[L-I] Workers World on Yugo...with a couple of questions.

Gary Wilson gary at SPAMwwpublish.com
Fri Dec 1 10:11:05 MST 2000

Forwarded from "John Catalinotto" <jcat at wwpublish.com>

Dear Macdonald Stainsby
I would like to try to respond to your thoughtful questions
regarding our "optimistic" editorial

First of all, I'd like to make it clear that the editorial
is not meant as a prognosis of victory. It is more a sign we
are encouraged that the SPS-its leadership and apparently
its cadres, perhaps its membership-says it is ready to
fight. Without this condition a defense of Yugoslavia would
be impossible (unless some other more revolutionary force
arises- but there is no sign of that).

The SPS party congress could conceivably have ended with
Milosevic and the others allied with him removed from the
leadership in an attempt by the party to distant itself from
the setbacks both for Yugoslavia over the last 10 years
(which means distancing itself from the struggle against
NATO) and from the electoral setback in September. Instead a
wide majority of the delegates backed the old leadership.
Could they, would they have done this if there were strong
pressure from party members to remove that leadership?

We remember how the SED in the German Democratic Republic
repudiated its leadership under pressure from the West, how
the party lost about 80-90 percent of its members rapidly,
changed its name, how ... well, you know the rest. They
surrendered state power without a fight.

Greg Elich has distributed a copy of Milosevic's speech at
the SPS Congress. I'll assume it has already been made
available to the lists. I'll forward a copy to you to make
sure. It is valuable to read what he is saying.

MS's comments are in brackets [ ]. Mine are in these
brackets { }. The rest is the original editorial. -- jc


 It was the first good news out of Yugoslavia for
anti-imperialists since that unhappy day the
 coup overthrew and burned the national assembly and
national TV last Oct. 5. A fight-back Socialist Party
Congress of 2,600 delegates re-elected Slobodan Milosevic
party leader by 86 percent Nov. 25.

 [I hope this optimism is accurate... but what basis is
there for such
 optimism? Here is a pessimistic angle. Milosevic and those
around him are
 being primed by the new "democrats" for the Hague. If there
isn't any fight in
 the party, it goes down easier... and they could go on
trial. The program of anti-Nato
 (which I agree is inherently anti-imperialist, regardless
of motivation) has been the
 bread and butter of the party. It cannot change now or
become absolutely irrelevant.]

{Regarding your concern that the leadership is acting
primarily because U.S./NATO wants them in The Hague, we
would say this. We have no means of measuring the sincerity
of political leaders. We can only measure their comments and
their deeds. We have seen many opportunistic leaders find a
way to surrender even when the class enemy shows no sign of
cutting them a deal. Milosevic's talk is a call for the SPS
to learn how to struggle as the opposition instead of as the
party in power.}

> This doesn't guarantee the SPS will win the Dec.
 elections for the Serbian Parliament. It doesn't mean it
 will immediately win the loyalty of the working class.

 [What we need to know is two things: how strong are their
ties to those who
 didn't vote or participate in thew coup against Milo, et
al. Is there an independent SPS
 press that has any real circulation? The interview posted
by Jared paints a stark view
 of their organizing ability. Are the people who stood aside
the first time around
 considering anything as per action now?]

{Good question. We will see. We find it encouraging that the
SPS calls for struggle and stands a chance of mobilizing at
least the party, maybe a part of the population. Are you
referring to JI's recent interview? }

 But it does mean that the SPS leadership refuses to
retreat. It means that those who are identified with the
defense of Yugoslavia against the U.S./NATO war remain at
the head of the party. It means there is no SPS collapse.

 [No total collapse. Indeed this might indicate that
Milosevic had better
 motives than we thought, seeing as a number of party
members did indeed
 recently quit now that the party is out of power. That does
not mean the party can
 survive. As I said earlier, it can also indicate this is a
personal attempt at not being
 swallowed by the imperialist "justice system".]

 And it indicates that most of the party activists don't
 they have to hide from the masses of the people.

 [I have a hard time believing that they can walk freely.
The counter-revolutionaries
 haven't been noted for their fairness so far. The masses
have been watching
 from the sidelines from the best angle shown to us.]
 {We've noticed that while Djindjic has threatened
many times to call out the population to demonstrate as on
Oct. 5, he has yet to do so. But you're right, the masses
have been watching from the sidelines so far. }

 As one report out of Novi Sad put it, after price hikes of
five to
 15 times on basic goods, people are starting to say "Slobo
come back, all is forgiven."

