Nezavisnost and the European Trade Union Confederation

Alan Bradley alanb at
Tue Oct 31 07:56:12 MST 2000

> From: Philip Ferguson
> As ETUC helps market forces along in the ex-Yugoslavia, and the position
> of workers there gets worse, these leftists will no doubt throw up their
> hands in horror at the outcome, an outcome for which they have been
> (however unwittingly or, perhaps, the right word is dumbly) cheerleaders.

The point, I think, is that nobody with half a brain can seriously expect
that the conditions of the workers in any of the ex-Yugoslav states will
improve in the near future.

The problem really boils down to how to face that.  (I'm not talking about
the groups that have genuinely crossed the line and supported the NATO
attacks like Workers' Liberty.)

Should we support (or have supported - I'm going to use present tense)
unpopular, pro-capitalist and corrupt states that use military/police
repression against their working classes, or should we support the
movements that oppose them _knowing full well_ that these movements will
bring more consistently counter-revolutionary forces to power?  The answer
can be either, depending on the situation.

The key is which is most likely to bring the working class into action as a
historical factor, and, of course, in a positive role in terms of their
interests!  The problem with the first option is that it tends to freeze
this process, and substitute the state apparatus for the working class
itself.  The alternative is to support whatever tendencies exist for the
working class to engage in action on its own behalf, and in its own person.

The second option, alas, fails because of the sheer brutality of the
processes unleashed by counter-revolution:  the whole great terrible
holocaust that has swept the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and
Nicaragua is not something that can be easily dismissed as part of some
historic process.  But of course this process can't be avoided by
supporting dodgy governments that are fundamentally pro-capitalist

Well, I've just reminded myself why I stay away from these questions as
"too hard", and why I feel no particular compulsion to either endorse or
condemn Mike Karadjis' articles.  (There is at least one potential soft
spot I noted in the current article - Nicaragua is probably a good example
of the effectiveness of "sanctions" plus military assaults.  Karadjis
dismisses the effectiveness of such things.)

Of course, the whole "debate" becomes all the more artificial, given the
complete inability of the left outside the former Yugoslavia to actually
influence the outcome of events.  It is not surprising that it breaks up
into sectarianism, posturing and hysteria.

Alan Bradley
alanb at

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