Friday, October 23, 2009

Treatment of Slav Macedonian history : to de-Bulgarize the Slav Macedonians *

The treatment of Slav Macedonian history has the same primary goal as the creation of the Slav Macedonian language-to de-Bulgarize the Slav Macedonians and create a separate national consciousness. Since Marx claimed to have discovered the immutable laws of history. Communists have considered the "correct interpretation of history as the foundation of all social science and a Key element of nationality. In the Balkans, history is a primary ingredient in the development of national consciousness which possesses a current relevance that extends beyond mere academic interest. Hence, the Yugoslav Communists were most anxious to mold Macedonian history to fit their conception of Slav Macedonian consciousness.

In setting the tone for the new interpretation of history, Communist experts found past Slav Macedonian history to suffer from two defects. First, "bourgeois historians, although they may have certain merits for the elaboration of the material facts of history, suffer from the weakness of their idealistic theoretic basis."[16] Hence, new historical works must be based on a correct Marxist-Leninist interpretation of history. Second, and perhaps more important, Slav Macedonian history had to sever the umbilical cord to Bulgaria. It was advanced as a principle of Slav Macedonian historiography that key aspects of Slav Macedonian culture had origins separate from Bulgaria, that Slav Macedonian history was distinctively different from Bulgarian history.

Lazar Kolisevski gave the initial clues as to the correct interpretation of Slav Macedonian history in his report to the First Congress of the CPM in 1948. The resolution adopted by the First Congress stressed the importance of ideological conformity and emphasized the use of history to re-educate the Slav Macedonian masses:

Great interest should be created [in history] and there should be a systematic approach, with a materialistic elucidation of the historical past of our people in general, and special elaboration of the socialist movement in our country. The history of the people's liberation struggle should be particularly elaborated. A struggle should be carried out for systematic studies of our past among the broad masses as well as among party members. This is a necessary condition for the ideological uplift of party cadres and for the education of the masses in the spirit of socialism. [17]

Slav Macedonian historians, however, apparently had some difficulty in adjusting to the new guidelines for Slav Macedonian history-particularly in distinguishing Slav Macedonian from Bulgarian history. In an article in Komunist in January 1950, Vidoe Smilevski gave a summary of the correct interpretation of Slav Macedonian history. [18] Another article by Kiro Miljovski appeared about the same time but went farther, specifically criticizing Slav Macedonian historians and setting out in more detail the party guidelines for interpreting history. Miljovski was particularly critical of the failure to eliminate Bulgarian influences:

Some of our people fail to understand correctly Kuzman Sapkarov's cultural activity in the struggle for the Macedonian language, and they are suspicious about the national character of our entire early national movement simply because Sapkarov or others in the movement were not clearly, explicitly and to the very end nationally inclined, because some of them felt "now a Macedonian, now a Bulgarian." In the same way, some people fall into uncertainty about the Macedonian character of the national liberation movement in Deltev's time simply because Goce Deltev wrote in Bulgarian, because he did not say definitely that Macedonia is one nation and that Bulgaria is another. [19]

To avoid future uncertainty, Miljovski listed a number of expressions (most of them frequently used in Bulgarian historical writing) which were to be banned from Slav Macedonian history.

Although Macedonian historical works began to appear, historians found that research on Slav Macedonia was "complex and difficult" because existing literature "is still permeated with Great Bulgarian spirit, with omissions, distortioqs and falsifications of many historical facts." [20] The Scientific Institute for National History of the Slav Macedonian Nation was established "to eliminate the influence" of the Slav Macedonian Scientific Institute in Sofia which during the interwar period "published most of the documentary and propaganda materials about Macedonia." [21] The Institute, which had indeed published a great deal of material on Slav Macedonia (including its periodical Makedonski pregled), was the principal scholarly advocate during the interwar period of the thesis that the Macedonian Slavs are' Bulgarians.

The question of Bulgarian influence on Slav Macedonian history was the thorniest problem of the new historiography. Obviously it was impossible for the Yugoslav Communists to deny completely the role of Bulgaria in the Macedonian revolutionary movement. One of the early attempts to cope with Bulgarian influence utilized the device of "contradictions." According to this explanation Slav Macedonia's national revival developed as " Macedonian its inner content and Bulgarian in its outer forms," although late in the process some Macedonian national forms were used along with the Bulgarian forms. The "contradiction" between content and forms extended throughout the entire historical process of the Slav Macedonian revival; it was because of this conflict that Macedonian forms took shape, and it was through the development of these forms that Slav Macedonia "categorically proved its individual national character."[22]

