Religion Is THE Problem in the Balkans

August 4, 2011

By Christopher Hitchens

"Reporting on the capture of the mass-murdering General Ratko Mladic by the Serbian government on Memorial Day, the New York Times summarized the newly created political situation like this: “Critical questions remain about precisely who protected Mr. Mladic. The pro-Western government of President Boris Tadic says it will investigate, a politically delicate examination that could lead to former government officials and perhaps even to religious authorities, since Mr. Mladic said after his arrest that he had been visited over the years by many priests.”

Read More (Free Inquiry)


Anonymous said...

---From what we're now learning
about the machinations of Global
finance in debt-serfing this troubled region
---we'd say USURY is the problem.

----Like here, a problem from HELL.

Anonymous said...

More of the same old boarding school politics. Whoever dares to infer is guilty of boredom torture.

Anonymous said...

Bored people are boring.

Anonymous said...

The Balkans provided some remarkable early achievements in human history, including the first gold jewellery and early writing, and the area goes back as long as 6500 BC.

It is not true to say they dragged the world into a World War in 1914. Although the assassination sparked the conflict, Prussian Germany already harboured grudges against the French, going back to Napoleon, and needed very little excuse to take their revenge.

The Balkans problems are a result of Western superpowers carving up areas for political manipulation. There is nothing in Serbian Orthodox Christianity that encourages mass rape and murder.

Surely the fact that modern-day psychopaths and mass murderers cloak themselves in religion doesn't really fool anyone, and rather than fanning the flames by insulting religion - thereby managing to offend all parties - wouldn't it make more sense to admit the West's role in this political chaos?

Scientists could also busy themselves and find the cause of modern genetic deterioration under a largely materialist culture of expansion and control, one that infects the Western powers more than anyone else; rather than become a shining example of tolerance and peace, we in the West set an example on the world stage with our wars for oil, our trillions of dollars on weapons, our rampant capitalism, and our flimsy justifications.

It is more likely this example of wars for convenience which is the biggest influence on other countries, and which also prevents us speaking out against the wars of the Balkans without being suffused with shame, which we can conveniently hide by blaming the church.

vvul said...

I cannot agree more with Hitchens regarding the role of religion and churches in the recent Balkan conflict. Their divisive and seditious role is also apparent in the societies of Serbia and Croatia. Religion and nationalism have been pathologically intertwined. To be a true Serb, one must be Orthodox; to be a true Croat, one must be Catholic. When flags and crosses emerge together, guns are not too far behind. In Serbia (and possibly in Croatia), sports clubs are also part of this union.

Two characteristics of Hitchens keep me interested in what he has to say – his eloquence and the depth and breadth of his knowledge. I am naturally disappointed to hear him claim that the abovementioned combination of nationalism and religion was the cause of the local conflict in 1914 and that the entire modern world was dragged into a war as a result. Most young students of history can confidently say that the assassination in Sarajevo was an excuse for and not a cause of the war.

It is undeniable that religion and nationalism played the leading role in the Balkans from 1918 onwards. Before this date the conflicts of Balkan people have been primarily anticolonial. Much of the peninsula was controlled by Turkey and the remainder by Austro-Hungarian Empire. Some nationalist sentiment is required to throw off a foreign yoke, but this is a far cry from nationalism evident today. The assassination of the archduke was demonstrably an anticolonial act.

Hitchens’ thesis that religion is the major cause of conflict in the world is very well supported. Since there is enough evidence in history that can be cited in his favour, I see no need for this sort of confabulation.

Anonymous said...

i love you let's get hitched

christopherhitchensfuturewife said...

everything you just said was genius!

Anonymous said...

What a sad simplistic view coming from a great mind. I can understand though how his great intellect must have been was short circuited when he heard the absurd from men in robes, that he no doubt encountered in drones during his stay in the Balkans. But to simply stop there and not ponder the question of the chicken or the egg is baffling to me.

Religion did what it is designed to do, the sad fact is that like everywhere in the world the Balkans has its fare share of greedy men. The greedy men have no religion and while Tito was in power they were happy to burn down or turn, those same churches their grandfathers built, into schools for young up and coming Yugoslav version communists. When Tito died, it was open season and war, and as it usually is, was the best way to maximize profits and prosper.

