Amidst the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, TPTG analyse and explain the roots of the conflict and give an account of the original "Balkanisation" of the Balkans.
What is everywhere and almost on a daily basis proved is that the propaganda of the ruling class is not relied solely upon the hired bands of lackeys (media scum and academics), but it is also propped up by the confusing ideologies of their self declared enemies. The rulers' power lies in their skill in stuffing their slaves with words to the point of making them the slaves of their words, Vaneigem once said. And he was right.
During the last year there was much political debate between Greek and (Slav) Macedonian bureaucracies upon the name, the constitution and the symbols of the new Macedonian state. Two large nationalist demonstrations were held by the major political parties in Greece in order to put pressure on EEC bureaucracy to stop backing our neighboring nation-state's claims on the name”Macedonian”. The first one took place in February 92 in Thessaloniki and the second one in Athens last December. Over one million people took part in them (that is one in ten Greeks) and apart from the Trotskyists and some other Leninists who opposed the demonstrations, agitating for”the right of (Slav) Macedonia to self-determination” - a bourgeois statist concept derived from Lenin, which cost them harsh persecutions on the part of the Law - few”anti-authoritarian” groups managed to confront nationalist propaganda, at least on theoretical terms. The majority of the so-called anti-- authoritarians and anarchists, never having inquired seriously into the complex concrete interconnection between representative democracy, nation-state, army and wage system, found themselves agitating for anti-militarist and, simultaneously, pro-nationalist ideas! The reason of this confused state of mind is to be found in the fact that people -”anti-authoritarians” being no exception to this - have constantly determined themselves and arranged their relationships in line with the ruling ideas of their epoch; ideas of God, of normality, of nationality, etc. To paraphrase Marx and Gabel, the nationalist ideology, which is an ideology of the ruling class, tends to build on people's false consciousness of their actual life-process a pseudo-history, which instead of explaining, e.g. the”Greeks” through history, claims to explain history through the”Greeks”. The nationalist pseudo-historical method consists of theoretical crystallizations that rest on the continuous repetition of familiar, fixed signs and on the remembrance of historical events interpreted metaphysically. We need to debunk this ideology whose starting point is a certain form of consciousness taken as a living individual.
History as a nightmare
According to the nationalist ideology there are no autochthonous minority ethnic groups in Greece. Whenever one indignantly points them out, this is what the lackeys answer back:”Real Greeks, who someone, somehow, sometime converted them to another religion or language or just peasants who are behind the times, not yet completely integrated into civilisation”. One of these”non-existant” ethnic groups are the Slav-Macedonians living - or, according to the bureaucrats, supposed to live - in nothern Greece. Their politically correct name is”bilingual Greeks”. According to official historiography they were among those fighters that liberated Macedonia - this”sacred place of Hellenism for over 3000 years” - from the domination of Turks and Bulgarians. Contrary to what is generally believed, inventing myths is an expensive hobby and some people, whether they like it or not, will have to foot the bill.
Slav-Macedonians became”our compatriots” by anything but peaceful means. Even Evangelos Kofos, a representative of the Greek state's foreign policy, admitted during the sixties, that the dictatorial government in 1936, for one, had adopted a policy of forced assimilation:”In a series of administrative measures, the Slavophones were forbidden to speak their Slavonic dialect in public, and deportations to the islands assumed a non-discriminatory character”-1
. Those”Slavophone” peasants called themselves Makedontsi, a word with a rather regional than national connotation. Ethnologically speaking, they are kin to the Slav-speakers of the former Yugoslav Macedonia.
Before being turned into a battleground for competing nationalist scum, Macedonia was just a geographical entity, part of the Ottoman Empire. This ethnologically mixed region, which included Kosovo , was mainly inhabited by Turkish and Albanian Muslims and Orthodox Slavs, Greeks and Vlachs. According to Hilmi Pasha's census (1904) the Orthodox Greek-speakers of Macedonia constituted 10% of the entire population, while in Aegean Macedonia, which nowadays is part of the Greek state, 30% of the population were Greek-speakers, 30% Slav-speakars, 30% Muslims and 10% Vlachs, Jews, Gypsies and others2 . It's obvious that prior to the nationalist wars for Macedonia in the early 20thC, the identity of the inhabitants was determined by religion, and to a lesser degree, language.