 The counter-revolutionary wave that overthrew the Eastern
European workers' states in 1989 also dissolved or disrupted
the ruling parties. Leaders resigned or changed into
 instant "reformers" at that time. This is different. If you
read what Milosevic said--the little published in the
imperialist media--he's coming out swinging against the
U.S., NATO and
 their puppets inside Yugoslavia.

 [This is partly true. It should be clear by now that there
has been much in
 the way of resistance from the Yugoslav state- but it
should be remembered that other
 leaders died defending the old states that were in 1989
too. Yeltsin had to kill
 thousands with his assault on parliament. Milo has done
"better" by establishing himself as the
 head of the new bourgeois state and then spending a decade
fighting it out. This is
 ultimaely the reason that "we" have had such a hard time
seeing what Milosevic was.]

 {No comment on your above statement.}

 He said the October uprising was actually "a coup" backed
 "paid Western spies." This has been all but admitted in
earlier reports of the exploits of the mayor of Cacak
attacking parliament and the TV station with a gang of
mercenaries. The Nov. 26 New York Times Magazine exposed
U.S. manipulation of the opposition Otpor student

 [But aren't they organizing strike committees?
Sorry, couldn't resist...]

 "The war against this country is now being led by money,"
the ruling Democratic Opposition of Serbia received a "major
bribe" and all the media are now in the hands of "foreign
secret services," he said. Equally true. One can expect a
stronger infusion of Western money as the Serbian election

 [Why bother? The imperialists would only serve to disrupt
their chances that way. They
 might untie a few "aid" packages one or two days before the
polling, but they will not funnel money into the state
machinery led by DOS, or by opposition led by Otpor. That
would simply be overkill, and give the SPS (with whatever
level of propaganda they can get out to the population) a
major publicity coup. The West will watch, and maybe (not
likely, but...) they will say "elect SPS and you cannot get
heating fuel for the winter...!"]

 {That's really what we meant by "infusion of
Western money," - untying the aid, making sure fuel comes in
just before it's time to vote, signaling it stops if the SPS
wins-but don't be surprised if they throw some millions
directly into the election, too.}

 Yugoslavia's new "nationalist" president, Vojislav
Kostunica, bases his economic plans on getting $2.5
 billion in European Union aid over the next few years and
his military policy on getting help from NATO to stop the
right- wing Kosovo Liberation Army from taking more pieces
 Serbia. Can he be so foolish?

 [It's actually perfect for him AND Nato. Smashing the KLA
would "prove" to
 the world that Nato was just trying to save innocent lives
from that madman Milosevic,
 it would also shore up nationalist power for Kostunica and
get the economic situation
 firmly under imperial designs. Now that the KLA is
attacking a state that is "Nato
 approved" it is far more likely that we will see the little
bush fires they have been
 lighting just outside Kosovo put out. "Stability" will be
the new catchword.]

 {There have been indications U.S./NATO wants some
distance from the KLA. Sec. Gen. Robertson even described
those attacking in Presevo as "terrorists." But "smashing"
the KLA is also a problem for NATO. Are U.S. and German
imperialism in agreement on this? Is the U.S. willing to
take casualties in Kosovo?-assuming the KLA puts up a fight.
In any case the editorial's question here really should have
been "how could Kostunica be a real Serb nationalist if he
left the economy and the defense of Serbia in the hands of
NATO countries?" It goes with your questions below about the
attitude of the Yugoslav army.}

 On the other hand, the Yugoslav Army, with its roots in the
1945 socialist revolution, is still intact. Milosevic and
the SPS are defiant.

 [This could be *the* question: what does the army think
about the last two months in
 Serbia/Yugoslavia? Asking Kostunica, he responds: "What? oh
yeah..Oh yeah..." and doesn't inspire what the West would
call "confidence". I would like to know what they
 feel about Milosevic, and more importantly, what they feel
about taking orders from

 That means the struggle for Yugoslavia against U.S./NATO
 imperialism is far from over.

 [I hope but am skeptical as to whether or not this optimism
is warranted.]

 {The main question here is not whether one is
optimistic or skeptical, but whether one is willing to keep
on fighting. Sometimes optimism helps. We are more
optimistic than we were before the SPS congress.}

 John Catalinotto, managing editor, workers world

 - END -

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