Enter the bells, the bells, and the people as always gathered. Divide the ample supply of guns and let them at it. Let those passions burn and let those priests dump the fuel on the fire. When the cake was appropriately divided, over night the Balkans are now a great investment opportunity. Electrical power equipment companies, built by the same guys that brought you Tesla, we have plenty for everybody at an unbeatable price. We have beach resorts, prime Adriatic real estate, hell you don't even have to pay a corporate tax just come right in. Telecommunication, it's all there and ready for the taking, just give us a good Christmas present so I can send my son to the Vatican, we still need plenty of those. Let's not even mention the agro business a great market, after a war, all those national parks can now be privatized just never mind those areas with depleted uranium, we will offer those at a discount.

BUT wait you haven't heard the best part yet, all this comes with the added bonus of a cheap labor force highly educated, from that dirty old commy system, all hungry and worn out ready to work at virtually any salary you offer.

Just let us keep our police and palaces on the outskirts of Zagreb, Belgrade, Sarajevo and Pristina and we will throw in renovated churches, temples, and a few edgy film festivals to make sure the people stay sheeple, Balkan style.

Religion is a tool, lets start exposing the tool makers, like true patriot Yugoslavs tried for 50 years, and like all sovereign free people of this world should

welcom said...

Hitchens. warm welcome.
Hitchens belongs not with the names of the Big Renaissance other than being a traitor, weasel and foe, for his patriotism is not for all americans but for those americans who can walk on the backs of others, for those to whom the fragrance of a poetic natural life is lumped together with religious fundamentalism or neanderthals. His liturgy of pro-hegemonic capitalist rants in the past year are nothing more than different versions of his own ongoing last line of 1984. realize this you moronic starstruck hitchens fans among us. he is a megalomaniacal hedonist on the cocaine of horizontal time and presentism who denounces everything he knows nothing about, for example in the horsemen meeting he snorts about the "crummy little dictatorship in dharamshala" without a word about the nonreligiously dictatorial chinese. and he could never say a word about the chinese nor taoism nor real buddhism or anything that might shove a tissue up his powdered nose because its not consistent with his bias. he is of that caste of journalists, writers, politicians and businessmen who depend on a world of malcommunication and blood to satiate his fear of boredom, boredom and boredom, for in a world where he might have to produce genuine art or anything besides criticism, what would become of these tyrannically minded bags of mundane gristdependent unenlightened opportunists.

1st Lt L Diablo said...

welcom, did you say something about cocaine? lol.

Bambi said...

^ And I suppose this arrhythmic, poorly punctuated grab-bag of mixed metaphor and illiteracy is meant to be art instead? Please spare us a longer form.

I think you'll find he muses upon all of the topics you mention, mostly in his better known works. I don't expect you've bothered reading them.

welcom said...

who are you?, Bambi, by default one with the military and IMF officials, of those louts around in hollywood who don't know you? speak for yourself, first, and spare others the reflex of your branding. do tell where hitchens provides philosophical insight into the secular chinese regime, zen koans, buddha's poetry or tantric buddha's sexual nirvana. about tantra the dictator his compassion the dalai lama commented must be entered into in a desireless state, as if one were presented with a plate of feces to dine on. i will entertain your sour grapes.

C. P. Coleta said...

I've noticed something: the best arguments against Hitch Arguments usually involve (mainly unintentional) some self-mutilation. Take the argument some Anonymous said above regarding Hitch's simplistic view. His article addresses the problem when grown adults go overtly simplistic vis-a-vis faith (thus, convertly over-complicated), and kill masses of people for totally superficial reasons.

Or "Welcom", who writes of Hitch making his bones on the backs of others. How dumb, since his whole career has been exposing the most powerful and popular of this sort, from Mother Theresa to Kissinger.

Of course, it's very simple-minded (some would say narrow) to suggest that God has blessed you and your clan particularly, especially since other peoples who look and sound just like you seem to not have gotten the e-vite. Totally fatuous to think that Hitch fans are star-struck by anything other than his amazing ideas, insights, eloquence, jokes, style, and best of all, his uncomplicated suave...

