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The Significance of Kosovo in Our Historical Moment

I cannot hope to approach the aptness of Srdja Trifkovic's own title, Kosovo as a Symbol of Anti-Postmodernism, and so I have not tried. Nevertheless, the essay is a masterful summation of the significance this little piece of Balkan territory holds in the not-so-playful scheme of signifiers regnant in the West. Selected excerpts follow.

Blissfully unaware of the cultural tectonic shift that has taken place in “the West,” many Serbian political leaders, analysts and institutions in their contacts with the Western elite class keep invoking four sets of arguments in support of their position that Kosovo ought to remain part of Serbia:
1. Historical: Kosovo was the heartland of the Serbian medieval state;
2. Cultural: in Kosovo there are many priceless monuments of Serbian art and architecture that define Serbia’s contribution to the common European heritage;
3. Spiritual: Kosovo is “Serbia’s Jerusalem”;
4. Civilizational: Kosovo should not fall to the insurgent jihad.

To the postmodern Western mindset, those who argue that they should be entitled to keep a land because they have a centuries-long historical bond to it, because their ancestors had built lovely Christian churches in it, because its heritage underpins their moral code and spirituality based on Christian martyrdom, and because they are defending themselves against an aggressive and resurgent Islam . . . anyone who makes those argument is unconsciously arguing—in the eyes of the new elite—in favor of having that territory taken away. The Serbs’ arguments—especially when presented eloquently and logically—only prove that Kosovo and Metohija must be detached from Serbia permanently as that is the only way to cure Serbia from such unhealthy, “un-European” atavisms. Whatever is said to support the historical, cultural, spiritual and civilizational right of Serbia to Kosovo is received among the Western elite class as yet further proof why Kosovo must be given to the Albanians, who, by virtue of being overwhelmingly Muslim (of the allegedly “moderate” variety) are perceived as perfectly natural allies of the Western elite class.(Emphasis mine)

An ideological commitment to neoliberal globalization has turned multiculturalism and open-ended Muslim immigration into two inviolable Euro-dogmas. They are pursued independently of any electoral test. National elections do not mean much anyway in the EU, where unaccountable bureaucracies commandeer the most important decisions and policies that would not survive the test of popular opinion are simply instituted by administrative fiat. The Euro-elites trust that a deprived mass culture and mass indoctrination in state schools will neutralize any lingering sense of historical and cultural continuity. They will never admit that they played the Russian roulette and lost. The roll-call of European-born Jihadists only confirms the failure.

Both Europe’s multilateralists and Washingtonian neoconservatives share the same distaste for traditional, naturally evolving societies and cultures. Divisions between them refer not to the common goal of advancing a global revolutionary project but only to the ways and means of doing so. The end of the Cold War has cleared the way for the rise of a new global empire, and the realization that new possibilities were on offer to the revolutionaries who wanted to move beyond the Gramscian “long march.”

Kosovo, in fine, is a symbol, and that in the rather antique sense that it participates in and conveys the meaning of that which it re-presents, rather than serving as a mere arbitrary nomen, of the collective Western project - common to both the European project and the American project of Global Democratic Capitalism - aimed at the transcendence-by-negation of traditional, organic societies,peoples and nations. This project is the meritocratic fantasy of deracinated elites in business, finance, and governance, and it is at least arguable that the grotesqueries of recent academic theory are more a reflection of this political and civilizational decentering than the cause thereof. In other words, postmodernism is, in substantial part, the cultural idiom of late modernity, advanced capitalism, and postmodern theoreticians have not so much created this culture as theorized a culture already existent. They have been Minerva's owl to an alienation that will only be comprehended once it is too late to forestall it.

But enough of that. Any phraseology pertaining to human rights, globalization, multiculturalism,and the like only inclines me to reach for my arquebus, as they mean only that my little platoons, my places in this world, my little sources of humanizing stability, are about to be assailed. Today the Serbs, tomorrow the Russians, the day after that, us.

Comments (6)

In other words, postmodernism is, in substantial part, the cultural idiom of late modernity, advanced capitalism, and postmodern theoreticians have not so much created this culture as theorized a culture already existent.

Been reading Fredric Jameson lately, then?

Actually, not since the days immediately preceding 9/11. But Jameson is hardly the only commentator to have asseverated such a symmetry. David Bentley Hart, in one of the concluding sections of his The Beauty of the Infinite offers a similar interpretation, albeit from within a Christian theological framework, as opposed to Jameson's Marxism. And similar observations have floated around in paleoconservative circles for quite some time. Obviously, I'm not the sort of conservative who feels threatened, his identity rendered insecure, by the fact of his agreement in some specific respect with a Marxist; there can obtain different path to a singular insight.

It is also worth observing that post-nationalism is not the only possible application of postmodernist insights to political affairs; postmodernism could, with equal facility - perhaps greater - be the inspiration of a renewed attachment to localities, sub-sovereignties, decentralist tendencies. Instead of the transcendence of the nation-state by transnational institutions, empires of various categories and calssifications, we might witness the deconstruction of the nation-state as the principal focus of civic and patriotic loyalty, with concomitant transference to smaller, more organic and substantive social units.

This scarcely seems to be the way things are playing out; what we are witnessing is the overlapping emergence of imperial structures and anarchic stateless forces, whether of gangs, terrorist syndicates, narco-states. etc. And those are always two sides of the same coinage. It is not immediately evident that postmodernist thought must inspire imperialism of any sort, though I do believe that postmodern philosophy well theorizes more than a little of an imperial moment; perhaps it is the perceived (with what degree of acuity, I do not pronounce upon) apoliticism of postmodernism, something of which some on the left have complained, that imparts an certain amorphousness to the thing: it can swing either way.

Jeff, I'll say just that you are an idiot like every other person who thinks that Kosovo should be detached from Serbia which has been our land from the third century and which means that land is Serbian not albanian and it shouldn't be given to them. Imagine that a holy
part of your land ,your culture and history is being taken away from you by some foreign nation under the decision of others. Try to think from a Serbian perspective or maybe you can't because you people don't have any honor or respect for your legacy or anyone else's.

Uros, I am a longstanding opponent of the detachment of Kosovo from Serbia, and I have often articulated the precise argument you here employ against me; namely, that Kosovo in an historic center of Serbian culture and religion, an integral part of her heritage. As such, Serbia should be no more compelled to relinquish Kosovo than the French should be compelled to cede part of French lands to Muslim immigrants, than Israel should be compelled to cease to exist in accordance with the (so-called) "one state solution", etc.

I appreciate the opportunity to clarify potential misunderstandings.

If, in fact, cultural attachment serves as a justifiable defense of keeping Kosovo attached to Serbia, as Serbians attest, ought not we to contemplate that, prior to Serbian conquest of the land (which occurred rather later than the third century, as Uros asserts), present-day Kosovo, then Dardania, remained a stronghold of the Illryian peoples who, additional to provide some of the ancestry of our Southern Slavic friends, likely are the primary ancestors of the Albanians, including those of Kosovo, and, thus, that, particularly because the Albanian Kosovars make up a super-majority of the population of their new state, these modern-day Illyrians, Muslim or Catholic, deserve just as much as the Illyro-Slavic Serbs (who, of course, identify as Southern Slavs, rather than Illyro-Slavs as I have, perhaps unnecessarily, dubbed them) to control their ancient homeland?

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