[lg policy] Nice quote about Yugoslavia/nationalism in 1930s

Dave Sayers dave.sayers at CANTAB.NET
Thu Jun 19 05:38:09 UTC 2014

I don't know where I'd include this in something I'd write, but it's too good to just 
read and not put somewhere, so I'll put it here and maybe someone will find it useful 
(I'm so generous!). It's from the book 'Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through 
Yugoslavia' by Rebecca West 
(http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=utUksPa017QC&printsec=frontcover), which I'm 
reading because I'm such an eclectic renaissance man:

’I will tell you what is the matter with you,‘ repeated Constantine, silencing me 
with his hand. ’Here in Croatia you are lawyers as well as soldiers. You have been 
good lawyers, and you have been lawyers all the time. For eight hundred years you 
have had your procès against Hungary. You have quibbled over phrases in the diploma 
inaugurale of your kings, you have wrangled about the power of your Ban, you have 
sawed arguments about regna socia and partes adnexœ, you have chattered like jackdaws 
over your rights under the Dual Monarchy, you have covered acres of paper discussing 
the Hungaro-Croatian compromise. And so it is that you are now more lawyers than 
soldiers, for it is not since the eighteenth century that you have fought the Turks, 
and you fought against the Magyars only a little time. But now we are making 
Yugoslavia we must feel not like lawyers but like soldiers, we must feel in a large 
way about the simple matter of saving our lives. You must cast away all your little 
rights and say that we have a big right, the right of the Slavs to be together, and 
we must sacrifice all our rights to protect that great right.‘

The thing about this quote that struck me most was that nowadays there's a lot of 
debate worldwide about the simultaneous weakening of the nation-state, alongside a 
trend of devolutions, secessions and other independence movements, which seems to 
reverse the trend outlined in the quote (and of course Yugoslavia itself is long 

Well it's pretty early in the morning to be having coherent thoughts like this. I've 
probably peaked too early. Coffee time I think...


Dr. Dave Sayers
Senior Lecturer, Dept Humanities, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
Honorary Research Fellow, Arts & Humanities, Swansea University, UK
dave.sayers at cantab.net | http://swansea.academia.edu/DaveSayers
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