Undercurrent #7

Seventh issue of Undercurrent.

NATO's War Against Yugoslavia

Nato's war against Yugoslavia
undercurrent #7

Officially, Nato's war against Yugoslavia was "a battle for the values of civilisation"(Blair). Yet the proclaimed concern with the humanitarian situation in Kosovo is nothing but war propaganda. Nato states back regimes worse than Milosevic's and the purported sympathy for the refugees gives way to hostility as soon as they enter Western countries. More fundamentally, the statesmen allegedly worried about the Kosovo Albanians administer a form of society which with necessity causes immense human suffering (and whose only possible legitimisation lies therefore in the lack of any better alternative). In order to understand the war in the Balkans, we need to examine the driving force behind Nato intervention.

Far from being simply dragged into the conflict, Nato wanted war and instigated it. The so-called negotiations in Rambouillet were obviously intended to spark off war. Yugoslavia was presented with a treaty it could not sign: it demanded free access to the whole of its territory for Nato troops and would have thus meant the end of territorial integrity and sovereignty. The point is not that we care about the sovereignty of states, but simply that this treaty was obviously meant to be rejected by the Serb side as it was a clear provocation. The Western powers were not unanimously anti-Serbian before the war. While Germany revived its anti-Serbian policies from the Nazi period in the early 90's, promoted secession on ethnic-nationalist grounds and consequently (though not overtly) supported the nationalist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), the US main concern was to avoid the Greater Albania the KLA was aiming for, since that would de-stabilise the region even further[1]. Until December 1998 the US tried to prevent the arms supply to the KLA, and labelled it a terrorist organisation, giving Milosevic the go-ahead to militarily suppress Kosovar-Albanian separatism. However, this policy was abandoned when the US suddenly turned against Milosevic, a shift confirmed at Rambouillet, thus making war inevitable.

But why was Nato so keen on war? A common interpretation of wars waged by capitalist powers is to point out "economic interests" in the region concerned. Yet this is not the case with Kosovo. The war against Serbia differs from the Gulf war 1991, in that there is no oil and nothing comparable to it. The Rambouillet treaty in fact demanded that "the economy of Kosovo shall function in accordance with free market principles", but it seems unlikely that this was the objective behind the bombing. Although Yugoslavia still has a high level of nationalised industry (possibly an indication of working class resistance to privatisation projects), it no longer seems necessary to initiate bombing campaigns in order to open up markets. The last decades witnessed a failure of all attempts at state protectionism, from the Eastern bloc to Latin America. Furthermore, what has Western capital to gain in Serbia, let alone Kosovo, by far the poorest part of former Yugoslavia? There is no shortage of cheap and obedient labour around the globe. If this was the primary problem of capital, it would queue up in Russia or elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Yet investment in the former Eastern bloc is low and highly selective. Most parts of Eastern Europe are very unlikely to become centres of investment; in fact, it looks as if the bulk of the population is simply redundant from the standpoint of capital. The carve-up of Yugoslavia throughout the 1990s followed this trend in so far as those regions most likely to be integrated into European capitalism -Slovenia and Croatia- broke away from the Yugoslav state, leaving behind the less competitive regions[2].

A similar interpretation of the general rationale behind the wars of the major powers was put forward in the "No war but the class war! Discussion Bulletin" from London. The purpose of the war from this perspective is "...to open up these regimes' economies to the free market. This is not so much done by overthrowing the government but by decimating and demoralising the working class and wiping out the rebelliousness that caused the problem for capital in the first place"[3]. This claim, however, is rather problematic. On the first hand, while the pro-market restructuring in the 1980's faced severe resistance from a working class defending its living conditions (see article in this undercurrent), we have not come across any major signs of proletarian "rebelliousness" in Serbia in the years following the civil war - there was a pro-western, pro-democratic liberal opposition to Milosevic, but this can hardly be termed "proletarian". Of course, the fact that we have not come across anything does not mean that there was nothing like that going on. But the only recent signs of resistance mentioned in the 'No war but the class war'-Bulletin are desertions by Serb soldiers, which although by far the most promising moments of this war, cannot be used retrospectively to explain the emergence of the war in the first place[4]. Secondly, as argued above, the underlying assumption that capital has any significant stake in the region seems at least doubtful.

The theatre of imperialism

Far from following any "economic logic" in the narrow sense, the role of the West in former Yugoslavia is that of the world police monitoring the permanent crisis in this part of the capitalist periphery. Its rationale is not, as was the case with old-style imperialism, to dominate countries politically and militarily in order to exploit them, but to prevent chaos and instability, to safeguard the capitalist centres against the massive influx of refugees. Another dimension of the war was the clear strategy of the West to diminish Russia's sphere of influence in Europe, by edging it out of any post-war settlement, something that Russia seems unwilling to accept, as the recent minor confrontations between Russia's and Nato's ground forces suggest.

Yet whilst this is something of a common interest, Yugoslavia has furthermore become the battle-field for strategic rivalries amongst the powerful capitalist states. Ever since the collapse of the cold war order, the whole system of world politics is in transition, the direction of which seems uncertain. US hegemony has been questioned by the emergence of a strong European bloc. Reunified Germany in particular clearly aspired to gain more autonomy in its foreign policy. For example, it escalated the Balkan conflict when it independently recognised Croatia and Slovenia in 1991, thus signalling that any ethnic-nationalist secession will be welcomed by the new powerful German state (see, again, ...in this undercurrent).

The massive US involvement in the bombing campaign against Yugoslavia served the purpose of underscoring US hegemony and ensuring that, in the future, the US will maintain its influence in Europe. The priority is not so much to assert a certain policy, but to stay in Europe in the first place. The main vehicle for this is Nato. The war provided Nato, deprived of its former enemy (the USSR), with a new rationale, just in time for the 50th anniversary celebrations of Nato in April. It is no exaggeration to say that the war was actually fought over Nato's future: during the Rambouillet negotiations, the Yugoslav side was willing to accept an international UN force in Kosovo, while the West insisted on Nato presence. (And since now Kosovo is ruled by a UN mission consisting of Nato forces, both sides can claim to have won). Furthermore, it was an excellent opportunity for Germany to finally fully re-militarise its foreign policy and thus gain the status of a completely sovereign nation state. Britain, the most hawkish among the Nato states during this war, could gain international profile, and is now symbolically "rewarded" with getting Pristina, the capital of Kosovo according to the plans for the military occupation. During the war, British papers questioned the US capability of being the world power due to its reluctance to deploy ground troops, while the US annoyed Britain with delaying the movement into Kosovo until the arrival of US troops - to ensure their share of the "glory of liberation". This way, the "humanitarian war" became the theatre for international rivalries -although it happened in Serbia and Kosovo, it was not exclusively about Serbia and Kosovo.

