n a broader picture of Hum (the Balkans), within which the hegemonic destructive nationalism of Serbs and Croats has been developing since the 19th century, defined as the creation of mono-ethnic, mono-religious and homogeneous nation-states, the process of destruction of Bosnia and everything Bosnian has been taking place at the same time.
Serbia and Croatia, as ethno-national projects at their core, imply the disappearance of non-identical Bosnians and the occupation of the territory of Bosnia. In the 19th century, this process had begun with the “nationalization” of Bosnian Catholics and Orthodox (also referred to as Bosniaks until the end of the 19th century, although this name’s meaning is now reduced only to Bosnian Muslims), as well as Vlachs, Karavlahs, Cincars, Bulgarians, Montenegrins, Hungarians, Italians and other smaller ethnic elements in the wider Hum (Balkan area), so that in the 20th century it ended with the armed-criminal efforts to eradicate the Muslim element of Bosnia. It is a direct result of these two ethno-religious totalitarianisms.
The processes of Serbian/Croatian nationalisms bore a distinctive feature of hatred and contempt in the mutual competition for dominance in the widest possible areas of the common Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian/Montenegrin language. The official abolition of the name “Bosnian language“ at the beginning of the 20th century (1907) by the Austrian occupiers was an indication of what would happen under the umbrella of the newly-imposed Serbo-Croatian language and its cultural-political framework.
For the past thirty years, one can clearly see the resurgence of the ghosts of Greater Serbian and Greater Croatian ethno-fascism, which are attacking Bosnia and trying to definitively destroy any possibility of its existence. The peaks of the anti-Bosnian policy of the Greater Croatian hegemonism were laid in the early 1990s in the HDZ, a political organization that works on ethno-territorialization of Croats in Bosnia and tearing off part of its territory from which Bosniaks and Serbs were expelled in 1993, all under the auspices of alleged concern for the Croats.
On the other hand, the blade of the Greater Serbian hegemonic policy in Bosnia was the SDS (which served Serbia to launch the aggression and war against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina) and then the SNSD (to cover up the SDS war criminals who were convicted in the Hague in the meantime). It has been clear, from Karađorđevo onwards, what would happen in these thirty years. It is just a continuation of the old cooperation during the 20th century within the framework of the Serbo-Croatian pact against Bosnia, which is obvious today, unconcealed and completely clear in the coordinated anti-Bosnian action of the HDZ-SNSD axis, Dodik and Čović in the front line and dozens of small “screwdrivers” around them at the level politics, science, media, diplomacy, economy and so on. It shows that Caliban stands before us! He made his evil intentions against Bosnia known from the second half of the 19th century.
Unfortunately, Bosnia is still under the influence of the greater-state expansionist nationalism of Serbia and Croatia. Both nationalisms in Bosnia produced perverse identity narratives and shaped Serbian and Croatian “national identity” based on religion, which caused destructive processes in Bosnia that were temporarily “stabilized” by the hegemony of the Belgrade regime, in which the rest remained silent and lived on spoons! The false communists, those who joined the partisans since 1944, made a great manipulation, in fact, the Greater Serbian “political game” under the auspices of Serbia, and turned any narrative about Bosnia into the story of a “religious group” (not Bosniaks and Bosnians) that to this day is snatched away by the claws of the Greater Serbian project over Bosnia. Thus, unfortunately, Yugoslavia served Greater Serbia, a covert hegemonic project over other nations and led to its complete exposure in the 1990s, when Serbian politicians decided, in cooperation with Croatia, to definitively destroy Bosnia and Bosnian Muslims, the Bosniaks. In that, a special place belonged to Bosniak ethno-politics, which observed and used the ethno-religious identity as the basic political unit, and developed political discourse from the religious matrix!
Both Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats in the context of ethno-religious politics construct the concept of a national state as a mono-ethnic community in which only one entity can live, which has been declared its one and only nation. And, that nation is definitely rounded, completed, shaped, fulfilled – it does not need and cannot develop further, because it has reached the “absolute truth” of ethno-religious nationhood, religious truth, total realization! The political elites of these nations, self-determined by ethno-religious constructions, do not understand Bosnia as a member of the United Nations Organization, therefore, as part of the world order. They are still unable to understand the state as a political community of citizens, free and equal, living under the rule of law. Unfortunately, they still tell stories about Bosnia as if it were some territory within the Kingdom of Yugoslavia – as if it were not an independent state. They do not accept the epochal change and historical fact – that Bosnia has become an internationally recognized and independent state!
