Category Archives: Yugoslavia

A Look at the Cooperative Mode of Development

Juanny Boy: Robert – I have a question about this.

What’s the benefit of Centrally planning industries that are largely not predatory like clothing, computers, etc.?

It seems they are produced less efficiently under Marxism.

But in industries like health care, water, it is a necessity because of the potential for abuse.

One thing we could do is to have firms owned by their workers. This is called the Cooperative Mode of Development and I think this is a great model. Many say it is a non-capitalist mode of development. For instance, in this model there is no exploitation of workers, no labor theory of value, etc.

In capitalist firms, workers and management and ownership are enemies. The management and owners are always trying to abuse the workers more and more because the worse they abuse the workers, the more money they make.

But when workers own enterprises, there is no incentive to reduce worker pay and benefits, force longer work hours, skip on regulations, disallow sick and vacation time or to abuse workers at all. Why would the workers who own firm vote to lower their salaries, reduce their benefits, make their working conditions worse, deregulate the firm, disallow vacation and sick time, or raid worker pensions. There is no incentive to do any of these things.

Further in capitalism, there is a tremendous incentive to replace workers with machines. But if workers owned the company, why would workers vote to replace themselves with machines? Which workers would be so stupid as to say, “Please fire me and replace me with a machine. I will just gladly become poor, broke and unemployed?” No one will say that.

One problem is that workers cannot be counted on to run their own plants. They tried this in Yugoslavia and it did not work. The revenue from the firm could either be taken home as profit or reinvested in  the firm. Workers generally chose to give themselves large paychecks and to underinvest in the firm. This eventually caused the collapse of the enterprise because if you stop sinking money back into your firm, eventually your enterprise falls apart from lack of internal investment.

The Mondragon cooperatives in the Basque Country of Spain have solved this. All the plants are worker owned and controlled, however the workers do not have the right to decide how much of the revenue to take home as pay and how much to reinvest in the firm. These decisions are made at the highest level. All of the co-ops are ultimately owned by several large regional banks. It is here that the decisions about how to allocate revenues are made. Workers cannot be relied upon to make these decisions because they consistently choose to take home too much as pay and to not reinvest enough in the firm.

In addition, at Mondragon, the workers hire and fire their own management. You would think that workers would abuse this also as they would hire the managers that let them slack off the most and did not force them to work hard or be responsible. However, there has been no such abuse. Workers make good choices for management – firm but fair managers. The important point is if the management becomes abusive, they can be fired by the workers.

This Cooperative Mode of Development works very well in  my opinion.

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Filed under Capitalism, Economics, Europe, Labor, Left, Regional, Socialism, Spain, Yugoslavia

Have Countries Improved by Moving Away from Social Democracy and Towards Neoliberalism?

HBD investor: Many countries floundered in various socialist schemes and their economies massively improved when they became less socialist.

None of this is true.

Many countries had problems with centrally planned economies with many or all state firms. This is called either state socialism or Communism and the record is not so wonderful. It isn’t so bad either. Been to Eastern Europe? See all that infrastructure? That was all built by the Communists. Go to Russia and see the same thing. Same in China. Communists built Russia and China up from nothing. They were nothing before, and Communism turned them into superpowers. They also had very high economic growth in industry and agriculture for decades. They massively expanded the nearly nonexistent education system. The Communists made monumental gains in housing in both countries. Health care improved to an incredible degree in both countries.

Now with Communism you can get great economic growth for a while, maybe a few decades, maybe more, but at some point it all starts bogging down in bureaucracy, lack of a pricing mechanism and a market, a lot of people just not working very hard and massive thievery of state property. In addition, the rate of economic growth slows. Although Communist countries usually wipe out poverty, in its place they only allow a relatively low standard of living. People probably want to live better than that. In addition, the collectivization of agriculture has been such a failure in Communist countries that I believe we should stop trying it. Production usually goes down by quite a bit and there are sometimes famines at the start if they try to do it too fast.

Yugoslavian Communism worked very well by the way, and they had a very good standard of living, the highest in Eastern Europe.

