Slobodan Milosevic was officially exonerated for war crimes at the Hague last week and the story was buried in the New York Times, yet it is one of the most significant events of the last month.
Tito’s Yugoslavia was not a Stalinist or Leninist state, it was not a centralized despotism, but a very interesting, if flawed, form of socialism. What made Yugoslavia strange and almost freakish among socialist states, is that they passed legislation for the sake of improving the lives of workers. For that, they were seen as the “black sheep” of the socialist bloc.
Since nothing in the Soviet model benefited workers at all and all independent unionization and organization were brutally crushed, one can come to the conclusion that labor had nothing to do with the system. You would be correct.
Labor was ruthlessly exploited in the Soviet and Chinese model, while the eccentric Yugoslavia was kicked out of the respectable socialists club for actually producing institutions to bring workers into control over production. “Labor” in the Soviet model had nothing to do with actual workers.
Tito’s model was based around self management, a system of local communes paralleling a structure of worker’s councils at the company level. These were all elected with a high degree of turnover. They were actually, legitimately democratic institutions in the true sense of the term. When the IMF was brought in to finance Belgrade’s debt, the first condition for the money was that this system be dismantled. Yet again, capitalist and communist worked together to make war on labor.
In essence, the autonomous worker’s council ran each firm independently. All matters of hiring and promotion, income allocation and relation to the broader society were dealt with by these councils. They were elected by other workers in the company and the forms of production were decided upon on the factory floor. It helped bring Yugoslavia to first world status by 1968.
As always, the IMF cared only for asset stripping: to take profitable industries and liquidate them, or alternatively, take them over and shift them towards western markets. Soon, hyperinflation destroyed the economy as the workers councils were eliminated and the banks were tightly controlled by the IMF from Belgrade. Republics were at each other’s throats as the economy began to shrink radically and then, when there was nothing left to steal, the west declared that they accepted the “independence” of the republics as a matter of “democratic self determination.” This sort of hateful arrogance was the product of Jeffry Sachs of Goldman-Sachs, the author of this “reform and austerity” package that destroyed an entire economy.
Why bring this up now? Because this is the method the system is using the world over, from Libya to Iraq to Ukraine. Today, only Russia and China stand against this, two countries the US is goading into war as we speak.