The ecclesiastical dispute that broke out in the 1860s between the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Bulgarian Exarchate was soon transformed into a nationalist confrontation between Greeks and Bulgarians. On the one hand, Greek nationalists, fearing that the neutral attitude of the Ecumenical Patriarchate towards nationalist disputes could not serve their goals, sought to Hellenize the institution of the Church in Macedonia. On the other hand, by the early 1890s a narodnik group, known as IMRO (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization), advocating a peasant uprising against Ottoman administrators and landowners, was founded by Slav-speaking democrat federalist intellectuals. According to the Articles, the aims of the organization were to”gather into one entity all discontented elements in Macedonia and the area of the Aegean, regardless of nationality, in order to achieve, by means of revolution, complete political autonomy for these areas”3 . From the very beginning, IMRO came into direct opposition to the Bulgarian Church and the most chauvinist Bulgarians in Sofia who tried to bring them under their own control.
After the Ilinden peasant uprising organized by the Slav revolutionaries in 19034 , the Greek state reacted to a possible escalation of the Slav-Macedonian uprising and the Bulgarian propaganda. They formed numerous armed gangs and sent them to Macedonia where they co-operated with the Turkish army and the great landowners against the Bulgarian and Slav-Macedonian bands as well as the poor peasants who were mostly indifferent in nationalist disputes.
During the”Macedonian Struggle” (1904-1908), the Bulgarian and the Greek gangs tried to Hellenize or Bulgarize the Christian population violently. According to Kofos,”terrorism in Macedonia was the culmination of a quarter of century of conflicting nationalist propagandas in a region whose peoples had, more or less, no formulated national consciousness, but were guided by the expediency of the moment and the instinct for self-preservation. 5 We know from the memoirs of the fighters of the”Macedonian Struggle” that a certain faction of the Patriarchal clergy contributed largely to the nationalist struggles. Under duress or under threat of ecclesiastical anathema, the Slav population of Macedonia was changing from”Bulgarian” to”Greek” from one day to the next. Greek nationalist ideology found itself in more favourable conditions, since a large section of the Christian peasant population of Macedonia, especially in the central and southern areas, were loyal to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, a religious institution of the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empires, which, although a supranational organization, was under the control of a Greek-speaking hierarchy and had never ceased to be a vehicle of the Greek language, which was the official language whereby Christian ideology had been spread through the centuries.
Nationalist use of Christianity in Europe. It's always the same old story!”All the members of the clergy”, Mirabeau declared in the Assembly in August 1789,”are merely officials of the state. The service of the clergy is a public function; just as the official and the soldier, so also the priest, is a servant of the nation”.
Rudolf Rocker was right in regarding national consciousness and national citizenship as a political confession of faith.”National states”, he wrote in 1933,”are political church organizations; the so-called national consciousness is not born in man, but trained into him. It is a religious concept; one is a German, a Frenchman, an Italian, just as one is a Catholic, a Protestant, or a Jew”6 .
“When the great war comes, Macedonia will become Greek or Bulgarian according to who the winner is. If it is occupied by Bulgarians, they will render the population into Slavs. If we occupy it, we will Hellenize them all till Eastern Rumelia”. Harilaos Trikoupis, Prime Minister of Greece, at several times between 1875 and 1893.
a The fate of Macedonia was decided during the Balkan Wars (1912-13), when the concerted efforts of the Greek, Serbian and Bulgarian armies managed to end Ottoman rule in the European provinces of the Empire. Since there were no beforehand negotiations concerning the drawing of the lines of their future territorial settlement in Macedonia, the three powers were determined to grab as much territory as they could and embrace any opportunities resulting from the military or diplomatic situation. By the end of the wars Serbia and Greece had hit the jackpot in Macedonia, since Bulgaria had paid more attention to the Thracian Front where it beat Turkish army almost completely, a fact that turned the great European powers against it.
