Date: Sat, 22 May 1999 23:23:53 -0500 (CDT)
From: Alan Benjamin <>
Subject: YUGOSLAVIA FROM 1945 TO 1991
Organization: PACH
Article: 65130
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <>

Yugoslavia: From the end of the World War II to the break-up of the Federation in June 1991

By Lucien Gauthier, The Organizer, Special Supplement, Thursday 20 May 1999

Contrary to the idea promoted today by the warmakers and their propaganda machine, the peoples of Yugoslavia lived in peace in the post-war period.

The workers and the peasants of all the nationalities had united in the struggle against Hitlers war of extermination, against the savage, brutal colonization. The partisan army, numbering 500,000 fighters, relied on the millions of peoples in the region, all of them representing all the peoples of Yugoslavia.

This is why the efforts made in Yalta by Stalin and Churchill at the end of World War II to restore the monarchy and the capitalist state failed. That effort was opposed by the movement of the millions of men and women who, in the course of liberating the country, took control of the land and the factories, the keys of which they did not intend to hand back to those whom they had driven out. The united struggle of the workers and peasants of every nationality expropriated capital and established social property, the basis of the modern Yugoslav state.

The new Yugoslavia was created in opposition to the Yalta Agreements and against Stalin. It was the product of the mobilization of the workers and peasants of all the nationalities, who sealed the unity of the peoples on the basis of the expropriation of capital.

The advance towards social property gave a material basis to the aspiration of different nationalities of Yugoslavia, who sought to work together in fraternal cooperation. Social property laid the foundations for the settlement of the national question in the Balkans. Indeed, this could be brought about only on the basis of the expropriation of the capitalists.

But to fully advance to a settlement of the national question in the Balkans, such a federation had to embrace all the states in the region. It was precisely at this point that Stalin and the international apparatus of the Kremlin intervened. They set out to forbid the formation of a Balkan Federation for the sake of the Yalta agreements and imperialism because a Balkan Federation would have meant calling into question the capitalist social order in the region. We saw the illustration of this in the crushing of the Greek Revolution by the Kremlin, in agreement with the British.

The federation was limited to Yugoslavia alone, and Yugoslavia itself was isolated following the break with the Soviet Union. Tito had relied upon, and partially mobilized, the mass movements of 1947-1950. But the Tito leadership, to preserve itself as a caste, was to express completely its reactionary nature. This took the form of the single ruling party, purges, repression, and the utilization of the national question to assert its dominant position over a composite bureaucracy and against the masses.

In fact, at each stage in the rise of the mass movement in 1960, in 1968 and then in 1971 Tito was to use the national question to proceed to purges, first attacking Serbian nationalism to exclude one part of the leadership, and then, 10 years later, attacking Croatian nationalism to purge once again.

On each occasion, Tito used the national question in an attempt to divide the working masses.

In 1968, Tito faced a crisis in the entire bureaucratic apparatus. This crisis reached a new stage with the mobilizations of youth and working people. In 1971, a genuine revolt the Croat Spring broke out in Croatia. Then, again in 1971, Tito created the Moslem nationality in Bosnia.

This identified a nationality with a religion. It compelled the Bosnians, whose historical origin was ethnically Serbo-Croatian but who had been Moslemized under the Turkish Occupation, to become Moslem citizens and this in a Republic where 30 percent of the marriages were mixed!

In 1974, Tito created a new Federal Constitution, which re- allotted the powers and the responsibilities of each republic.

This was a Bonapartist attempt to reach a new balance of relations within the bureaucracy. For example, it withdrew Kosovo from Serbia and formed it into an autonomous

territory, against the wishes of certain fractions of the Serbian bureaucracy. With this constitutional revision, Tito sowed new seeds of national competition between the republics.

The Constitution of 1974 began a transfer of economic and political power towards the republics, changing them progressively into so many feudal fiefdoms controlled by the local Communist apparatuses (J. Rupnik, From Belgrade to Sarajevo, Editions Complexe) This Constitutional reform called into question the federal framework of Yugoslavia. It undermined the federal planning authority, the instrument by which social property was organized. By means of these methods, the Tito bureaucracy on the grounds it wanted to become more integrated into the world market (a market dominated by imperialism) set out to undermine the bases of the social property upon which the modern Yugoslavian bureaucratic workers state was founded.

