Serpent in the Bosom: The Rise and Fall of Slobodan Milosevic

Serpent in the Bosom: The Rise and Fall of Slobodan Milosevic

Serpent in the Bosom: The Rise and Fall of Slobodan Milosevic

Serpent in the Bosom: The Rise and Fall of Slobodan Milosevic

Synopsis

This work provides an analysis of Serbian politics from 1987 to 1999 that centres on an examination of Slobodan Milosevic's rise to power and his pattern of rule up to and including the war in Kosovo.

Excerpt

Authoritarian political systems -- a closely related but less repressive a politically demanding subspecies of nondemocratic rule than totalitarianism -- rarely seek or obtain political uniformity or the full engagement of a state's citizens. Rather the authoritarian dictatorship, while usually enjoying considerable popular appeal at its point of origin, typically elicits a mixture of sentiments; a continuum ranging from fear, through nominal acceptance, to enthusiastic support. Disinclined to genuinely share power, or for that matter leave power, authoritarian political leaders face a permanent crisis of legitimation. Authoritarian regimes are the kind of dictatorships that seek popular consent, but shun any real competitive pluralism; they try to avoid the role of an intrusive Leviathan engineering societal change, but do not shrink from "softer" forms of repression in order to maintain control. Such regimes are thus "mixed" political systems, ideologically diffuse, which blend aspects of both contestation and coercion, authoritarian pluralism with restrictive monism. Political life in the authoritarian system exhibits facets that are free and unfree; they are systems poised between democracy and more radical dictatorship. Partly because of their nature as hybrid models, analysts and observers of political power have found that the dynamics of such systems -- how they arise, the manner in which they are sustained, and the factors that contribute to their decay and collapse -- are both complex and immensely interesting.

One of the most significant set of factors when probing the illiberal, albeit sometimes semidemocratic, practices of authoritarian systems, pertains to the outlook and actions of the top leaders who manipulate the political passions, ostensible beliefs, and governmental levers supporting dictatorial power. Indeed, as Franz Neumann pointed out during the middle of the twentieth century, more often than not, the quintessential psychological element underlying a highly personalized authoritarian dictatorship is the ability of the single leader to alternatively respond to, and activate, the anxieties and fears of both a political class, and other major segments of society. As a rule that leader, or emergent dictator, having succeeded in becoming a "hero" of the masses, channels those activated anxieties into "aggressiveness and destruction."

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