Communism or Barbarism

Kosovo will be a Nato protectorate under the formal organisation of the UN. Whether it will, in the long run, remain with Serbia, i.e. in Yugoslavia, become independent or join Albania is a matter of speculation and neither option will improve the situation of the people living there. The preoccupation with these formal-legal questions displaces the simple truth that whatever the political framework, the economic prospects for the region are grim and mass unemployment inevitable; and as long as capital exists, the only thing worse than being exploited is not being exploited, i.e. being redundant.

This fate is one Kosovar-Albanians share with most people in Serbia - already now, an estimated 40 per cent are unemployed in Serbia, and an opening up to the Western market will simply speed up the process of slashing jobs in inefficient industries and services. In the end, those with crap jobs will be the lucky ones, and this real absurdity underscores the fact that capital deserves nothing less than complete abolition. The current talk about a "Marshall plan" for the region that invokes notions of the relative prosperity in Western Europe after World War II merely seeks to veil the bleak future of the population of Kosovo. It appeals to the equally common-sensical and non-sensical idea that with a bit of good-will, hard labour and sufficient money, one can establish flourishing capitalist production anywhere and any time - an idea shared by considerable parts of the anti-war-movement that demanded economic aid (read: capitalist development) for the Balkans.

Eastern state capitalism has imploded, and all Western-style free market capitalism has brought about is an exacerbation of the living conditions which nurtured ethnic barbarism. Although, in contrast to the bulk of the impoverished population, the elites in the Balkans certainly benefit from nationalism, it is misleading to deduce from this that nationalism was a mere "tool" used by them as a means of manipulation, a view that invokes a false image of the Yugoslav population as passive and malleable. In fact, nationalism was only the last resort for many; in a world of abstractions, the eternity of "ethnic" identity, of blood, seems to promise security and survival. The less the market provides living prospects, the more desperate the ideological need to seek refuge in the good nation state that 'truly serves its people'. That the Yugoslav state has nothing much to offer to its inmates except poverty and repression, appears not as the nature of peripheral states per se, but as a malignancy stemming from the "wrong ethnic" basis of that state. Just as the new Palestinian quasi-state has brought about the replacement of Israeli police by Palestinian police, a future Albanian authority in Kosovo - possibly to be provided by the KLA - would differ from the Yugoslav one only in its uniforms and victims (Serbs are already leaving Kosovo in their thousands). The practices of the KLA, aspiring to run the ruins of Eastern state capitalism, anticipate the essence of the state they plan to establish. The KLA began its career with attacks on Serb refugees in Krajina, and then on Serb police and civilians in Kosovo[5]. Yet the violence of the state-to-be is also directed against its future subjects: during the mass exodus of Kosovar Albanians in the last of couple months, the KLA intercepted the refugees' convoys and recruited men for its heroic "liberation struggle" -with force, if necessary. Freedom for Kosovo is precisely the opposite of freedom for those living in Kosovo. For in reality, "National liberation consists of the liberation of the guerrilla chairman and its national police from the chains of powerlessness"[6].

Contrary to the rhetoric of Western civilisation vs. barbarism, capitalism and ethnic slaughter go hand in hand. Ethnic cleansing is just another form of the generalised competition in capitalism, marking the transition from decaying capitalism to a society of gangs and rackets. Genuine communism - not the caricature the Eastern bloc was, but a society beyond wage-labour, state, and the market - is at the same more necessary and less likely than ever.

"The irrationality of the existing society changes all partial 'rationality' into irrationality and turns rulers and ruled alike into prisoners of circumstances beyond their control. Obviously, the war...makes 'no sense' even to the capitalist, for it cannot serve as an instrumentality for arresting the historic decline of private-enterprise capitalism. It only attests to the fact that capitalism has become a purely destructive social system and that it will remain such until the people of the earth put an end to it"[7]. The independent US-American communist Paul Mattick wrote this 33 years ago about the war in Vietnam, yet its relevance remains disturbingly intact.

[1] One should not forget the Albanian revolt of 1996/7 that led to the collapse of the Berisha government which the West highly favoured for keeping the borders between Albania and Yugoslavia/Kosovo well -policed.

2 This process is analysed in the article "The Workers Have no Fatherland..."

3 No war but the class war! Discussion Bulletin, No. 1, London, April 1999. C/o PO Box 2474, London N8 OHW, or e-mail escape6@hotmail.com

4 A good account of these desertions which started in mid-May can be found in No war but the class war! No. 3

5 Le Monde Diplomatique, Paris, May 1999

6 Breakdown Notes, Nightmare and hope in the Balkans, London, April 1999

7 Paul Mattick, 'The United States in South East Asia', International Socialist Journal, Rome, March 1966

The Anti-War Movement

The "anti-war-movement"
undercurrent #7

There was no militant response to the war in Britain, as in most Nato countries (Greece seems to something of an exception, but the protests were fuelled by nationalism and encompassed the whole political spectre). With a professional army, the war did not affect the lives of people here in any significant way and was merely something happening on TV, and the current political apathy in Britain was surely no fertile soil for mass resistance against the war. Furthermore, the war propaganda of a new humanitarian internationalism succeeded in silencing criticism and paralysing opposition to the war, and the obvious lack of immediate economic interests in the region helped underpin the image of Nato as the humanitarian peace dove who only bombs to avoid worse suffering. Whoever spoke out against Nato's war was denounced as a lackey of the Serb regime and compared with the appeasers of 1938. At the least, anyone opposed to the bombing of Yugoslavia was asked what else one could do, since "we have to do something". Many on the left who still opposed the Gulf war in 1991 now found themselves cheering Nato's war on the grounds of preventing "the next Holocaust". We don't care what Ken Livingstone and the likes do, but this was certainly a phenomenon not confined to Labour MPs and newspaper columnists. At least, the humanitarian card that belligerent politicians the media played made things too difficult to take an anti-war-position. It is worth noting that the entire "direct action"-scene, normally bursting "to do something", was silent about Nato's war. There was a symbolic scene in Brighton, when a several thousand strong animal rights demonstration passed the anti-war-vigil consisting of a dozen people. SchNews, the weekly news-sheet representing the direct-action scene, ran precisely one article throughout the whole time of the war. For this political milieu it was as if the war was not happening at all and one could go about one's business of writing about trees, parks, GM food etc..[1]

However, the anti-war-movement was a failure not only in terms of size, but also as far as its political content is concerned. It was a bizarre alliance of remnants of the peace movement, Trotskyist groups, some Labour left-wingers and sometimes even Tory MPs. One regretted every demo in London one had attended together with this mixture which was completed by Serb nationalists displaying their stupid flags. The only consent was the opposition to Nato's bombing campaign; apart from that, Tories could moan about the absence of a true national interest in the war, Labour MPs showed themselves shocked that the sacred international law was broken, while Trotskyists chanted their "welfare not warfare"-slogans, thus demanding the better political personnel that is wise enough to invest "our" money usefully into hospitals instead of bombing hospitals elsewhere. Though not dominant, anti-American propaganda by old Stalinists also resurfaced: while the British PM was the pace-maker calling for ground troops, the anti-war demonstrations displayed nationalist "Yankee go home"-placards showing the map of Britain in the colours of the US flag.