C. P. Coleta said...

@Bambi...well said, comrade...

Anonymous said...

@iaincarstairs - Orthodox Church was very close to the (Bosnian) Serbian government and army. There are many pictures where priest is included in government debates and they were very close to people on the power (Karadzic and Mladic). For a while it was believed that they are hiding Mladic.

Please follow this link, and let me know what do you think about priest giving blessing to soldiers, the same one that did massacre. Just to note, at the time their media did propagate religious war.

Bambi said...

@C. P. Coleta: Thanks, and to you as well!

@Welcom: Well, as for the “secular” Chinese regime (secular seems an odd word to describe a system that won’t separate itself from actively pursuing Falon Gong members), you can find Hitchens’ criticism of it in the following:

“Maintained in China,” (Slate. Oct. 01, 2007.)
“China: Big and Deep and Old and More,” (Newsday. Jul. 22, 1992.)

And, in smaller doses in several other writings, including his 2004 foreword to the reprint of Huxley’s Brave New World.

Now, to the issues of Zen Koans, the vaguely referenced “Buddha’s poetry,” and “Tantric Buddha’s sexual Nirvana,” I hardly know where to begin. I assume that by the latter topic you refer to Vajrayana Buddhism, which, as I recall, claims numerous non-sexual adjuncts necessary to the achievement of Nirvana, including Upaya and a ludicrously long list of Samaya. So if you're hoping to achieve enlightenment through sex alone, then you’re doing it wrong. No need to take my word for it, ask the Dalai Lama.

To list all of the instances whereby Hitchens’ has provided comprehensive analyses of Buddhism would prove unnecessarily lengthy. Instead, please see “His Material Highness,” (Salon. Jul. 13, 1998.) for a specific skewering of the Dalai Lama and Vajrayana Buddhism, and chapter 14 of “god is not Great,” for a summation of his attitude towards Buddhism in general.

In fact, in “god is not Great,” he provides his very own Koan which I believe you have answered quite graciously. That is, “What is the reflection of a mind discarded?”

Rude Lee Waken said...

This pretty much goes along with Hitchens' book Im just finishing. However, what the author fails to see is, "man is not Great." Are we any less responsible for genocide by complicity? The answer is no. Bombing military manufacturing sites, did not end the killing and ethnic cleasing. i.e. the U.S. government was well aware that before and after WW1, Armenians were being slaughtered or marched to death by the Turks; but no intervention was taken because Standard Oil, had drilling Interests there. Man will always use any means to dominate and take from others, be it religion, political or financial. It's in our genes.
I read a quote from a little known architect from Swansea, UK: "Man will be long remembered for what he builds, rather than what he tears down."

welcom said...

Bambi, The links are fine, but dated. While I may respond with prose later, for now an answer to the koan in here:
What do you see when you put Betelguese and its satellites on the coast?
The spring of the Macaw's trap is wearing down

Anonymous said...

@Rude Lee Waken: I think Hitchens' whole career is a very complicated way of saying "Man is not Great".

welcom said...

What is the reflection of a mind discarded? Each theological claim tosses as a lifeless combed قشر descending to the hard zillion acres of oxygenated جليد whence it was born and whence it ends.

bienvenidos said...

it looks like Hitchens' eyes caught a glimpse of pluto. yikes. anyone further interested in my worked i've posted my publication online free of charge.

Anonymous said...

It seems more like leadership is the problem, not religion. The masses, as always, tend to follow charisma.

If Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and the Dalai Lama were the main influences, the area would probably be a shining example.

Blaming religion is like blaming money for greed! Religion is what people make of it - it's no more seditious or divisive than the psychopaths attracted to power, which they seem to be in all spheres of human life today.

If countries go to war, do you blame the idea of belonging to a country - mocking, for good measure, its language, currency and transport system, and perhaps ridiculing the plumbing as well - or those who were armed to the teeth and lusting for blood?


Christopher reads from Hitch-22: A Memoir