Hot Pursuit - Louis Proyect comment

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Fri Oct 8 11:52:09 MDT 1999

Bernie Wool:
>On the subject of the Balkans, one of the problems that people across
>the water face is that they rarely meet bona fide representatives of
>workers in those countries, and rely very much on what they hear at
>second or third hand.  My own support lies with union members, mainly
>miners and teachers, that I have met from Bosnia and Kosova, and I
>believe their accounts as they tally with much reported by Serbian
>trades unionists that I have also met.

But this is the problem. Nobody can give a blanket endorsement to
assertions made by trade union contacts. This actually was the sort of
silliness heard from Stalinists in the 1930s, who argued that the USSR must
be a genuine socialist democracy because the Russian trade unionists they
met with all adored Stalin. I long ago learned to distrust empty workerism
of this sort. Drury appealed to this kind of higher authority when lobbing
polemical grenades againt the SWAPO and the ANC on this list. How could
anybody gainsay their testimony, because they were workers after all.
Bollocks I say. (Bet you didn't know I spoke British).

> The other thing that one comes across frequently in the European labour
>movement is the kind of material that JI assembles and the hysterical
>spin that he does seem to put on it, that more or less gave the green
>light to all manner of real fascists, for what went on in Bosnia, NE
>Croatia and latterly Kosova, while at the same time trying to present
>the Milosevich regime who sponsored all that as some kind of embattled,
>last remnant of 'actually existing socialism'.

Yes, what went on in Bosnia and NE Croatia. We all know about that, don't
we, from Susan Sontag, the Guardian, and other unimpeachable sources.
Although LM drives me nuts with their fox-hunting and sun-bathing articles,
it is to their everlasting credit that they went up against the ITN lie
machinery on the question of Bosnian concentration camps.

>  To question what was going
>on the fomer SU in the 30's was to invite exactly the same accusation,
>and quite frequently a sticky end.  You will know well that anyone who
>dares question or attack Zionism is generally called an anti-semite by
>the Zionists.  This manner of discourse is well-oiled, and it is
>pernicious.  Equally, the sneering put down.  That is standard fare from
>CP'ers in any shop-stewards meeting or  Trades Council, at least it was
>until their entire world fell apart a decade ago.

Yeah, there's one big difference between the 1930s and today. In the 1930s
and 40s, the bourgeois press was uncritical of Stalin. Hollywood movies
flattered Stalin, while a CP membership could be good for your career, as
Ronald Reagan's flirtation with the party (reported by Edmund Morris in
"Dutch") indicates. Meanwhile your Serbophobia doesn't take any political
guts at all. It is the propaganda line of not only the bourgeois press, but
the Social Democracy and unions as well. In point of fact, your postings on
Yugoslavia represent the same kind of conventional thought as we heard in
the United States during the war on NPR radio, the voice of middle-class
liberalism. And you have the nerve to accuse Jared of being a liberal.

>I don't much care if you give me the flick, but I was pleased to note
>Owen Jones' response.  That I felt was in the tradition of comradely
>discussion amongst Marxists and socialist, and I would happily admit to
>him that I am ignorant on a lot of matters - but to the sort of spiteful
>persona revealed by JI, not a chance in hell chum!

There is a way to correct your ignorance on this particular question. Spend
less time sopping up propaganda from sources like Workers Liberty and more
time in the library going through Lexis-Nexis.


Jim Naureckas, "Counterspin" (a publication of Fairness and Accuracy in
Reporting, a liberal media watchdog):

New York Times correspondent David Binder filed a report in 1982
(11/28/82): "In violence growing out of the Pristina University riots of
March 1981, a score of people have been killed and hundreds injured. There
have been almost weekly incidents of rape, arson, pillage and industrial
sabotage, most seemingly designed to drive Kosovo's remaining indigenous
Slavs--Serbs and Montenegrins--out of the province."

Describing an attempt to set fire to a 12-year-old Serbian boy, Binder
reported (11/9/82): "Such incidents have prompted many of Kosovo's Slavic
inhabitants to flee the province, thereby helping to fulfill a nationalist
demand for an ethnically 'pure' Albanian Kosovo. The latest Belgrade
estimate is that 20,000 Serbs and Montenegrins have left Kosovo for good
since the 1981 riots."

"Ethnically pure," of course, is another way to translate the phrase
"ethnically clean"--as in "ethnic cleansing." The first use of this concept
to appear in Nexis was in relation to the Albanian nationalists' program
for Kosovo: "The nationalists have a two-point platform," the Times'
Marvine Howe quotes a Communist (and ethnically Albanian) official in
Kosovo (7/12/82), "first to establish what they call an ethnically clean
Albanian republic and then the merger with Albania to form a greater
Albania." All of the half-dozen references in Nexis to "ethnically clean"
or "ethnic cleansing" over the next seven years attribute the phrase to
Albanian nationalists.

The New York Times returned to the Kosovo issue in 1986, when the paper's
Henry Kamm (4/28/86) reported that Slavic Yugoslavians "blame ethnic
Albanians…for continuing assaults, rape and vandalism. They believe their
aim is to drive non-Albanians out of the province." He reported suspicions
by Slavs that the autonomous Communist authorities in Kosovo were covering
up anti-Slavic crimes, including arson at a nunnery and the brutal
mutilation of a Serbian farmer. Kamm quoted a prescient "Western diplomat"
who described Kosovo as "Yugoslavia's single greatest problem."

By 1987, the Times was portraying a dire situation in Kosovo. David Binder
reported (11/1/87):

Ethnic Albanians in the Government have manipulated public funds and
regulations to take over land belonging to Serbs…. Slavic Orthodox churches
have been attacked, and flags have been torn down. Wells have been poisoned
and crops burned. Slavic boys have been knifed, and some young ethnic
Albanians have been told by their elders to rape Serbian girls….

As Slavs flee the protracted violence, Kosovo is becoming what ethnic
Albanian nationalists have been demanding for years, and especially
strongly since the bloody rioting by ethnic Albanians in Pristina in
1981--an ''ethnically pure'' Albanian region, a ''Republic of Kosovo" in
all but name.

This is the situation--at least as perceived by Serbs--that led to
Milosevic's infamous 1987 speech promising protection of Serbs, and later
resulted in the revocation of Kosovo's autonomy. Despite being easily
available on Nexis, virtually none of this material has found its way into
contemporary coverage of Kosovo, in the New York Times or anywhere else.

Louis Proyect


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