemable. Stojković argued in 1990, for instance, that “Adem Demaci was imprisoned for a while with Mihailo Djurić, and while they did not become close, Demaci knew how to respect others, even to understand their struggle. It would be better to deal with him or people like him than to organize a government only of ‘our people.’ A policy that constantly reiterates that there are no alternatives is incoherent. To solve the fundamental problem, they must examine various ways for transitional ‘coexistence.’” Furthermore, said Stojković, “Current Serbian policy behaves as if it does not know how to act towards the enemy. It does not know, it appears, that the enemy dare not be degraded and that the ballyhooed ‘differentiation’ is insulting for realistic, sensible Albanians, insofar as there are any, and above all it is in vain and harmful…”78 Even Mihiz, not generally a fan of subtleties, said in 1990 that “the political and territorial autonomy of Kosovo must simply be ended. But, along with that, the Shiptars must receive the right to schooling in their language, insofar as state law requires it. Even the Serbian nation in Austria-Hungary, which was a state of law, had school-church autonomy. It had state-supported grammar schools in which they learned their language, but they had to support their gymnasia, theological training, and preparatory schools.”79

  • 80 Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 337–38.

49The remainder of the Siminovci flirted with respect for Milošević in 1989, but by 1990 had become disillusioned. Their fundamental anti-Communism undoubtedly played a role; their firm support for a parliamentary democratic Serbia led them to an active role in the formation of new parties over the course of that year. While he was never a member of the party, Mihiz spoke in favor of the Serbian Renewal Movement of Vuk Drašković on occasion. He, Popović, and several other leading Serbian intellectuals were on the Crown Council formed by the exiled Aleksandar Karadjordjević in 1992.80 In 1992, Mihiz, Popović, and Stojković were all active in DEPOS, the coalition of opposition parties that led a strong and serious, but ultimately failed, challenge to the Milošević regime.

  • 81 Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 319 ff.

50Popović, Mihiz, and Stojković all withdrew from public life at that point. Depression, especially for Mihiz, had begun to set in even before the failure of DEPOS. In July 1991, Mihiz issued a “Proposal for Consideration in Ten Points.”81 “What has been missed has been missed, and what is done is done, what will be will be,” he wrote. “Out of this straitjacket in which others bound us and in which we ourselves laced ourselves with mistaken choices, provoked and unprovoked conflicts, stupid and unnecessary defeats, indecisiveness and over-decisiveness, we must once and for all unbind ourselves.” Mihiz’s ten points called for a concentration government in Serbia, new free elections, recognition of Slovenia, recognition of Croatia when Croatia recognized the rights of Croatian Serbs to secede from that state, recognition of Macedonian independence, independence for Bosnia if all nations there desire it (otherwise the Serbs could join Serbia, the Croats Croatia), that Serbia respect the rights of minorities in Serbia but not the right of secession, that Serbia announce that it recognizes that its attempts to maintain Yugoslavia have failed in the face of the will of some Yugoslav peoples, that Serbia now proclaims its independent and democratic existence as it was before 1918, and that Serbia express its readiness to negotiate the counterproposals of other Yugoslav nations.


51By the end of the Bosnian war in 1995, Popović, Stojković, and Mihiz had all withdrawn from public life. Stojković was angry, Popović tired, and Mihiz depressed. In fact, Mihiz did not emerge from his room for the two years preceding his death in late 1996; Popović and Stojković followed him to their graves soon after. None of the three saw Ćosić regularly after the outbreak of war. Mihiz refused to receive Ćosić for years, until he was on the brink of death. The Simina 9a collective was not a collective in any meaningful sense of the word after the beginning of the wars of the Yugoslav succession.

