After ‘Liberation,’ Democracy

As any survivor of Imperial "liberation" can attest, it is usually followed by the mass conversion to the conquerors’ religion, Democracy. As with most religions, it means different things to different people. Its definition is kept deliberately vague to preclude criticism, and even when offered, frequently changes for the same reason. Because of its asserted and perceived planetary primacy of lethal force, the Empire reserves the right to define Democracy any which way it pleases at any given time, and trump any other definition – by force, if so desired.

Democracy’s sinister nature has been addressed in this space before, as was its futility. The best scholarly dissection of the false religion is undoubtedly Hans-Herman Hoppe’s Democracy: the God that Failed. Also well-documented is the distaste of America’s founders for the damnable delusion, which unfortunately did not prevent their Republic from becoming the Democratic Empire.

Misconceptions of the beguiled masses aside, Democracy clearly destroys freedom, and its fundamental disrespect of property rights is unquestionably opposite to prosperity. To quote what is attributed to Ben Franklin, "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch." Put that way, it seems humorous – but it is also lethal, more so because most people still believe in it.

The Empire’s greatest victory was convincing the world Democracy was good. Now even those who oppose Imperial conquest do so claiming they fight for the "real" Democracy, which is why their resistance remains a losing proposition.

The Enemy of Peace

Last April, this column advanced the argument that Democracy was at the root of the Bosnian War:

Bosnia went to war because of democracy. Ethnic parties that came to power in Bosnia after the 1990 election all had “democratic” in their names: Croat Democratic Union (HDZ), Serb Democratic Party (SDS),  and the Muslims’ Party of Democratic Action (SDA). Together, they took democracy to its most extreme: the will of their voters led to forcible relocations, combined with property seizures and murder on a large scale. Ethnicity and party membership became synonyms, voting mirrored census results, and politics transcended taxes and plunder to become a game of life and death.

Apparently, what happened in Bosnia was not an exception, but rather the rule. According to attorney and noted libertarian scholar, James Ostrowski, not only logic, but also "empirical evidence indicates that democracy promotes ethnic and religious conflict."

Noting that 23 of 29 recent intrastate conflicts have occurred under democratic governments, Ostrowski argues that in democracies, "people tend to vote along ethnic and religious lines. It is inherent in the nature of democracy. […] Thus, ethnic voting is a rational response to the problem of rational ignorance about candidates and issues. Ethnic identity provides valuable information at very low cost. Given its efficiency, it always has been and likely always will be a major factor in elections." (original emphasis)

Given this, Ostrowski argues not only that "democracy, inherently, contains the seeds of ethnic conflict," (original emphasis) but also that "conflict created by democracy necessarily worsens over time," (original emphasis) as government power grows and with it the discontent of the groups that are in the ethnic and political minority.

Bosnia Demystified

Bosnia bears proof that Ostrowski’s thesis is entirely accurate. Even after seven years of occupation, tyranny and social engineering of the most extreme kind, its inhabitants still vote along ethnic lines.

Worse yet, the Imperial occupiers continue to insist on creating a unified state. "We still do not have a truly functioning democratic government in Bosnia Herzegovina, one that exercises a unitary sovereignty recognized by all factions," retired General Montgomery Meigs, former commander of NATO occupying forces in Bosnia, recently wrote. Never mind that this is expressly opposed by over half of Bosnia’s population, as the very issue over which the war was fought, and that this "unitary sovereignty" will never be voluntarily recognized by all factions.

Because of this, and keeping in mind Ostrowski’s thesis about ethnic conflict inherent in democracy and worsening over time, it becomes clear that Democracy and Bosnia are mutually exclusive. Only if most of Bosnia’s non-Muslims somehow disappear can that state continue to exist in the form now envisioned.

The refusal to understand this obvious truth is at the root of the opposition Social-Democrats’ failure to challenge the status quo. Their recently announced policy, advocating a unified citizen republic where ethnic and religious affiliations will be politically irrelevant, indicates that wishful thinking is definitely interfering with sound judgment.

Meanwhile, the prevailing atmosphere of despair has predictably created an impetus to leave. A recent poll showed that 30% of Bosnia’s inhabitants wish to leave the country permanently, another 44% would live abroad for a while but eventually return, and only 25% would stay no matter what. Ironically, these figures are one of the rare things that do transcend ethnic lines.

Croatia, Kosovo and Macedonia: Further Examples

Bosnia has three major ethnic groups and no clear majority, so its case may be a bit extreme. But other conflicted parts of former Yugoslavia validate Ostrowski’s thesis just as well.

