President Trump

By Sam Vaknin
Author of “Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited

Laymen confuse “narcissistic style” with “narcissistic personality disorder”. Many politicians have a narcissistic style: narcissistic traits and behaviors that may amount to a narcissistic personality. They are vain, self-centered, haughty, bombastic, and infantile. Narcissistic Personality Disorder in general and “malignant narcissism” in particular are an entirely different ballgame. It’s like the difference between a social drinker and an alcoholic.

Narcissists (people with a full-fledged personality disorder) are positively dangerous: they are delusional, their thinking is clouded by grandiose fantasies, they are vindictive, contemptuous, aggressive, destructive, bullying, sadistic, and have no self-awareness. They are not curious and vehemently and sometimes violently reject any criticism, suggestion, or disagreement. They lack empathy and they exploit people, having objectified and abused them.

One more thing: it is common practice to evaluate someone’s mental health not having interviewed him or her and without administering psychological tests. Mental health evaluation (as distinct from a proper diagnosis) does not require physical access to the evaluated person. The CIA has an entire department dedicated to the psychological profiling of world leaders (read Jerrold Post’s analysis of Saddam Hussein, now available online – or the OSS psych-profile of Adolf Hitler). The FBI uses psychiatrists to construct psychological profiles of serial killers and terrorists. Scholars habitually publish “remote diagnoses” of public personalities in weighty and venerable academic journals. It is common practice!

Evaluating the mental health of a public figure requires an inordinate amount of research. Over the past 5 years, I have watched well over 600 hours of Trump in various settings and read everything he has written and was quoted as saying. I have no such in-depth acquaintance with the other candidates except Clinton.

Trump is a malignant narcissist. This view is shared by dozens of mental health professionals who went on public record with their analyses of his mental infirmity. He is dangerous, antisocial, destructive, vindictive, sadistic, and hypervigilant (paranoid and hypersensitive). He tends to cast himself as a belligerent martyr: the self-sacrificial victim of a vast conspiracy of the establishment, in a David vs. Goliath confrontational morality play.

Clinton strikes me as somewhat psychopathic: she is a pathological liar, a rank manipulator, a confabulator, and is exploitative and dysempathic. But, she is far less likely to implode and self-destruct than Trump. While she is far from an optimal choice for any public office, she is no way near as ominous as Trump.

Trump is so unfit to be President that I am not sure where to start. But here are a few issues that are likely to raise their collective ugly heads even in the first weeks of a Trump presidency:

Trump regards himself as omniscient, an authority on anything and everything, from aesthetics to ethics. He, therefore, lacks intellectual curiosity and regards outside advice as both superfluous and injurious (because it implies that he is less than perfect). He is likely to surround himself with timid yesmen and sycophantic acolytes and generate an impregnable echo chamber rather than a council of wise men and women.

Trump’s grasp of nuanced reality, weak as it already is, is likely to deteriorate further to the point of paranoid psychosis. Faced with opposition, however tenuous, he is likely to react by scapegoating and by inciting street or state violence against targeted groups. Trump is the state, so his enemies (anyone who as much as voices doubt or disagrees with him) is, by definition, an enemy of the state.

Owing to his self-perceived innate superiority, Trump regards himself as above and transcending laws made by lesser mortals. Laws are meant to trap and ensnare giants like him, to drag him down to the pedestrian level of mediocrity. He plays by the rules only when and if they accord with his predilections and self-interest.

Like all narcissists, Trump believes that he is universally loved, adored, and admired. He attributes this ostensible (and utterly delusional) blanket approbation to his effusive charm and irresistibility. He is firmly convinced that he can motivate people to transgress against their own moral convictions and to break the law, if necessary, just by the sheer force of his monumental personality. Trump idealizes and then rapidly devalues people, collectives, and institutions. Trump is in sempiternal flux: he is inconstant in his judgements, opinions, views, and fleeting attachments.

Trump is intellectually lazy, so he is a firm adherent of shortcuts and of “fake it till you make it”. It is a dangerous approach that led him to botch numerous business deals and inflict untold damage and suffering on thousands of people.

Trump is authoritarian in the worst sense of the word. In his disordered, chaotic mind, he is infallible (incapable of erring), omnipotent (can achieve anything if he just sets his mind to it), and omniscient (needs to learn nothing as he is the fount of all true, intuitive knowledge). This precludes any proper team work, orderly governance, institutional capacity, flow of authority and responsibility, and just plain structure. Trump is an artist, led by inconsistent and intermittent inspiration, not by reliable, old-fashioned perspiration. He is not a self-made man, but a self-conjured caricature of a self-made man. Trump is guided by his alleged inner divine wisdom. He is a malevolent guru and cult leader, not a politician or a statesman.

Ironically, Trump’s much trumpeted grandiosity is fragile because it is based on delusional and fantastic assumptions of perfection and intellectual brilliance which are hard to defend. Hence Trump’s relentless and compulsive pursuit of affirmation and adulation. He needs to be constantly idolized just to feel half human. Criticism and disagreement, however minor and well-intentioned, are perceived as unmitigated threats to the precarious house of cards that is Trump’s personality. Consequently, Trump is sadistically vindictive, aiming not just to counter such countervailing opinions regarding his Godlike status, but to deter and intimidate future critics.

Finally, aiming to disavow his own fragility and the indisputable fact that his public persona is nothing but a fabrication, Trump ostentatiously and volubly abhors and berates the weak, the meek, “losers”, “haters” (of which is a prime example), the disabled, women, minorities, and anyone else who might remind him by their very existence of how far from perfect and brilliant he is. The public Trump is about hatred, resentment, rage, envy, and other negative emotions because he is mercilessly driven by these very demons internally. Trump’s quotidien existence is a Kafkaesque trial in which he stands accused of being a mere, average, not-too-bright, mortal and is constantly found wanting and guilty as charged. His entire life is a desperate, last ditch attempt to prove wrong the prosecution in this never-ending courtroom drama.

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Author Bio

Sam Vaknin ( http://samvak.tripod.com ) is the author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain – How the West Lost the East, as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, international affairs, and award-winning short fiction.
He is the Editor-in-Chief of Global Politician and served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.
Visit Sam’s Web site at http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com

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Tourism, Safety, and Security: From Vacation to Staycation

By Sam Vaknin
Author of “Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited

Isolated terrorist attacks have no long-term effects on destination tourism. Only a prolonged period of civil unrest and warfare can decimate a country’s inbound tourism. Facing a variety of threats has always been an integral part of the “job description” of a tourist. Today, as they embark on their annual “vacance”, tourists are mentally prepared to cope with international terrorism; domestic terrorism and insurgencies; blended terrorism (domestic malcontents inspired by international ones); crime (pickpockets, panhandlers, muggers, kidnappers, the homeless, unsolicited prostitution, etc.); the risks attendant on inadvertently violating social and cultural mores, norms, customs, and laws in the host country; endemic diseases and health hazards (food poisoning and food allergies, or encounters with indigenous predatory or venomous fauna and flora for example); natural disasters; and economic disruptions. Nowadays, tourists are far more versed at adopting precautions and implementing preventive measures.

We tend to forget, though, that tourists not only fall victims to mishaps and delinquency – they are also vectors of threats. Tourists are often zero patients in the spread of contagion and pandemics. Terrorists, narco-dealers, and intelligence officers frequently pose as tourists to gain safe passage to their targets. Some tourists constitute a threat to other tourists owing to their nationality (Israeli, American) or their misconduct and inappropriate behavior.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, there has been an imperceptible move away from vacation to staycation (spending one’s days off at home) and, more broadly, to domestic tourism. Abroad, tourists are tempting soft targets for criminals and terrorists, both homegrown and international. Often greeted by xenophobia and rabid stereotypes, tourists cannot rely on suspicious local law enforcement or on the hostile populace to come to their aid or to not abet their persecutors.

The “starburst” model of asymmetrical warfare seeks to strike against multiple nationalities in a single operation carried out with minimal assets and means. It is part and parcel of the concept of “total war” which makes no distinction between combatants and civilians. A tourist resort is, therefore, an ideal target. It is also impossible to enhance the resilience of such soft targets by fortifying them because this would counteract and conflict with the openness and freedom which are an essential part of the experience of tourism. Truly defending against terrorist attacks would require the conversion of hotels into prisons and the transformation of the tourist’s numbered holidays into an anxiety-ridden, worry-filled nightmarish sojourn.

Security planners would do well to emulate the lessons learned in information technology defenses: establish a comprehensive, hard to penetrate perimeter (firewall); multi-layered, distributed as well as concentric intrusion detection systems; intelligence-driven protection (akin to signature-based antivirus products); biometric and face recognition defenses; systems founded on heuristic, behavioral, and tell-tale signs; coping with insider threat (hotel personnel or tour guides recruited by terrorist organizations or crime rings, for instance); compartmentalization and backup zones (similar to the architecture typical of ocean liners); and dynamic, proactive protection and surveillance of paths, routes, marketplaces, downtown city centres, hubs, transportation, events, etc.)

It is clear that passive deterrence (e.g. CCTV) is not enough. It should go hand in hand with preventive and preemptive measures, education, preparedness, and active deterrence (via, for example, a pronounced, advertised, and visible police presence). A customer-friendly and specially-trained Tourism Police, integrated with various suppliers and providers in the tourism industry could go a long way towards ameliorating and countering persistent threats to tourism. Simple maintenance has been proven to reduce crime dramatically: street lighting, hedge pruning, sanitary measures, homeless shelters, needle exchanges, and so on. Organized tours should always incorporate one or more security guards.

Tourist education is critical: cultural sensitivity training; introduction to the legal system in the destination and to specific, relevant laws; the role, functions, and limitations of the diplomatic missions in situ, safety and security measures and behaviors; and lists of useful and emergency contacts (including medical personnel and lawyers).

Tourist attractions, accommodation, and services should be ranked for security and safety, possibly via crowdsourcing (similar to the comparative information provided by TripAdvisor.com).
References

Tourism, Security and Safety – From Theory to Practice (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/book/9780750678988), A volume in The Management of Hospitality and Tourism Enterprises, 2006 – Edited by:Yoel Mansfeld and Abraham Pizam – ISBN: 978-0-7506-7898-8 – doi:10.1016/B978-0-7506-7898-8.50001-1 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-7506-7898-8.50001-1) – Copyright © 2006 Elsevier Inc. (https://www.elsevier.com/) All rights reserved.