52Dobrica Ćosić spent the second half of the 1990s fending off accusations that he had been responsible for growth of Serbian nationalism in the 1980s and the excesses of Serbia’s wars in Croatia and Bosnia in the 1990s. His usual defense was that he had spent his life trying to impart a little truth to his people; he repeated this mantra over and over. Ćosić also sought to regain some of his relevance as Serbia’s tragic nineties progressed: he spoke (and was jeered) at demonstrations in 1996 which threatened the Milošević regime but ultimately failed, and in 1999 he demonstratively joined the student movement Otpor (Resistance), which helped mightily in overthrowing Milošević in October 2000. No longer relevant at home, he enjoyed a brief period of notoriety during the NATO bombing of Kosovo. In the late 1980s and 1990s, he had flirted quietly with the idea of partition as a solution to the Kosovo problem. In 1999, with western journalists looking for anyone willing to talk with the media about Kosovo, Ćosić once again became associated with the idea of partition. The irrelevance that stalked Ćosić after the beginning of the wars in 1991 proved impossible for him to overcome. But the Writer still had the opportunity to get in his word.

53Time of Power (Vreme vlasti) is the final volume of Dobrica Ćosić’s twelve-volume Katić family saga. This segment takes up the fate of Ivan Katić after his release from Mauthausen, the German/Austrian prison camp during World War II. Along the way, it concludes the story of Milena Katić Dragović, continues the saga of Vladimir Dragović, and fleshes out the character of Dušan Katić (Adam’s son, the partisan commissar of Divisions and Time of Evil). What is unique about Time of Power—unsettling and often trite, as well—is that Ćosić places himself in the novel. This works on one instrumental level: this segment of the saga treats years that Ćosić himself endured and has developed an idiosyncratic understanding of. But the effect is voyeuristic. Ćosić comes off as a screenwriter who has literally stepped into the television to interact with his creations. (His fascination with, and one suspects even love of, Milena Dragović is most disconcerting.) He also uses the opportunity to provide a fictional genesis for his Katić family saga: intrigued by the fate of Ivan Katić to the point of obsession, he decided to make him the centerpiece of an epic novel about Serbia. But the most disturbing thing about Ćosić’s personal intervention is that he describes in himself a writer who did not exist, one whose awakening to the evils of communism came significantly earlier than Ćosić’s own, which did not occur until the mid-1960s. In Time of Power we find him having his doubts as early as 1950, the year that Ivan Katić is imprisoned on Goli Otok.

  • 82 Dobrica Ćosić, Vreme vlasti (Belgrade: Narodna knjiga/Alfa, 1997) 37.

54On the most literal level, Time of Power describes the life of Ivan Katić after the Second World War. Freed from Mauthausen, he returns to Belgrade, where he is given a lectureship in the Law Faculty, thanks to the intervention of his cousin Dušan. His tenure there is rocky—he defends some professors who are fired for ideological reasons. But then, in 1948, he is jailed and eventually sent to the island penal colony of Goli Otok. Thus Ivan spent much of his life in prisons: during the First World War in Hungary; in 1932 in Mitrovica, a prisoner of the Royal Yugoslav government; in the Second World War in Mauthausen, a prisoner of the Nazis; and after the war on Goli Otok, a prisoner of Yugoslav communists.82

  • 83 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 113.
  • 84 One is reminded of the fate of Meša, the main character in Emir Kusturica’s “When Father Was Away (...)

55Time of Power serves as a quite late addition to the “Goli Otok literature,” whose original contributors included Dušan Mihailović, Branko Hoffman, and Antonije Isaković. Ćosić used the character of Ivan to revisit the theme. As could be expected, Ćosić uses Ivan’s imprisonment as an occasion to examine the mental and physical brutality suffered by prisoners on the island. But for Ćosić, Ivan is more than just another human being caught in the web of postwar witch-hunts: this imprisonment, following so many others, completes the picture of Ivan as a metaphor for the Serbian century. The reason for Ivan’s arrest was apparently innocuous: after reading a morning newspaper at the height of the crisis, he told his sister that “the Stalin–Tito conflict is a classic dogmatic conflict. Such conflicts over religion can last centuries…the conflict between Stalin and Tito could last a hundred years.”83 Milena, not recognizing the subversiveness of the comment, told her best friend Dušanka, who mentioned it to her son Miško Pub (Vladimir’s best friend, who executed Bogdan Dragović in The Believer), who in turn was now a powerful figure in the secret police.84 In the hands of the police, Ivan’s off-hand remark set off alarms about his reliability; to confirm the need for his imprisonment, however, the police concocted a more convincing crime: Ivan had served the Gestapo during the war.

