The author traces the break-up of the Yugoslav Federation to the policies of U.S. imperialism to dissolve the ‘market socialist’ structures which survived from the Tito period through its instruments such as the IMF and the World Bank and to ‘balkanise’ the country into its constituent national components so as to facilitate the U.S. takeover of this region. In this scenario Milosevic switched from being a facilitator of U.S. interests into its opponent. This is the explanation for the demonisation of Milosevic in the western imperialist media and the backing given by western imperialism to the Kosova Liberation Army. This polemic originates from a discussion on the Marxist-Leninist List between the author and a member of the Partija Rada.
I am utterly amazed at the demagogy of Partija Rada in stating that, ‘At the very beginning of their existence, the KLA was a progressive force which fought against the apartheid system imposed on the Albanians in Kosova by Milosevic and his nationalistic policy.’ This propaganda is exactly that of NATO and the US imperialists! First of all, the KLA were never a progressive force but were and remain nothing but mafia thugs, fascists and drug runners supported by the CIA and drug money. They have no interest in the Albanian proletariat and its struggles, only their own desire to emerge as the new puppets of imperialism as profiteers and fascist elitists serving the interests of US imperialism. Some of the evidence of bourgeois nationalism and its ties to US capital and the KLA is Florin Krasniqi who is a major New York industrialist and one of the KLA’s largest financial supporters. He supplied arms to the KLA by circumventing US law by sending sniper rifles and armour-piercing Barratt rifles to KLA fronts established as ‘hunting clubs’ in Albania. Shaban Shala, a KLA commander responsible for ‘destabilizing’ Albanian villages in Serbia admitted to meeting British and Swiss, as well as US agents in northern Albania in 1996. Agim Ceku established CIA contacts through Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI) while in the Croatian Army. He is a commander in the KLA and yet you say you do not support the Tudjman regime which Ceku was a military commander in before being recruited by the CIA and then becoming a KLA commander. He was in fact one of Tudjman’s fascists and now one of the CIA’s fascists in what you would have us believe is a legitimate ‘self-determination’ movement. The KLA also admitted that, ‘We do not have an ideology, we do not have time for such things.’ This is their own condemnation.
As Marxist-Leninists we must oppose all forms of national chauvinism which includes the nationalism of Milosevic but it is a flagrant falsification of political reality to attribute the Balkan crisis to Milosevic and the Serbs. The KLA with the help of MPRI and the CIA are doing nothing more than carrying on a programme of genocide and ethnic cleansing of anyone who opposes them to create a ‘Greater Albania’ in which the KLA hope to be the inheritors of rewards heaped on them based on their faithful collusion with the US imperialists. This in no way comes close to meeting Stalin and Lenin’s criteria for being a legitimate movement of self-determination which Marxist-Leninists should support. The KLA financed by the US capitalists, drug money, mafia and the CIA is responsible for ethnic cleansing and terrorism against Albanians who do not support the KLA and their bourgeois nationalism. The KLA is also responsible for the terrorism against Serbs and other nationalities all because of their nationalism disguised as ‘self-determination’.
One of the very few things that is correctly stated by the Partija Rada is that in the 1980s Milosevic was a favoured friend of the US capitalists and that he initiated market policies and dismantled state industry but in the 1990s he changed his policies which brought him into conflict with US capital interests. He was now placed side by side with Saddam Hussein on US imperialism’s list of the ‘Most Wanted.’ The judgement of who is a favoured friend of US imperialism can and does change abruptly. Prime Minister Palmerston said it most eloquently, ‘the British Empire, it has neither permanent friends, nor permanent enemies, only permanent interests.’ The right of self-determination has two sides which must be decided by the proletariat, not a self-appointed terrorist mob. It can remain as it is or secede. The decision is completely up to the proletariat and must not be a forced decision by external nations. The issue of recent events has been a forced issue of secession by German and US imperialism.
