Memory & History: Herman Melville's _Benito Cereno_ (was Re: Yugoslavia to fSU and Chile)

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Wed Oct 11 19:33:46 PDT 2000

>The regime drove the worker control that was once the glory of
>Yugoslav socialism into the dust. It properly drew the hatred of the
>Serbian people--the Montenegrins too. I am sure that they will be in
>for an unpleasant surprise with the new order, but at this point
>they are going into it with open eyes. They can see what happened in
>the ex-Bloc states. The choice was theirs, and if you disagree,
>well, who asked you.

The problem is that "the choice" was not theirs. The bombings & economic sanctions, even aside from lesser forms of attacks and propaganda, have shaped the nature of "the choice" made by a large minority of the Yugoslavs. (I have already told Nathan that I would have been happy to see the Socialist Party-the United Left overthrown _if_ the workers & rural masses had overthrown it, without imperial domination, to replace it with a new government of their own for their own benefit.)

Even under these circumstances of unfreedom, however, the Yugoslavs have made their choices with more open eyes than most American liberals & leftists have. American liberals & leftists should have learned from Machiavelli to understand the essence of the American Prince:

***** In a different province he [the prince] must also, as has been said, make himself chief and defender of the less powerful neighbors, and scheme to weaken the powerful and look out lest by some accident a foreigner as powerful as himself enter there. And it will always happen that he [any foreign prince who acquires new territory] will be put there by those in it who will be malcontent, either because of too much ambition or because of fear; as was earlier seen when the Aetolians put the Romans into Greece; and in every other province they entered, they were put there by the provincials....He has only to see to it that they [lesser powers and malcontent provincials who welcomed his invasion] not take on too much strength and too much authority; and in order to remain fully the arbiter of that province, he can easily lower those who are powerful with his own forces and with their favor. (Machiavelli, _The Prince_) *****

It is possible that some American liberals & leftists actually understood the essence of the American Prince's role in the Yugoslav civil wars (and what happened before and after them) and said with open eyes, "yes, in the main this is about the American Prince acquiring a new sphere of influence, but the American Prince will be a more progressive Prince than a Yugoslav Prince," but I doubt it. To my knowledge, only Chris Burford has made this line of argument.


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