into the little auditorium, clutching myrnglass of lozovacha (most of the Croats arernsipping champagne), expecting peasantrncostumes and twanging folk music, onlyrnto see a well-dressed pair of musiciansrnperform a fine recital of 19th-centuryrnGerman music. Brahms is, for manyrnCroats, their musical tradition. Smallrnwonder that Paul Cottfried and otherrncivilized conservatives (they do exist)rnfind it easy to take the Croatian side.rnThe contrast with the Serbs is dweltrnupon at great length in nearly all myrnconversations with Croatian intellectuals.rnSpeaking of Yugoslavia as a doomedrnexperiment, one lady tells me, “You can’trnexpect a humane and civilized peoplernto be happily married to a bunch of wildrnmen who had just come down from thernhills.” The Serbs, I am told, are a peoplernwithout music or literature. “They are sornproud of old Vuk [Vuk Karadjitch, thernlinguist and ballad-collector who standardizedrnthe literary language of bothrnSerbs and Croats], because he taughtrnthem to write.” I make the mistake ofrnsaying that a Serbian monastery wasrnprinting books on a secret press within 50rnyears of Gutenberg’s invention. It was asrnif I had told a black Muslim that whitesrnwere capable of kindness.rnI have been hearing these mutual recriminationsrnfor years. The Croats arernwiley traitors whose greatest pleasure liesrnin their periodic genocides against thernSerbs; on the other hand, the Serbs are arnsavage and treacherous race bent on exterminatingrnthe Croats, because theyrnenvy Croatian superiority. I once had arnlong conversation with a Croat aboutrnDante, and just as I was thinking what arnrelief not to talk about the Serbs, hernquoted from Dante’s list of wicked rulersrn(in Paradiso XIX): “E quel di Rascia, chernmale ha visto il conio di Vinegia.” “Dornyou know who those counterfeitersrnwere?” It is the Serbs, known for theirrndishonesty even in Dante’s time.rnThere is some truth in both sets of insults.rnSerbs inevitably strike urbane centralrnEuropeans as uncouth, for the veryrnreason that they remain a folkish people.rnAt his worst, the Serb is a strutting bully,rnas arrogant as he is merciless. (At hisrnbest, he is exuberant and generous.) ThernCroat, on the other hand, is much morernpolite—if not always so friendly—andrnlife in Zagreb seems unimaginably lovelyrncompared to Belgrade. At his worst,rnhowever, the Croat is more slippery thanrneven the official Serbs in Belgrade. If thernSerbs are Machiavelli’s lions, then thernCroats would surely be good candidatesrnfor foxes. Each nation, including ours, Irnconclude, finds its own way to hell.rnThe Croats are not all intellectualsrnand string-players. The seminary—rnFratrovac—is located on a high hill outsidernthe city, and in the neighborhoodrnthere are still little farms with small plots.rnThere is also the unmistakable odor ofrnpenned hogs. If the brick houses wererncovered with white stucco, I might thinkrnI was in Serbia. Peasants apparentlyrnconstitute a majority in Croatia, wherernthe Peasants Party still has a following.rnDrinking coffee one afternoon in EuropernHouse, I am introduced to a politicalrnintellectual, who hands me a newspaper.rnIt is only later that I realize thatrnGlasnik Hrvatske Seljachke Strankernmeans messenger of the Croatian PeasantrnParty (HSS). Inside there is a 1936rnessay by Stjepan Raditch on the harmonyrnof village life. The little I can makernout reminds me of Andrew Lytic andrnFrank Owsley.rnThe next day I spot the man with thernnewspaper, and he turns out to be advisorrnto Drago Stipac, the head of thernHSS. The party has not changed its emphasis,rnhe tells me, since the days ofrnStjepan and Ante Raditch. The HSS isrna traditional peasant movement, opposedrnto all attempts at centralization,rndemocratic or socialist, and their philosophyrnis rooted in Tolstoy’s principle ofrnnon-violence, although they do make anrnexception for self-defense. Croatia, hernsays, is in crisis, and he fears the rise ofrnmilitarism. Only the HSS, he says, is arntrue Croatian party that can unify therncountry and save it from the excesses ofrncommunism and capitalism.rnHistorically, the Croatian Peasant Partyrnwas among the most interesting politicalrnmovements in the Balkans. Itsrnheroes, the Raditch brothers, may havernbeen ideologically inconsistent—muchrnlike American populists in this regard—rnbut no one doubted either their commitmentrnor their power. The murder ofrnStjepan Raditch in the Yugoslav parliamentrnis an act of far greater significancernlocally than, say, the murder of JFK is tornus, and the Croats blame it on a Serbianrnplot, even though Raditch was arnpersonal friend of the king, who regardedrnhim as essential to his own power.rnThe Montenegrin who shot him said itrnwas to avenge an insult, and anyone whornknows Montenegrins will find this explanationrneasy enough to believe, butrnRaditch’s death profited ultra-nationalistsrnin both Croatia and Serbia.rnAlthough the party is not explicitlyrnCatholic, the social and economic viewsrnof the HSS are rooted, I am told, in Rerumrnnovarum, which this intellectual interpretsrnto mean adherence to the freernmarket subject to Christian doctrine.rnThis conversation confirms my perceptionrnthat the strongest element in Croatianrnlife is still the Church, persecutedrnbut never co-opted by the communists.rn(One wishes the same could be said ofrnthe official Serbian and Russian Orthodoxrnestablishments.) Europe House,rnwhere our group is meeting, stands onlyrna block or two around the main squarernfrom the cathedral, and our deliberationsrnnever stray very far from thernChurch’s great encyclicals on politicalrneconomy.rnIn recent years. Eastern Europe hasrnbeen overrun by free-market conservativesrnpromising to undo the effects ofrncommunism in a decade. The hopesrnthey raised have largely gone unrealized,rnand communist electoral victories inrnPoland and Lithuania might be interpretedrnas votes of no confidence inrnMilton Friedman. But what if the freemarketersrnwere wildly successful in transformingrnVilnius and Zagreb into SantarnBarbara? California is a land of gentlern(usually) savages, whose skills are in thernservice of consumerism. Life in thesernUnited States has all the vulgarity andrnhedonism of Petronius’s Trimalchio—rnwithout any of the exuberance. I hadrnsomehow hoped that all the taxes wernlavished on the Cold War would mean,rnin the end, something better than DavidrnLetterman.rnEuropean Catholics strike me as obsessedrnwith Michael Novak, an amiablernenough journalist whom it is difficultrnfor an American to view with alarm, butrnCatholics on both sides of the torn curtainrnare either enthralled or—more oftenrn—terrified by the efforts of Novakrnand his colleagues to identify the Christianrnsocial message with democraticrncapitalism. {Communione e Liberazionernwriters describe Messers. Novak, Weigel,rnand Neuhaus as the NeoconservativernTrinity.) I do my best to explain thatrnthere is nothing particularly new in whatrnthey have to say—it is John Dewey graftedrnonto John Courtney Murray—andrnnone of them writes well enough to attractrna mass following. Besides, the leftistrnexcesses of the young MaritainistarnNovak are excellent weapons to usernagainst the state-capitalist excesses ofrn36/CHRONICLESrnrnrn