An anthology of 51 previously published articles and essays regarding the politics, economics, geopolitics and history of countries in CEE and SEE (Balkan).
This is a series of articles written and published in 1996-2000 in Macedonia, in Russia, in Egypt and in the Czech Republic. The first part of the book is a social critique. The author's main thesis is that the West missed a unique historical opportunity to unite Europe and that the peoples of Central, Eastern and Southern Europe are beyond salvation, deformed and pathologized by communism irreconstructibly. The second part comprises articles about the economies of the region. Quite a few articles deal with the history of the region with emphasis on Yugoslavia, Albania and inbetween (Kosovo). This is the third part.
The Balkans - I say - is the unconscious of the world'. People stop to digest this metaphor and then they nod enthusiastically. It is here that the repressed memories of history, its traumas and fears and images reside. It is here that the psychodynamics of humanity - the tectonic clash between Rome and Byzantium, West and East, Judeo-Christianity and Islam - is still easily discernible. We are seated at a New Year's dining table, loaded with a roasted pig and exotic salads.
I, the Jew, only half foreign to this cradle of Slavonics. Four Serbs, five Macedonians. It is in the Balkans that all ethnic distinctions fail and it is here that they prevail anachronistically and atavistically. Contradiction and change the only two fixtures of this tormented region.
The women of the Balkan - buried under provocative mask-like make up, retro hairstyles and too narrow dresses. The men, clad in sepia colours, old fashioned suits and turn of the century moustaches. In the background there is the crying game that is Balkanian music: liturgy and folk and elegy combined. The smells are heavy with musk-ular perfumes. It is like time travel. It is like revisiting one's childhood.
From The Caveman and the Alien:
The West has grossly and thoroughly violated Thompson's edict. In its oft-interrupted intercourse with these forsaken regions of the globe, it has acted, alternately, as a Peeping Tom, a cynic and a know it all. It has invariably behaved as if it were holier-than-thou. In an unmitigated and fantastic succession of blunders, miscalculations, vain promises, unkept threats and unkempt diplomats - it has driven Europe to the verge of war and the region it "adopted" to the verge of economic and social upheaval. Enamoured with the new ideology of free marketry cum democracy, the West first assumed the role of the omniscient. It designed ingenious models, devised foolproof laws, imposed fail-safe institutions and strongly "recommended" measures. Its representatives, the tribunes of the West, ruled the phlebeian East with determination rarely equaled by skill or knowledge. Velvet hands couched in iron gloves, ignorance disguised by economic newspeak, geostrategic interests masquerading as forms of government characterized their dealings with the natives. Preaching and beseeching from ever higher pulpits, they poured opprobrium and sweet delusions on the eagerly deluded, naive, bewildered masses. The deceit was evident to the indigenous cynics - but it was the failure that dissuaded them and all else. The West lost Eastern and Southeast Europe not when it lied egregiously, not when it pretended to know for sure when it surely did not know, not when it manipulated and coaxed and coerced - but when it failed. To the peoples of these regions, the king was fully dressed. It was not a little child but an enormous debacle that exposed his nudity. In its presumptuousness and pretentiousness, feigned surety and vain clichés, imported models and exported cheap raw materials - the West succeeded to demolish beyond reconstruction whole economies, to ravage communities, to bring ruination upon the centuries-old social fabric, woven diligently by generations. It brought crime and drugs and mayhem but gave very little in return, only an horizon beclouded and thundering with eloquence. As a result, while tottering regional governments still pay lip service to the Euro-Atlantic structures, the masses are enraged and restless and rebellious and baleful and anti-Western to the core. They are not likely to acquiesce much longer - not with the West's neo-colonialism but with its incompetence and inaptitude, with the non-chalant experimentation that it imposed upon them and with the abyss between its proclamations and its performance. In all this time, the envoys of the West - its mediocre politicians, its insatiably ruthless media, its obese tourists and its armchair economists - continued to play the role of God, wreaking greater havoc than even the original. While knowing it all in advance (in breach of every tradition scientific), they also developed a kind of world weary, unshaven cynicism interlaced with fascination at the depths plumbed by the local's immorality and amorality. The jet-set Peeping Toms resided in five star hotels (or luxurious apartments) overlooking the communist shantytowns, drove utility vehicles to the shabby offices of the native bureaucrats and dined in $100 per meal restaurants ("it's so cheap here'). In between sushi and sake they bemoaned and grieved over corruption and nepotism and cronyism ("I simply love their ethnic food, but they are so ..."). They mourned the autochtonal inability to act decisively, to cut red tape, to manufacture quality, to open to the world, to be less xenophobic (while casting a disdainful glance at the sweaty waiter). To them it looked like an ancient natural phenomenon, a force of nature, an inevitability and hence their cynicism. Mostly provincial people with horizons limited by consumption and by wealth, they adopted cynicism as shorthand for cosmopolitanism. They erroneously believed it lent them an air of ruggedness and rich experience and the virile aroma of decadent erudition. Yet all it did is make them obnoxious and more repellent to the residents than they already were.
