Capitalism Restored in Serbia?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Aug 22 14:05:44 MDT 2000

Owen Jones:
> Frankly, I am not sure if anybody is. In Serbia, the line between private
>ownership of the means of production and "state ownership" is a very thin
>one. What exists in Serbia is dysfunctional capitalism, which is probably a
>temporary transitional form to "normal capitalism" as illustrated by other
>former-Stalinist countries, and accordingly much of nominally state owned
>industry is not, but run by capitalists who exploit the labour power of the
>workers for profit.

Show me the numbers.

> Unfortunately it is hard to get people who actually work on the ground in
>such an environment who are not biased. I mean, are you trying to tell me
>that Jared isn't biased?

What I have in mind is academics like Tomislav Popovic.

> No it isn't. Some on the Left have this habit of seeing the amount of an
>economy in state hands as socialism. That isn't socialism.

To define the Soviet regime as transitional, or intermediate, means to
abandon such finished social categories as capitalism (and therewith "state
capitalism") and  also socialism. But besides being completely inadequate
in itself, such a definition is capable of producing the mistaken idea that
from the present Soviet regime only a transition to socialism is possible.
In reality a backslide to capitalism is wholly possible. A more complete
definition will of necessity be complicated and ponderous.

The Soviet Union is a contradictory society halfway between capitalism and
socialism, in which: (a) the productive forces are still far from adequate
to give the state property a socialist character; (b) the tendency toward
primitive accumulation created by want breaks out through innumerable pores
of the planned economy; (c) norms of distribution preserving a bourgeois
character lie at the basis of a new differentiation of society; (d) the
economic growth, while slowly bettering the situation of the toilers,
promotes a swift formation of privileged strata; (e) exploiting the social
antagonisms, a bureaucracy has converted itself into an uncontrolled caste
alien to socialism; (f) the social revolution, betrayed by the ruling
party, still exists in property relations and in the consciousness of the
toiling masses; (g) a further development of the accumulating
contradictions can as well lead to socialism as back to capitalism; (h) on
the road to capitalism the counterrevolution would have to break the
resistance of the workers; (i) on the road to socialism the workers would
have to overthrow the bureaucracy. In the last analysis, the question will
be decided by a struggle of living social forces, both on the national and
the world arena.

Doctrinaires will doubtless not be satisfied with this hypothetical
definition. They would like categorical formulae: yes-yes, and no- no.
Sociological problems would certainly be simpler, if social phenomena had
always a finished character. There is nothing more dangerous, however, than
to throw out of reality, for the sake of logical completeness, elements
which today violate your scheme and tomorrow may wholly overturn it. In our
analysis, we have above all avoided doing violence to dynamic social
formations which have had no precedent and have no analogies. The
scientific task, as well as the political, is not to give a finished
definition to an unfinished process, but to follow all its stages, separate
its progressive from its reactionary tendencies, expose their mutual
relations, foresee possible variants of development, and find in this
foresight a basis for action.

Leon Trotsky, "The Revolution Betrayed"

> Read "The Serbs" by Tim Judah. Yes he is a bourgeois journalist, but the
>entire purpose of the book is to reverse the demonisation of the Serb
>population; he himself has lived in Belgrade for many years.

>From Tim Judah's Irish Times review of Tariq Ali's rather bland collection
of articles on the war in Yugoslavia published by Verso:

"For example, the book is full of complex conspiracy theories about
geopolitics and the capitalist elites of 'Nato-land'. Serbian massacres are
'massacres', and Western journalists reported lies."

If this is somebody to be regarded as reversing the demonization of the
Sebs, god help us.

> In Yugoslavia, it was no different. The former apparatus of the
>bureaucracy, the Communist Party, was dismembered, divorced from the state
>as the bureaucracy became the new bourgeoisie, renamed the Socialist Party
>and reborn as a supposedly standard Western social-democratic organisation.

This was true in the late 1980s, but then they reversed direction. You seem
stuck in a time-warp. If they were reborn as 'a supposedly standard Western
social-democratic organization,' then you have no explanation for the
hostility of western imperialism.

> A bourgeois parliamentary system similar to those across Western Europe was
>constructed. The constitution was created as a basic framework for the new
>bourgeois state. All the leading parties committed themselves to the "market
>economy". Serbia is a bourgeois democratic parliamentary republic - although
>a dysfunctional one, just like Russia and many other former Stalinist
>states. The restoration of capitalism has produced this dysfunctional

Odd. This seems to have missed the attention of the American ruling class
politicians. You really need to stop paying so much attention to the
sectarian press, like the Workers Liberty, Workers Voice, Workers Aid,
Workers Fist, etc. That stuff will rot your brain out. Do take the
opportunity to visit London's first class library and ask them to show you
how to use Lexis-Nexis. Then, find articles that contain references to
"MIlosevic" and "privatization". This is typical of what you will find:

Ottowa Citizen, June 2, 1998:

Mr. Djukanovic, once a supporter of Mr. Milosevic and Mr. Bulatovic while
he was Montenegro's premier, broke with them in the winter of 1996-1997.

He attacked Mr. Milosevic for his ethnic nationalism, socialist economics
and antagonism to the West and has tried to wrest control of the republic's
politics and economy from Serbia and Federal Yugoslavia.

In contrast to Mr. Milosevic's and Serbia's stubborn adherence to a
Communist, state-controlled economy, Mr. Djukanovic has begun a drive to
privatize most of Montenegro's small industrial base within a year.

Louis Proyect

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