The US media has only featured relatively small and selective ‘terrorist’ acts of the Serbs – all of which now have been shown to be propaganda fabrications such as the continued bleating about ‘mass graves’. The media has dramatized and personalized them with details and gave slight and anti-septic attention to the horrendous criminal actions of the KLA and US imperialism as defensive and retaliatory. The political selectivity, dramatization and complete distortion of truth has made for very effective propaganda that has paralyzed the masses as well as many on the ‘left.’ In fact, most on the left, especially self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninists have lapsed into silence, some have condemned both sides, calling feebly for restraint and compromise, believing that these are ‘times when imperialism has the same interests as the people’. These politically bankrupt apologists in return arrogantly label those who are willing to call the aggression of US imperialism and the KLA by its right name as ‘extremists’, ‘revisionists’, and ‘opportunists’, how backward they are. It is the very paralysis and marginalization of a principled Marxist-Leninist position that has served to weaken the opposition to US imperialism and strengthens it by giving to imperialism a label of ‘nobility’ based on the bankrupt belief that imperialism is concerned about ‘human rights.’ The willingness of Marxist-Leninists to accept the role of US imperialism and NATO as proper authorities ‘with the same interests of the people’ to decide, judge and destroy a sovereign state is not only astonishing but a vacillating political hypocrisy. These same self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninists will condemn the murderous US imperialism responsible for killing more Iraqi children each month than the aggregate casualties in Kosova; they condemn the US support of the Turkish war against the Kurds, etc., but the political vision of these opportunists is so limited, their response to atrocities so elemental, that they collapse intellectually and morally.
By having accepted the bourgeoisie’s propaganda lies of demonizing Milosevic and the Serbs, such politically bankrupt opportunists become the spokesmen of imperialism favouring NATO bombing and justifying it as ‘having the same interests of the people.’! This is totally bankrupt Marxist-Leninist analysis that constitutes revisionism. It is an opportunistic bankruptcy of Marxist-Leninist analysis to conjure up a racist and jingoistic nationalism to attribute the crisis to Milosevic and the Serbs. It is a further opportunistic bankruptcy of Marxist-Leninist analysis to not condemn the policies of imperialism that have contributed and fomented the violence. It is the repressive nature of US imperialism that has exacerbated the cultural, economic and political crisis of Yugoslavia and the whole of the Balkans. The role of US imperialism is not only immoral and illegal but it is a priority of US capitalism as a destructive policy rooted in self-serving geo-political interests and strategies that have absolutely nothing to do with ‘humanitarian’ concerns or sharing ‘the same interests of the people’ that opportunists like Partija Rada proclaim.
Senator Joe Lieberman stated that ‘The United States of America and the Kosova Liberation Army stand for the same human values and principles.... Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values.’ Since when did the Almighty Anti-Communist America begin to embrace a Marxist-Leninist organization or any other brand of communist organization and equate it with ‘American values’? A statement such as this should clue the most naive of people that the KLA is anything but communist! But I guess not for Partija Rada. This is the exact same rhetorical propaganda of Reagan and his baby-killer Contras as being ‘freedom fighters.’ The only reason the US supports the KLA and the ‘self-determination’ of these fascist Albanians is to form a ‘Greater Albania’ which will be economically, politically and militarily dominated by US capitalism.
It was Yugoslavia, led by Serbia under Milosevic who fought defensively against reactionary secessionists supported by US imperialism to cut up, divide and dismantle Yugoslavia. The goal of the KLA was and is to rip parts of Yugoslavia and Macedonia and form a state under US domination. The Serbs have been the main target of US imperialism and its opportunistic apologists because they have resisted.
