curtis price (cansv@igc.apc.org)
Tue, 23 Jan 1996 00:26:34 +0000


None of the bureaucracies of the Balkan states is out of the
nationalist game. The Greek bureaucrats and capitalists that antagonized the new Macedonian ruling class, blocking the international reco
gnitionof their state, trying to keep them at the worst possible
place in the new hierarchical inter-state system in the Balkans -even making plans of turning that former Yugoslav republic into a pro
tectorate of theirs-have made a lot of concessions in the last
months. But the results ofthe intense nationalist propaganda during 1992 are still largely observable. All the pseudo-antagonisms (left
wing/right wing parties,trade unions/bosses,etc.) have collapsed into
a nationalist united front against the strikers and the high school students and managed, with the help of mass media scum, to pu
sh their struggles out of the limelight.What is worse, we saw most of
our friends, comrades, people we work with fall victims of the deceptive pro-Serb Greek government propaganda. We will deal exten
sively with the very root of this despicable stance elsewhere.
Moreover, the future looks bleak. When Milosevic, Greece's best ally in the Balkans, sooner or later, finds himself in need of a new war
in the south; when the oppresed Albanians in Kosovo and Macedonia
(see map 3) take to the streets again, the Greek proletariat, being indoctrinated for so long by racist ideas against Albanians and
their neighbours in general- will probably continue not to be able to
turn against war, that is to turn against Greek leaders, who are equally responsible for all the war crimes commuted until now as
well as for those yet to come.

The failure of the workers' movement in Serbia and Greece to
radically oppose nationalism and war testifies that fighting against the results of the hierarchical capitalist relationship is not enoug
h.Unless wage-laborers understand that any form of political
emancipation or permanent reform is impracticable nowadays; unless they understand that this war is a reaction against their own struggles
, however modest they may be; that national governments are one as
against theproletariat; and unless they start fighting for the abolition of wage labour and representative democracy, the future tra
nsformation of our countries into local units of the EEC will surely
be preceded by even darker years of nationalism. The Balkan societies have been caught in a dangerous trap. The bureaucrats on the
one hand look forward to a supranational European capitalism and on
the other hand they need nationalism to regiment working class reactions against austerity measures. The wage-laborers falter from
defensive struggles to privatization, from conservatism to
contestation. These are times for the best or the worst. A real transitory period -but to what? L. May1993


(1) E.Kofos, Nationalism And Communism In Macedonia

(2) "Assessing population figures is problematic due to the tendency
to exaggerate the number ofthe Greek or Slav populations, depending on which side is making the assessment".H.Poulton, The Balkans
(London,1991) ,p.175. As it is the case in Bosnia, centuries of
mixed marriages in Macedonia had resulted in bilingual or even polyglot families.

(3) E . Kofos, op . c it ., p .25.

(4) Thousands of peasants took part in the revolution . The town of
Krusovo, near Monastir (see map 1), inhabited by Slavs, Albanians and Vlachs, was seized by the rebels and the "Krusovo Republic" w
as proclaimed. They put into practice a kind of proportional
representative democracy and made an appeal for unity to all ethnic groups in Macedonia, even inviting theMuslim workers to join the commo
n struggle against the Ottoman landowners. It was an infantile
disorder of the early nationalist-democratic movement and, after it was crushed by the Ottoman army, it never reappeared in this area.

(5) E.Kofos, op.cit. ,p.35.

(6) R.Rocker, Nationalism And Culture (Minnesota,1978) ,pp.174,202.

(7) Elizabeth Barker, Macedonia; Its Place In Balkan Power Politics
(London,1950), p.37. See also, Joseph Rothschild, The Communist Party Of Bulgaria; Origins And Foundations ( NewYork,1959).

(8) In 1925 in Vienna, Victor Serge had met the editors of La
Federation Balkanique, the"communist" backed, multi-lingual review published there from 1924. "Around the great conception of Balkan Fede
ration", he wrote in his memoirs (Oxford, 1978,pp.180-1), "there
swarmed hordes of secret agents, impressarios of irredentism, pedlars of the influential word, night-waIking politicians engaged in si
x intrigues at a time; and all these smart gentlemen, with their
over-gaudy neckties, sought to harness the unbridled energy of the Comitajis (Slav-Macedonian and Bulgarian gangs) and sell it to and
fro to any buyer. There was the Italian wing, the Bulgarian wing, the
Yugoslav wing, two Greek tendencies, one monarchist and one republican, ideologies, personal cliques, and vendettas. We knew the
cafes in which the revolvers of any given group lay in wait, watched
from the cafe opposite by those of another".

