Old *MacDonald* had a line...eii eii o....

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Feb 3 13:42:25 MST 2002


On Sun, 3 Feb 2002 13:40:59 -0500, Mohammad J Alam wrote:
>The rest of that paragraph blabbers on about how
>great the socialistic economy of old Slobo is,
>and how the evil imperialists have destroyed
>everything once again. Reality check: the USSR
>and Eastern Bloc are already dead; one can spend
>time "defending" ideas long ago cast in coffins
>and delivering never-ending eulogies at the
>funeral, or analyze and confront the trends and
>patterns of modern imperialism in order to
>arrive at a genuine alternative to its madness.

These winged phrase are meant to do what? To refute the evidence that 
Milosevic was opposed to the IMF and privatization in the mid to late 
1990s? This is less about defending ideas, but the historical record.

>But to respond more directly to the "Serbia was
>socialist" line: In "In Defence of Marxism",
>Trotsky clearly stated that the importance of
>property relations in Russia (in this case,
>Serbia), is subordinated to the interests of the
>international position of the proletariat.

What is this supposed to mean? That Trotsky was neutral between 
Hitler and Stalin? He was not, nor were we neutral between NATO and 
Milosevic.

>Moroever, in the same document, he pointed out
>(in reference to an Eastern European country, I
>believe) that property relations, as an
>identification of a workers' state, was not
>indisputable if other factors were
>quantitatively serious enough to suggest a
>qualitative change in its nature. But to point
>out that Trotsky said or wrote something is not
>definitive in its own right; let us prod
>further.

Trotsky's writings on the USSR were deeply engaged with the social 
and economic data. This alas has been missing from the Trotskyist and 
post-Trotskyist analysis, wrapped as it is in the human rights 
pieties of the academic/NGO universe.

>Macdonald, trying to pose an ultra-anti-
>imperialist stance, inevitably winds up
>resorting to bourgeois arguments. Why do we
>defend Serbia? Because of its "territory" and
>"sovereignty"; in other words we defend it
>because of its bourgeois boundaries as carved up
>by the bloody knife of imperialism after WWII,
>in order to prove how anti-
>imperialist we are now--splendid.

We defended Yugoslavia for the same reason we defended a Sandinista 
Nicaragua that had not even undergone a transformation of property 
relations. Furthermore, Yugoslavia's post-WWII boundaries had more to 
do with the Titoist revolutionaries than it did with Yalta. That is 
one of the reasons that Stalin ostracized Tito.

>Then Macdonald, and especially Stainsby, try to
>cover up for all these serious errors by
>pretending that Milosevic is an innocent man.
>That the Kosovars faced an ethnic cleansing
>campaign, although indeed not of the epic
>proportions once touted, has been made clear by
>the demographic changes and resulting attitudes
>in that region, along with several mass grave
>sites. 

So you say. John Pilger and others say that this is sheer propaganda. 

>>Last November, the Wall Street Journal published the results of its 
own investigation and dismissed “the mass-grave obsession”. Instead 
of “the huge killing fields some investigators were led to expect . . 
. the pattern is of scattered killings [mostly] in areas where the 
separatist Kosovo Liberation Army had been active”. The Journal 
concluded that “Nato stepped up its claims about Serb ‘killing 
fields’” when it “saw a fatigued press corps drifting toward the 
contrarian story: civilians killed by Nato’s bombs”. This propaganda, 
said the newspaper, could be traced back to the KLA; many of the most 
lurid and prominently published atrocity reports attributed to 
refugees and other sources were untrue. “The war in Kosovo was cruel, 
bitter, savage,” said the paper. “Genocide it wasn’t.” Such honesty 
was rare.<<

full: http://pilger.carlton.com/print/24518


>The idea that NATO simply invented this
>notion for their own hegemonic purposes (not to
>say they didn't exploit it afterwards) is
>refuted by the fact that they waited months,
>during which period the Muslim side was
>prevented from arming itself in the early 90's,
>to take any action--and then only hesitantly did
>so.

