Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dveri: For the Young and the Patriotic, the Time to Act Is Now

The fact that the parliamentary election in Serbia hasn’t been called yet can’t stop political parties from campaigning aggressively, jockeying for a run and testing their coalition potential. The political scene mired in a lack of ideological constancy, feebleness of partnerships, outlandish coalition proposals and even more preposterous policy proposals, has been thrown into disarray with the December rejection of Serbia’s candidacy to the European Union. The ruling party was immediately seen doing a frantic footwork of backtracking and lurching forward at once, expressing disappointment at the decision, badly acting out the surprise by new demands and brazenly reaffirming strong hope that it will all remedy itself in February. Please don’t ask me to elaborate on this frenzy of illusory mumbo-jumbo…
I don’t want to talk about Boris Tadic and his grasping for a straw and gasping for air. He can hide his physical deterioration behind the already grey hair, but the gaunt, pale, wrinkled face tells the truth about his state of mind. I want to talk about the new phenomenon on Serbia’s political horizon: Dveri Srpske.
Dveri are not a registered political party, they are a civic group that, under Serbia’s electoral law, can run in an election, but doesn’t fall under the same campaign finance regulations as political parties. They often call themselves “a patriotic movement of free people.” Dveri (plural) is an Old Slavic word meaning “doors” or “gate.” They are a hot commodity on Serbia’s electoral market mainly due to their unorthodox campaigning style and even less orthodox ideology. When I say unorthodox, I mean that they do not fit the description of your everyday Serbian political organization, in structure and in ideas. From the beginning of Serbia’s political pluralism, all the parties have been modeled on the League of Communists, with rigid hierarchies, charismatic or Machiavellian leaders at helm and both opportunistic and fanatical following. Dveri are a real pluralistic movement, without a strict hierarchical structure, relying on organic cells growing around the country out of their ideological adherents’ urge to organize and mobilize into “the movement for the life of Serbia,” as they officially dubbed themselves.  At least it appears to be so. Their local activist cells have spread to about 60 towns and their ideologue leaders have traversed the country and the Serbian Diaspora talking the points of the New National Agreement they have fashioned out of their grievances. And it’s not a one-sided nonsense either. Bosko Obradovic, one of the founders, when asked of reasons Dveri decided to enter electoral politics, responded: “Because it’s become dishonest to stand by and watch Serbia decline.” And the New National Agreement is grounded in identifying and addressing the reasons for this decline as Dverjani – members of Dveri - see them, and offering comprehensive solutions.
Dveri grew out of the editorial board of the namesake Orthodox youth magazine, founded by students in the late 1990s. They are a nationalist organization with somewhat clericalist perspectives that calls for a return of the Serbian society to patriarchal guiding principles that have given the Serbs the particularity and sustainability of their national character. The return to family values is of paramount importance to Dverjani. Their designs for higher birth rate among Serbs are supported by the proposed governmental and institutional encouragement of larger nuclear families. The brain drain, high abortion rate and poverty have to be minimized if Serbs want to continue to biologically exist, Dveri argue. Dveri are not the only ones that recognize these problems, but they are the only ones that, in their relatively unrefined, idealistic way, find it obligatory to raise the alarm about the consequential fatality of not acting to stop these trends and to run on the platform tied into such theme. Others on Serbia’s political spectrum are too busy jabbing at one another, trading barbs, pointing fingers, bickering about non-essentials and backstabbing their way to an agency or corporate appointment, a donation, or a cheap political point or two, when they are not swearing loyalty or skepticism towards the EU and tearfully chest-bumping or lamenting about Kosovo. If these so-called leaders, politicians, apparatchiks and professional demagogues and parasites are lined up, a gun put to their head and offers of real, pragmatic and sensible solutions solicited in exchange for sparing their lives, there wouldn’t be enough bullets to go around. In the muddy habitat of parasitic subsistence that is Serbian politics, the energetic and deliberate drive of Dveri is at least refreshing and as such, worth Serbia’s attention.
I don’t want to come off as an advocate for Dveri, although I wouldn’t be ashamed if I did, and I won’t go into details of their political program. What should be noted is that they do have a comprehensive economic recovery and social reform plan and even though its viability can be debated in the light of a broader political dynamics in and around Serbia, it’s still a plan that a group of relatively young, concerned and proactive nationalists thought out, which brings about my next point.
The leadership of Dveri is on average much younger than your regular political party clique in Serbia. Bosko Obradovic is 35, Vladan Glisic is 41, Branimir Nesic is 37, Radovan Tvrdisic is 40, and so on.  This is both a plus and a minus for Dveri, but in the long run it brings the movement a rather positive outlook. These are people from outside the establishment. Their views do not appear skewed by daily politicking and party lines. While they could have entered politics in a conventional way, by buying a party membership and elbowing their way up, they chose to stick to their own guns, follow their ideals and use their energies to beam an uncommonly brave agenda onto the murky Serbian sky. Due to their youth and inexperience in political arena, they are brushed aside as a non-viable political option that would struggle to win a seat in the Parliament. Due to their relative youth and the perceived infeasibility of their program, they are easily ridiculed and dismissed by the political mainstays, be it for their proposed economic reliance on agriculture or for their national self-subsistence agenda. A lot of pundits – and most pundits in Serbia work for a political group in power or in opposition, directly and indirectly – smirk at or gloat over their perceived lack of governing expertise. I can only laugh at this and notice that if the standards for governing expertise are set by the ruling establishment, Dveri are doing just fine being what they are. Expertise without patriotism and good intentions is the picture of Serbia today, sold out, disenfranchised and depraved.  