After a series of treaties from 1913 to 1920, Bulgaria annexed 10% of the Macedonian territory, while Serbia and Greece annexed 38% and 52% respectively. The Greek state not only had the lion's share occupying rural territories where no Greek-speaking population could be found but it also succeeded in conquering the most advanced financial centres in Macedonia.
The compulsory exchange of the Greek-speaking and the Slav-speaking population of eastern Macedonia between Greece and Bulgaria in 1920 as well as the dramatic transfer of a million, mostly Greek-speaking, Christians from Turkey to Greece and 350,000 Muslims from Macedonia to Turkey, under the treaty of Lausanne in 1923, marked the final stages in the national bureaucracies' efforts to organize ethnic-- linguistic and cultural homogeneity in their newly constructed cages.
So the notorious Eastern Question ended: in blood and tears... Thousands of Greeks, Turks and Slavs died in the refugee shanty towns away from their native lands. Nevertheless, every cloud has a silver lining! Those of the refugees and the soldiers who had survived the wars, were given full citizenship and became small land holders or a cheap labor-force.
Once the nation-states in the Balkans had, in one way or another, been formed and the agrarian reforms and the new labor markets had come into operation, one could have supposed that from then on capitalism would start functioning”peacefully”. However, this was not true, since nationalist ambitions and lower classes' demands had in no way been satisfied. At least as far as Slav-Macedonians (or Croats) were concerned.
During the inter-war period, the Yugoslav governments (composed mainly of Serb bureaucrats) renamed their part of Macedonia to Vardar Banovina and thousands of landless Serb peasants were transferred to the region to assist in the assimilation of the native Slavs. The official Serbo-Croat language became compulsory in schools and public life.
The situation was even worse in the part of Macedonia under Greek occupation. The bulk of the Greek-speaking refugees were settled in Macedonia and this was a”national scheme” far more systematic than the previously mentioned Serbian one. It is of great importance to note that, contrary to recent Greek nationalist propaganda, the Greek government of 1926 declared Slav-Macedonians a distinct ethnic minority which could have schools in its own language. However, since Bulgarians demanded the use of the Bulgarian language and Serbs the Serbo-Croat one as the language of those schools, Greek bureaucrats started treating this minority as non-existant and began changing the names of the Slav inhabitants and their villages into Greek, forbidding, as we have already mentioned, any public use of their language and deporting or imprisoning hundreds of dissidents -a campaign that lasted until the late 50s. Today this assimilation process has almost been completed. In Bulgaria, things worked out in a different way.
After the Balkan Wars, the lMRO militants took refuge in Bulgaria and were soon transformed into a political and financial racket supporting whomever, from extreme right to the left, was willing to forward their nationalist plans7 .
Nationalism and Leninism
In early twenties, after having crushed the proletarian revolution in Russia, the Bolsheviks began employing the Comintern as the main organ of their foreign policy. In such”underdeveloped” countries as in the Balkans, where there was no significant and politically organized workers' movement to be utilized, they favoured collaborations between the”communist” parties and the nationalist, allegedly national liberation, movements. lMRO was one of these movements.
In 1924, the Bulgarian”communist” party entered into an alliance with IMRO in order to set the seizure of power in Bulgaria going. In a few months the alliance had broken up but the leftist faction of IMRO remained loyal to BCP's project of a Balkan federation that would include a”united and independent Macedonia”8 .
What is important in all these political manoeuvres is that from the twenties onwards the Balkan Leninists had become a significant vehicle of nation-building projects in the area. In the forties, Marshall Titers stalinist party, which had beat the Nazis and won the Yugoslav civil war leading the anti-fascist struggle of the multi-ethnic peasantry, would re-interpret the federalist ideology of the twenties. It created a federal state and recognized, theoretically at least, to each of the”nations of Yugoslavia” the”right to self-determination, including the right to secession”. Besides Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, a”state of the Macedonian people and the Albanian and Turkish minorities” was created.
