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  • Jeremiah

Yugoslav Ideology: The truth of "Yugoslavism" IV/XV

Updated: Apr 25

By Jovan Dučić

First published in Amerikanski Srbobran, 1942



Illyrism wanted that Croats, by appropriating for themselves as literary language the language which until then only Serbs wrote in, soon get the urge to impose their Croato-Catholic-Austrian to those others through a literary union achieved in this way. The kajkavian speech, which is used around Zagreb and in which Croatian literature developed until Ljudevit Gaj, did not maintain enough of a connection between Croats themselves, as the čakavijan areas from Istria to the Croatian Primorje [tran. note: Croatian Coast] to Senj and some islands were closer to Serbs than Croats. Yugoslavism therefore was to be at first a defense from Serbs in those areas and only later to be used for offense.

When Strossmayer showed up on the scene, the relations between Croats and Serbs were better than ever. Just as Hungarians in their debates said for Croats that they are men of second order, so did Croats in that land always hold Serbs as citizens of second order; but the well-known Austrian absolutism comes to Croatia in 1849 to establish instead of Latin or the contemporary Hungarian German as the official language, which is why Croats found in Serbs good local patriots. Their joint action against Vienna will be especially lively between 1861. and 1867. This period truly seemed most like a rapprochement between these two always arguing peoples. - In Dalmatia which at the time still had minimal ties with Zagreb, no success of Croats was possible without the help of local Serbs. And yet, we will see that besides all the "Yugoslavism", as this new movement of Strossmayer's out of Zagreb was called, there was no signs that the position of Serbs in Croatian areas changed significantly, as much as Serbs helped Croats. Our people would be in wonder if they were told that the Sabor [tran. note: Parliament] in Zagreb only debated the "Serbian question" in 1884, which is to say about the rights of Serbs, something like what question of their Blacks was in the United States.

Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer was an extremely interesting politician. One should first know that Strossmayer was beforehand the chaplain of the Austrian Court in Vienna, then the rector of the grand school of theology Augustinea, which is especially dear to the House of Habsburg and already at 34 he became the Bishop in Đakovo, the parish which he desired. He was personally tied to the Emperor, as his man of special trust.

We had before us, therefore, two persons of Croatian Revival, accidentally both German by blood: Ljudevit Gaj and bishop Strossmayer. But also two different movements: Illyrism, a movement mostly local and internal and "Yugoslavism", a movement wider and expansionist, a current purely Croatian and Catholic and Austrian. - There was also a great personal difference between the protagonists of the two movements. Gaj was a literati and romantic, while Strossmayer was an archpriest of his Church, the preacher of its irreconcilable dogma, a missionary of an "ecclesia militans", which is to say the typical man of an apostolate. Such an apostolate always suppresses and excludes all which is not in its service. Transplanted onto a national ground, it becomes mystical and exclusive. And truly, after a certain time, bishop Strossmayer himself did not make a distinction unto where is a priest and from where starts the political combatant. The only commonality between the chief of Illyrism and the chief of Yugoslavism was that both were Germans by their blood and perseverance; and as converts, they were even more fanatic about the Croatian matter.

But bishop Strossmayer, known for his entire life as the personal friend of the Austrian Emperor and by blood an enemy of Slavs, as much as he was adapted to the Croatian land and environment, could he have, at least in anyone's sane mind, start in Croatia an action in the sense of Yugoslav ideology, as it is presented to Serbs: which is to say by its definition irredentist and revolutionary?... And could have a friend of the Emperor have had the intention to separate Croatia from the House of Habsburg and the Austrian monarchy, the most Catholic and apostolic and Jerusalemite, as the Habsburgs have in their historic titles, its most loyal province and most pious parish?... To separate it from a ruler who after the Pope is the first sword of Catholicism?...

If Strossmayer spoke about Yugoslavdom, that was a matter of politics and not feelings, idea and not ideals, combination and not ideology. If he maintained relations with Serbian prince Mihailo, that was certainly behind the backs of the Austrian Court. If Jelačić wrote warm letters to the great poet Njegoš, that was not to build a new state, 3/4 of which would be Orthodox, on the ruins of the Habsburg monarchy... Just like Strossmayer, the Bishop of Đakovo, Jelačić, an Austrian general, was first and foremost the servant of the Court in Vienna, and only secondly the Ban of Croatia. Firstly the grand commander of the Austrian army and then the governor of Dalmatia, a poor province, a politician who will be advanced even after those conversations with Njegoš, to the main chief of the Emperor's armies in the whole of Hungary. And at a very important moment. - Njegoš advised Jelačić in a letter from 29. December 1848. to proclaim himself (!) the Ban of the Triune Kingdom through an uprising of Serbs and Croats and promised him his aid. This astounded the Croatian Ban, who was more a Habsburger even than being a supporter of Jelačić. Having fell for it like this, the chivalric ruler of Montenegro wrote to graf Medo Pucić on Đurđevdan 1849. about his disappointment: "I had hopes in the beginning and today I see that Yugoslavdom is for now an ideal word which only jangles emptily with a nice tone..." (L. Tomanović, P.P. Njegoš kao vladalac, Cetinje, 1896).

Based on all of this you can see with how much mindlessness and fraud the Serbian people were told from certain sides that the "Yugoslavism" of Zagreb is what Serbs always imagined the movement to be: as a national one, which is to say "brotherly" and "Slavic" and "revolutionary", in the sense of a total unification of the political and the public from Triglav to the Black Sea. Yes, a unification was being prepared by the bishop from Đakovo: but a unification under the holy lineage of Austria and the equality in the holiest of Churches, the Catholic one.

This can be seen from what follows.

The Serbian statesmen of the sixties [tran. note: 1860s], headed by the young prince Mihailo during his brief reign, did not create as much of a confusion in this regards as our generation has. They could not be mistaken in what the actions of the otherwise highly esteemed bishop Strossmayer meant. Ilija Garašanin, the greatest statesman of our blood, lead a correspondence with all the Serbian lands for the purpose of unification of Serbdom, not Yugoslavdom. He did not work on an Austrian basis: to have the Balkans belong to the Habsburg dynasty; but on the basis of Serbia: for the Balkans to belong to Balkans peoples, as Garašanin clearly defined in point 6. of his "Načertanije". Who then, still in the time of Garašanin even belived that štokavijan supposedly became stronger even than Catholicism between Serbs and Croats...

What was then actually this "Yugoslavism" of Strossmayer's if not before all a Slavic movement at its core, a bereaved Serb will ask us, after all the frauds which our own politicians, the journalistic mercenaries of various bad regimes and finally the seduced but well-meaning idealists. did to him based on that "Yugoslavism". What was then the supposed doctrine of Strossmayer's which was put into the foundations of the new state and more than equality with the state doctrine of the Nemanjićs, which was pure and clear as the sun: making national everything that lives in a state union and excluding all which stands against that community! Strossmayer's "Yugoslavism" was at its core counter to Serbism, the Nemanjić ideas about the state, Balkan understanding of the nation and the Orthodox understanding about dogma.

Translated by Books of Jeremiah

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