Via The NY Transfer News Service ~ All the News that Doesn't Fit The Yugoslave Socialist Federation: Built in anti-Nazi struggle; torn apart by imperialism By Sam Marcy "Hegel remarks somewhere," said Marx in the opening lines of The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, "that all great, historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce." Marx of course had reference to Napoleon Bonaparte as a tragic figure and to Louis Bonaparte, or Napoleon the Third, as the farce. The 20th century also has its Napoleons. `Tito, the incredible' Josip Broz (Tito--1892-1980) may not have been as popular and certainly not as well known as Napoleon the First, but he cut a heroic figure in working class history. A metal worker, he was the first proletarian to become the head of a workers' state in the European arena. Somewhere in the middle 1940s, a little pamphlet appeared entitled "Tito, the Incredible." The title is not an exaggeration. This worker not only organized the Communist Party of Yugoslavia but led the Partisans and the Council for National Liberation to a complete victory over the forces of Nazism, as well as over domestic royalist reaction supported by Washington and London. It should be remembered that when the Council for National Liberation finally liberated the country and in 1945 proclaimed the Federal Peoples Republic of Yugoslavia, this was the first victorious socialist revolution on the European continent since the 1917 October Revolution in Russia. The significance of this victory must be measured against the fact that Allied imperialism was still armed, the Chinese Revolution had not yet fully vanquished the remnants of the pro-imperialist Chiang Kai-shek government, the Cuban Revolution hadn't yet begun, and the Vietnamese and Koreans were still in the throes of consummating their revolutions. United the nationalities Tito enjoyed genuine popularity in Yugoslavia. His greatest contribution lay in the fact that, on the basis of a formidable Communist Party and a working class and peasantry that were ripe for a revolutionary overturn, he united the nationalities of the Balkans. That ushered in a new social and class structure based on the workers and peasants as against the bourgeoisie and their supporters in the camp of imperialism. The Yugoslav revolution united the oppressed nationalities. This worker from Croatia, whose mother was a Slovene, won the confidence of the workers in Serbia and the other republics. It could be likened to a Black worker leading a revolutionary working class movement in the United States and winning the support of the white workers, all as part and parcel of a socialist revolution. However, Tito's very popularity also endangered the Yugoslav revolution. At that time, all Eastern Europe was in the throes of a struggle against the Nazi fascist Axis powers. But although hundreds of thousands of brave communists gave their lives in relentless struggle against fascist reaction even before the war began, and more continued the struggle against Nazi aggression, the revolution was not wholly from below. In all of Eastern Europe, it was supported by the military might of the Soviet Red Army, which both aided and restricted the momentous revolutionary upsurge. Role of Red Army The policy of the USSR at that time was not to uproot the old ruling classes lock, stock and barrel but to retain them in some measure. This was to present at least an appearance of compromise to predatory Anglo-American imperialism, which was most fearful that the sweep of the communist forces would engulf not only Eastern Europe but also France and Italy, where the working class movements had fought the fascists arms in hand. The East European Communist parties looked to Tito as their inspiration and guide to an autonomous revolution. This not only created suspicion in the USSR leadership but led to friction with the Yugoslav government. The high point was reached when Georgi Dimitrov, the Bulgarian Communist leader, on the eve of a regional conference raised the possibility of an East European federation in which, of course, Yugoslavia would play a central role. Dimitrov was rebuked by the Soviet press. (As related in the book "Tito," by Vladimir Dedijer.) Break between Yugoslavia and USSR The historic break in 1948 between Yugoslavia and the USSR not only dimmed the revolutionary prospects of Yugoslavia for leadership in the European arena of the international communist movement but opened the road to compromise and dependence upon the imperialist West. It will serve no useful purpose to go over the many concessions the Yugoslav socialist government had to make in order to survive. But survive it did, believing itself to be a bridge in the struggle between East and West as a leader in the Non-Aligned Movement. However, the seeds for the liquidation of the revolutionary achievements of the Yugoslav Revolution lay precisely in this connection to and dependence on foreign aid from the imperialist powers, principally the United States. Just one small measure of this degree of dependence on the West can be seen in U.S. aid figures. The U.S. gave Yugoslavia foreign aid totaling over $1.8 billion between 1945 and 1964 (Readers Digest Almanac of 1966). The real turn of the Yugoslav economy toward Western imperialist dependence came when the International Monetary Fund itself became the principal figure dishing out aid and loans, and then arrogantly demanded the introduction of market measures. None of this is hidden information and has been widely publicized in both East and West. Western economic pressure The havoc caused by the attempt to restructure the planned economy into its opposite, a capitalist economy based upon individual ownership, is only too well known for us to go over the dreary statistics. But most important for our understanding of the present situation is that notwithstanding the erosion, the dislocation and the sabotage of socialist construction in Yugoslavia, it retained for many years the two basic gains of the revolution. The first was nationalized property--property which had either been expropriated from the bourgeoisie and the landlords or had been built up and modernized by the collective efforts of the peasants and workers in all the republics. Second, it retained