Milosevic, a former puppet of US capitalism, reversed his policies and severed his ties with US capitalism making him a renegade that bruised the ego of US capitalists. It has been due to his nationalist posturing to keep Yugoslavia free from US domination that he impeded the aims of US imperialism to destabilize and dominate the whole of the Balkans. This is the crime Milosevic is guilty of and therefore to obscure the complete criminality of the US, Milosevic and the Serbs were made out to be the enemy. US capitalism could not progress with Milosevic standing in the way. The process of demonizing Milosevic and the Serbs became the propaganda tactic of US imperialism to justify US sponsored ethnic cleansing of the Serbs and a host of other war crimes. The propaganda lies attribute the crisis to Milosevic and the Serbs yet it is the US capitalists and their KLA proxies who have created the crisis that Milosevic inherited. At the end of 1990, under Milosevic, Yugoslavia began to suspend the imposed ‘reforms’ to which it initially agreed. This resistance is what brought down the wrath of US imperialism which sought to dismantle Yugoslavia by promoting separatism and igniting ethnic tensions. It was classic CIA destabilization.
In January 1989 Ante Marcovic was named Premier and visited President Bush and was described as ‘Washington’s best ally in Yugoslavia’ and the US capitalists ‘welcomed Mr. Marcovic’s commitment to market oriented economic reform and to building democratic pluralism.’ Marcovic then asked the capitalists for ‘United States assistance in making economic and political changes opposed by hard-liners in the Communist Party.’ The aid Marcovic requested was $1 billion in loans from the World Bank and invited private investment into Yugoslavia. He promised in return to create ‘reforms’ but also realized and said that the ‘reforms’ ‘are bound to bring social problems including an increase in unemployment to about 20% and the threat of increased ethnic and political tensions among the country’s 6 republics and two autonomous provinces.’ (‘New York Times’ 14/10/89) In October 1989 Marcovic’s collusion with the US capitalists did not work but deepened the crisis further. The plan called for a new devalued currency, a 6 month wage freeze, closure of ‘unprofitable’ state enterprises and reduced social spending. It was the Serbs who first realized this plan would lead to social unrest which led to Serbia immediately rejecting it and about 650,000 Serbian workers walked out in protest. It was at this point that Bosnia and Croatia supported by US imperialism began secessionist plans that ignited ethnic tensions. In June 1990 Marcovic began the second phase of his plan although industrial output had already fallen 10%. This second phase required further reductions of 18% in social spending, the wholesale privatisation of state enterprises and the establishment of new private property rights.
The IMF also controlled the Yugoslav central bank which crippled the ability to finance its economic and social programmes. State revenue that should have gone to the republics was withheld and used to pay creditors. It was these ‘reforms’ that fuelled secessionist and ethnic problems. Within 2 years, more than one half of the country’s banks were closed and replaced with ‘independent profit-oriented institutions.’ Marcovic also passed financial legislation that forced ‘insolvent’ businesses into bankruptcy or liquidation. From 1989 - 9/90 more than a thousand companies went bankrupt. By 1990 the annual GDP growth rate fell to a –7.5% and in 1991 it fell another 15% and industrial output fell 21%. By September 1990, more than 600,000 Yugoslavs had lost their jobs. Already laid-off and ‘redundant’ workers constituted two thirds of the industrial workforce. (World Bank, Industrial Restructuring Study: Overview, Issues and Strategy for Restructuring, Washington, DC, 6/91, Annex 1) According to the World Bank, another 2,435 industrial enterprises were slated for liquidation. In 1970 Yugoslavia’s foreign debt was $2 billion, in 1975 it was $6 billion and by 1980 it was $20 billion, representing over one quarter of the national income and debt servicing taking up 20% of export revenue. The debt servicing and repayment increased tensions resulting in the fracturing of the republics. Most of the industrial development was in the north – Croatia and Slovenia – with the south supplying the raw materials. As the prices of raw materials fell, the economic inequalities between the republics increased, the richer provinces such as Croatia and Slovenia objected to paying more than the poorer provinces. These inequalities increased tensions and began the demands for the northern republics for greater autonomy. The movement for secession was created by US imperialist destabilization and not human rights abuses.
