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Ideologies and National Identities

 | 
John Lampe
, 
Mark Mazower

Chapter 11. Communist Yugoslavia and Its “Others”

Dejan Jović

Texte intégral

  • 1 For an explanation of the category of political frontier see Aletta Norval, Deconstructing Aparthe (...)
  • 2 The concept of the enlightened vanguard is explained by J. L. Talmon, The Origins of Totalitarian (...)
  • 3 This vision was promoted by Croatian party leader Vladimir Bakarić, who had taken the Italian Comm (...)
  • 4 Edvard Kardelj (1910–1979) was for the whole postwar period the main ideologue of Yugoslavia’s pol (...)

1This chapter focuses on the construction of official identity in postwar Yugoslavia (1945–1991). More specifically, it analyses the construction by the Yugoslav political elite of a political frontier1 between “Us” and “Others.” In states led by Communist parties, the political elite has perceived itself primarily as an intellectual elite. After all, the Communist party was supposed to play the role of an enlightened vanguard,2 which represented not reality as it is, but a vision of the future as it ought to be. In Yugoslavia, the party increasingly saw itself as a scientific institute, a vision-formulator—a guiding rather than commanding force in society.3 At the same time, the party still had in reality the decisive role in the policy-making processes. The politics of Yugoslav socialism was based on an attempt not only to interpret reality but to change it. Formulating this vision in Yugoslavia’s case was its main ideologue (and long the likely successor to Tito), Edvard Kardelj.4 This chapter maps out the main elements of Kardelj’s (and thus the official) view of what Yugoslavia was and what it ought to be, and likewise what it was not and ought not to be. His was an ideological answer to the question of national identity. This identity, however, was constructed more on negative considerations of who “We” are not and who “We” ought not to be than on positive identification with who “We” are and who “We” ought to be. Identifying the “Others” played a central role in constructing a single Yugoslav identity under socialism.

2After 1989, the “Others” changed, and the Yugoslavs had to reformulate that identity-definition. It was no longer possible to define Yugoslavia simply as “different from the Soviet Union,” or “different from the prewar, bourgeois statist Yugoslavia.” These Others were no longer viable as antipodes against which Kardelj’s vision of Communist Yugoslavia had been constructed. Lacking a positive ideological vision of the future and internal cohesion, Yugoslavia faced an identity crisis which soon led to its disintegration.

Constructing Identities in Communism

  • 5 For a comprehensive statement of this argument, see Charles Taylor, Sources of the self: the makin (...)

3For all identities and in all societies, it has been argued, the Other has a defining importance.5 The process of defining ourselves is one of creating a frontier between “Us” and “Others.” We cannot define who “We” are without determining who “We” are not. This process has its analytical and normative dimension. By creating a frontier between“Us” and “Others,” the identity-definers tell us not only who “We” are / are not, but who “We” ought / ought not to be (thus issuing a normative statement).

  • 6 This, however, does not mean that vision does not exist in “non-ideological,” i.e. liberal-democra (...)
  • 7 For the notion of ideocracy see Jaroslaw Piekalkiewicz and Alfred Wayne Penn, Politics of Ideocrac (...)
  • 8 Party members, for example, addressed one another (and even the party leader) with the informal “T (...)

4The normative dimension of identity-building is much stronger in visiondriven political systems, in which the enlightened vanguard legitimizes itself by its own vision of the future.6 Socialism (as a period of transition to Communism) was a vision-driven project in which the elite did not primarily represent reality (i.e. what is, as in representative democracies) but the desired future. Even more, the vanguard (the Party elite) aimed at radically changing, not representing, reality. Socialism was by definition a denial of reality. Reality was not to be represented but to be changed. To every socialist ideocratic7 system, the first Other was therefore reality. This is why elections were not considered a crucial element of the political system. Elections are instruments of mapping out reality as it is; those who are elected represent social reality. The goal of socialism, however, is to change this reality, not to represent it. Communist opposition to elections was not primarily motivated by hunger for complete power (although this element was certainly present too), but by their ideological belief that reality should be overcome. Unlike reality, the future is portrayed as “bright” and promising. While, for example, the elite in a socialist society might admit that in reality “there are many problems,” they knew that the future would bring solutions to these problems. The party itself was the representative of this “bright future” in which the unfulfilled ideals of the Enlightenment—equality, free-dom and solidarity—were to be achieved. Its members viewed the Communist party as a model for the future society, a miniature society-of-the-future. Principles such as egalitarianism in intra-party relationships, complete openness to criticism and self-criticism, activism and intellectualism would for the present be possible only within the party. The aim was to extend them to the whole of society.8

  • 9 In his Notes on Social Criticism (Belgrade: STP, 1965), 64, Kardelj explained this by saying that (...)

5The past was another “Other” against which the Communist vision was formulated. The past was described as a period of darkness replete with inequality, lack of freedom and injustice. It was treated as a “previous life,” a “pre-history” of mankind. The socialist revolution was the final break with the past. The official narrative of socialism divided people into “forces of the past” and “progressive forces.” Revolution was the final and forceful victory of the latter over the former. This victory was historical (“an epochal change”), and thus the former stood no chance of restoring its power in society again. Counter-revolutions were of course possible—but to expect the return of capitalism once it was defeated by socialism would be the same as to expect the restoration of feudalism once it had been destroyed by the bourgeois revolutions.9

  • 10 To understand the implementation of this general conclusion to the Yugoslav case, see Miroslav Had (...)

6Socialism was a process in which the past and present was deconstructed in order to make space for the construction of the future. Constructed by the enlightened vanguard, this bright future is to be built in opposition to the present and the past. The forces of the past and present, “retrograde elements” and “conservative forces,” are thus the main enemy of socialism. The stronger they are, the more brutal the violence against them must be. Violence is justified if it serves social progress, but should, of course, be minimized and then become unnecessary as the class consciousness of the population arises. But even in a later phase of the revolution (once its first, brutal phase is over) the vanguard needs to be aware of the existence of the forces of the old, because, as the saying goes, “the enemy never sleeps.” The Revolutionary army and militia are instruments of this instrumentalist understanding of violence. They are essentially revolutionary institutions, whose purpose is not only to defend the country and prevent violence (as in liberal democracies) but to increase class consciousness and safeguard the revolution. The army and police in socialism do not defend the state as such, since the state is a conservative institution of the past and present. They defend the revolution, the vision of the future and its supreme visionaries. In a socialist society, these institutions are by definition ideological.10

  • 11 In Serbo-Croat, the word was podruštvljavanje države. The word “society” was often used instead of (...)
  • 12 To be clear: in most liberal-democratic concepts, too, the existence of the state is justified by (...)
  • 13 That socialism was a period of ongoing “revolutionary” reforms was evident especially in Yugoslavi (...)

7It is just because of the presence of the forces of the past and present that the existence of the state is still justified, even in socialism. In principle, socialism is a process in which the state is to be replaced by a self-governing society, while the main state functions are to be socialized.11 However, this is a gradual process (controlled and led by the vanguard), in which at no time should the forces of the past be permitted to think that they would be tolerated beyond a strictly minimal level, let alone invited back to power. In socialism, the state is not justified per se, but only because of the existence of the “Other,” of the “enemies of socialism” which one had to deal with in an “administrative way.” The existence of the state itself is thus conditioned upon the existence of the “Others,” that is, of “anti-socialist forces.”12.Although the forces of the past are the most dangerous enemies of the socialist state, the forces of the present are enemies too. Stagnation, for example, is also an enemy, because the purpose of socialism is to radically change society, not to consolidate it. Although to many of their liberal critics, socialist societies were bastions of conservatism (i.e., that permitted no change at all), a more subtle analysis of their real politics would offer a different conclusion. Sudden and brutal changes of elite personnel, radical turnabouts in policies, a lack of written rules, exposure of virtually everybody to unpredictable actions by those in power—these are examples of socialism’s policy of permanent revolution or (at least) “permanent reform.”13.All were supposed to eliminate either forces of the past or of the present.

8All these elements defined official identity in Communist-Party led socialist states. The main identity-definers were the members of the elite, that is, of the party/vanguard. The state was a temporary instrument of the revolution. Its main task was to keep an eye on both “the forces of the past” and “the forces of the present.” However, in the long term the state itself, as a remnant of the past, should wither away. It was to be “socialized,” its main functions replaced by a self-regulated society of class-conscious working people. The new society would be a stateless association of free producers.

