Well, maybe it’s the questions they are asked. If a journalist were to ask me about the “psychological health of the nation“ I would have a difficult time answering, just like I would have a difficult time answering a question about the “hands of the fish” or the “cuisine in bus stations”. Maybe Dr Zoran Milivojević just wanted to be polite and satisfy the interviewer. That would be understandable, admirable even. But actually it seems more like he was waiting for the chance to develop this.
Right then, so what is his diagnosis of Serbian society?
The first problem is “hypercivilisation”. Apparently after a long period of lawlessness, now the ruling groups “want to move Serbia to Scandinavia, which is impossible”. Geographically this cannot be contested, of course. But really he is talking about something they call “mentalities”, and contends that “we have become collectively stupid” because of unsatisfied political hopes, and this is supposed to have an effect on the readiness to accept legal regulation. So he is not really talking about barriers of physical geography, but insisting instead that the reason that Serbia can’t be Sweden is that folks haven’t got the lingonberries for it.
The second problem is, well, I can’t say for sure what it is but I can wonder at the sexual metaphors through which it is expressed. See, the problem with Europe is that it is a “continually older and uglier bride” (you okay there, Doctor?). But apparently she is rich (are we seeing a pattern?). And she “constantly blackmails and humiliates” hopeful Serbia, who is of course “a young man from the provinces”. So rustic young Serbia should pursue instead a promising young lady who is less of a snob, like “Russia, China or India”. They’ll get rich too, and don’t care what he did back on the farm as long as he can make a decent mućkalica. Did you see what he was getting at? Good, neither did I. I think maybe he was nationalising and transgendering Anna Nicole Smith.
Moving on, then. So why have people become insensitive? You already know the answer, it is “because of the great pressure of massive historical events”. These have produced two groups of people, one with “a hypertrophied love for themselves and their nation” and the other that “thinks that it will please Europe by spitting on their own nation”. And they do not like one another, they should try to emulate Dr M who evidently likes one better than the other but is an educated, tolerant fellow. But you see, they can’t. Partly this is their own fault, because they have a “desire for ever more information” but at the same time they “escape from reality”. But it is also partly the fault of the politicians, because (get this!) they do not understand that “Serbs love to be deceived and to be told what they want to hear by politicians, and not that different politicians tell them different things”. But since people don’t get that (!) they get depressed.
There is the diagnosis. There has to be a cure, right? Well, yes and no. On the one hand, “we have to start to value ourselves”. On the other hand it will not help, because “it is possible to be happy even in Serbia. But, in the Balkans happiness is, so to speak, forbidden”. Take that to the pharmacy and see what happens.
Was the good Doctor improvising for the satisfaction of the journalists? If he was, then was also improvising in 2003 when he described the same set of ideas to Glas javnosti and told them that the social situation had been the same “since the time of Tsar Dušan”. Just so we know two things: 1) Stefan Uroš IV Dušan Nemanjić ruled from 1331 to 1355, and 2) although 14th century social psychological literature is thin, social historians think that conditions were different then. Where I live, the health campaign posters in the buses tell people they should consult their GP if symptoms last longer than two weeks.
Dr Milivojević finishes off with a fine description of the West (of what?) and “their news, in which you can still hear that Serbs are awful”. But you see, Doctor, the news does not tell us who is awful, we have to draw those conclusions from the facts that are reported. You are the psychologist, it is your job to tell us who is awful. Or else it is not, but who pays attention to these distinctions?
Update: Oh, dear, it looks like Dr Milivojević has some thoughts on the killings in Norway as well. There is a broad analysis of his statement and some his other ideas by Rastislav Dinić in Peščanik.