Marko Attila Hoare is a Senior Research Fellow at Kingston University, London. He was born in London and educated at the University of Cambridge and Yale University. He has been researching and writing about the history and politics of South East Europe since the early 1990s and has lived and worked in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia and Serbia. He is the author of The History of Bosnia: From the Middle Ages to the Present Day; Genocide and Resistance in Hitler's Bosnia: The Partisans and the Chetniks, 1941-1943 (which won the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow Monograph Competition in 2004); and How Bosnia Armed. Marko blogs at Greater Surbiton.
Why do you blog? > So I can write about topics that I otherwise wouldn't have the chance to write about, and work out my thoughts on them. So I can write about South East Europe more freely than I otherwise could. And because I was spending so much time commenting on other people's blogs, I thought I might as well have my own.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Bottom line: don't humiliate or degrade yourself, e.g. by wallowing in exhibitionism about your private life or by flinging around vulgar abuse. The difference between a blogger who is entertaining and provocative, and one who is an embarrassment and/or disgusting, is both huge and painfully obvious to anyone who reads them. And a stench will linger...
What are you reading at the moment? > The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Madame Bovary; Wuthering Heights; 120 Days of Sodom; Candide; Catch-22.
What is your favourite movie? > The Talented Mr Ripley; Twelve Angry Men; Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!; Divided We Fall; Breakfast at Tiffany's.
What is your favourite song? > 'Misguided Angel' by the Cowboy Junkies; 'Michel' by Anouk; 'Silhouettes' by The Rays; 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow' by The Shirelles; 'Le Tourbillon' by Jeanne Moreau.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > The most important change of opinion I've ever had - and the one that required the most agonizing - was realizing that 'anti-imperialism' (or 'opposition on principle to Western military intervention') was something highly negative and reactionary, rather than positive and progressive.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > That positive principles, goals, societies and individuals should continually grow, evolve and be reinvented, while those that remain rigid and unchanging will stagnate and cease to be positive.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > The misguided belief that true morality lies in attachment to a set of dogmas - be they religious, political or other - and that these dogmas must be rigidly adhered to, by ignoring evidence that undermines them or changes in the world that render them obsolete, and by suppressing one's own sense of scepticism.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Two stand out in particular: Pornography and Silence by Susan Griffin and The Birth of Fascist Ideology by Zeev Sternhell.
Who are your political heroes? > Those with whom I most identify are Tony Blair, Latinka Perovic and Stjepan Mesic. Those whose historical contribution to human emancipation I most appreciate are Josip Broz Tito and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > A total overhaul of the UK's pathetic excuse for an education system. I'd abolish all faith-based and private education in favour of a universal system of state education in which all children would receive the best – wholly secular - education possible and be taught the values of free thinking, hard work, achievement, citizenship and patriotism, and in which there'd be absolutely zero tolerance of anti-social behaviour.
What would you do with the UN? > Lots of things, but above all: expel Russia and China from the Security Council, and suspend the memberships of all states run by dictatorships, or guilty of genocide, state-sponsored racism or other forms of massive human rights abuse.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > The rise of militantly anti-Western ideologies outside the democratic world (whether nationalist, religious-fundamentalist or left-wing or right-wing extremist), occurring in conjunction with the rise of self-hating anti-Western sentiment among the political and chattering classes within the Western democratic world.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > There will never be a best point for human civilization. I believe that, overall and in general terms, human civilization is continually improving, but the improvement is not uniform or absolute. There's a price to be paid for human progress, but that doesn't mean one should look back nostalgically to a mythical 'golden age'.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Be totally honest with yourself about your motives, weaknesses and character flaws; don't allow irrational fears, prejudices or small-mindedness to stop you from doing what you want to do, or what you feel is right.
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > Definitely; it can be very intellectually stimulating. But I'm inclined to believe it's better to be with a kindred spirit in the long run.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Loyalty and commitment to the people you love.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > The readiness to sacrifice love, morality or integrity for the sake of one's public appearance or personal interest.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > When telling the truth would cause wholly unnecessary pain or offence to someone, without benefiting anybody or anything.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > I loathe and despise the anti-Western, so-called 'radical' left out of all proportion to their actual political significance.
What is your favourite proverb? > 'The perfect is the enemy of the good.'
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Going clubbing; watching sport on television; praying to God; obsessing over houses, cars and consumer goods.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > That at the end of my life, I'll feel intellectually dissatisfied with myself.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Newnham in Cambridge would be just about ideal.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Reading, travelling, watching movies, eating out, walking, going to the gym and blogging – not necessarily in that order.
What is your most treasured possession? > My library.
What talent would you most like to have? > To be a great public speaker.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > The team behind Viz magazine.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of all the profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]