Ever the preachers, the West - both Europeans and Americans - upheld themselves as role models of virtue to be emulated, as points of reference, almost inhuman or suprahuman in their taming of the vices, avarice up front. Yet the disorder in their own homes was broadcast live, day in and day out, into the cubicles inhabited by the very people they sought to so transform. And they conspired and collaborated in all manner of corruption and crime and scam and rigged elections in all the countries they put the gospel to. In trying to put an end to history, they seem to have provoked another round of it - more vicious, more enduring, more traumatic than before. That the West will pay the price for its mistakes I have no doubt. For isn't it a part and parcel of their teaching that everything has a price and that there is always a time of reckoning?"
From Who is Guarding the Guards:
"Izetbegovic, the nominal president of the nominal Bosnian state, the darling of the gullible western media, denies that he and his cronies and his cronies' cronies stole 40% of all civilian aid targeted at Bosnia - a minor matter of 1 billion US dollars and change, in less than 4 years. The tribes of the Balkans stop bleeding each other to death only when they gang up to bleed another. In this, there are no races and no traces - everyone is equal under the sign of the dollar. Serbs, Bosnians and Croats divided the loot with the loftiest of egalitarian instincts. Honour among thieves transformed into honour among victims and their murderers. Mammon is the only real authority in this god forsaken, writhing rump of a country.
And not only there.
In Russia, billions (3 to 5) were transferred to secret off shore bank accounts to be "portfolio managed" by mysterious fly-by-night entities. Many paid with their jobs when the trail led to the incestuous Yeltsin clan and their byzantine court.
Convoys snake across the mountainous Kosovo, bringing smuggled goods at exorbitant prices to the inhabitants of this parched territory - all under the avuncular gaze of multinational peacekeepers.
In Romania, Hungary and Greece, UN forces have been known to take bribes to allow goods into besieged Serbia. Oil, weapons and strategic materials, all slid across this greasy channel of the international brotherhood of cash.
A lot of the aid, ostensibly intended to ameliorate the state of refugedom imposed upon the unsuspecting, harried population of Kosovo - resurfaced in markets, white and black, across the region. Food, blankets, tents, electrical equipment, even toys - were on offer in bazaars from Skopje to Podgorica and from Sofia to Thessaloniki, replete with the stamps of the unwitting donors. Aid workers scurried back and forth in expensive utility vehicles, buzzing mobile phones in hand and latest model, officially purchased, infrared laptops humming in the air conditioned coolness of their five star hotel rooms (or fancy apartments). In their back pockets they safeguarded their first class tickets (the food is better and the stewardesses ...). The scavengers of every carnage, they descended upon this tortured land in redundant hordes, feeding off the misery, the autoimmune deficiency of the syndrome of humanism.
Ask yourselves: how could one of every 3 dollars - 50% of GNP - be stolen in a country the size of a tiny American state - without the knowledge and collaboration of the international organizations which ostensibly manage this bedlam? Why did the IMF renew the credit lines to a Russia which cheated bold-facely regarding its foreign exchange reserves? How was Serbia awash and flush with oil and other goods prohibited under the terms of the never-ending series of embargoes imposed upon it?
