Olivera Milosavljević From the Memorandum to “Collective” Responsibility

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Olivera Milosavljević




From the Memorandum to “Collective” Responsibility

The Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU) came to the political forefront some 10 years ago. Criticized by the “old regime” for the manner in which it raised the Serb question and its project of national homogenization (1986), and then encouraged by the “new regime” to continue its efforts, the Academy as an institution consented in the most critical years which determined the future of the common Yugoslav state (1987-1991) to act as a “collective mind” in judging and positively evaluating the execution of the “project” by Slobodan Milošević. It was this moment in the Academy’s political activity that caused internal turmoil and led to the crystallization of several groupings within its politically active membership. If the primary rift in 1992 was marked by being for or against Milošević personally, with both sides on the whole approving his “national project,” the breach is now much deeper at all levels. Nowadays the opinions of the members of the Academy differ on virtually all issues: the evaluation of Milošević’s rule, the point at which it became “bad” or “less bad,” the role of the Academy in society, the Memorandum, the nature of the wars in Yugoslavia, what constitutes victory or defeat, the importance and responsibility of intellectuals, population problems, and even election of their own officers. The Academy no longer comes out with common political stands, its present and former presidents deny that it is a “collective mind” and often cite ignorance of the situation as the reason why they cannot make public statements.1 Members even react to addresses delivered by officers at the Academy’s assemblies and meetings. It is therefore impossible today to reply to questions regarding the political orientation of the Academy, whether or not it at present has a “national program,” how it envisages Serbia’s future, since one would inevitably have to ascribe the views of a particular group of politically active academicians to the institution as a whole. Just as there was no doubt that such a group existed up to 1991 and encountered little overt opposition within the Academy, it is now certain that there are no more undisputed (national-political) authorities in the institution; only individuals remain with their personal opinions which are binding on no one but themselves. After a long series of failures, erroneous prognoses2 and an impermissibly uncivilized public settling of accounts,3 their personal authority as the “minds of the nation” has at best been seriously shaken, if it exists at all.

For the reasons cited above, this paper is an overview of the stands predominating among the leading members of the Academy, its former and current presidents, and the stands of the politically active academicians.4 These academicians were in what used to be the dominant current in the Academy and are now only individuals who have closed their political circle – from their former belief that the generation which was nearing its allotted span had been called upon to reveal to the nation the road it should take, to the realization that the responsibility for all the defeats that have occurred in the meantime lies either on one man or is “collective.” Of their once staunch support for Slobodan Milošević, all that remains are their confused replies to the question: “Why do I protest?”

“Preliminary draft of a draft” or “visionary document”

In May 2000 it will be fifteen years since the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts took upon itself to offer the Serbian society its formula for overcoming the social and economic crises of the Yugoslav state. At a time when it was becoming evident that the strongest bulwark of real socialism in the USSR was cracking and that global conditions were being created for the transformation of the existing systems – all the more so in Yugoslavia than in the other East bloc countries – the vision the Academy set forth in its Memorandum was not nor could it be taken as a plea for dealing effectively with the economic crisis and systemic crisis in the country; it was a demand for altering the national concept of the federation which contained an explicit possibility of its disintegration. The Academy cannot be faulted for failing to predict the fall of the Berlin Wall and dissolution of socialism in East Europe three years before the event. But it will go down in history for offering a regressive project for the future of the Serb nation which, seeing in the Yugoslav community only Serb enemies and in the Yugoslav crises only threats to the Serb people, sought a way out in ethnic homogenization and separation.

All the subsequent and even present attempts by the leading members of the Academy to prove that the Memorandum was only a “visionary” text and merely predicted what was going to happen against the will of its writers, either minimize the significance of their actions or exaggerate the importance of their “vision.” The fact is that the Memorandum demanded “establishment of the full national and cultural integrity of the Serb people regardless of which republic or province they live in”, “independent development of the Serb people” and formulating of a national program “which will inspire the present and future generations” (Memorandum, Krestić, Mihailović, 1995:144), thus opening the Pandora’s Box of nationalism in Yugoslavia. Everything that had been taboo in the Yugoslav state and society until then (including nationalism as the prime disintegrative factor) became desirable, everything that had been suppressed by education, propaganda and violence in order to preserve the community whose unravelling along national seams could not but be bloody, became a “vision.” And just as the “vision” of the Memorandum is a euphemism for “national program” - “democracy”, “prosperity” and “freedom” became euphemisms for “ethnicity”, “territory”, and “ethnic state.”

Pursuant to a decision of the Academy’s Presidency of 23 April 1993 (after many announcements over a period of three years), the Presidency published a book by two academicians, Vasilije Krestić and Kosta Mihailović. It was entitled SANU Memorandum – Response to Criticisms, and was edited by the Academy’s Secretary-General M. Panić. Although two academicians figure as the authors, the introduction closes with a note that the Academy had decided “to publicize” its views, that it was “going public” with this book. It follows therefore that, after an unnecessary delay of nine years, the institution had finally affixed its signature to the controversial document.

What did the Academy go public with in late 1995? It confirmed that the “so-called Memorandum”, of which the public had known since 1986, was in fact its own text;5 that it “became very popular overnight;” that it was duplicated, borrowed, sold in the streets and parks;” that it had a “wide readership;” that the public discerned in it “courageous words;” that the “clear messages” of the Memorandum had a strong impact on shaping public opinion; that the Serbian authorities until the rise of Slobodan Milošević had done everything possible to diminish its effect; that it acted as a “cohesive factor” on Serbs; that the intention of a group of academicians in 1985 was to start drawing up a Serb national program but that the execution of the idea was to some other, “different” commission... (Krestić, Mihailović, 1995:16, 23, 27).

