Macedonia: Its Races and Their Future
H. Brailsford

IV. The Races of Macedonia

11. National Propagandas

Reasons for Servian Failure Weakness of Greek Claims
Reasons for Servian Failure
But undoubtedly any Slav race which belonged to the Orthodox faith might have won Macedonia, given the necessary tact and the necessary funds. Servia or Montenegro, or even Russia, might have done it. In point of fact it is Bulgaria which has succeeded. History and ethnology and comparative philology may take what side in the controversy they please. The Macedonians are Bulgars to-day because a free and progressive Bulgaria has known how to attract them. Servia did not exercise an influence so compelling, and the Servian cause in Macedonia proper is in consequence a negligible and artificial movement. It exists only in so far as it pays its way, and in so far as the Turks encourage it as a counterpoise to the menacing Bulgarian agitation. The very fact that the Turks smile upon it is a proof that it is innocuous and doomed to futility. As things are to-day the Servian consuls are about as likely to win the Macedonians for Servia as the American missionaries are to convert them to Protestantism.

It is easy to indicate some of the many reasons for


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Servia's failure. [1] In the first place, it is only recently that Servia has taken much interest in Macedonia. Up till the Austrian occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Servia's ambitions were directed rather to these genuinely Servian lands than to Macedonia. Even after the Treaty of Berlin it was long before she realised that the northern and western part of her natural heritage was irreparably lost. Then, however much she might have wished to repair her error, it was too late. The Bulgarians had already created their national Church; the majority of the Macedonian Slavs had already adhered to it, and its schools were firmly established and thoroughly popular. Servia could not bring herself to break with the "Greek" Orthodox Church, and accordingly she had no fold into which the Macedonians might be shepherded. Thirdly, her internal weakness tied her hands. She had suffered a disastrous military defeat at Slivnitza at the hands of the Bulgarians, and from this her prestige in the Balkans has never recovered. Her finances were and still are in the utmost disorder; and while King Milan squandered money on his pleasures and sold the country to foreign speculators, there was no surplus to spare for propaganda. Under Milan and Alexander Servia passed through one long and shameful crisis, and her domestic revolutions and reigns of terror were preoccupation enough. Lastly, one must recognise that, despite their kinship and their very similar history, there is a profound difference between the Bulgarian and the Servian national characters a difference which has its counterpart in two physical types. [2] The Servians are a pleasure-loving people, with more aesthetic sense and a more excitable disposition than the Bulgarians. They have not the same power of continuous work, the same indifference to pain, the same resolute stolidity, or the same habit of mental application. During eighty years of freedom they have made less progress morally and materially than the Bulgarians in twenty-

1. I am speaking here of Macedonia proper. In "Old Servia" the Bulgarians have no footing, nor do they seek to acquire one. See Chapter VIII., Section 7, p. 274.

2. See Note D. at end of chapter.


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five years. One consequence of the rapid economic development of Bulgaria has been that her steady demand for labour has encouraged a ceaseless flow of Macedonian immigrants, who spend a few months or a few years in the principality and then return to their villages with their savings. These men become missionaries of the Bulgarian idea. They spread the fame of her liberty, her wealth, and her rapid progress. The number who go to Servia, on the other hand, is relatively inconsiderable, and their reports can hardly be entirely favourable though for all her political instability Servia still presents a sufficiently striking contrast to Turkey. When, in addition to these advantages, the Bulgarophil Macedonians started their marvellously-organised revolutionary committee in 1893, the Servian cause received its death-blow. By way of emphasising her antagonism to Bulgaria, official Servia now adopted an openly Turcophil policy, and nothing could be more fatal to the prospects of any Christian race in Turkey. The Macedonian peasantry will bestow their allegiance only on a propaganda which promises them some speedy prospect of release from the Ottoman yoke. Finally, there is this great difference between the rival propagandas, that while the Bulgarians are working for the autonomy of Macedonia, the Servians and the Greeks aim only at its annexation to their own country. The result is that their activities seem to be for the profit of their own land, whereas the Bulgarians are undoubtedly creating a spirit of local Macedonian patriotism. The Servian movement is a purely official agitation, guided and financed in Belgrade; whereas, despite the sympathy of Sofia, the Bulgarian Revolutionary Committee is a genuine Macedonian organisation.

