Miloš O. Ković
Filozofski fakultet, Univerzitet u Beogradu
MASARYK AND THE SERBS: POLITICAL IDEAS
Political ideas of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and of the leading contemporary Serbian intellectuals and statesman, such are Jovan Cvijić, Jovan Skerlić, Stojan Novaković, Milovan Milovanović and others, were very close and similar at some specific points. Of course, there were important ideological differences, and they can be easily found even inside this heterogeneous group of Serbian intellectuals, but they all still shared some common, core beliefs. In this article those Czech-Serbian ideological links were scrutinized, through putting them into the wider, European context. It is argued that these similarities did not come from the mutual influences, at least until the close collaboration of Masaryk and the Serbs in the First World War. They were rather the results of the common, European phenomena, processes and developments. The important similarity can be recognized in the common “realism”, understood as urge to know and understand present day “reality”, before leaning on past and history. For Tomáš Masaryk, Jovan Cvijić, Jovan Skerlić, Milovan Milovanović, Nikola Pašić and other Serbian intellectuals and statesman, democracy was not only question of political beliefs, but powerful tool of defence against Austro-Hungarian imperialism, conservatism and catholic proselitism. Democracy was to become the main ingredient of the renewed Czech and Serbian national identities. In their written works the nation was understood and explained as dynamic phenomenon, prone to changes by the will of man and work of institutions. Looking for the pragmatic solutions, Masaryk and these Serbian intellectuals were ready to neglect their nationalism for the sake of “realism”, geopolitics and strategy. These interpretations of the important concepts such are nation, democracy, “realism”, strategy, conformed at the same time to the interests of their British and French allies, lead them to the creation of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. Masaryk’s understanding of Czech nation as phenomenon closely connected to church and religion was very different from the secular interpretation of Serbian nation by his Serbian contemporaries, which was bound to connect populations of the Balkans who belonged to the different faiths, but who shared the same language and basic interests. Such Masaryk’s views were, however, close to the ideas of Nikolaj Velimirović, who collaborated with Masaryk in London during the First World War. Masaryk's understanding of nation as the community of “covenant” was similar and comparable to Velimirović's and later Serbian interpretations.
Disraeli’s Orientalism Reconsidered
In his influential Orientalism Edward Said placed British statesman and writer Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) in the long line of the Western writers who cultivated particular stereotypes about the Muslim East, with the hidden intention of imperial subjugation. On the other side, Said’s critics Patrick Brantlinger and Mark Proudman asserted that Disraeli was not an Orientalist, but rather an admirer of the Arabic and Ottoman civilizations and determined defender of the Ottoman Empire. However, Disraeli’s novels, correspondence and his policy in the Great Eastern Crisis give more complex evidence, which does not support any of these views. This paper emphasises the point that during his long career Disraeli was changing his views of the Turks and the Ottoman Empire, which even Patrick Brantlinger’s balanced approach to the issue of Disraeli’s Orientalism misses.