The answer is that potent cocktail of fear and graft. First came fear - that Russia will collapse, that the Balkans will spill over, that Bosnia will disintegrate. Nuclear nightmares intermingled with Armenian and Jewish flashbacks of genocide. The west shut its eyes tight and threw money at the bad spirits of irredentism and re-emergent communism. The long arm of the USA, the "international" financial institutions, collaborated in constructing the habit forming dole house that Eastern and Southern Europe has become. This conflict-reticence, these approach-avoidance cycles led to an inevitable collusion between the ruling mob families that pass for regimes in these parts of the planet - and the unilateral institutions that pass for multilateral ones in the rest of it. An elaborate system of winks and nods, the sign language of institutional rot and decaying governance, took over. Greasy palms clapped one another with the eerie silence of conspiracy. The world looked away as both - international financial institutions and corrupt regimes - robbed their constituencies blind. This was perceived to be the inevitable moral cost of stability. Survival of the majority entailed the filthy enrichment of the minority. And the west acquiesced.
But this grand design backfired. Like insidious bacteria, corruption breeds violence and hops from host to host. It does not discriminate, this plague of black conscience, between east and west. As it infected the indigenous, it also effected their guardians. They were all engulfed by raging greed, by a degradation of the inhibitions and by the intoxicating promiscuity of lawlessness. Inebriated by their newly found powers, little ceasars - natives and financial colonialists - claimed their little plots of crime and avarice, a not so secret order of disintegration of the social fabric. A ghoulish landscape, shrouded in the opaque mist of the nomenclature, the camaraderie of the omnipotent.
And corruption bred violence. The Chicago model imported lock, stock and the barrel of the gun. Former cronies disappeared mysteriously, bloated corpses in stale hotel rooms - being the only "contracts" honoured. Territories were carved up in constant, unrelenting warfare. One billion dollars are worth a lot of blood and it was spilled with glee, with the enthusiasm of the inevitable, with the elation of gambling all on a single spin of the Russian roulette.
It is this very violence that the west tried to drown with its credits. But unbeknownst to it, this very violence thrived on these pecuniary fertilizers. A plant of horrors, it devoured its soil and its cultivators alike. And 120,000 people paid with their lives for this wrong gamble. Counting its losses, the west is poised to spin the wheel again. More money is amassed, the dies are cast and more people cast to die."
From Is Transition Possible:
"The intellectuals of the Balkans - a curse, not in disguise. a nefarious presence, ominous, erratic and corrupt. Sometimes, at the nucleus of all conflict and mayhem - at other times (of ethnic cleansing or suppression of the media) conspicuously absent. Zeligs of umpteen disguises and ever-changing, shimmering loyalties.
They exert no moderating, countervailing influence - on the contrary, they radicalize, dramatize, poison and incite. Intellectuals are prominent among all the nationalist parties in the Balkans - and rare among the scant centre parties that have recently sprung out of the ashes of communism.
They do not disseminate the little, outdated knowledge that they do possess. Rather they keep it as a guild would, unto themselves, jealously. In the vanity typical of the insecure, they abnegate all foreign knowledge. They rarely know a second language sufficiently to read it. They promote their brand of degreed ignorance with religious zeal and punish all transgressors with fierceness and ruthlessness. They are the main barriers to technology transfers and knowledge enhancement in this wretched region. Their instincts of self preservation go against the best interests of their people. Unable to educate and teach - they prostitute their services, selling degrees or corrupting themselves in politics. They make up a big part of the post communist nomenclature as they have a big part of the communist one. The result is economics students who never heard of Milton Friedman or Kenneth Arrow and students of medicine who offer sex or money or both to their professors in order to graduate.
Thus, instead of advocating and promoting freedom and liberalization - they concentrate on the mechanisms of control, on manipulating the worn levers of power. They are the dishonest brokers of corrupted politicians and their businessmen cronies. They are heavily involved - oft times the initiators - of suppression and repression, especially of the mind and of the spirit. The black crows of nationalism perched upon their beleaguered ivory towers.