Only on one occasion did the Academy demonstrate an ambivalent attitude towards its former political activity and its first political document - when it denied that the Memorandum was a national program. The chief argument presented in 1995 was that a document in the nature of a program must necessarily be “long-term with predictions of structural changes in the economy, population, regional development, the urban system...” At least two reasons can be seen for disclaiming that the Memorandum was a program. First, by disregarding the fact that a “national program” in a multi-ethnic country such as Yugoslavia was in 1985 could not project a common future and democratic change and that, by negating Yugoslavia, it could only strive toward a separate ethnic goal, i.e. the redrawing of ethnic boundaries, the authors of 1995 with the benefit of hindsight deny the Memorandum’s primacy in setting separate ethnic goals and, thereby, the responsibility for all the means subsequently used to attain these goals. Second, the disappointment with the “achievements” of the draft national program. Some of the Memorandum’s authors believed in the messianic idea of a national program as the “Bible” of the national movement, which would immediately and once and for all resolve the issue of the existence of the “threatened” ethnic group in the maximalist version – the sum of all the Greater Serbia pretensions ever set forth (and which pragmatists in the past never attempted to realize). They were understandably disconcerted by their own failures and frustrated when the halos of national messiahs vanished just when they seemed within reach. So for them the 1995 Memorandum cannot be a failed national program but it can be a “visionary document”6 though they deny what stands in it in black and white and, on occasion, ascribe to it ideas and thoughts it does not contain.7

It is true that the Memorandum did not elaborate a project of the future Serbian state, “structural changes in the economy” or, in particular, the “urban system.” But it is also true that it was clearly a model for a separate program for a future independent state bringing together Serbs in all of Yugoslavia. The separate demand based on the Memorandum was the foundation of the “national program” that was implemented. Hence the prediction of Yugoslavia’s breakup was not the result of “vision” but of a calculated action which some individuals quite openly desired. This is confirmed best by the complacent observation made by the Academy in March 1991, when the goal seemed so feasible, that the Memorandum had “a significant impact on social development in recent years” and that it was “perceived as a national program for the march of the Serb people into the future.” (Press release, Executive Committee, SANU Presidency, Politika, 23 March 1991).

Along with this official view, an opposite one on the role of the Academy and the Memorandum in political affairs over the past decade has currency in the Academy today. It is held mainly (but not as the rule) by less active academicians who, since the outbreak of the war, have opposed the Academy’s political activity. Denying and minimizing the significance of the Memorandum and censuring the unbeffiting behavior of some academicians, this group tends to downplay the role of the Academy and to reduce the whole problem to the rashness of individual members. Its denial of the import of the Memorandum and the overall activity of the Academy as essential for understanding the breakup of the Yugoslav state and the wars in its territory is, contrary to the official view of the Academy, grounded on the assumption that scholarly texts have little influence in shaping public opinion, that the broad public was ignorant of the content of the Memorandum, and that large segments of the population were not literate enough to read and understand the academicians’ papers. At the same time, this group resuscitates the theory that the text of the “so-called Memorandum” was not sanctioned by the Academy.8

True, very few people read the Memorandum and the readership of the academicians’ paper was limited. It is also a fact that the Memorandum predicts Yugoslavia’s breakup. Few read the Memorandum but the public was bombarded by the official and sensationalist press, radio and television, at rallies, marketplaces, cafes, with its theses on the general threat to the Serbs, the anti-Serb coalition made up of everybody else, and that their survival could be ensured only if they unified in an independent state. There is no denying that few read the academicians’ papers, but when the first of them came out in a low-circulation magazine with his his allegation of the “genocidal idea” being embedded “deeply in the minds of many generations of Croats” (V. Krestić, Književne novine, 15 September 1986), his words were very soon picked up and repeated by the illiterate. The Memorandum does mention the possible disintegration of the Yugoslav state, but the call for the integration of the Serb people “regardless of republican boundaries” could be realized on only one condition – the disintegration of Yugoslavia.

With the SANU Memorandum – Response to Criticisms of 1995, the Academy confirmed that critics had found strong arguments in the controversial and contradictory Memorandum to see it as laying of the groundwork for the establishment of an independent state in “Serb ethnic territories.” The difference between “defense” and “criticism” lies in the evaluation of the demand. While critics consider it to have been the initial impetus to national homogenization, which was soon to be embodied in the policies and methods of Slobodan Milošević and spelled the end of the Yugoslav state, defenders consider it only a “visionary” prediction of the need to ensure the survival of the ethnic group, threatened from outside.


Several interesting views on the Memorandum are current today in all the factions at the Academy: that those who attacked it had not read it and should do so;9 that the Academy once upon a time unanimously backed the Memorandum;10 that the Academy and its political activity is not subject to criticism for any criticism of it constitutes an attack on the Serb people.11 None of them would be worth mentioning if they did not point up the intransigent refusal to even consider a reexamination of one’s own actions and share of responsibility in, what can now be said, has been the most tragic period in the recent history of the South Slav peoples, a period which began when the Memorandum was publicized and Slobodan Milošević came to power. Can anyone who supported a project that could only result in wrack and ruin be considered innocent? Some quarters in the Academy think this is possible.

“National program”


In these past ten years, the Yugoslav state has been demolished, there have been four wars, the country has been subjected to sanctions for eight years, it has taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees, hundreds of thousands, mostly young people, have moved out of it and, in the end, it was bombed by the combined forces of the world’s greatest powers. It turned out that the Academy’s activities in defining a “national program” were in inverse proportion to the country’s difficulties and problems. In the mid-1980s, when “all Serbs” lived in their homes in one country, when there were no refugees, sanctions, bombings, and mass killings, the Academy engaged its strongest potentials to write the Memorandum and offer the Serb people a vision of the future and way out of their “inferior position”, “discrimination”, “disintegration”, “revanchist policies”, “genocide”, “historical defeat”... , setting it up as a “portentous issue” and predicting “fateful tasks.” Over the next ten years, a time of real wars, long refugee columns and ethnic cleansing, the Academy on at least three occasions promised to come out with a “national program,” which, however, never materialized. In 1990, it brought up “its earlier idea to start the elaboration of a national program.” A committee was set up for this purpose and met a few times, but “the job never got further than a rough outline (Krestić, Mihailović, 1995:89). Two years later, Dobrica Ćosić chaired the organizing committee of a conference entitled “The Serb People at the Beginning of a New Age.” Dušan Kanazir, the then president of the Academy, stated that, “as is being said in the Academy, preparations for a new ‘Memorandum’ are under way but with new protagonists and goals” (Politika, 30 April 1991). His statement was denied by academician Dobrica Ćosić who said the conference had “no message” nor any pretensions to write a political-ideological document “that would be some kind of new Memorandum” (Politika, 12 June 1992). Three years after the conference, the Academy’s Presidency judged that it had “not yielded the best results” and, for reasons unclear, in its Almanac changed the name of the conference to “Serbia at the Beginning of a New Age” (1995 Almanac CII, SANU, Belgrade, 1996, p. 84). On the same occasion, the Academy decided to adopt guidelines for its operative tasks for the 1996-2000 period, that is, to prepare two papers of which one would deal with the operative tasks and the other with “principled questions focusing on the spiritual state of the nation.” It mentioned also two previous attempts – the first in 1990 when a start was made and then abandoned, and the second in 1992, which was unsuccessful.12 Also in 1995, the Academy’s president, when speaking of population problems, said it was necessary for the “greater part of the Academy” to work to create “ a new Memorandum.” Assessing the preceding Memorandum as “a convincing analysis,” he queried: “Do we now have the strength to do more than just analyze, to come out with a synthesized opinion which would at least point to the ways for overcoming what is indubitably the most serious problem of our nation, and do we have the protagonists who would be able to carry this out?” (1995 Almanac CII, SANU, Belgrade, 1996, p. 96). So far as the public knows, he received no reply.