(9) "A continous legacy of the civil war has been the numbers of
people who fled from Greece, including some 25-30000, according to the association of Refugee children from Greek Macedonia and Red Cr
oss estimates, of children aged between two and 14. . . The property
of the refugees was confiscated by the Greek government by Decree 2536/53 which also deprived them of theirGreek citizenship. The
Greek government later (in the 80s!) enacted a law so that the
property would be returned to refugees who are 'Greek by birth' ie. to those who renounce their Macedonian nationality and adopt Greek
names. Greece also has consistently denied entry visas to these
refugees except in a few cases to attend funerals but even then with difficulty". H.Poulton, op.cit.,p.180. Evacuation of whole village
s and confiscation of property were essential parts of Serbs' and
Croats' final solution in Bosnia. The concenstration camps were used to systematically put pressure on the Muslims to make statements
that they surrender their property to "the authorities" ie . Serbs.

(10) "Tagore called the nation'organized selfishness'. The term is
well chosen, but we must not forget that we are always dealing with the organized selfishness of privileged minorities which hide be
hind the skirts of the nation, hide behind the credulity of the
masses". R.Rocker,op.cit., p.250-1.

(11) "It is one of the great purposes of the Association to make the
workmen of different countries not only feel but act as brethren and comrades in the army of emancipation". Documents of the First
International, 1864-70, in K.Marx, The First International AndAfter
(London,1974),p.86.(12) "Any action 'that could raise the danger of a threat to the freedom and statehood of the fatherland must b
e avoided',(Walesa said on December 16,1980) and on the 17th, he
really went overboard: 'The time has come for a concerted effort to surrender the strike weapon and negotiate a return to economic sec
urity and social peace...Society needs order at this time'. The
dedication of the memorial to the Gdansk martyrs of 1970-71 on December 16 was an appropriate symbol of the significance of the 'victor
y' that theGdansk accords represented. It was a touching and ominous
demonstration of national unity: oppressors and workers, gunmen and their prey, executioners and widows of victims, all carefully
surrounded by the new police (the security forces from the shipyard
union), all intoning the national anthem and all blessed by theChurch, by Solidarity and by the Party. A workers' defeat was enacte
d here". Henri Simon, Poland 198082 (Detroit,1985),p.38-9.

(13) See The Junius Pamphlet, in Rosa Luxemburg Speaks (New

(14) Yugoslavia: Capitalism And Class Struggle 1918-1967,
inYugoslavery (BM BLOB London WC1N 3XX),p.15.(15) "A survey of work stoppages in 1964-66 found that 165 of the 231stoppages in 1965 were due
to 'incorrect distribution of personal incomes"'. Duncan Blackie, The
Road To Hell, International Socialism 53,p.34.(16) "I remember how police officers during informational discussions wanted me to
become a nationalist (informational discussion is when they arrest
you without a warrant; there is absolutely no public record of such an arrest; it can last anytime between one hour and few days; th
e longest I was held was 12 hours). Obviously, there wasa plot behind
it. It didn't work with me. But it worked with millions of others... With clever use of historical statehood and ethnic symbols t
hey got most of the citizens already tired of great ideas and
philosophy and political experiments onto their side. With even smarter flirting with the terms 'freedom' and 'independence' they got non
-statist-nationalist soccer hooligan youth as their weapon. The
Croatian Democratic Union, a ruling Croatian nationalist party, even uses Bakunin in their review to explain their struggle for indepen
dence as an opposition to Bolshevik enforced Yugoslav unity ... Even
anarchists found the shelter in the ethnic-thing thatalmost swallowed everybody in all of Eastern Europe". Ivo Skoric,Yugoslavery,
Love and Rage,August1991,p.6,12.

(17) Financial Times, 27 June 1991. At that time, 700000 workers were
on strike.

(18) It is awful to notice how history repeats itself. Before
theBalkan Wars, Serbs and Greeks took advantage of British plans about a new administrative division of Macedonia according to nationalit
y,in order to propose their territorial claims in the area. It's
always a Vance-Owen plan that paves the way to partitions.