The intellectuals of the Balkans failed miserably. Terrified by the sights and sounds of their threatened territory - they succumbed to obscurantism, resorted to the nostalgic, the abstract and the fantastic, rather than to the pragmatic. This choice is evident even in their speech. Marred by centuries of cruel outside domination - it is all but meaningless. No one can understand what a Balkanian has to say. Both syntax and grammar are tortured into incomprehensibility. Evasion dominates, a profusion of obscuring verbal veils, twists and turns hiding a vacuous deposition.
The Balkan intellectuals chose narcissistic self absorption and navel gazing over "other-orientation". Instead of seeking integration (as distinct from assimilation) - they preach and practice isolation. They aim to differentiate themselves not in a pluralistic, benign manner - but in vicious, raging defiance of "mondialism" (a Serbian propaganda term). To define themselves AGAINST all others - rather than to compare and learn from the comparison. Their love affair with a (mostly concocted) past, their future-phobia, the ensuing culture shock - all follow naturally from the premises of their disconsolate uniqueness. Balkan intellectuals are all paranoids. Scratch the surface, the thin, bow tied, veneer of "kultur" - and you will find an atavistic poet, fighting against the very evil wrought by him and by his actions. This is the Greek tragedy of this breathtaking region. Nature here is cleverer than humans. It is exactly their conspiracies that bring about the very things they have to conspire against in the first place.
All over the world, intellectuals are the vanguard, the fifth column of new ideas, the resistance movement against the occupation of the old and the banal. Here intellectuals preach conformity, doing things the old, proven way, protectionism against the trade of liberal minds. All intellectuals here - fed by the long arm of the state - are collaborators. True, all hideous regimes had their figleaf intellectuals and with a few exceptions, the regimes in the Balkans are not hideous. But the principle is the same, only the price varies. Prostituting their unique position in semi-literate, village-tribal societies - intellectuals in the Balkans sold out en masse. They are the inertial power - rather than the counterfist of reform. They are involved in politics of the wrong and doomed kind. The Balkan would have been better off had they decided to remain aloof, detached in their archipelago of universities.
There is no real fire in Balkan intellectuals. Oh, they get excited and they shout and blush and wave their hands ever so vigorously. But they are empty. It is full gas in neutral. They get nowhere because they are going nowhere. They are rational and conservative and some are emotional and "leftist". But it is all listless and lifeless, like the paces of a very old mechanism, set in motion 80 years ago and never unwound.
All that day of the eclipse of the last millennium, even the intellectuals stayed in their cellars and in their offices and did not dare venture out. They emerged when night fell, accustomed to the darkness, unable to confront their own eclipse, hiding from the evil influence of a re-emerging sun."
Brendan Howley in the Blue Ear: Global Writing Worth Reading
What distinguishes Vaknin's writings on the Balkans from those before him?
He is an Israeli, trained in physics, with supplemental degree work in financial
theory. His technical mindset and skeptical but humane Jewish ethos permeate his
writing. Both are exceedingly useful in deconstructing the mess the
pseudoscience of Communism left behind in the countries where he's worked, and
the mess that Western pseudoscience of the New World Order/IMF sort is currently
brewing. Most writers who have taken on the Balkans with some proficiency
have been English or English-educated: Rebecca West, Nora Beloff, Neal
Ascherson, Misha Glenny. Vaknin's considerable intellectual armory reminds me of
that of the ex-MOSSAD people I met in Poland in the early 1990s, retired spooks
now running trading houses: utterly realistic, Talmudically concise in their
opinions, and damn relentless. Vaknin is living in a political hothouse in
Macedonia; his fertile output for Central Europe Review - href="http://www.ce-review.org/">http://www.ce-review.org/ - is fired by the
urgency I recall when I first worked in post-communist Poland: events demand
recording, but the sheer rate of change of the society itself is as draining as
it is exhilarating. I admire Vaknin's ability to keep his intellectual
balance, no mean feat in the circumstances. He is in the right place at the
right time, because when Milosevic falls, there will be a reckoning that will
shake Europe from Berlin to the Bosporus to Moscow. What will the West do if
there is a Serb civil war? Or a Serb incursion in Montenegro, Serbia's last link
to the Adriatic - a mobilization requiring only that the barracks gate be open
for the tanks to roll into Podgorica and Cetinje? My father urged me to
prefer small books over thick tomes, arguing that small books meant the author
saw clearly enough to write precisely. It's advice I have rarely had cause to
regret. After the Rain is the title of the most famous Macedonian film of the
past decade, a circular parable of memory and blood feud and journalism that
many film people of my acquaintance swore was a new kind of storytelling. I am
not so sure, but I do know it lived on in my imagination for days after I saw
it. I have the same memory of Vaknin's small and beautifully produced book.