9The vanguard had a monopoly in defining the vision and in leading society towards its realization. It was legitimized not by elections, but by its “far-sightedness” and by possessing knowledge of the “general laws of history.” The future was to be radically (i.e. revolutionarily) different from the past and the present. It would be made—by the will and action of the “subjective forces of socialism”—as a mirror image of the past. Or, as the words of the “Internationale” puts it: “The Earth shall rise on new foundations, we have been naught, we shall be all!”

The Official Construction of Yugoslavia’s Identity

  • 14 For this see Vladimir Dedijer, Tito (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1953), 432. Dedijer says that T (...)

10Although the Yugoslav Communists did not follow the ideological and political line formulated mainly by Moscow for all other Communist countries since 1948, they remained Communists and Marxists. As Tito explicitly said in 1953, there was no attempt to invent “Titoism,” but only an original, Yugoslav, interpretation of Marxism, which would then become a basis for a “Yugoslav way to socialism.”14.In fact, the Yugoslav Communists claimed that they understood Marxism better than the Soviets, and of course, better than the East European countries too.

  • 15 As Kardelj expressed it, “the unity of the nation is not possible unless based on a clear platform (...)
  • 16 This is why the Party occupied the central place in the army and the defence system in general. By (...)

11Very much unlike “East European” countries, the Yugoslav interpretation of Marxism (and thus the official identity developed as a consequence of such an interpretation) was based not on following Soviet Marxism but on criticizing it as “revisionism.” Throughout its socialist period, the Yugoslavs introduced elements of “original Marxism” in order to replace and/or counter Soviet “revisionism.” This process of criticizing the Soviets, while still remaining Marxists, occupied a central place in identity-construction for the “New Yugoslavia.” This identity was no longer based on ethnic similarity between the Yugoslav (South Slavic) nations, nor was it justified by the very fact that there was a Yugoslav state, as was attempted for interwar Yugoslavia (see the previous chapter by Marko Bulatović). Neither ethnic similarity nor the existence of the state could have served as pillars of identity within a Marxist framework. As in all ideocratic systems, Yugoslavia insisted on a “clear vision,” without which, as Kardelj famously said in 1977,15 there would be no possibility to construct Yugoslav unity, and thus no possibility of preserving either socialism or the country’s independence. (See Documents 1 and 2.) For Yugoslav Communists the process of vision formulating performed the same function as election-based institution building in liberal democracies. Not only “the unity of the nation,” but its very existence as a nation would be endangered without a “clear vision.”16

12In constructing their vision of the future, Yugoslav Communists had to identify the “Others,” both the “forces of the past” and the hostile forces of the present against whom the process of socialism is directed. Without the presence of these forces the state would not have been justified.

  • 17 The political leadership tagged its opponents with some of these labels to indicate that they were (...)

13There were two main “Others” against which Yugoslav socialism tried to construct itself, one related to the past and the other to the present. The first was invented by the party before 1948, the other after 1948. Both of them were then preserved as “Others” until the end of Yugoslav socialism, in the late 1980s. These were (1) prewar Yugoslavism, based on the concept of South Slavism, which in ideological terms was a form of liberal, i.e. representative democracy; and (2) Soviet-style socialism, with its strong state and fairly centralized political structure—if not in theory and legal framework, then certainly in reality. These two Others were antipodes against which the new Yugoslav identity (post-1948) was to be constructed as a “mirror image.” Yugoslavia ought to be radically different from both its interwar incarnation and its brief but stormy Stalinist period (1945–1950). To some extent, both of these hostile Others remained as threats into the present. Internationally, the world of “capitalism” (controlled by the “forces of the past”) was still strong. At the same time, the other half of the world, although socialist, was based on a revisionist concept of Marxism. “Soviet socialism” (often called “state socialism” or simply “Stalinism”) was the socialism of “stagnation,” not of social progress towards a stateless society as an association of free producers. (See Document 3 for Tito’s explicit repudiation of “statism.”) Thus, both alternatives to Yugoslav self-managing socialism were potential threats. These two Others had their domestic representatives too: on the one hand “liberals” and “techno-managerial forces” (representatives of the “forces of the past,” i.e. of liberal democracy), and on the other “dogmatists,” “unitarists,” “bureaucrats” and “Stalinists” (representatives of “Soviet-type socialism”)17. A spectrum of socialist Yugoslavia’s political enemies was developed along the line of “right” and “left” deviations from the Yugoslav model. The next two sections reconstruct the mainstream representation of these two historical mega-Others in order to demonstrate how the enlightened vanguard used them in the process of identity-construction.

Interwar Yugoslavism

14The Yugoslav Communist Party (CPY) had revolutionary aims and thus its hostility towards the interwar bourgeois Yugoslav state was unquestionable. Illegal since 1920, the CPY used all methods (including violence) to overthrow the royal Yugoslav regime. We are, however, concerned here primarily with those elements of Yugoslav identity before the Second World War which were central to the old state and which the Communist interpretation of the past had sought to eliminate in postwar (socialist) Yugoslavia. Interwar Yugoslavia was based on its ethnic, i.e. South Slavic character. It was a country of all the South Slavs (minus only the Bulgarians), in which three recognized “tribal” groups (Serbs, Croats and Slovenes) were supposed to become one Yugoslav nation. Yugoslavia was to creat a Yugoslav nation, primarily in a political, but also in an ethnic sense.

  • 18 When talking about the liberal concept of nationhood, one needs to be aware of the historical cont (...)

15This nation-creating project was in fact based not only on ethnic similarities between Yugoslav groups, but also on the prevailing liberal concept of nationhood18 .Yugoslavia followed the French political model of a unitary state (at least before the agreement of 1939, when Croatian specificity was recognized), using at the same time the unification of Germany (1870) and Italy (1871) as models for its own unification. The Serb-dominated political elite of interwar Yugoslavia decided to centralize the organization of the state, in part to bar separatism and Communism. The latter, a universalist doctrine, not only relativized the borders of the states, but also challenged some of them as products of bourgeois imperialism after the First World War. The main elements of Yugoslavia’s domestic and foreign policy were in fact expressions of this political concept. Based on a democratic principle of counting individual votes (not ethnic groups or ethno-political territorial units), interwar Yugoslavia was more popular with Serbs, the largest Yugoslav ethnic group, than with the smaller ones, although the logic of coalition politics created exceptions to this rule. The most prominent were the Slovenes and the (not officially recognized) Bosnian Muslims. Like the other newly created states in Europe, the interwar Yugoslav state was grounded in principles of representative democracy. But these principles would remain essentially a vision which was to a large extent imported from abroad. While Yugoslavia as a state was not created by foreigners (and is thus not a “product” of Versailles), both its constitutive ideology (liberal democracy) and its model for state structure were imported from the West. Essentially, the first Yugoslav state was a vision-driven project, an experiment based on a nation-state-building ideology. Although liberal democracy was not entirely new to some of the population, its combination of liberalism with the nation-state was a new one. As with all other countries into which this combination was introduced after 1918, Yugoslavia, too, failed to become what was desired by its identity constructors.

  • 19 See Edvard Kardelj, “Ways of Democracy in a Socialist Society,” in Edvard Kardelj, Self-management (...)
  • 20 For example, in Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia (Oxford: Blackwell, 1974).

16The new, socialist Yugoslavia was from its beginning constructed as the opposite of all this. Firstly, it was a republic, not a monarchy; and it was a federation, not a unitary state. Secondly, it did not seek to construct a Yugoslav nation, nor did it aim at building up a Yugoslav nation-state. Finally, it was not a liberal democracy and it felt no need to “import” their “secondhand” institutions, such as political parties, parliaments and elections19.As explained above, the new Yugoslavia was to be based on a radically different concept of the state. While in the liberal concept a state might be “minimal” or even “ultra-minimal,”20 it would never “wither away.” According to all Marxists, the state is considered to be an institution of a class-divided society and an instrument of oppression of the exploited majority by the ruling minority. Once the majority takes over, the state is on its way to becoming redundant. For Yugoslav Communists too, it was to be weakened and ultimately replaced by the “association of free producers” and a “self-managing society.”

  • 21 Famously, Tito himself acknowledged this in his 1942 article in the party gazette Proleter: “The w (...)
  • 22 For the importance of such fears of becoming a minority, which was growing in all Yugoslav nations (...)