Risk and safety management in the leisure, events, tourism and sports industries – Erdogan Koc – doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2015.12.006 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tourman.2015.12.006) – Tourism Management (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/02615177), Volume 54, June 2016, Pages 296–297 – Published by Elsevier (https://www.elsevier.com/)

Tourism Security – Strategies for Effectively Managing Travel Risk and Safety (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/book/9780124115705) – Peter E. Tarlow – ISBN: 978-0-12-411570-5 – doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-411570-5.09991-8 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-411570-5.09991-8) – Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. (https://www.elsevier.com/) All rights reserved.
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Author Bio

Sam Vaknin ( http://samvak.tripod.com ) is the author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain – How the West Lost the East, as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, international affairs, and award-winning short fiction.
He is the Editor-in-Chief of Global Politician and served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.
Visit Sam’s Web site at http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com

Will Trump Quit the Race?

By Sam Vaknin
Author of “Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited

Even his most ardent foes agree that Trump is not stupid and that he is a relentless fighter. Based on what flimsy evidence? His own repeated and vociferous reassurances, of course. Yet, when we apply the cold instruments of psychology to both boasts, they appear to be decidedly shaky.

I will dispense with his claim that he is intelligent by referring the reader to the incredible transcripts of his recent interviews with the New York Times and the Washington Post. As he emerges from these painful exchanges, he makes Sarah Palin look like a towering intellect by comparison. Scoring well in all manner of IQ tests requires an endowed vocabulary, an awareness and knowledge of current affairs (which indicates curiosity, a pillar and hallmark of intelligence), and analytic skills. Trump demonstrates not a hint of these three.

His second attempt at self-portrayal as a dauntless warrior merits much deeper study.

Start with the facts: Trump is a quintessential quitter. He had quitted marriages, business deals, enterprises, and campaigns. When things get rough, he reflexively abandons ship. He is labile, desultorily hopping from one harebrained scheme to another, one romantic union to its successor, one burst of self-promotion to a spectacular, implosive feat of self-destruction. Indeed, this is his brand: a feckless, reckless, daring, unpredictable, vicissitudinal Trump with a capital T.

Trump is taking a lot of flak, heat, criticism, and mockery from his reference group: the people whose opinions he values, whose club he wants to join, to whom he wishes fervently to belong, and by whom he dreams to be finally and unconditionally accepted and respected. I am not talking about his mindless supporters and fans whose dreary lives he probably abhors and whose unthinking loyalty inspires in him only profound contempt. No, he aspires to be counted among the very people that he constantly denigrates, belittles, and humiliates: eggheads, pundits, accredited public intellectuals, analysts, the elites, his father. Indeed, their rejection of him is the trigger for his unbridled wrath. Hell hath no fury like a narcissist scorned.

Trump feels entitled to be admired, adulated, specially and exceptionally treated, and revered (he compulsively seeks “narcissistic supply”). Instead, he is mocked and insulted (he garners “negative supply”). These massive and recurrent narcissistic injuries may well be enough to put him off and, thus, derail his quest for the nomination. Faced with deficient narcissistic supply in their chosen Pathological Narcissistic Space (their stomping grounds, their “kingdom”), narcissists disengage and move on as swiftly and as decisively as circumstances permit. Trump is no exception. But he is so invested in his grandiosely fantastic self-image, that he is likely to go through decompensation and acting out.

What are these?

In extremis, when all the narcissist’s default behaviors, charm, stratagems, and solutions fail, or when only negative, fake, low-grade, and static narcissistic supply is to be had, the narcissist “falls apart” in a process of disintegration known as decompensation (the inability to maintain psychological defenses in the face of mounting stress.) This is accompanied by “acting out”: when an inner conflict (most often, frustration) translates into aggression. It involves acting with little or no insight or reflection and in order to attract attention and disrupt other people’s cosy lives.

The dynamic forces which render the narcissist paralysed and fake – his vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and fears – are starkly exposed as his defences crumble and become dysfunctional. The narcissist’s extreme dependence on his social milieu for the regulation of his sense of self-worth is painfully and pitifully evident as he is reduced to begging, threatening, and cajoling.

At such times, the narcissist acts out self-destructively and anti-socially. His mask of superior equanimity is pierced by displays of impotent rage, self-loathing, self-pity, passive-aggressiveness, and crass attempts at manipulation of his friends, family, and colleagues – or the public comprised of his disaffected and outraged acolytes. His ostensible benevolence and caring evaporate. He feels caged and threatened and he reacts as any animal would do: by striking back at his perceived tormentors as well as at his hitherto “nearest” and “dearest”.

But, if Trump is, as I suggested, a malignant narcissist, how could he possibly justify withdrawing from the race at this late stage, having promised so much to so many? Isn’t he emotionally invested in winning?

Narcissists rationalize their actions. Rationalization is a psychological defense mechanism. It is intended to cast one’s behavior after the fact in a favorable light. To justify and explain one’s conduct or, more often, misconduct by resorting to “rational, logical, socially-acceptable” explications and excuses. Rationalization is also used to re-establish ego-syntony (inner peace and self-acceptance).

Cognitive dissonance – the state of having simultaneous and equipotent but inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes – usually provokes rationalization. It involves speech acts which amount to the devaluation of things and people very much desired or perceived positively but frustratingly out of one’s reach and control or socially deemed unacceptable. In a famous fable, a fox, unable to snag the luscious grapes he covets, says: “these grapes are probably sour anyhow!” This is an example of cognitive dissonance in action.

Trump is likely to use three lines of defensive reasoning:

(1(1) They don’t deserve me. I am much ahead of my time, perspicacious, and sage. People are just not ready for me. History will vindicate me; and/or

(2(2) I am quitting the race in order to protect my family and heal the wounds of the nation; and/or

(3(3) I have proved what I wanted to prove (whatever that may be). No need for me to continue to waste my time and resources. I have better things to do.

WWe can all only wish.

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Author Bio

Sam Vaknin ( http://samvak.tripod.com ) is the author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain – How the West Lost the East, as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, international affairs, and award-winning short fiction.
He is the Editor-in-Chief of Global Politician and served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.
Visit Sam’s Web site at http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com

The Trump Revolution

By Sam Vaknin
Author of “Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited

Trump’s supporters and fans are frustrated. In 1939, a team of psychologists, led by John Dollard, hypothesized that frustration always leads to aggression. Legitimate grievances against a dysfunctional, corrupt, and compromised polity, a deceptive ethos, an American Dream turned nightmare, a broken system that no longer works for the overwhelming majority and appears to be unfixable lead Trump’s base to feel that they had been betrayed, abandoned, duped, exploited, abused, ignored, disenfranchised, and trampled upon. They are in the throes of dislocation, disorientation, and trauma. Their declining fortunes and obsolete skills render them insignificant and irrelevant, and their lives meaningless. It is hopelessness coupled with impotent helplessness.

Trump’s adulators seek to bypass the system and even to dismantle it altogether – not to reform it. This is the stuff revolutions are made of and the pronouncements of Trump’s cohorts are inadvertently copy-pasted from the texts of the French Revolution, The October Revolution (which led to Bolshevism), and even the Nazi Revolution.

Such conditions often give rise to cults, centered around a narcissistic or psychopathic leader-figurehead. In Trump’s case, the abyss between his life’s circumstances and his followers’s is unbridgeable and yet, they hope that by associating with him, however remotely, some of his glamour and magical, fairytale success will rub off on them. Voting for Trump is like winning the lottery, becoming a part of a juggernaut and of history. It is an intoxicating sensation of empowerment that Trump encourages by telling his voters that they are no longer “average”, they are now, by virtue of following him, “great” and “special”, even if only by proxy.

Trump idealizes his voters and they return the favor. In their eyes, he is the Cleanser of the Beltway’s Augean Stables. He, singlehandedly, “in 10 minutes”, will destroy the ancient regime, the old order (of which he had been a part since age 21), settle scores, “Dirty Harry” style, and, thus, make their day. It is a nihilistic mindset. Some of his followers gleefully contemplate the suspension of the Constitution and its elaborate check and balances. Others compare him to the first Roman Emperors. They wish to unburden themselves by transferring their decision-making and responsibilities onto The Chosen One.

To his acolytes – and contrary to much evidence – Trump is a “doer”, with a long list of (mostly illusory) accomplishments. He is best equipped to get things done and to prioritize. In Washington, where appearances matter far more than substance, no one is better credentialed that The Donald, they smirk. These champions of small government and Conservatism look to Trump-when-President (in other words: to the State!) to generate jobs, to insulate them from the outside world, to protect them from illegal aliens and terrorists (surely one and the same), and, in general, to nanny and cosset them all the way to the bank. The world is a hostile, psychopathic place and who best to deal with it than an even more hostile, narcissistic leader like Trump? We need a bad, big wolf to navigate through the jungle out there. This is a form of collective regression to toddlerhood with Trump in the role of the omnipotent, omniscient Father.

In abnormal psychology this is called “shared psychosis”. The members of the cult deploy a host of primitive (infantile) psychological defense mechanisms as they gradually dwindle into mere extensions and reflections of their skipper. Theirs is a malignant optimism, grounded not in reality, but in idealization: the tendency to interact not with Trump himself, but with an imaginary “Trump” that each fan tailors to suit his or her fears, hopes, wishes, and fervent fantasies.

Then there is denial: a pathological response, the repression of inconvenient truths about Trump and their relegation to the unconscious were they fester into something called “dissonance”. Dissonance breeds rage and violence and these oft accompany nihilistic and destructive political cults. Denial goes well with splitting: the demonization and denigration of opponents and adversaries, critics, and bystanders. “If you are not 100% with us, you are 1000% against us and if you are against us, you are the enemy to be sucker-punched and carried out on a stretcher.”

But by far the strongest psychological defense mechanism is fantasy. When reality becomes unbearable, fantasy, however improbable and implausible, is a welcome refuge. This is Trump’s forte: the promulgation and dissemination of fantasies customized to resonate irresistibly with the weaknesses, fears, disenchantments, and disillusionment of his hapless hoplites.