  • Croatia has been a democratic country since 1991. It helps that most of its Serbs are gone, though.
  • In Macedonia, democracy has led to the 2001 Albanian rebellion, ostensibly fought for "greater human rights" but clearly aimed at separation (see map). As a result, most ethnic Macedonians have been expelled from Albanian-controlled areas, and are still unable to return. So much for human rights, then.
  • The occupied Serbian province of Kosovo is now dominated by ethnic Albanians, who are busily establishing a democracy after violently expelling most others and trying to make the rest follow suit.

In all three cases, as well as in Bosnia, democracy-driven ethnic conflicts have resulted in "ethnic cleansing": yet another crime that can be laid at the feet of the false god.

Serbia: A War Of One’s Own

Kosovo can be seen as Serbia’s brush with open democratic warfare, but it is by far not the only instance of ethno-religious conflict. Montenegro’s leaders are obviously aware of the potency of ethnic politics, as they campaign for separation from Serbia on both ethnic and religious grounds. They’ve even invented a church and a language for the purpose.

The Serbian regime’s zealous commitment to Democracy has predictably encouraged complaints of "mistreatment" by ethnic minorities. Hungarians in the north, Muslims in the southwest, and Albanians in the south have all claimed "ethnic cleansing" and discrimination, while recently members of the Vlach minority in the east have declared themselves oppressed ethnic Romanians. While these complaints might indicate that the Serbian state is repressive (well, yes it is – but irrespective of ethnicity), they really mean it is the most multi-ethnic in the region, and thus naturally susceptible to conflicts Democracy brings…

Perhaps the most intriguing is the ongoing conflicts among the Serbs themselves, which seems ideological but is really more ethno-religious. It is the contest over the nature of their country between the anti-ethnic Democrats/"modernist reformers," currently in power, and the traditionalists/patriots/"nationalists". The Democrats are an excruciatingly vocal minority, determined not just to impose their views on the rest but to actually remake society. Recent purges, conducted in the name of "war on crime" after the assassination of Prime Minister Djindjic (a Democrat leader in more ways than one), has served their purposes splendidly.

The Democrats are many things, but mostly anti-ethnic (i.e. anti-Serb) and pro-Empire. Now that they are in charge of Serbs, they seek to "cleanse" them of the stigma imposed by the Empire’s blockade, demonization and ostracism during the 1990s (while, of course, blaming the Serbs themselves for all those).

Now, self-purification is "one of the most dominant motives in any socially stigmatized group. One tries to wash away the taint that your opponents have attached to you by finding someone within your own movement who is more distasteful, more extreme… then denouncing him. Best of all if you can lead the chorus of ostracism. That renders you yourself ritually pure, at least for a while – and joins you securely to the community that has now been purged." (J.P. Zmirak)

The important difference here is that Democrats are not purging themselves, but the Serbian people they rule, and actually deplore their identity and heritage. They are currently triumphant primarily because their opponents are disorganized, devoid of ideas and programs, cowed by propaganda, and most of all confused, because they also claim to favor Democracy.

A Heritage of Strife

The first Yugoslavia was a monarchy and a dictatorship with just the outer trappings of Democracy, and its ethnic disputes resulted in a World War Two genocide. One could argue that the Socialist federation was democratic (under the modern definition of narrowly accepted "democratic" values), and Tito certainly governed Yugoslavia with a keen understanding of ethnic conflicts. He played various groups against each other, while setting himself up as the ultimate arbiter of their disputes – and thus their supreme ruler. But when he passed from this world to meet the real Supreme Ruler, he left no successor. Yugoslavia soon converted to open Democracy, and the results are obvious.

Between that, and a legacy of socialism and statism of some kind or another, the former Yugoslavia (as well as the rest of the peninsula and half of Europe, really) has suffered an enormous cost in human spirit already, not to mention lives and property. If not for their misguided belief in Democracy, most people would have long since decided they’ve had enough, and sought liberty.

The Big Lie

If the 20th century has been a century of Democracy, then it’s little wonder it has also been the bloodiest in human history. Here is a quasi-religious notion that is said to promote liberty and prosperity, while in reality it is the worst enemy of both. It is said to promote peace, but it really causes conflict and destruction. It is also the ultimate sacrilege: the elevation of State to godhood.

Why anyone honest and good would support Democracy, knowing all this, is truly beyond understanding.

Author: Nebojsa Malic

Nebojsa Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo. As a historian who specializes in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia, and Serbian politics. His exclusive column for debuted in November 2000.