Yugoslavia is a known nation that has enthusiastically supported the socialism fever by the Soviet Union. Its position and the key role in the greatest World Wars and in the Cold War enabled it to present a two-edged chance for both the West and the Soviet Union. With the psychopolitical influence of Soviet Union in Yugoslavia’s main leader for forty years, the country has been able to create its own brand of communism and even force their influence on other identities in support to this brand. But this psychopolitical propaganda was turned into psychopolitical hatred by those who have been suppressed in the name of Yugoslavia and communism that it became one of the key reasons why Yugoslavia seized to exist. How did Yugoslavia’s rise become the reason for its bloody demise? Did psychopolitics play a key role into the problem? Did Yugoslavia’s rise instil in the minds of the rebels that they must fight for their right and use their hate to launch the offensive? This paper discusses the cause of Yugoslavia’ fall and the Psychopolitics of Hatred which has begun on Yugoslavia’s adherence to its own communism and Soviet fanaticism.
Keywords: psychopolitics, psychopolitics of hatred, rise and fall of Yugoslavia, Yugoslavia
Psychopolitics of Hatred in Yugoslavia
Out of all the vital wars that have been recorded in history, two powerful countries have been in the spotlight – The United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic or the Soviet Union. In comparison with the United States, the USSR was a coalition of numerous European states and Soviet Russia. Yugoslavia or the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia took part in this coalition and embraced the socialist perspective for almost six decades. Socialism became the country’s personal creed and had fought strongly behind its banner.
Most of its former leaders were driven out of their positions by massive crowds shouting for a socialist government. But, upon the fall of the Soviet Union after the Cold War, Eastern and Central Europe suddenly went on turmoil due to the conflicts that have sprouted. Many groups have blamed other nations for the fall of the Union, causing internal conflicts in the region. How did the situation turn from peaceful to hatred? This paper will discuss the psychopolitics of hatred and how it has affected the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
According to Masters (2001), the term “psychopolitics” pertains to the influence of one’s dominance to the thoughts and loyalties of the public from various social groups. This influence instils to the people who have been affected the idea of mental healing especially when influencing other nations. Her interpretation of the book entitled “Brain-Washing: A Synthesis of the Russian Textbook on Psychopolitics” details how the Russian’s promoted their agenda by explaining various aspects of man and politics. The book also presents several categories enabling psychopolitics to occur and introduce development. These categories include man’s role as a political and economic organism that can be influenced by his desires that would determine his actions, dissecting loyalties and individuals up to the general application of counter-Psychopolitics and Psychopolitics in other nations.
Man’s nature as a predator that constantly seeks a victim to vent out their anger or their happiness establishes its nature of being influenced easily through these ideals. The explanation on how influential the Russian idealism is written in a manner that entices the reader, in the book’s context the student, to ensure the effectiveness of the psychopolitical mission of preaching the Russian belief is crucial to ensure the country’s greater interest. Failure to do so would not only hit the Motherland badly, but, it would cause Russia and its allies to fall apart. The book then pertains that through this method, wars can be ended and people would be subjugated without the use of force.
Soviet Psychopolitics can easily be seen in the Yugoslavian contexts on the time of the Great Wars and after the Cold War. Post and George (2004) stated that Eastern and Central European nations have supported the Soviet Union and embraced socialism and its policies around the First World War. However, there is still a resistance within these nations especially of those belonging to other ethnic groups. In a way to ensure that all nations would only support the Soviet Union, Joseph Lenin saw loyalty as a way to ensure maximum obedience. But, to ensure loyalty, he had to eliminate those who will influence others to their cause. To him, the concept of a “new Soviet man” can only be done if other loyalties, identities and groups are destroyed. Family loyalties are also considered a threat to the Soviet revolution thus the many cases of families fleeing away from the Soviet forces. Lenin’s nationalism was applied not only in the Motherland but also in the CEE states. It was noted that an expression of nationalistic identity was a form of treason and authorities are to exact judgement for those found guilty. In the case of Yugoslavia, many Serbs, Croats and Muslims had to go underground as to restrictions placed upon to them. This method of eliminating other identity can be seen a way to attack the differences which enables a country to be balanced. Lenin’s program in destroying private identity through this nationalism purge was applied in three different ways. First is through repression of certain exclusive factors required to exercise their belief. Second is by using self-criticism to utilize minds to think that these people are undesirable. Finally, identity purge is done through marginalization causing groups to them become insignificant .
Gow (1997) supported that Yugoslavia’s support to Lenin’s actions were supported by its capacity on creating their national identity while enacting psychopolitics. The first part is the fact that Yugoslavia has won their battles without requiring Soviet intervention. The second part Yugoslavi was on the upper hand is through their industrial policies as they were concentrated in industrialization of the region instead of becoming the basket for the Soviet Union. To the Yugoslavian government, Soviet efforts to subdue them were against their goals. It then became a socialist country in its own right after Stalin’s denunciation of the country as part of the Soviet Nations. After a couple of years, Yugoslavia was supported by the Western powers in the Second World War. But, around the 1950s, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union reconciled upon the death of Stalin. Despite their former misunderstanding, the Yugoslavian leader Josip Tito has never forgotten where he has learned the art of socialism. He became obsessed with the concept instilled to him by the Russian movement. He then utilized Yugoslavia’s edge and created his Non-Aligned Movement. It was his take on the Psychopolitical branding the Soviet Union has used upon its nation allies. For Tito, his Psychopolitical branding or his nationalistic vision was to show that his socialism is a national movement. Many have agreed to his belief and supported his campaign while he maintained in favourable relations with both parties.