The first idea for a national program (1986) remained a “preliminary draft of a draft” for some and a “visionary document” for others, work on the second (1990) ran out of steam in the synopsis stage, and the third (1992) produced no results even though 58 academicians and university professors were engaged on it. It is clear therefore why there has been no such program so far and why there will be none in the future. But if the Academy has no “national program”, at least to public knowledge, the most active academicians obviously do. In recent years, they are cobbling up their programs along the lines of the disastrous policy to which they have more and more objections but in which they still perceive a possibility of realizing “the centuries-old national dreams.” This section focuses on academicians who in the years that saw the toppling of their “visions” (1994-1999) most frequently felt it necessary to offer to the public their services as visionaries. The common denominator of this group is their persistence in advocating the unification of “all Serbs” or “all Serb lands,” their refusal to accept the reality which clearly forebode tragedy for millions of individual Serbs (the tragedy of non-Serbs “is of no significance” since, like in the first case, they failed to consider it even rhetorically), and their seeing only a just liberation war in all the bloodshed that went on and is still going on. Their only concession to reality is their grudging admission that the realization of the national goals might have to wait for the future – near or distant they do not say.

Before the signing of the Dayton Accords, Mihailo Marković stated that “Serbia’s immediate aim at present is not the creation of a big common state” though he did admit that initially the conviction prevailed that “all Serbs should continue to live in one state.” Marković said that, owing to the opposition of the international community, “we have realized we cannot attain the goal now and that we have to protect the Serb people in Bosnia and the Krajina.” He added that the Serbian government had been pursuing this policy since November 1991 and that he knew this was so because he had participated in formulating the policy (Borba, 19 September 1994), conveniently forgetting the statements he had made before this date.13 Immediately after the fall of the Republic of Serb Krajina, he said “the borders of Serbia will never again be the borders of the Krajina as could have been expected in 1991 and 1995,” and anticipated that “if the peace process and the division of Bosnia it envisages is finalized, these 'the borders of Serbia' could in a few years be the borders of the Republika Srpska”, with the “confederation of Serbia and Republika Srpska “becoming a federal state” (Telegraf, 13 September 1995). Mihailo Marković still has a “national program” which for him means primarily the territorial expansion of Serbia. Convinced that “the isolation of the country is to our advantage” as “it deprives the Western powers of the possibility of interfering in our affairs,” he comes out against the need to raise a rebellion in Montenegro, fearing that “if we raised a rebellion, NATO would intervene and then the most we could get would be only the northern part of Montenegro” (Blic, 2 November 1999).

In 1994 Dobrica Ćosić too still believed in the feasibility of a state uniting all Serbs. He saw the bloodletting in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina only as a Serb liberation war and the policies of Slobodan Milošević only as an attempt to realize the just aspirations, albeit not always successfully. He claimed that “any future unification with any Serb state should start with the constitutional and legal reorganization of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,” and that political parties should come out and say whether “they are for the state-political unity of the Serbs and establishment of a democratic state and necessary support to the defensive and liberation struggle of the Serb people in Tudjman’s Croatia and Izetebegović’s Bosnia-Herzegovina, or for other national and social concepts which primarily imply a negative attitude toward the defensive war and aspirations to statehood of Serbs outside the Republic of Serbia.” In Ćosić’s opinion, the “Serb uprising” made it incumbent on Serbia to provide “material, financial and political assistance to the defensive war of the Serb people in Bosnia-Herzegovina” (Borba, 1 July 1994). During an encounter of “concerned Serb writers” (Dobrica Ćosić and Radovan Karadžić), he noted that “if the Serb people as a whole do not defend their right to political and state unity... all Serbs in the world will be morally and psychologically vanquished” (Telegraf, 15 March 1995). Only a month after the arrival of hundreds of thousands Serb refugees from Croatia, territory remained Ćosić’s prime concern. “Above all, we have the right to demand appropriate territorial and property compensation in eastern Slavonia and Baranja for the territories, cities, and property abandoned by Serbs in western Slavonia, the Knin Krajina, Lika, Kordun and Banija,” he declared (Telegraf, 6 September 1995). Today, though he believes the “collective mind” should respond to the question “how to stop our decline,” he still does not hesitate to answer the question as an individual. And his answer is the same as it was ten years ago. Ćosić urges the “strength to adapt” but adaptation naturally does not mean “renouncing the goal.” He states that the present “national defeats” will in the coming century “turn into Serb victories and superiority over the present-day victors,” and without any grounds claims that “no victories or defeats are definitive in the historical existence of nations” (Nedeljni Telegraf, 29 December 1999).

Dejan Medaković spoke in 1994 of “the noble aspirations whose aim is to finally homogenize Serbs wherever they live today” (Politika, 8 November 1994) only to, like his fellow academician Ćosić, ignore the reality in 1999, convinced that it is an illusion. Following the deployment of tens of thousands of NATO troops in Kosovo, the Academy’s president continues to be optimistic. “However difficult the situation is at present, it remains for me an open-ended question,” he says. He notes that “we still do not have a durably regulated situation of the Serbs in Bosnia” and queries whether “Operation Storm has really settled everything in Croatia?” He is surprised that intellectuals for whom “politics is not their real profession and who lack proper information, make facile judgments such as that Kosovo is definitely lost.” He disagrees that the Serb question has been unfavorably settled: “Not at all; it is a process and who knows in which act we are now. We have a chance, not only to regain territories. We must first restore our self-respect and recognize ourselves” (Glas, 18 July 1999).

Nor did Ljubomir Tadić ever relinquish the goals once they had been set. In 1996 he said the unification of the Serb people was an objective that should never be given up, that the “military loss of the Serb Krajina and Slavonian lands” must “never be accepted as definitive” but only as “occupation” by a currently stronger power.” Tadić stated that “we must never believe that these lands have been lost” and that, on the contrary, it should be written in the constitution of a future “normal” Serb state “that we cannot consider these lands lost, that we must consider them only to have been occupied and that we have claims on these lands as our lands” (Pogledi, 11 March 1996).