On top of that, many of the Trotskyist sects supported the idea of Kosovan independence. Consequently, the focus of their "critique" was to accuse Nato of having "sat back and done nothing while the Kosovars have been systematically massacred and driven from their homes". By idealising the nationalist terrorists of the Kosovo Liberation Army as freedom fighters, by spelling out freedom as "nation state", these sects reinforced the fundamental ideology of national self-determination that dominates the conflict in the Balkans. The "independence for Kosova" Workers Aid for Kosova demands is the definite formula for further ethnic cleansing - this time against the Serbs, who are already now leaving Kosovo.

Notes

[1] Two characteristics of the direct action scene, though, make this failure no surprise. Firstly, it thinks in clear-cut moral oppositions: good vs. bad. Secondly, it is based on the expectancy of immediate effects of their action. Obviously, both things did not apply to the war since there were no "goodies" and no realistic perspective of ending the war through protests.

The Workers Have No Fatherland

The workers have no fatherland....

Introduction

No understanding of the conflict in Kosovo can even be attempted without a clear picture of the development of that Balkan region in the past years. The collapse of Yugoslavia, following the international collapse of the Eastern Bloc and the USSR, and the re-structuring of the region along world market standards resulted in a mayhem of barbaric war and nationalism. The regional differences of the previous economic organisation of Yugoslavia, which the Titoist regime tried to keep controlled through state subsidies and constitutional changes, clearly dominated all the post-socialist economic structural changes, overshadowing the fierce class struggles of the late 70's and early 80's, and thus providing nationalism with a material basis. The bureaucratic elites used this and sought to nationally 'unify' the disobedient proletarians by separating them.

As it was proven, the unified resistance to both nationalism and the subsequent war by the Yugoslav working class was not strong enough to overcome the superficial divisions among the Balkan proletariat. The end of the war in Yugoslavia with the Dayton agreement in 1995 was a victory of nationalism and, as such, decreased the chances of a coherent proletarian offensive against capital, leaving the region open to further explosions of nationalist violence and war, as the current war in Kosovo clearly demonstrates.

The conclusions that can be drawn from the situation are rather pessimistic. Not only the Balkan proletariat (the internal enemy) has failed to successfully resist these developments, but even internationally, the opposition to the war has been ludicrous. Yet, some of the recent developments in the Balkan region, indicate that proletarian resistance has not faded away. The numerous mutinies and desertions in the Serbian Army showed that, amidst Nato's bombs and Serbia's strict martial laws, there were proletarians who chose to be enemies of 'their' state. And this was one of the most inspiring and rational moments in this irrational war.

The nature of the Yugoslav Economy

Ever since Tito disassociated socialist Yugoslavia from the USSR in 1948, the country worked on the basis of so-called workers' self-management and state planning. In contrast to the rest of the Eastern bloc, Yugoslavia's economy was more open to western capital, and as such during the cold war Yugoslavia was seen as a mediator between the Western and Eastern economies. This facilitated the relative prosperity of the country. However, the socialist determination to smooth the antagonism between labour and capital through the absence of a proper labour market and the dedication to full employment meant that labour discipline was not maintained: the state-regulated labour market prevented the mass sacking of workers, resulting in low levels of unemployment. The discipline of the workers of Yugoslavia was thus not as easy to maintain as in the West.

Yet the Yugoslav economy was also characterised by great differences among the various regions. Slovenia and Croatia were more developed regions because of their closer connections with the Austrian-Hungarian empire, German capital and lack of serious infrastructure damage during the 2nd World War, whereas Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo were primarily agricultural areas. Serbia constituted the middle ground and embodied the administrative functions of state economic planning. These regional differences were kept under relative control through state subsidies to the less developed regions, and through constitutional arrangements. Eventually, however, the peaceful co-existence of the different regions was undermined by the radicalisation of the working class[1], and the accumulation of money-capital in the more developed regions.

The development of the economy in the 50's and early 60's had increased the number of industrial wage-labourers[2]. When the first liberalising reforms were initiated in the 1960's by a faction of the Yugoslav ruling class which favoured the facilitation of the accumulation of money-capital in the more developed regions, this working class reacted forcefully through wildcat strikes and violent confrontations with the Yugoslav police. This radicalism influenced a faction of students, and in 1968 a student revolt exploded which sought to unite the existing class struggle with a coherent critique of alienation, thus making the qualitative step towards a major offensive against capital. At the same time, big riots broke out in Kosovo which, although termed nationalist, reflected the reaction to the economic reforms of one of the poorer regions more than its ethnic divisions.

The student revolt was suppressed by the state machine, and as a response to the Kosovo riots, further subsidies were made to the less developed regions. However, the growing intervention of the banking system in the economy meant a re-orientation towards profit making and thus less money to the 'inefficient' south.

The International Crisis and Proletarian resistance

When the international crisis of the 70's hit Yugoslavia the impact was devastating, and soon the ruling class was looking for ways of dealing with the huge internal crisis. Thus, in 1974 constitutional changes were introduced which reduced the power of the Federal state and attempted to accommodate regional differences. The regions were transformed into autonomous regions, and Yugoslavia into a confederation of semi-sovereign states which had independent economic policies, police and the right to veto Federal decisions. However, none of the changes satisfied the regions, which, as a result of the growing economic differences between them, had already started reacting to economic reforms on a regional basis. The more developed regions were dissatisfied due to the political restrictions on the flow of money- capital, Serbia reacted to the loss of power of the Federal state, while the less developed regions were concerned because the regional restructuring positioned them as a permanent 'third world' within Yugoslavia, since the reforms did not affect the structural reasons for their gradual impoverishment. Gradually, regional tensions created a material basis for the development of nationalism.

The inability to cope with the crisis led Yugoslavia to join the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1980, which automatically imposed heavy austerity measures which shifted the burden of the crisis to the working class. The proletariats' nasty habits of wildcat strikes and riots were demonstrated once again, but the IMF proved to be successful. The rise of unemployment and the decrease of the real wages of the workers indicated that the western-style regulation of the labour force was more efficient in imposing labour discipline than its socialist counterparts. Yet, this was not sufficient, and the elites of Slovenia and Croatia started considering the prospect of secession from Yugoslavia as a more efficient way of coping with the crisis.

At the same time the conditions of the IMF and subsequent government measures which clearly favoured the more developed regions further ignited regional tensions. In 1981 big riots broke out in Kosovo, again more of an indication of growing impoverishment than a clear nationalist expression. However, it was now clear that the propagation of nationalism was facilitated by the ongoing economic impoverishment of the less developed regions.