56As Goli Otok literature, Ivan and Ćosić do nothing to advance the genre. However, as part of the Katić chronicle, Goli Otok does advance the themes that Ćosić has chosen to emphasize. The inversion of classic moral values, for instance, is perfected on the island, where communists proved to be even more evil than Nazis:

  • 85 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 132.

In Mauthausen, the Nazis annihilated us, but we did not have to annihilate ourselves. On Goli Otok we had to destroy ourselves. In Mauthausen we had the right to be silent and in silence to hate and not lie. On Goli Otok we did not have the right to remain silent. We had to speak and to lie. And a man has a horrible power: self-deception. The power to see the lie as the truth, malice as sincerity, hypocrisy as trust, the denunciation of comrades and friends to the police the execution of patriotic duty…the less the intellect, the more the cleverness. There a lie is not a lie. There the absurd is seen as reality. And at that, a positive reality. There, good is evil.85

  • 86 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 57–72; the quote is from Radovan Popović, Vreme pisca: Životopis Dob (...)
  • 87 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 96.
  • 88 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 103.

57Ivan’s imprisonment also becomes an opportunity for the manipulative Ćosić to revisit a moment in his own biography: his 1952 visit to Goli Otok. We have no evidence explaining Ćosić’s motives in visiting the island except interviews he gave over thirty years later, in which he claimed he went out of “pure literary curiosity,” to explore the possibility of writing a novel about cominformists and the Tito–Stalin split.86 For the most part, the novel’s Ćosić repeats the explanations given by the real-life Ćosić in those interviews. “Why not request of the government for which I fought that it enable me to find out the truth which I will turn into a novel? I appealed to a couple of powerful people in the government, told them of my literary desire and intent, and they surprised me with their understanding and enabled me to go to the Adriatic island…”87 Of course, in the novel, Ivan emerges as the focus of Ćosić’s curiosity. In the interviews, Ćosić describes going to Ranković, Djilas, and Kardelj to explain the horrors that he saw on the island; in the novel, Ivan’s individual fate becomes central: “Ivan, I give you my word, I will speak with Djilas and Marko about you, to get your situation reexamined.”88

58Ultimately, Time of Power is a novel about Ćosić, more specifically about the failure of his own idealistic hopes for communism in Yugoslavia. Ćosić (the character in the novel) had long ago decided to try to understand the nature of the regime he had helped to create by way of the fate of Ivan Katić.

  • 89 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 94–95.

The question of the guilt of Ivan Katić became for me the question of the character and moral order in which we live, and which I view as my own. If Ivan was innocently jailed and sent to some prison, then UDBa is the same as the NKVD, and order in my country is the same as that in the Soviet Union; but, if Ivan was really an agent of the Gestapo, then …a man can be anything. In that case, fighting and sacrificing for this animal, this idealistic project for the future, faith in a new man and a new world, is a pure absurdity! A writer, which I would like to become, cannot resolve this absurdity; the writer, whispered my demon, creates of this absurdity the drama of the man of this era of logors and secret police and writes a novel on Serbian intellectual—the tragic hero of this age.89

  • 90 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 326–27.

59But by the end of Time of Power (which comes in 1959, following Ivan’s death), with the true story of Ivan’s imprisonment known to him, Ćosić had reached the worst possible conclusion: “What remained of my hopes in new government and a new man? What happened with the happy future that I fought for? The new government was a government of other people, and other people are not new people. Under the new government new evil grew.”90 And with that conclusion, his conviction grew that his very desire to come to an understanding of his era by writing about it was misplaced:

  • 91 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 420.