After the Rain is that rarest of reading experiences: principled and
thoughtful and irritating and prescient, all at once. Vaknin will be proved
right or wrong as history grinds on in the Balkans, but his is a book I will
When a man writes with his pen dipped in vitriol, a compilation of his
articles are foreordained to make the reader react. Or they might even leave
her/him numb, for Israel-born Sam Vaknin is hard-hitting. He does not mince his
words, calls a spade a spade and has a sardonic-laconic way of putting things
across. The subtitle of After the Rain says it all: the West has, for all
practical purposes, lost the East. Vaknin landed in Macedonia in 1996. Between
then and 2000, he was a prolific writer who penned down his thoughts mostly in
The New Presence and Central Europe Review. The essays in the book in question
were published mainly in these journals during the period.
Vaknin is severely critical of the West's duplicity. He quotes Edward
Thompson, managing editor of Life from 1949 to 1961, as saying, "Life must be
curious, alert, erudite and moral, but it must achieve this without being
holier-than-thou, a cynic, a know-it-all or a Peeping Tom." The West has
violated Thompson's edict and drive Europe to the verge of war and the region it
"adopted" to the verge of economic and social upheaval. Vaknin says, "The Wst
lost Eastern and Southeast Europe not when it lied egregiously, not when it
pretended to know for sure when it surely did not know, not when it manipulated
and coaxed and coerced -- but when it failed." The panacea of free marketry cum
democracy that was shoved down the throat of the countries that had just broken
free from Communism could not have worked.
The West was naïve to believe that the masses who were waiting all these
years to be liberated from the Communists, would one fine day revert to
capitalism and onwards to development and prosperity. The West never understood
how lethargic the Rip van Winkle institutions could render people. Vaknin
asserts Communism "was a collaborative effort - a symbiotic co-existence of the
rulers and the ruled, a mutual understanding and an all-pervasive pathology."
The West failed to see through this incestuous relationship, just as they were
fooled by the appearance of law and order. The courts, the police and the media
were ossified skeletons that had been drained of any real power. What happened
in the bargain was that one criminal association was substituted by another.
More often than not these comprised the same people. "Post communist societies
are sick and their institutions are a travesty." The kernel of good people here,
a stifled, suppressed and mocked lot, should be the ones who must be given
The socialist/communist professors of yesterday cannot be teachers of
capitalism today. Intelligence and knowledge do not matter since capitalism is
not a theoretical construct merely, but a way of life. Inefficiency, corruption
and pathological economic thinking has castrated them emotionally and
intellectually. Workers and managers of the communist era cannot function
efficiently in a capitalist system for the same reason. Vaknin scoffs at Balkan
intellectuals too insisting that they have no fire in them.
Vaknin derides instant education in a society where everything is up for
sale; where students of economics have not heard of Kenneth Arrow and students
of medicine offer sex or money or both to their professors to graduate. He
delves into linguistics and semantics and argues that this is a solipsistic
world where communication is permitted only with oneself and the aim of language
is to throw others off the track. Vaknin examines the issue closely since he
believes language is a leading indicator of the psychological and institutional
health of social units.
He stresses on the imperative need to bell the cat in a system where graft
and fear rule. But then the West, particularly the United States, is in a morbid
habit of "creating pairs of villains and heroes, monsters and saints where there
are none". He believes the wars in Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia were nothing short of
gangland warfare. These were skirmishes between gangs of criminals, disguised as
politicians etc. Crime prevails since free market flourishes. Criminals, after
all, are private entrepreneurs.
