The Road to War in Serbia: Trauma and Catharsis

By Nebojša Popov | Go to book overview

The Flight from Modernization

LATINKA PEROVIĆ

Many nations collapse before they become conscious of their mistakes

Alexis de Tocqueville

What can be used today as the basis for an analysis of Serbia’s attitude towards Western Europe? It is an attitude that has not always, or necessarily, been explicit, nor has it been linked to only one institution—whether political, scientific or cultural. It has rather been implicit, and may be detected through an analysis of the course of internal development—particularly through the role of the elite in orienting this development. In essence, it has been a spontaneous and formulated response to the challenge placed before the Serbian elite by the unification of Western Europe leading to its further economic modernization; and the disintegration of the Eastern European system and the need to select paths to overall development in the future. In the past decade it has become increasingly evident that in Serbia, too, a long-term programme was coming to an end.

If, within the framework of Yugoslavia, Serbia had taken a position in between the East and the West, in the past decade it made a definite choice. There are a variety of sources that can be used in order to trace this decision.

Numerous investigations are necessary in order to approach an answer to the question of what position Serbia has taken towards Western Europe in the past decade and a half, towards Western society and cultural standards; and the extent to which this position presents a problem for Serbia, that is, the problem of its own Europeanization?

The criteria for establishing representative sources for such investigations are the following: their critical mass; the possibility of continuously monitoring this position during the short but crucial period; the variety and quantity of social factors, above all the Serbian elite whose attitude towards Western Europe, directly or indirectly, is reflected in these sources; and, particularly, sources through which this attitude is formulated, suggested and even imposed as a social orientation, as a choice and programme.

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