What happened with the young partisan who first time entered Belgrade as a war victor, believing that in those first nights without the occupier and his Serbian collaborators all people in Belgrade were happy? That youth in the English military uniform, with the red star on the Serbian cap, enjoying the comfort of the great bergeres, arrogantly imagined himself among the creators of history, founding a socialistic paradise about the three Moravas? In this armchair, out of victorious melancholy and doubts about the meaning of his life to that point, the desire to become a writer blossomed; in this armchair he decided that by participation in the creation of the history of his people, the creation of a novel of his era was assumed. Did that partisan and communist in the black armchair have the right to exchange one conceit for a greater one, believing that with a novel he could change his own fate and conquer it?91

60It is difficult to know what to make of this passage, for Ćosić (the reallife one) had long claimed that the novel had been his means for coming to terms with his own historical fate; but this is just another of the complications that we face in reading Ćosić reinvent himself via Time of Power.

61From highest of the high to lowest of the low, Ćosić spied examples of the failure of communism in Yugoslavia. A visit to Prerovo (standing in for Velika Drenova, his hometown) elicited this response midway through the novel:

  • 92 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 181.

Prerovo had not changed in the spirit of my ideals; new government did not fulfill the promises which I as a partisan had given the peasants. The peasant working zadruga Red October had broken up; the village had not become a kolkhoz, nor had I become the president of the kolkhoz, which I had dreamed before the war, reading Soviet brochures. Electricity had made it to the village, but not to all houses; from every home children had gone off to school, and youth to new factories, to escape Prerovo. That wasn’t much, for their hopes and sacrifices….And I ask myself: are communist goals unreachable, or are people imperfect and incapable of turning ideas into reality? Where is the great error of our century: in ideas or in people?92

  • 93 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 435.
  • 94 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 435.
  • 95 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 436.

62From Prerovo to the halls of power, the story of betrayed promise was the same. In the novel’s finale, Ćosić confronts Dušan Katić, the government minister controlling the unfair fate of Ivan Katić: “In your office [he says to Katić] I no longer see Kun’s and Mujezinović’s partisans, nor the scenes of the youth work actions of Boža Ilić, nor the portraits of worker heroes Mika Petrov and Branko Šotra…”93 Katić responds by condemning Ćosić’s subversive activities: “Modernism, and the group you hang out with have turned you into a dangerous critic. Every night you talk nonsense in the ateliers and the Club on the betrayal of the revolution, on the leadership as a new class, on the bureaucratic caste, red bourgeoisie…”94 Katić insists that he “did not become a communist to take power and subjugate people…I accepted communist ideology and fought for a new government with which to change the world…” Ćosić rejects this claim: “Those excuses for your narcissism and privileges no longer work, comrade Katić.”95 In the end, Ćosić’s prescription for Serbia, for the Balkans, is ultimately implied via the thoughts of Ivan, describing his father Vukašin:

  • 96 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 320–21.

Eight or nine decades ago, Vukašin left Prerovo for schooling in Palanka, Belgrade, Paris, and returned to Serbia with a diploma from the Sorbonne and modern ideas, intending to revive it and lead it into Europe….And like all great social and civilizational ideas of the twentieth century, which people from the edges of Europe embraced, the ideas of Vukašin Katić ended in failure and defeat….With their graves, Serbs had broadened Europe to include Serbia, and with their graves became part of it; in their sufferings for Europe they had become Europeans, and that was acknowledged of them only while they suffered.96

63Implied in this depressing conclusion is the need for Serbia to work on its own regeneration, utilizing its own ideas and resources.

  • 97 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 421.
  • 98 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 297.

64Ultimately, though, Time of Power serves as Ćosić’s last contribution to his self-reinvention. How could the writer who read his own fate into that of Serbia not succumb to the seduction of rewriting his own early years under communism to further link his fate to that of his people? “Finally I decided to make myself, the author, an active participant in the dramatic work of Time of Power; that power was still a part of my fate, just as much as I conditioned it with the fate of my imaginary personalities.”97 We should keep in mind that Ćosić did not begin writing the Katić saga out of a desire to understand the fate of intellectuals like Ivan Katić—Roots and Divisions were written in the express service of the ideology in which his character in Time of Power claimed to have already unearthed the seeds of evil. Ćosić’s imagined conversation with the powerful Dušan Katić also betrays much wishful thinking—Ćosić would not begin “talking nonsense” about the betrayal of the revolution, the red bourgeoisie, or the new class for another decade. Taken as a whole, the picture that Ćosić creates—of a writer who recognized the possibility of evil within the new regime as early as the early 1950s, and had responded to it by the end of the decade, is starkly at odds with reality (after all, Ćosić would help compose the Program of the LCY in 1956–57, and would not take his legendary trip on the Galeb until 1961). It is thus with some irony that we hear Ćosić label Ivan an egocentric personality, “and those types I can’t stand even in novels.”98



1 Ćosić, Promene, 63.

