In This Review

The Balkanization of the West: The Confluence of Postmodernism and Postcommunism
The Balkanization of the West: The Confluence of Postmodernism and Postcommunism
By Stjepan G. Mestrovic
226 pp, Routledge, 1994
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As its title suggests, this book argues that rather than democracy and capitalism spreading to the former communist world, the rest of the world will become "Balkanized," with even Western Europe and the United States disintegrating into a welter of tribal, ethnic, and other pre-modern conflicts. This strangely written book wanders between sociology on a grand scale and policy advocacy concerning Yugoslavia, a subject from which the author has trouble distancing himself. It contains one important insight not present in similarly pessimistic prognoses like Robert A. Kaplan's or Hans Magnus Enzensberger's: the weak point of Western modernity is that postmodernism has vanquished Enlightenment rationalism and left democracy without secure philosophical foundations. The author's distinction between the universalism of rational Enlightenment principles and societies based on culture and tradition is too sharply drawn, however. Most workable democracies (and most sensible democratic theorists) have realized that universalism and culture must be combined; for this very reason their staying power is greater than suggested here.