rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • Crooked Timber enthuses over the remixing, or remastering, of arguably the Beatles' most iconic album.

  • Far Outliers notes the Albanian language's alphabet struggles in the wider geopolitics of Albania.

  • Joe. My. God. notes an American soccer player opted to quit rather than to wear a Pride jersey.

  • Language Hat notes a new online atlas of Algonquian languages.

  • The NYRB Daily argues that Theresa May's election defeat makes the fantasy of a hard Brexit, at least, that much less possible.

  • Window on Eurasia notes Russia's concern at the dissipation of the prestige of its language and script its former empire, especially in Ukraine.

rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • BlogTO asks what Kensington Market's future is. The consensus in the comments seems to be that it really needs to shake up and clean up.

  • Eastern Approaches notes the cleanish elections in Albania, a country seeking eventual European Union membership.

  • Guest blogger at Lawyers, Guns and Money Colin Snider observes that one interesting thing about the recent mass protests in Brazil is the way that they have mobilized society generally.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen notes that the growth in divorce rates in China is more rapid than the growth in marriage rates.

  • At Maximos Web, the author considers how Bali has been transformed by progress and development.

  • New APPS Blog's Mohan Matthen considers the philosophy and the history of the restaurant.

  • Registan considers the roles of first Russia then a more pragmatic China in helping the United States deal with Afghanistan.

  • Zero Geography's Mark Graham points and links to a new paper of his mapping the appearances of geotagged zombie outbreaks as a marker of social change.

rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • Centauri Dreams' Paul Gilster writes about the likely abundance of Earth-like planets in Earth-like orbits.

  • Daniel Drezner writes (1, 2) about how ad hoc coalitions of world powers are able to deal relatively decisively in some matters of global affairs.

  • At The Dragon's Tales, Will Baird notes that Titan's hydrocarbon lakes appear to have floating ice.

  • Eastern Approaches notes the toxicity that disputes over war memorials in the Balkans, noting an Albanian memorial in southern Serbia.

  • False Steps' Paul Drye notes one rocket technology that, if adequately developed, could have let the Soviet Union reach the moon.

  • At A Fistful of Euros, Alexander Harrowell notes that the United States does not want the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

  • Marginal Revolution asks questions about the geographical, historical, and other factors that let free cities survive.

  • The Signal's Bill LeFurgy compares digital archivists' work to that of paleontologists. Nice analogy.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alexander Harrowell notes that conservative British pundits in the United States are a much smaller and more unrepresentative minority than is often believed.

  • Window on Eurasia notes that Soviet-era apologia for the deadly assault on the Vilnius radio station in 1991 is being used in modern Russia.

rfmcdonald: (Default)
Two links detailing how Breivik--and, to a considerable extent, the whole "counterjihad" movement--had hate-ons for Muslims in the former Yugoslavia and for women with any amount of autonomy seems worth sharing.

  • Eastern Approaches' T.J. observes that Muslims in the former Yugoslavia, whether Bosniaks or Albanians, were seen as interlopers deserving of the harshest treatment--occupation, massacre, expulsions, even genocide--and quite approved of various anti-Muslim génocidaires. This is not altogether surprising, since much of the language of the counterjihadists, concerned wth Muslim intrusion on traditionally Christian lands and excessive fecundity, was developed to a fine art in the former Yugoslavia--especially in Serb areas--in the 1990s, indeed driving government policy.


  • A look through Mr Breivik's 1,500-page 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, which he published under the pseudonym "Andrew Berwick", shows that he had a strange obsession with the Balkans. A word search for “Kosovo” comes up with 143 matches, “Serb” yields 341 matches, “Bosnia” 343 and “Albania” 208. ("Srebrenica"—the site of a Bosnian Serb massacre of some 8,000 Bosniaks in 1995—does not appear in the document.)

    The document is best described as a kind of "Mein Kampf" for our times, in which Jews are replaced by Muslims as the enemy which must be fought and expunged from Europe. Drawing on the crudest of warmongering Serbian propaganda from the 1990s, the document describes Muslim Albanians and Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) as an evil jihad-waging enemy. Needless to say, its history is convoluted and misinformed.

