Entangled Paths Towards Modernity

Contextualizing socialism and nationalism in the Balkans
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450 pages + 20 pages bibliography

The book is a study in comparative intellectual history and discusses how socialist ideology emerged as an option of political modernity in the Balkans of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Focusing on how technologies of ideological transfer and adaptation work, the book examines the introduction and contextualization of international socialist paradigms in the Southeast European periphery. At its core is the presentation of three case studies (Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece), intertwined at times through similar, but also divergent paths. Each case aspires to tell a different and yet complementary story with respect to the issue of modernity and socialism. The book analyses the introduction of socialism against the background and in conjunction to other prominent options of political modernity such as nationalism, liberalism and agrarianism.


List of Abbreviations

I. Introduction

  1. Methodology
  2. Context, Ideology, Adaptation

II. Intellectuals

  1. The Russian Connection and the Geography of Revolution
  2. Models and Master Texts
  3. Balkan Disciples
  4. Intellectuals and Political Systems
  5. Social Descent and Professional Integration

III. The Ambiguities of Modernity (Serbia)

  1. Some Notes on the Historiography
  2. The Ideological Roots of Serbian Socialism
  3. Modernization and its Antecedents
  4. A Moral World Imperiled
  5. The Mission: Saving Serbdom
  6. The Individual and Society
  7. The Radicals and the Nation
  8. A l’attaque
  9. The Railway
  10. The Agrarian Radicals
  11. A Popular Party
  12. The Watershed
  13. A Church and an Army
  14. Slavophilism
  15. To the People
  16. Manipulating the Past
  17. Heading for Confrontation
  18. Constitutional Philosophy
  19.  In Power
  20. Legacies of Radicalism

IV. Caught up in the Contradictions of Modernity (Bulgaria)

  1. The Historiography on the Schism
  2. Bulgarian Socialism
  3. Sŭiuz vs. Partiia: The Priority of Political or Economic Organization?
  4. Blagoev vs. the Narodniks
  5. Constructing the Social subject: a Party with two Voices
  6. Modernization
  7. Mentalities
  8. The Profile of the Party
  9. Flirting with the Peasant
  10. “Obshto Delo”
  11. “Alarm for Ghosts--Our Apostasy or their Nonsense”
  12. Historical Materialism not Economic Determinism
  13. The Debate on Private Ownership
  14. The Debate on Party Membership
  15. The Predicament of Bulgaria
  16. Theory and Practice
  17. How to Make Sense of Broad Socialism
  18. Rethinking Bulgarian Politics

V. Modernity Without Socialism (Greece)

  1. Historiographical Notes
  2. Greek Nationalism: the Imaginary of Superiority
  3. Some Particularities of Greek Socio-Economic Development
  4. Intellectuals: the Discrete Temptation of Submission
  5. The Liberals: Progress, Expansion and Order
  6. The National Schism: Metamorphoses of Political Polarization
  7. “The Promise of the Impossible Revolution”

VI. Epilogue

  1. Divergent Paths Towards Modernity?
  2. Legitimacy and Mass Politics
  3. Socialism
  4. Politics and the State
  5. Legacies
"Dimou has a three-fold analytical strategy: firstly to examine the correlation between the Balkan context and the socialist ideology; secondly, to discuss the process of transfer and adaptation of socialist paradigms and thirdly, to explore the potential dynamic that socialism generated as a political option in the three South East European societies. The book is cleverly planned and skillfully accomplished. The three case studies follow chronologically one after the other, illuminating the porblem of the transfer and adaptation of the socialist paradigm at different stages in the three different countries. This is a rich book, profoundly and thoroughly researched, covering a considerable portion of modern Balkan history. The range of the subject is impressive; the narrative is presented with great erudition and sophistication... the book is Balkanology at its best: each of the stories can be measured and properly understood against the others, like for instance Bulgarian... more
"Augusta Dimou hat sich entschieden, die hochabstrakte und teilweise dogmatisch geführte Debatte über die Vor- und Nachteile von Vergleich und Transfer als Forschungsansätze kurz und bündig zu besprechen. Konsequenter als in der bisherigen Literatur arbeitet Augusta Dimou heraus, dass das wichtigste Vorbild und der Ideengeber der Balkansozialisten ursprünglich der russische Populismus war und nicht westliche Parteien. Viel westliches sozialistisches Ideengut erreichte Bukarest, Belgrad oder Sofia sogar auf dem Umweg über Moskau, Odessa oder Tartu / Dorpat. Nicht weniger bedeutsam ist aber das Hervorheben des aus Russland importierten Selbstverständnisses des Intellektuellen als selbständigem sozialen und politischen Akteur, ein im Westen weitgehend unbekanntes Phänomen. Jeder der drei Fallstudien ist ein eigener Buchteil von recht unterschiedlicher Länge gewidmet: 100 Seiten für die serbischen Populisten, 200 Seiten für den interessantesten Fall, die bulgarischen Marxisten und... more
"Comparative studies of Balkan history are still rare despite the analytical benefi ts of comparing phenomena in societies that shared a lot of structural features but also differed in important respects. Augusta Dimou’s book on the emergence of socialism in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Balkans is therefore a welcome addition to the comparative study of the Balkans. Dimou lays out her main research interest on the opening page: “How was the international socialist project ‘translated’ . . . in the context of Southeastern Europe?” Dimou succeeds in making her point, not least by her comparative perspective. At the end she stresses the contribution that socialism, before communists eventually came to power, could have made in the Balkans—not only as a modernizing but also as an internationalist idea that injected new visions of justice into political life. The monograph is of importance for specialists in Balkan history and those with an interest in the... more