But around the Cold War, both sides have seen Yugoslavia as an advantageous location to attach either side. The first way was through the Ljublijana Gap could become an access for a Soviet attack to Italy. The Adriatic Sea advantage is the second reason Yugoslavia is a strategic With the Adriatic Sea close to the Mediterranean border, it would immediately be accessible for any group to access the Yugoslav coast.
Finally, Yugoslavia was a model country both West and Soviet Union could exploit. For the West, they see Yugoslavia’s brand of communism more acceptable due to its Western concepts. Soviet Union, on the other hand, saw Yugoslavia as their prodigal son whom they have to reclaim back in their grasps. This is because they entice others to move out of the fear Soviet Union has showed onto them and create their own version of communism. They believed that they are a threat to their communism and must be returned back. Yugoslavia continued to defy the Soviet communism style by performing their own Psychopolitical propaganda in influencing others to follow their own style. Of course, both sides believed that once the Soviet Union breaks apart, Yugoslavia’s advantageous location would no longer be necessary.
Upon the end of the Cold War and the downfall of the Soviet Union, everything turned downhill for Central and Eastern Europe especially the Soviet allies and nations. Contrary to their initial study that they have managed to remove all other identities present in each Soviet nation, many have hidden themselves underground and were bidding their time return. West (1996) stated that the end of the Cold War noted that a breakup was inevitable. Violent social unrest became prominent in the country. The leaders of this revolution were the Yugoslav People’s Army, the Croatian Serb and Bosnian Serb armies. For all three armies, they believe that a War of Dissolution would clear out all the false concepts embedded unto loyalists of the Soviet cause. Many factors then helped in the War of Dissolution. International involvement secured the new nations that will be built for those groups which have been oppressed in the time of the Cold War. With the position the JN A played any form of miscalculation would enable the international community to back them up should any form of revolution pass on. But before they can even enact any agreement they have done with the international community, Slovenia engaged the armies in a series of civil skirmishes as a means to drive them out altogether. In retaliation, the JNA had to conduct strafing missions in the area. Eventually, they moved into Croatia as they see Slovenia as a weak opponent.
For the JNA, their actions were based on the fat that they wish to fight for a new Yugoslavia that anyone could live together and cooperate to preserve it. Since their oppressors were still fighting back against them, it is crucial for them to perform a counter-offensive against these former leaders. A creation of a Serb-only nation became their platform to gain more followers. Croatia was also exhibiting a form of hate-war against those who have oppressed its citizens on the time of the Cold War. Through the JNA, they were able to mobilize Serbs from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and form a defence force. Despite their differences, their belief that a common state for all Serbs can be created with their revolution was prominently announced to the people. The attacks did not stop in the military offensive as politically; the Serbs were gaining ground as numerous Serb led groups announced their declaration of support in the establishment of a Serb nation in Bosnia.
Aside from these noted civil wars, many ethnic wars have sprung forth due to the antagonistic perceptions regarding Croats, Serbs and Muslims in the region upon the end of the Cold War. According to Palairet (2008), this particular pressure placed upon these ethnic groups in the principal wars have caused “Psychopolitics of Hatred” in the minds of those who wish to pull out of the socialist realm. Due to the antagonistic treatment given to these ethnic groups, many have noticed their rekindled hatred against their socialist oppressors and retaliated against them with gusto. These formerly oppressed and eradicated groups saw the downfall of the Soviet Union as a gateway to freedom and caused them to unite to destroy the remaining socialists. The action of building a pure Serb-dominated territory is one mild form of ethnic cleansing and a way to show their hatred and displeasure to the once pure socialist Yugoslavia. The actions of course were to initiate Serb domination over each sector. But then the actions are justifiable in the case of the suppressed ethnic groups and minorities. After those long forty years of being forced to hide underground, their nationalistic freedom can now be easily expressed without the fear of Yugoslavian authorities to stop them. Eventually, socialism and Yugoslavia altogether had disappeared in the minds of these groups and new nations have been formed as a result of this change.
One lesson that comes to mind upon the analysis of the cause for “Psychopolitics of Hatred” to stem in the Yugoslavian nations is that the cycle of hatred would never immediately diminish in the mind of a person especially if something goes against one’s idealism and belief. Peace through the use of pressure and force can only last in a short period of time especially if such means would deny people from their own national identity. A person can hold grudges for a long time which could evolve into hatred as the year progresses. Looking at this particular model, one can see this as one of the many reasons the Soviet Union failed to succeed in the Cold War and one of the first People Power movements in History. At present, Psychopolitics is being applied upon us especially now in the war against terrorism and other security threats. Many can question its effectiveness and its capacity to succeed, unlike its Soviet model. For now, it is crucial to restrain from using racism to push others to the brink. Just like Yugoslavia, the incident may happen once again. With technology, it may be another form of World War.
Gow, J. (1997). Triumph of the lack of will: international diplomacy and the Yugoslav War. London: C. Hurst & Co. Publishers.
Masters, R. (2001). Brain-Washing: A Synthesis of the Russian Textbook on Psychopolitics. (D. Baker, Ed.) Grants Pass: The Foundation for Human Understanding.
Palairet, M. (2008). The Inter-Regional Struggle for Resources and the Fall of Yugoslavia. In L. Cohen, & J. Dragovic-Soso, State Collapse in South-Eastern Europe: new perspectives on Yugoslavia's disintegration (pp. 221- 248). Lafayette: Purdue University Press.
Post, J., & George, A. (2004). Leaders and their followers in a dangerous world: the psychology of political behavior. New York: Cornell University Press.
West, R. (1996). Tito and the rise and fall of Yugoslavia. New York: Carroll & Graf.