Malicious and Loud

Serbia’s Hysterical Jacobins

Last week, several charges against members of Slobodan Milosevic’s family were dropped by the Serbian judiciary, drawing howls of fury from the political and media opposition to the current government. "Milosevic is making a comeback!" was the common denominator of hysterical headlines. Within hours, the chorus was picked up by the Imperial media, from the Associated Press to the Times of London, all eager to claim – as Adam LeBor of the Times did, relying on "a source in Belgrade" – that "This was done by Slobo’s people on the ground and he is manipulating people here."

Milosevic is a bete noire of both the Empire and the Jacobins in Serbia, so the stories of his comeback and influence are greatly – and deliberately – exaggerated. He is entirely too preoccupied with defending himself from the Hague Inquisition, while his party is but a shadow of its former self. But those who have built their careers in media and politics on vilifying Milosevic and/or the Serbs aren’t known for allowing facts to interfere with a good story.

Prosecution or Persecution?

In the hysteria over the supposed "disaster" befalling Serbia, what exactly happened has become lost. Best as one can tell from the muddled reports that pass for journalism over there, an indictment against Milosevic’s son Marko for attempted assault was withdrawn after the plaintiff said he could not remember whether Marko really threatened him with a chainsaw. The plaintiff was a member of Otpor, a U.S.-sponsored organization behind the October 2000 "revolution," but has since joined the New Serbia party, member of the current governing coalition. Otpor folded as soon as its foreign funding dried up, but many of its leaders became "revolutionary consultants" for the Empire in places such as Georgia, Ukraine, and Belarus.

An arrest warrant for Milosevic’s wife, Mira, was also rescinded. She was wanted for questioning in the political assassination of a former Milosevic mentor-turned-rival. Both arrest warrants were issued during the 2003 martial law, following the assassination of Zoran Djindjic, in the darkest days of the DOS coalition, whose disgraced leaders – oh, the surprise! – are now among the most vocal detractors of this decision and of the current government.

These politicians, and the media who act as their echo chamber, know no other mode of communication but the injured howl. They enjoy nothing so much as the sound of their self-righteous indignation, and will use any opportunity to express it (recall the atrocity porn campaign earlier this summer). Using Bolshevik rhetoric to promote what they term "liberal democracy," these former (?) Communists and their children speak of everything Serbian with sneering contempt, often using English phrases – badly. One of the more egregious malapropisms uttered by one such paladin of Jacobin virtue was that the Milosevics were being "abolished" instead of amnestied…

The volume of Jacobin howling is inversely proportional to their support in Serbian society. But the noise they raise is mistaken for substance by the mainstream media in the West. Jacobin rants are then reported as Serbian public opinion.

Echo Chamber

A rather typical example is the AP article from Aug. 17, "Milosevic’s Son’s Acquittal Angers Serbs." Lacking the structure and tone of a news story, it is in fact a propaganda feature. Instead of offering information up-front, it starts by quoting a despondent 30-year-old psychologist (thus appealing to both emotions and false authority). It proceeds to offer insinuations and conjecture, using suggestive language. Moreover, the choice of quotes in the article shows that it isn’t the Serbian people who are unhappy, but rather the "government critics" – unsurprisingly, all officials of the former DOS regime: failed privatization minister Aleksandar Vlahovic, mysteriously wealthy "democratic zealot" Cedomir Jovanovic, and treacherous ex-foreign minister Goran Svilanovic. Veran Matic, editor and owner of the Empire-sponsored B92 TV and radio, rounds off the list. It’s a surprise the AP reporter hasn’t talked to Zarko Korac or Vladan Batic, two other DOS failures who frequently mouth off about the dreadfulness of Serbia.

It all ends with the supposedly desperate psychologist, who offers this pithy thought: "Everything is the same, only he [Milosevic] is gone." It would be witty, were it not a popular graffiti from a couple of years back, when DOS was in power and the Serbs were cynically saying that nothing had really changed.

Freedom of Smear

After the story about the "abolition" of the Milosevics didn’t cause enough of an uproar, the Jacobin media then declared criticism of their howling an attack on free speech! It all started after a B92 reporter questioned Capital Investments Minister Velimir Ilic at a media event concerning a major construction project, about his alleged role in dropping the indictment. Ilic is the leader of New Serbia, formerly a DOS supporter, known for his lack of tact and a very volatile temper. He is also a relative of the recanted plaintiff. According to B92’s own account, Ilic dismissed allegations that he pressured his cousin to change his statement as foolishness. When the reporter continued to badger him, he exploded. To the applause of those in attendance, he yelled, "You people from B92 create chaos and provocations wherever you go. You are sick, you need to be committed, collectively. … We are here on serious business, but you keep talking about Marko Milosevic. Is he really that important?"

B92 answered with indignation over Ilic’s "repression" and attacks on "freedom of speech." Veran Matic, the network’s CEO, filed a lawsuit against Ilic and claimed that threats of forcible commitment were appropriate only to fascist regimes.

Ilic certainly lost his temper – this was not the first time and probably won’t be the last. But for B92 to style itself a champion of press freedom is rank hypocrisy. The minister’s threat of tossing reporters in an insane asylum was empty, rhetorical; he has neither the authority nor the means to do so. However, his DOS predecessors had actually jailed journalists and political opponents, and instituted near-total censorship where even the slightest criticism of the government was considered proof of criminal conspiracy, during the 2003 martial law. B92 did not think of championing free speech then; indeed, it stood squarely behind the government – the same people it still supports, who now style themselves "liberals" and "democrats." It was B92 that "rehabilitated" that government’s censorship commissar, Vladimir "Baby" Popovic, giving his maniacal rants a three-part TV special early this year.

The New Class

It is no secret that the Jacobins of Serbia are either on Empire’s payroll, or wish to be. They flaunt their support of global hegemony, "democracy," social engineering, and interventionism as a badge of honor and regularly demonstrate commitment to an omnipotent state (as long as they are in charge of it, of course). They despise tradition and culture and consider all opposition to their worldview evil. Once a New Class under the hammer-and-sickle, they have reinvented themselves for the modern world of "Euro-Atlantic integrations." But beneath the new label is the same old rotten merchandise, and their hoarse moralizing hides a world with no morality at all, only power and prestige.

Yet they dismiss accusations of being "foreign mercenaries," even when they are true. For example, B92’s own information page reveals that 49 percent of its shares are owned by something called the Media Development Loan Fund, which turns out to be an American nonprofit funded heavily by George Soros and the National Endowment for Democracy, among others.

A popular 1992 movie, depicting a B92-like radio station calling for revolution against a Milosevic-like president, made a subconscious parallel between the station’s name and the U.S. strategic bomber, the B52. The movie’s title was Crni Bombarder (The Black Bomber). Eight years later, life imitated art as B92 supported the "October Revolution." Unhappy with that revolution’s failure, it has kept bombing Serbia ever since.

Today they howl about Milosevic’s family, tomorrow it will be something else, and the day after that something else altogether. But their hatred and anger will remain constant. As long as Imperial money keeps pouring in, and mainstream Western media keep echoing their hysterical rants, the black bombers of Belgrade will keep flying.

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.