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"Ultranationalism," Serbia and You

posted by dru Geography: Europe Serbia Topics: democracy, media

January 21, 2007

"Ultranationalism," Serbia and You

Credit to the BBC for not only not using (at least in that article) the term "ultranationalist" to deride the Serbian Radical Party, which appears to be on its way to winning the elections (but probably not the government) in Serbia today, as many outlets undoubtedly will. The BBC gets extra points for alluding to the small fact that NATO dropped 20,000 tonnes of bombs on the country might have an effect on whether the majority of Serbs are willing to sacrifice their well-being to join the EU.

Meanwhile, here's a decent primer on the use of the term "ultranationalism", from chapter five of Noam Chomsky's What Uncle Sam Really Wants:

In one high-level document after another, US planners stated their view that the primary threat to the new US-led world order was Third World nationalism -- sometimes called ultranationalism: "nationalistic regimes" that are responsive to "popular demand for immediate improvement in the low living standards of the masses" and production for domestic needs.

The planners' basic goals, repeated over and over again, were to prevent such "ultranationalist" regimes from ever taking power -- or if, by some fluke, they did take power, to remove them and to install governments that favor private investment of domestic and foreign capital, production for export and the right to bring profits out of the country. (These goals are never challenged in the secret documents. If you're a US policy planner, they're sort of like the air you breathe.)

Opposition to democracy and social reform is never popular in the victim country. You can't get many of the people living there excited about it, except a small group connected with US businesses who are going to profit from it.

The United States expects to rely on force, and makes alliances with the military -- "the least anti-American of any political group in Latin America," as the Kennedy planners put it -- so they can be relied on to crush any indigenous popular groups that get out of hand.

The US has been willing to tolerate social reform -- as in Costa Rica, for example -- only when the rights of labor are suppressed and the climate for foreign investment is preserved. Because the Costa Rican government has always respected these two crucial imperatives, it's been allowed to play around with its reforms.

Another problem that's pointed to over and over again in these secret documents is the excessive liberalism of Third World countries. (That was particularly a problem in Latin America, where the governments weren't sufficiently committed to thought control and restrictions on travel, and where the legal systems were so deficient that they required evidence for the prosecution of crimes.)

This is a constant lament right through the Kennedy period (after that, the documentary record hasn't yet been declassified). The Kennedy liberals were adamant about the need to overcome democratic excesses that permitted "subversion" -- by which, of course, they meant people thinking the wrong ideas.

The United States was not, however, lacking in compassion for the poor. For example, in the mid-1950s, our ambassador to Costa Rica recommended that the United Fruit Company, which basically ran Costa Rica, introduce "a few relatively simple and superficial human-interest frills for the workers that may have a large psychological effect."

Secretary of State John Foster Dulles agreed, telling President Eisenhower that to keep Latin Americans in line, "you have to pat them a little bit and make them think that you are fond of them."


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