The author claims that strategies of ethnic mobilization have deep roots in the politics of ex-Yugoslav nations, and that these roots are closely related to the response of the Western Balkans, especially Serbian political elites, to the challenges of democratization and modernization. The author develops this notion in two basic sections, outlining the ontology and history, and psychological background of the ethnic mobilization. Beyond the larger historical perspective, which will be reviewed, the very source of current ethno-mobilization processes lies in the deep opposition of Serbian political elites to the loose federal Yugoslav Constitution of 1974 that initiated various political strategies of ethno-mobilization's undermining and neglect. The author understands the term 'ethnic mobilization' to have three layers of meaning, the first being most rudimentary: an orderly and phased procedure aimed at ethnic crystallization or homogenization of Serb people. The second layer encompasses the underlying framing narrative of the reinterpretation of certain social events or conflicts within a particular interpretative frame or 'code.' The third meaning is, in a very important sense, demobilization, namely, the competing elites had to be demobilized, neutralized, or marginalized, and were usually described as ethnic 'traitors,' or 'those who sold to the interests of the enemy, or of the West.' Based on ideas of Latinka Perović and Dubravka Stojanović, the author traces the roots of the ethnopolitics back to the Russian anti-modernist movement of 'narodnichestvo.' This anti-Western and deeply anti-democratic strategy of political power lies at the heart of violent conflicts in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia/Kosovo, and even Macedonia. And, in the author's view, it remains the key obstacle to a post-war democratic transition for these countries. Strategies of ethnic mobilization remain, up to the present day, the driving force of power structures in these countries.
The purpose of this text is to explore the possibilities of civic resistance and struggle in the context of ethnonational, deeply divided societies such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the light of its June 2013 ‘jmbg’ (citizen’s identity number) and ‘February 2014’ protests. The 2013 and 2014 protests occurred not only in Sarajevo, but also elsewhere in the country, and, to some extent, crossed the entity and its ethnic boundaries. If viewed in the context of regional uprisings from Maribor (Slovenia) via Athens to Taksim (Turkey), the Bosnian sequence of protests shared with them some common ground, or a similar cause – that is, the protests were against social injustice and the system that produces laws and political structures that maintain their hegemonic privileges and hierarchy. The analysis of protests in Bosnia provided in this text will also offer insights into some alternatives in articulating the new democratic counter-power that go beyond ethnonationalistic confines.
The aim of this text is twofold. First, I intend to examine the importance of fear for the creation of ethnonationalist political entities in ex-Yugoslavia, especially in the areas where ethnic borders failed to coincide with political borders, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina after the 1989 Revolution. The region had entered into “a state of suspense and fear, dissolution of the sober little uniformities” (: 173) and into a series of “aggressions and civil wars (total war) as the most extreme forms of the uncompleted ethnonational revolutions” (: 35). This is the first phase of the galvanization of fear, namely, the phase of revolutionary terror, referring to a series of small dictatorships of ethnonationalist extremists “embodied in governmental forms as rough-and-ready centralization” (: 171). These extremists relied on the illegal use of force, ethnic cleansing and genocide. The second phase of the galvanization of fear excluded armed revolutionary violence due to the intervention of the international community, but implied various mechanisms of ruling ethnonationalist elites in preserving the necessary level of fear in politics for the same purpose of achieving the still unrealized goals of “the territorial-nationalist revolution.” My focus in the second part of the text will be how fear is structurally produced and politically organized in an ethnopolitical society such as Bosnia and Herzegovina through democratic institutions, for example political elections, for the purpose of achieving the basic political end – the creation of a (ethno)national state.