Vaknin also writes about his impressions on the economy (or, whatever is
left of it) in these liberated countries. It is, however, the essays classified
under the head "The People" that are more acerbic and provocative than the ones
categorised under "The Economy". Maybe, because it is finally the people who
You Don't Say Dr. Vaknin!
Jovan Jovanovski (href="mailto:jovan(at)brandassociates.com">jovan(at)brandassociates.com), a
management consultant in Detroit., February 23, 2000, You don't say,
Dr. Vaknin! Dr. Vaknin's work is nothing less than a revolutionary way of
looking at, and understanding, developments in Eastern Europe after the fall of
the Soviet Union. If your eyes glaze over from the usual treatment of ethnic
strife, economies in transition, and democratization in eastern Europe, Sam
Vaknin's book is for you. Unlike most writers on the topic, he has the advantage
of having lived in the region for many years and worked inside various
governments. More importantly, he refuses to bow to political correctness -- a
unique attribute for a western analyst covering the Balkans. There is not a
chapter of this book that fails to enlighten, surprise, amuse or infuratiate.
These are natural reactions to Dr. Vaknin's keen powers of observation, his
insight, and his vivid, take-no-prisoners writing style. I have never had so
much fun reading about a topic that is often inherently depressing. You may
agree or disagree with Dr. Vaknin's views, but you won't be able to put away his
book until you've read it cover to cover.
Erratic, eruptive, intellectual volcano of a book
Emilija Geleva (geleva(at)yahoo.com), Media advisor to PM of Macedonia,
February 11, 2000, Erratic, eruptive, intellectual volcano of a book The
Balkans, an eternal crossroad of different civilizations and cultures even
today, is considered to be the 'navel of the world' or as Sam Vaknin puts it in
his erratic, eruptive, intellectual volcano of a book, 'After the Rain – How the
West Lost the East' – 'is the unconscious of the world' ('The Mind of Darkness')
or worse, probably a navel, but 'the Balkan is a body without a brain' ('Homo
Balkanus'). There are a few other, similarly neuralgic points on Earth, but what
distinguishes the Balkans from the rest is that it is precisely via its central
part – Macedonia – that Christianity and modern literacy invaded Europe. The
Byzantine civilization – traceable in today's Balkans as a junction of the
Hellenic spirit and the wisdom of Byzantium, deeply rooted in the cultures of
Babylon and the old Mesopotamian civilizations – is still of high interest to
modern scholars of the Balkans. Dr. Sam Vaknin is one of these contemporary
detectors of the 'transitions' in the East, who is trying to discover,
understand and direct the Balkans and the East through his publicist work. In
his book 'After the Rain – How the West Lost the East', Dr. Sam Vaknin is a
sincere investigator of the 'Homo Balkanus', of the Easterner, his mind, culture
and way of living, defining him 'a full fledges narcissist'. Immediately after
that, in 'The Magla Vocables' he says that even linguistically 'it is impossible
to really understand an Easterner', mocking or more precisely reaching the level
of real offence in portraying the image of the intellectuals of the East ('The
Poets and Eclipse'). Reading this large book of essays, however, one should bear
in mind that the author is limited by the clichés of his framework of values and
thinking given to him by the culture and system of rules from which he
originated. Thus, his articles are provocative, turbulent, irritating,
revolting. The impact of his writing is terrible with the strength of hurricane.
His word often kill, his defeatism nullifies. Sometimes pretentious, still
'After the Rain' represents a serious, lucid and transcendent effort to make the
Balkan closer, to introduce the East to the West, ignoring for a moment the
pessimistic assertion that the West already lost the East. But if this were
right, it would have meant that the West is lost, had disappeared in the East.