17Even less was the new Yugoslavia aiming to build up a nation-making state. The Yugoslav Communists” interpretation of the collapse of both the Austro-Hungarian Empire and interwar Yugoslavia attributed these state failures, albeit mistakenly, to attempts by the elites in these “states” to deny the existing nations and invent a new supra-nation created by the state itself. Being on the side of the weak, exploited and unrecognized nations in these multi-ethnic “states,” Marxists fought against them both. Now, when they got an opportunity to direct the identity-defining process, they were determined not to commit the same “mistake.” This is what they promised to the smaller (and weaker) Yugoslav nations, many of whom supported the party precisely because it offered an answer to both the national and social problems they experienced. It would have been a deception if the party failed to deliver on its promise21. The consequences of not delivering on that promise would be especially grave in Yugoslavia, which was composed of small and weak nations, and where even the largest nation (the Serbs) was not a majority of the total population (only 36.6 percent in 1981)22.The Marxist concept of nationhood, Yugoslav Communists claimed, therefore suited all Yugoslav nations, including the Serbs. It was not only that all of them were (historically) victims of foreign exploitation, but they all could easily fall victims to foreign and domestic threats to their national identity and security.

  • 23 The Marxist concept did not recognize the demos because the very concept of demos is linked with e (...)

18The fundamental difference, then, was that postwar Yugoslavia did not attempt to create a Yugoslav nation, either in an ethnic or a political sense23.It viewed “unitarism” and “great-statist” tendencies as one of the main potential or real enemies of socialist Yugoslavia. Its policy of recognizing existing conditions instead of attempting to change them, was, however, a paradox from the Marxist point of view. In all other areas of social life, Yugoslav Communists repudiated previous reality and wanted to eliminate the past. But on the “national question” they were conservative, favoring preservation of the existing over change. This conservative view on the nationality issue was best expressed by Edvard Kardelj’s notion of “completed nations.” While the state was to wither away once socialism advanced, nations were not meant to disappear. This paradox was in fact at the core of the controversy which ultimately destroyed Yugoslavia both as an ideological concept and as a state.

  • 24 Hostility towards bureaucracy was not specific to Yugoslavia but a feature of all socialist narrat (...)
  • 25 From the discourse of liberal democracy, such an equation of decentralisation with democratization (...)

19Finally, the new Yugoslavia aimed at a radical decentralisation of the state. This was viewed as a step towards direct economic as well as political democracy. Decentralization of the state was not only, and perhaps not even primarily, a result of pressures by those who pointed to the continued existence of the “national question.” It was also an inevitable task if socialism was to succeed in replacing the state with a “self-governing society.” Because the only real democracy was based on the rights of those who produce to decide upon the fruits of their labor, decentralization and de-etatization was a conditio sine qua non for democracy. In the narrative developed by the Yugoslav Communists, democracy did not mean “liberal democracy” but direct, or semi-direct, economic and political democracy via a complex system of delegates and delegations. Its focus was not on political power but on the distribution of goods and services produced by the “working people.” Political power in Yugoslav socialism was to be taken away from the state apparatus, and thus from bureaucracy,24and decentralized to the level of “a housewife,” as Lenin famously said. This process of decentralization was to be at the same time a process of democratization.25

  • 26 New terms were constructed to explain the “new forms” and institutions of social activism. These t (...)

20In its opposition to interwar Yugoslavia, the new socialist Yugoslav dis-course identified the following “Others”: (1) unitarism (a doctrine and action aimed at creating a state-nation by gradually challenging elements of the identities and/or rights of existing smaller constitutive nations); (2) centralism (an attempt to centralize state apparatus); (3) statism (a doctrine which considered that states are irreplaceable, and that the state, not society, should have the ultimate decision-making power; also expressed through the notion of “sovereignty,” which is a remnant of the liberal theory of the state); (4) bureaucratism (often characterized as “petrification” of the existing structures, and thus an enemy of change). These four Others were all related to the state and its functions. The new socialist narrative was also hostile to liberal democracy ipso facto. As noted in the introduction to this volume, Marxism characterised liberal theories as “ideologies” that hid the reality of class exploitation both domestically and, in the form of imperialism, globally. The electoral system of a liberal democracy, for example, provided representation for an “abstract person” rather than for a person as he/she is by social class. Elections are thus a mere farce, in which “abstract citizens” have an occasional chance to choose between one or another capitalist. In reality, decisions are taken by “extra-parliamentary” powers. Real change, by which those who exploit the majority would be overthrown, is not possible within the institutional structure of liberal democracy but only through a socialist revolution. All these elements (hostility towards parliament, political parties, elections, capitalists and the bourgeoisie) were preserved and developed in the Yugoslav official narrative. (For the flavor of this argument, see Documents 4 and 5 by Edvard Kardelj.) They resulted in an institutional and political structure which indeed was radically different from that of interwar Yugoslavia.26The main task of the state in socialist Yugoslavia was to safeguard these “achievements of the revolution” (tekovine revolucije) and to prevent the intrusion of the elements of the old into the new structures. As Tito said already in 1945, there will be no return to the Old. The new Yugoslav identity was to be anti-capitalist and anti-centralist, anti-statist and anti-unitarist. It was a system of permanent, especially constitutional, reform by which both the Past and Present were to be replaced by the Future, as envisioned by the enlightened vanguard.

Soviet-style “State Socialism”

  • 27 For this explanation, see Tito’s speech in the Yugoslav People’s Assembly on 17 June 1950, on the (...)
  • 28 An excellent account of the debates between Soviet and Yugoslav Marxists on the “withering away of (...)
  • 29 They differed also in the understanding of the role of the party. In Tito’s words soon after the s (...)
  • 30 Criticism of the USSR as such was more sophisticated, since Yugoslavia could not afford open confl (...)
  • 31 This is certainly one of the reasons that Yugoslavs found more difficult than others in restructur (...)

21After 1948, Soviet-style “state socialism” became the second “Other” against which the new Yugoslav identity was to be constructed. The Yugoslav enlightened vanguard maintained that it was the Soviets, and not them, who misunderstood and misinterpreted Marx’s vision of the future. They (the Soviets), and not Us, were the “revisionists.”27 The main disagreement concerned the Soviet assessment of the state in socialism.28Soviet Communists, much more than the Yugoslavs, believed that the state was still needed. Instead of weakening it, they strengthened it.29In addition, all four enemies of socialism (“unitarism,” “centralism,” “statism” and “bureaucratism”) which the Yugoslav Communists feared from the Yugoslav past, were still strong in the USSR. For all these reasons, the Yugoslav Communists said, the Soviets betrayed the main aim of socialism: the reduction of state functions to the minimum.30Actually the Soviets, having lived for more than 30 years already under socialism, were in some ways more realistic and less ideological about the state-society relationship. Emancipation from Soviet influence, consequently, did not in fact introduce a less, but a more ideological and less realistic basis for identity construction in Yugoslavia. In the decades following the split with the USSR, Yugoslavia was becoming, as well as a more pleasant country in which to live, more and more ideological. Its identity was now based increasingly on a vision of the future, rather than on connective elements such as ethnic, historical or political similarities between its constituent nations31.

  • 32 In this conclusion Kardelj was supported by leading Serbian Communists as well. For the reasons wh (...)

22The self-management concept, invented in 1950, and the new orientation towards a “non-aligned” foreign policy were the Yugoslav responses to Soviet statism in domestic policy and “hegemonism” in foreign affairs. In its nationality policy, Yugoslavia not only recognised the existence of small nations and “nationalities,” i.e., non-Slavic ethnic groups such as Albanians. It also decentralized the federation, turning it by the early 1970s into a “specific community of self-governed nations and nationalities” which could no longer be characterized as either a federation or a confederation in the conventional sense of the word. (See Document 5.) A new narrative was invented, based on the three pillars of the new Yugoslav official identity: (1) self-management, (2) non-alignment, and (3) confederalized federalism. They were all inspired by the desire to be different not only from interwar Yugoslavia but even more so from the USSR. Whereas the state was strong in the USSR, just as in interwar Yugoslavia, Yugoslav self-management was antistatist, and thus a true socialist project. (For Kardelj’s views on this see Document 5.) While the USSR was one of the two superpowers, and thus exercised hegemonic power over the socialist half of the globe, Yugoslavia fought against both Western (“capitalist”) and Soviet (“hegemonic”) imperialism. Its ideological concept of anti-imperialism and anti-hegemonism (i.e. opposition to both military-political blocs) was rooted in the Marxist rhetoric of global (internationalist) action against global injustice. Finally, just as Yugoslavia sided with the exploited in global terms, Kardelj justified the further decentralization of Yugoslavia itself with the same argument, namely the protection of the weakest against the strongest (and thus, potentially—the most dangerous). Serbia, and to a lesser extent Croatia, being the two largest populations, were treated as the potential “hegemonic powers” in Yugoslavia. Their power was to be controlled and scaled down, while the real political power of other, smaller nations (Bosnian Muslims, Montenegrins, Macedonians and Slovenes) and “nationalities” (Albanians, Italians, Hungarians) was to be protected and increased in real terms. This was not, as today many argue, inspired by Tito’s and Kardelj’s “anti-Serbian bias,” although they indeed feared that a “return to the past” might mean a return to Serbian domination over the others in Yugoslavia.32 The reform of the nationality policy in the 1960s and 1970s was primarily motivated by the ideological beliefs that weaker nations (domestically as well as internationally) deserve protection against potential exploiters.