One such fantasy Trump actively encourages is that he is just acting to the crowds now. His below-the-belt obnoxiousness is just for show. In a feat of rationalization worthy of Houdini, Trump’s legions attribute his crass boorishness to “market research” and reasoned electoral calculus. Once elected, he will miraculously be transformed into a “presidential” and dignified politician who plays by the rules and is by no means buffoonish, vulgar, and offensive, they insist with a knowing wink, as though they have ever truly been in-the-know, pals with the Great Man Himself. Such intimations of arcane knowledge cater to their growing sense of self-importance. Indeed, Trump’s may well be the first post-modern narcissistic mass movement.

Such admirable thespian skills attributed to Trump (and proudly owned by him) require the inbred personality of a consummate and thoroughly psychopathic con-artist. Narcissists effect these transitions effortlessly precisely because they only have a False Self (a confabulated grandiose image that they project) whose sole aim is to garner narcissistic supply: attention and, if possible, unmitigated adulation and admiration. Faking it is second nature to the narcissist: exaggerating, lying, pretending, shapeshifting, Zelig-like. Whatever it takes.

Another fantasy is that the narcissist will never turn against his own people. Trump will mercilessly crush the coterie of corrupt power brokers in Washington – but will never ever direct the full might of his gratuitous sadism against his followers, fans, ardent supporters, and fawning admirers. History, of course, teaches otherwise. Sooner or later, the narcissist cannibalizes his own power base and treats as enemies his most rabid lackeys and toadies.

Peopled shrug and say: “but ain’t all politicians narcissists?” The answer is a resounding: no. Granted, it would be safe to assume that most politicians have narcissistic traits. But, as the great psychologist Theodore Millon observed, there is a world of difference between being possessed of a narcissistic style and being a full-fledged, malignant narcissist. The famous author Scott Peck suggested that “narcissism” may just be a modern fancy byword for “evil”. He may have had a point. But, evil should be contained, not elevated to the position of Leader of the Free World.
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Author Bio

Sam Vaknin ( http://samvak.tripod.com ) is the author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain – How the West Lost the East, as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, international affairs, and award-winning short fiction.
He is the Editor-in-Chief of Global Politician and served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.
Visit Sam’s Web site at http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) – Fad or Fortune?

By Sam Vaknin
Author of “Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited

The role of foreign direct investment (FDI) in promoting growth and sustainable development has never been substantiated. There isn’t even an agreed definition of the beast. In most developing countries, other capital flows – such as remittances – are larger and more predictable than FDI and ODA (Official Development Assistance).

Several studies indicate that domestic investment projects have more beneficial trickle-down effects on local economies. Be that as it may, close to two-thirds of FDI is among rich countries and in the form of mergers and acquisitions (M&A). All said and done, FDI constitutes a mere 2% of global GDP.

FDI does not automatically translate to net foreign exchange inflows. To start with, many multinational and transnational “investors” borrow money locally at favorable interest rates and thus finance their projects. This constitutes unfair competition with local firms and crowds the domestic private sector out of the credit markets, displacing its investments in the process.

Additionally, foreign investors tend to target countries with high tariffs (“tariff jumping”), thus increasing pressure on domestic manufacturers, adversely affecting the country’s terms of trade (via capital-intensive imports), and depriving the state of much-needed revenues. As Bhagwati and Johnson noted in the 1950s, under certain conditions which are common in commodity-producing regions of the globe, this can actually lead to immiseration despite growing capital investments and exports.

Many transnational corporations are net consumers of savings, draining the local pool and leaving other entrepreneurs high and dry. Foreign banks tend to collude in this reallocation of financial wherewithal by exclusively catering to the needs of the less risky segments of the business scene (read: foreign investors).

Additionally, the more profitable the project, the smaller the net inflow of foreign funds. In some developing countries, profits repatriated by multinationals exceed total FDI. This untoward outcome is exacerbated by principal and interest repayments where investments are financed with debt and by the outflow of royalties, dividends, and fees. This is not to mention the sucking sound produced by quasi-legal and outright illegal practices such as transfer pricing and other mutations of creative accounting.

Moreover, most developing countries are no longer in need of foreign exchange. “Third and fourth world” countries control three quarters of the global pool of foreign exchange reserves. The “poor” (the South) now lend to the rich (the North) and are in the enviable position of net creditors. The West drains the bulk of the savings of the South and East, mostly in order to finance the insatiable consumption of its denizens and to prop up a variety of indigenous asset bubbles.

Still, as any first year student of orthodox economics would tell you, FDI is not about foreign exchange. FDI encourages the transfer of management skills, intellectual property, and technology. In the long run, these exchanges between foreign headquarters and domestic operations create jobs in the host countries and improve the quality of goods and services produced in the economy. Above all, they give a boost to the export sector.

All more or less true. Yet, the proponents of FDI get their causes and effects in a tangle. FDI does not foster growth and stability. It follows both. Foreign investors are attracted to success stories, they are drawn to countries already growing, politically stable, and with a sizable purchasing power.

Foreign investors of all stripes jump ship with the first sign of contagion, unrest, and declining fortunes. In this respect, FDI and portfolio investment are equally unreliable. Studies have demonstrated how multinationals hurry to repatriate earnings and repay inter-firm loans with the early harbingers of trouble. FDI is, therefore, partly pro-cyclical. Additionally, investments by multinationals at home and abroad are highly correlated. In other words: when the firm suffers in its domestic market, it tends to reduce, freeze, or altogether withdraw investments all over the world.

What about employment? Is FDI the panacea it is made out to be?

Far from it. Foreign-owned projects are capital-intensive and labor-efficient. They invest in machinery and intellectual property, not in wages. Skilled workers get paid well above the local norm, all others languish. Most multinationals employ subcontractors and these, to do their job, frequently haul entire workforces across continents. The natives rarely benefit and when they do find employment it is short-term and badly paid. M&A, which, as you may recall, constitute 60-70% of all FDI are notorious for inexorably generating job losses. At best, in the short to medium term, FDI may encourage employment in the non-tradable sector, but not in the tradable one.

FDI buttresses the government’s budgetary bottom line but developing countries invariably being governed by kleptocracies, most of the money tends to vanish in deep pockets, greased palms, and Swiss or Cypriot bank accounts. Such “contributions” to the hitherto impoverished economy tend to inflate asset bubbles (mainly in real estate) and prolong unsustainable and pernicious consumption booms followed by painful busts.

Alphabetical Bibliography: Contemporary View

Austria’s Foreign Direct Investment in Central and Eastern Europe:‘Supply-Based’or ‘Market Driven’? – W Altzinger – thInternational Atlantic Economic Conference, Vienna, 1999

Blessing Or Curse?: Domestic Plants’ Survival and Employment Prospects After Foreign Acquisition – S Girma, H Görg – 2001 – opus.zbw-kiel.de

Competition for Foreign Direct Investment: a study of competition among governments to attract FDI – CP Oman – 2000 – books.google.com

(The) Contribution of FDI to Poverty Alleviation – C Aaron – Report from the Foreign Investment Advisory Service – 1999 – ifc.org

Corruption and Foreign Direct Investment – M Habib, L Zurawicki – Journal of International Business Studies, 2002

Determinants Of, and the Relation Between, Foreign Direct Investment and Growth – EG Lim, International Monetary Fund – 2001 – papers.ssrn.com

Direct Investment in Economies in Transition – K Meyer – Cheltenham and Northampton (1998), 1998

(The) disappearing tax base: is foreign direct investment (FDI) eroding corporate income taxes? – R Gropp, K Kostial – papers.ssrn.com

Does Foreign Direct Investment Accelerate Economic Growth? – M Carkovic, R Levine – University of Minnesota, Working Paper, 2002

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Foreign Direct Investment and Poverty Reduction – M Klein, C Aaron, B Hadjimichael, World Bank – 2001 – oecd.org

Foreign Direct Investment as a Catalyst for Industrial Development – JR Markusen, A Venables – 1997 – NBER

Foreign Direct Investment as an Engine of Growth – VN Balasubramanyam, M Salisu, D Sapsford – Journal of International Trade and Economic Development, 1999

Foreign Direct Investment, Employment Volatility and Cyclical Dumping – J Aizenman – 1994 – NBER

Foreign Direct Investment in Central and Eastern Europe: Employment Effects in the EU – H Braconier, K Ekholm – 2001 – snee.org

Foreign Direct Investment in Central Europe since 1990: An Econometric Study – M Lansbury, N Pain, K Smidkova – National Institute Economic Review, 1996

Foreign Direct Investment in Developing Countries: A Selective Survey – Luiz R. de Mello Jr. – NBER

Foreign Investment, Labor Immobility and the Quality of Employment – D Campbell – International Labour Review, 1994

Foreign direct investment-led growth: evidence from time series and panel data – L de Mello – Oxford Economic Papers, 1999

Home and Host Country Effects of FDI – RE Lipsey – 2002 – NBER

How Does Foreign Direct Investment Affect Economic Growth? – E Borensztein, J De Gregorio, JW Lee – Journal of International Economics, 1998

The Impact of Foreign Direct Investment Inflows on Regional Labour Markets in Hungary – K Fazekas – SOCO Project Paper 77c, 2000

(The) Impact of Foreign Direct Investment on Wages and Employment – L Zhao – Oxford Economic Papers, 1998

(The) limited Impact of Foreign Investment in the Americas – Kevin P. Gallagher and Andrés López – http://ase.tufts.edu/gdae/WorkingGroup_FDI.htm

(The) link between tax rates and foreign direct investment – SP Cassou – Applied Economics, 1997

Location Choice and Employment Decisions: A Comparison of German and Swedish Multinationals – SO Becker, K Ekholm, R Jäckle, MA Muendler – Review of World Economics, 2005

Much Ado about Nothing? Do Domestic Firms Really Benefit from Foreign Direct Investment? – H Gorg – The World Bank Research Observer, 2004

Multinational Corporations and Foreign Direct Investment – Stephen D. Cohen – Oxford University Press, 2007

Should Countries Promote Foreign Direct Investment? – GH Hanson – 2001 – r0.unctad.org

Taxation and Foreign Direct Investment: A Synthesis of Empirical Research – RA de Mooij, S Ederveen – International Tax and Public Finance, 2003

Trade, Foreign Direct Investment, and International Technology Transfer: A Survey – K Saggi – The World Bank Research Observer, 2002

Troubled Banks, Impaired Foreign Direct Investment: The Role of Relative Access to Credit – MW Klein, J Peek, ES Rosengren – The American Economic Review, 2002

Vertical foreign direct investment, welfare, and employment – W Elberfeld, G Gotz, F Stahler – Topics in Economic Analysis and Policy, 2005

Volatility, employment and the patterns of FDI in emerging markets – J Aizenman – 2002 – NBER

Who Benefits from Foreign Direct Investment in the UK? – S Girma, D Greenaway, K Wakelin – Scottish Journal of Political Economy, 2001

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Bibliography (courtesy ScienceDirect http://www.sciencedirect.com/): Historical View

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Author Bio

Sam Vaknin ( http://samvak.tripod.com ) is the author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain – How the West Lost the East, as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, international affairs, and award-winning short fiction.
He is the Editor-in-Chief of Global Politician and served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.
Visit Sam’s Web site at http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com

Murderous Priests in Macedonia: Nationalism and Religious Co-existence in a Tormented Region

By Sam Vaknin
Author of “Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited

The powerful, thought-provoking, and courageously objective docu-drama “The Last Macedonian” (2015) chronicles painstakingly the insidious and pernicious role played by the various national Christian Orthodox churches in Macedonia. Bulgarian, Serb, and Greek clergy meddled in the internal politics of this tortured region; bought and sold local strogmen and warlords; arranged for assassinations, forced conversions of the hapless natives, and for other nefarious activities; lavished funds and divine sanction and unction on the kaleidoscope of allies and foes engendered by their own stratagems and subterfuges; and, in general, acted more like thugs than priests.