The YCP's initial objectives were to create a Macedonian republic that would include Pirin (Bulgarian) Macedonia as well as a part of Greek Macedonia and also form a South-Slav federation that would include Bulgaria and Albania under their hegemony. Stalin's conflict with Tito in 1948 brought an end to such ambitious plans. The Greek and Bulgarian stalinists sided with Coninform and Tito stopped supporting the Greek guerillas giving a fatal blow to the stalinist- led rebellion in July 1949. 35,000 Slav-Macedonian partisans were forced to emigrate from Greece and many of them took refuge in Yugoslav Macedonia9
Citizenship and the incorporation of the peasants and the workers into the nation-state
”Political emancipation is certainly a big step forward. It may not be the last form of general human emancipation, but it is the last form of human emancipation within the present world order. Needless to say, we are here speaking of real, practical emancipation”. Karl Marx, On the Jewish Question
The new Macedonian state, whose first premier was Dimitar Vlahov, the old leader of the leftist faction of IMRO, was the political outcome of the anti-fascist and anti-imperialist struggle of its inhabitants against Nazi/Bulgarian occupation and Great Serb chauvinism.
It was on this basis, as well as on the material concessions to peasants that the Macedonian bureaucracy traced a route to nation-building. The creation of the new nation was patterned on the schemes concocted by all previous Balkan bureaucracies during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries' social and political struggles. The new state class declared themselves liberators of the people; turned a regional name - Makedontsi - into national; transformed the Slav Macedonian idiom - on which the Bulgarian language is based as well - into a”pure” literary language; set up an autocephalous Macedonian Orthodox Church; invented a unique Macedonian history and a distinct Macedonian tradition; proposed an unredeemist ideology of the”brothers who are still in bondage” and, here you are, a new nation in the Balkans was born in the same way that the Greek, Serbian and Bulgarian imagined communities had been created.
The nationalization of the European peoples was the main political and social consequence of the last two centuries' class struggles. These class struggles were mainly peasant struggles against the landowners and the foreign conquerors and were given voice through the nationalist-democratic ideology, the people's army and its leadership. They led up to the formation of the modern bureaucratic class which was shaped by the collaboration of old and new rulers (politicians, democrat intellectuals, administrators, the military, eta). Their greatest preoccupation was to organize the nationalist indoctrination of the younger generations, disintegrate the peasant communities and the guilds and legitimize the civil society, which was already under formation, through law regulations; a society where a person sacrifices her/himself to the abstract notion of the citizen, i.e. the private individual, the mere member of the multitude. Thus the bureaucrats paved the way for the merchants, the industrialists and the bankers, who themselves had taken part in the social struggles, at least as financial supporters, and who managed to reorganize human work into”free” labor, i.e. wage labor, cutting the communities into separate households, adaptable to changes in space and time and suitable for overt exploitation.
The myth of the nation, enveloped in sentiments and memories of the”liberation” struggles, unites these separate parts. Equality in the heaven of the nation-state's universality counteracts inequality in the earthly, real life. The state that poses as a guardian/representative of an allegedly undifferentiated society is the universal power that unifies the competitive private interests. The contradiction of the political nation-state lies in the fact that it unifies the separate parts through separation, since it is simultaneously the mediator that safeguards and guarantees the perpetuation of the private interests and the continuation of the dissociation of private and public life10
. The internationalist proletarian movement of the 19thC, the only social movement that could put an end to the extension of the nationalist-- democratic ideology, because it was seeking for real, practical emancipation beyond the present world order11
a, gradually degenerated after the promising period of the First International and the federative Commune of 1871, and split into national parliamentary”workers”' parties. Those parties identified socialism with”nationalization of the means of production” as well as seizure of the political power and led the proletariat to the leninist-stalinist tragedy. After World War II, the second proletarian assault on class society, culminating in the struggles of the late sixties and strengthened by a large scale revolt of the middle class youth of the”developed” capitalist countries, brought the internationalist perspective to the fore again and provoked the western bureaucrats and capitalists to act accordingly. In the Eastern bloc things took a dramatic course. After the events in Hungary in 1956, the stalinists could not impede the spreading of the class struggles, in other words they could not organize scarcity and silence effectively anymore. The successive struggles and especially those in Poland during the 70s and the 80s, exposed the counter-revolutionary nature of the non-market, industry-based variation of the Oriental despotism of the Russian empire. Besides that, the non-soviet empire as well as the Yugoslav federation to some extent, were prison houses of nations and various ethnic groups. The eastern proletariat being unable to act against the bureaucrats as a class seeking for its self-suppression, stood against the emperor as if he was a mere conqueror, that is on a national basis, hence they climbed the chariot of the nationalist-democratic ideology of their leaders (Walesa, Yeltsin, Tudjman, Milosevic,...)12
. - Wherever these leaders - mostly former members of the disintegrated bureaucracy and now ambitious”national heroes” - have been involved in free-for-all wars, the proletariat at the worst of times has become cannon fodder and at the best mere defenders of their lives.
