Balkans

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.

In the morning hours of Saturday, March 11, Slobodan Milosevic, was found dead in his prison cell at the Hague. With his death, the bourgeois media began once again to dig through the recent history of the Balkans in an attempt to make sense of the break-up of former Yugoslavia. But what was the role played by Milosevic, and what is the feeling over his death in Serbia?

The workers and students in Slovenia have awakened. For the first time since Slovenia’s separation from Yugoslavia, workers and students from all across Slovenia came together on November 26 to march for a common goal and to clearly demonstrate that they are prepared to fight against the government’s counter-reforms in education and the economy.

The bloodshed that took place throughout the former Yugoslavia in the last decade has been interpreted in many different ways by many different bourgeois theoreticians. In an attempt to explain the ongoing war, the media labelled it as “ethnic”, “religious”, “civil” and in some cases even “tribal”. As Marxists we fight against these misinterpretations which flow from a basic misunderstanding of the causes and nature of the wave of violence which hit the Balkans in the nineties.

Spokesman Air Commodore David Wilby said yesterday NATO would consider the Serbian media part of Milosevic's war machine if it did not report what it considered to be accurate news. He added: "Serb radio and TV is an instrument of propaganda and repression. It is therefore a legitimate target in this campaign." (Morning Star, April 9, 1999) French armed forces Chief General Jean-Pierre Kelche said: "We are going to bust their transmitters and their relay stations." (Morning Star, April 9, 1999)

Militarily, politically, economically, and socially, the war in Yugoslavia will undoubtedly have a lasting effect on the Balkans. But what are some of the other possible consequences of this military action? If the past sheds any light on the present situation, the use of high-tech weapons by the NATO alliance may have some serious, lasting environmental and health effects on the people of the Balkans.

On April 1, 2004 around 200 workers of the Slovenian company Comet, the main producer of wet stones in Slovenia, went on strike. They have now been striking for one week and it seems that the strike will not come to an end if the workers do not get what they demand. In the recent period there has been an ascent in the class struggle in the Slovenian industrial sector. Following the workers' strike in Unior company, which produces all kinds of tools from screwdrivers, spanners, tongs etc., this has been the fourth strike in the industrial sector this year.

What happened in Kosovo last week was not a spontaneous outbreak of hostilities between Serb and Albanian Kosovars, but a planned and well-orchestrated manouevre by nationalists to "ethnically cleanse" the province and push towards some kind of ethnically "pure" Kosovo. Workers on either side will lose out from such a scenario.

The bloodshed that took place throughout the former Yugoslavia in the last decade has been interpreted in many different ways by many different bourgeois theoreticians. The only common threads throughout all these pearls of wisdom were those of the sometimes naïve, but mostly calculated, interest driven prejudices and nonsense. In an attempt to explain the ongoing war, the media labelled it as “ethnic”, “religious”, “civil” and in some cases even “tribal”. As Marxists we fight against these misinterpretations which flow from a basic misunderstanding of the causes and nature of the wave of violence which hit the Balkans in the nineties.

Almost five years since the fighting ceased and NATO troops were sent in to pacify the region, conflict between Serbs and Kosovar Albanians has flared up once again. This renewed conflict confirms everything we have said about Kosovo and the wider problems affecting the whole of the Balkans. The fundamental problems have not been resolved. They have been simmering below the surface.

The sharp radicalisation within Serbian society continues, and was put in the spotlight once again last week by the third failed presidential election in a row. The working people of Serbia simply stayed at home, ignoring the government calls to go out and elect a president. The election results clearly showed just how deep the crisis in the country is, and how unpopular and weak the pro-western ruling caste is in reality. From Pobunjeni Um Editorial Board.

We have received this report fromGoran Markovic, President of the Main Board of the Workers' Communist Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina and are happy to publish it. It highlights the reawakening of the workers in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the terrible war that tore this country apart. The interesting thing is that workers on both sides of the divide are struggling for the same things.

Just after the assassination of the Serbian Prime Minister, Zoran Djindjic, a Marxist in Belgrade sent us this report and analysis. Djindjic certainly had many enemies and our correspondent looks at each one of them. This event reflects the mess that the transition to capitalism has created in the former Yugoslavia. FromPobunjeni Um Editorial Board.

A Yugoslav Marxist student looks at the achievements of state education under the old Titoist regime and compares it to today’s level of education as the whole system is being gradually privatised. Although marred by the bureaucratic deformations of the old Titoist regime, it did show the potential that exists from having a fully state run system. What would have been possible if there had been genuine socialism and workers’ democracy in Yugoslavia? And what does the future hold for the present and future generations of students in the former Yugoslav republics as the greedy hand of capitalism slowly but surely begins to strangle what was good in the old system?

During the four decades of "the building of socialism" in the former Yugoslavia there had been formulated more economic theories of socialism than in all the other self-proclaimed "socialist" countries of Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Dragan Draca explains the bureaucratic motives behind this to justify every U-turn in economic policy during that period. (February 23, 2002) This is the English version of the Serbo-croatian original ZABLUDE PROŠLOSTI published by the Yugoslavian Marxist website Pobunjeni Um.

Last May’s strikes forced the then government into a compromise over wage levels. Since then the government has fallen and a new government has come to power. Now as the economic situation worsens a new strike wave is spreading across Macedonia.

On September 29, the first round of the Serbian Presidential elections was held. The two candidates, Kostunica (Democratic Party of Serbia) and Labus (Group of Citizens), went through to the second round, where Kostunica of the Democratic Party received a majority, but the turnout was so low, only 45.5% of the total electorate, that the elections were not valid. Goran M. in Belgrade, gives us an idea of the mood among the masses that has led to this stalemate. It was obvious that there was no enthusiasm for either of the two candidates or their pro-capitalist policies.

The workers of Macedonia have once again shown that only through struggle can any meaningful victory be achieved. The strike of 80,000 public sector workers which started last week has forced the government to back down.

Our correspondents from Macedonia report on the recent strike wave that has hit the country. After years of waiting for things to "get better" the Macedonian workers have lost their patience. In a region blighted by ethnic conflict, the potential for working class struggle is clearly shown, and is an indication of how things will develop all over Eastern Europe. The class struggle is back on the agenda.