Interview with a Belgrade Marxist

In this interview, conducted on June 6, 1999, Dragan argues that: "a socialist and internationalist policy is the only way to successfully fight imperialism and domestic Stalinists"

"A socialist and internationalist policy is the only way to successfully fight imperialism and domestic Stalinists"

This interview took place on June 6, 1999

Socialist Appeal There are some on the left who say Milosevic is a left-winger. What can you tell us about his policies and why should socialists oppose him?

Dragan If one should judge by his party's name, he is a socialist. But, in reality, he is everything but a socialist. He is on top of the totalitarian regime, using all disposable means to stay there. In his ten year rule, he used nationalist, pro-western, socialist and any other mask to preserve his position and privileges. He was involved in dismemberment of SFRY (Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) under the disguise of nationalism and Greater Serbia. Milosevic created one of the highest inflations in human history with a rate of 2.03% per hour, which is 313,563,558.0% per month, and robbed the whole society manipulating state banks and institutions. He, his family and close party members have a monopoly on oil imports, cigarettes, luxuries and most of other goods. They have close ties with mafia and paramilitary groups. Milosevic rigged the elections, suppressed strikes and demonstrations with brute force. State run TV has been brainwashing population in last ten years. His corrupt regime tends to control every part of society, and no cost in human lives is too high for them.

Now, after he has totally robbed and destroyed Serbia's economy, he wants to conduct reforms towards capitalism. A socialist indeed.

SA.- What can you tell us about the policies of the "democratic" opposition in Yugoslavia?

D.- There are few parties that fought Milosevic and collaborated with him in last several years. None of them has a real and rational program. All parties are switching their policies every day, depending on their current needs. You can hear extreme nationalist speeches from a liberal, or a pro-western speech from a nationalist. All of them are based on leader worshipping, and phrases about democracy, prosperity and credits from West.

There is no genuine socialist party to educate the proletariat and fight for their interests, so most people turn to these "liberals and democrats", looking for an alternative to Milosevic.

The most significant of them is SPO (Serbian Renovation Movement). It is pro-burgeois oriented. It constitued the core of the opposition coalition that fought Milosevic two years ago, and was on the leadership of 90-days demonstrations. But, since it represented the interests of a small, but rich layer of society, it compromised with Milosevic and betrayed its partners and 600,000 supporters. Many of them were misled by their rhetoric about "democratisation" of society. Once SPO got into power in major cities, it continued the policies of Milosevic's party. They helped him to destroy the rest of the opposition. SPO is now again fighting for capitalist restoration, hoping to get support from West.

Another one is DS (Democratic party), also pro-western, with same methods and aims.

There is also an ultra-nationalist Radical Party of Vojislav Seselj which played significant role in conducting Milosevic's policies too.

None of these parties is willing to fight for workers' interests, but for interests of their own. They betrayed workers many times.

SA.- What's your opinion on the break-up of Yugoslavia?

D.- The break-up of Yugoslavia was formally initiated by Serbia's bureaucracy which broke the federal monetary system by printing money without the federation's permission. This was the excuse used by the bureacracies of other republics of SFRY to declare independence, which led to fratricidal war.

SA.- The main reasons for break-up of Yugoslavia were the interests of the Stalinist burreaucracies of the republics in the SFRY and the interests of imperialist powers. The bureaucrats wanted more power and money, and the way to get them was to form their own national states. This would give them total control over the monetary system, the police and the army.

There were also interests of imperialist states involved. A strong and independent, especially socialist state was an obstacle in conducting their policies. They supported the bureaucrats in turning people of one republic against another, supplied them with weapons and even had military intervention in Bosnia.

The consequences are disasterous: few million refugees, thousands dead and wounded, destroyed economies of new 'states'...

Every day brings another crisis, and nationalist and pro-capitalist policies cannot solve the problems. The only real solution would be new socialist federation.

SA.- Why are you opposed to NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia?

D.- NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia is not a humanitarian or pro-democratic campaign. Its main purpose is to impose the will of Western capitalist states on Yugoslavia. Military occupation is their real goal. Peace and democracy can't be brought on by foreign tanks and with bombs.

