Monday, July 31, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter One [5]


This next section purports to document the weakening of Yugoslavia's socialist economy by the IMF and other Western actors. The section starts off with this odd statement:

"During the 1990s, Yugoslavia was disparaged as a sort of mini-USSR which was taking too long to abandon communism."

Actually, during the 1990s Yugoslavia was being torn apart by war and genocide.

Despite this strange--and understandably non-footnoted (where on Earth would you get a 'source' for this assertion?)--opening, THIS section actually contains some actual facts NOT being used facetiously.

Although Johnstone is a little too laudatory towards Yugoslavia's particular brand of decentralized socialism (it was still inefficient; it did not translate into civil liberties and freedom, as communist Yugoslavia was an 'open' country only in comparison to the Warsaw Pact nations; the decentralization was largely theoretical as long as Tito held all the reins, regardless), it is true, as she claims, that the standard of living in Yugoslavia wasn't bad, especially considering how poor, rural, and underdevoped it had been.

She also notes, though with less emphasis than is probably called for, how Yugoslavia's unique non-aligned status benefitted the country and its economy during the Cold War. Its economy did indeed go through a rather sudden decline in the 80s as credit dried up; the fall of the USSR ended Yugoslavia's usefulness as a counter to Soviet influence.

All of this is true. The situation in Yugoslavia was getting dire by the end of the 1980s, after the death of Tito--the 'great oak' who let nothing grow in his shadow--robbed the nation of any centralizing or unifying figure of sufficient note. None of this, however, explains why a genocide happened. Context is not causation.

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