Yugp again: Milosevich's misdeeds and the secession

Bryan A. Alexander bnalexan at umich.edu
Wed Nov 15 10:26:06 MST 1995

Louis is right, and his facts are solid.  After Tito's death in 1980, the
Yugoslav economy worsened.  Woodward, relying on IMF documents, claims an
inflation rate of 419% in 1987, 1232% (!) in 1988.  She states that
following the 1989-early 1990 imposition of new and tight economic
controls by federal PM Markovic, inflation actually dropped to zero for
one or two months in spring 1990; this was obviously artificial, and the
economy collapsed starting in June, with inflation zooming off once
more (Woodward, 96).  Malcolm (in his BOSNIA: A SHORT HISTORY, a good
introduction for
newcomers to this topic) (afterwards, you progress the the excellent left
analysis in Magas' DESTRUCTION OF YUGOSLAVIA) has figures less dire but
parallel: inflation at 120% in '87, 200% the following year (Malcolm,
Penguin, 210).
Magas describes a state of increasing labor unrest, tracking strikes in
Yugoslavia as follows: "between 1980 and 1985 their number doubled (from
235 to 696); it then rose to 851 in 1986 and to 1,685 in 1987."
(DESTRUCTION OF YUGOSLAVIA, Verso, 278)  Furthermore, other signs appear
in myriad numbers, of which our market socialists are unaware: the 1987
declaration of bankruptcy by Macedonia, Kosovo, and Montenegro (nearly
1/2 of Yugoslavia!) (Magas, 117,191).  That same year, following the
federal suppression of Agrokomerc, the northwest Bosnian economy
collapses into mass unemployment and infrastructure failure..  In October
the IMF forces yet another economic restructuring plan on the
federation.  1988 opens with a federal foreign debt of $33 billion
(Malcolm 210) and "continuous working-class unrest" (Magas 159).
Belgrade workers struck in thousands against new austerity measures and
the IMF (Malcolm, 211).  1989 saw a massive federation-wide working-class
agitation in support of the Albanian general strike in Kosovo (Magas,
160, 179, 187, 200, etc.); this is precisely the period when Milosevic
leads Serbs nationalists in hijacking this unrest towards nationalism and
	So things were not going well.

Bryan Alexander
Department of English
University of Michigan

On Tue, 14 Nov 1995, Louis N Proyect wrote:

> On Mon, 13 Nov 1995 ROSSERJB at VAX1.ACS.JMU.EDU wrote:
> > To Bryan Alexander:
> >      One non-trivial error in your recitation is that in
> > fact inflation in Yugoslavia had been gotten under control
> > during 1990.  Things were going well before Milosevic's
> > demands triggered the secessions and the wars began.
> > Barkley Rosser
> >
> Louis:
> Going well?!
> Following a recession in 1974-1975, investment declined in the former
> Yugoslavia, the foreign debt escalated, production fell, and
> unemployment grew rapidly. The economic crisis caused 600,00 Yugoslav
> workers to seek work in Germany alone. Yugoslavia's dubious embrace of
> "market socialism" increased its dependency on western finance capital
> and heightened the economic crisis in ways similar to the current crisis in
> Mexico.
> Under the impact of these strains, the Communist Party of Yugoslavia
> began to disintegrate in January 1990. The split of the party took place
> along the regional lines demarking the former Yugoslav Federal
> Republic. Each of the local former CP ruling groups tried to cut deals
> with imperialism to ease the economic burden of their region. While
> reaching out to imperialism, they simultaneously enflamed nationalist
> feelings among their populations in order to provide a popular base for
> their actions. The most pernicious expression of this tendency is the
> Slobodan Milosevic regime in Serbia.
> The various ruling groups of the former Yugoslavia had been veering
> toward regional competition long before the economic crisis of the
> 1990's. In the 1960's and 1970's, the Croatian Communists demanded
> that income from the lucrative tourist areas along the Dalmatian coast
> to be funneled exclusively to Croatia. Each region began to strive
> toward self-sufficiency, a move that worked to the detriment of less-
> developed areas. By 1985, for example, the income of the average
> Slovenian was 70% higher than that of the average Macedonian. By
> 1989, it was 125% more.
> If Yugoslavia is supposed to be a successful example of market socialism,
> then we are in deep trouble. It is time Rosser and Burns went back to the
> drawing-board. This MS just doesn't fly.
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