    In one section Mr Breivik says he would like to meet Radovan Karadžić, the wartime leader of the Bosnian Serbs who is currently on trial at the UN’s war crimes tribunal in The Hague. “But isn’t Radovan Karadžić a mass murderer and a racist?!” he asks. “As far as my studies show he is neither.”

    The document goes on to claim that for decades Muslims in “Bosnian Serbia” and Albanians waged deliberate demographic warfare, or “indirect genocide”, against the Serbs. This echoes an infamous draft memorandum by the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, which was leaked in 1986 and widely regarded as a key influence on Serbian nationalists at the time.

    [. . .]

    In the coming "war" that Mr Breivik foresees, he discusses the deportation of Muslims from Europe and appears to endorse the physical annihilation of any Albanians and Bosniaks that resist. As they have lived here for “several centuries”, he says, “they will not accept being deported from Europe and will fight for their survival. A more long term and brutal military strategy must therefore be applied.”


  • I noted at Demography Matters how, apart from massacre and ethnic cleansing to remove the Muslim threat, Breivik would deal with low birth rates in Europe by reversing feminism and treating women as chattel. At The Daily Beast, Michelle Goldberg points out the generalized hatred of women evidenced in the whole demographic catastrophism school.


  • A terror of feminization haunts his bizarre document. “The female manipulation of males has been institutionalised during the last decades and is a partial cause of the feminisation of men in Europe,” he writes. He blames empowered women for his own isolation, saying that he recoils from the “destructive and suicidal Sex and the City lifestyle (modern feminism, sexual revolution) … In that setting, men are not men anymore, but metro sexual and emotional beings that are there to serve the purpose as a never-criticising soul mate to the new age feminist woman goddess.”

    Furious and alone, Breivik plugged into the international anti-jihadist, anti-immigrant right. One of the most notable things about his manifesto is its scant attention to Norwegian politics or authors. Most of those he quotes are American, Canadian, or English, including Steyn, Robert Bork, Rich Lowry, and Melanie Phillips. Rather than railing against Norwegian feminists, he attacks Betty Friedan and even the relatively obscure Ellen Willis. He’s deeply versed in American culture-war issues—at one point, he even rants about the so-called war on Christmas.

    Obviously, none of the writers he cites is responsible for his hideous crime. However, reading these authors pretty clearly helped him transmute his anger at women into a grandiose political ideology, and to recast himself as a latter-day crusader. He picked up the argument that selfish western women have allowed Muslims to outbreed them, and that only a restoration of patriarchy can save European culture. One of the books he references approvingly is Patrick Buchanan’s The Death of the West, which argues, “[T]he rise of feminism spells the death of the nation and the end of the West.”'


    It is quite worth noting that the comments at both posts reveal that those two hatreds are disturbingly common. Commenters are the id of the world, after all.
    rfmcdonald: (Default)
    I've a post up at Demography Matters taking a look at the controversial censuses in the western Balkans, where ethnic balances of power could be disturbed by population shifts. It's all a bit ironic, of course, since a decade of war has made many of these states as ethnically homogeneous as any in Europe.

    Go, read.
    rfmcdonald: (Default)
    I've a post up where I point out that many of the immigrants coming to Italy are coming from Italy's old colonial periphery. What role does empire play in modern Italian policies and attitudes and the directions of migrants, I wonder.

    Go, read.
    rfmcdonald: (Default)
    The fact that the URL of T.J.'s post "How many building booms can one city take?" at the Economist blog Eastern Approaches is http://www.economist.com/blogs/easternapproaches/2011/03/macedonias_ethnic_disharmony (my emphasis) says everything. The Macedonian capital of Skopje is undergoing a construction boom, it seems, but everything that's turning up--monuments and houses of worship alike--is being used as material product of one ethnic conflict or another. The tensions between the Orthodox Christian Macedonians and the nominally Muslim Albanians is particularly noteworthy, although the long-standing and apparently insolvable dispute I blogged about in 2005 between Greece and independent Macedonia about the lineages of the past and complexity of modern regionalism is unending, don't worry.

    Skopje has long needed sprucing up. But opponents of Nikola Gruevski, who have long accused the prime minister of populist nationalism, will hardly be dissauded by the nature of the construction boom (which the government has christened Skopje 2014). With an election in the offing, Mr Gruevski will no doubt enjoy taking credit for the new structures mushrooming throughout the city centre.

