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Old 07-14-2021, 11:44 AM   #15
Soldier of Macedon
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Here is part of the conclusion chapter of her book, which basically encapsulates the topic. It's actually quite a revealing look into Macedonian life under Serb-Yugoslav rule between the two world wars. Plenty of sources cited and well worth the read.
The Unsuccessful Serbianisation of Macedonia

What failed for the entire state, could, however, have been successful with regard to Macedonia, as on this level the preconditions were considerably more favourable. A comparatively large, strong and experienced Serbian state stood opposite the small and in every respect weak Macedonia, which was to be firmly attached through ‘nationalisation and assimilation’. This goal was to be achieved in two ways simultaneously. On the one hand Serbian rule was legitimated on pre-modern grounds by reaching back to the mediaeval period and claiming that Macedonia was part of the inheritance of Stefan Dušan, or even a country promised to the Serbs by God. On the other hand, the modern concept of the nation was employed, which was to be propagated by the equally modern means of the school. The use of symbols, people, and dates from Serbian history, as well as myths, combined both of these approaches. The ideologues believed they held a strong hand with these trumps. Nonetheless, they were not successful; only a small part of the population described themselves, usually out of opportunism, as ‘Serbs’ or ‘South Serbs’. But the attitude of the authorities also remained ambivalent. On the one hand the Macedonians were told that they were Serbs, on the other they noticed at every turn that they were not treated as being equal to the Serbs. Certain officials clearly let them know that in their eyes they were Bulgarians. For the authorities it was easiest to stamp all those that didn’t acknowledge being Serbs as bugaraši, as supporters of the Bulgarians. That these people might have a different consciousness, however, was not considered. This becomes clear in a report by an official of the Trade Ministry, who in March 1921 travelled through the district of Ohrid and who noted, among other things, that at first glance there were no bugaraši, but this impression was mistaken: ‘There are some, like the majority of the ordinary people, who reply, when you ask them who they are: “We are Macedonians”’.

Although already in the second half of the 1920s there were hardly any supporters of annexation by Bulgaria to be found, and politically active groups in opposition to the government propagated the phrase, ‘We are neither Serbs nor Bulgarians, but only Macedonians’, this was not taken seriously and did not lead to any basic change in the attitude of Belgrade towards Macedonia. The advantages of such an attitude are clear to see: according to this doctrine, everyone who advocated for the local language and culture, or supported autonomy was a ‘Bulgaroman’ and therefore also an enemy of the state, who had to be suppressed. In this way the problem could be externalised and simplified. The recognition of the Macedonians as the fourth Yugoslav ‘tribe’, on the other hand would have required a complete rethinking of Serbia’s national ideology and of the constitutional basis of the state. Such an idea was simply not permitted. The unforeseeable political consequences that might result also prompted external powers, such as the British, not even to consider recognising a Macedonian nationality:

Indeed, once the existence of a Macedonian nationality is even allowed to be presumed, there is a danger that the entire Peace Settlement will be jeopardized by the calling into question, not merely of the frontiers between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, but also of those between Yugoslavia and Greece and between Yugoslavia and Albania.

The Foreign Office therefore recommended that the British government should ‘refuse to recognise a distinct Macedonian nationality requiring either independence, or absorption by Bulgaria, or else a degree of autonomy which Yugoslavia would not willingly concede’. The main reason for the failure to assimilate Vardar Macedonia was that Serbian policies were not aimed at integration, but right to the end bore the hallmarks of colonialism and remained exploitative. There was no emancipation and participation by the locals. The financial resources were administered centrally from Belgrade, Macedonia’s economy remained focused on the production of raw materials, which in any case were purchased by the state at rock-bottom prices it set itself. Political measures and repression strengthened the economic dependence: all attempts made by the Macedonian elite to organise themselves were suppressed, while the security apparatus kept the population in a state of fear. The locals were discriminated against with regard to appointments to state jobs, the issuing of loans, and in the agricultural reform in favour of recent arrivals. Subsequently, the two population groups remained segregated.
Serb and Greek historians remain deliberately ignorant of Macedonian individualism and consequently dismiss any sign of it during that period. Bulgar historians are well aware of it but pretend it doesn't exist because it negates their narrative. None of them have ever been willing to accept the Macedonian interpretation on Macedonia. Not even a little. We're meant to just accept the perspectives of these outsiders about our own people, our own homeland, even as they contradict each other. With regard to Serb historians in particular, they posses a certain pompous attitude in which they view Macedonians as ungrateful. According to them, we should instead be unequivocally thankful for Serbia's contribution to the fall of the Ottoman Empire. That the role of the Serb in Macedonia started as propagandist who fostered internecine and then went from liberator to occupier to coloniser to oppressor in quick succession, has absolutely no place in their indoctrinated memory. Despite the occasional lip service for the sake of diplomacy today, many Serb historians still deny the validity of the Macedonian identity. They never bothered to learn anything about the Macedonian experience and are so pretentious that they just can't see Macedonia outside of their demented prism, even when it is staring them in the face. The complicity of so-called "great powers" like Britain in suppressing Macedonian self-determination is also reprehensible, as if it wasn't enough that Macedonia had to deal with the hyenas in her own neighbourhood. Nearly everybody with interests in the Balkans was against Macedonia. Little has changed.
In the name of the blood and the sun, the dagger and the gun, Christ protect this soldier, a lion and a Macedonian.
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