This, in turn, would rekindle the national question.

1965: Decentralization Code word for the attacks on social property The real reason behind Titos manipulation of the national question is to be sought in the greater and greater development of the movement of the masses against the degradation of their conditions of existence all of which resulted from the effects of the market economic reforms introduced by the Tito regime in 1965.

In the name of self-management, the Tito bureaucracy began to call into question the planned character of the economy based on social property. The bureaucracy decentralized economic planning at the level of each republic and permitted it to be opened to foreign capital and imports.

The federal states monopoly on foreign trade was overturned.

The 1965 economic reforms opened the road to privatization and to the penetration of foreign capital through the formation of joint ventures. The results were not slow in coming: the rate of economic growth slowed down, as did that of investment. Meanwhile, unemployment rose dramatically and, by 1971, there were 300,000 unemployed. At the same time, close to a million working people emigrated in search of a better livelihood.

This decentralization insofar as it broke up the federal character of the economy represented the first important attack on the regime of social property. Indeed, during the 1970-1987 period, the markets in each of the republics tended to become more independent of each other.

This process was intensified after adoption of the new Constitution in 1974. Henceforth, the republics were largely cut off from each other; the dislocation of the federal framework progressed as each republic was tied more and more into the world market dominated by imperialism.

The 1974 Constitution and the policies that flowed from it were, in turn, to increase the economic and social inequalities which the post-war economic development had tended to reduce based on the expropriation of capital. At the end of the 1950s, the income per capita in Kosovo the poorest territory

represented 65 percent of that of the richest territory, Slovenia. In 1971, it fell to 50 percent, and in 1980 it was no more than 15 percent.

The policy of the ruling nomenklaturas, which had become subordinated to the International Monetary Fund, were to lower the standards of living of all working people systematically and to pit the different nationalities against each other.

During the 1970s, 15 percent of the population were below the poverty line. This figure jumped to 48 percent in the mid- 1980s and to 60 percent at the end of the 80s! The cause? At the end of the 1970s, as a result of the pro-capitalist policies of the Tito bureaucracy, Yugoslavia found itself burdened with a debt of US$2O billion. It was during these years that the International Monetary Fund imposed its infamous Structural Adjustment Plans, which in every country of the world have led to the same disasters. Debt servicing amounted to 25 percent of exports in 1978 and 45 percent in 1983.

To pay the annual $3 billion to $4 billion of interest on the debt and simply to hold it at its existing level, the bureaucracy was to bleed the country. It launched a series of vicious attacks on the population in the form of drastic cuts in all the social budgets and a wave of layoffs. Inflation climbed to 2,000 percent.

These attacks on social property took a qualitative leap in the late 1980s, as was clearly reported in the Greek newspaper Eleutherotypia (International Courier, Dec. 4, 1993) under the title, Once and for all, lets put a stop to the myths about Yugoslavia.

The article states:

The decisive changes in Yugoslavia took place between 1987 and 1989. It all began in February 1987 with the anti-inflationary packet imposed by the IMF. This was followed in 1988-89 by the radical change in economic legislation. ...

These reforms were decided with the agreement and often the support of both Belgrade and the Northern Republics. From this point on, to quote Serbian Minister for Economic Planning Mr. Chernobernia, the firms have the right to get rid of excessive manpower, and the trade unions will no longer be able to influence internally the makeup of production costs. Chernobernia continued: We have placed crucial importance on re-establishing the complete freedom of the labor market.

Wages will be fixed according to the law of supply and demand.

Economics Professor R. Rancovic spelled out the meaning of these reforms in greater detail. We are more optimistic than ever. Thanks to the complete liberalization of the economy, capital from abroad and within the country will be invested on a large scale. The unemployed will be taken care of by the invisible hand of the market.

But this is not what happened. Soon, the invisible hand began effectively to do its miraculous work: The number of unemployed rose to 376,000 unemployed by the end of 1989, and to 476,000 one year later. The majority of these came from todays Little Yugoslavia that is, from Serbia and Montenegro.

The events of 1987-89 also show how the new economic policy was received by the population, who were called upon to pay for the mistakes of the past. The pay freeze provoked in March 1987 an enormous strike movement in the industrial centers of Croatia. Rapidly it won the whole of the country, obliging the Milosevic government to make a provisional retreat and to brandish the threat of violence to restore order.