Reconciling progressive Marxist historiography with Slav Macedonian national history has proved to be especially difficult. The Slav Macedonian revolutionaries were generally not socialists and the Balkan socialists did not recognize the Macedonian nationality. To walk such a tightrope required great historical agility and the party was frequently called upon to restore balance for historians who went too far in one direction. A Nova Makedonija article for example, counselled historians to avoid errors of the epoch of bourgeois idealization, as there is"no reason for interpreting past events with a romantic pathos." The article explained that in approaching the past, all positive traditions should be included as the inheritance of the proletariat, but conservative tendencies should be rejected. The approach toward historical personalities was criticized as being idealized. For example, although Delcev was a forerunner of Marx in Macedonia, it would be mistaken to call him and others like him real Marxists. [23] In dealing with the Balkan socialist movement, writers had to exercise caution:

Our socialists did not have a clear idea of the national belonging of the Macedonian people, nor of the need to establish it as a separate unit, and they adopted the stand that the population in Macedonia was composed of members of the Bulgarian, Serbian, and Greek nations and of the minorities.[24]

Although the socialists were wrong on the Macedonian question, they were socialists - hence, progressive and instrumental in the eventual triumph of socialism in Vardar Macedonia. The socialist movement was an approved topic for history, but its treatment required delicate handling.

In order to conform to the standards of Yugoslav Marxist historiography and at the same time degrade Bulgarian influence and affirm the Slav Macedonian nationality, Slav Macedonian historical writing has stressed certain themes. In order to create a continuous record of Macedonia as a nation, there is constant re-analysis and rediscovery of probable and improbable historical fragments. The medieval empire of Samuelo with its capital at Ohrid has been designated as a "Macedonian" empire (despite the fact that the empire was destroyed by Basil II who earned the title "Bulgar-slayer", for his campaigns against Samuelo). The "Slavic" missionaries Cyril and Methodius are treated with greatest respect and emphasis is placed on their IMacedonian birthplace (Salonika) and on their use of a "Macedonian" dialect ,as the first Slavic literary language. Macedonian revolutionary heroes are carefully treated. In addition to appropriating the historical legacies of the , key founders of the original IMRO-Goce Delcev, Damian Gruev and Pere Tosev-Macedonian historians play up lesser figures who might have given the slightest indication of "socialist" inclination or who were not openly Bulgarophiles. Thus there is glorification of men like Jane Sandansky, Dimo Hadji-Dimov, Petar Peparsev and Nikola Karev, who, because they defected from the IMRO or lost out in internecine organizational fights, have long been forgotten by chroniclers of the IMRO. The more recent IMRO leaders - Aleksandrov, Protogerov and Mihailov - are excluded from the ranks of the progressive for having been tools of Sofia. Besides, they are symbols which are too dangerous and too recent to attempt to manipulate. Pre-World War II Macedonian history orients events of the past towards the final successful climax of the liberation struggle during the war. However, it is emphasized that victory was possible only because of the fraternal assistance of the other Yugoslav nationalities under guidance of the Communist party.

Despite the difficulties of dealing with the national history, in the beginning Slav Macedonian writers enjoyed a relatively larger degree of permissive action with regard to the employment of nationalist symbols than historians of the other Yugoslav republics. In Slav Macedonian history, the main concentration is on genuine national heroes like Delcev and on their nationalistic character, regardless of their attitudes toward the Serbs and socialism. The accepted heroes of other Yugoslav national groups are portrayed almost exclusively from the point of view of their progressive, anti-religious or anti-Hapsburg attitudes. In the case of Croatia and Slovenia, the heroes selected by the Communists are those who favored union with Serbia. However, Belgrade permitted Vardar Macedonia to treat the role of the Serbs rather negatively, usually as Serbian imperiahsm. But, to balance these concessions, Slav Macedonian historians are required to give special emphasis to the role of the CPY in their liberation from Bulgariuans and Serbs. The struggle in the twenties and thirties for the correct party line on the nationality question is often stressed. The Party's efforts to liberate the Slav Macedonians from the Bulgarian occupiers are combined in historical treatises with attacks against old Great Serbism.[25]

Although the party had some difficulty in establishing a historiography to suit its political needs, numerous works on Slav Macedonian history were published by the Scientific Institute for the National History of the Macedonian People (since shorte'ned to the Institute for National History). The early institute publications include a large number of document collections and writings of early Macedonian revolutionaries. Though some monographs were published they were usually limited in scope. [26] In addition to publications of scholarly interest frequent historical articles and programs are carried in the newspapers and mass media of the Macedonian republic. In the campaign of inspiring a Macedonian consciousness among the population, the Communist approved interpretation of history was used as one of the primary tools.

The first serious challenge to the new Slav Macedonian historiography came in 1958. Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, which had re-established close ties after 1955, had a second era of unfriendly relations beginning in Fall 1957 and Spring 1958. As part of the anti-Yugoslav program of the bloc, Bulgaria launched a vigorous campaign to deny the Slav Macedonian language, culture, and nationality and to reassert Slav Bulgarian claims to Macedonia. The Slav Macedonian Communist leadership countered by emphasizing more forcefully the elements of Slav Macedonian culture. Evidencing concern with Macedonian history, Lazar Kolisevski delivered a long speech on Slav Macedonian history at Titov Veles in November 1958. He explained at the beginning that his purpose in dealing with the Slav Macedonian past was "to contribute to the forming of trends towards a correct, scientific understanding of historical events and their underlying social processes," because "we are still faced with many major tasks in the field of clarification of our national history."