People of Yugoslavia must be left alone in their struggle for a democratic society. It's hard to fight against nationalism, bureaucratism and corruption while we are at war with NATO. We can't fight against Milosevic while the bombs are falling on our country.

SA.- What is the damage made by NATO bombings in Yugoslavia?

D.- Since no army can be destroyed only by bombing from the air, NATO concentrated on destroying civil and economic infrastructure of Yugoslavia.

In first days, targets were empty military barracks and administrative buildings in large cities. Then, as they became frustrated with Yugoslavia's refusal to sign capitulation, they started hitting bridges, civil oil storage facilities, car factory, industry zones, television studios and transmitters, hotels... Terrorising by fear became genocidal murdering, as NATO 'accidentally' hit buses full of passengers, cardiovascular hospital, residential areas... and even a refugee column and an embassy! Every day news stations reported 20-60 civilians dead or wounded. NATO 'mistakenly' killed over a thousand civilians and crippled over 4000.

But, even that wasn't enogh - they started destroying our power plants, cutting electricity power to whole cities and regions (of course, army has its own power sources, so cuts don't affect army, but civilians). And, no electrical power means no water! Of course, pilots in aircraft and generals in headquarters don't see young babies and people in hospitals suffering because of lack of water.

I guess that CNN doesn't care much too.

NATO's campaign brought Yugoslavia's economy back into 18th century. Bombings of industrial facilities made over 500,000 workers loose their jobs and that will be a great problem for the previously robbed (by Milosevic) and weakened economy of Yugoslavia. Even before the war we had over million unemployed workers. And on top of all, our pro-western "democratic" parties demand further privatisation of state property.

SA.- If you believe the mass media, you can reach the conclussion that the different people's of the Balkans have been killing each other for centuries and will continue to do so indefinitely. What do you think?

D.- Most of the wars represented national liberation wars, because the Balkan peninsula has important geo-strategic position, and world powers were alwas fighting to seize it. After the WWII several Slav Balkan nations joined in a Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

40 years of peace are sufficient to prove that people of the Balkans can live in harmony and cooperation. But, in last ten years imperialist powers and bureaucracy of our deformed socialist state managed to break it up, stirring nationalism and chauvinism. Media is portraying Balkan people as primitives and savages because it suits the interests of ruling classes in the West. They want people to believe that political, economical and military interventions are necessary.

SA.- After the fall of the Soviet Union and the Eastern countries, many said socialism was dead. What do you think? What are the perspectives for the development of a genuine socialist internationalist force in the Balkans?

D.- The fall of the Soviet Union and other deformed socialist countries is surely a hard blow to workers all over the world. But, capitalism is constantly producing and enlarging the working class, deepening the differencies and struggle between bourgeois and working class. The antagonisms of capitalism can't be solved by the bourgeois class, but only by socialist revolution and by abolishing the private property. Socialist revolutions and the final victory of socialism are inevitable, not because some theoreticians or ideologists want them, but because capitalism is forcing working class to rise and destroy it.

The working class in the East is confused and disoriented at the moment, because the totalitaristic, Stalinist regimes presented themselves as socialist. This caused workers' dissapointment in socialist ideas.

Right now, there are no genuine marxist movements to lead the workers and to explain them their own interests and social position, so the workers are misled and misrepresented by reactionary pro-western or nationalist parties. But, living conditions are getting worse every day and pro-capitalist reforms are not giving the promised results, so the working class is rapidly becoming class-conscious. It is just a matter of time when new, genuine socialist and communist parties will gain mass support.

A socialist and internationalist policy is the only way to successfully fight imperialism and domestic Stalinists.

SA.- What would you tell those in the West who still defend Marxist ideas?

D.- It is very important for weak and oppressed all over the world that working class in most advanced capitalist countries puts pressure on their ruling class. In that way they can keep their burgeois governments away from exploiting and oppressing the rest of the world and make it easier for other countries' working classes to fight for their rights. Also, they should lead the battle for socialist revolution on a world scale: if workers of most advanced countries seize power, the rest of the world will follow. Any attempt to create socialist society in small and weak countries is fiercely oposed by imperialist powers and in long run, doomed to fail.