Academician Krestić on occasion evinced a better sense of reality than his colleagues cited above. In 1994 he said “capitulation is a certainty and the only question is what else we will lose” (Argument, 21 October 1994). In 1995 he defined national policy as “saving what can be saved” though he still believed that “we have no right to pessimism and defeatism” for “if we manage to keep half of Bosnia-Herzegovina we will not be able to say that all Serbs live under a single plum tree.” With regard to Kosovo and Metohija, western Srem and Baranja, he said he could not predict future developments as he did not have “the right information.” He noted that “we can think about borders and draw them where and how we want, but big countries have always and everywhere made the decisions on borders, especially when small countries demonstrated as many weaknesses as we are doing now” (Telegraf, 20 September 1995). The NATO bombing apparently gave Krestić fresh inspiration for a new “national program.” He was delighted that “the ethnic composition of our Army is not as it was in 1941 and 1991,” that it “is not Yugoslav but Serb” because “only a Serb army defending its people and country has the motivation, capability and strength...” As the bombs were coming down he declared: “It is our duty to break with Yugoslavism and Yugoslav policies and in all parts of our country to rid ourselves of the Tito-Djilas-style national policies” (Glas, 18 April 1999). He did not say, however, where Montenegro figured in his vision.

Academician Milorad Ekmečić was angered by the predictions of the defeat of the national project. In 1995 he claimed that the Bosnian Serbs were denied even a minimal program – “confederation with the mother-country of the Serb nation” – while Serbia was “forced to recognize independent, satellite states in Bosnia and Croatia... which is as disgusting as swallowing a toad.” “If we do not develop an alternative program to counter the violence that is being done to us, those who fail to perform this historical task will have to swallow everything forced on them,” he said (Novosti, 3 May 1995). Two years later, he claimed that a “whole industry of writing new ‘Načertanijas’” ŠNational Program of Ilija GarašaninĆ had sprung up all over, from Bijeljina to Chicago, whose authors either did not know or disregarded the fact that “a state has as much policy as it has power.” Ekmečić noted that the first mistake had been made in 1990 when “political goals were not realistically evaluated” and cut down to “the measure which we were capable of defending” (Književne novine, 15 January-1 February 1997).

Other academicians too had their own opinions about the national program. In 1996 Miroslav Pantić said “no academy in the world should elaborate a national program and, if it does, it should not publicize it” (Politika, 7 June 1996). This was a reiteration of Vasilije Krestić’s old view that national programs are “secret documents” known only to the “innermost leadership” (Politika, 9 August 1991). Kosta Mihailović considered that “we absolutely face the need to rethink our approach to all of the Yugoslav lands and to affirm the approach that problems should be settled along ethnic borders. In that case, I think we would automatically get a solution for the problem of Serbs in Bosnia, which is today very difficult and grievous one for the Serb people” (Nedeljni Telegraf, 12 June 1996). He failed to explain what ramifications the affirmation of this principle would have on resolving the Kosovo problem.

While the Academy once (and the most active of its members still) concerned itself with the “national program” as an issue of territory, ethnic borders and either historical or ethnic “rights,” Aleksandar Despić, until recently its president, viewed the future of the nation from a different angle. His examination of the problem proceeded from the unfavorable population growth and his seemly rational conclusions, free of territorial pretensions, were in fact irrational views of the nation-state as an ethnic state and were received with mixed feelings in the Academy itself. As far back as 1994, he believed that “the results of the struggle to keep intact all the territories in which our people have lived for ages” were directly threatened by the “acute population recession.” Somewhat later he called for talks “on a peaceful and civilized parting of ways and demarcation with those who now insist on the secession of Kosovo” (Naša Borba, 10 June 1996).14

The tragic consequences of the wars for territories in which to establish an ethnic state, which are incompatible demands, did not prompt this group of academicians to reexamine how justified and worthwhile these demands were. If it seemed to them before the wars started that the two demands, for territories and a unified nation, were equally important, following the defeat and the tragedy of hundreds of thousands of Serbs it became clear that for most of them territory was the prime concern. This became especially evident during Dobrica Ćosić’s most recent attempts to relativize the victories and defeats. For him, it turned out, the defeats of individual members of the nation were completely irrelevant if only the nation could go on towards the realization of his triumphant “vision.” While he considered the relatively good life of Serbs in the former Yugoslavia as the worst “defeat in peacetime,” the present, real, defeat impelled him to remark that “there is only a thin line between fighting and surrendering, between victory and defeat, and sometimes there is no great difference in their outcomes.” Once he held that the Serb people were subjected to “outrageous national humiliations” by their “unscrupulous enemy.” Today he accepts that victory and surrender are in the “destiny of men and nations.” It was only natural then that in 1995 he ignored the kilometers-long columns of refugees and the tragic fate of the individuals in them, remaining in the high spheres of “national glory” and “national disgrace” and saying in a conciliatory tone that “not every surrender deserves contempt” and “capitulation is not a national disgrace.” At the same time, however, he remarked angrily that it was in fact a “capitulation to the Croats and Muslims,” and cried “I do not accept this disgrace and defeat” - as if this meant anything to any of the refugees (Telegraf, 6 September 1995).

“For and against” Milošević (1992-1999)


In its official statements up to late 1989, the Academy unreservedly backed Slobodan Milošević and, until the end of 1991, had no objections to his “national program.” On the contrary, it considered that the Serbian leadership had been “maliciously” branded the “instigator and chief culprit” of the dramatic crisis of the Yugoslav state, and that “Serbia never declared war on Croatia” (Academy’s open letter to the world public, Politika, 16 October 1991). In the book it published in 1995, the Academy explicitly confirmed that “the end of the official campaign against and the normalization of relations with the Academy” coincided with the ousting of Ivan Stambolić; that the normalization was “tacit;” that Milošević had “previously criticized the authors of the Memorandum because of party discipline rather than his personal convictions;” that the anti-Academy campaign had ceased when he come to power; that it was “encouraging” when Milošević came out in favor of the Academy; that the attitude of the state was “unreasonable” until Milošević’s statement in 1989 when he said he did not see why the Academy should not have an influence on Serbia’s policies (which implies that the state has been “reasonable” since then). In order to give a “positive” connotation in 1995 to this great understanding and agreement between the state and the Academy, Slobodan Milošević was portrayed as a “supporter of the preservation of Yugoslavia, as was clearly evident at the last, 14th Congress of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia” (Krestić, Mihailović, 1995: 42, 44, 85). The authors were obviously sure that their readers had short memories. Was this the Congress from which the Slovenian delegates walked out in tears, to hectic hand-clapping from Milošević’s delegates?