On the other hand, a lot of Serbs, completely dispirited by the failures of the ruling “experts,” would be inclined to support Dveri for their biggest perceived shortcoming: their youth. Young and independent of party politics, for many people in Serbia, translates into untainted and this could be the biggest argument in favor of Dveri if we have the upcoming election in mind. If we look at the long run, the youth of Dveri leadership guarantees their longevity in Serbia’s political life.
This longevity issue is tightly connected with another important and generally unexplored aspect of the Dveri phenomenon: their finances. If we presume that money in Serbia is tight and that to rely on individual donations outside of party fundraising machineries is, to say the least, infeasible, we must look deeper into the statement of Dveri that they are funded by “the people.” People in Serbia have no money or, at least, no serious political organization can afford to rely on such funding long-term. Those who do have money to donate to political organizations already have their favorites they picked based on the potential for return on investment. Dveri could subsist to a degree on people’s donations, especially if those people live abroad and a lot of Dveri supporters do. However, to stand that up against the funds available to, say, Dragan Djilas or Cedomir Jovanovic , puts things into a different, quite discouraging perspective. But, Dveri are a reality, and unless they are betting all of their chips on this one round, which I doubt, they are here to stay. There is a possibility that their electoral success would launch political careers of some of their leaders who may capitalize on their newly acquired stature and slide off into a lap of a more powerful political organization. My instincts and the methodical attribute of their political platform tell me otherwise: they plan to grow. In Serbia, of course, an offer of a steady government job can make one abandon one’s entire belief system, but this analysis would be pointless if it decided to take into account such far-fetched possibilities. Notwithstanding the uniqueness of their political views, the point that I keep delaying to get to is my assumption that Dveri have a more serious backer than just “the people.” I have mentioned their somewhat clericalist perspectives before and yes, you guess right: I’m driving at the Serbian Orthodox Church being that backer. This is not some “eureka” moment - this connection has been floated about - it’s just a natural conclusion, a reasonable expectation stemming from the fact that it is impossible to run a political or any other organization without steady and substantial funding and the ideology of Dveri is closest to that of the Church, in the political sense. I see it as encouraging, if it's true. While Dveri have been accused of being a decoy for some other powerful political factions in Serbia, like Kostunica's DSS or even Dragan Djilas, I, in my narrow-mindedness, can only believe what I see and what's around the corner, or maybe, what I’d hope for in my naïveté.
The Church is the oldest and the only Serbian national organization; it encompasses all of Serbdom, and while a lot could be said about its failure to guide its flock in dire times of dismemberment and disorientation, it shouldn’t be underestimated as a political force whose history and experience transcends the present tribulations. Saint Sava’s Church is an entity integral to Serbdom, but stands alone in many aspects. Its survival is interminably connected to the survival of its flock, the Serbian people that adhere to it. If we make a mistake and think that such an organization will cease believing in itself and in its own continuing existence, we give up the only hope for Serbdom. Serbdom has no other guides, unfortunately. Serbdom has no agencies that are entirely its own, except for the Church, and that Church has no followers other than Serbs. To survive through the oncoming tsunami of globalization that brought us CNN, NATO bombs, Mujahedeen and Wahhabis, Diocleanism, KLA, the Hague, Otpor, the Latin Serbian, reality shows, brain drain and other plagues, the Church would have to reconnect with its wandering flock and I expected it to enter politics in a conventional way much earlier. The Church simply couldn’t afford to stay on the sidelines of electoral politics any longer. Dveri are its response to the must of getting involved in a decisive way and that is why I believe Dveri are here to stay. Dveri have started as an Orthodox youth publication, building up a significant and comprehensive volume of work delving into the ills of Serbdom and ways to cure them. Armed with the well hashed out program, they matured into a group that is seemingly staunch in ideology and confident in its assertions. Even if their coming out party could be deemed premature, the political momentum called for a reaction of some sort. If Dveri are a child of the Church and a part of a larger plan, this moment is not only as good as any to come out, but the time to waste has lapsed.
Let’s not take this further that it has to go. Dveri are not a clericalist organization; they are organic nationalists of a pastoral, patriarchal leaning, they call for the overthrow of influences that turned Serbia and Serbdom into a puppet state. They call for a greater independence of Serbia as a state and as a society, and of a Serb as an individual reliant on family tradition characteristic of our past and symptomatic of our national strength. It's premature to even talk about Dveri getting in a position to materialize their reformist ideals, but even the strength of their voice, their message and their methods are welcome and refreshing in the sea of illusory promises, parasitism, lethargy and apathy.