  • 33 Indeed, many others (both in the East and in the West) shared this enthusiasm for Yugoslav reforms (...)

23The Yugoslav Communists were not forced to make concessions to the nationalists, as today many claim. Given apparently favorable circumstances both domestically and internationally in the 1960s and 1970s, they believed that the time had come to take a further step towards realizing their own vision of a decentralized political community. Smaller and larger ethnic nations would be equal, and none would be exploited by another. They also believed that only by defeating “unitarism,” “centralism,” “statism” and “bureaucratism” would they advance the socialist project and leave “capitalism” further behind. Not to continue would mean stagnation and the death of their revolution. As Kardelj concluded, they could simply not afford not to have changed further if they wanted to remain genuine revolutionaries. The reforms of the second half of the 1960s and the first half of the 1970s were not therefore a result of a crisis but of perceived success over the previous decade (the mid-1950s to mid-1960s). This confidence made Yugoslav Communists think that their political system indeed was the best alternative to both capitalism and state Communism33.

  • 34 As exemplified by the Paris protests, the anti-war campaign in the U.S., and the rise of the left (...)
  • 35 As exemplified by the Paris protests, the anti-war campaign in the U.S., and the rise of the left (...)
  • 36 Edvard Kardelj, “The National Question in Yugoslavia and Its Foreign Policy” (speech given in 1973 (...)
  • 37 Ibid., 286.

24The same positive assessment of global conditions led Yugoslavs to declare Soviet-type statist socialism as the main threat, a more important “Other” than the liberal-democratic system. It was not only because of the real political pressure by the Soviet Union (especially in moments of crisis, such as in 1968 with the invasion of Czechoslovakia or in 1971 with the Croatian Spring)34 or because in these years it indeed seemed that liberalism was in worldwide crisis while socialist democracy looked victorious even in West European countries.35 Although Yugoslavia was by no means certain to receive American military or even political support in the unlikely case of Soviet aggression, it was clear that such a step would by this time be too risky for the USSR to take. (But see Document 6 for fears from the Yugoslav leadership that Tito’s death in 1980 would yet tempt the Soviets to take such a risk.) The main reason why Soviet-type socialism had nonetheless been ranked as the main “Other” by Yugoslavia’s elite was ideological. Yugoslav Communists shared the Marxist beliefs that it would be against the “general laws of history” to expect liberal democracy to return successfully in societies in which a socialist revolution was successful. This would be especially true in Yugoslav society, where revolution was domestic in the making and not imported. In Kardelj’s words, the old society “had absolutely no chance of success.”36 If liberalism in any of its forms was unlikely to come back, then socialism indeed remained the only game in town. This meant that the real political choice was not between liberalism and socialism, but between various types of socialism. As Edvard Kardelj explicitly explained in 1973, “it may be claimed that today the … choice [is] between socialist self-management … and the system of bureaucratic-technocratic statism.”37

  • 38 A journalistic account of this was given in Duško Doder, The Yugoslavs (London: George Allen and U (...)
  • 39 For the importance of egalitarianism in Yugoslav socialism, see Ivan Bernik, “Functions of Egalita (...)
  • 40 For the Hoxhists–Titoists division among Kosovo Albanians, see Shkelzen Maliqi: “A Demand for a Ne (...)

25This is why Soviet socialism was considered to be more dangerous than liberal democracy. But it also seemed that this ideological explanation corresponded well with reality. People were indeed more worried about the possibility of an attack from the East38 than from the West. In addition, within Yugoslavia itself, there was potentially more support for Soviet-state socialism than for Western-type liberal democracy. Political and economic protests in 1968 (Belgrade and Prisˇtina) were in fact inspired by demands for “alternative forms” of socialism, not for liberal democracy. The main values advocated were egalitarianism and social justice.39 Thus, the party elite had indeed reason to fear that not liberal democracy but an alternative form of socialism could endanger its position. Paradoxically, while the elite promoted less state and more society (self-management), many in the population demanded more order and more state intervention, especially when the downward spiral of the economy and of political disintegration was well advanced by the 1980s. To many, for example to Albanians in Kosovo, even Enver Hoxha’s Albania was not totally unattractive, precisely because at least in the blurred perceptions about life “over there” it offered more equality.40 But also elsewhere in Yugoslavia the elite still needed to convince people that Yugoslav socialism, in which the state was “withering away” faster than elsewhere, was indeed better than Soviet or any alternative socialist system.

  • 41 Activities of the “critical intelligentsia” (i.e. “dissidents”) in Yugoslavia were in fact tolerat (...)
  • 42 Illustration of this could be found in Doder, 1978.
  • 43 At first, the Yugoslav elite did not recognize the significance of the “Gorbachev factor.” In 1985 (...)

26The elite did so by portraying the Soviet Union and its socialism as (only a milder form of) “Stalinism”—using images not much different from those developed and promoted by the West, sometimes even by directly importing and/or translating books, films, plays, and academic books which portrayed the USSR in very unfavorable lights. The myth of Tito’s “historical No!” (in 1948) received equal treatment as the myths on the Partisan struggle against occupiers and “domestic traitors.”41The borders were now, since the early 1970s, wide open to the West, and thus the West itself was in a position to influence the image-creating process in Yugoslavia. The image of the West was now in sharp contrast with that of the East. Support for Tito was almost in linear correlation with the danger people felt from the Soviet Union.42 The Yugoslav identity was now more than ever before based on a thin narrative of “self-managed socialism,” one that is different from Soviet statism yet still remaining socialism. It was becoming more and more dependent on the existence of the Soviet Other. This would have dramatic consequences once the Soviet Other ceased to exist, in the second half of the 1980s.43

  • 44 Famously, a public scandal broke out when the then Zagreb Television (now Croatian Television) rep (...)
  • 45 Pro-Soviet views on the part of some Croatian separatists (especially regarding immigration) somet (...)
  • 46 For Titoists and Hoxhists within the Albanian nationalist movement, see Tim Judah, Kosovo: War and (...)

27Domestically, this would have political consequences too. Ranking the Soviet danger above any other, the Yugoslav political elite declared “dogmatic” and “statist” Communists within the country to be their main enemy. It opposed them with much more vigilance than the liberal democrats and pro-Western groups. In the 1940s, pro-Soviet politicians such as Andrija Hebrang (a Croat wartime party leader) and Sreten Žujovic (a Serb) were arrested together with tens of thousands of pro-Soviet Communists who were jailed at Goli Otok. In the 1960s, potentially pro-Soviet members of the elite, such as the state’s vice-president, Aleksandar Ranković, and the defence minister, General Ivan Gosˇnjak, were removed from office. In the 1970s, the founding congress of a new alternative Communist Party of Yugoslavia in Bar (1975) was prevented from meeting and the organizers were all arrested. The alternative socialist Praxis group was removed from Belgrade and Zagreb Universities in 1981; the Belgrade Six (a group of “Trotskyites”) were arrested and tried in 1983–5; and so on. Finally, the conservative (pro-Kardeljist) forces within the LCY leadership were especially keen to point out that some Montenegrin supporters of Slobodan Milosˇević and his “antibureaucratic revolution” (1988) were in fact supporters of the “Russians,” and that the whole project (led by Milosˇević) would lead the country closer towards the East.44 Even the political assassinations of a number of prominent Croatian political émigrés may have been carried out because of their links, or at least the intention to establish them, with the USSR.45 Finally, the elite insisted that the Kosovo unrest of 1981 was a “counter-revolution,” organized and led by dogmatic Marxists– Leninists. To call it “nationalist” or “separatist” would, for them, actually diminish the importance of the problem. And indeed, as would be discovered a decade later, many of those who protested in Kosovo in 1981 (and later) were inspired by an alternative form of Marxism, whether they were “Hoxhists” or “Titoists.”46

  • 47 “It is beyond any doubt that Yugoslav society, all Yugoslav people and in all situations, will fin (...)
  • 48 A good illustration of this may be found by closer analysis of international proposals for Bosnia– (...)
  • 49 And they were not alone in this; the West could think of no good reason either. Respect for Tito a (...)
  • 50 See Kardelj’s speech at the 12th Session of the LCY Presidency, “Aktuelni problemi daljeg razvoja (...)