With regard to the full agreement between the authorities and the Academy in the pre-war and first years of the war, the only difference between “critics” and “defenders” was that the “defenders” saw it merely as a coincidence and the “vision” of both sides, while the “critics” considered it a political compact in formulating national demands.

The sporadic expression of different political stands within the Academy during 1991 peaked in 1992 when it split along the line of “for” and “against” Milošević. A division along the same line occurred again in 1999, with almost the same number of academicians on either side. With the exception of newly admitted and deceased academicians, more or less the same people signed the petition for Milošević’s resignation both in 1992 and 1999. Though the petition had a major impact on the Academy itself, highlighting the sharp political division within the institution, the effect outside it on both occasions was nothing more than symbolic. The Academy did not demand the resignation of Milošević either in 1992 or 1999. On the contrary, it was emphasized that the petition expressed the personal views of the academician who signed it, and even had it been otherwise, the significance of the act could hardly have been greater. The reason is simple. It did not require much intelligence in 1992, and still less in 1999, to observe that Milošević’s policy was leading the country, the nation, morality, everything, into catastrophe. There was hardly anyone who was not aware of this, even among the illiterate. Therefore, at a time of his unchallenged power, appeals for his resignation are just as symbolic as the Academy’s expression of unreserved support were important for him while he was still ascending and consolidating his position as national leader. However much he needed the Academy from 1987 to 1991, calls by academicians for his resignation affect him not at all now.

What is the attitude of the most active academicians towards Milošević in recent years? Different, as on everything else. Mihailo Marković remains his most loyal supporter,15 while the previous and current presidents of the Academy (Aleksandar Despić and Dejan Medaković) have chosen either to avoid any antagonism16 or to limit themselves to benign criticism.17 The others differ in the degree of their criticism, both of each other and of their former views. Over the past several years, Dobrica Ćosić has had a number of opportunities to refuse to ask for Milošević’s resignation: in 1992 because he was “concerned” about the Serbs outside Serbia (Politika, 5 June 1992); in 1993 because he was “afraid” that the result would be “chaos and antagonisms” (Vreme, 7 June 1993); in 1995 he claimed to have withdrawn his support from Milošević when “it became obvious that Milošević was not prepared to carry out democratic reforms and dismantle the Titoist system” (Telegraf, 13 September 1995) but left the public in the dark as to exactly when this became obvious to him. It was only in 1999 that he urged Milošević to resign, appealing to his “patriotic consciousness” (Svedok, 29 June 1999).

The other active academicians in the group that some ten years ago made such a deep imprint on the Academy and, in particular, its all-out support for Milošević, are now competing with each other in blackening him but with one important stipulation: recognition of his positive role in the past when he found in the Memorandum “confirmation of some personal views,” when he insisted on “the rights of Serbs to self-determination in their ethnic lands,” which was “without grounds qualified as an aspiration to create a Greater Serbia” (Krestic, Mihailović, 1995: 85), when he was homogenizing the Serbs, when he launched the campaign with a promising end, and when only “traitors, i.e. “globalists” opposed him in Serbia.18 As long as the cutting edge of the knife was turned against others, they considered Milošević a patriot. But when it was turned about, they saw him as evil incarnate. And then the academicians started protesting.19 It is wrong to believe that these academician have now genuinely “come to their senses” about Milošević and the entirety of his rule, including his war program. Milošević may be a bad guy for them today, but a bad guy with a good past so the hate they feel now is proportionate to the love they felt for him before. Aware always of their previous support to him, these academicians will continue to defend Milošević’s beginnings, his “just” national project, his “defense” of Yugoslavia from “future secessionists,” his backing of the “uprising” of the Serbs outside Serbia. It is therefore only natural that they consider the wars, as a struggle for the “right of self-determination of Serbs in their ethnic lands,” (Krestić, Mihailović, 1995: 85) to be Milošević’s greatest contribution to the national cause, and his “policy of capitulation”20 his greatest national sin.
“Collective mind”?
Since the appearance of the Memorandum in 1986, the main subject of dispute among the academicians has been the role and place of the Academy in political life. Although there were demands even back then that the Academy “not be used for purposes which are foreign to its essence and its mission” (Sima Ćirković, Književne novine, 1-15 January 1987), the stand prevailed in the last years of the decade that the Academy “cannot remain indifferent to the fateful issues of its people.” This led to its becoming politically active through support for the policies of Slobodan Milošević. The dilemma has nowadays been reformulated and reads: Should the Academy as an institution be politically engaged, i.e. is it a “collective mind”?

To clarify the essence of the dispute, it is necessary to refer to the views of the academicians on the role of the intellectual elite in general and on its responsibility for the state of the nation and society. Since, however, the Academy can no longer be seen as a single body with unanimous opinions, one must go to the academicians most often quoted in public and their views on the role of the intelligentsia. A point almost all of them share in common is the rejection of any responsibility of the intelligentsia and cynical inversion of the thesis on the “innocence” of politicians.21 With their “disclosure” that the prime responsibility lies with the politicians, the active academicians have been trying hard in recent years to minimize the role of the intellectuals by maintaining that only a few “obedient” individuals were involved, and transferring any discussion on responsibility into the field of pure politics. Though repetition of well known facts is to be avoided, it must be noted again that even a child knows that politicians bear the prime responsibility but, if one stops at this point, the result will be not a half-truth but also a big lie with the aim of acquitting nationalism as the inciter of hate and malevolence toward the “other,” and to ascribe all the terrible things that have happened in the last ten years to power-hungry individuals. As if this lust for personal power happened just by chance and as if intellectuals and the academicians and their national programs had nothing at all to do with reinforcing it and giving legitimacy to its national project, as if nationalism had nothing to do with the propaganda machine and the involvement of intellectuals in it, or with the manipulated, jubilant masses, the massive rallies of support, the flowers on tanks, the forcing of thousands of non-Orthodox to sing Serb songs, the killings and the persecution of hundreds of thousands of non-Serbs, the indifference to the tragedies of hundreds of thousands of Serbs if only a kernel of “national happiness” could be found in their personal misfortunes... Whoever is prepared to underwrite this lie can claim for all eternity that the intellectuals are innocent and may feel better for it, but will nonetheless will go down as having underwritten a lie.

