How Yugoslav Society Fought Political Corruption between the World Wars Building on the allegories of the greatest political “homopoliticus” and literary chronicler of the First Yugoslavia, Miroslav Krleža, the author establishes in the introduction that the state was corrupt to its foundations; however, no one was willing to fight it. The article continues with a question as to how it was possible that despite its apparent omnipresence, the fight against corruption was so unsuccessful. Is the impression about vast extent of corruption in the First Yugoslavia wrong? Was the threshold of perception of corrupt acts considerably different (lower) compared to the then-valid standards in the West? Is it possible that society as a whole did not want to fight corruption? The author seeks answers to these questions on the basis of syntheses, theoretical discussions and a case study.
The Famous Scandals of Radomir Pašić as an Exampleof Corruption and a (Failed) Fight against It in the First Yugoslavia
The author finds that the First Yugoslavia had no ethical infrastructure and that the level of corruption in the country was very high. The corrupt behavior of Rade Pašić, and in particular the “Adamov scandal” are used as examples of individual attempts in the fight against corruption that, however, yielded no results. The article provides (mostly) the Slovene view of corruption because the author focuses in particular on Slovene newspapers (the dailies Slovenec and Jutro), the only media at the time that offered the wider public an insight in the scandals and attempts at “saving the state from the claws of corrupt people” and shaped their attitudes towards such acts.
Based on the memories of a few leading Yugoslav military servicemen, the article presents certain practices that were common in the global arms trade, but which did not necessarily fit the ideological framework of the Second Yugoslav state. The susceptibility of state officials to corruption in the developing countries often facilitated arms deals, and the Yugoslav arms trade followed patterns that were based on a non-aligned policy and that were becoming increasingly inefficient. One ideological problem was the commission payment that opened every door and made competitive business possible. This commission was obviously seen as unacceptable andimmoral, if pragmatic; however, using “modern marketing methods” was essential for survival in the market. The armstrade and accompanying services contributed twice as much to the Yugoslav budget as tourism; consequently, refusal to recognize the commission/bribery concept in the 1980s was no longer an option.
A Connection between Crimen Laesae Maiestatis with the Uprisings and the Role of Rebel Punishment in the Tolmin Peasant Revolt of 1713
The first line of argument in the article is an overview of the legal interpretations of uprising as a crime between the Middle Ages and the 18th century, when a shift in the authority concept occurs under the influence of natural law. This had an impact on the transformation of the offence of insulting the ruler, which became more frequently connected with other crimes, including the crime of uprising. What is presented is the process of distinguishing between the offence of insulting the ruler from the crimes of uprising and treason, the abuse of state symbols and institutions, and of immediate threat to the person of the ruler. The second line of argument concerns the trial of the rebels in the Tolmin Peasant Revolt of 1713. The questionable practices of the serfs that were underlined in the 1713 uprising case by the Imperial Commission as common features of the uprising culture were connected above all with threats to public security and disrespect or threats to the existing social hierarchy. The offence of insulting the sovereign that was proven against some of the executed rebels was traditional because it comprised an insult to the regional prince and a breach of fidelity. For all criminals against whom it was proven, it resulted in the death penalty, while insult to the local authorities counted only as anaggravating circumstance.
Insults to Franz Joseph in the First Decade of His Imperial Career
The ever-popular practice of insulting the authorities and their highest representatives has been prosecuted and penalized in different ways at different times. The article presents examples of penalties for disrespectful talk about the Emperor Franz Joseph in the 1850s, when the 1852 Penal Code applied. One particularly interesting case is that of a slanderer who was sentenced to the maximum punishment available, i.e. five years of close arrest. The case is extraordinary owing to the length of the penalty because usually the insulters of His Majesty were sentenced to a few months behind bars.
In 1910 the first international hunting exhibition took place in Vienna. Visitors were also invited to the exhibition via special posters in the compartments of passenger trains. In July 1910 an incident took place at the Ljubljana train station. An unknown person scribbled on the posters insults to the emperor and his court such as “an ass”, “a brothel” (Hurenhaus) or “a circus” (Affentheater). After the disclosure of the criminal act of an insult to His Majesty, which according to § 63 of the 1852 Penal Code was punishable with one to five years of close arrest, an extensive investigation was launched by the provincial court in Ljubljana. Critical remarks about the emperor were strictly prosecuted until the decline of the Austrian monarchy. Cleaners and other workers with access to passenger train cars became the suspects. The investigating judge questioned many suspects and witnesses, and two legal experts – graphologists – were called in to perform a handwriting test (Schriftprobe) with the suspects and provide an expert opinion. Both concluded that Rudolf Schönemann, a painter with the imperial royal Railways, had scribbled the insults on the posters. There followed numerous inquiries about the suspect, which presented Schönemann as a patriot disposed to Germanness who had never shown anti-dynastic disposition nor belonged to any political organization. Unfortunately, it remains unknown whether charges were brought against him.