The Anatomy of a Big Lie: Nationalistic Ideology and FYROM

During times of crisis, from times immemorial, humans have sought to activate the traditionalist qualities in form of “mythos” that serves as a building material for the new “ethos”, the least being contemporary to action in crisis.

In order to investigate the patterns of the Pseudomacedonian ideology, it is important to study FYROM’s economical and sociological background.

As of late 2008, the evidence of diachronic collapse of the pillars of society is multiplying itself at an ever exponential rate. Economical policies of Gruevski: defiscalization and patronage of private institutions for higher learning, for some time has a stabilizing role in local economy. The latter, however is virtually untouched by any substantial foreign investment.

The core ideology of the leading political party among Slavs in FYROM – The Internal Macedonian Revolutionary (VMRO-DPMNE) is mirrored from the Western dichotomy of conservatism, traditionalism and economic libertarianism, thus replacing the early to mid-1990´s role of ethnic socialism and rigidly folkloresque symbolism. Today VMRO-DPMNE consolidated itself a Demo-Christian party, with slight inartistic tendencies in economy, but with stronger points of consolidation regarding the imported and applied ideology of “Macedonism” in every aspect of individual and social life, with a strongly anti-individualistic, collectivist stance.

Chief task of VMRO-DPMNE in recent months and years is creation of consistent nationalist myth, something which in case of normal development of Post-Communist culture, would have a justification as a basis for spiritual reconstruction of the young Balkan nation. However the process today represents an eclectic formulation which conceptually integrates the imaginary space of the “Macedonian people”, which is the 19th century definition of “Geographic Macedonia”, its history and its cultures into a distinct “Slavomacedonian” high culture, based on Ancient Macedon as a cornerstone of the projected national history. This nationalist ideology is best described as “Pseudomacedonism”, something that according to Ex-Minister Denko Maleski (now a professor in Skoplje) was imported by marginal groups and individuals from outside.

The ideology of Pseudomacedonism is based on faulty historiographic premises, the key of which are:

The distinct character of the Slavomacedonians, based on superior historical base and formed as preserved cultural lineage from the earliest consolidation of Ancient Macedonians. Consequently, the spirit of exceptionalism developed, whose adherents believe in inferiority of all neighboring countries based on fictionalized narratives of their genesis that contain anthropological features deemed dysfunctional.

Segregation from Bulgarians, meaning usurpation of the Bulgarian history and “Macedonisation” of any historical retrospective and nurture of chauvinism towards Bulgarian ethnic and linguistic characteristic, regardless of the very great similarity among both national vernaculars.

Labeling as “Macedonian” the entire sum of cultural heritage in opposition to the fact that historical sources do not label the local Slavic-speaking population as such.

The rise of Pseudomacedonian symbolism in recent years obviously represents low-complexity psychological operation whose authors seek to solidify the collectivist ethos. Major events in the “Macedonist” propaganda are:

-The renaming of the Skopje and Ohrid airports “Alexander the Great” and “St. Paul”, respectively.

-Decoration of the surroundings of Government´s offices with Hellenistic and Roman statues, creating highly visible symbolic links with claimed antiquity.

-The staged and much-ridiculed visit of a delegation of Pakistani tribal leaders, mythically linked with the soldiers of Alexander the Great, presented to the public in FYROM as “part of our people”.

-Erection of statues of Alexander the Great in Prilep, to be followed with a monument of Philip II in Bitola/Monastir and a giant, 50 ft. statue of Alexander the Great in Skopje.

-The painfully absurd proposition held by MANU (“Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts”) from 2006 onwards that the famous epigraphic monument , the “Rosetta Stone” produced in Ptolemaic Egypt contains a text written in language almost identical to the current standardized Bulgarian idiom of FYROM.

-Increased recent usage of the term “Macedonia” by officials in domestic context without observing the unwritten rule for more than a decade to use the qualifier “Republic of”.

All of these examples of irredentist behavior by official Skopje have a function to create a parallel universe of symbolism that sets a border between FYROM on one and Bulgaria and Serbia on another hand. The virtual creation of illustrious ancestry, rooted in antiquity provides a reference base for identity politics which seek to isolate FYROM from the currents of global academic centers.

The deficit of practical means for cultural production in the sphere of identity politics, coupled with the fact that the only alternative to “Ancient Macedonian” identity is the history of South Slavic medieval period together with the Ottoman era which shows strong Bulgarian and also to a certain level, Serbian character is one of the factor that the “continuity theory” rises almost unchallenged. For quite a time, any offer of different, truthful perspective is likely to cause great hardships for authors in minimum and consequently, no academic opposition which would challenge the dogmatic nature of the fabricated “Macedonian” identity.

The gigantic structure of historical revisionism in FYROM showed the weakness of historiography that is still based on obsolete and didactic Marxist theories sustained by a network of mostly senior academics. Sensationalism found its logical outlet in a society where the very identity is permanently challenged by historiographies of neighbors and other countries as well. The strong Graecophobia, latent for two centuries, was chief determinant for articulation of the Pseudomacedonian nationalism. In this sense, reliance on instant answers provided by the great number of amateur historians which produce fake narratives of local history, proved itself superior vis-a-vis the autodidactic approach that provides intellectual gratification only after long research, an enterprise which is technically beyond the means of the general population.

It remains to be seen where the designers of the Pseudomacedonian ideology will continue to fool the people for an extended period of time with local and isolated historiographical, anthropological and linguistic theories of the recent several years, the absurdity of which needs no further explanation. While the hope lies in the new generation of more responsible members of the intellectual class, the current conditions in education is unlikely to nurture such emergence. It is possible that following eventual higher, tectonic disturbances of the status quo, the young Balkan nation´s leadership will retreat from the loudly articulated pseudoscientific positions held today.

Vasko Gligorijević

Skoplje, FYROM

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One response to “The Anatomy of a Big Lie: Nationalistic Ideology and FYROM

  1. The society in Povardarje seems to be a revival of the german society under the Third Reich (mutatis mutandis).

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