An examination of the trajectory of Serbia's dissidence from its origins in the 1950s to its consolidation in the early 1980s around the defence of civil and human rights.
Yugoslavia's break-up in 1991 and the wars that followed in its wake have been widely blamed on Serbian nationalism. Most analyses, however, have not examined this nationalism in the years before Slobodan Miloševi 's rise to power, when its principal articulators were opposition intellectuals. Saviours of the Nation is the first book to trace the trajectory of Serbia's dissidence from its origins in the 1950s to its consolidation in the early 1980s around the defence of civil and human rights.
Jasna Dragovi -Soso asks why this strong and apparently democratic opposition movement subsequently turned towards an extreme form of nationalism and had by the end of the 1980s accepted Miloševi 's undemocratic policies. Based on the author's extensive primary source research and interviews with key protagonists, Saviours of the Nation examines both the causes and the consequences of the opposition's transformation into a nationalist force. Highlighting the role of historical context, it argues that three main factors contributed to the intellectuals' elaboration of a radical nationalist ideology: abandonment of cultural "Yugoslavism" in conjunction with the post-Tito crisis of the state, difficulties in solving the thorny "Kosovo question," and relationships between the dissidents and their Slovenian counterparts. Soso also includes a thorough analysis of the "Memorandum" of the Serbian Academy and the intellectuals' relations with Miloševi . She argues that the intellectual opposition's search for Serbian statehood at any price undermined its ability to present a convincing political alternative, allowing the regime to overcome its crisis of legitimacy and continue its reckless and belligerent policies.