The truth is completely the opposite: The West has yet to find the East. The
East, which provided the foundation of contemporary Western civilization,
literacy and Christianity, still hibernates within its traditional values as an
essential element of the endurance of the people and perhaps as the unique
salvation of mankind. The West has to burst into the wisdom of the East to keep
the very roots of life, the wisdom to live in peace and in harmony with God and
with nature. If this should not happen, we will all finish like in Aldous
Huxley's 'Brave New World'. Consequently, when reading these essays, it will not
be asking for much to have a dose of restraint towards Dr. Vaknin's sometimes
lethal 'absolute truths' regarding the Balkans and the East. After you finish
reading this book, you can find out not only what the East is – but also what
the East is, indeed, not. This is because Dr. Vaknin observes the Balkan and the
East only from the dark side, regarding its people as zombies who do not have
any idea at all why they are walking on this Earth. Unfortunately for him, life,
neither in the Balkans in particular, nor in the East in general, is a pathology
as he enjoys saying. That is why some of his articles contain an overly
heavy-handed personal touch, momentary sensations and impressions too strong,
amounting to exaggeration, or, in other words, he puts things headlong. In 'The
MinMaj Rule' his paranoiac fear of the 'nation-state' can be felt. His
perversity reaches a climax when he finds a justification for the West and its
three months long NATO bombing of Yugoslavia (an act without precedent in modern
history, which indeed resulted in the same pitiless kind of bombing in Chechnya)
and in the acknowledgment that for the Albanian residents of Kosovo 'it has not
protected their right to self-determination'. Dr. Vaknin likes to see the state
as 'a community, a majority of minorities united by common rules, beliefs and
aspirations ... no longer utopian, it is a realistic model to emulate'. In
'Herzl's Butlers', he even goes further and in the modern nation state he sees
'a reflection of something more primordial, of human nature itself as it
resonated in the national founding myths (most of them fictitious or
contrived)'. Still, he is sufficiently honest to admit that 'the Jews (and
Germans) came up with the 'objective', 'genetic', 'racial' and 'organic'
nation'. Indeed, through the periodically harsh critique of the West's actions
in the East, transferring into its body Western malignant cells of mafia, drugs,
organized crime, corruption etc., the careful reader will discover the
glorification of the subjugation of the East by the West. Dr. Sam Vaknin is not
the first one to try to put all the books which deal with the so called 'world
conspiracy' in the domain of illusion or man's gullibility ('The Elders of
Zion'). That was done before in a fine literary manner mixed with factography by
another Jew (by father), the writer Danilo Kish from ex-Yugoslavia, in his novel
'A Book about Kings and Fools'. But if Danilo Kish was exploring the world
archives to prove that it is only by coincidence or through an accidental knot
of circumstance that 'the book of Nillus' about a 'world conspiracy' was
created, thus far Dr.Vaknin is not only mocking the intellectuals and ordinary
mortals of the East, but he humiliatingly attributes the existence of that
'conspiracy' to the 'paranoiac and schizoid nature' of their minds. It is
interesting that the author uses a tour of the abundant history of the region
just to explain the 'darkness' of today's. Or, without necessity and
astonishingly, he is giving a huge treatment only to the idea of the – in
essence illusory and never existing – 'Great Albania', adapting history for his
own needs. He even smoothly, in only few lines, gives 'the definite historical
truths' about the Illyrians and their descendents, a subject on which historians
composed large tomes and which they investigated all their lives and about which
they still have dilemmas. Finally, where does Dr. Vaknin think that the West
lost the East? Is it on its way from Babylon towards some new 'promised lands'?
Or, is it maybe – After the Rain – in a Biblical flood? Although both in the
West as well as in the East, it is precisely the Jewish version of the Bible out
of the thirteen existing ones that is the dominant (a version which is rather a
copy of the prehistoric Bible text of the Sumerians from Mesopotamia) –
nevertheless God promised himself: 'Never again will I curse the ground because
of man, however evil his inclinations may be from his youth upwards' and God
said: 'This is the sign of the covenant which I establish between myself and you
and every living creature with you, to endless generations: My bow I set in the
cloud, Sign of the covenant Between myself and earth. When I cloud the sky over
the earth, The bow shall be seen in the cloud. Then will I remember the covenant
which I have made between myself and you and living things of every kind. Never
again shall the waters become a flood to destroy all living creatures. The bow
shall be in the cloud; when I see it, it will remind me of the everlasting
covenant between God and living things on earth of every kind.' In the Balkans,
all things aside, this blessing of God – the bow – can be often felt and
enjoyed. Or as one of our proverbs says – After the Rain always cometh the Sun!
