Dedicated to my late comrades from building and thinking Yugoslavia, Marius Broekmeyer, Gajo Petrović, Fred Singleton, and Rudi Supek.
THESIS 1: WHY WRITE A BOOK ABOUT S.F.R. YUGOSLAVIA, WHAT IS ITS FOCUS
Contrary to biological and ecological survival of tens of millions, the capitalist denial of all change and adaptation that does not issue in „profit now“ leads to termination of many species, possibly including homo sapiens, certainly including humanity and sapience. To envisage alternatives, among other matters a critical overview of salient aspects of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia or SFRY (as I shall for brevity call the 1945-89 society) is urgently needed.
Only the long-duration, fateful aspects can be focussed upon. The need for SFRY independence, Tito’s great invention, as presupposition to any self-government is taken for granted; I do not deal here with the foreign relations of SFRY, including Tito’s second invention of the “Non-aligned” movement, nor with the pressures on SFRY from the USSR, and later the world capitalist market and its institutions. In my judgment, the crucial factors here were the internal class relationships, which determined how the no doubt strong pressures were handled. Nor do I deal with nationalisms, which become fateful only from the 1970s on, and then because of class necessities. Nor, regretfully, with religion – though I argue that matters of salvation and belief were at the core of SFRY. 2/
The red thread is a use of Marx’s concepts of alienation versus emancipation in permanent shuttle to and from SFRY economics, beliefs, and politics within a critical utopian horizon. His “self-government of the producers” is my concrete utopia.
This entails a strategic limitation of extensive analyses to the period 1945 (or even 1950) to 1972. After that no new factors appear, only the old drawbacks get aggravated.
The analyses are accompanied by hypotheses about the SFRY’s essential tension and about its beginning and end, as sufficient for this attempt.
The essential tension in SFRY is indicated by these citations from Boris Kidrič, the remarkable Politbureau member in charge of the economy, between 1949 and 1952 (see Suvin, “Economico-political Prospects ff Boris Kidrič”):
„T[he basic question] of exploitation of man by man in the system born of the socialist revolution is who disposes of the surplus labour − and behind this questions sooner or later the even more fateful one arises of who in fact appropriates the surplus labour.
State socialism [necessarily grows into] a privileged bureaucracy as a social parasite, the throttling of socialist democracy, and a general degeneration of the whole system, [and there comes about] a restoration of a specific kind, a vulgar State-capitalist monopoly.
The socialist democratic rights of the direct producers [are the obverse of] the process of abolishing monopolies; basic is − the right of the working masses to self-management at all levels of socialist State power.”3/
The same view was later formulated by the loyal Marxist opposition of some intellectuals such as the Praxis group and the economist Branko Horvat.
My stance or Haltung is one of looking backward from the mostly scandalous years 1972-89 and its fully scandalous downfall in the worst imaginable variant of mutually embattled dwarfish classes leading brainwashed mini-nationalisms. This is what has to be explained.
For the context of current events, please see the enclosed CHRONOLOGY OF S.F.R. YUGOSLAVIA. Continua a leggere