But this has not always been the case. The rise of the nation-state envenomed the relationship between secular and religious authorities. Rabid, jingoistic nationalism pervaded, permeated, and poisoned Christianity as it has all else in this benighted, fogotten part of the world. But, things were radically different prior to the 19th century.

“There are two maxims for historians which so harmonise with what I know of history that I would like to claim them as my own, though they really belong to nineteenth-century historiography: first, that governments try to press upon the historian the key to all the drawers but one, and are anxious to spread the belief that this single one contains no secret of importance; secondly, that if the historian can only find the thing which the government does not want him to know, he will lay his hand upon something that is likely to be significant.”
Herbert Butterfield, “History and Human Relations”, London, 1951, p. 186
The Balkans as a region is a relatively novel way of looking at the discrete nation-states that emerged from the carcasses of the Ottoman and Habsburg Empires and fought over their spoils.

This sempiternal fight is a determinant of Balkan identity. The nations of the Balkan are defined more by ornery opposition than by cohesive identities. They derive sustenance and political-historical coherence from conflict. It is their afflatus. The more complex the axes of self-definition, the more multifaceted and intractable the conflicts. Rabid nationalism against utopian regionalism, fascism (really, opportunism) versus liberalism, religion-tinted traditionalism (the local moribund edition of conservatism) versus “Western” modernity.

Who wins is of crucial importance to world peace.

The Balkans is a relatively new political entity. Formerly divided between the decrepit Ottoman Empire and the imploding Austro-Hungarian one – the countries of the Balkans emerged as unique polities only during the 19th century. This was to be expected as a wave of nationalism swept Europe and led to the formation of the modern, bureaucratic state as we know it.

Even so, the discrete entities that struggled to the surface of statehood did not feel that they shared a regional destiny or identity. All they did was fight ferociously, ruthlessly and mercilessly over the corrupted remnants of the Sick Men of Europe (the above mentioned two residual empires). In this, they proved themselves to be the proper heirs of their former masters: murderous, suborned, Byzantine and nearsighted.

In an effort to justify their misdeeds and deeds, the various nations – true and concocted – conjured up histories, languages, cultures and documents, some real, mostly false. They staked claims to the same territories, donned common heritage where there was none, spoke languages artificially constructed and lauded a culture hastily assembled by “historians” and “philologists”.

These were the roots of the great evil – the overlapping claims, the resulting intolerance, the mortal, existential fear stoked by the kaleidoscopic conduct of the Big Powers. To recognize the existence of the Macedonian identity – was to threaten the Greek or Bulgarian ones. To accept the antiquity of the Albanians was to dismantle Macedonia, Serbia and Greece. To countenance Bulgarian demands was to inhumanly penalize its Turk citizens. It was a zero-sum game played viciously by everyone involved. The prize was mere existence – the losers annihilated.

It very nearly came to that during the two Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913.

Allies shifted their allegiance in accordance with the shifting fortunes of a most bewildering battlefield. When the dust settled, two treaties later, Macedonia was dismembered by its neighbours, Bulgaria bitterly contemplated the sour fruits of its delusional aggression and Serbia and Austro-Hungary rejoiced. Thus were the seeds of World War I sown.

The Yugoslav war of succession (or civil war) was a continuation of this mayhem by other means. Yugoslavia was born in sin, in the dictatorship of King Alexander I (later slain in France in 1934). It faced agitation, separatism and discontent from its inception. It was falling apart when the second world conflagration erupted. It took a second dictatorship – Tito’s – to hold it together for another 40 years.

The Balkan as a whole – from Hungary, through Romania and down to Bulgaria – was prone to authoritarianism and an atavistic, bloody form of racist, “peasant or native fascism”. A primitive region of destitute farmers and vile politicians, it was exposed to world gaze by the collapse of communism. There are encouraging signs of awakening, of change and adaptation. There are dark omens of reactionary forces, of violence and wrath. It is a battle fought in the unconscious of humanity itself. It is a tug of war between memories and primordial drives repressed and the vitality of those still close to nature.

The outcome of this fight is crucial to the world. Both world wars started in central eastern and south-eastern Europe. Globalization is no guarantee against a third one. The world was more globalized than it is today at the beginning of the century – but it took only one shot in Sarajevo to make this the most sanguineous century of all.

An added problem is the simple-mindedness, abrasiveness and sheer historical ignorance of America, the current superpower. A nation of soundbites and black or white stereotypes, it is ill-suited to deal with the nuanced, multilayered and interactive mayhem that is the Balkan. A mentality of western movies – good guys, bad guys, shoot’em up – is hardly conducive to a Balkan resolution. The intricate and drawn out process required taxes American impatience and bullying tendencies to their explosive limits.

In the camp of the good guys, the Anglo-Saxons place Romania, Greece, Montenegro and Slovenia (with Macedonia, Croatia, Albania and Bulgaria wandering in and out). Serbia is the epitome of evil. Milosevic is Hitler. Such uni-dimensional thinking sends a frisson of rubicund belligerence down American spines.

It tends to ignore reality, though. Montenegro is playing the liberal card deftly, no doubt – but it is also a haven of smuggling and worse. Slovenia is the civilized facade that it so tediously presents to the world – but it also happened to have harboured one of the vilest fascist movements, comparable to the Ustasha – the Domobranci. It shares with Croatia the narcissistic grandiose fantasy that it is not a part of the Balkan – but rather an outpost of Europe – and the disdain for its impoverished neighbours that comes with it. In this sense, it is more “Balkanian” than many of them. Greece is now an economically stable and mildly democratic country – but it used to be a dictatorship and it still is a banana republic in more than one respect. The Albanians – ferociously suppressed by the Serbs and (justly) succoured by the West – are industrious and shrewd people. But – fervent protestations to the contrary aside – they do seem to be intent on dismantling and recombining both Yugoslavia (Serbia) and Macedonia, perhaps at a terrible cost to all involved. Together with the Turks, the Serbs and the Bulgarians, the Albanians are the undisputed crime lords of the Balkan (and beyond – witness their incarceration rates in Switzerland).

This is the Balkan – a florilegium of contradictions within contraventions, the mawkish and the jaded, the charitable and the deleterious, the feckless and the bumptious, evanescent and exotic, a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

“In accordance with this [right to act], whenever some one of the infidel parents or some other should oppose the giving up of his son for the Janiccaries, he is immediately hanged from his doorsill, his blood being deemed unworthy.”
Turkish firman, 1601

“…The Turks have built several fortresses in my kingdom and are very kind to the country folk. They promise freedom to every peasant who converts to Islam.”
Bosnian King Stefan Tomasevic to Pope Pius II

“…The Porte treated him (the patriarch) as part of the Ottoman political apparatus. As a result, he had certain legally protected privileges. The Patriarch travelled in ‘great splendour’ and police protection was provided by the Janiccaries. His horse and saddle were fittingly embroidered, and at the saddle hung a small sword as a symbol of the powers bestowed on him by the Sultan.”
Dusan Kasic, “The Serbian Church under the Turks”, Belgrade, 1969
Within the space of 500 years, southeast Europe has undergone two paradigmatic shifts. First, from Christian independence to Islamic subjugation (a gradual process which consumed two centuries) and then, in the 19th century, from self-determination through religious affiliation to nationalism. The Christians of the Balkan were easy prey. They were dispirited peasantry, fragmented, prone to internecine backstabbing and oppressive regimes. The new Ottoman rulers treated both people and land as their property. They enslaved some of their prisoners of war (under the infamous “pencik” clause), exiled thousands and confiscated their lands and liquidated the secular political elites in Thrace, Bulgaria, Serbia and Albania. The resulting vacuum of leadership was filled by the Church. Thus, paradoxically, it was Islam and its excesses that made the Church the undisputed shepherd of the peoples of the Balkan, a position it did not enjoy before. The new rulers did not encourage conversions to their faith for fear of reducing their tax base – non-Moslem “zimmis” (the Qur’an’s “People of the Book”) paid special (and heavy) taxes to the treasury and often had to bribe corrupt officials to survive.

Still, compared to other Ottoman exploits (in Anatolia, for instance), the conquest of the Balkan was a benign affair. Cities remained intact, the lands were not depopulated and the indiscriminately ferocious nomadic tribesmen that usually accompanied the Turkish forces largely stayed at home. The Ottoman bureaucracy took over most aspects of daily life soon after the military victories, bringing with it the leaden stability that was its hallmark. Indeed, populations were dislocated and re-settled as a matter of policy called “sorgun”. Yet such measures were intended mainly to quell plangent rebelliousness and were applied mainly to the urban minority (for instance, in Constantinople).

The Church was an accomplice of the Turkish occupiers. It was a part of the Ottoman system of governance and enjoyed both its protection and its funding. It was leveraged by the Turk sultans in their quest to pacify their subjects. Mehmet II bestowed upon the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, its bishops and clergy great powers. The trade off was made explicit in Mehmet’s edicts: the Church accepted the earthly sovereignty of the sultan – and he, in turn, granted them tolerance, protection and even friendship. The Ottoman religious-legal code, the Seriat, recognized the Christian’s right to form their own religiously self-governing communities. These communities were not confined to the orderly provision of worship services. They managed communal property as well. Mehmet’s benevolence towards the indigents was so legendary that people wrongly attributed to him the official declaration of a “Millet i Rum” (Roman, or Greek, nation) and the appointment of Gennadios as patriarch of the Orthodox Church (which only an episcopal synod could do).

