[Marxism] On Protests in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Quickly and Darkly

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Feb 15 05:32:32 MST 2014

One of the mantras of the political class, encouraged by its 
international overseers, has been privatization. In the broad context of 
an environment where most of the companies where most people used to 
work took the form of “social property,” that meant taking goods that 
had been built through public investment and transferring them into 
private hands. And since private owners do not have the obligations that 
social owners have, this means a lot of publicly subsidized 
asset-stripping, budget-skimming and credit-bouncing. Many of the 
institutions that used to employ people have not done so for years.

To take a specific example, let’s look at Tuzla, where the protests 
began. The local chemical factory SODASO used to produce eighty percent 
of the table salt consumed in Yugoslavia, two hundred and eight thousand 
tons of it in 1991. By 1999 it was producing twenty-one thousand tons. 
Privatized in 2002, by 2013 the company employed only 422 people, down 
from 2500 in 1998.  That local government building that was at first 
defended by police with batons and tear gas, then overrun by citizens 
and then set ablaze? That is the former SODASO headquarters, being used 
by the local government as the company languishes in receivership. It is 
probably not too difficult to imagine the anger attracted by a building 
that has come to symbolize how once a big functioning industry provided 
a livelihood for people, and now a bigger functionless bureaucracy lives 
off them.


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