2 Ćosić, Promene, 64.

3 Ćosić, Promene, 69–70.

4 Ervin Dolenc, “Culture, Politics, and Slovene Identity,” in Jill Benderley and Evan Kraft, eds., Independent Slovenia (New York: St. Martin’s, 1994) 88.

5 Excerpts from that edition of the journal can be found in Književne novine (Belgrade) March 15 and April 1, 1987.

6 Tomaž Mastnak, “From Social Movements to National Sovereignty,” in Benderley and Kraft, Independent Slovenia, 106.

7 Mastnak, “From Social Movements to National Sovereignty,” 107.

8 Dobrica Ćosić, “Sastanak u ‘mraku’,” in Dobrica Ćosić, Srpsko pitanje—demokratsko pitanje (Belgrade: Politika/Strucna knjiga, 1992) 70.

9 Ćosić, “Sastanak u ‘mraku’,” 73.

10 Dobrica Ćosić, “Pismo Niku Grafenaueru,” in Ćosić, Srpsko pitanje, 77– 78.

11 For one examination of this theme, see Nicholas J. Miller, “Searching for a Serbian Havel,” in Problems of Post-Communism v. 44, no. 4 (1997) 3–11.

12 Dobrica Ćosić, “Srbi i Slovenci nekad i danas,” in Ćosić, Stvarno i moguće, 167 ff. From meetings in Ljubljana (October 5–6, 1987) and Belgrade (November 13, 1987).

13 Dobrica Ćosić, “Koliko smo mi sami krivi” in Književne novine (Belgrade) June 1, 1987, 4.

14 Dobrica Ćosić, “Na kraju ‘srećne budućnosti’,” Književne novine (Belgrade) March 1–15, 1988, 5.

15 Ćosić, “Koliko smo mi sami krivi,” 4.

16 Ćosić, Promene, 75.

17 Dobrica Ćosić, “Potreba za kritičkim razmatranjem vladajuće ideoloske koncepcije u nacionalnoj politici,” in Književne novine (Belgrade) September 15, 1987, 4.

18 Milorad Vučelić, “Paradigma Ćosić,” in Književne novine (Belgrade) September 15, 1987, 3.

19 Slom and Čovek u svom vremenu.

20 Ćosić, “Književnost i istorija danas,” 32.

21 However, it must be said that in his novel Time of Death, he introduced the theme of Austrian genocide against the Serbs in the specific context of the First World War.

22 Ćosić, Promene, 61.

23 Vuk Drašković, “Jugoslavija i srpsko pitanje,” in Koekude, Srbijo (Belgrade: Nova knjiga, 1990) 43.

24 Kosta Čavoški, Tito—Tehnologija vlasti (Belgrade: Dosije, 1990).

25 Čavoški, Tito—Tehnologija vlasti, 5.

26 Ćosić, Promene, 23.

27 Ćosić: “[Kardelj] systematically, cleverly, evolutionarily, and, I would say, in a Machiavellian way worked to create a Slovenian state in the framework of Yugoslavia….After the liquidation of Ranković, those thirteen years [until Kardelj’s death] represent Kardelj’s absolute political domination of Yugoslavia.” Djukić, Slom, 155.

28 Ćosić, “Kritika vladajuće ideološke koncepcije,” 31.

29 Djukić, Slom, 149.

30 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 283.

31 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 282.

32 Djukić, Slom, 157.

33 Djukić, Slom, 161.

34 Djukić, Slom, 165.

35 Ćosić, Promene, 97.

36 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 178.

37 Zoran Sekulić, Pad i čutnja Aleksandra Rankovića (Belgrade: Dositej, 1989) 151.

38 Sekulić, Pad i čutnja, 186. Remember, though, that Mihajlo Švabić actually said he was “ashamed as a Serb” by Ranković, not that he was ashamed to be a Serb.