Emilija Geleva Skopje, February 2000
Reviews for "FREE DOWNLOAD After the Rain - How the West Lost the East"
Reviewed by Donald Iarussi (Reader)
wow, Jews need to be strong and write more powerful books.
living in salt lake city, utah . i have seen a new dimension to anti gay attitude. The church of latter day saints "mormons"
called gays "latter day lepers"
a state where on talk radio conservatives call up all day and blame the worlds problems on jews, where senator orin hatch belongs to a church thet baptized dead holocaust victims into the mormon faith.
i had people not go to a party when they found out i wasd jewish!
we need more strong gay rights, black rights, jewish rights, womens rights advocates in utah!
Reviewed by Paul Lappen
This is a series of short essays, written and published over the last few years, on the politics and economics of present-day Central and Eastern Europe.
More specifically, it is about the breakup of Yugoslavia, written from the perspective of someone who has spent the last several years living in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Therefore, the author has seen many things from the "inside" (a very rare perspective here in the West).
When politicians or government agencies in the West are accused of corruption or gross stupidity, no one bats an eyelash. When the same thing happens in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the offenders are subject to heaps of scorn, diatribes and/or sanctions. The West firmly believed that if the communist hierarchy was removed in Eastern Europe, millions of common people would embrace capitalism like a long-lost relative; all the West had to do was provide the opportunity. The West didn't realize that communism was a mutual undertaking, a decades long symbiotic relationship between all parts of society.
"Post communist societies are sick and their institutions are a travesty." Privatization, the selling of state assets to private companies to encourage capitalism, is little more than a "spastic orgy of legalized robbery of state assets" where millions lost their jobs while a few people became rich. Large amounts of foreign aid, intended to help the suffering people of Kosovo, ended up in markets, both white and black, all over the region, still carrying the stamps of their donors. UN forces have
been known to require bribes to let goods into Serbia. A system of winks and nods, plus lots of palm greasing, came into existence between the multilateral institutions and the "ruling mob families that pass for regimes in these parts of the planet."
Some knowledge of present-day European politics and economics (more than comes from watching the TV evening news) would help in reading this book.
Otherwise, this is a very good and well-written group of essays from an extremely needed perspective (here in the West). This one is well worth reading.
Bookreview.com Syndicated review also appeared in Dead Trees Review, Under the Covers Book Review, Footle.net Book Review and Blether Book Review, January 14, 2001
Reviewed by GS
I have been living and working in the Balkans during the last decade. I know the area and its inhabitants well. The last year saw the eruption of a literary force of rare magnitude - Sam Vaknin. I followed his articles in 'The New Presence' and 'Central Europe Review'. They astounding feats of verbal fireworks, fine arabesques intertwined with volcanic lava - a MUST READ!!! With the exception of Rebecca West, I never read anything which comes remotely close to this either in forcefulness of expression or in acuteness of penetration. The book oozes pain and erudition in equal measures and left me shocked and overwhelmed.
The essays in the second part, "Economy," stand better on their own feet. Vaknin is on his scholarly turf here, apparently. His unusually lengthy analysis of the International Monetary Fund is highly informative. Still, I must say that I find the moments of frenzy to be the book's most fascinating feature. In any state of advanced social decay, such as a civil war, there comes a point when more "facts" merely move one to impatience. What does it matter how many dozens were assassinated yesterday, or which banker transferred how many millions to his private account? Names and dates become irrelevant when such facts designate a daily routine. I can see that Vaknin is quite capable of reporting a scandal in detail; I think I can see why he doesn't. There's just too much of it. The relevant datum is the great cloud of stench obscuring the heavens, not the location of isolated fires. What we ought to learn--but won't--from the Balkans is that (to use Vaknin's recurrent metaphor) an infection is sometimes best left to spread until it activates sufficient antibodies. The Western solution of treating symptoms and amputating limbs has condemned these people to a hopeless decline. The Foreward is right: the book's sub-title misses the point. I suspect that Vaknin was being diplomatic here, for he might well have written Why the East Detests the West After Attempting an Embrace.