The war officers turn to peace-makers (and viceversa)
There are three methods of approach to the war in former Yugoslavia that certainly lead to false considerations on the social and political situation there.
The first and most popular of them is dominated by the humanitarian-pacifist beliefs and it assumes that the war is simply the product of evil-minded politicians and thugs and rests its hope for a cease-fire on the military intervention of the United Nations of a America. The second one is based on the Leninist ideology and sees through the war a struggle of oppressed nations for”national independence”. The third one holds that behind the so-called civil war, the various nationalist factions are serving the divergent interests of the great western powers. It reminds us of the one-sided estimation of Rosa Luxemburg who, during the Balkan Wars and the First World War, supported the view that”Serbia itself is only a pawn in the great game of world politics”13 . The first method and especially the last one are the most absurd of all since they bring out a police concept of history. The events in Yugoslavia cannot be understood in terms of good or evil individual action neither can be explained as the result of an external action. As far as the Trotskyist illusions are concerned, the”heroic” era of the so-called national liberation struggles has long passed. One has to turn one's attention to the history of class antagonisms in former Yugoslavia after World War II.
Wedged between Western capitalist and Stalinist regimes, the Yugoslav”communist” bureaucracy managed to survive thanks to its longstanding reconciliation with the proletariat and the peasantry (see the law on workers' self-management in 1950 and the redistribution of land after the war). The reconciliation drew to an end in the sixties when the disputes between the centralists, the local state officials and the enterprise managers over matters of development policy led to the 1965 liberal economic reform. According to Neil Fernandez, the liberal-conservative strife was”a confrontation between on the one hand rulers who stressed a degree of Croat and Slovene independence along with economic efficiency, and on the other hand those who were concerned with the preservation of the machinery of centrally directed investment, the all-round development of the national capital, and the pre-eminence of Belgrade and the largely Serb administrative apparatus”14 . So, the reforms not only legitimized capitalism in Yugoslavia by decentralizing investment policy, reducing wages and jobs (esp. in the so-called”political” factories) and liberalizing foreign trade; they also revealed that the economic and political conflicting interests were rapidly being transformed into North-South nationalist confrontations.
The failure of the internationalist radical wing of the Belgrade student movement in 1968 to unite themselves with workers fighting against wage-freezes and income inequality15 - and vice versa - and thus put forward continuous autonomous struggles for a truly self-managed society, was followed by large-scale demonstrations in Pristina in November 1968 calling for Kosovo's autonomy and, most remarkably, nationalist demonstrations in Croatia in 1971-2 that led eventually to the establishment of a new constitution in 1974. The constitution turned Kosovo and Vojvodina into autonomous provinces and made Yugoslavia a confederation of semi-sovereign states with independent economic policy, their own police force and the right to put a veto on any new federal laws.