In 1986 further riots were reported in Kosovo, and separatist voices were now more visible, although not yet dominant. However, the situation had changed from previous years. By now, Serbian nationalism had already begun to be propagated by a number of intellectuals.[3] The fact that many Serbs left the economic poverty of Kosovo and moved towards Serbia where there were more chances for them to survive, was exploited by the growing nationalist faction of the Serb bourgeoisie as a sign that Serbs were being driven out by Albanian nationalists. The result was an escalation of the institutionalised discrimination against the Albanians (declaration of martial law in Kosovo), a process which essentially meant that Kosovars did not only have to face the poverty of the region, but ethnic racism as well. The mass sacking of Albanian workers on the basis of their ethnic origin was a step taken by the Serb nationalists which almost necessarily implied a nationalist response on behalf of the Albanians.

By 1987, in the more developed regions of Slovenia and Croatia, demands for further liberalisation and the withdrawal of the political restrictions on the accumulation of money-capital, were conjoined with demands for national independence. The Serb bourgeoisie was divided between those who wished to maintain a unified Yugoslavia but were incapable of halting the economic developments which gave rise to nationalist aspirations, and those who chose to oppose the separatist tensions through Serb nationalism. The latter's claim was simple: any non-Serb nationalism was to be dealt with militarily. At the same time, further attempts to integrate the Yugoslav economy into the western market took the form of mass sackings, wage decreases and constitutional changes in the legal aspects of capitalist exploitation (abolition of the pseudo-self-management, liberalisation of the labour market, decentralisation of the banking system, etc). Resistance to these plans was fierce[4], forcefully demonstrating that suppression of proletarian resistance was the only way through which the Yugoslav economy could be adjusted to its new standards. The interests of western capital and of the local bureaucrats of Slovenia and Croatia became identical.

The legitimisation of capitalist social relations was in need of a new political structure, which at this point could only take the form of new nation-states which would divide, police and re-compose the proletariat on the basis of national identity.

The nationalist faction of the Serb bourgeoisie found its expression in Milosevic, whose nationalism reached its peak in 1989 when he organised a rally in Kosovo to propagate Serb nationalism, at a time when 81.9% of the population[5] (the overwhelming majority of whom are Albanian) were living below the poverty line! Soon after, the autonomous status of Kosovo was revoked and the region was re-integrated into Serbia.

Nationalism and Anti-nationalism in Yugoslavia

Meanwhile however, the international context was rapidly changing. The Eastern Bloc collapsed, and the subsequent instability brought about a further ignition of nationalism, since the Slovenian and Croatian elites saw this as an opportunity to proceed with the dismantling of Yugoslavia.

Yet the moves towards nationalism did not proceed unopposed. Seeing the growth of nationalism as an attempt to divide the working class, significant parts of the Yugoslav proletariat set up independent trade unions and anti-nationalist organisations, coupled with a new wave of wildcat strikes[6]. The continuing attempts at privatisation and dismantling the 'self-management' structures were fiercely opposed throughout all regions. Nonetheless, such unity was hard to sustain. In the midst of nationalist hysteria, the promises of material gains that a potential independence could bring to the workers of the more developed regions (at the expense of the Serb minorities) won the day.

In June 1991, Slovenia and Croatia declared independence[7]. The Serb-led Federal Army chose to respond by declaring a state of emergency and by sending troops to take over Slovenia's border posts and the main airport. But the Slovenian army proved to be well prepared and managed to resist the Federal Army's forces. At the same time, the internal enemy in Serbia used the anti-nationalist organisations and the independent trade-unions as the basis for an anti-war movement, resulting in massive desertions[8] and big anti-war demonstrations. The independence of Slovenia was a matter of fact in only 10 days.

In Croatia things developed in a totally different way, since there was a significant Serb minority which proved to be a problem for Croatia's independence. The consequent repression they faced following the declaration of independence of Croatia, enabled the Serb bourgeoisie to present their military response as a natural response aiming at protecting the 'Serb brothers and sisters' facing persecution.

Western Intervention in the Balkans

Western interference in the war placed the Yugoslav conflict more deeply in an international context. Yet, the interests of the Western countries differed. In Europe, the first country which openly favoured the break up of Yugoslavia was Germany[9]. The collapse of the Eastern Bloc and the re-unification with East Germany had boosted Germany's imperialist aspirations south-eastwards. The immediate recognition of Slovenia and Croatia without any prior arrangements[10] demonstrated that Germany was very keen on creating a German sphere of influence in the Balkans. And although the rest of the European Union shared neither the interests of Germany nor its determination, their pre-occupation with spelling out the Maastricht Treaty, as well as the long-run interests of a westernised and competitive Slovenia and Croatia, led them to adopt the German line. When the EU was placed as the mediator between Slovenia, Croatia and Yugoslavia, the break-up was a fait accompli.

US capital, on the other hand, was at first more eager to keep Yugoslavia unified so as to ensure that the shock therapy loans of the IMF were repaid. However, when the developments in the Balkans changed due to European intervention, the US realised that their policy towards Yugoslavia would leave them out of the game, and that competitive and independent republics in the region might well be more suitable for US interests. Germany's moves, which by now had the support of the EU, posed the threat of European superiority in the Balkans, a development most definitely not favourable to US/Nato dominance in Europe. As a result, a new approach to the Balkans was sought, and most specifically one which would not merely condone the one held by the European States.

In January 1992 the US intervened in the conflict by pushing the Izetbegovic government in Bosnia to push for independence[11]. Aware that the military infrastructure necessary for a proper intervention in the Yugoslav conflict could not be provided by the European states[12], the US-led Nato force called for an air-borne 'bombing campaign'. This strategy ensured that, since no US troops would be coming back to their 'mother-country' in body-bags, anti-war resistance would be minimal. Coupled with a skilfully constructed spectacle of humanitarian ideology, the first bombs in Yugoslavia landed with the blessing of the liberal population of 'Western civilisation'.

After the War

The war ended with the Dayton Agreement in 1995, which simply confirmed that Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia were independent republics. The process of restructuring these new nation-states took mainly the form of austerity measures and repression of any dissidence on the basis that 'all need to sacrifice for this newly acquired national freedom', the attempt to reconcile class antagonisms under the watchful eye of the national leadership. Economic development however has been confined to Slovenia and Croatia - due to their previous connections with West European capital and not least in Croatia due to Tudjman's dictatorial rule. In Bosnia however, foreign investors do not seem to be queuing up outside the borders. In fact, Bosnia has remained a wrecked landscape, with unemployment levels much higher than the pre-war period. The war for national independence made Bosnia a military protectorate of Nato, whose prolonged presence in the area was probably meant to ensure that the agreements (such as the economic embargo on Serbia) were kept by all sides.

Yet the Dayton Agreement completely ignored the issue of Kosovo and the Albanian population which, since the revocation of its autonomous status in 1989, felt all the more abandoned by the West. By 1992, in the middle of the civil war in Yugoslavia, the Albanians in Kosovo started looking to Albania as the possible saviour of their deteriorating living conditions, a shift that alarmed the western powers, and more particularly the US.