28Their confidence in using Soviet ideology as the defining “Other” against which the Yugoslav “mirror image” ought to be created was based on the Yugoslav enlightened vanguard’s firm belief that Yugoslavia simply could not collapse; thus separatism had no chance of succeeding.47 Yugoslavia’s ethnic nations—so the elite believed—had no reason to reject socialism, which offered them full recognition and an institutional framework that no other system had in the past. In fact, Yugoslav socialism offered them more than either a Soviet or Western sort of political system would, as some would discover a decade after the break-up of the state.48As believers in rationalism, the enlightened vanguard simply could not have imagined reasons why anyone in Yugoslavia would want to turn towards nationalism once they had achieved their strategic objectives in post-1974 Yugoslavia, of republics as their nation-states.49 They were also, the Yugoslav Communists believed, sufficiently “conscious” to reject nationalism, as a doctrine of the dark and by many hated past. The trends towards globalization (as Kardelj dubbed it back in 1970)50would make nationalism and separatism a relic of the past. Barriers between states, including the Berlin Wall, would be torn down, and Yugoslavia would become an example of diverse cultures living side by side with one another in their own republics, with their own rights and in peace. Nationalism simply could not prevail over such a prospect. Thus, there was no real danger of it.

29On the contrary, there was still a danger of “unitarism,” “statism,” “centralism” and “bureaucratism.” They could link themselves with “hegemonic” forces both domestically—primarily, that is, with Serbia, but also with Croatia—or internationally—that is, with the Soviet Union. Yugoslav official rhetoric against “unitarism” now replaced (at least among non-Serbs) the campaign against “nationalism.” A keynote speech by the Croatian long-standing party leader, Vladimir Bakarić, at the Tenth Session of the Central Committee of the LC Croatia (15 January 1970) expressed this well. Weighing the chances for nationalists or unitarists to establish a government, whether in Yugoslavia or in Croatia, Bakarić said that only the second group would have a chance:

  • 51 Vladimir Bakarić, “Unitarizam kao ideologija i ocjena nacionalizma u Hrvatskoj,” speech at the Ten (...)

30“Would they [the “unitarists”] be able to realize their program? They would be able to find a program, to find allies in Yugoslavia, to find them outside of Yugoslavia. Their chance to realize this program has gone, it does not exist in Yugoslavia, but with pressure on Yugoslavia from abroad this would become possible. And I think that it is possible for them, if not exactly to form a government, then certainly to create a serious political movement supported by this pressure from abroad, and also by their own forces within the country. Of course, the main support for this program would be bureaucratic centralism and Cominformism.”51

31And if that was the case in Croatia a year before the eruption of Croatian nationalism, one may just imagine how significant was any threat of unitarism, in Bakarić’s view, that would come from Serbia.

32It is within this context that one may understand why the threat from liberalism—i.e., the West—and nationalism was rather overlooked, while that of “statism” and “unitarism” was overestimated. Ultimately, one may now better understand why the Yugoslav elite was totally unprepared and surprised when the Soviet system collapsed and liberalism, contrary to their expectations, entered the Yugoslav identity-making arena and emerged victorious. The fact is, it came hand in hand with nationalism.

Conclusion

33The official identity of socialist Yugoslavia was towards its end almost exclusively based on a vision of the future, i.e. on ideology rather than on common ethnic, political and cultural characteristics shared by its constituent nations. Even more than earlier, the vision of a future was the key element, and for the party’s own narrative the only element, that kept Yugoslavia together. Only if socialist was Yugoslavia worth preserving and fighting for. The other possible Yugoslavias, such as the interwar liberal-democratic regime or a statist/unitarist Yugoslavia similar to the USSR, were undesirable. But not only that: to Yugoslav Communists they were ultimately impossible.

34Yugoslav Communists indeed had a vision of internal cohesion, which was based on Edvard Kardelj’s interpretation of Marxism. But instruments that would in other types of social projects help strengthen internal cohesion, such as ethnic similarities, state centralism or nationalism in both the civic and ethnic sense, were treated as hostile Others. They were essential parts either of past domestic concepts (interwar Yugoslavism) or parallel but undesirable concepts of socialism (such as Soviet statism). They were therefore unacceptable to Yugoslav official identity formulators. Without these potential instruments of cohesion, Yugoslav Communists placed not only the identity but also the existence of Yugoslavia entirely on the back of their own ideology. Their commitment to Marxism prompted them to underestimate the chance for liberal democracy or nationalism to compete with socialism as a vision of the future society. By declaring alternative models of socialism, especially the Soviet model, as the only real threat (since socialism was “the only game in town”), they ended up exactly where they did not want to be, more dependent than ever on the existence of the Soviet Other. The collapse of their own ideology, and the collapse of that Soviet Other, left Yugoslavia without both pillars of identity: internal cohesion and an external difference. This joint collapse, and not ethnic hatred, nationalism or the economic crisis, was the main reason why it disintegrated.

Sources

Document 1:

35Ranković’s whole line was conservative. In Serbia, we felt him to be a heavy burden. … Tito exercised full control over foreign policy and the army, while Ranković controlled the Party and police. We wanted to put the lid on this. … Everything that Kardelj initiated and promoted in our political system distinguished us from the East and it was a guarantee that we would not return to the past. In general, he was a reformist and a Yugoslav.

36Source: Petar Stambolić, as quoted in Slavoljub Djukić, Kako se dogodio vod¯a (Belgrade: Samizdat B92, 1992), 212. Petar Stambolić was the leading Serbian politician in the forty years between 1944 and 1984.

Document 2:

37For, as I have already stated, the alternative here is not whether Yugoslavia will survive or not but whether it will continue to develop as a socialist, self-managing and democratic community of equal peoples or whether it will fall into the hands of hegemonic forces in any political or ideological guise (Kardelj, 1969/1981: 228).

38Source: Edvard Kardelj, “Yugoslavia—the Socialist Self-Managing Community of Equal Peoples” (speech given in 1969) in The Nations and Socialism (Belgrade: STP, 1981), 228.

Document 3:

39The federal leadership is always being accused of statism. There have been in this criticism of statism overtones of national postures, i.e. complaints about the federal government being in Belgrade, about Serbia squeezing the most out of this situation, and so on, and about such statism being harmful to other nations and other republics. Well and good, we are now liquidating that statism and the federal government will have left to it very little of the kind of competence and very few of the kind of affairs which could be said to favor one or the other republic. But we must now see to it that this statism is not divided up among the republics. … Statism should go right out of our lives and out of the relationships existing in this country.

40Source: Josip Broz Tito, “No republic can be sufficient unto itself” (speech given in 1971), in The National Question (Belgrade: Komunist, 1983), 162.

Document 4:

41Engels … wrote: “It is pure nonsense to talk of a free people’s state. So long as the proletariat uses the state, it does not use it in the interests of freedom but in order to hold down its adversaries, and as soon as it becomes possible to speak of freedom the state as such shall cease to exist.” … Every state represents authority, and as such is a form of dictatorship. Democracy itself as a political system is a form of authority, and therefore a form of dictatorship. Hence the longrange objective of socialism in Yugoslav conditions should be not to create a state-sponsored democracy, but rather to socialize state functions [Kardelj’s emphases], and to promote self-management and self-managing democracy. Such efforts simultaneously create the conditions for the withering away of the state in general and, by the same token, for the withering away of the state characterized by the dictatorship of the proletariat in all its forms, including the present self-managing democratic form. Instead of democracy as a form of state system, there will be a democracy and freedom of the individual, who is no longer the subject of the state but governs himself and regulates social relationships as the relationships between man and things and not between man and man. In such circumstances, the state apparatus will turn into a specialized public service of the selfmanaging society. Therefore, there is no contradiction between the dictatorship of the proletariat and democracy, but there is a contradiction between the centralized power of the state and its apparatus, whatever form it may take, on the one hand, and the self-management aspirations of man and his interest unions on the other.