The Ottoman Empire was an amazing hybrid. As opposed to popular opinion it was not a religious entity. The ruling elite included members of all religions. Thus, one could find Christian “askeri ” (military or civil officials) and Muslim “reaya” (“flock” of taxpayers). It is true that Christians paid the arbitrarily set “harac” (or, less commonly, “cizye”) in lieu of military service. Even the clergy were not exempt (they even assisted in tax collection). But both Christians and Muslims paid the land tax, for instance. And, as the fairness, transparency and predictability of the local taxmen deteriorated – both Muslims and Christians complained.

The main problem of the Ottoman Empire was devolution – not centralization. Local governors and tax collectors had too much power and the sultan was too remote and disinterested or too weak and ineffective. The population tried to get Istanbul MORE involved – not less so. The population was financially fleeced as much by the Orthodox Church as it was by the sultan. A special church-tax was levied on the Christian reaya and its proceeds served to secure the lavish lifestyles of the bishops and the patriarch. In true mob style, church functionaries divided the loot with Ottoman officials in an arrangement known as “peskes”. Foreign powers contributed to the war chests of various candidates, thus mobilizing them to support pro-Catholic or pro-Protestant political stances and demands. The church was a thoroughly corrupt, usurious and politicized body which contributed greatly to the ever increasing misery of its flock. It was a collaborator in the worst sense of the word.

But the behaviour of the church was one part of the common betrayal by the elite of the Balkan lands. Christian landowners volunteered to serve in the Ottoman cavalry (“sipahis”) in order to preserve their ownership. The Ottoman rulers conveniently ignored the laws prohibiting “zimmis” to carry weapons. Until 1500, the “sipahis” constituted the bulk of the Ottoman forces in the Balkan and their mass conversion to Islam was a natural continuation of their complicity. Other Christians guarded bridges or mountain passes for a tax exemption (“derbentci”). Local, Turkish-trained militias (“armatoles”) fought mountain-based robber gangs (Serbian “hayduks”, Bulgarian “haiduts”, Greek “klephts”). The robbers attacked Turkish caravans with the same frequency and zeal that they sacked Christian settlements. The “armatoles” resisted them by day and joined them by night. But it was perfectly acceptable to join Turkish initiatives such as this.

The Balkan remained overwhelmingly Christian throughout the Ottoman period. Muslim life was an urban phenomenon both for reasons of safety and because only the cities provided basic amenities. Even in the cities, though, the communities lived segregated in “mahalles” (quarters). Everyone collaborated in public life but the “mahalles” were self-sufficient affairs with the gamut of services – from hot baths to prayer services – available “in-quarter”. Gradually, the major cities, situated along the trade routes, became Moslem. Skopje, Sarajevo and Sofia all had sizeable Moslem minorities.

Thus, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the picture that emerges is one of an uneasy co-habitation in the cities and a Christian rural landscape. The elites of the Balkan – church, noblemen, warriors – all defected and collaborated with the former “enemy”. The local populace was the victim of usurious taxes, coercively applied. The central administration shared the loot with its local representatives and with the indigenous elites – the church and the feudal landed gentry. It was a cosy and pragmatic arrangement that lasted for centuries.

Yet, the seeds of Ottoman bestiality and future rebellion were sown from the very inception of this empire-extending conquest. The “devsirme” tax was an example of the fragility of the Turkish veneer of humanity and enlightened rule. Christian sons were kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam and trained as fighters in the fearsome Janiccary Corps (the palace Guards). They were never to see their families and friends again. Exemptions from this barbarous practice were offered only to select communities which somehow contributed to Ottoman rule in the Balkan. Christian women were often abducted by local Ottoman dignitaries. and the custom of the “kepin”, allowed Moslems to “buy” a Christian daughter off her husband on a “temporary” basis. The results of such a union were raised as Moslems.

And then there were the mass conversions of Christians to Islam. These conversions were very rarely the results of coercion or barbarous conduct. On the contrary, by shrinking the tax base and the recruitment pool, conversion were unwelcome and closely scrutinized by the Turks. But to convert was such an advantageous and appealing act that the movement bordered on mass hysteria. Landowners converted to preserve their title to the land. “Sipahis” converted to advance in the ranks of the military. Christian officials converted to maintain their officialdom. Ordinary folk converted to avoid onerous taxes. Christian traders converted to Islam to be able to testify in court in case of commercial litigation. Converted Moslems were allowed to speak Arabic or their own language, rather than the cumbersome and elaborate formal Turkish. Christians willingly traded eternal salvation for earthly benefits. And, of course, death awaited those who recanted (like the Orthodox “New Martyrs”, who discovered their Christian origins, having been raised as Moslems).

Perhaps this was because, in large swathes of the Balkan, Christianity never really took hold. It was adopted by the peasant as a folk religion – as was Islam later. In Bosnia, for instance, Muslims and Christians were virtually indistinguishable. They prayed in each other’s shrines, celebrated each other’s holidays and adopted the same customs. Muslim mysticism (the Sufi orders) appealed to many sophisticated urban Christians. Heretic cults (like the Bogomils) converted en masse. Intermarriage flourished, mainly between Muslim men (who could not afford the dowry payable to a Muslim woman) and Christian women (who had to pay a dowry to her Muslim husband’s family). Marrying a Christian woman was a lucrative business proposition.

And, then, of course, there was the Moslem birth rate. With four women and a pecuniary preference for large families – Moslem out-bred Christians at all times. This trend is most pronounced today but it was always a prominent demographic fact.

But the success of Islam to conquer the Balkan, rule it, convert its population and prevail in it – had to do more with the fatal flaws of Balkan Christianity than with the appeal and resilience of Islam and its Ottoman rendition. In the next chapter I will attempt to ponder the complex interaction between Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity as it was manifested in Croatia and Bosnia, the border lands between the Habsburg and the Ottoman empires and between “Rome” and “Byzantium”. I will then explore the variance in the Ottoman attitudes towards various Christian communities and the reasons underlying this diversity of treatment modalities.

“From the beginning, people of different languages and religions were permitted to live in Christian lands and cities, namely Jews, Armenians, Ismaelites, Agarenes and others such as these, except that they do not mix with Christians, but rather live separately. For this reason, places have been designated for these according to ethnic group, either within the city or without, so that they may be restricted to these and not extend their dwelling beyond them.”
Bishop Demetrios Khomatianos of Ohrid, late 12th century and early 13th century AD

“The Latins still have not been anathematized, nor has a great ecumenical council acted against them … And even to this day this continues, although it is said that they still wait for the repentance of the great Roman Church.”

“…do not overlook us, singing with deaf ears, but give us your understanding, according to sacred precepts, as you yourself inspired the apostles … You see, Lord, the battle of many years of your churches. Grant us humility, quiet the storm, so that we may know in each other your mercy, and we may not forget before the end the mystery of your love … May we coexist in unity with each other, and become wise also, so that we may live in you and in your eternal creator the Father and in his only-begotten Word. You are life, love, peace, truth, and sanctity…”
East European Studies Occasional Paper, Number 47, “Christianity and Islam in Southeastern Europe – Slavic Orthodox Attitudes toward Other Religions”, Eve Levin, January 1997

“…you faced the serpent and the enemy of God’s churches, having judged that it would have been unbearable for your heart to see the Christians of your fatherland overwhelmed by the Moslems (izmailteni); if you could not accomplish this, you would leave the glory of your kingdom on earth to perish, and having become purple with your blood, you would join the soldiers of the heavenly kingdom. In this way, your two wishes were fulfilled. You killed the serpent, and you received from God the wreath of martyrdom.”
Mateja Matejic and Dragan Milivojevic, “An Anthology of Medieval Serbian Literature in English”, Columbus, Ohio: Slavica, 1978
Any effort to understand the modern quagmire that is the Balkan must address religion and religious animosities and grievances. Yet, the surprising conclusion of such a study is bound to be that the role of inter-faith hatred and conflict has been greatly exaggerated. The Balkan was characterized more by religious tolerance than by religious persecution. It was a model of successful co-habitation and co-existence even of the bitterest enemies of the most disparate backgrounds. Only the rise of the modern nation-state exacerbated long-standing and hitherto dormant tensions. Actually, the modern state was established on a foundation of artificially fanned antagonism and xenophobia.

Religions in the Balkan were never monolithic enterprises. Competing influences, paranoia, xenophobia and adverse circumstances all conspired to fracture the religious landscape. Thus, for instance, though officially owing allegiance to the patriarch in Constantinople and the Orthodox “oikumene”, both Serb and Bulgarian churches collaborated with the rulers of the day against perceived Byzantine (Greek and Russian) political encroachment in religious guise. The southern Slav churches rejected both the theology and the secular teachings of the “Hellenics” and the “Romanians” (Romans). In turn, the Greek church held the Slav church in disregard and treated the peasants of Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Albania to savage rounds of tax collection. The Orthodox, as have all religions, berated other confessions and denominations. But Orthodoxy was always benign – no “jihad”, no bloodshed, no forced conversions and no mass expulsions – perhaps with the exception of the forcible treatment of the Bogomils.

It was all about power and money, of course. Bishops and archbishops did not hesitate to co-opt the Ottoman administration against their adversaries. They had their rivals arrested by the Turks or ex-communicated them. Such squabbles were common. But they never amounted to more than a Balkanian comedia del-arte. Even the Jews – persecuted all over western Europe – were tolerated and attained prominence and influence in the Balkan. One Bulgarian Tsar divorced his wife to marry a Jewess. Southern Orthodox Christianity (as opposed to the virulent and vituperative Byzantine species) has always been pragmatic. The minorities (Jews, Armenians, Vlachs) were the economic and financial backbone of their societies. And the Balkan was always a hodge-podge of ethnicities, cultures and religions. Shifting political fortunes ensured a policy of “hedging one’s bets”.

The two great competitors of Orthodox Christianity in the tight market of souls were Catholicism and Islam. The former co-sponsored with the Orthodox Church the educational efforts of Cyril and Methodius. Even before the traumatic schism of 1054, Catholics and nascent Orthodox were battling over (lucrative) religious turf in Bulgaria.