It has already been mentioned that no unanimous opinion on any subject whatsoever can now be identified within the Academy and ascribed to it as a whole. A sample of the views of only six active academicians shows that the differences between them are insurmountable: from Aleksandar Despić who believes that the intelligentsia plays a big role in society and has major responsibility, to Predrag Palavestra who relativizes the importance of intellectuals and considers that only a few extremists among them are responsible, over Nikola Milošević who says intellectuals have absolutely no influence on politics and that nationalism was a product of one man, to Dobrica Ćosić who considers the intelligentsia innocent, and Bećković who claims that the literate cannot be responsible in a country of illiterates (probably meaning that the illiterate are responsible) and, finally, to Vasilije Krestić according to whom the responsibility of the intelligentsia is great - not the “patriotic” intellectuals, however, but those who urged peace all these years and whom he calls “globalists.”

Aleksandar Despić, until recently president of the Academy, is among the very few academicians who believe that the intellectual elite wields major influence. Speaking in the Academy in 1995 of the danger of “disproportion of territory and population potential,” the impossibility of a minority holding power and dictating to the majority, and of the “use of traditional national-historical arguments” to cover up these facts, Despić stated that it was “primarily the duty of intellectual circles to explain matters to the ignorant who, gripped by euphoria over the realization of national goals, are today unable to perceive the inevitability of these truths” (1995 Almanac CII, SANU, Belgrade, 1996, p. 95). In a 1996 report, he also asserted that “the development of national consciousness as well as national intolerance as a complex phenomenon peculiar to the primitive (archaic) and dark zones of the psyche, occurred first of all in the intellectual circle, after which the motive force it produced was taken over by men of politics and government. The avalanche that came down with such disastrous consequences on this whole region originated, at least partly, with a snowball packed together by the intellectual circles of all the peoples who live in the region” (Nedeljni Telegraf, 12 June 1996).

And while it appears that Despić has no dilemmas where the responsibility of the intelligentsia is concerned, academician Palavestra obviously does. He frequently feels the need to disclaim that intellectuals were responsible for Milošević22 coming to power, as if anyone ever said so. The Serbian intellectual elite was responsible for the conceiving of national programs, and the moral and professional support it gave to Milošević in carrying out his policies, but it was not responsible for his election to a position from which he could pursue these policies. The plaudits on the day he stepped onto the Serbian and Yugoslav political scenes, destroying everything in his path, without doubt helped to reinforce his position and the responsibility for that can be laid at the door of the intellectual elite. According to Palavestra, even the responsibility for the wars is “relative” for, he says, though the intelligentsia is “everywhere the architect of programs and ideologies... the war machine is set in motion not by poets and academicians but by politicians and generals.” Admitting that “some intellectuals here added fuel to the flames,” he nevertheless concludes that the blame “cannot be pinned only on the Serbian intelligentsia” (Naša Borba, 15 August 1995). He still adheres to such general relativization, on the grounds that intellectuals “did not set in motion the war machine, they did not distribute the arms.”23 It would appear then that far more responsibility is borne by “those supposedly liberal quarters” who, in Palavestra’s opinion, are shifting the onus for the defeat from the authorities “who prosecuted the war... to the intelligentsia” and who should be able “to tell the difference between the ruling forces and a group of obedient intellectuals on the one hand and the entire unfortunate and stricken nation on the other.” Using the nation as a shield for the intelligentsia, Palavestra disclaims the latter’s accountability and states that those who maintain that intellectuals are accountable are in fact exonerating the real perpetrators and accusing “the intelligentsia and the entire nation” (Vreme, 13 November 1999).

Certain that “intellectuals have never had any crucial influence on the policies of a totalitarian regime,” Nikola Milošević finds only one thing to blame for both the policies pursued and the nationalistic euphoria: “The suppression over several decades of the national feelings of Serbs became fertile soil for the nationalistic euphoria, which the regime’s manipulative techniques raised to the level of ecstasy. However, if Slobodan Milošević had not had a political monopoly, there probably would not have been this ecstasy either.” Academician Milošević categorically denies the accountability of intellectuals, noting that “ŠSlobodanĆ Milošević would have come to power and would have stayed in power even without their backing” (Danas, 25-26 September 1999).

Though he had “withdrawn” his support from Slobodan Milošević the year before, Dobrica Ćosić in 1996 absolved both him and the intelligentsia: “I am not ready to blame the leadership and the intelligentsia for all the troubles, though we all have our share of responsibility. Others, more powerful than we are, are more to blame for our sufferings” (Dnevni Telegraf, 28 September 1996). Soon afterwards, he stuck a label on those who dared speak of the accountability of the intelligentsia: “Denouncers in Belgrade, a few Ustasha collaborators with origins in Serbia, Croatian chauvinists and professional hirelings of Islamic offices and petroleum monarchies claim that the Serbian intelligentsia is responsible for the war and ethnic cleansing. They are not few in number and you know their names” (Blic, 17 December 1996). Ćosić has now arrived at a salvational formula. Still proceeding from the presumption of innocence, passivity and necessary self-defense – “our country was broken up”, “we have been condemned to”, “we have suffered”, “we defended” – he concludes that the “historical mind” had failed to perform, that the Serb people lacked “leaders and politicians” up to the task and, to crown it all, that his political responsibility is “collective” (Nedeljni Telegraf, 29 December 1999).

Matija Bećković is, however, the most vociferous in denying the responsibility of the intelligentsia. As far back as 1995, he maintained that intellectuals were not without guilt but that their biggest mistake was that “they were not aware of either the responsibility or the rights of the Serb people” (NIN, 28 July 1995). Nowadays he goes even further, implying that the semi-literate nation is more to blame than the intelligentsia. “... this ‘truth’ has been canonized. The explanation is sufficient only for those who do not need or are not interested in any explanations. In a semi-literate nation, the literate are guilty. In a country where no one listens to anybody else or scorns the views of others, everything is turned upside down over a single sentence uttered or written by some priest or poet. Even if this were so, I couldn’t be bothered to agree.” According to Bećković, no blame whatsoever can be attached to the public utterances of the intellectual elite, so he says: “The inventorying and weighing of each and every word, the game of ‘piece moved, checkmate’ played by on-duty game beaters and informers is a wretched and miserable thing indeed.” But he does state that everything he said was “at my own expense and on my own responsibility,” and goes on to conclude defiantly: “Kosovo has never been more expensive, and the rest is gone too” (Vreme, 11 December 1999).

