[London Review of Books - 1 January 1998]
Letters: Socialist as Surbiton
Michael Stewart claims that the 'Living Marxism crowd...want us to believe that the camps in Omarska, Trnopolje and elsewhere are inventions of the world capitalist conspiracy against "socialist Yugoslavia"' (LRB, 11 December) - three misrepresentations in one clause. LM magazine does not believe in any 'world capitalist conspiracy' and we have never used the phrase 'socialist Yugoslavia', for the simple reason that Serbia is about as socialist as Surbiton. LM has not claimed that the Bosnian-Serb-run camps were an 'invention'. But there is a difference between a refugee and transit camp like Trnopolje, however grim, and a real concentration camp like Auschwitz, where the Nazis killed perhaps a hundred times as many people as died in the entire war in Bosnia.
Like many others, Stewart's article continually draws parallels between the trial of the Bosnian Serb Dusko Tadic at the International Tribunal at The Hague and the Nuremburg war crimes trials at the end of the Second World War. Yet how could anybody with a passing knowledge of history suggest that a local militiaman like Tadic could be bracketed with Goering, Bormann, Streicher or any of the leading Nazis found guilty of crimes against humanity?
Stewart's distortions of LM's argument are typical of those who are acting as unofficial mouthpieces for ITN's libel action against my magazine, over the article 'The Picture that Fooled the World', which raised embarrassing questions about ITN's award-winning reports from Trnopolje camp. This case not only involves an unprecedented threat on the part of a major news corporation to close down a small independent magazine. It also raises wider issues about the censorious use of British libel law.
Editor, Living Marxism