The schism was a telling affair. Ostensibly, it revolved around obscure theological issues (who begat the Holy Spirit – the Father alone or jointly with the Son as well as which type of bread should be used in the Eucharist). But really it was a clash of authorities and interests – the Pope versus the patriarch of Constantinople, the Romans versus the Greeks and Slavs. Matters of jurisdiction coalesced with political meddling in a confluence of ill-will that has simmered for at least two centuries. The southern (Slav) Orthodox churches contributed to the debate and supported the Greek position. Sects such as the Hesychasts were more Byzantine than the Greeks and denounced wavering Orthodox clergy. Many a south Orthodox pilloried the Catholic stance as an heresy of Armenian or Apollinarian or Arian origin – thus displaying their ignorance of the subtler points of the theological debate. They also got wrong the Greek argumentation regarding the bread of the Eucharist and the history of the schism. But zeal compensated for ignorance, as is often the case in the Balkan.

What started as a debate – however fervent – about abstract theology became an all out argument about derided customs and ceremonies. Diet, dates and divine practices all starred in these grotesque exchanges. The Latin ate unclean beasts. They used five fingers to cross themselves. They did not sing Hallelujah. They allowed the consumption of dairy products in Lent. The list was long and preposterous. The parties were spoiling for a fight. As is so often the case in this accursed swathe of the earth, identity and delusional superiority were secured through opposition and self-worth was attained through defiance. By relegating them to the role of malevolent heretics, the Orthodox made the sins of the Catholics unforgivable, their behaviour inexcusable, their fate sealed.

At the beginning, the attacks were directed at the “Latins” – foreigners from Germany and France. Local Catholics were somehow dissociated and absolved from the diabolical attributes of their fellow-believers abroad. They used the same calendar as the Orthodox (except for Lent) and similarly prayed in Church Slavonic. The only visible difference was the recognition of papal authority by the Catholics. Catholicism presented a coherent and veteran alternative to Orthodoxy’s inchoate teachings. Secular authorities were ambiguous about how to treat their Catholic subjects and did not hesitate to collaborate with Catholic authorities against the Turks. Thus, to preserve itself as a viable religious alternative, the Orthodox church had to differentiate itself from the Holy See. Hence, the flaming debates and pejorative harangues.

The second great threat was Islam. Still, it was a latecomer. Catholicism and Orthodoxy have been foes since the ninth century. Four hundreds years later, Byzantine wars against the Moslems were a distant thunder and raised little curiosity and interest in the Balkan. The Orthodox church was acquainted with the tenets of Islamic faith but did not bother to codify its knowledge or record it. Islam was, to it, despite its impeccable monotheistic credentials, an exotic Oriental off-shoot of tribal paganism.

Thus, the Turkish invasion and the hardships of daily life under Ottoman rule found Orthodoxy unprepared. It reacted the way we all react to fear of the unknown: superstitions, curses, name calling. On the one hand, the Turkish enemy was dehumanized and bedevilled. It was perceived to be God’s punishment upon the unfaithful and the sinful. On the other hand, in a curious transformation or a cognitive dissonance, the Turks became a divine instrument, the wrathful messengers of God. The Christians of the Balkan suffered from a post traumatic stress syndrome. They went through the classical phases of grief. They started by denying the defeat (in Kosovo, for instance) and they proceeded through rage, sadness and acceptance.

All four phases co-existed in Balkan history. Denial by the many who resorted to mysticism and delusional political thought. That the Turks failed for centuries to subdue pockets of resistance (for instance in Montenegro) served to rekindle these hopes and delusions periodically. Thus, the Turks (and, by extension, Islam) served as a politically cohering factor and provided a cause to rally around. Rage manifested through the acts against the occupying Ottomans of individuals or rebellious groups. Sadness was expressed in liturgy, in art and literature, in music and in dance. Acceptance by conceiving of the Turks as the very hand of God Himself. But, gradually, the Turks and their rule came to be regarded as the work of the devil as it was incurring the wrath of God.

But again, this negative and annihilating attitude was reserved to outsiders and foreigners, the off-spring of Ishmael and of Hagar, the Latins and the Turks. Moslem or Catholic neighbours were rarely, if ever, the target of such vitriolic diatribes. External enemies – be they Christian or Moslem – were always to be cursed and resisted. Neighbours of the same ethnicity were never to be punished or discriminated against for their religion or convictions – though half-hearted condemnations did occur. The geographical and ethnic community seems to have been a critical determinant of identity even when confronted with an enemy at the gates. Members of an ethnic community could share the same religious faith as the invader or the heretic – yet this detracted none from their allegiance and place in their society as emanating from birth and long term residence. These tolerance and acceptance prevailed even in the face of Ottoman segregation of religious communities in ethnically-mixed “millets”. This principle was shattered finally by the advent of the modern nation-state and its defining parameters (history and language), real or (more often) invented. One could sometimes find members of the same nuclear family – but of different religious affiliation. Secular rulers and artisans in guilds collaborated unhesitatingly with Jews, Turks and Catholics. Conversions to and fro were common practice, as ways to secure economic benefits. These phenomena were especially prevalent in the border areas of Croatia and Bosnia. But everyone, throughout the Balkan, shared the same rituals, the way of life, the superstitions, the magic, the folklore, the customs and the habits regardless of religious persuasion.

Where religions co-existed, they fused syncretically. Some Sufi sects (mainly among the Janiccary) adopted Catholic rituals, made the sign of the cross, drank alcohol and ate pork. The followers of Bedreddin were Jews and Christians, as well as Moslems. Everybody shared miraculous sites, icons, even prayers. Orthodox Slavs pilgrims to the holy places in Palestine were titled “Hadzi” and Moslems were especially keen on Easter eggs and holy water as talismans of health. Calendars enumerated the holidays of all religions, side by side. Muslim judges (“kadis”) married Muslim men to non-Muslim women and inter-marriage was rife. They also married and divorced Catholic couples, in contravention of the Catholic faith. Orthodox and Catholic habitually intermarried and interbred.

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Author Bio

Sam Vaknin ( http://samvak.tripod.com ) is the author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain – How the West Lost the East, as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, international affairs, and award-winning short fiction.
He is the Editor-in-Chief of Global Politician and served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.
Visit Sam’s Web site at http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com

The Last Macedonian: Myth, Apprehension, and Trauma

By Sam Vaknin
Author of “Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited

The docu-drama “The Last Macedonian” (2015) is an unsettling, heartrending, and surprisingly balanced view of the trauma-ridden history of the Macedonian people in the last hundred years. One of the questions it undauntedly raises is: is there a Macedonian nation at all? Macedonians have been repeatedly subjected to ethnic cleansing and brutal, even murderous attempts at assimilation by all their neighbors, most notoriously the Serbs and the Greeks, but also the Bulgarians. Many of them identified with their captors in a kind of Stockholm Syndrome writ large. The extent of backstabbing and treason these coerced or bought allegiances have engendered raises serious doubts as to the national cohesion and coherent (often self-imputed) identity of this group of people.

Then there is the issue of who is to blame for the sorry state of Macedonia and its denizens: the meddling Big Powers? Definitely. But also the numerous collaborators from among their ostensible victims. The Macedonians were never above selling themselves, their values, and their loyalty down the river Vardar for a price, any price. This propensity to invite foreigners to settle their internal affairs is still prevalent among the modern day descendants of the Macedonians depicted in this wonderful film.

The film dwells in excruciating detail on the history of the VMRO (or IMRO in its English translation). It is here that I found it to be somewhat lacking, though still far superior to anything I have ever read or seen in the Balkans. I take the opportunity of this review to try to set the record straighter (the film gets it right most of the time.)

Comments on the history of the VMRO (IMRO)

“Two hundred and forty five bands were in the mountains. Serbian and Bulgarian comitadjis, Greek andartes, Albanians and Vlachs … all waging a terrorist war.”
Leon Sciaky in “Farewell to Salonica: Portrait of an Era”

“(Goce Delcev died) cloak flung over his left shoulder, his white fez, wrapped in a bluish scarf, pulled down and his gun slung across his left elbow…”
Mihail Chakov, who was nearby Delcev at the moment of his death, quoted in “Balkan Ghosts” by Robert D. Kaplan

“I will try and tell this story coldly, calmly, dispassionately … one must tone the horrors down, for in their nakedness, they are unprintable…”
A.G. Hales reporting about the Illinden Uprising in the London “Daily News” of October 21, 1903

“The Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization directs its eyes neither to the West, nor to the East,nor to anywhere else; it relies primarily on its own powers, does not turn into anybody’s weapon, and will not allow anybody to use its name and prestige for personal and other purposes. It has demonstrated till now and will prove in the future that it establishes its activities on the interests and works for the ideals of struggling Macedonia and the Bulgarian race.”
Todor Alexandrov, The Leader of the IMRO from 1911 to 1924

The Treaty of Berlin killed Peter Lazov. A Turkish soldier first gouged his eyes out, some say with a spoon, others insist it was a knife. As the scream-imbued blood trickled down his face, the Turk cut both his ears and the entirety of his nose with his sword. Thus maimed and in debilitating agony, he was left to die for a few days. When he failed to do so, the Turks disembowelled him to death and decapitated the writhing rump.

The Ottomans granted independence to Bulgaria in the 1878 Treaty of San Stefano unwillingly, following a terminal defeat at the hands of a wrathful Russian army. The newly re-invented nation incorporated a huge swathe of Macedonia, not including Thessaloniki and the Chalcidice Peninsula. Another treaty followed, in Berlin, restoring the “balance” by returning Macedonia to Turkish rule. Turkey obligingly accepted a “one country, two systems” approach by agreeing to a Christian administration of the region and by permitting education in foreign languages, by foreign powers in foreign-run and owned schools. Then they set about a typical infandous Ottoman orgy of shredded entrails, gang raped corpses of young girls and maiming and decapitation. The horrors this time transcended anything before. In Ohrid, they buried people in pigsty mud for “not paying taxes”. Joined by Turks who escaped the advancing Russian armies in North Bulgaria and by Bosnian Moslems, who fled the pincer movement of the forces of Austro-Hungary, they embarked on the faithful recreation of a Bosch-like hell. Feeble attempts at resistance (really, self defence) – such as the one organized by Natanail, the Bishop of Ohrid – ended in the ever escalating ferocity of the occupiers. A collaboration emerged between the Church and the less than holy members of society. Natanail himself provided “Chetis” (guerilla bands) with weapons and supplies. In October 1878, an uprising took place in Kresna. It was duly suppressed by the Turks, though with some difficulty. It was not the first one, having been preceded by the Razlovci uprising in 1876. But it was more well organized and explicit in its goals.