42Source: Edvard Kardelj, Democracy and Socialism (London: The Summerfield Press, 1978), 92.

Document 5:

43When we say that the political pluralism of bourgeois society cannot serve as the political system for socialist self-management, we must add that a one-party system as a variant of this system will not do either. … From a socio-historical point of view, the one-party system is a permutation of the political system borrowed from the bourgeois state in the era of capitalism. It in fact performs the same role as the multiparty system of bourgeois pluralism, the only difference being that power is wielded by one party rather than by several parties in turn. Actually, there is very little difference there, because the political parties in bourgeois society—with the exception of the revolutionary parties of the working class—do not differ greatly in their attitude towards the existing social system. However, the one-party system, even more than political pluralism, is susceptible to serious deformations of various kinds. In the first place, there is a tendency for the party leadership to form a personal union with the state executive apparatus, and thus the executive becomes the tool of technocratic and bureaucratic forces in society. … The one-party system may thus change gradually from being a class weapon to being an instrument of technocratic and bureaucratic rule over class and society. The Paris Commune and Marx were both aware of this danger, but it has never been more real than in contemporary socialist practice today. …

44Our society was bound to make this break [with the one-party system, D.J.] as soon as it opted for self-management, and the socialization of state property on the basis of self-management, instead of the perpetuation of state-owned forms of social production relations. The one-party system of the Stalinist type came about when the mechanism of bourgeois parliamentarism was simply grafted on to the system of socialist socio-economic relations. The one-party system took two features from the political system of bourgeois society which make it incompatible with the system of self-management. Firstly, like the bourgeois parliamentary system, it excluded the individual from having a direct hand in governing society. Secondly, by reducing the individual’s role to that of a political citizen, it transformed him into a caster of votes for personalities and not for interests, so that at the polls the citizen surrendered his general warrant to administer society and his own personal interests in favour of political and state executive officials and bodies. …

45The primary concern of the [one-party] political system, therefore, is no longer to establish socio-economic and democratic conditions in which the real worker can freely and autonomously pursue his class interests and aspirations, but rather to secure the functioning of the centralized state machinery. This kind of dogmatic theory has fundamentally affected the development of the political systems in contemporary socialism. Of course, everyday life has modified it and continues to do so, but it has caused socialist practice—particularly the development of socialist democracy—considerable harm. …

46It is precisely the struggle for a more progressive democratic system of socialism to which we should be committed. Socialist practice has shown what pitfalls and hazards are involved in an exclusive orientation toward a one-party political system. The greatest danger presented by such a system for Yugoslavia would be that the League of Communists should become an integral part or even an appendage of a technocratic-bureaucratic monopoly. The mechanism of monopoly is conservative by nature, and therefore it imposes a conservative ideology on the workers” movement. Hence such a system does not suit our system of self-managing pluralism precisely because of its machinery. …

47It is clear, however, that as the political role of anti-socialist and anti-self-management forces weakens, which is historically inevitable, this special role of the League of Communists, and with it this single feature of the one-party system, will also weaken and wither away. The long-term creative role of the League of Communists consists primarily in its efforts and ability to make a theoretical and scientific assessment of the objective laws ruling the trends and development of socialist society, to correlate these trends on a day-to-day basis with the aspirations and interests of the self-managing subjects … and to mobilize the broad working masses in a drive to achieve the goals which are set on the basis of these assessments. This means that the Yugoslav political system, far from being a one-party system, actually precludes any such system, just as it precludes the multiparty pluralism of bourgeois society. Self-management and self-managing democracy cannot tolerate political monopoly by any forces outside the democratically integrated system of social self-management. It is precisely from this self-managing democratic integration that the organization of the state and of its highest executive organs emanates. If a feature of the one-party system is still present in this state system, it is only as an instrument to defend the survival and further development of our self-managing and democratically integrated socialist society. The more stable the system of self-managing democracy becomes, the less prominent this attribute of the one-party system will become.

48For all these reasons, our self-managing society would be taking an extremely reactionary step backwards if it were to embrace the political pluralism of bourgeois society or its one-party variant. What needs to be done above all is to democratize society even further on the principles of self-management by the working man and citizen. Only such a status of the working people in society can lead to the withering away and abolition of the class system of society in general, and thereby secure democracy and freedom for all.

49Source: Edvard Kardelj, Democracy and Socialism (London: The Summerfield Press, 1978), 68–79.

Document 6:

50The only real threat perceived by us [the state and party leadership of Yugoslavia in moments of President Tito’s illness in 1980] was a sudden aggression by the Warsaw Pact countries with a radical objective. The aggressor would, according to estimates by the Yugoslav military leadership, with no special preparations, be able to move against our country about 15–20 divisions, of which four were air and parachute divisions with seven brigades. They would deploy strong air and tank units. … At the meeting [of the National Defence Council, on 13 March 1980] we all agreed that, according to all indicators, one must count on a long-term war in the case of aggression. … The Soviet leadership had not given up on its pressure against Yugoslavia.

51Source: Raif Dizdarević, Od smrti Jugoslavije do smrti Tita (Sarajevo: Oko, 1999), 49. Raif Dizdarević was the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Yugoslav State Presidency in 1986–1989, and from 1988–1989 its president.

Notes

1 For an explanation of the category of political frontier see Aletta Norval, Deconstructing Apartheid Discourse (London: Verso, 1996), 4; Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics (London: Verso, 1985).

2 The concept of the enlightened vanguard is explained by J. L. Talmon, The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy (London: Sphere, 1970). In Marx’s version, the intellectual and political elites merge into one—since philosophers have only interpreted the world, but the point was, as he famously said in his 11th Thesis on Feuerbach, to change it. The role of the enlightened vanguard in socialism was to be both the ultimate interpreter of reality (and visionary of the future) and the force changing it in the direction of the vision. Communists, therefore, had a duty to study (and then to teach) Marxism. For the importance of studying Marxism for young Communists in the USSR, see Sheila Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).

3 This vision was promoted by Croatian party leader Vladimir Bakarić, who had taken the Italian Communist Party as a role-model. It was then developed in Edvard Kardelj’s last book Pravci razvoja političkog sistema socijalističkog samoupravljanja (Belgrade: Komunist, 1977), which was declared (by the LCY Presidency) the official preparatory document for the Eleventh LCY Congress (1978).

4 Edvard Kardelj (1910–1979) was for the whole postwar period the main ideologue of Yugoslavia’s political system. He was both the supreme interpreter of Marxism and the chairman of the Constitution Commission for all postwar Yugoslav Constitutions. A Slovene school teacher before he joined the Yugoslav Communist Party in 1939, Kardelj was a member of Tito’s inner circle of Partisan party leaders by the time that the Jajce meeting outlined the postwar Federation in November 1943. For Kardelj’s role in this period see my “Yugoslavism in post-WWII Yugoslavia: from Tito to Kardelj,” in D. Djokić, ed., Yugoslavism: Histories of a Failed Idea (London: Hurst, 2003), 157–81.

5 For a comprehensive statement of this argument, see Charles Taylor, Sources of the self: the making of the modern identity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).

6 This, however, does not mean that vision does not exist in “non-ideological,” i.e. liberal-democratic societies. It is, however, widely felt that politics in these societies is more “pragmatic” and less vision-driven. It is more about what is than what ought to be; its political elite is representative, i.e. elected. Politics in a liberal democracy is “about power” or “all about economics.” However, this is not the case in vision-driven societies—they are legitimized by denial of reality and, if need be, by violence.

7 For the notion of ideocracy see Jaroslaw Piekalkiewicz and Alfred Wayne Penn, Politics of Ideocracy (Albany: Sunny Press, 1995).

8 Party members, for example, addressed one another (and even the party leader) with the informal “Ti” rather than formal “Vi” to emphasize the egalitarian character of Communism; meanwhile, all party members were requested to be moral and political role-models to others. For role-models in socialism see Sheila Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)

9 In his Notes on Social Criticism (Belgrade: STP, 1965), 64, Kardelj explained this by saying that “a man who would today try to make gold following the recipes of medieval alchemists would be considered a charlatan or a ridiculous ignoramus.” Once defeated, capitalism simply could not come back—this would be just like “medieval alchemists” returning back once modern chemistry and medicine have been established.

