The breakup of Yugoslavia led to the domination of imperialism over the republics that made it up. It led to terrible fratricidal killing and the emergence of reactionary political forces, all pushing a nationalist agenda to the benefit of a small clique. This is clear today in the situation facing workers in Bosnia. Here a Bosnian Marxist makes an appeal to all genuine socialist and communists to come together and offer the workers an alternative.
The current economic crisis is continuing to affect more and more workers throughout the world. The same is true for the workers of Bosnia. Even the minimal growth and reconstruction in post-war Bosnia is a thing of the past as workplaces are again beginning to put the people out of work. In this situation, the conditions are such that the workers are becoming increasingly radicalized. Capitalism is proving itself incapable of meeting the demands and goals of the working class, and more and more workers are supporting the initiative to organize a genuine party to fight for their interests. The workers, angered by the failure of capitalism to give them a secure and fulfilling life, are beginning to be more open to the only real alternative to capitalist exploitation – true socialism.
Again, the same is true for the workers in Bosnia. The small, localized groups of genuine socialists and communists are too weak and disorganized to counter the threat of nationalism and imperialism. This state of affairs cannot continue if the workers of Bosnia don’t want to be left behind. The time has come to unite in a strong organization that is dedicated to destroying the nationalism and capitalism that have been exploiting and, literally, killing the workers of the country. This organization must represent all of the genuine socialists and communists in the country if it is to have a chance of countering the enemies of the working class.
Bosnia after the war (1992-1995) has totally changed from what it once was. It is now a land officially ruled by religious extremists and bigots. They are the “nationalists” who came to power after the fall of the federative republic in early 1990. The nationalists are the politicians and businessmen who hate the other religious groups; the vast majority of them grew rich and powerful by committing war crimes and selling-off previously government-owned industries to foreign capitalists. The nationalists rely on the support of the newly rich and the backward sections of the population, especially the peasantry. The nationalists have brought back religion into the schools, into politics, even into every-day life. By their actions, the nationalists have ended the unity and tolerance that had existed in the country. They have ruined all of the gains and achievements of the “old system” and reduced the country to rubble and the workers to complete poverty and exploitation.
With the nationalists running the government, it is impossible for there to be any trust and unity among the three main religious groups in the country – the Muslims, the Orthodox Christians, and the Catholics. The nationalists, on the contrary, want this mutual animosity and mistrust to continue because that is how they are remaining in power. In every election campaign, the nationalist politicians spread messages of hate and prejudice and intolerance. They claim that the “vital national interests” of each group are threatened by the opposing nationalist parties. In every election campaign, the nationalists, instead of addressing current issues of poverty, reconstruction, and return of refugees, go back to past massacres and atrocities (most of which they are directly responsible for!); they go back to talking about the war, about the “injustice.” They create the sense that “the other side” is attacking them (by them they mean their religious group). The nationalists very often resort to pure bribery to win votes. In the town of Zvornik, sources have stated that the major political parties, including the ruling Alliance of Independent Social-Democrats (SNSD), give out money to attendees during political rallies. Half of the voters fall for the nationalist propaganda, hate speeches and bribery, half just sit at home. The nationalists have been in power for almost 20 years, and Bosnia has still not recovered – either from the war or from the nationalists!
Although the nationalists are the ones officially governing the country, the real power lies in the hands of foreign capitalists. Bosnia has become a colony under the control of foreigners! In no independent country can an appointed foreign agent dismiss an elected official, including the president. Yet, this is what happens regularly in Bosnia. So much talk has been wasted on why the citizens should respect the laws and institutions of the country, but why should the people respect the laws and institutions created by war criminals if foreigners can disregard them if they don’t suit their purpose? In Bosnia, everything is owned and run by foreign capitalists. Bosnian workers work for foreign factory owners, they shop in foreign stores, and they put their money in foreign banks. Foreign troops protect the power that the capitalists have, completely disregarding Bosnia’s official sovereignty. The Western powers are still up to their old, dirty tricks in the Balkans; they are competing for domination.
The struggle against the nationalists goes hand-in-hand with the struggle against capitalist exploitation. They are two sides of the same coin! The foreign capitalists support the nationalists because they allow them to exploit all of the country’s resources. Bosnia’s nationalists always act firstly according to the interests of their foreign backers, never in the interests of the general population. Bosnia is in a state of dependence on the West and the working class movement wants to uplift the country to independence.
Amongst the workers, the feelings of anti-nationalism run high. They have witnessed for themselves how the nationalists have reduced the country from a state of self-sufficiency and independence to a state of impoverishment and dependence on foreigners. Many people are disgusted with the present society and culture that the nationalists and their foreign allies have imposed. Over two-thirds of the population wants to emigrate because the conditions in the country are so intolerable. Workers once had the right to set-up their own working conditions and even decide on a fair pay rate. Now, workers are lucky to even have a regular job, but the conditions of work and pay are totally left up to the decision of the capitalists. Unemployment continues to be a major issue, since up to a third of the population is still without a job. All of the profit that is produced in the country flows out to the West. The foreign aid that comes in mostly goes directly into the hands of the nationalists, and some is used to renovate old and build new mosques and churches. The workers are very upset that the money to rebuild the destroyed infrastructure, the factories, the hospitals, the schools, the homes, etc. has been used to create huge, over-the-top mosques in small villages! Yet, the working class has been unable so far to transform its natural hatred of nationalism and capitalism into action against them. What is missing is a political organization for the advancement of the interests of the working class.
The time is ripe for the emergence of a strong organization that is capable of challenging the nationalists and the capitalists. Bosnia’s revolutionary socialists and communists, thus, must come together and organize to provide the workers with an alternative to nationalism and capitalist exploitation. The first step towards creating this alternative is for the genuine revolutionary socialists and communists of Bosnia to come together and adopt a revolutionary program and tactics.