And, finally, the most interesting view on the responsibility of intellectuals is that of academician Vasilje Krestić. In his opinion, only the “globalist” segment of the intelligentsia is accountable. Dividing intellectuals into three groups - patriotic, passive and globalist, i.e. traitorous - he says that a part of the intelligentsia “is nationally aware and patriotically concerned, the other simply stands on the sidelines, and the third is so disgracefully conformist and ready to betray national interest that it deserves every condemnation. ŠThis segment Ć will very soon know only shame for its stands and lack of any kind of feeling for the suffering of the Serb people. This is the fashionable, globalist intelligentsia whose only desire is to curry favor with the supposedly civilized West, and does not realize that it is siding with our greatest enemies” (Gradjanin, 29 May 1997).

Owing to this ubiquitous sheltering behind the “people,” formerly vis-à-vis demands and now accountability, it is interesting to examine the active academicians’ views on the responsibility of the “globalists” to whom they until recently ascribed their own present-day claims on the responsibility of the people, thus denying the stand of the “globalists” on the accountability of the intelligentsia. Though the amorphous “globalist” grouping hardly belongs in this context since, as academician Tadić likes to say, it is not part of the intellectual elite and is made up of “semi-intelligent” persons, a brief scrutiny is still necessary as it indicates, among other things, the degree to which the politically dominant wing of the Academy is ready to tolerate different opinions on the accountability of intellectuals.

The attention paid by the academicians who had the most to say about the “globalist affliction” in recent years is in inverse proportion to the importance they impute to them: “a modest political group” (D. Ćosić), “more vociferous than numerous” (V. Krestić), “popular only in downtown Belgrade” (M. Marković).

According to Ćosić, the “globalists” have “ideological motives” and “corruptive reasons”, they oppose “the national-state goals of the overwhelming majority of Serbs,” they support the “anti-Serb policy” of the United States and the European Union. They are “intellectual hirelings of international foundations” (Nova Nada, July 1994), they “believe that Croats, Slovenes and Muslims can live together with Serbs,” such views are “political insanity”, “ignorance and political naiveté”, “where some of them are concerned, it is only a form of Serb masochism, a kind of genetic flaw of the Serbs” (Telegraf, 6 September 1995). They are “Serb degenerates who have sold their souls,” by profession “post-Titoist converts,” they “work unscrupulously to denounce and accuse the Serb people for the war.” They engage in “scribbling and daydreaming,” they are “the Belgrade NATO peaceniks” with “imbecilic” views. They are “witless” but participants in “the calculated and unscrupulous intellectual collaboration with the enemies of their nation,” they write up indictments against Serbia”, they are a “motley company” which includes “Montenegrin Ustashas, ex-secret police, holders of grants from various American and other foreign foundations, the fathers of grant-holders; they all call their cowardice and corruption ‘emancipation’ and their renunciation of national and civic dignity ‘Europeanism’” (Telegraf, 13 September 1995).

Krestić says the “globalists” are indifferent to the “Serb problem and the suffering of the Serb people” and all they do is “fawn on those to whose tune we must dance.” He was afraid that globalism and the “globalists” would overpower “people with sound views and patriotic goals” (Argument, 21 October 1994), because “they have better media exposure than patriotically committed intellectuals... and strong financial support.” But “all the surveys made to gauge how the people feel about them showed that they are in all things marginal, as they deserve to be.” Krestić did not say, however, who conducted these “surveys” or when. In his opinion, “depriving the Serbs of a leadership was no coincidence but part of a deliberate campaign which still continues” because “the globalist movement is now on stage and its representatives are operating unhindered in the Serb ethnic territory, denigrating everything Serb.” The result, he adds, is “leaving the nation without a leadership by creating havoc in society” (Politika, 16 April 1998). To his own question on who the “globalists” serve, he replies that the answer should be sought “in institutions abroad which bankroll the spiritual destruction of the Serb nation and, like unscrupulous pushers, offer to it the most pernicious drugs after whose use there can be no return to a healthy life” (Srpsko nasledje, February 1998).

For his part, Mihailo Marković describes “globalists” as “egotistic and narcissistic or extremely self-seeking people, in love with themselves” who are “one-sided, biased, alienated from their own people and are very unpopular all over Serbia.” In their behavior, he adds, there are elements of “masochism and the narcissistic need of insignificant and frustrated persons and losers to play a role and have an audience” as well as “a suppressed desire for vengeance by former ideologists,” and “corruption by Soros” (Intervju, 4 August 1995).

Ljubomir Tadić says the “globalists” have “substituted their witless internationalism with witless cosmopolitism,” that they play “a grotesque role on our political scene” (Argument, 26 August 1994), that they have their “center” in the Belgrade Circle “whose meetings are spiritualist seances at which the chairman shouts and screams hysterically,” that they are “receptive to the horrific demonizing elements against Serbs,” and that “globalism is a caricature of cosmopolitism” (Demokratija, 20 January 1997). They are “pretentious semi-intelligent people who go so far as to denounce as Serb Nazism the legitimate advocacy of the threatened national interests,” they “wholeheartedly second the Western propaganda” and have made a profession of sorts of “denying the national identity of the Serb people” (Književne novine, 1-15 January 1997). “They are the kind of people who have no compunction about the means they use,” who “vilify their own people,” for whom “the interests of their people mean nothing” so that “our public must in some way be informed about this category of semi-intelligent persons who, for the sake of their small interests, agree to be the apologists of a great power” (Svedok, 4 March 1997).

The current president of the Academy, Dejan Medaković, gave a small contribution to the narrative on the accountability of the “globalists” when he noted that “the tendencies of the globalists who dream of Europe while being ashamed of their own people seem naive to me” (Politika, 31 December 1998, 1, 2, 3 January 1999).


* * *
The discussion on the significance and responsibility of the intelligentsia in general may be wound up with the view of President Medaković who said the Academy “shaped the national consciousness of this nation” (Politika, 12 February 1999). This takes the discussion back to square one as, despite all the denials of the intelligentsia’s responsibility, it best illustrates the belief in its major importance in society. And there is probably no need to underscore that responsibility is commensurate with importance.

If what has been set out above leads to the conclusion that there is no agreement within the Academy on the importance and responsibility of the intelligentsia, it is clear also that there is no full agreement on the Academy’s role in society, apart from its scientific and scholarly function.

While the 1995 SANU Memorandum – Response to Criticisms implies that the Academy is a “collective mind” by noting that “no country in the world would question the right of its academy to hold opinions on social issues” (Krestić, Mihailović, 1995: 44), this notion was on the whole disclaimed by its last three presidents.