Weakness of Greek Claims
The Servians have a respectable historical and ethnographical claim to be reckoned a Macedonian race, however weak their political position may be. With the Greeks matters are reversed. The legend that Macedonia is a Greek province like Crete and Cyprus, a true limb of Hellas Irredempta, is firmly planted in the European, and especially in the English, mind. Lord Salisbury


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advanced this curious argument in the crudest form against the Treaty of San Stefano. It keeps its hold in the West no doubt because the Greeks are well known through their commercial colonies and their romantic history, while the Bulgarians are a purely local race which has no roots beyond the East. And yet it is a sheer fiction and a trifling with words. The Greeks are not a Macedonian race, though they have a powerful Church and a considerable party in Macedonia. If one takes the linguistic test there are practically no villages in European Turkey whose mother-tongue is Greek, save along the coasts of the Aegean and the Black Sea, in the peninsulas of Chalcidice, and the Thracian Chersonnese, and in the extreme south of Macedonia near the Thessalian frontier. [3] They have a large population in Salonica and Constantinople, but Salonica is nevertheless predominantly a Jewish town, while Constantinople is hopelessly cosmopolitan. Historically their claims are no better. The Byzantine Empire had no footing in the interior of Macedonia after it had ceased to be Roman and international, and had become patriotic and Greek. The Greek claim rests mainly upon this, that there is still a large faction of the Macedonian population which, either from fear, from superstition, or from preference, remains within the "Greek" Orthodox (i.e., the Patriarchist) Church. These people are Vlachs, Albanians, Serbs, or other Slavs of uncertain origin, but they are no more Greeks than the Orthodox Russians are. But the growth of Greek influence is none the less a curious study. It depended almost entirely upon the Church, and it must have been immeasurably stronger in the Balkan peninsula after the coming of the Turks than it ever was before. It embraced not merely Macedonia, but Roumania, Bulgaria, and even Servia as well. The few Slavs in the interior who were educated at all were taught to regard themselves as Greeks, and the very tradition of their origin was in danger of dying out. Two fatal errors alone wrecked what was nothing less than a scheme for Hellenising the Balkan peninsula. The women

3. These were the only districts of Macedonia which joined the Greeks in the War of Independence - a very significant fact.


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were not educated, and for all the Greek schools might do every Slav child learned his own despised tongue at his mother's knee. The peasants also were neglected. The Greeks regarded them with the unmeasured and stupid contempt which a quick town-bred people instinctively feels for a race of cultivators. They were barbarians, beasts of burden, men only "in the catalogue." The Greeks denied the rights of men to the Slav peasants and refused to accept them as brethren. The consequence was that the peasants never quite lost their sense of separation, and a certain dim consciousness of nationality remained, rooted in injuries and hatred. The nemesis came at the beginning of the nineteenth century, when the Greeks, rising at last to the height of their national idea, struck their great blow for freedom. The flag of Greek independence was first unfurled, not in Greece, but in Roumania, which had long been ruled by Greek Governors appointed by the Turks, and the Greek army found itself to its amazement confronted not merely by Turkish hordes, but by native Wallachian bands inspired by a national patriotism of their own.

There is no region of the earth where the national idea has wrought such havoc or rioted in such wantonness of power as in Macedonia. It poisons and secularises religion. It sanctions murder, excuses violence, and leaves more kindliness between man and beast than between the adherents of rival races. In its name peoples have done great deeds which liberty should have inspired, and perpetrated oppressions of an iniquity so colossal that only an idea could have prompted them. The miseries of ten centuries have been its work, and the face of the Balkans to-day, furrowed with hatreds, callous from long cruelty, dull with perpetual suffering, is its image and memorial. One turns from a survey of these races and their rivalries, asking what future of peace and common work there can be while the curse of this national idea still teaches men that the vital fact in their lives is the tradition, or the memory, or the habit of speech which divides them from one another.
 

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