'Communist' (read: state-capitalist) Albania had never supported the cause of the separatist Kosovars, for the simple reason that such an approach would have endangered Hoxha's important trade relations with Yugoslavia. As such, up until the 1980's, Albania had better relations with Belgrade than with Kosovo, a fact that alienated many Kosovars, but which never reached any serious degree because -as we mentioned- there was no dominant separatist Kosovar-Albanian movement.

The developments of the 80's and 90's however had led to the emergence of separatism in Kosovo. The collapse of the Eastern bloc and the anticipated changes in Albania itself led many Kosovar-Albanians to believe that these changes would also affect Albania's relation to Kosovo. And when the democratic party of Sali Berisha won the 1992 elections, the expectation was that a westernised Albania would pay more attention to its Kosovar 'brothers and sisters'.

The West however had a slightly different opinion on the matter. Berisha was certainly used to bring about stability in Albania and he received considerable subsidies by the West for beginning a process of integration to the world market. Yet, the most crucial purpose of the deal for subsidies was to ensure that the borders between Albania and Yugoslavia (and Kosovo) were kept well-guarded. The reason for that was that the West feared that separatists Kosovar-Albanians might take advantage of the chaotic situation caused by the Yugoslav civil war to push for Kosovar becoming independent from Yugoslavia to join the 'Greater Albania'.

Berisha proved to be a loyal dog (he was after all a find of British Intelligence). The borders were kept closed, and no connections existed between the government of Berisha and the Kosovars-Albanians.

However, when the war ended, so did the subsidies to Albania. The West had no direct interest in maintaining this 'economic aid', and Berisha was left alone. His economic policies from then onwards were disastrous. On the one hand, he created fake pyramids-enterprises (with Italian and Greek capital in the background) to which many people in Albania 'invested' their minimal incomes; on the other hand he facilitated emigration as a way of increasing the state revenue, aware of the fact that the money earned by the immigrants abroad would soon find their way back into Albania. Yet, when the pyramids collapsed and the people's 'investments' went up in smoke in 1996, even Berisha's repressive regime was not able to control the masses of proletarians, disillusioned by the sudden tremendous impoverishment. A revolt broke out and soon after the total collapse of the state followed.

The West did intervene in order to bring things back to 'normal', yet in this case the intervention was not accompanied by either humanitarian ideology nor spectacular media coverage, since the only atrocities committed were those of the hated secret police of the West's favourite Berisha.

However, an important result of the Albanian revolt was that the formerly well guarded borders between Albania and Yugoslavia were no longer 'well guarded'[13], and some of the 750,000 Kalashnikovs appropriated by the proletariat soon reached the emerging KLA in Kosovo.

The Next Day in the Balkans

The immediate background to the war, its actual process and implications will not be discussed here -they have been sufficiently dealt with in the 'Nato's War Against Yugoslavia' article. It is however interesting to look at some of the implications of the war in Kosovo for the neighbouring Balkan nation-states.

Firstly, the war provided the West with the opportunity to restructure Albania. On the one hand there was the KLA which (forcibly or not) re-appropriated the Kalashnikovs of the revolt for its national liberation army, and, on the other hand, the mediocre government of Fatos Nano in Albania gave control over the country to Nato's forces. The reason for that was that the Albanian revolt of 1996/1997 was never suppressed, but had simply withered away due to its own contradictions. And although no one could speak of a revolutionary situation in Albania before the war in Kosovo, the fact remains that the Albanian proletariat was still armed. And, potentially, when the proletariat is armed, the revolution is armed.

Secondly, although, as we've argued, the West does not have any direct capitalist interests in Kosovo or Serbia, Greece and Italy do[14]. It is thus no surprise that the countries with the most investments in the area were at the same time the most 'reluctant' ones to condone Nato's bombing campaign. It is equally of no surprise that, following an invitation by the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, the capitalists who have major investments in the Balkans pointed out the strategic location of their factories so that they were not going to be bombed by Nato -and they weren't. This information is crucial in understanding the majority of protests against the war in Greece, most of which were unofficially supported by the government. The fact is that the Greek government had absolutely nothing to lose from tolerating a bit of anti-Americanism within Greece, let alone one coupled with Greek nationalism. The majority of the protestors in Greece went along with this, overlooking the fact that Greece is in Nato. Furthermore, by keeping a distant solidarity with Serbia, Greece ensured that it could position itself as a "...favourable negotiator-mediator for the western businesses who will be potentially interested in investments in the region" (Economy and Business, ELEUQEROTUPIA, Greek Journal, 10-11 April 1999). The over-enthusiasm about the Greek protests against the war, visible in many of the anti-war literature, was hence gravely misleading.

(lots of info for this article from Aufheben #2 and Wildcat [UK]: From Wage-Cuts to War)

[1] We're not of course implying that the class struggle was directly responsible for the eventual collapse of Yugoslavia, but that the dynamic of working class resistance forced the ruling class to respond with attempts to divide the proletariat - nationalism was one of the most crucial ones.

2 From 1953 until 1965 1 million peasants were turned into wage labourers, Aufheben no. 2, 'Yugoslavia Unravelled', 1992

3 In January 1986 the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences produced a manifesto of xenophobic nationalism called the Memorandum, in which, among other nationalist bullshit, an ultra-nationalist movement of the 2nd World War, the Chetniks, was praised. Its purpose was to activate the authorities against the supposed genocide of the Serb population in Kosovo.

4 1500 strikes and 385,000 strikers in 1987; 1360 strikes in the first months of 1988.

5 At the same time, in Slovenia the percentage is only 2.9%. Once again, this testifies for the fact that the economic crisis affected the different regions in different degrees.

6 One important incident being the occupation of the parliament by 5,000 Serb and Croat strikers.

7 Even the bourgeois press was forced to draw the connection between this move and the class struggle: as the Financial Times pointed out (June 27, 1991), the moment that Slovenia and Croatia chose to declare independence coincided with a 700,000 strong strike in Serbia.

8 From the beginning of the war since the summer of 1993 it was reported that 80% of the Federal Army's conscripts had deserted.

9 Austria and the Vatican had also shown that they favoured the independence aspirations of Slovenia and Croatia, but their influence and dynamic cannot be compared with Germany's.

10 The European Union's demand for assurances that the Serb minority of either Slovenia but most importantly Croatia was to be protected was by-passed by the German government.

11 Bosnia was divided between the Bosnian Croats, the Bosnian Serbs and the Bosnian Muslims, none of which were a clear majority. Any attempts to independence led with mathematical precision to barbaric war.

12 As we mentioned, the European States were more concerned at the time with the Maastricht Treaty and with the economic implications of a European monetary unification. Clearly, the necessary military expenditure for the Balkan conflict could not have been justified amidst massive austerity measures imposed by the Treaty.