39 Ćosić, Promene, 19.

40 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 174.

41 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 174.

42 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 172–73.

43 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 177.

44 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 177.

45 From Yugoslav sources, cited in Sabrina P. Ramet, Nationalism and Federalism in Yugoslavia, 1962–1991 2d ed. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992) 21.

46 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 307.

47 Dobrica Ćosić, “Ne maćem—nego duhom,” in Knjževne novine (November 1, 1990) 1; from his speech at receipt of the Njegoš prize, in Cetinje, October 28, 1990.

48 Nezavisna svetlost (October 6–12, 1996); quoted in Miller, “Searching for a Serbian Havel,” 5.

49 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 282.

50 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 282.

51 Ćosić, Promene, 140.

52 Ćosić, Promene, 141.

53 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 305.

54 “Šta je Ćosić stvarno rekao,” in NIN (Belgrade) Sept. 10, 1989, 67.

55 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1981–1991), 275.

56 Milovan Danojlić, “Koreni srpskog gneva,” in Nasa reč (London) December 1988, no. 400, p. 2.

57 Slavoljub Djukić, Lovljenje vetra: Politička ispovest Dobrice Ćosića (Belgrade: Samizdat B92, 2001) 159.

58 Djukić, Lovljenje vetra, 161.

59 Dušan Radulović and Nebojša Spaić, U potrazi za demokratijom (Belgrade: Dosije, 1991) 36–38.

60 Radulović and Spaić, U potrazi za demokratijom, 36–37.

61 “Prilog javnoj raspravi o ustavu,” in Književne novine (April 1, 1988) 1.

62 “Javni zahtev,” in Književne novine (Belgrade) January 15, 1990, 2.

63 Djukić, Lovljenje vetra, 163.

64 Djukić, Lovljenje vetra, 164.

65 Djukić, Lovljenje vetra, 168.

66 Djukić, Lovljenje vetra, 172.

67 “Pozdrav,” in NIN (Belgrade) November 9, 1990, 15.

68 I nterview in Politika, September 13, 1991, quoted in Djukić, Lovljenje vetra, 181.

69 Djukić, Lovljenje vetra, 188.

70 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 30–36.

71 For instance, Petar Nešić, “Krivica i stradanje profesora Djurića,” Intervju (Belgrade) July 21, 1989, which examines calls for the removal of the judgment against Djurić from 1972; and “Pobeda sile duha,” Intervju (Belgrade) December 22, 1989, which announces the return of Djurić to his position on the Law Faculty at Belgrade University.

72 Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 198–204.

73 “Izveštaj o dvogodišnjem radu UKS 1986–1988,” in Književne novine (Belgrade) June 1–15, 1988, 4.

74 Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 172–73.

75 Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 175.

76 Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 218–19.

77 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1981–1991) 276.

78 Žika Stojković, “Život u vanrednom stanju,” in Žika Stojković, Otisci: 1951– 1996 (Belgrade: BIGZ, 1996) 7.

79 Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 221.

80 Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 337–38.

81 Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 319 ff.

82 Dobrica Ćosić, Vreme vlasti (Belgrade: Narodna knjiga/Alfa, 1997) 37.

83 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 113.

84 One is reminded of the fate of Meša, the main character in Emir Kusturica’s “When Father Was Away on Business,” who, upon seeing a political cartoon in Politika which portrayed Marx sitting at a writing desk with a portrait of Stalin on his wall, said “now they’ve gone too far.” Meša was sent to a labor camp when his mistress retold the story to the wrong policeman (Meša’s brother-in-law Zijo). It was a better story the first time around.

85 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 132.

86 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 57–72; the quote is from Radovan Popović, Vreme pisca: Životopis Dobrice Ćosića (Belgrade: Narodna knjiga, 2000) 24.

87 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 96.

88 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 103.

89 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 94–95.

90 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 326–27.

91 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 420.

92 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 181.

93 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 435.

94 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 435.

95 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 436.

96 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 320–21.

97 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 421.

98 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 297.

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