Meezer said...

Interesting post. With regards to the church, it seems that the leadership has been bought & paid for by the empire. It seems that selling out your people has/is a common thread, as well as cowardice.

Srbo said...

I wouldn't agree that the Church leadership has sold out. The Church is an institution independent from people and its primary goal is protecting its own interest. It sees the interests of the people only through the prism of its own interests. We are its flock and it is our only church, but it's not a democratic institution and it doesn't allow populist influences. However, of all the relevant interests and influences crisscrossing Serbian socio-political realm, the Church is definitely the most nationalistic one. Its perceived cowardice may turn out to be just patience.

Anonymous said...

Saying that someone is a nationalist in the Balkans has negative connotations. These imply that they are xenophobic and violent by nature (on the far right). The correct term would in this case would be patriotic, since they call themselves "nationalist" in this context. They love their country, their people, and their faith, and all that NOT to the exclusion of other peoples living in Serbia.

Srbo said...

The connotation is as negative as you succumb to the globalist propaganda.
The greatest enemy of globalism is the true nationalism that promotes the ideas of ethnic, national and other local identities. A globalist design cannot overwhelm a strong local identity and loyalty, whether its a local economic community of your village or an ethnic group with its standards of mutuality.
I am a nationalist; I love my Serb people, my homeland of Serbia that includes the Serb Republic and the land of Montenegro; I love its language, its culture, its faith; I really do not have particular feelings towards other peoples, except for general respect or disrespect. And I don't think nationalism excludes anyone - chauvinism does that.
Patriotism is a term found by the same globalists that demonized nationalism to be a milder form of a feeling of mutuality and solidarity that people inevitably possess, but it applies to the allegiance to a political state rather than to a people with its cultural wholesomeness. Such allegiance stems from citizens' political focus on a state like Serbia and it is less dangerous to the globalist ideological designs than the allegiance of such people as Serbian, regardless of citizenship, to such a cultural entity as Serbdom, without politically controlled borders.
There is absolutely nothing negative about the nationalism of Dveri. They do not pretend to speak for all the citizens of the state of Serbia, although they are not chauvinist and they do not promote the well-being of Serbs at the expense of the minorities. They are a Serbian Orthodox youth organization that grew into a political group. They call themselves "nationalist," that's correct. Why would anyone see it is as something bad, xenophobic or violent and why would anyone call them anything but nationalist? Because someone in some imperialist institute in Washington DC said so?
Are we to let our enemies define us? That will make us whatever our enemies want to us to be seen as. God help us in that case.
If Serbia was a rational political society, the nationalist Dveri, with its quite reasonable program, would be a center-right organization. In today's Serbia, with standards and propaganda imposed by the foreigners, mostly enemies, some see Dveri as a far-right group, which would be laughable if it wasn't malicious.

CrniGorac said...


The understanding of the term 'nationalistic' is negative. It allows the media to manipulate the word and use it against the intended subject. Patriotic is the only way to describe the organization or we've learned nothing from history, media, propanda and manipulation. I believe and hope they are on the right track.

In relation to the Church. Sadly there is way too much politics within it. An example of that is removal of the Patriarch from Kosovo in the recent years.

Srbo said...

Changing of your language is a way of changing your thoughts. If they tell you that what you are saying is wrong, and you accept it so they can't attack you on it, then you made it wrong.
While I understand your views and see them manifested every day, I also recognize they are imposed by ideologies unfriendly to the set of personal and group values I hold dear. And yes, the public speech should be adjusted to the target audience, but if it doesn't affect your core ideology. You can't shed your core ideology over semantics.
Patriotism derives from "patria," which is not the people, but a homeland or a country. Nationalism derives from "nation" in the ethnic and/or civic sense, the collective you feel a part of regardless of the political borders that confine you. If I want to translate the Serbian word "rodoljub," which I consider myself to be irrespective of how it actually translates into English, I am closer to a nationalist than to a patriot. I am, of course, both, but my allegiance is to the Serbian people, not exclusively to one Serbian state. So, to say I am a patriot, I'd have add the country, "patria." I love Serbia, but I love the Serb Republic even more, and I also love Montenegro as a Serb state. So, I have to be more of a nationalist, since the common denominator is my allegiance and emotion to the Serbian nation as a whole.

The Church has always been a political organization, and that's one of the reasons the Serbian identity is still alive. Any religious organization is almost always a political organization, since it vies for power over people.

Antonio said...

I am not Serbian. I was born in the United States, live in Mexico and profess the Orthodox Faith. I have viewed the last several years with great anguish and frustration over what the West has done to Serbia, its one true ally during WWII. I am just becoming aware of Dveri, as a national phenomenon and am very heartened by its rise. I look forward to the growth and strengthening of this phenomenon in Serbian life.

Thalia said...

This is gorgeous!