10 To understand the implementation of this general conclusion to the Yugoslav case, see Miroslav Hadžić, Sudbina partijske vojske (Belgrade: Samizdat B92, 2001). For the treatment of the ideological character of the army in socialism, see Nova Revija 57 (1987) and later issues, especially the articles by Spomenka Hribar.

11 In Serbo-Croat, the word was podruštvljavanje države. The word “society” was often used instead of “state.” For example, “societal ownership” (not “state ownership”); “socio-political communities” (instead of state-territorial units), etc.

12 To be clear: in most liberal-democratic concepts, too, the existence of the state is justified by the threat of violence, which might occur because of the presence of the Hostile Other, either within society or from outside (that is, in the form of “internal” and “external” enemies). No state is neutral, and none rules out violence to preserve social order, as defined by its ruling class or elite. The difference is that liberal democracies do not consider the present as such an enemy that it should necessarily be excluded from political representation. On the contrary, they allow representation of the present via elections. On a higher level, within the extra-parliamentary sphere, they too are futureorientated, often driven by a vision (for example, by an “American dream”), and structured not as neutral instruments of all citizens but as tools of their own elites. In this chapter, however, we do not focus on other states but on Yugoslavia.

13 That socialism was a period of ongoing “revolutionary” reforms was evident especially in Yugoslavia, whose postwar political history is in fact a history of constitution-writing and endless economic and political “reforms.” In socialist societies the difference between “reforms” and “revolution” is much less clear-cut than those who are coming from liberal-democratic tradition would assume. Gorbachev’s and Marković’s reforms in the late 1980s were therefore perceived by many in those societies as yet another of these “reforms,” not as an announcement of the collapse of the regime. Thus they were tolerated for much longer than one would have expected even by the most conservative factions of the political elite.

14 For this see Vladimir Dedijer, Tito (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1953), 432. Dedijer says that Tito told him: “Titoism as a separate ideological line does not exist. … To put it as an ideology would be stupid. … It is simply that we have added nothing to Marxist–Leninist doctrine. We have only applied that doctrine in consonance with our situation. Since there is nothing new, there is no new ideology. Should ‘Titoism’ become an ideological line, we would become revisionists; we would have renounced Marxism. We are Marxists, I am a Marxist and therefore I cannot be a ‘Titoist.’”

15 As Kardelj expressed it, “the unity of the nation is not possible unless based on a clear platform, on a clear outlook for the future development of society.” Edvard Kardelj, “Ways of Democracy in a Socialist Society,” in Self-management and the political system (Belgrade: STP, 1980), 263.

16 This is why the Party occupied the central place in the army and the defence system in general. By formulating a “clear vision,” the party was making a decisive contribution to defending the nation. In the Yugoslav case, the supreme position of the party in defence issues was guaranteed by legal provisions which made presidents of the party committees the “presidents of the Social Self-Defence Councils” in war or any situation of imminent threat of war.

17 The political leadership tagged its opponents with some of these labels to indicate that they were not only opponents of socialism in Yugoslavia, but of Yugoslav independence too—because there was no difference between Yugoslav self-managing identity and Yugoslav identity as such. To support any “foreign” ideology would mean to undermine Yugoslav identity, i.e. its independence. For example, Milovan Djilas was in 1954 declared an “anarcho-liberal” (pro-Western) and Aleksandar Ranković in 1966 a “bureaucrat” and “unitarist” (thus pro-Soviet); the Croatian leaders of 1971 were “nationalists” (pro-Western), the Serbian leaders in 1972 “liberals” (also pro-Western), etc. Even after Tito’s death, the labeling continued. Slobodan Milošević was treated by the members of the elite most loyal to the Kardelj discourse as a “unitarist” and “dogmatist” (thus pro-USSR) when he appeared on the political scene in 1984.

18 When talking about the liberal concept of nationhood, one needs to be aware of the historical context in which all this happened. In the aftermath of the First World War the liberal doctrine seemed victorious (at least in Europe), and thus it expressed itself in its unrestricted, i.e. unreformed form. Only later were liberal concepts amended in order to respond to the issues of minorities, collective identities and group rights. In the period we analyze here, liberalism had no answer to these problems. Nor did it recognize the importance of the ethnic definition of a nation, reducing the term to the political, i.e. civic nation only. This is the main reason for its failure in Germany and throughout East and Southeast Europe, where the concept of “nationhood” was primarily ethnic, not political. Even when (after the Second World War) it moved to include the social dimension (as social-liberalism and/or left-libertarianism), liberal democracy offered to minorities less than socialism. This is why the introduction of (even such reformed) liberal concepts in post-Communist societies failed to convince so many (and especially ethnic minorities) that they would gain anything in terms of their social and political status, rather than lose everything.

19 See Edvard Kardelj, “Ways of Democracy in a Socialist Society,” in Edvard Kardelj, Self-management and the political system (Belgrade: STP, 1977), 130.

20 For example, in Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia (Oxford: Blackwell, 1974).

21 Famously, Tito himself acknowledged this in his 1942 article in the party gazette Proleter: “The words national liberation struggle would be nothing but words, and even deception, if they did not have, together with their meaning in the overall Yugoslav context, a specifically national meaning for each people individually, if they did not mean, together with the liberation of Yugoslavia, the liberation at the same time, too, of Croats, Slovenes, Serbs, Macedonians, Arnauts [Albanians], Moslems and the rest; if the national liberation struggle did not contain the substance of effective freedom, equality and brotherhood for all the peoples of Yugoslavia. This is the real essence of the national liberation struggle.” See Josip Broz Tito, “Nacionalno pitanje u Jugoslaviji u svjetlosti narodno-oslobodilačke borbe,” Proleter 17 (1942): 3.

22 For the importance of such fears of becoming a minority, which was growing in all Yugoslav nations by the end of the socialist period, see my article “Fear of becoming a minority as a motivator of conflict in the former Yugoslavia,” Balkanologie 1–2 (December 2001): 21–36. The socialist narrative did not know of either majorities or minorities. The concept of minority was excluded from this narrative—it was politically incorrect to name anyone as a “minority.” With the introduction of liberal democracy (which was based on counting votes, and thus counting citizens too), both of these concepts were promoted. Since in Yugoslavia nobody was a majority, and nobody wanted to be “demoted” to the status of a minority, all ethnic groups felt unhappy with prospects of being forced to become a minority. Those fears then created aggression, especially among those segments of the ethnic groups which were left outside their new nation-states with the status of a minority: Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia–Herzegovina, Croats in Bosnia–Herzegovina, Albanians in the FR Yugoslavia, Serbs in Kosovo, Albanians in Macedonia, etc.

23 The Marxist concept did not recognize the demos because the very concept of demos is linked with elections and the state—none of which was central (or even desirable) in Marxist views on society. The reasons for not promoting a Yugoslav nation in an ethnic sense have been already explained above.

24 Hostility towards bureaucracy was not specific to Yugoslavia but a feature of all socialist narratives, which were ideologically anti-statist. Bureaucracy is a network of public servants, and thus of a state. Good examples of anti-bureaucratic rhetoric and action were the Chinese Cultural Revolution and, later, the anti-bureaucratic revolution of Milošević (1988).

25 From the discourse of liberal democracy, such an equation of decentralisation with democratization does not make much sense. On the contrary, the demos cannot be created through decentralization, but only through centralization, via, for example, the construction of a nationwide “electorate.” Neither elections nor demos were, however, part of the Communist discourse on nation.

26 New terms were constructed to explain the “new forms” and institutions of social activism. These terms are almost impossible to translate into the vocabulary of liberaldemocratic societies.

27 For this explanation, see Tito’s speech in the Yugoslav People’s Assembly on 17 June 1950, on the occasion of proposing the Law on Workers’ Self-management. The speech is a theoretical discourse against the Soviet interpretation of Marxism. Similarly, Kardelj’s speech at the Third Plenum of the CC LCY (March 1954) criticized the “theories of spontaneity” in Milovan Djilas’s writings. At crucial moments in Yugoslav political history, the Central Committee meetings turned almost into philological seminars on the meanings of Marx’s writings and of sentences/texts written/said by various “revisionists.” Being the enlightened vanguard, the party was, of course, always right, even when its interpretation clashed with the author’s. For example, the Eighth Session of the CC LC Serbia in September 1987 denied Dragiša Pavlović the right to interpret the meaning of his own words (on “easily promised speed”); the party was there to interpret their “real meaning.” For the importance of words and their interpretation in socialism, see Vaclav Havel, “A Word About Words” (1977), in Open Letters (London: Faber and Faber, 1991), 377–89.