The League of”communist” bureaucrats tried to preserve their central unifying role as”representatives of the workers” by reinforcing the only two all-Yugoslav institutions, i.e. the army and the so-called workers' self-management. In the following years, both attempts to militarize social relations to some extent and cast the”workers' councils” for the part of a reformist political party in the Yugoslavery comedy failed completely. By the mid '80s the technocratic leadership cadres and the local bureaucrats had prevailed over the centralist ideologues. The Yugoslav”People's” Army could not offer a bond to hold the country together because it was the armed hand of the Party and as long as the Party was rapidly disintegrating it merely became the armed hand of the most powerful nationalist faction in the Party: the”Great Serb” nationalists.
The Belgrade intellectuals' petition of January 1986 to the authorities to act against the alleged”genocide” of the Serb minority in Kosovo, was the kick-off for the regeneration of Serb nationalism. The constitutional changes and the Serb military rule which incorporated Kosovo into the body of the Serbian state, gradually prompted the rest of the local bureaucracies to start moving towards total independence. But the very root of the nationalist resurgence is to be found in the class struggles of the second half of the eighties.
During 1986-9 the federal government, by general consent of every local leadership, tried to totally integrate the Yugoslav economy into the restructuring world capitalism. Their first move, in February 1987, under the guidelines of IMF - their main foreign creditor - was to cut wages and increase unemployment and was soon followed, in 1988-9, by the change of the legal framework of the capitalist relationship: abolition of pseudo-self-management, liberalization of the labour market, decentralization of the banking system, etc. The strike wave that broke out in early 1987 against the bureaucrats, the trade unions and the workerist cadres in the mines and the factories of Croatia and Serbia was astonishing and the government threatened to send troops and tanks against the workers. The struggle continued without a break: 1623 strikes and 365,000 strikers in 1987; 1360 strikes in the first 9 months in 1988. Among the demands was the 100% increase in wages! The local bureaucracies were obliged to play their last card: nationalist ideology.
Nationalism that had already been used in previous decades to regiment social contradictions by convincing workers in one republic that their poverty is due to the inefficiency of the workers and the leaders in the other republic, reached in the late 80s its explosive point. Social control could no longer be exerted by discredited”socialist” ideologues. A renewed legitimation of bureaucracy and capitalism could only be achieved through the creation of nation-states which would manage to divide, police and recompose the proletariat on the basis of a new reconciliation between state and civil society. The leaders clearly saw that in order to maintain and extend their power they had to create new social cages by inventing a new form of citizenship, a new type of”general interest”. By 1989 the mass demonstrations had already become nationalist parades. Things were on the right way... And they still are...16
War-making against real or factitious”external enemies” is part and parcel of nation-state making. The members of the western ruling class are well aware of this, the nationalization of peoples in their states having been completed long ago. Professor John Mirshimer, for example, wrote in New York Times, two months ago, that the creation of homogeneous states in former Yugoslavia calls for the mapping out of new borders and the transfer of populations. On March 25, 1991 Tudjman and Milosevic met secretly in Karadjordevo and agreed to partition Bosnia between them17 , thus forcing through war a non-nationalist, non religion-fanatical population to take sides. The partition was backed up by the great powers in a London conference in August 1992. Ethnic cleansing was carried out not only by Serbian and Croat army and gangs but by UN convoys as well.
They organized the evacuation of Muslim refugees from Srebrenica and other places and the exchanges of hundred thousand prisoners. Now the Serbian army has occupied 70% of the Bosnian territory and 20% is in Croatian possession. Peace is just going to bring to an end whatever war has left incomplete18 . We can't say from here whether the proletarians and the peasants, regardless of nationality, will resist all”peace-makers”, like they did against all war officers in Vukovar and during the first months of the war in Bosnia and whether their reactions will continue to be mainly defensive ones.
