Greater Serbia

Updated 1st June 2018
by Svetozar Marković (Translation by David Barnsdale) Published - Застава (Flag), Nmr 100 & 101, 1 & 19 December 1868. Intended for the Уједињеној српској омладини (United Serbian Youth) 1 The Peoples’s Interest and Diplomatic Hacks

Jump to the same paragraph in the original version in Serbian The People’s Interest? What is this People’s Interest? This is a thing that is truly strange strange and undefined. Napoleon sends some expeditions to Rome and Mexico, spends millions acquired by the people's sweat and looses thousands of men and all - they say - for the glory and interest of France; Austria sends an army into Schleswig-Holstein and brings to completion Königgrätz and this all for the people’s interest; look how the Sultan himself for three years laid waste and burned poor Crete, and well even he says that it in the interests of his Christian subjects who, “in their stupidity and as a result of foreign influence”, rebel against him. But we will leave aside Napoleon, Austria and the Sultan. Everyone knows what means their phrases “for the people’s interest” for “the people’s honor” etc. Let’s take a different example. Deák, Eötvös, Andrássy and generally the majority of the Hungarian Diet are sincere Hungarian patriots. The aim, as is known, is to create “Greater Hungary”in which would be a single political people - a Hungarian. They say that their politics is a people's politics, that is that it is in line with the interests of the people that lives in Hungary. The representatives of the majority of people who live in Hungary, that is the representatives of non-Hungarian nations, say that that politics is completely against the interests of the majority. But lets leave that aside. Deák is a Hungarian and isn’t to be even asked to consider the interests of other nations. But is it truly even useful for Hungarians? What, for example, do Hungarians in Debrecen or Pest gain because their king rules over 15 million subjects? Will they therefore have less taxes, will there be taken from them less recruits? Will there remain with them more resources for education, will they have more freedom in authorized and public meetings? Taken overall, will they have any kind of alleviation? The outcome we have before our eyes demonstrates clearly: not only no kind of alleviation but, to the contrary, greater burdens. The majority of the people in Hungary are dissatisfied with this politics. In order that they be restrained under the yoke, force is necessary. For that an arm is needed (von Beust is seeking 800,000); a repressive administration is needed (the delegation approved 550,000 florins by a secret resolution); and most important it ought not be permitted that excessively freely be published and discussed the interests of the people and government actions. The Hungarian government prosecutes Böszörményi, one of the most worthwhile members of the Liberal Party. From this is seen what Hungarians themselves will gain. They will give over more recruits, that is, there will remain fewer hands for work; they will pay for spies, that is, there will remain less resources for education and morality will be corrupted. And what comes next? That is easy to predict. Next both non-Hungarians and Hungarians will become still more discontented which will result in stronger means of repression, that is, more recruits, higher taxes, a more intrusive administration and less freedom, etc. leading to disaster. And with all that Deák, Eötvös, Andrássy and the whole company are true Hungarians and sincere patriots. So how come they, as patriotic Hungarians, conduct a policy that is against the interests of Hungarians? That’s truly a long story but we will tell it in a few words. ‘’

Jump to the same paragraph in the original version in Serbian It wasn’t long ago when a person in the state was not worth a dime but the entire state was state was the king (L' Etat c' est moi Louis XIV). The People in that time was considered, so to speak, as the property of the king because he ruled by “the grace of God”. All that increased the glory and abilities of the king-state, both at home and abroad, that counted as in the interests of the state and as to the interests of the people no one paid any attention. A powerful army and a powerful administration gave the king the means to use national resources to support the splendid and luxurious palace, to shine internationally and to have an impact on international politics. It’s from this that a powerful army a the powerful administration has become the measure of "state" size. But to support a powerful army requires many people who can provide living and inanimate resources (recruits and money) for its maintenance. It’s from this that the number of state subjects has become the measure of the size of a state. Since that time, Europe has changed a lot. People have begun to realize that their interests and the interests of the state are not always the one and the same. This realization of the people and the consequence of their dissatisfaction has become dangerous to governing by the right of “the grace of God” and to more an more classes of people whose interests have been historically fated to be bound to the interests of the ruler. That would be the occasion for these gentlemen to bring forth various phony sermons that all the people in the state - that is, the whole nation - must have alonside their private interests also a "higher state interest" and that personal interests must be sacrificed for the love of the community, etc. When these phrases are translated in to our simple language it comes over, for example, like this: you Austrian peoples have as your interest to live and work peacefully, each at your home, that from what you earn each individual gives over as much as is essential and all the remainder you use to satisfy you needs, for your education, your transport communications and enjoying yourselves etc. But Austria has to attain “higher state interests” (it’s understood that the preachers do not speak this way but we will so speak): that is to maintain a splendid court; to be “the spice in every soup” that is to be involved in every European event, because such is the fashion in Europe (and states have fashions just as people), to support a large army, to pay public officials who will oversee the people, to pay for spies etc, etc. So for that reason the Austrian peoples must sacrifice their personal interests to the general interest and pay in blood and sweat to the state bosses. In this case, we have shown customary politics in the crudest form, where it appears as a product of habits: to live on another's account as a product of dishonest selfishness. But there are plenty of cases where customary politics as the simple product of a misunderstanding of the people’s interests. Such politics is that of today’s majority in the Hungarian diet. Deák is a Hungarian patriot. He would wish that the Hungarians to be free and advanced in everything, but at the same time convention holds that the external splendor is necessary for the happiness of the people: and he would wish that somehow there should be an entire Hungarian kingdom from the Carpathians to the Adriatic Sea. as it was in the former "glorious" times and he wishes Hungary to have a strong army to involve itself in European affairs. In Europe, those nations are considered to be happy who play a prominent role, even should this role be purely outward (as actors on the scene). Such statesmen do not realize that such outward splendor can be bought only by the mental and material poverty of their people.