The thrust of Kolisevski's treatment of history was two-fold-first, to reduce even further the significance of Bulgaria in Slav Macedonian history, and second, to stress positive treatment of Serb- Slav Macedonian relations. Although earlier Slav Macedonian historians had explain ned Bu1garian influence-by means of a contradiction with Macedonian inner forms and Bulgarian external forms, Kolisevski degraded Bulgarian influence even further. He argued

the (Slav)Macedonian nation did not emerge as a result of political manipulations in the twentieth century, but it emerged from the general struggle, resistance and awareness of the people, which began early in the 19th century.

Kolisevski went on to explain that from the very beginning of the 19th century Macedonian national consciousness grew independently and distinctively from Bulgarian consciousness. But with the development of Slav Macedonian consciousness, the Bulgarians developed imperialist ambitions towards Macedonia. The last part of his speech was particularly critical of the most recent Bulgarian denial of the Slav Macedonian nationality.

The role of the Serbs in Macedonian history, however, he treated much more favorably than Slav Macedonian historians had been doing up to that time. Though admitting that the Serbian bourgeoisie intended to establish its hegemony over Macedonia, Kolisevski quoted extensively from Serbian diplomatic correspondence to show that some Serbs acknowledged a Slav Macedonian nationality and opposed the negation of Slav Macedonian consciousness by Bulgaria. The Serbian bourgeoisie came to deny the Slav Macedonian nationality, Kolisevski claimed, when they entered into a tacit agreement with the Bulgarian and Greek bourgeoisie that only Serbs, Greeks and Bulgarians lived in Macedonia "with their respective number to depend on the manner in which Macedonia was carved up." He asserted that nations can only be created by powerful forces at work among the people and never by the actions of politicians.

Although Kolisevski's speech. placed new emphasis on the anti-Bulgarian aspects and softened the anti-Serbian aspects of Slav Macedonian history it did not represent a real departure for Slav Macedonian historiography. The same ideological line adopted after the Communist consolidation in Slav Macedonia is still the historical guideline. In recent years the quality and volume of Slav Macedonian historical writing has increased, but the themes and their treatment, although more sophisticated are much the same as before. The national - liberation struggle, the socialist movement in Yugoslavia and the Balkans, and the Slav Macedonian revolutionary tradition dominate historical works. There is still some reticence to treat Slav Macedonian relations with Yugoslavia and Serbia between the wars, but there is greater emphasis on Serb- Slav Macedonian relations during earlier periods.[28]

The goals of the national history are unchanged-to reduce the Bulgarian role in Slav Macedonian history and to stress Slav Macedonian national development at the same time emphasizing the importance of close ties with other Yugoslav peoples. However, Slav Macedonian national history has not developed in a vacuum and external problems have affected its course. Since 1956 Bulgaria has not recognized the Slav Macedonian nationality and her historians have been permitted to reassert Bulgarian historical claims to the Macedonian territory and population. Even in periods when Bulgarian-Yugoslav relations have been very good, academic historical controversies have continued, frequently developing political repercussions. The Slav Macedonian historians have thus been forced to defend their dubious historical claims, with the result that their history has become even more polemical and political. The rising nationalism of the Yugoslav peoples has also had its effect in Vardar Macedonia. Although increased nationalism first reappeared as the result of economic problems in the late 1950's, it has since spread throughout Yugoslavia's cultural life. The problem reached the point that Tito denounced "nationalistic manifestations" in the field of history at the Eighth Party Congress.[29] The problem was as much present in Vardar Macedonia as the other republics. Crvenkovski, at the Fourth Congress of the LCM, just before the Eighth all-party congress, criticized "the still present phenomenon of national romanticism [i.e., over-glorification] in uncovering our national past." Although acknowledging the difficulties of dealing with Macedonian history, Crvenkovski called on historians to adopt the approach which would "contribute to the national consciousness of our people freeing itself of nationalist deviations [pro-Bulgarian and anti-Serb sentiments], to building respect for everything that is positive and common in the struggle of our neighbors [i.e., Serbs and other Yugoslav peoples] and which is a component part of our own national history." [30]

*This text is from the book of “Yugoslav Communism and the Macedonian Question” by Stephen E. Palmer, Jr. Robert R. King, 1971. In order to segregate the Greek Macedonian cultural identity from the Slav one, I add for understating purposes the words “Slav and Vardar” in the front of the Greek adjective “Macedonia (n)” at the text. Also in the book you can find the original notes and bibliography that used in the specific article.

**For fair use only

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