Friday, February 27, 2009

"The Destruction of Yugoslavia" by Branka Magas--Part Three

Part Three: Milosevic Assails the Federal Order (1988-89)

I fear I am not doing Magas or her book justice in this drawn-out and rather slapdash review. The problem may be that the book is so dense with detail, yet so drawn-out chronologically (as a natural by-product of being a collection of articles written over a period of 12 years total) that a summary is very difficult to pull off at the length I've chosen. I feel that a longer review would be tedious, since I would merely be giving a page-by-page recount of information presented in the original text, so perhaps for this section and perhaps the following two a brief synopsis will suffice. And let me add--the book is well worth reading.

Magas has already alluded to the class aspect of the breakup of Yugoslavia, but in this section the analysis is even more focused on this theme. As I noted before, it is very odd indeed that the growing rupture between the working class and the Party in Yugoslavia has not been noted in more Western sources. Most notably, it is remarkable how Left-revisionists have deftly avoided this elephant in the room while defending "socialist" Yugoslavia from its alleged Western tormentors.

Magas drills this point home again and again--it was the working class of Kosovo who took up the banner of struggle against the centralization campaign by Serbia and Milosevic. One of the ironies of this period was not the fact that the Federal government of Yugoslavia authorized military force against citizens in violation of the Constitution--that was merely a tragedy, and another sign that the Federal Government increasingly existed only as a hollow shell. The irony was that the Federal Government took this drastic action against citizens who were defending the existing Constitution and the existing institutions of the State!

Besides her adept analysis of the betrayal of the working class by the party, and of the essentially democratic and legitimate struggle of the Kosovar Albanians, Magas also does a fine job of illuminating the rift between Milosevic, and Stambolic and Pavlovic, and of the final battle for control of the Serbian Party.

I cannot do justice to the rich detail the three articles in this section have to offer; I can only encourage the reader to read them for yourself. I will briefly review the final two sections as well, and then move on to another project.


Anonymous said...

Kirk, thanks so much for doing such a thorough review of this book-every time I think I've read every single book on the break up of the former Yugoslavia, I discover another book on your site. :)

Anonymous said...

I think this is one of the best books, because it gives us a very detailed portrait at the moment when things were happening, it show all the evolution of the process that led to the destruction of Yugoslavia and to war.