Dušan Kanazir described the Academy as a “hybrid institution,” and said men of “the humanities are far more sensitive to developments in day-to-day politics than members from the natural sciences and consequently were more involved in politics in those hard days of our country’s agony.” He added that “some natural scientists consider that certain writers and artists are ‘rocking the Academy boat’ too much and that it is time to consider its division into an academy of sciences and academy of arts.” Kanazir believed the Academy could not remain a closed system as it would then “become a insular, self-sufficient institution from which the country would have no great benefit” (Politika, 27 May 1994).

The term “collective mind” for the Academy was used by Aleksandar Despić when he became its president. Saying it was possible “that this grouping of personalities from a wide range of professions could achieve a certain new quality and, as a collective mind, better evaluate each phenomenon and each situation,” and that full agreement “is very rarely reached” in such a body, he noted that “it happened in the past in some critical situations so it is not too much to expect it to happen again in the future” (Politika, 31 December, 1, 2, 3, January 1995). Three years later, he disavowed these words when he said “the Academy is no collective mind that could react every time something happens in society that causes concern and reactions... One-mindedness is alien to it as it consists of a group of people who each have their own opinion on everything.” He confirmed that the Academy had several times come out with statements on “problems of crucial importance for our people, which can be considered a strategic rather than a political” act, and said he assumed that this would be the case again in “special circumstances” (Glas, 22 December 1998).

Before he became president, Dejan Medaković confirmed that the Academy had failed to react in some critical situations, “which was seen by the public as wrong and entered as a demerit on the Academy’s record” but noted that it had “not always turned a deaf ear to efforts to solve or help solve some problems.” Medaković believed that “harmony between scholarly and political thought has not been established in Serbia,” that politicians were “doing their own thing” while the Academy was closing itself up, that the “academicians feel humiliated and offended,” and the result was like “talking to the deaf.” Considering that this lack of harmony was detrimental for both politicians and scholars, he said the optimal and sage thing would be for them to “connect, talk” (Politika, 31 December 1998, 1, 2, 3, January 1999). His latest stand is that, under the law, the tasks of the Academy lie primarily in the field of scholarship and science, and that its previous administrations had decided by vote that it should stay away from day-to-day politics “as this could lead to divisions along party lines” within the Academy. Nowadays he is explicit: “We are not a collective mind, we are here on the strength of our merits as scholars and scientists and it is the democratic right of every academician to say what he wants in his own name.” Medaković noted also that it was unfair to say the Academy had failed to react and cited three statements it had issued as an institution, and “countless statements by individuals,” and promised the publication of a White Book containing all the Academy’s statements. Since the Academy issued statements on the position of the Serb nation on several occasions in the past (Memoradum, Part II, 1991 statement, etc), it would be interesting to see what prevents it from doing so now. It would appear that Medaković gave the reason when he said the Serbian Orthodox Church was in a better position than the Academy in this regard and that it was easier for the Church “because the Holy Spirit hovers over it. The decisions of the Holy Synod are under the protection of the Holy Spirit. This we do not have.” Going back to the question of political activity in the Academy, he assessed as a flaw the “politically exclusive behavior of individuals,” and ended by stating that “there is no rift in the Academy” (Glas, 18 July 1999).

That a rift exists and that it is deep is confirmed by the statements of numerous academicians, from those who consider the Academy has no right to publicize its political views24 over those who disapprove of individual members behaving as if they represented the institution,25 to those who explicitly or implicitly say that the Academy is a house divided.26 The most vociferous, naturally, are those academicians who believe that the Academy must be politically active and must publicize its political views. Once again their grounds are that this is expected by the public, and that not merely politics but the very survival of the nation is involved. Curiously enough, the stand is advocated by those academicians who, where responsibility is concerned, maintain “what does it matter what some priest or poet has to say.”27
* * *
It would be an illusion to expect the Academy to pull Serbia out of the situation into which it was plunged through the actions of its political elite, supported to a large extent by the intellectual elite. The Academy cannot even help to stop the spiritual and moral devastation of the society since in the political activity of its active members not a trace of readiness can be detected to tackle the elementary concepts. And the concepts have been warped by terms such as “national interest”, “nation-state”, “ethnic territory”, “character” of the nation, by the archaic ideas of a glorious history, quasi-patriotic claims that the wars fought have always been just, of “our defensive” nationalism and the “aggressive nationalism” of others, the denial of accountability “at home” and the finding of culprits only among “others,” by the rejection of a flexible perception of one’s own responsibility – great in the case of everything good in society and non-existent for all the tragic mistakes.

The crux of the problem is not that a national institution such as the Academy does not have a “vision” of the future; it is in the fact that many individuals within it still believe that they do or can have such a vision but fail to consider how well grounded are the premises they proceeded from fifteen years ago and still proceed from today.

Four wars in which Serbia “lost” territories, those it never had and those it did, wars in which the Serb people both in and outside Serbia lost all everything, instead of encouraging have called a halt to all efforts to look to the future. Wandering around in an eternal search for an imaginary national unity, once of “all Serb lands” and “all Serbs” and now “spiritual unity,” a euphemism for both of the above,28 the elite of the Serbian Academy is lost in time and space, and remains consistent only in the demand for the establishment of some kind of “unity,” an atavistic remnant of its obsolete understanding of nation. From the ivory tower of the Academy, the nation has all these years been perceived only as a corporate entity, with no account taken of the individuals who make it up and their vital needs. Only such a vision could make the shaping, moving, concentration and gathering together of the nation desirable.29 While the Memorandum identified as the primary problems the disunity and subjugation of the Serb people by the communists, Tito, the Constitution, Croatia, Slovenia... the academicians, now that these “afflictions” are no more, decry the “globalists”, that is, traitors, the “new world order,” the United States and Europe. According to them, the old and the new afflictions had a single purpose – to prevent the “unity” of the nation. No one more than certain academicians despaired so deeply that “no one here decides, no one gives the orders, no one carries them out” (V. Krestić, Srpsko nasledje, February 1998) and no one pondered less on how it could be achieved in the nation when they themselves are unable to achieve unity in the Academy – which is only natural. The nation was expected to be “spiritually” united, to be prepared for any (individual) sacrifice in the name of some distant and imaginary “national” victory. No such unity was expected from the Academy; on the contrary it is par excellence individualistic, i.e. democratic.

The national “visions” of the politically active academicians have not been realized. Their need to continue offering solutions has made it hard for the public today to distinguish between the Academy as an institution and its individual members. In any case, for the majority of the population, the Academy is not the building in Knez Mihailova Street and the enormous amount of scholarly and scientific work that goes on inside it, but its politically active members. For the first time in the 115 years since the Academy was founded, this generation of academicians, to the misfortune of its passive majority, will be known in the future for its politically active minority.






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