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The Ethnification of Politics and the Galvanization of Fear

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image of Southeastern Europe

The aim of this text is twofold. First, I intend to examine the importance of fear for the creation of ethnonationalist political entities in ex-Yugoslavia, especially in the areas where ethnic borders failed to coincide with political borders, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina after the 1989 Revolution. The region had entered into “a state of suspense and fear, dissolution of the sober little uniformities” (Brinton 1965: 173) and into a series of “aggressions and civil wars (total war) as the most extreme forms of the uncompleted ethnonational revolutions” (Sekulić 2006: 35). This is the first phase of the galvanization of fear, namely, the phase of revolutionary terror, referring to a series of small dictatorships of ethnonationalist extremists “embodied in governmental forms as rough-and-ready centralization” (Brinton 1965: 171). These extremists relied on the illegal use of force, ethnic cleansing and genocide. The second phase of the galvanization of fear excluded armed revolutionary violence due to the intervention of the international community, but implied various mechanisms of ruling ethnonationalist elites in preserving the necessary level of fear in politics for the same purpose of achieving the still unrealized goals of “the territorial-nationalist revolution.” 1 My focus in the second part of the text will be how fear is structurally produced and politically organized in an ethnopolitical society such as Bosnia and Herzegovina through democratic institutions, for example political elections, for the purpose of achieving the basic political end – the creation of a (ethno)national state.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Political Science University of Sarajevo


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