Cultural Revolutions

A Political Centrifuge

Yugoslavia, the political centrifuge of the Balkans, is spinning its constituent nations into tenuous independence. Long-standing religious and ethnic animosities have finally erupted into bloody internecine warfare, and it appears that nothing and no one can prevent this crazy-quilt entity of three major religions, three alphabets, and at least five proud national identities from rushing headlong not into the 21st century, but rather back into its own dark, violent past.

The Western news media have, by and large, already assigned the Serbs a lion's share of the blame, because they retain in power a reactionary hard-line Communist named Slobodan Milosevic; they prefer a centralized Yugoslav government propped up by the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army; they carry the baggage of centuries of Turkish oppression, a mysterious religion—Eastern Orthodox Christianity—and cultural backwardness; and last, because they're, well, Serbs. Compared to the supposedly democratic, Westernized, enlightened Slovenes and Croats, the Serbs and their culture appear to many American journalists, to use H.L. Mencken's devastating description of the American South, to be the "Sahara of the Bozart."

Enter the prince and the patriarch—not quite riding white horses, but still wearing white hats.

It will certainly surprise, perhaps even shock those American journalists and other citizens who meet Crown...

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