In Kosovo? The only people who needed defending there in that period 
were the Serbs, if you read press coverage from the time:

The New York Times 
November 1, 1987, Sunday, Late City Final Edition 
Section 1; Part 1, Page 14, Column 1; 

"In Yugoslavia, Rising Ethnic Strife Brings Fears of Worse Civil 
Conflict" 

By DAVID BINDER, Special to the New York Times 

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia 

Portions of southern Yugoslavia have reached such a state of ethnic 
friction that Yugoslavs have begun to talk of the horrifying 
possibility of ''civil war'' in a land that lost one-tenth of its 
population, or 1.7 million people, in World War II. 

The current hostilities pit separatist-minded ethnic Albanians 
against the various Slavic populations of Yugoslavia and occur at all 
levels of society, from the highest officials to the humblest 
peasants. 

A young Army conscript of ethnic Albanian origin shot up his 
barracks, killing four sleeping Slavic bunkmates and wounding six 
others. 

The army says it has uncovered hundreds of subversive ethnic Albanian 
cells in its ranks. Some arsenals have been raided. 

Vicious Insults 

Ethnic Albanians in the Government have manipulated public funds and 
regulations to take over land belonging to Serbs. And politicians 
have exchanged vicious insults. 

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. 

Ethnic Albanians comprise the fastest growing nationality in 
Yugoslavia and are expected soon to become its third largest, after 
the Serbs and Croats. 

full: http://www.fair.org/articles/memory-hole.html

>For all this "defense" of what Macdonald
>pathetically defines as "some form of perhaps
>distorted socialism", the workers seem to
>disagree. While he and Stainsby are still
>weeping over their great loss, the Serbian
>workers quickly moved to dismantle the regime.

Given the 10 year economic and military campaign against Yugoslavia, 
it is surprising that this did not occur earlier. Now that the 
Milosevic "dictatorship" has been overthrown, factories have been 
privatized and wages have plummeted. The fruits of a 
counter-revolution objectively supported by Trotskyists and 
crypto-Trotskyists and state capitalists.

>Of course, they ended up with a bourgeois, non
>-socialist leadership, but so didn't the Polish
>in the aftermath of Solidarity and the Iranians
>in the aftermath of Khomeni. The movement of the
>masses against one tyranny is not an event than
>can necessarily be judged by whom they empower
>next.

This is some tyranny that allowed elections to take place with open 
imperialist funding of the opposition. The last time something like 
this happened was in Nicaragua in 1990. The real tyranny on display 
here is the "human rights" moralizing of this comrade.

>In this case, like the rest of the Bloc,
>Serbians are now exposed to the process of
>Capitalism as explained by Marx, who is now
>suddenly more relevant to the people of the
>region than he ever was during the process of
>"deformed socialism".

Perhaps the right of self-determination involved the right of the 
Yugoslav people to choose their own social and economic institutions 
without interference from NATO. If the fake left in Great Britain and 
the USA had not spread propaganda about mass grave sites, etc., then 
NATO's job would have been more difficult.

>By this standard, we should support bin Laden (a
>former agent of imperialism that is now only a
>pretext for its advancement). But aside from
>that, how does it help the world proletariat, or
>rather the advancement of the interests of the
>world proletariat as a politically-conscious
>class, by defending a man discarded of by his
>people, representing Stalinism (at 'best'), and
>perceived as a vicious murderer by all?

Because a workers state under Stalinist rule is preferable to a 
bourgeois state that would replace it, just as a trade union under 
Jimmy Hoffa's control would be preferable to none at all. This is 
abc's to people who think in class terms.

> The very
>maddening force with which MacDonald argues that
>we should defend Milosevic suggests theoretical
>lunacy; even if the man was decent, how the hell
>would he be worth defending, giv en far more
>important events in the world?

If the left can't defend a workers state under attack from NATO, then 
nothing else can be expected from it. 

>Milosevic and his historical role in the world
>are finished. To blame all this on "imperialism"
>changes nothing. Anyone who calls himself a
>Marxist understands that there are new
>contradictions rising and old contradictions
>deepening in the system that open the way for an
>appealing alternative to capitalism, and does
>not waste time defending that which has been
>swept away into the ocean by the wind of
>historical materialism.

Hot air.

-- 
Louis Proyect, lnp3 at panix.com on 02/03/2002

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