Why does the West not understand Russians and Serbs and why does it always stumble over the same figurative stone when attacking Russia and Serbia?
This is explained by sociologist Dr. Slobodan Antonić, author of the study ‘Dva zavetna naroda: Rusi i Srbi’.
“The peoples of the Covenant or Solemn Promise are those who believe that they have a mission and a central myth in their cultural model,” says sociologist Slobodan Antonić, author of the recently published study ‘Dva zavetna naroda: Rusi i Srbi’.
Russians and Serbs have strong similarities and one of the common characteristics is the belief in the historical mission of their people. According to him, one of the problems in communication between the collective and political West, on the one hand, and Serbs and Russians, on the other, is precisely this misunderstanding, which is very often accompanied by contempt and stereotypes.
“Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, it became apparent that this misunderstanding of the way Serbs and Russians think is something that leads to conflict. Of course, this is not the only explanation, conflicts arise due to different interests too, but the misjudgments of the West often lead to failure, especially when it comes to Russia,’ says Antonić for ‘Orbita Kulture’.
That is why there have been several major attacks on Russia, all of which ended in disaster for the West, so that eventually the Russian army found itself in Paris at the time of Napoleon, or in Berlin after the fall of Hitler. When asked why the West always stumbles over the same figurative stone (when it comes to its relations with Serbia and Russia), Antonić replies that a part of the Russian and Serbian intelligentsia speaks very badly about their own people, Westerners listen to them as someone who informs them about the true state of their people, and later find it hard that these are the same nations they heard or read about.
The situation is similar with the Serbs too. Antonić cites reports from Serbia after the 5 October political upheaval that stated that the Serbs had given up on Kosovo, had overcome their grief over the loss, and that Patriarch Pavle was the only one in Serbia who was sincerely pro-Kosovo.
“Since then, Kosovo has been a central political topic and both younger and older generations share the same attitude towards Kosovo. This was a completely wrong assessment and the Western recognition of Kosovo’s independence in 2008 was precisely the result of that assessment that the Serbs would hold out for a while and then leave. However, they (the West) realized in the meantime that this would not be the case,” Antonić explains.
Moreover, there are strong prejudices in the West, which proclaims as truth what it wants to hear. Elementary things that make Serbs and Russians different from the Western Europeans are that Russia and Serbia are geopolitical neighbours, and both Russians and Serbs are heirs to a different European culture and civilization, that is Byzantium.
That fact also remains that they are also Christian nations, whose churches are much more visited than the places of worship in Western countries. “Western countries have been de-Christianised and this can be seen from sociological surveys and censuses. For instance, in the Czech Republic, 72% of the population is atheist, while here it is less than 5%. There is a greater Christian zeal in Russia than in Serbia, not only because of how high the church attendance is, but also because of how often new churches and monasteries are built and opened. There are reports that a new church is opened in Russia every three days,” says Antonić.
Serbs and Russians experience the world differently too, and they have aa more metaphysical approach to it. In the West, people do not expect deeper meanings or any significance in events.
“We, the Russians and to some extent Romanians perceive the world as something that is brimming with messages and meaning, and then when something happens, people look for a message in it. When an accident happens, they wonder if it is some kind of message from God or what did they do wrong in God’s eyes, and that is a different experience of the world and of history. Apart from that, there are two constituent myths that are also important for the cultural model – in our country there is the Kosovo Covenant, which tells us that there are values that are higher than material things, even life itself, and in Russia, the is a belief that Russia is akin to the Third Roman Empire. According to Antonić, when Vladimir Putin says ‘I am not bluffing’, this sends out clear message of how wrong the Western intelligence is in their assessments and how they fail to believe that Russians move slowly but ride fast”, Antonić concludes.
This post is also available in: Italiano