13 The Army of Albania had deteriorated since the soldiers either went home or joined the revolt.

14 The Greek Telecommunications company (OTE) and its Italian counterpart recently bought 49% of Serbia Telecom, while OTE by itself already controls 35% of the Romanian Telecom and 51% of the Bulgarian Telecom. Furthermore, the Greek Steel Industry MUTILHNAIOS has signed a 5 year contract with the Trepca mines in Kosovo; the dairy products company DELTA invested 4 billion drachmas (aprox. 10 million pounds) in an ice-cream factory in Belgrade; and the construction company DIEKAT participates along with other companies in the construction of the Belgrade Metro. Meanwhile, one of the most important FIAT factories is in Yugoslavia.

Critiques and Caricatures

Critiques and caricatures: a response to undercurrent

Critiques of the June 18th action, its aims, organisation and general relevance, are important and to be welcomed. Theory, critical or otherwise, is too often rejected in favour of action when we need to combine theory and action, fostering, articulating and inhabiting the tension between them. Lest this response be taken as saying all is fine with the aims and focus of the action let me emphasise it isn't.

There are fault lines running through it - many of which the critique from undercurrent identifies. If the critique helps to bring out and transcend the problems and contradictions of the June 18th action then it will have been worthwhile but if it elevates one position while parodying all others then it amounts to little more then theoretical point scoring

The long list campaign against the economic summit

The lack of theoretical flesh on the bones of the June 18th action has been pointed out by the Sussex university zine undercurrent. In an article entitled "The longer the list, the better the action" they argue that, on the strength of the first few propaganda leaflets, the organisers of June 18th are more interested in numbers then analysis; in how many groups they can get involved then in the commonality between them; and that this in turn leads to lowest common denominator theory and a spectacular practice. Such criticisms are well-placed and ultimately helpful, food for thought for those involved, but the article repeatedly falls more into caricature then critique - tending, in turn, to critique its own caricature rather than what the leaflets said or what might actually be happening.

The quote the article takes for its title - "the longer the list, the better the action," is part of a sentence from a leaflet encouraging involvement in the June 18th action. True enough, it' s not true - a list that included the likes of, to use their example, the French Front National, would make for a longer list but a scarily incoherent action. To use this snippet though, as the writer does, to confirm the "campaigns"

"essence" as "indifference towards the social content of movements" and to suggest that June 18th is all about masses and quantities is indicative of the writers disingenuous selective reading. The first part of the sentence reads: "We will only realise our collective visions by taking action together" then lists some

likely suspect sectors - unwaged, students, workers, etc, before finishing "the longer...". You could be forgiven for assuming this meant that the listees should share some collective content but, fair enough, the 'visions' referred to could do with some focus.

With the articles subheading though, "the campaign against the economic summit" we are immediately in the realms of caricature. Nowhere in the leaflets produced or organising meetings held has it been suggested that June 18th is a campaign against the economic summit. The June 18th action can at most be called a co-ordination, not a campaign, and is, at best, precisely the rejection of the totality of the present social order that the article calls for, not an event opposing economic summits.

From this unpromising start the article goes on to contend that "the campaign" posits a incoherent, vague, them and us logic; has dispensed with any critique of capital and critical analysis generally; is fixated on financial institutions and multinationals; has a positivistic and moralistic approach; all amounting to confusion and mere pseudo-practise. Such insight after reading a "few propaganda leaflets" is surely commendable but leaves little room to practise what you preach and do more than scratch the surface of a subject.

To expect critical analysis from an A5 leaflet is possibly asking too much. While to conclude the rejection of radical critique (read as our radical critique) from such a leaflet is going too far. Tell the many people on the J18 email discussion list - an international forum for interested groups and individuals set up at the start - that, "further reflection has been dispensed with." They have been analysing and reflecting on capital, state, resistance and the like, for some time now. There are also groups around the UK organising meetings to discuss the plan where no doubt, some reflection may slip in occasionally. Then there is the London networks 'What is Capitalism?' conference - organised precisely for "further reflection." The writer of the article may not have known all this but then if "the essence" of "the

campaign" has already been revealed there is no need to find out.

In fact the lack of a critical analysis of capitalism in the direct action movement and its almost complete mystification in social life generally, is part of the point of organising the action. If a "recognition that the global capitalist system is at the root of our social and ecological troubles" was "commonplace" we might be in more encouraging times. The commonplace, in this instance, is for most people an obscurity.

Us and them

Juxtapositions for the sake of a propaganda leaflet such as, "We are more possible then they can powerfully imagine" are hardly to be taken as conclusive evidence of something's "logic" or "essence". Propaganda - at least that which aims to get people active - often involves simplifications of a subject. By

definition it aims to persuade or convince people and, yes, those working on J18 would like people to get involved and may initially be less concerned to ask to see the groups' theoretical credentials; or to check whether or not they are "complicit with capital". Furthermore the assumptions made in the text that our/their collective resistance is basically "raving for a few hours" or "throw(ing) some custard pies" might ring hollow for participants in 'the south' where doing either is not exactly top of the agenda.

Far from positing a crude them and us the claim is that our problems are systemic, inherent within the socio-economic order. Interpretations as to the fundamentals of this order may differ, as may the methods for its disposal, but the need to act collectively is clear. Who knows, action may even affect their/our interpretations. Maybe even, a way into an understanding of capitalism is through the

'globalisation' debate that the article sneers at.. To denounce those who haven't reached your understanding yet is akin to the vegans who attack potential vegetarians for not going far enough thus sending them straight back to the meat counter.

That there are, within the June 18th network, conflicting views, simplifications, confusions and hopes of getting a diversity of groups involved, is undeniable. Such are the concerns of practise. The luxury of everyone acceding to your understanding or agreeing with your ideas and practices is often unavailable in small unified groups let alone large diverse movements. This is, of course, where analysis, argument, dialogue and discussion comes in.

The heart of the global capitalist economy

If June 18th is just a few leaflets, then a few thousand people occupying the City for a day then it might well be exhilarating - reason enough maybe - but it won't add up to abolishing capitalism. That will require a more consistent praxis. Then again, to be so sure of where a "weaving together of all the single issue movements" leads, that it is "simply an incoherent patchwork ", is to forget that the outcomes that result from a practise are not always the ones intended. That the secondary effects may be wholly unexpected. This of course cuts both ways and is no reason to dispense with analysis or intention but just maybe, looking for the potential and possibilities of a situation is as useful as dismissing it in advance.

The coinciding of J18 with the G8 summit is not to put pressure on bad corporations via nation-states but to show the collusion between state and capital and the necessity to overthrow both; to contend that exploitation is also a political matter not just an economic one. That this is not bluntly said - and arguably it should be - owes more to a desire to open a debate before concluding it, and to the perceived role of a propaganda leaflet, then any rejection of critical analysis. Starting from a recognition of the multiplicity of positions and interests - irreducible to a single analysis - and tentatively endorsing this divergence, the unity is then aimed at precisely the recognition of exploitation by capital from different but complementary experiences. It doesn't presuppose that unity but attempts to open a space for critique that is available to all.