that singular achievement which all bourgeois nationalists abhor, but which all proletarian internationalists strive for: a socialist federation of all the different nationalities, which stood as a bulwark against imperialist interference, intervention and subversion. However, the collapse of the USSR, and Eastern Europe in particular, shook the foundations of the socialist federation of Yugoslavia and dealt a blow to the communist and class-conscious workers. Nevertheless, the socialist federation held on, notwithstanding internal erosion and the growth of centrifugal tendencies in the republics. If Yugoslavia had been able to retain its socialist independence after the revolution, there is no telling to what great heights socialist construction could have reached. But this is to demand too much from a proletarian dictatorship surrounded by imperialist vultures who for years had been preparing assiduously, clandestinely and openly, to move in at the appropriate time. The present war The imperialist bourgeoisie will show us for the umpteenth time the terror that the Serbs are committing upon the poor and oppressed in Bosnia and Herzegovina. There are terror and atrocities, all right. But are they committed only by the Serbs and not by the other nationalities? What is this war about? Should we not look to see who among the imperialist powers support whom? Are we to dismiss that the imperialists, and most particularly the U.S., are supporting Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia? Let us grant that this is a civil war in which the toll on the civilian population is mounting. The imperialists say they are moving in out of humanitarian considerations, which their entire history belies. But let us assume that it is like the Civil War in the United States. Were not atrocities committed on both sides? What was Sherman's march through Georgia? Should the progressives throughout the whole world therefore have supported the South as against the North? The British were only too anxious to find a pretext to move in and help the South. The Abraham Lincoln government characterized this as rank interference. Let us suppose for a moment that the British, as the leading power in Europe, had summoned the French, the Germans, the Austrians, the Italians, the Spanish and the Russians for a conference in London to settle the American Civil War, to impose the reestablishment of order in the New World. London conference Is this not what we are witnessing today in London? The U.S. has engineered an international conference there on Yugoslavia. Will we not see France, Germany, Italy, Spain, etc., impose on Yugoslavia what they might have imposed upon the United States in the 1860s, had they the power to do so? Progressive and class-conscious workers throughout the world should ask themselves the most elementary question: What right have these European and American ruling classes to convoke a conference to settle an internal problem of Yugoslavia? What right have they to carry out armed intervention in a country which has not provoked or threatened them in any way? Is this not a violation of the most elementary tenet of international law? Who among the Yugoslavs has called upon them to convene this conference? As always, the imperialists have picked up the smallest, the weakest, the ones most prone to intimidation. Is this not the case with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia? The imperialists first and foremost always aim their first blows at the weakest, either through bribery, corruption or intimidation, and win the allegiance of the top bourgeoisie. Enter the farcical prime minister Now we have as prime minister of Yugoslavia the farce to which Marx referred. It is a profanity to call Milan Panic the prime minister. He is a shady, crooked millionaire entrepreneur exported by the U.S. to Yugoslavia. He can't even boast of any experience in either the foreign or domestic affairs of Yugoslavia. His business in the United States is in the sale of pharmaceuticals, including medicines supposedly to help fight AIDS that have been found of dubious value. It may be on the verge of bankruptcy. He is the type of person who comes in at the right time to serve as a handy tool. An extraordinary article in the New York Times of Aug. 24 gives a laudatory account of his exploits. The writer, typical of many imperialist scribblers, describes Yugoslavia as "one of the biggest snake pits in the world" and a "daunting challenge" to our poor entrepreneur. Should any authentic representatives of the nationalities attend this conference of exploiters and oppressors? How many times before in this century have they tried to impose their will in this region of the world? The earlier Balkan wars had their roots in the avaricious and predatory nature of the imperialist powers. This present conference is no different. Acting Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, who is considered an expert on Yugoslavia because of his business dealings there, held a press conference that foreshadows his role in the London conference. In referring to the Serbians, he said, "They've got to get this into their heads. ..." Would he ever talk about the Rockefellers that way, or the German or French imperialists? Napoleon and Tito Napoleon freed the serfs in part of Europe. He carried the bourgeois revolution against feudalism on his bayonets and that was progressive. But he also carved out an empire that subjugated nations and proclaimed himself emperor. Tito represented not just the peasants but the workers. He did not proclaim himself as either the supreme leader or the supreme theoretician with a new message in the interpretation of Marxism. His tragedy lies in the circumstances of his time. Tito carried the revolution as far as he could. The truth of the matter is that in his time he could only encourage the Western proletariat by example. Had they been in a position to overthrow their own imperialist oppressors, the entire history of Europe would have taken on an entirely different, thoroughly revolutionary course. -30- (Copyright Workers World Service: Permission to reprint granted if source is cited. For more info contact Workers World,46 W. 21 St., New York, NY 10010; "".) ----- NY Transfer News Service Modem: 718-448-2358