    In Skopje’s central square a massive plinth is being built. It will soon be topped with a huge statue of Alexander the Great. Many Macedonians could not give a fig for Alexander. But they will be delighted to see the Greeks, who have been blocking Macedonia's EU and NATO integration over an objection to the country's name, turn apoplectic with rage when it is unveiled. The Greeks accuse the Macedonians of appropriating Alexander and trying to steal their Hellenic culture.

    But that is just one element. Museums, domes, a new foreign ministry, a bridge bedecked with statues of lions and [. . . ] a triumphal arch are all springing up, transforming the centre of town. Some of the buildings suit the landscape, but the new constitutional court, with its massive Corinthian columns, seems a trifle overpowering.

    Skopje 2014, which we first wrote about last year, has accentuated bitter disputes between the majority Orthodox Macedonians and Muslim Albanians, who make up a quarter of Macedonia's population. Whenever someone suggests building or rebuilding a church in Skopje, the Albanians demand the same for a mosque. Tensions invariably mount.

    The most vivid example brought small groups of Macedonians and Albanians to fisticuffs. Recently, a church-like steel skeleton appeared on the site of an old church inside Skopje's fortress (pictured). The authorities claimed they were merely building a museum in the shape of a church. But Albanians reply that under the original church is an older Illyrian structure; as, they say, they are descended from Illyrians, the site should be theirs. Construction has now stopped, but the issue reveals the delicate balance between Macedonia's two communities, in which religion, identity, land and power are all deeply entwined.

    The erection of statues of historical figures and grandiose public buildings looks like an expression of ethnic Macedonian identity. But they are not the only ones; their structures are merely the most visible to outsiders visiting Skopje's centre. Visit Albanian districts in and around the capital and you come across hundreds of new mosques.

    Macedonia’s Albanians have a reputation of being much more religious than their brethren from Albania or Kosovo. Their mosque-building has even begun to alarm Albanians from Albania, where they have been labelled as "Talibans" in television chat shows.

    Yet the Democratic Union for Integration, a Macedonian Albanian party, which is in coalition with Mr Gruevski, has strictly secular roots. So one wonders whether there is a sub-plot to the mosque-building frenzy. In most cases, a new mosque declares not only the glory of Islam, but that the land on which is stands is Albanian. The paradox is that you can find Albanian-controlled town halls flying American flags a stone’s throw from new mosques sporting Saudi Arabian ones from their minarets.

    This is one reason why the church-museum affair is so touchy. Many Macedonians say they keep quiet about the often illegally-built mosques for the sake of social harmony. That is why it irks them that an attempt to build something that merely resembles a church becomes a huge incident. Albanians, by contrast, see Skopje 2014 and related projects like the church-museum as a project designed to shove “Macedonian-ness” down their throats.


    None of this can end well, can it?
    rfmcdonald: (Default)
    This post's title refers Greater Albania as a cultural region, rather than to a (very unlikely) unified state. Doug Muir has another post at A Fistful of Euros examining the "Albanosphere," describing the community's heartland in brief. It's poor and backwards but catching up rapidly to the rest of the Balkans and Europe, it's culturally conservative but religiously tolerant, its culture is clannish and is unfortunate enough to have a venal political class, and Albanians have a poor reputation in Europe but at the same time are on Europe's doorstep.
    rfmcdonald: (Default)
    Over at A Fistful of Euros, Douglas Muir has an interesting post arguing that ethnic Albanians are going to becoming increasingly prominent in southeastern Europe, thanks in part to the relatively high population growth still evidenced by ethnic Albanians in a region generally set for long-term population decline.
    rfmcdonald: (Default)
    Googling idly, I came across a filing submiting by the Government of Canada as part of the Reference re Secession of Quebec put before the Supreme Court of Canada in the late 1990s, which examined the "legality, under both Canadian and international law, of a unilateral secession of Quebec from Canada." The court found that unilateral secessions made without the consent of the parent state very rarely received international recognition.