To claim, as the writer does, that "if there is such a thing as "the heart of the global economy"" it "would rather make sense to occupy some factories" - makes no sense at all. Besides the literalism of its interpretation of a slogan, the autonomist insight that all of social life under capitalism tends to become a factory for the exploitation of surplus value - not only wage-labour but the free work of students and housewives etc - means that June 18th is an occupation of "some factories": the social factories of the city streets and squares.

And while June 18th may well be "in many regards similar" to the campaign against the MAI (Multilateral Agreement on Investments) - although the similarities are unspecified - there is at least one huge difference. The campaign against the MAI was mainly a lobbyist, letter writing opposition to one re-regulatory element of capital, the June 18th co-ordination is rooted in a direct actionist opposition to capitalism, full stop.

Practising pseudo-confusion

A call for mass action might indeed "amount to confusion", if that was what was being called for. It isn't. On the contrary, autonomous actions - co-ordinated and focused - are being called for. Hopefully by those who have thought about what they are doing and why. One of the main organising principles of J18 is autonomy for the groups and movements involved. Meaning in practise encouraging self-activity and being less quick to dismiss other approaches. Not to build "a mass" but to make connections, encourage debate, open dialogues. Whether such confusing activity is leading "ultimately (to) mere pseudo-practise" is to be decided by those who know the true practise presumably - we await their instructions...

The article ends with a summation of "the campaigns" strategy as naïve, using a slogan from the leaflet as illustration, but while "imagine taking your desires for reality" is on the leaflet it is hardly "depicted as the ultimate response to global capitalism" . The June 18th action may well be naïve but it is not just a "strategy of immediacy" by "hippy-individuals" against the evil "them". That this is just clear-cut misrepresentation is self-evident. There are other "slogans" on the leaflet, which the writer does not mention, such as "imagine a society based on mutual aid, sharing and respect for nature" and "imagine a world where people have control of their lives and communities". A less condemnatory reading may have suggested that those involved do feel creating a different world will require thought, collective action and an ongoing process and have presented some constructive ideas to pepper the criticisms.

If the June 18th action is not the activity of a "significant movement that at least claims to be revolutionary" it is at least significant for revolutionaries; and if its participants, like the theorists at undercurrent, are "remote from advancing a coherent line of argumentation" they are, at least, advancing arguments. As an attempt to put capitalism back on the agenda of resistance at a time when its logic is further cloaked in mystification; as a contribution to the rebuilding of international solidarity at a time of rekindled nationalism and as a forwarding of informed imagination at a time when radical visions are seen as withering away, the June 18th action deserves, not caricatures, but the sharpest of critical engagements.

Occupy and Know

Occupy and Know
undercurrent #7

This has been a year of occupation at universities around the country, kicking off a tide bound to continue, and mocking the idea that students as a group have become impotent and apathetic. Whilst the ransacking of student pockets certainly serves to focus many students even more determinedly on their future careers and CVs, debts and salaries, it is a kick in the teeth for other students less proccupied with the future, and more concerned with the present in which the chances of higher education for certain sectors of the population, or for any reason other than raising job prospects, are becoming ever more remote.

This academic year students, who at first seemed docile beyond the wildest dreams of the government, acted and occupied, having finally noticed that protesting to the government about fees and no grants is simply pissing in the wind, though useful experience and a pseudo-activism for those pursuing a prestigious career in politics. Occupiers at Sussex and other universities dispensed with attempts to gather support from professional politicians and instead took action in their own right; there were long-running occupations in London, at Goldsmiths and at UCL over tuition fees and the abolition of the grant, and also at UEL (University of East London) over the cutting of courses, staff sackings and the reduction of computing facilities. The Camberwell Art College occupation in March was over shoddy equipment, under-staffing and accomodation, and over library access at the SOAS library occupation earlier in the year. Occupying has become ever easier, ever more obvious, and is quickly becoming the only possible course of action.

Within the Sussex occupation[1], the absence of leadership, the refusal to package the action neatly into media-sized portions, the indifference with which the vice-chancellor's attempts to speak to the occupiers (scratching at the windows at all hours - do try to get some sleep, Alistair!); all these underlined the fact that this was no stunt aimed merely at getting attention from newspaper-readers over their cornflakes, but instead a genuine event occurring inside Sussex House and not in the communications ether. Negotiate with the V.C.? Our only negotiation was our physical and intransigent presence at the nerve centre of his business; nothing to discuss when our demands were on his table (no expulsions, no repercussions). That students have absolutely nothing to discuss with university management was well illustrated at the chaotic open meeting after the occupation, where Smith tried to present his trusty I'm-a-reasonable-man credentials, but barely kept his cool under the onslaught of questions/comments/accusations, and whose personal opinions about fees were displayed as just that - the personal opinions of a bureaucrat with only the power to carry out orders. Universities have been handed the dirty job of collecting fees, losing £1000 from Local Education Authority income for every £1000 due from a student. It is the universities who are left short when students refuse to pay, and it is in the universities and not in Parliament that the battle is therefore being fought.

The laughably compromised NUS can have no moral right to represent students: the real possibility of the scrapping of fees in Scotland recently was deftly deflected on a nod and a wink from the NUS. It was they who suggested a 'review' on fees to let the LibDems off their promise to scrap fees; they leapt decisively to the defence of the Labour government when it was threatened with the embarassing and damaging prospect of no fees in Scotland. Under the control of Andrew Pakes, New Labour lover, and his obedient majority of cronies on NUS Executive, the NUS is barely worthy of a moments' thought to determined student activists. It was, therefore, very kind of a group of students to have paid the NUS headquarters a visit on the 8th of June...

On the occasion of an NUS NEC[2] meeting, a band of about 15 students stormed through the doors of the NUS headquarters in Holloway Road, London, suddenly bored of ignoring this New Labour-dominated organisation solidly following its orders with such seeming impunity. At the annual conference in March, despite the usual challenge to the leadership by left-wingers, the vile Andrew Pakes was slipped back into position as President for another year, despite his own admittal of his intention to ensure the 'smooth implementation' of fees. Not hoping to persuade the NUS exec. to suddenly meaningfully represent student interests, nor with any expectation that they might see the light, but with the simple wish to give them a right good slapping and a bit of real confrontation, unmediated by a conference hall and a compliant chairperson, students paid them a visit.

The familiar cry - 'Get the doors shut!' - went up from Pakes' sidekick as he spotted the laughing invaders, but it was already too late. They were in and up the stairs to the executive offices like a shot, with the Labour elements of the executive right behind them. Occupiers were joined in their office by sympathetic members of exec. while fuming Pakesites attempted to block doorways. Andrew Pakes gave a marvellous impression of a brainwashed drone by repeating an accusation, like a broken record, of harrassment, victimisation and intimidation of 'his' staff. Although this was a lie and denied, and he was told not to worry his head about a matter that was already being dealt with between occupiers and staff members and union, he was unable to say anything else for the four hours the occupation continued.

