The carnage and disintegration in Yugoslavia today demonstrates
the reality of the new world order. The dramatic changes on the
international scene over the past two years have been the product
of the collapse of Stalinism on the one hand, and on the other
the crisis in the West. In Yugoslavia these trends have thrown
the country back into the turmoil it faced in the years before
the Second World War. For the people of Yugoslavia the new world
order seems very much like the old world order of the inter-war
At the heart of the Yugoslavian crisis lies the failure of both
the capitalist and the Stalinist systems to develop the economy.
The weakness of the local capitalist class led to endemic regional
strife from the turn of the century and made the Balkans a byword
for instability and sectarian conflict. It also allowed the Stalinists
under Tito - who played a key role in the struggle against Nazi
occupation - to assume power at the end of the war. Tito welded
together the six republics and two provinces and suppressed the
pre-war conflicts. But the Stalinist system could not advance
Yugoslavia's economic and social needs.
The stagnation of the Stalinist economy forced the bureaucrats
to extend market forces in the eighties. To survive the shift
to the market, the bureaucracy set out to win popular support
by encouraging nationalist and ethnic rivalries. The failure of
the market to deliver, particularly in the poorer southern republics,
has intensified these rivalries and brought Yugoslavia to civil
For the West the main aim is to bottle up the tensions in Yugoslavia
and ensure that they do not spill over into the rest of Europe.
The European powers are terrified that the inter-communal strife
in Yugoslavia could set off similar conflicts in neighbouring
states - Italy, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania and
Greece. Many of these countries contain substantial minority ethnic
groups and fear the possibility of volatile sectarian strife.
Such conflict would not only bring instability into the heart
of Europe but call into question all the borders in the region.
For all their rhetoric about the 'triumph of the market', the
Western powers recognise that there is little hope for economic
and social progress in the region. Their only concern is to limit
the damage caused by the collapse of Stalinism and the introduction
of market forces into the East. This is why the West has by and
large been firm in its insistence on the maintenance of a federal
Over the past week the West shifted its ground somewhat, putting
more stress on the need to respect the rights of Slovenia and
Croatia. This has nothing to do with concern for the people of
these republics. Rather some Western strategists are worrying
that the imposition of a federal Yugoslavia by force could be
a recipe for more instability than the provision of greater autonomy
for Slovenia and Croatia. Germany, which is likely to gain most
from the fast development of capitalism in these two republics,
has been most vocal in its support for Slovenia and Croatia. In
the new world order the stress is very much on the maintenance
of order - according to the interests of the West.
We oppose the secession of Croatia and Slovenia from the Yugoslav
federation because the unleashing of nationalist, ethnic and regional
conflicts can only be a major setback for the working class as
a whole. It will obscure the real interests of people throughout
East and Central Europe and create new divisions and tensions.
At the same time, we are opposed to any form of Western interference
to resolve the issue, and to the use of force by the regime in
Belgrade to impose the federal system. Only the people of the
region can settle their problems through uniting in an all-Balkan
federation and tackling the real issue: the failure of either
the old Stalinist or the new market system to advance their interests.
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