Jump to the same paragraph in the original version in SerbianIn all that we have said about conventional politics so far, we had the aim to prove, that the old prejudices and the habits that support them are so deeply rooted in the outlook of European statesmen that even people who are really do good often work against their people interest purely from ignorance from convention. But speaking of honest and dishonest conventional policy, we to some extent choose cases which directly concern us and we have brought up the term but not yet defined what we mean by "national interest". We can not find a better definition of that term than that given by our esteemed Vlada Jovanović in his Srbeida i Gotovin, which is: that it should be, for each and for all, well. Some of our literary charlatans at once came to the conclusion that if each has enough to eat and not be like other cattle then it will be good for everyone. It’s not worth so much as discussing with such sages. We mention this interpretation only because of their exceptional stupidity and now we will explain what the above sentence means. A human has the need to eat, to drink, to think etc. These are all needs which are connected with their personal nature. But beside that, a human lives in society and satisfy their needs only within society; from that if follows that only in a certain social structure can they satisfy their needs. We will take for the sake of an example that from our peasant so much tax is taken that they are left with so little money that they unable to buy smocks nor to buy fish and oil so they can celebrate Saint Nicholas’ Day at home etc; and then the tailor and the grocer will have no one to sell their goods and they in turn will not only not have enough to pay tax but quite possibly not even for food. From this it immediately follows that the peasant and the tailor and the grocer have an interest in the reduction of taxes. From these social relations an entire sequence of needs arises of a person as a citizen in the state and and as a member of the local community and family. When each satisfies their needs, then it will be, for each and for all, well. From this it follows that the aim of popular politics must be directed towards organizing the state building so that as far as possible each member satisfy all their needs: that personal interests be entirely part of state interests. All that leads to the increase in popular freedom and to an increase in the peoples intellectual and material strength contributes and this is the criterion for assessing the value of foreign and domestic state politics. We considered it as essential to show this clearly and decisively, in order to make it easier to see: what is not popular politics. Now, let's turn to the politics of "Greater Serbia", which is the subject of our article.

2 Greater Serbia Politics and the former opposition. Motto: What is just is also to God dear. (Folk Proverb).
In issue 85 of Zastava (Flag) there was printed a letter as an answer to a Czech corespondent for which the Zastava editors say was “obtained from well informed circles”. In that letter it was stated that the regents of Serbia “along the lines of Prince Mihailo want a greater and strong Serbia”. Further “that Serbia has its completely independent national policy” and that “Prince Mihailo did not allow himself to be deflected from his well thought out direction neither by the Montenegrian war, nor the bombardment of Belgrade, nor last years Bulgarian battalions and what’s more last year he handled a number of angry Bulgarians. Afterwards it’s explained what means half of the whole, that is a strong Serbia: “Prince Mihailo wanted that Serbia should be strong not only from the military viewpoint but from the political and moral viewpoint and understands well that only with a people that strongly organized and loyal to the ruler will they be able to engage in the undertaking of greater things. When this is said it simply means that Prince Mihailo wanted to have a large army and all earthly administration in his own hands and that he should have at his disposal all national resources until should find that it has come to the opportune moment and until that time he could prepare for that moment. The second half, that is “Greater Serbia” is not explained - that every child in Serbia knows. That means to avenge Kosovo and to restore the patrimony of Tsar Dushan. We do not have enough facts to judge whether the regents will adopt in everzthing the policy of "a greater and strong Serbia", but all the actions of the previous government show clearly that Prince Mihailo had that goal and to his credit it can be said that he pursued it extremely faithfully and logically.