At the same time, Bosnian Serbs and Croats assert themselves as inseparably linked to the nations in two countries, in Croatia and Serbia. That calculation is anti-democratic and creates apartheid for the largest group, the Bosniaks! Belgrade and Zagreb, as the organizers of the Serbian and Croatian nationalisms in Bosnia, today believe that the “achievement” after the aggression and genocide is a definite, undoubted “reality” and that the Bosniaks have to come to terms with it and shut up.
Serbian and Croatian nationalisms have been fighting over Bosnia ever since the 19th century, creating the most illusionary narratives about a “Serbian” or “Croatian” country without any leeway or shame. They invent, lie, mislead, falsify facts and events. They use ethno-religious communities as instruments of their “strategic constructions” behind which remain dead and insurmountable hatred. Their mistreatment of Bosniaks as an object of apostasy and suspicious denial of ethnic specificities and presence of other socio-historical groups is particularly brazen. Those nationalisms took the form of perversion, militarism and totalitarianism.
Those authors who shaped the disputed historical “pictures” of Serbia and Croatia did incalculable damage to today’s interpreters of social trends by deceiving them that “their nations” can be traced back to the seventh century and built from there! They consciously and irreparably confuse themselves and their readers by mixing and imprecisely replacing the concepts of ethnicity and nationality, by leveling the semantics and pragmatics that enable the understanding of epochs and processes. That is why the insistence on the distinction between the terms “ethnic group” and “nation” is of particular importance. Forgetting the difference between these terms serves the manipulations and “evil ethno-nationalist mantras” of the supposed critics of nationalism!
Shortcomings of the European concept of Nation-state
The attempt to impose the concept of the ethno-nation as the only legitimate and binding one is the basis of the latest work by Lsavo Klukić entitled Narod i nacija (2023), which elaborates on issues of national identity and postulates the dogmatic position that the process of nation formation is over. These are very questionable and outmoded perceptions and the answers offered end up in the dead end of an ethno-religious interpretation that is not aware of its own collectivist, dogmatic-conservative limitations.
Klukić still believes that Serbs and Croats should constitute a homogenous nation out of a single “ethnic group” (and only that is to be called a nation) that would include a “historical territory” shaped in the national-romantic images of history. This author uses the term “nation” as a label for “ethnic group” – and he consciously mixes the meanings of the two terms, thereby misleading the readers into a narrative about the Greater Bosniak “state unitary project”, as the alleged equivalent of Greater Serbian and Greater Croatian etno-nationalist projects. Thus, he appears only as a medium through which the voice of a broader set of ethno-politics and anti-Bosnian hegemony spreads. For, if that “set” imposes on us an “ethnic group” in Bosnia as a “nation”, then it is clear that it does not recognize the Bosnian civic nation and the Bosnian civic identity that is a fact today. His starting point is, in fact, the political ideology of the “three constitutive ethno-nations”, or of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a “three-national community”, which cannot be a democratic, sovereign community of citizens, because each of these ethno-nations is meant to be “sovereign”, respectively. Klukić does not say why he is doing this and why he is falsely implying that someone is putting identity of these ethnic groups into question by subscribing to the Bosnian national identity.
This ethno-clerical “set” of Klukić and his associates appears in the messianic role of protector and savior of the “national identity of Croats, Bosniaks and Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina” who found themselves in danger of “advocating the thesis of BiH as a mononational state of the Bosnian nation”. I guess it is clear to everyone that there is only one internationally recognized nation in Bosnia and Herzegovina – it is the nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina! Bosniaks, Croats, Serbs, Jews or Roma are only ethnic elements of the Bosnian nation. Croats in Croatia are part of the Croatian nation!This is not about the difference between the “theoretical positions” of two groups of theoreticians, but about an elementary misunderstanding of the concepts of ethnicity and nationality as they are appropriate for today’s sociological (A. Giddens, M. Haralambos, D. Schnapper) and legal-political practice and knowledge (E. Šarčević, Z. Hadžidedić).