    [O]utside the colonial context, the United Nations has never granted membership to a seceding entity against the wishes of the government of the state from which it has purported to secede. Where the parent state agrees to allow a territory to separate and become independent, the terms on which separation is agreed between the parties concerned will be respected. If independence is achieved under such an agreement, rapid admission to the United Nations will follow. But where the government of the state concerned has maintained its opposition to unilateral secession, the attempted secession has attracted virtually no international support or recognition by other states.

    The practice of states of refusing to condone a right to unilateral secession is reflected in the fact that since 1945 no new state has been created outside the colonial context by way of unilateral secession, with the exception of Bangladesh. Even in that case, Bangladesh relied on military intervention by India to defeat the armed forces of Pakistan in Bangladesh. In fact, Bangladesh was not admitted to the United Nations until it was recognized as an independent state by Pakistan nearly four years after its unilateral declaration of independence.

    Since 1945, all other new states have been created either with the consent of the state from which they were seceding -- such as the agreement which resulted in the breaking away of republics from the former Soviet Union or that dividing Czechoslovakia into two separate states or, in the case of the republics of the former Yugoslavia, through the total collapse of the pre-existing state.


    This made me curious about the case of Bangladesh, quite interesting in its own right. Briefly put, the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War was triggered by the breakdown of electoral politics in two-winged Pakistan, when the Awami League swept elections across an East Pakistan that was historically disadvantaged by the wealthier West Pakistan and was able to form a majority government. The military, controlled by West Pakistanis, refused to recognize the results of the election. The Awami League responded by calling a general strike in East Pakistan and a boycott of government offices. The military responded by starting, in March, a campaign of wholesale massacre against East Pakistanis, taking particular care to murder intellectuals and Hindus but visiting death indiscriminately to at least hundreds of thousands of people dead and prompting the flight of millions of refugees. A unilateral declaration of independence was issued on the 26th of March, and wholesale defections from the Pakistani army to the military forces of the povisional Bangladeshi government began. Finally, an India that was burdened by the need to tak care of the refugees and saw a chance to permanently weaken Pakistan invaded Bangladesh in December 1971, quickly defeating the Pakistani forces there and coinciding with the recognition of Bangladesh by India and Bhutan promptly followed on the 6th and 7th respectively of that month.

    There are a few similarities between the situations in Bangladesh and Kosovo, but one notable difference between the two is the way in which Bangladeshi independence posed a serious threat to the balance of power in the world. In Kosovo, Serbia's traditional protector Russia made some significant posturing with its troop deployments in 1999, and has made some interesting rhetoric of late regarding its various protectorates in Moldova and Georgia, but it has also been qutie clear that it is uninterested in sending troops to Kosovo. (At least Russia's Gazprom owns the Serbian national energy company, but that's a subject for a different post.)

    Bangladesh, however, was quite different, since the secession of East Pakistan would ensure India's surpemacy as the dominant power of South Asia. China, which had fought a border war with India in the early 1960s and looked to Pakistan as a strategic partner, was concerned to the point of mobilizing its troops before the war ended. The United States, building on a functional relationship with Pakistan and concerned by India's flirtations with the Soviet Union, felt likewise. Kissinger reportedly compared the Awami League's leader Sheik Mujibur Rahman to Chile's Allende. In fact, one of Kissinger's many positive contributions to humanity was the dispatch of the Enterprise carrier battle group into the Bay of Bengal in an effort to intimidate the Indians. Perhaps fortunately, the Indian government had been in touch with the Soviets, who dispatched a nuclear submarine to the Bay of Bengal (1, 2, 3).

    In the end, this military posturing came to nought. The reality on the ground of the disappearance of Pakistani authority and the appearance of a Bangladeshi government had to be taken into account. Between January and May 1972 Bangladesh was recognized by seventy states (like Japan) even before Indian troops had left the new nation's territory. Recognition from Pakistan and China came more slowly, but as the Canadian government filing notes, four years after the war Bangladesh was universally recognized and admitted in 1974 to the United Nations. The initial presence of Indian troops to maintain order aside, Bangladesh had demonstrated that it was a functioning state, thus succeeding in gaining the recognition that Biafra failed to get.