For the forthcoming academic year, plans are rolling into place for mass non-payment of fees. Thousands of non-payers are set to put the government in an impossible position - to de-register them all would only create a mass movement of disenfranchised, radicalized students with way too much time on their hands. There exists the possibility of the defeat of fees despite the impotence of officially sanctioned channels of representation and protest, and for the setting of yet another precedent for autonomous non-compliance and resistance, not to mention the politicization of a generation of students.

But the abolition of the student grant threatens to leave the government and the NUS sniggering into their sleeves at easily-distracted student activists. Throughout all the debate and polemic about fees, the issue of the grant has been trying to stay in the game, resurfacing every so often with an 'of course, the real issue is the abolition of the grant'. In practical terms, for students with no outside financial support[3], of course it is. Current third-year students with grants receive £1800 a year, enough to cover much of their rent at least, though they will still usually need to take out loans as well. But the prospect, this forthcoming year, of £4000 a year loans with no grant is one which very effectively excludes many thousands of prospective students, from those with children to those over 55 (no loans available) to those who simply have no intention of enslaving themselves to a large debt for the foreseeable future. We will have failed, despite victory over fees, if we do not take decisive and focused action against the scrapping of the grant. The increase of many students' loans and debts to £12,000 and more forces students to purchase for themselves a meaningless future as indentured slaves, forever owing the company store.

[1] The Goldsmiths occupation was initiated at a quorate UGM and Student Union-led, which carried over into the occupation where meetingswere run along the lines of UGMs with proposers of motions etc. and routine voting. The Sussex occupation, in contrast, ran on the basis of consensus as far as possible, with voting reserved as the last resort for particularly contentious issues, and no leaders or even spokespersons.

2 Confused by all these TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms)? NEC = National Executive Committee, CFE = Campaign for Free Education, NUS = National Union of Scabs

3 These students do not pay fees - they are means-tested with payments of up to £1000 starting at a parental income of £26,000. Most £1000 tuition fees were paid up promptly this year by students with cheques from their parents.

Reply to Critiques and Caricatures

Reply to Critiques and Caricatures: A Response to Undercurrent
undercurrent #7

While claiming that critique of J18 is much needed, the author to the reply dismissed ours as a caricature. We would be the last ones to deny that there has been a lot of caricaturing going on. But the only reason why our text might give that impression, is that its object - the information we have about J18 - is itself caricaturing the world of capital.

Our critique of J18 consisted of a number of related points: the fixation on finance capital and evil multinational corporations, the participation in the hype about "globalisation", accompanied by a problematic localism, to name but the most important ones. The response evades these issues and instead repeatedly claims that the meagre basis on which we wrote our critique led us to distort the issue. However, we criticised precisely that there is nothing further than this "meagre basis" - that is a few leaflets - on which the J18 campaign/co-ordination (whatever difference that makes) is based. It is not our fault that a few small leaflets are so far all the co-ordination has published - it is the very problem. Fair enough, there have been e-mail and other discussion groups, but they are private discussions. It is the publications made publicly available that represent a certain underlying consensus, and as such are to be taken as expressing the gist of a campaign. Otherwise, what would their purpose be? That to the present day not a single pamphlet bringing together "the multiplicity of positions and interests" has been put out underscores our claim that crucial questions are being neglected in order to keep up a superficial unity of action.

Instead of engaging with our critique, the writer explains to us the thorny path of bringing together the various movements around the globe. This obviously requires not asking for "groups' theoretical credentials". Yet while it is apparently too arrogant "to check whether or not groups are complicit with capital", this political indifference does not prevent the writer from claiming that "June 18th...is rooted in a direct actionist opposition to capitalism". This contradiction remains a mystery to us, but our main point was something else: that a mobilisation of this type avoids a critical theory of capital and consequently reproduces ideology.

Of course, we are not in any way questioning the necessity of practice and we consider many of the actions planned for the day worthwhile. However, the reply to our previous article, as well as J18 generally, considers theory at most a secondary issue. The main focus is in the 'action', and any critical reflection is postponed indefinitely. Even more flagrantly, the author bets on the idea that "the outcomes that result from a practice are not always the one intended" and that "the secondary effects may be wholly unexpected"... In other words, never mind if we reproduce social-democratic ideology, it might accidentally still end in social revolution.

Not only do we find in the response to our article no refutation of the points we make, but unfortunately they seem more relevant now than before: the latest agit-leaflet is worth quoting at length to illustrate this. It claims: "Our planet is actually run by the financial markets - a giant video game in which people buy and sell blips on electronic screens, trading life for money in their search for higher profits. Yet the consequences of this frenzied game are very real: human lives, ecosystems, jobs and even entire economies [!!sic.!!] are at the mercy of this reckless global system". In reality the world is, of course, not run by the financial markets. Capital is a system of relations of production of which the financial markets are but a (necessary) offspring. To fixate the attack on them is to turn the world upon its head, resulting in such absurdities as complaining about the damages made to "jobs" and even "entire economies" which are apparently just as innocent as "ecosystems and human lives". Since of course these "entire economies" are capitalist, this J18 statement affirms what it pretends to attack[1]. This feels like stating the obvious.

Although no one can deny the importance of financial markets, this passage simply reasserts a view of capitalism we tried to refute in the last article. Is this the further reflection resulting from the "what is capitalism?" conference?

This misconception of finance capital was one of the points we tried to raise, and not, as the writer claims, that nothing matters except the factories. We mentioned the factories in order to attack J18's fixation on the financial centres; a fixation that is an obstacle for a critique of production. Of course, capital forms all of social life and not just production in the factories, and reclaiming the streets is one adequate response to this.

The J18 co-ordination is undeniably one between many different groups with radically opposing views. This on the one hand shows a serious lack of consensus, and a blurry amalgam of groups that don't even necessarily have the same basic aims. On the other hand, and paradoxically, it is also the expression of a consensus: anything will do, as long as it fits with the vague anti-globalisation attitude. That, as we noted, this resentment can also be found on the political Right, e.g. the French Front National, does not seem to bother the author - instead, he claims that we suggested that J18 would like to include the Front National in its long list. Obviously, we never did, but the co-ordination is already, even without any Fascists, "scarily incoherent".

Since the author dismissed our article as a mere caricature and did not engage with the points we raised, there is nothing new we can say. Except maybe that "Economies versus Financial Markets" - this latest caricature of anti-capitalism - is even worse than the stuff we had referred to in the last undercurrent. It seems that our critique was not a caricature, but rather an understatement.

[1] For an analysis of how capital presents itself in such a way as to facilitate the emergence of an "anti-capitalism" that is a one-sided attack on the abstract side of capital while affirming the "concreteness" of labour and production, and how furthermore this "anti-capitalism" relates to anti-Semitism, see Moishe Postone, 'Anti-Semitism and National Socialism', in Germans and Jews since the Holocaust: the changing situation in West Germany, ed. Anson Rabinach/Jack Zipes, New York and London 1986. We do not, however, want to suggest that J 18 is anti-Semitic.