Klukić and many others seem to have missed the linguistic turn, which occurred during the 20th century in the philosophy and sciences of Europe and the USA, and has fundamentally changed the epistemological categories and models of explanation that in our region were under the control of the “Marxist theory of reflection” and mechanistic common-sense ideas about the “coincidence” of mind and reality. There is no anchored and definitively established meaning outside of language for the terms we use in our language games (Sprachspiele), no matter what enchanting narratives ethnohistory and ethnogenesis offer in praise of our historically constructed ethnos.
Klukić and many others with their invasive theory of “ethno-nation” or “three-nation community” (ethnotrinity) remain in the matrix of corporate ethnopolitics, definitely surrounded by notions of the nation as an extended ethnic group – as if this is the key to understanding the national. Instead of presenting a convincing sociological theory and argumentation, what is offered here is a simplistic dogmatism, blindly following a questionable position that can be linked to Marxist theory. They see Bosnia and Herzegovina as a multi-national state with alleged “three nations”, which is theoretically and practically impossible.
The conception of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a “community of nations”, i.e. “three nations”, is rooted in the desire for two ethnic groups – Serbs and Croats – to have mother states, which, through these ethnic groups, directly conduct their policies aimed at the destruction of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the annexation of its territories to those mother states, whereby the third ethnic group – the Bosniaks – through the annexation of its parts to the western and eastern neighbors, is reduced to, for the bureaucrats of the international community, an acceptable ethnic minority that assimilates into larger social/national systems. If we, who want a Bosnian Nation, are called dangerous unitarians in their opinion, then the advocates of the 3-national partition of this country are, in fact, evil federalists who have undisguised aspirations to create a federal arrangement, so that the federal units would then more easily secede from Bosnia and Herzegovina and join the western and eastern neighbors, so that each of them gets one half of Bosnia.
It is rather strange to insist on the primordial nature of ethnic group and its process, if today we know that ethnic group is also a construct of a historical moment. Even more surprising is the belief that the epoch of “nation creation” is over, as if there is a right time for it, and as if someone can determine what time it is. It is absolutely irresponsible to claim that people, who fight publicly for a civic Bosnian identity, are unitarians, nationalists and fundamentalists, and not to offer any support for such claims. This actually confirms that it is a planned and arbitrary act that should discredit those voices in the public who disavow the Greater Serbian and Greater Croatian national coup in Bosnia, which has been going on for a long time as a manipulative-forgery process of de-Bosnianization of Bosnia! It is part of the suspiciously ugly vocabulary that was used during the 20th century against Bosniaks who did not fit into Serbo-Croatian construction of Bosnia.
These people should then be “naive” and justify to fraudsters and perpetrators that they are not what they are accused of. Instead of justifying, it should be said – yes, there is a Bosnian national identity and it cannot be suppressed by anything, anymore!
Today we should ask Klukić and his associates the following question: do we live in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia or in the independent Republic/State of BiH? If we live in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, then it may be that we do not have the identity of Bosnians, because we are subordinate to the King’s authority. But let’s not forget, we live in the independent Bosnia and Herzegovina! Today, we live in a completely different historical context and we can no longer be mocked by the obscene story about a “three-nation community”, about a “religious group”, about a “specific country”, about a “nation as a religious group”, about the “Marxist theory of the nation by E. Kardelj” and the like. From the existence of the independent state of Bosnia and Herzegovina follows the civic Bosnian-Herzegovinian (Bosnian) identity! It expresses the existence of the state, which gives every being in it a nomination in accordance with it, and encourages the citizens’ attachment to the state as a framework of their legal and physical protection. Bosniaks, Croats, Serbs and other ethnicities are only constituents, parts of the Bosnian nation!
Therefore, the path we will follow in the future is determined by the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the “Kovačević case”. In every democratic state, citizens are the bearers of the sovereignty of their state, who, through the political representatives of citizens who are elected in elections, govern their country, which is an expression of both theory and practice, while in totalitarian systems, especially post-communist ones that despise democracy, sovereignty is attributed to ethnic groups, which the totalitarians knowingly wrongly call nations. Such people do not need elections or democracy, because they need a never-abandoned totalitarian system in which there is neither democracy nor elections, but only single-mindedness within their “own” nation.