If you want peace, prepare for class war
None of the bureaucracies of the Balkan states is out of the nationalist game. The Greek bureaucrats and capitalists that antagonized the new Macedonian ruling class, blocking the international recognition of their state, trying to keep them at the worst possible place in the new hierarchical inter-state system in the Balkans - even making plans of turning that former Yugoslav republic into a protectorate of theirs - have made a lot of concessions in the last months. But the results of the intense nationalist propaganda during 1992 are still largely observable. All the pseudo-antagonisms (left wing/right wing parties, trade unions/- bosses, etc.) have collapsed into a nationalist united front against the strikers and the high school students and managed, with the help of mass media scum, to push their struggles out of the limelight. What is worse, we saw most of our friends, comrades, people we work with fall victims of the deceptive pro-Serb Greek government propaganda. We will deal extensively with the very root of this despicable stance elsewhere.
Moreover, the future looks bleak. When Milosevic, Greece's best ally in the Balkans, sooner or later, finds himself in need of a new war in the south; when the oppresed Albanians in Kosovo and Macedonia take to the streets again, the Greek proletariat - being indoctrinated for so long by racist ideas against Albanians and their neighbours in general - will probably continue not to be able to turn against war, that is to turn against Greek leaders, who are equally responsible for all the war crimes commuted until now as well as for those yet to come.
The failure of the workers' movement in Serbia and Greece to radically oppose nationalism and war testifies that fighting against the results of the hierarchical capitalist relationship is not enough. Unless wage-laborers understand that any form of political emancipation or permanent reform is impracticable nowadays; unless they understand that this war is a reaction against their own struggles, however modest they may be; that national governments are one as against the proletariat; and unless they start fighting for the abolition of wage labour and representative democracy, the future transformation of our countries into local units of the EEC will surely be preceded by even darker years of nationalism. The Balkan societies have been caught in a dangerous trap. The bureaucrats on the one hand look forward to a supranational European capitalism and on the other hand they need nationalism to regiment working class reactions against austerity measures. The wage-laborers falter from defensive struggles to privatization, from conservatism to contestation. These are times for the best or the worst. A real transitory period - but to what?
L. May 1993
- 1E.Kofos, Nationalism And Communism In Macedonia (Thessaloniki, 1964), p.50.
- 2"Assessing population figures is problematic due to the tendency to exaggerate the number of the Greek or Slav populations, depending on which side is making the assessment". H.Poulton, The Balkans (London, 1991), p.175. As it is the case in Bosnia, centuries of mixed marriages in Macedonia had resulted in bilingual or even polyglot families.
- 3E. Kofos, op.cit., p .25.
- 4Thousands of peasants took part in the revolution. The town of Krusovo, near Monastir, inhabited by Slavs, Albanians and Vlachs, was seized by the rebels and the”Krusovo Republic” was proclaimed. They put into practice a kind of proportional representative democracy and made an appeal for unity to all ethnic groups in Macedonia, even inviting the Muslim workers to join the common struggle against the Ottoman landowners. It was an infantile disorder of the early nationalist-democratic movement and, after it was crushed by the Ottoman army, it never reappeared in this area.
- 5E.Kofos, op.cit., p.35.
- 6R.Rocker, Nationalism And Culture (Minnesota, 1978), pp.174
- 7 Elizabeth Barker, Macedonia; Its Place In Balkan Power Politics (London, 1950), p.37. Also Joseph Rothschild, The Communist Party Of Bulgaria; Origins And Foundations (New York, 1959).
- 8In 1925 in Vienna, Victor Serge had met the editors of La Federation Balkanique, the”communist” backed, multi-lingual review published there from 1924.”Around the great conception of Balkan Federation”, he wrote in his memoirs (Oxford, 1978, pp.180-1),”there swarmed hordes of secret agents, impressarios of irredentism, pedlars of the influential word, night-waIking politicians engaged in six intrigues at a time; and all these smart gentlemen, with their over-gaudy neckties, sought to harness the unbridled energy of the Comitajis (Slav-Macedonian and Bulgarian gangs) and sell it to and fro to any buyer. There was the Italian wing, the Bulgarian wing, the Yugoslav wing, two Greek tendencies, one monarchist and one republican, ideologies, personal cliques, and vendettas. We knew the cafes in which the revolvers of any given group lay in wait, watched from the cafe opposite by those of another”.
