Faculty of Political Science,Belgrade
THE ROLE OF CROATIAN MYTHOLOGEMS IN GENERATING SERBOPHOBIA: CROATIA AS „THE BULWARK OF CHRISTENDOM“ AND SERBS AS „VLACHS“
There are many examples of historical constructs, which have been serving the ideology of „Croatian state law“ for centuries. This paper is a continuation of the consideration of the most important Croatian mythologems that have served as building blocks of the national identity of Croats. Some of them, mentioned in the last issue of this magazine („Croatia to the Drina“ and „Red Croatia“), have long since evolved into factoids; they are woven into the „collective memory“ of the Croatian nation and the anatomy of Serbophobia. In order for the structure of hatred to be stronger, and for the Greater Croatia aspirations to be justified, the Serbian people were subjected to dosed racist insults by prominent Croatian historians, politicians and Catholic clergy in the 19th and 20th centuries. Along with the instrumentalization of history, prejudices were created about the Krajina Serbs, who were renamed „Serbized Vlachs“: a people anthropologically a little strange and culturally quite distant from European civilization. The inferior „Slavo-Serbian garbage“, as the „fathers of the Croatian nation“ called it, hindered all the progress of the people and the state since it „got“ to Croatia, and began to be considered unworthy of coexistence with „real people of the Croatian spirit“ – the so-called „descendants of the Goths“, Aryans, soldiers-conquerors from ancient Iran. Serbs, on the other hand, acquired the epithet „slave breed“, which the Greeks or Hungarians „named“; they became the descendants of martolos, in whom „evil and rust“ boiled, robbers and slaves of the „holy land of Croatia“, „Bulwark of Christendom“. With the disappearance of the Ottoman threat, although for centuries they made up the largest part of the Krajina military troops, the Serbian people were presented as „Vlachs being ripe for an ax“, the henchmen of „Serbian swarthy savages“ and their „gypsy dynasty“. Thus, mythomania, aided by Croatian scientific and educational institutions, successfully completed its Serb-hating task: it inspired persecution on three occasions in a period of only a hundred years. However, it also induced Croatophobia, enabling indefinite „circulus vitiosus“ of Serbo-Croatian conflicts.
THE ROLE OF CROATIAN MYTHOLOGEMS IN GENERATING SERBOPHOBIA
This paper discusses some of the most important Croatian mythologems that operate as building blocks of Serbophobia: „Red Croatia”, „the Coronation of King Tomislav” and „Croatia to the river Drina”. Croatian scientific authorities constructed them mainly in the 19th century and weaved them into the „collective memory“ of their own nation. They evolved very quickly into factoids, and as „scientific dogmas“ they were implemented in the Croatian educational system. By mythologizing the past, but also by appropriating the Serbian historical and cultural heritage, the foundations of the Croatian national identity were strengthened. The political and religious elite, burdened by Greater Croatia aspirations and proselytism, and frightened by Serbian expansion in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, radiated fears of narrowing Croatian mythical ethnic space and Catholic church jurisdiction. The integration of destructive emotional codes and artificially created national narratives encouraged intolerance towards the Serbian people, which activated open hatred and destruction during the two world wars and the Civil War in Yugoslavia. The spread of stereotypes about Serbs, as a „less valuable“ and „megalomaniac people“, continued in independent Croatia even after the conflict, with the help of the media and educational system. The second part of the paper, which will be published in the next issue of the „Political Review“, will discuss the myth of Croatia as a „Bulwark of Christendom“ (Antemurale Christianitatis), Serbs as „Vlachs“, and myths about the Gothic and Iranian origin of Croats.