    Arguments by Serbian politicians aside, it's unlikely that any of the 27 states which recognize an independent Kosovo will rescind their recognition. The die has been cast, after all. Kosovo's governments and the states which have recognized its independence seem to be making use of the concept of the "remedial secession" first pioneered by Bangladesh, arguing in this case that on the balance of past atrocities it's impossible to expect that Kosovo can ever function inside of Serbia. Certainly the popularity of the sorts of stereotypes of Albanians described by Vladimir Arsenijevic in "Our negroes, our enemies" (Albanians are unclean, Albanians breed too much, Albanians are thieves, Albanians are uncultured, et cetera) is worrying, as a former British ambassador to Serbia plausibly argues that "successive Serbian leaders, unerringly backed by stupidly populist Serbian media, have gone out of their way to offer the Kosovar Albanians, their fellow citizens, nothing but contempt." A happily binational Serbian-Albanian state probably wasn't likely at any point after 1991. Hence, independence.

    Comparing Kosovo with Bangladesh, Kosovo seems to be doing quite nicely, with more than two dozen countries recognizing it as independent in less than a month. One complicating factor lies with frontiers. Pakistan and Bangladesh obviously couldn't have any border disputes, but Kosovo and Serbia could, with Albanian majorities in the Presevo Valley in southern Serbia and Serb populations concentrated in the north of Kosovo, but it doesn't seem as if the Kosovar government and its NATO/EU protectors are inclined to make new territorial claims or renounce old ones. And the rest of the world? If Kosovo demonstrates its viability as a state, I suspect that general recognition over the next few years won't be too far away. There is a ping-pong team from Kosovo is playing ping pong in Guangzhou, after all.
    rfmcdonald: (Default)

    • 'Aqoul has a whole slew of interesting posts up, from an exploration of the technical problems with Unicode-represented Arabic language on the Internet, to a roundup of the whole Turkey-Armenia-Kurdistan mess, to a commentary on how state-driven Iranian and Chinese investment in Iraq is taking off.

    • Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing links to an English-language blog that explores Tropa de Elite, an extraordinarily popular Brazilian film about elite military police in Rio de Janerio who, among other things, happily torture and murder slum dwellers in large numbers.

    • Edward Hugh's Bonoboland outlines the overheating of the Romanian economy, as emigration not only diminishes the size of the Romanian labour force but fuels a growing trade deficit via the emigrants' remittances.

    • Centauri Dreams explores the risks to humanity if our electromagnetic broadcasts were detected by superior civilizations out there.

    • Crooked Timber features a link to an interesting BBC deocumentary that, among other things, presents archival recordings of the speech patterns and accents of British and Irish POWs in German captivity in the time fo the First World War. Things change.

    • Joel at Far Outliers links to an interesting post exploring the way in which the hostility of African Anglicans to gay rights could be traced to the late pre-colonial period, when sexual "deviance" acquired links to tyranny and Muslim imperialism as in the case of Buganda's King Mwanga II.

    • Douglas Muir at A Fistful of Euros links to a disturbing article by Serbian writer Vladimir Arsenijevic at Sign and Sight, "Our negroes, our enemies". Arsenijevic writes about the way in which the traditional racist stereotypes of Albanians in the old SFRY have hardened under Milosevic into a eliminationalist and denialist hatred which has been spreading. "Almost a third of young people believe that the Chinese – the only relatively large group of foreigners in our country – should have their residence permits removed, even if they obey the law. Every third teenage boy and every second teenage girl is looking down on homosexuals and people infected with HIV."

    • [livejournal.com profile] inuitmonster reports that the Georgian government is hoping to use an open-air Boney M concert in South Ossetia to bring independence-minded South Ossetians back into the fold.

    • Speaking as someone who got my Chief Scout Award back in 1995, reluctant props to the city of Philadelphia for charging local Scout troops market rent for the use of city's facilities because of their continued ban on gay scouts

    • Chriostopher Hitchens, génocidaire? According to an account [livejournal.com profile] feorag at the Pagan Prattle, Hitchens favours dealing with radical Islam by killing as many Muslims as it takes. Sigh.

    • Finally, Strange Maps hosts a Finnish map of Europe if the Nazis won. The point of divergence seems to be around 1944, with an Italy divided on north-south lines but a successfully (re)conquered Soviet Union.

    Page generated Sep. 19th, 2017 08:39 pm
    Powered by Dreamwidth Studios