Balkans

The roots of the present protests in Bosnia-Hercegovina go right back to the break-up of Yugoslavia. Civil and religious war, two decades of privatisation, plunder and peripheral gangster capitalism, as well as the constant humiliation by the structures of the imperialist protectorate OHR (Office of the High Representative) have pressed Bosnians – and other Yugoslav peoples – so hard that for a long period it seemed that a good and prosperous life was just the stuff of history and family tales from “Tito's time”.

[We strongly recommend this article, as it highlights the return of class solidarity across the ethnic divide in the former Yugoslavia.]

At the recent Srebrenica massacre commemoration in the Potočari Memorial Centre, the victims’ families turned against the politicians present, and Bosnian crowds directed loud whistles and curses at the same politicians.

Zastava is no more. After twenty years of agonizing transition from a centrally planned “self-management” economy to capitalism, the factory, which once stood as the symbol of post World War Two prosperity and development in the former Yugoslavia, is about to be erased from the state registry of companies, giving way to an Italian multinational FIAT.

A new grouping has been formed within the JOSD (Unified Organisation for Socialism and Democracy) in East Sarajevo, “based on the principles of Marxism and liberty” and which “rejects and renounces bourgeois and obsolete nationalist ideologies”. After the fratricidal civil war that tore apart the former Yugoslavia, promoted by local nationalist bourgeois cliques, we now see the beginnings of a reawakening of the most radical youth whose points of reference are the struggles of the past that united the peoples of this region and Marxism. We publish it for the interests of our readers and welcome this development.

The collapse of the former Yugoslavia, and with it the old planned economy was a painful process for the workers. What happened at the famous Zastava car factory in Kragujevac during the past two decades of transition is a prime example. How was it privatized and sold off to FIAT? What is seldom heard in the Serbian media and why? Searching for answers to these questions, a member of the “Crvena Kritika” editorial board interviewed Zoran Mihajlović, the secretary of the Independent Union of Serbia at FAS (FIAT Automobiles Serbia).

The breakup of Yugoslavia led to the domination of imperialism over the republics that made it up. It led to terrible fratricidal killing and the emergence of reactionary political forces, all pushing a nationalist agenda to the benefit of a small clique. This is clear today in the situation facing workers in Bosnia. Here a Bosnian Marxist makes an appeal to all genuine socialist and communists to come together and offer the workers an alternative.

On March 12, 145,000 workers took part in a massive work stoppage in Slovenia. Rising inflation and low wages are pushing the workers onto the path of class struggle. In line with the process of radicalisation taking place across Europe, the Slovenian workers are beginning to mobilise in a big way.

The Slovenian workers have taken part in several massive mobilisations in recent months. Here we reproduce a New Zealand comrade's experiences and lessons learned during his recent stay in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

There has been a lot of media hype about the big rally in Belgrade last week after the announcement that Kosovo had declared its "independence". But the real mood in Serbia, especially among the working class, is very different. There are indications that the workers are tired of the nationalism and chauvinism being pumped out by the Serbian bourgeoisie and in particular are fed up with all the bourgeois parties. What is missing a political expression of the working class.

We are publishing an eyewitness account from Belgrade of the violence that broke out after Kosovo announced its independence from Serbia. In spite of the media footage the vast majority of the masses ignored the small number of demonstrators! The working class responded quietly, treating the rioters with nothing but fear and disgust! Hardly anyone is prepared to come out and support the Serbian bourgeois... Its credibility is wearing as thin as the patience of the masses.

The process of capitalist restoration in Serbia has been brutal. Hundreds of thousands of workers in the old industries have lost their jobs. The old social buffers provided by the planned economy have been dismantled. In this atmosphere a sombre mood dominates the working class. The only outlet the ruling class can offer is to keep whipping up nationalist sentiment.

On Saturday, November 17, a massive demonstration of 70,000 workers and youth took place in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. The workers are fed up with low wages, high prices, cuts in services and privatisation. They have had a taste of capitalism and clearly don’t like it.

This article was sent to us by Nikola Vukobratović, who is the Chairman of the Socialist Youth of Croatia, the youth organisation of the Socialist Workers' Party of Croatia. Since most of our readers will not be familiar with the corruption scandals mentioned in the article, we provide here a short introduction.

The collapse of the former Yugoslavia had led to a swathe of privatisations, cuts in social spending and a systematic dismantling of all the gains of the past. But one event back on November revealed that below the surface a new situation is brewing. Suddenly in reaction to worsening conditions, the imposition and increase in fees and so on, the students in one Faculty occupied the university building in an exemplary manner.

We have received this article from the President of the Workers' Communist Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Although we may not agree with every point in it, it gives a very good idea of the totally negative effects of the break up of the former Yugoslavia on the living conditions of workers on both sides of the divide. But there are signs that the class struggle is simmering below the surface.

The break-up of the former Yugoslav Federation led to an unmitigated disaster for the workers of all the republics that emerged from the debris. This article shows how the Croatian economy entered a long period of depression, with very high levels of unemployment. Now a certain stabilisation has been achieved but only at the cost of accumulating a huge foreign debt.

We are making available to our readers this platform. It shows that after all the reactionary bloodletting and criminal break-up of the former Yugoslavia, the idea that socialism is possible is not dead.

The recent referendum in Montenegro produced a majority for separation from Serbia, but this small country remains seriously divided. In reality there is no “independence”, but a small nation prey to the whims of imperialism.