Monday, March 02, 2009

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

Part Four: Systemic Collapse (1990-91)

The nine articles collected in this section detail the final collapse of socialist, Federal Yugoslavia. The demise of the League of Communists created a power vacuum at the federal center. Milosevic ruthlessly capitalized on the opportunity to assert his power as the leader of a Serb republic where the political center was moving to the Right and extreme nationalism was being openly promoted by the ruling "Socialist" party--the same "Socialist" party which was pushing for greater privatization of the economy.

Magas does a marvelous job of conveying a sense of how unsettled and anxious the country was by this point. The specter of the Army forming a new political party while nobody quite knew who the commander of the nations' military was exactly, for example, serves as a powerful reminder that Yugoslavia was vulnerable because nobody was at the helm. And make no mistake about it--this was the work of Slobodan Milosevic.

This entire section should be required reading for Michael Parenti and others who claim Yugoslavia was destroyed from without by Western intersts, or Diana Johnstone and all those who claim that it was the Milosevic regime which sincerely tried to keep Yugoslavia together. Their disingenuous, convoluted arguments differ in some respects (although intellectual coherence is hardly a strength of Bosnian Revisionism), but they like all baseless conspiracy theories they rely on a carefully studied, deliberate ignorance of context and foundational knowledge.

The revisionists serve two purposes: they provide rhetorical cover for certain reactionary and far-Right factions to assert their agenda under various, more palatable pretexts; they prop up this fiction by appealing to the other end of the ideological spectrum, pitching their poison both to the receptive ears and willing minds of the authoritarian (often Stalinist) Left, and among well-meaning but ill-educated leftists, progressives, liberals, and internationalist-leaning moderates and conservatives.

Johnstone's pretenses regarding the Constitutional and legal issues regarding the breakup of Yugoslavia and the role the Milosevic regime played in it would not bear the scrutiny of any individual familiar with this material. Magas does what Johnstone and other advocates of Greater Serb centralism only claim to do--take the constitution and the governing institutions of socialist Yugoslavia seriously.

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