28 An excellent account of the debates between Soviet and Yugoslav Marxists on the “withering away of the state” is given in Ivo Lapenna, State and Law: Soviet and Yugoslav Theory (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964).

29 They differed also in the understanding of the role of the party. In Tito’s words soon after the split with Stalin: “The role of the party is historically limited to a certain period. The party withers away gradually. That does not mean that a one-party system will be superseded by a multi-party system. It merely means that the one-party system, having superseded a multi-party system, will in turn vanish. … Therein lies the very difference between our view and that of the Soviets.” Vladimir Dedijer, Tito (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1953), 430–31.

30 Criticism of the USSR as such was more sophisticated, since Yugoslavia could not afford open conflict. However, criticism of “Stalinism” had no limits. Tito had more understanding for the Soviets than some other members of the political elite, for example, Edvard Kardelj, Koča Popović and Stane Dolanc. Some political conflicts between Tito and these three political leaders (with Kardelj in 1967, with Popović in 1972, and with Dolanc in 1978) were the result of different views on how far Yugoslav criticism of the USSR could go.

31 This is certainly one of the reasons that Yugoslavs found more difficult than others in restructuring their identity once ideology had collapsed. The violent break-up of Yugoslavia was the result of the weakness of the state, which was a direct consequence of the elite’s commitment to the anti-statist concept of self-management.

32 In this conclusion Kardelj was supported by leading Serbian Communists as well. For the reasons why the Serbian elite accepted Kardelj’s political narrative, see my “Zašto je Srbija prihvatila Ustav iz 1974?” Ljetopis (1998), 3: 63–104; see also the authorized minutes of the Fourteenth Session of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Serbia, 29 and 30 May 1968 (Belgrade: Komunist, 1968).

33 Indeed, many others (both in the East and in the West) shared this enthusiasm for Yugoslav reforms and Yugoslavia’s original “third” way.

34 As exemplified by the Paris protests, the anti-war campaign in the U.S., and the rise of the left throughout Western Europe in 1968–1972; also, Allende’s victory in Chile in 1970.

35 As exemplified by the Paris protests, the anti-war campaign in the U.S., and the rise of the left throughout Western Europe in 1968–1972; also, Allende’s victory in Chile in 1970.

36 Edvard Kardelj, “The National Question in Yugoslavia and Its Foreign Policy” (speech given in 1973), in Edvard Kardelj, The Nations and Socialism (Belgrade: STP, 1980), 236.

37 Ibid., 286.

38 A journalistic account of this was given in Duško Doder, The Yugoslavs (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1978). For opinion polls conducted in Slovenia (among other issues, on perceptions of threat) see Niko Toš, ed., Slovensko Javno Mnenje 1987: pregled in primerjava rezultatov raziskav SJM 69–SJM 87 (Ljubljana: Delavska Enotnost, 1987).

39 For the importance of egalitarianism in Yugoslav socialism, see Ivan Bernik, “Functions of Egalitarianism in Yugoslav Society,” Praxis International, 9 (1989): 425–32; and Josip Županov, Marginalije o društvenoj krizi (Zagreb: Globus, 1983).

40 For the Hoxhists–Titoists division among Kosovo Albanians, see Shkelzen Maliqi: “A Demand for a New Status: The Albanian Movement in Kosova,” in Thanos Veremis and Evangelis Kofos, eds., Kosovo: Avoiding Another Balkan War (Athens: Eliamep, 1998), 207–38.

41 Activities of the “critical intelligentsia” (i.e. “dissidents”) in Yugoslavia were in fact tolerated (and sometimes even protected) by the elite when they limited their criticism to “Stalinism,” without extending it to socialism in general. When criticising Stalinism (and also: unitarism, centralism, statism and bureaucratism) they were in fact on the same side with the elite itself. Closeness between the regime and intelligentsia was demonstrated, for example, in Croatia on the occasion of the “White Book” in 1984. On the other hand, those who attempted to criticize the Yugoslav elite by arguing that it had not abandoned all elements of Stalinism (for example: Milovan Djilas, or the Belgrade Six) were not tolerated but jailed.

42 Illustration of this could be found in Doder, 1978.

43 At first, the Yugoslav elite did not recognize the significance of the “Gorbachev factor.” In 1985–1988 they welcomed his reforms as a “victory of the Yugoslav model,” and failed to see the deeper consequences that this withdrawal of the main “Other” brought with it to Yugoslavia. For the reaction of the Yugoslav political elite to Gorbachev, see Raif Dizdarević, Od smrti Tita do smrti Jugoslavije (Sarajevo: Oko, 1999).

44 Famously, a public scandal broke out when the then Zagreb Television (now Croatian Television) reported that supporters of Milošević at a rally in Podgorica (then Titograd) in 1989 had demanded help from the Russians. Allegedly, they chanted: “We want the Russians” (Hoćemo Ruse). The organizers denied this, saying that Milošević’s supporters chanted Hoćemo gusle (not Ruse), i.e., “We want the gusle.” To demand Russian support would have been totally unacceptable politically. For the importance of the gusle in the Yugoslav political tradition, see Maja Brkljačić’s chapter 1 in this volume. The link between the Yugoslav and Soviet military elites at a time when the Yugoslav military elite was getting increasingly pro-Milošević has been documented in Veljko Kadijević’s memoirs, Moje vidjenje raspada (Belgrade: Politika, 1993), and also in Borisav Jović’s diary, Poslednji dani SFRJ (Belgrade: Politika, 1995).

45 Pro-Soviet views on the part of some Croatian separatists (especially regarding immigration) sometimes emerged. At its congress in London in 1980, the Croatian National Council (HNV) declared: “Better divided by Russian occupation than united by American-supported Yugoslavia.” See Raif Dizdarević, Od smrti Tita do smrti Jugoslavije (Sarajevo: Oko, 1999), 54. The strategic interests of the USSR were linked with access to the warm Mediterranean sea, the Adriatic included. This was potentially the main link between Croatian separatists and the USSR. Apart from this, some separatist groups among the Croatian diaspora promoted a revolutionary program, based on the notion of “self-determination.”

46 For Titoists and Hoxhists within the Albanian nationalist movement, see Tim Judah, Kosovo: War and Revenge (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000).

47 “It is beyond any doubt that Yugoslav society, all Yugoslav people and in all situations, will find enough strength to resist all disintegrating tendencies,” claimed Kardelj in 1969. See Edvard Kardelj, “Yugoslavia—the socialist self-managing community of equal peoples” (speech given in 1969), in Edvard Kardelj, The Nations and Socialism (Belgrade: STP, 1980), 228.

48 A good illustration of this may be found by closer analysis of international proposals for Bosnia–Herzegovina. The model promoted by the high representative for this country is remarkably similar to that institutionalized by the 1974 constitution. Liberal notions of one-citizen–one-vote seem to be rejected as ill suited for Bosnian ethnic and political complexity. Nobody is treated as a “majority” and nobody as a “minority.” This was the case in Tito’s Yugoslavia too.

49 And they were not alone in this; the West could think of no good reason either. Respect for Tito and the assumption that Yugoslavia would continue was well expressed by the massive attendance of world leaders at his funeral in May 1980.

50 See Kardelj’s speech at the 12th Session of the LCY Presidency, “Aktuelni problemi daljeg razvoja našeg političkog sistema,” in Edvard Kardelj, Izbor iz dela III: Politički sistem socijalističkog samoupravljanja (Belgrade: Komunist, 1979), 259–83.

51 Vladimir Bakarić, “Unitarizam kao ideologija i ocjena nacionalizma u Hrvatskoj,” speech at the Tenth Session of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Croatia (15 January 1970), in Vladimir Bakarić, Socijalistićki samoupravni sistem i društvena reprodukcija (Zagreb: Informator, 1974), 408–9.

Auteur

Dejan Jović completed his doctoral dissertation at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is a Lecturer in Politics at the University of Stirling, and a regular contributor to the Economics Intelligence Unit for the area of former Yugoslavia.

© Central European University Press, 2006

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