This confrontation between the government and the working masses continued: There were 1,623 strikes (involving 365,000 participants) in 1987, compared with 174 strikes (11,000 taking part) in 1982. And there were 1,360 strikes simply during the first nine months of 1988.

The articles authors go on to demonstrate with precision how, in the face the mass outburst against the austerity policies, the bureaucracy had to try to divide the working class:

The Federal Parliament became the permanent target of enraged demonstrators, who often came to Belgrade on foot. It was the need to control the floodtide and divert this powerful movement that the bureaucracy of all the republics resorted to the card of nationalism.

The death of Tito in 1980 the disappearance of the Bonaparte had openly revealed and accelerated the crisis within the bureaucracy. This caste was tending to break up along national lines that is, republic by republic.

One part of the federal bureaucracy, especially in Serbia, wanted to rebalance the bureaucratic relations in its favor by overturning the Constitution of 1974 and withdrawing the autonomous status of Kosovo. They did this while maintaining their allegiance to the IMF demands.

In 1989, a large-scale strike by the miners of Kosovo (of all nationalities) broke out. The Albanian population of this territory whose per capita income is equivalent to that of Bangladesh solidarized with the miners. The federal government launched a campaign against the Albanians, all the while claiming to defend the Serb minority. Not a day passed without new reports in the press of murders and rapes in Kiosk, even though the official statistics of the federal police show that the level of crime was lower in Kosovo than in Belgrade.

These attacks provoked reactions throughout the country as a whole, and there were demonstrations in Slovenia in support of the Albanians in Kosovo.

The bureaucratic regime collapses It was necessary for the different factions of the bureaucracy, all of which supported the IMF, to undertake what amounted to nothing less than a war against the working people of all of Yugoslavia. Each faction took up the national struggle so as to pit the peoples against each other.

A new stage in this internecine factional struggle was reached when the apparatus was dismembered on the occasion of the first free elections in 1990. The League of Yugoslavian Communists (LJC), as the bureaucracys party was called, blew up in pieces. Soon after came the victories of the nationalist parties in Croatia and Slovenia, parties led by former members of the political bureau of the LJC, and that of the renovated Serbian Party of Milosevic in Serbia.

Every faction of the bureaucracy tried directly and openly to enter the service of imperialism when faced with the collapse of the center and the continued mobilization of the masses.

And for this purpose they entered into competition with each other. All the new presidents of the republics, with the exception of Bosnia, were former members of the political bureau or of the central committee of the LJC. All the leading organs of all the republics, including Bosnia, were in the hands of members of the apparatus. All these bureaucratic leaders had approved and implemented the destructive attacks on social property first introduced by the 1965 reforms.

To this end, the different bureaucratic factions wholeheartedly agreed to dismantle the Federal Trade Union Confederation of Yugoslavia, along with its pan-Yugoslav industrial federations, to form republic by republic national trade union federations. The goal was to break up the unity of the working people of Yugoslavia, which has expressed itself in this cross-ethnic trade union federation.

By 1989, the collapse of the regime was now imminent. The program of the government led by Federal Prime Minister A. Markovich was called into question by the republics. In December 1989, Markovich officially lost control of the wage policy, which thereafter was decided by the republics.

On May 31, 1990, Slovenia announced that it would no longer contribute to the Yugoslav Fund for Financing Underdeveloped Regions. Serbia reacted by imposing a tax of 50 percent on Slovene and Croatian products. Croatia replied by doing the same for Serbian products.

Then all the republics refused to vote for the draft budget for 1991.

Despite the extraordinary pressure which the IMF had exerted, Markovich had to recognize on the eve of the explosion of Yugoslavia that the result of the economic reforms was a privatization of only 2 percent of the public enterprises, which themselves still represented more than 90 percent of the economy. This was an admission that the pro- IMF plans had failed under the pressure of the workers resistance, expressed in the series of mass strikes.

It must be pointed out that the purpose of the privatization was not simply to transform the economy, but to liquidate and break up the economy based on social property.

What was on the agenda of the IMF was not opening new markets, but a massive destruction of productive forces, by dismantling the federal economy which had been structured on the basis of the expropriation of capital and had been led to bankruptcy by the pro-IMF nomenklaturas.

By mid-1991 the break-up of Yugoslavia had been consummated. The war could now begin.