But no one – with the exception of the Turks – was content with the situation and even they were paranoid and anxious. The flip-flop policies of the Great Powers turned Macedonia into the focus of shattered national aspirations grounded in some historical precedent of at least three nations: the Greeks, the Bulgarians, and the Serbs. Each invoked ethnicity and history and all conjured up the apparition of the defunct Treaty of San Stefano. Serbia colluded with the Habsburgs: Bosnia to the latter in return for a free hand in Macedonia to the former. The wily Austro-Hungarians regarded the Serbs as cannon fodder in the attrition war against the Russians and the Turks. In 1885, Bulgaria was at last united – north and formerly Turk-occupied south – under the Kremlin’s pressure. The Turks switched sides and allied with the Serbs against the spectre of a Great Bulgaria. Again, the battleground was Macedonia and its Bulgarian-leaning (and to many, pure Bulgarian) inhabitants. Further confusion awaited. In 1897, following the Crete uprising against the Ottoman rule and in favour of Greek enosis (unification), Turkey (to prevent Bulgaria from joining its Greek enemy) encouraged King Ferdinand to help the Serbs fight the Greeks. Thus, the Balkanian kaleidoscope of loyalties, alliances and everlasting friendship was tilted more savagely than ever before by the paranoia and the whims of nationalism gone berserk.

In this world of self reflecting looking glasses, in this bedlam of geopolitics, in this seamless and fluid universe, devoid of any certainty but the certainty of void, an anomie inside an abnormality – a Macedonian self identity, tentative and merely cultural at first, began to emerge. Voivode Gorgija Pulevski published a poem “Macedonian Fairy” in 1878. The Young Macedonian Literary Society was established in 1891 and started publishing “Loza”, its journal a year thereafter. Krste Misirkov, Dimitrija Cupovski, the Vardar Society and the Macedonian Club in Belgrade founded the Macedonian Scholarly-Literary Society in 1902 (in Russia). Their “Macedonian National Program” demanded a recognition of a Macedonian nation with its own language and culture. They stopped short of insisting on an independent state, settling instead for an autonomy and an independent church. Misirkov went on to publish his seminal work, “On Macedonian Matters” in 1903 in Sofia. It was a scathing critique of the numbing and off-handed mind games Macedonia was subjected to by the Big Powers. Misirkov believed in culture as an identity preserving force. And the purveyors and conveyors of culture were the teachers.

“So the teacher in Yugoslavia is often a hero and fanatic as well as a servant of the mind; but as they walked along the Belgrade streets it could easily be seen that none of them had quite enough to eat or warm enough clothing or handsome lodgings or all the books they needed” – wrote Dame Rebecca West in her eternal “Black Lamb and Grey Falcon” in 1940.

Goce Delcev (Gotse Deltchev) was a teacher. He was born in 1872 in Kukush (the Bulgarian name of the town), north of Thessaloniki (Salonica, Solun, Saloniki). There is no doubt about his cultural background (as opposed to his convictions later in life) – it was Bulgarian to the core. He studied at a Bulgarian gymnasium in Saloniki. He furthered his education at a military academy in Sofia. He was a schoolteacher and a guerilla fighter and in both capacities he operated in the areas that are today North-Central Greece, Southwestern Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia. He felt equally comfortable in all three regions. He was shot to death by the Turks in Banitsa, then a Bulgarian village, today, a Greek one. It was in a spring day in May 1903.

The death of this sad but steely eyed, heavily moustached youth was sufficient to ignite the Illinden uprising three months later. It erupted on the feast of Saint Illiya (Sveti Ilija). Peasants sold their sacrificial bulls – the fruits of months of labour – and bought guns with the proceeds. It started rather innocuously in the hotbed of ethnic unrest, Western Macedonia – telegraph wires were cut, some tax registers incinerated. The IMRO collaborated in this with the pro-Bulgarian organization Vzhovits. In Krusevo (Krushevo) a republic was proclaimed, replete with “Rules of the Macedonian Uprising Committee” (aka the “Constitution of the Uprising”). This document dealt with the liberation of Macedonia and the establishment of a Macedonian State. A special chapter was dedicated to foreign affairs and neighbourly relationships. It was all heart-achingly naive and it lasted 10 bloody days. Crushed by 2000 trained soldiers and horse bound artillery, the outnumbered 1200 rebels surrendered. Forty of them kissed each other goodbye and blew their brains out. The usual raping and blood thick massacres ensued. According to Turkish records, these ill-planned and irresponsible moments of glory and freedom cost the lives of 4,694 civilians, 994 “terrorists”. The rape of 3,000 women was not documented. In Northwestern Macedonia, an adolescent girl was raped by 50 soldiers and murdered afterwards. In another village, they cut a girl’s arm to secure her bracelets. The more one is exposed to these atrocities, the more one is prone to subscribe to the view that the Ottoman Empire – its halting and half hearted efforts at reform notwithstanding – was the single most important agent of retardation and putrid stagnation in its colonies, a stifling influence of traumatic proportions, the cause of mass mental sickness amongst its subjects.

As is usually the case in the bloodied geopolitical sandbox known as the Balkans, an international peacekeeping force intervened. Yet it was – again, habitually – too late, too little.

What made Delcev, rather his death, the trigger of such an outpouring of emotions was the IMRO (VMRO in Macedonian and in Bulgarian). The Illinden uprising was the funeral of a man who was a hope. It was the ululating grieving of a collective deprived of vengeance or recourse. It was a spasmodic breath taken in the most suffocating of environments. This is not to say that IMRO was monolithic or that Delcev was an Apostle (as some of his hagiographers would have him). It was not and he was far from it. But he and his two comrades, Jane (Yane) Sandanski and Damyan (Dame) Gruev had a vision. They had a dream. The IMRO is the story of a dream turned nightmare, of the absolute corruption of absolute power and of the dangers of inviting the fox to fight the wolf.

The original “Macedonian Revolutionary Organization” (MRO) was established in Sofia. The distinction between being a Macedonian and being a Macedonian-Bulgarian was not sharp, to use a polite understatement. The Bulgarians “proper” regarded the Macedonians as second class, primitive and uncultured Bulgarian relatives who inhabit a part of Bulgaria to the east. The Macedonians themselves were divided. Some wished to be incorporated in Bulgaria, the civilized and advanced society and culture. Others wanted an independent state – though they, too, believed that the salvation of such an entity – both demographic and financial – lies abroad, with the diaspora and benevolent foreign powers. A third group (and Delcev was, for a time, among them) wanted a federation of all states Balkan with an equal standing for a Macedonian polity (autonomy). The original MRO opted for the Bulgarian option and restricted its aims to the liberation and immediate annexation of what they solemnly considered to be a Turkish-occupied Bulgarian territory. To distinguish themselves from this MRO, the 6 founders of the Macedonian version – all members of the intelligentsia – added the word “Internal” to their name. Thus, they became, in November 1893, IMRO.

A measure of the disputatiousness of all matters Balkanian can be found in the widely and wildly differing versions about the circumstances of the establishment of IMRO. Some say it was established in Thessaloniki (this is the official version, thus supporting its “Macedonian”-ness). Others – like Robert Kaplan – say it was in Stip (Shtip) and the Encyclopaedia Britannica claims it was in … Resen (Resana).

Let it be clear: this author harbours no sympathy towards the Ottoman Empire. The IMRO was fighting for lofty ideals (Balkanian federation) and worthy goals (liberation from asphyxiating Turkish rule). But to many outside observers (with the exception of journalists like John Sonixen or John smith), the IMRO was indistinguishable in its methods of operation from the general landscape of mayhem, crime, disintegration of the social fabric, collapse of authority, social anomie, terror and banditry.

From Steven Sowards’ “Twenty Five Lectures on Modern Balkan History, The Balkans in an Age of Nationalism”, 1996 available HERE: http://www.lib.msu.edu/sowards/balkan/lect11.htm.

“Meanwhile, the Tanzimat reforms remained unfulfilled under Abdul Hamid’s reactionary regime. How effective had all these reforms been by the turn of the century? How bad was life for Christian peasants in the Balkans? In a 1904 book called ‘Macedonia: Its Races and Their Future’, H. N. Brailsford, an English relief worker, describes lawless conditions in Macedonia, the central Balkan district between Greece, Serbia, Albania and Bulgaria. In the areas Brailsford knew, the authorities had little power. He writes:

‘An Albanian went by night into a Bulgarian village and fired into the house of a man whom he regarded as an enemy … The prefect … endeavored to arrest the murderer, but [his Albanian] village took up his cause, and the gendarmes returned empty-handed. The prefect … marched upon the offending village at the head of three hundred regular troops … The village did not resist, but it still refused to give evidence against the guilty man. The prefect returned to Ochrida with forty or fifty prisoners, kept them in gaol for three or four days, and then released them all … To punish a simple outbreak of private passion in which no political element was involved [the prefect] had to mobilize the whole armed force of his district, and even then he failed.’

Robbers and brigands operated with impunity: ‘Riding one day upon the high-road … I came upon a brigand seated on a boulder … in the middle of the road, smoking his cigarette, with his rifle across his knees, and calmly levying tribute from all the passers-by.’

Extortionists, not police, were in control: ‘A wise village … [has] its own resident brigands. … They are known as rural guards. They are necessary because the Christian population is absolutely unarmed and defenceless. To a certain extent they guarantee the village against robbers from outside, and in return they carry on a licensed and modified robbery of their own.’

Self-defense by Orthodox peasants was dangerous: ‘The Government makes its presence felt … when a ‘flying column’ saunters out to hunt an elusive rebel band, or … to punish some flagrant act of defiance … The village may have … resented the violence of the tax-collector … [or] harboured an armed band of insurgents … or … killed a neighbouring civilian Turk who had assaulted some girl of the place … At the very least all the men who can be caught will be mercilessly beaten, at the worst the village will be burned and some of its inhabitants massacred.’