- 9“A continous legacy of the civil war has been the numbers of people who fled from Greece, including some 25-30000, according to the association of Refugee children from Greek Macedonia and Red Cross estimates, of children aged between two and 14... The property of the refugees was confiscated by the Greek government by Decree 2536/53 which also deprived them of their Greek citizenship. The Greek government later (in the 80s!) enacted a law so that the property would be returned to refugees who are 'Greek by birth' ie. to those who renounce their Macedonian nationality and adopt Greek names. Greece also has consistently denied entry visas to these refugees except in a few cases to attend funerals but even then with difficulty”. H.Poulton, op.cit., p.180. Evacuation of whole villages and confiscation of property were essential parts of Serbs' and Croats' final solution in Bosnia. The concentration camps were used to systematically put pressure on the Muslims to make statements that they surrender their property to”the authorities” ie. Serbs.
- 10“Tagore called the nation 'organized selfishness'. The term is well chosen, but we must not forget that we are always dealing with the organized selfishness of privileged minorities which hide behind the skirts of the nation, hide behind the credulity of the masses”. R.Rocker, op.cit., p.250-1.
- 11“It is one of the great purposes of the Association to make the workmen of different countries not only feel but act as brethren and comrades in the army of emancipation”. Documents of the First International, 1864-70, in K.Marx, The First International And After (London, 1974), p.86.
- 12“Any action 'that could raise the danger of a threat to the freedom and statehood of the fatherland must be avoided', (Walesa said on December 16, 1980) and on the 17th, he really went overboard: 'The time has come for a concerted effort to surrender the strike weapon and negotiate a return to economic security and social peace... Society needs order at this time'. The dedication of the memorial to the Gdansk martyrs of 1970-71 on December 16 was an appropriate symbol of the significance of the 'victory' that the Gdansk accords represented. It was a touching and ominous demonstration of national unity: oppressors and workers, gunmen and their prey, executioners and widows of victims, all carefully surrounded by the new police (the security forces from the shipyard union), all intoning the national anthem and all blessed by the Church, by Solidarity and by the Party. A workers' defeat was enacted here”. Henri Simon, Poland 1980-82 (Detroit, 1985), p.38-9.
- 13 See The Junius Pamphlet, Rosa Luxemburg
- 14Yugoslavia: Capitalism And Class Struggle 1918-1967, in Yugoslavery (BM BLOB London WC1N 3XX), p.15.
- 15“A survey of work stoppages in 1964-66 found that 165 of the 231 stoppages in 1965 were due to 'incorrect distribution of personal incomes'”. Duncan Blackie, The Road To Hell, International Socialism 53, p.34.
- 16“I remember how police officers during informational discussions wanted me to become a nationalist (informational discussion is when they arrest you without a warrant; there is absolutely no public record of such an arrest; it can last anytime between one hour and few days; the longest I was held was 12 hours). Obviously, there was a plot behind it. It didn't work with me. But it worked with millions of others... With clever use of historical statehood and ethnic symbols they got most of the citizens already tired of great ideas and philosophy and political experiments onto their side. With even smarter flirting with the terms 'freedom' and 'independence' they got non-statist-nationalist soccer hooligan youth as their weapon. The Croatian Democratic Union, a ruling Croatian nationalist party, even uses Bakunin in their review to explain their struggle for independence as an opposition to Bolshevik enforced Yugoslav unity ... Even anarchists found the shelter in the ethnic-thing that almost swallowed everybody in all of Eastern Europe”. Ivo Skoric, Yugoslavery, Love and Rage, August 1991, p.6,12.
- 17Financial Times, 27 June 1991. At that time, 700,000 workers were on strike.
- 18It is awful to notice how history repeats itself. Before the Balkan Wars, Serbs and Greeks took advantage of British plans about a new administrative division of Macedonia according to nationality, in order to propose their territorial claims in the area. It's always a Vance-Owen plan that paves the way to partitions.
Plug: Notes on the Media and
Plug: Notes on the Media and the Kosovo War. (includes a "No War but the Class War" leaflet from that time).