When the IMF measures began to deteriorate Yugoslavia’s economy, religious rivalries and ethnic rivalries came to the surface in order to control the shrinking resources. It was the IMF measures that were the trigger of social disorder taking the form of massive and repeated strikes and labour actions and not ethnic friction as the bourgeois propagandists and opportunists want us to believe. Susan Woodward, in a study for the Brookings Institute in 1995 said, ‘Ordinary people turned into ethnic monsters only after all their options for a normal economic life were destroyed. ‘Ethnic cleansing’ arrived only after ‘shock therapy’ (IMF) had done its work.’ So what are we then to believe about the propaganda lies that this crisis is attributed to only Milosevic and the Serbs? What are we to believe about the ‘nationalism’ of Milosevic. The problem of the Serbian people is that they are extremely divided, both geographically and between 2 identities: Yugoslav and Serb.
They are divided historically between the World War II Partisans and Chetniks and sociologically between rural and urban residents. They were also divided politically as socialist reformers and of the political tradition of the pre-Communist past. Because of the geographical division of the Serbs, the disintegration of Yugoslavia they feared inevitably would cause a crisis of Serb unity. The ‘Greater Serbia’ concept was that of the Serbs living in Croatia and Bosnia only out of the fear of being cut off from Serbia because of the secession of these two republics. ‘Greater Serbia’ was not an idea or goal of Milosevic: only propaganda to discredit and demonize him and the Serbs. In 1991, Serbs in Croatia were being attacked by Croatian nationalist militias who proudly proclaimed traditional allegiance to the fascist Ustachi which provoked the Yugoslav army with its partisan traditions and fears of a revival of the genocide they experienced by the Ustachi Croatian state during the Second World War. The slogan ‘all Serbs in one state’ was used to imply a security that they felt they would lose if they became a minority in a hostile Croatian and Muslim state. Milosevic’s ‘nationalism’ is a mixture of Yugoslav multinationalism and reformist economic concepts. His ideology is influenced by Jugoslovenska Levica (‘Yugoslav Left’) which is a collection of ‘leftist’ progressive thought and praise of virtues of multi-ethnic society. There is absolutely no evidence of a nationalism based on ‘dehumanizing beliefs’ attributed to Milosevic and the Serbs – none. On the other hand, much can be said of the ‘dehumanizing beliefs’ of the Albanian nationalists and self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninist opportunists. Milosevic’s ‘nationalism’ is found in that he wanted to hang on to what was left of Yugoslav ‘socialism’ and to control the key institutions such as the police and state media. The Kosova policy of Milosevic was ‘nationalist’ in that he wanted to keep Kosova within Serbia and prevent the Albanian majority from driving out the Serbian minority and there is still no evidence of any plan to drive out the Albanian majority. Milosevic is not a Marxist-Leninist but he is not the fascist dictator the bourgeoisie and their opportunistic Marxist-Leninist apologists claim. He has never preached an ‘eliminationalist project’ of ‘racial hatred’ which can be confirmed by reading his published speeches. Milosevic having been a collusionist with US capitalism and then severing his ties to their demands knew the aim of the US imperialists in the Balkans. He knew the control US imperialism had over Tudjman and the KLA and was willing to use the Yugoslav army and police in defence of breaking up Yugoslavia. This is his only crime. The crimes of genocide were fabrications attributed to him that were caused by the IMF and US capitalism and its fascist proxy forces of the KLA creating the conditions. The secessionist movements which were a creation of US imperialism were based on the illusion that US imperialism and NATO will assist them in their so-called ‘self-determination’ struggles and then recognize them as sovereign nations! Hell will freeze over first! The KLA then began their attacks on Serbian targets which met with counter attacks by Serb forces who realized this as nothing but threats by imperialist proxies to dismantle Yugoslavia to accomplish the aims of US imperialism. Rambouillet was a staged propaganda farce intended to set Milosevic up knowing he would not agree to the occupation and domination of Yugoslavia by NATO. This was intended to also force Milosevic into an aggressive stance to justify US imperialist intervention and destruction of a sovereign state. Knowing full well the imperialist destruction of Yugoslavia would force Milosevic into action it would give the imperialists the enemy they could portray to the world as the Devil Incarnate and thousands of refugees as the victims of his Satanic fury for which the imperialists themselves were solely responsible! In reality the display of Albanian refugees is a propaganda exercise. If the imperialists were really interested in the ‘humanitarian’ plight of the refugees they would have stopped the bombing. They are silent about the atrocities the KLA committed against both Serb and Albanians who did not support the reactionary KLA ‘self-determination’ struggle and the bourgeoisie’s ‘free press’ portrayed the KLA as courageous ‘freedom fighters.’ A lie some self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninists seem to have swallowed. Never in its history has US imperialism acted in the interests of the working-class, or of the oppressed people they cynically claim to defend. Power, privilege, prestige and profit are their only interests and these principles alone dominate all the actions of the capitalists. It is sheer stupidity born of contemptible arrogance to believe that US imperialism will be compassionate, benevolent and concerned with human rights and that ‘at times capitalism has the same interests as the people’ like some would have us believe. The crisis in the Balkans is the inevitable results of relying on US imperialism to solve the problems of workers and oppressed peoples. The working class in war as in peace can only rely on their own forces, their own power, their own solidarity and strength. The proletariat and its organizations must maintain their class independence offering no support to imperialism whose actions can never be in the interests of working people nor can their problems be solved under capitalism. Once we lose sight of the class standpoint we are lost. The pro-imperialist opportunists masquerading as Marxist-Leninists are all out to sea, seeking a ‘practical’ solution by supporting one nationalism for another and have reduced the national question to a football match, supporting one side or the other. The poison of nationalism offers nothing to the Balkan people but a future of fratricidal war. The Balkan nightmare can only be ended by the united action of the working-class, not by supporting one or the other of the imperialist powers, not by supporting one nationalist regime over another and certainly not by supporting a fascist and reactionary organization like the self-appointed KLA. Since when did the imperialist alliance fight wars to defend oppressed nations, oppose dictatorships and uphold the right of nations to self-determination? The idea is abominably laughable as are those opportunists who hold such views! Any self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninist who believes that ‘imperialism at times shares the same interests as the people’ is nothing but a half-witted opportunist. It is a mockery of Marxism-Leninism to espouse such revisionist rubbish. Lenin explained over and over again that the right to self-determination was not an absolute right, but is always subordinate to the general interest of the proletariat and the international proletariat. In what way does the slaughter and destruction of the last 10 years inYugoslavia and now in Macedonia advance the cause of the working-class and international socialism? The dismemberment of the Balkans has not one single iota of progressive content. By dividing the people and enflaming national racism, it has only further set back the cause of socialism and created calamities for the working-class which is exactly what US imperialism and its opportunists intended to begin with. To invoke the name of Lenin to justify the perversion of KLA ‘self-determination’ is a mockery. Beyond the attempt to strangle the national sovereignty of Yugoslavia, the real objective of US imperialism is to increase the long-term military presence of US imperialism in the Balkans in order to achieve the total and effective political and economic control of the entire region. The only alternative is a struggle both against imperialist control and the attempts of the revisionists and bourgeois KLA nationalists as emerging capitalist profiteers to carve out their own power bases in collusion with US imperialism. Self-determination in the Balkans is impossible without a joint struggle of its people against US imperialism. It is the failure of dialectical thinking and a scientific understanding of the mechanism of events known as imperialism by opportunists who think that ‘imperialism at times shares the same interests of the people.’ It is no wonder that such opportunists will succumb to a jingoistic and nationalistic racism and try to convince us that Milosevic and the Serbs are solely responsible for the crisis in the Balkans. They masquerade as Marxist-Leninists and even know a few quotations but they fall short of any correct analysis. To quote Susan Woodward from her study again, ‘...to explain the Yugoslav crisis as a result of ethnic hatred is to turn the story upside down and begin at its end.’ This is precisely the demagogic opportunism of Partija Rada.
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