It was not surprising that peasants hated their rulers. ‘One enters some hovel … something … stirs or groans in the gloomiest corner on the floor beneath a filthy blanket. Is it fever, one asks, or smallpox? … the answer comes … ‘He is ill with fear.’ … Looking back … a procession of ruined minds comes before the memory – an old priest lying beside a burning house speechless with terror … a woman who had barked like a dog since the day her village was burned; a maiden who became an imbecile because her mother buried her in a hole under the floor to save her from the soldiers … children who flee in terror at the sight of a stranger, crying ‘Turks! Turks!’ These are the human wreckage of the hurricane which usurps the functions of a Government.’

Four things are worth noting in Brailsford’s account as we consider the prospects for a reform solution to Balkan problems. First, revolutionary politics was not the foremost issue for the Christian population: nationalism addressed the immediate problems in their daily lives only indirectly, by promising a potential better state.

Second, loyalties were still local and based on the family and the village, not on abstract national allegiances. If criminal abuses ended, the Ottoman state might yet have invented an Ottoman “nationalism” to compete with Serbian, Greek, Romanian, or Bulgarian nationalism.

Third, villagers did not cry out for new government departments or services, but only for relief from corruption and crime. The creation of new national institutions was not necessary, only the reform of existing institutions.

Fourth, and on the other hand, mistrust and violence between the two sides was habitual. So many decades of reform had failed by this time. The situation was so hopeless and extreme that few people on either side can have thought of reform as a realistic option.”

During the 1890s, IMRO’s main sources of income were voluntary (and later, less voluntary) taxation of the rural population, bank robberies, train robberies (which won handsome world media coverage) and kidnapping for ransom (like the kidnapping of the American Protestant Missionary Ellen Stone – quite a mysterious affair). The IMRO developed along predictable lines into an authoritarian and secretive organization – a necessity if it were to fight the Turks effectively. It had its own tribunals which exercised – often fatal – authority over civilians who were deemed collaborators with the Turkish enemy. It must be emphasized that this was NOT unusual or unique at that time. This was the modus operandi of all military-organized ideological and political groups. And, taking everything into account, the IMRO was fighting a just war against an abhorrent enemy.

Moreover, to some extent, its war was effective and resulted in reforms imposed on the Sublime Port (the Turkish authorities) by the Great Powers of the day. We mentioned the peacekeeping force which replaced the local gendarmerie. But reforms were also enacted in education, religious rights and tolerance, construction, farm policy and other areas. The intractable and resource-consuming Macedonian question led directly to the reform of Turkey itself by the Macedonia-born officer Ataturk. And it facilitated the disintegration of the Ottoman empire – thus, ironically, leading to the independence of almost everyone except its originators.

The radicalization of IMRO and its transformation into the infamous organization it has come to be known as, started after the Second Balkan war (1913) and, more so, after the First World War (1918). It was then that disillusionment with Big Power politics replaced the naive trust in the inevitable triumph of a just claim. The Macedonians were never worse off politically, having contributed no less – if not more – than any other nation to the re-distribution of the Ottoman Empire. The cynicism, the hypocrisy, the off-handedness, the ignorance, the vile interests, the ulterior motives – all conspired to transform the IMRO from a goal-orientated association to a power hungry mostrosity.

In 1912 Bulgaria, Serbia, and Greece – former bitter foes – formed the Balkan League to confront an even more bitter foe, the Ottoman Empire on the thin pretext of an Albanian uprising. The brotherhood strained in the Treaty of London (May 1913) promptly deteriorated into internecine warfare over the spoils of a successful campaign – namely, over Macedonia. Serbs, Greeks, Montenegrins and Romanians subdued Bulgaria sufficiently to force it to sign a treaty in August 1913 in Bucharest. “Aegean Macedonia” went to Greece and “Vardar Macedonia” (today’s Republic of Macedonia) went to Serbia. The smaller “Pirin Macedonia” remained Bulgarian. The Bulgarian gamble in World War I went well for a while, as it occupied all three parts of Macedonia. But the ensuing defeat and dismemberment of its allies, led to a re-definition of even “Pirin Macedonia” so as to minimize Bulgaria’s share. Vardar Macedonia became part of a new Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later renamed Yugoslavia).

These political Lego games led to enormous population shifts – the politically correct term for refugees brutally deprived of their land and livelihood. All of them were enshrined in solemn treaties. The Treaty of Lausanne (1923) led to the expulsion of 375,000 Turks from Aegean Macedonia. 640,000 Greek refugees from Turkey replaced them. Each of the actual occupiers and each of the potential ones opened its own schools to indoctrinate the future generations of the populace. Conflicts erupted over ecclesiastical matters, the construction of railways and railway stations. Guerilla fighters soon realized that being pawns on this mad hatter’s chessboard could be a profitable vocation. The transformation from freedom fighters to mercenaries with no agenda was swift. And pecuniary considerations bred even more terror and terrorists where there were none before.

In the meantime, Greece enacted a land reform legislation in “Aegean Macedonia” – in effect, the confiscation of arable land by thousands of Greek settlers, refugees from Turkey. Much of the land thus “re-distributed” was owned by Turkish absentees, now refugees themselves. But a lot of land was simply impounded from its rightful, very much present and very Macedonian owners. The Serb authorities coerced the population to speak the Serb language, changed Macedonian names to Serb ones in brutally carried campaigns and imposed a corrupt and incompetent bureaucracy upon the suffering multitudes.

IMRO never gave up its proclaimed goal to liberate both occupied parts of Macedonia – the Aegean and the Vardar ones. But, as time passed and as the nature of its organization and operation evolved, the perfunctoriness of its proclamations became more and more evident. The old idealists – the intellectuals and ideologues, the Goce Delcev types – were removed, died in battle, or left this mutation of their dream. The IMRO insignia – skull and crossbones – linked it firmly to the Italian Balckshirts and the Nazi brown ones. The IMRO has developed into a fascist organization. It traded opium. It hired out the services of its skilled assassins (for 20 dollars a contract). It recruited members among the Macedonian population in the slums of Sofia. Finally, they openly collaborated with the Fascists of Mussolini (who also supported them financially), with the Ustashe (similarly supported by Italy) and with the Nazis (under Ivan Mihailov, who became the nominal quisling ruler of Vardar Macedonia). It was an IMRO man (“Vlado the Chauffeur”) who murdered King Alexander of Yugoslavia in 1934.

All this period, the IMRO continued to pursue its original agenda. IMRO terrorists murdered staff and pupils in Yugoslav schools in Vardar Macedonia. In between 1924-34, it killed 1,000 people. Tourists of the period describe the Yugoslav-Bulgarian frontier as the most fortified in Europe with “entanglements, block houses, redoubts and searchlight posts”. Throughout the twenties and the thirties, the IMRO maintained a presence in Europe, publishing propaganda incessantly and explaining its position eloquently (though not very convincingly). It was not very well liked by both Bulgarians and Macedonians who got increasingly agitated and exhausted by the extortion of ever increasing taxes and by the seemingly endless violence. But the IMRO was now a force to reckon with: organized, disciplined, lethal. Its influence grew by the day and more than one contemporary describes it as a “state within a state”. In Bulgaria it collaborated with Todor Alexandrov in the overthrow and murder of the Prime Minister, Alexandur Stamboliyski (June 1923) and in the appointment of a right wing government headed by Alexandur Tsankov.

Stamboliyski tried to appease Yugoslavia and, in the process, sacrifice inconvenient elements, such as the IMRO, as expediently as he could. He made too many powerful enemies too fast: the army (by cutting their inflated budget), the nationalists (by officially abandoning the goal of military expansion), the professional officers (by making them redundant), the Great Powers (by making THEM redundant as well) and the opposition (by winning the elections handsomely despite all the above). By signing the Treaty of Nis (allowing Serb forces the right of hot pursuit within Bulgarian territory), he in effect sealed his own death warrant. The IMRO teamed up with the Military League (an organization of disgruntled officers, both active duty and reserve) and with the tacit blessing of Tsar Boris and the forming National Alliance (later renamed the Democratic Alliance), they did away with the hated man.

Following the murder, the IMRO was given full control of the region of Petric (Petrich). It used it as a launching pad of its hit and run attacks against Yugoslavia with the full – though clandestine – support of the Bulgarian Ministry of War and Fascist Italy. From Pirin, they attacked Greece as well. These were exactly the kind of international tensions the murdered Prime Minister was keen to terminate and the IMRO no less keen to foster. In the meanwhile, Alexandrov came to an end typical of many a Bulgarian politician and was assassinated only a year after the coup d’etat.

The decade that followed did not smile upon the IMRO. It fragmented and its shreds fought each other in the streets of Sofia, Chicago-style. By 1934, the IMRO was a full-fledged extortionist mafia organization. They ran protection rackets (“protecting” small shop-owners against other gangs and “insuring” them against their own violence). Hotels in Sofia always had free rooms for the IMRO. The tobacco industry paid the IMRO more than a million British pounds of that time in six years of “taxation”. Robberies and assassinations were daily occurrences. So were street shoot-outs and outright confiscation of goods. The IMRO had no support left anywhere.

In 1934, it was disbanded (together with other parties) by Colonel Kimron Georgiev, the new Prime Minister of Bulgaria and a senior figure in the Zveno association of disgruntled citizenry. His rule was brief (ended the next year) but the IMRO never recovered. It brought its own demise upon itself. Colonel Velcev (Velchev), the perpetrator of the coup, was swept to power on the promise to end all terrorist activities – a promise which he kept.

The modern Republic of Macedonia is today ruled by a party called VMRO-DPMNE. It is one of a few political parties to carry this name and the biggest and weightiest amongst them by far. It is founded on the vision and ideals of Goce Delcev and has distanced itself from the “Terrorist-IMRO”. The picture of Delcev adorns every office in both Macedonia and Bulgaria and he is the closest to a saint a secular regime can have. In 1923, the Greeks transferred his bones to Bulgaria. Stalin, in a last effort to placate Tito, ordered Bulgaria to transfer them to Macedonia. Even in his death he knew no peace. Now he is buried in his final resting place, in the tranquil inner yard of the Church of Sveti Spas (Saint Saviour). A marble slab bearing a simple inscription with his name under a tree, in a Macedonia which now belongs to the Macedonians.
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Author Bio

Sam Vaknin ( http://samvak.tripod.com ) is the author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain – How the West Lost the East, as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, international affairs, and award-winning short fiction.
He is the Editor-in-Chief of Global Politician and served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.
Visit Sam’s Web site at http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com