In addition, state socialist schemes with central planning had a lot of problems in Syria, India, Tanzania and other places. It just doesn’t work very well.

On the other hand, some form of social democracy is the norm all over the world. It’s not true that social democratic countries did a lot better as they shed most of their social democracy and adopted neoliberalism. The world has been doing that for a long time now and the record is in. It’s been a massive failure.

All of Europe except the UK is voting in Left parties, and at least the people want more social democracy and less neoliberalism. There’s no move towards neoliberalism and away from social democracy in Europe outside of Latvia and the UK.

There is no neoliberal free market capitalism in the Arab World. Arabs actually don’t believe in neoliberalism because Arabs and Muslims are sort of “naturally socialist” people. The Gulf states are huge social democracies. There is a lot of social spending and considerable state involvement in the economy in much of the Arab World.

Iran has been pretty much a socialist country ever since the Revolution. There is vast social spending, and the state is involved in the economy. Afghanistan is collapsed, but Communism was actually pretty popular there. Pakistan has been run by social democratic parties in recent years. India is officially a socialist country. It’s written right into the Constitution. An armed Maoist group is very powerful in India. Communist Parties have been running the states of West Bengal and Kerala for decades. Nepal is run by a coalition government consisting of a socialist party and a Communist party. The large opposition is made up of Maoists. I believe Sri Lanka is run by a social democratic party.

Myanmar’s been socialist forever. Vietnam and Laos are Communist. Cambodia has been run by Communists in recent years. The Philippines is a bad example, but they have free state health care for all, and education is free through the university level. Indonesia recently elected a socialist, a woman. The very popular newly elected president says he is a socialist. An armed Maoist group is very active in the country.

Australia and New Zealand are longstanding social democracies on the Canadian model.

Canada is a longstanding social democracy.

The largest party in Mexico is a member of the Socialist International, and the oil industry is state owned. Education is free through the university level, and health care is also free. El Salvador and Nicaragua are now run by former Marxist guerrillas, the FMLN and the Sandinistas. Costa Rica has been a social democracy since after World War 2. Honduras recently elected a leftwing president who was quickly overthrown in a state-sponsored coup. The military is still in power in Honduras, but everybody hates them.

A socialist party called Lavalas, the party of Jean Bertrande Aristide, continues to be the most popular party in Haiti, even though it has been declared illegal. To show you how popular Lavalas is, in the last election they ran in, they got 92% of the vote. During his short reign, Aristide built more schools than had been built in the entire 190 years before him.

A number of Caribbean island states are members of the Bolivarian economic bloc set up by Venezuela. Most Caribbean political parties are leftwing parties with the words socialist, revolutionary, workers, labor, or popular in them. Cuba is Communist and has a lower infant mortality rate than we do. A few years ago, they also had a longer life expectancy than we did.

Venezuela is still run by the Chavistas, a socialist party. Ecuador is run by a Leftist. Peru recently elected a leftwing Indian, although he has not been able to do much as his hands are tied. Brazil has been electing the socialist PT or Workers Party for many years now. A former Marxist guerrilla was the most recent president, and she was only removed by an illegal US-sponsored legislative coup. Paraguay elected a Leftist Catholic priest, a preacher of Liberation Theology, but he was soon overthrown in a legislative coup. The illegitimate party is now in power.

Uruguay has been a social democracy forever, and it is now governed by a former Marxist guerrilla. Juan Peron put in a social democracy in the 1950’s. Argentina was recently governed by a leftwing husband and wife team who alternated in the Presidency. Chile has been electing presidents from the Socialist Party for about 20 years now. The most recent Socialist, Michelle Bachelet, is a radical, but it remains to be seen what she can do. Chile has a huge class divide, the upper and lower classes  want to murder each other, and there are regular violent protests, leftwing versus rightwing street brawls, and riots, lately by students.

In Latin America, radical neoliberalism was imposed for 20 years, and it failed so badly that the whole continent has been electing leftwingers ever since.

I do not know much about Africa, but most African parties have been officially social democratic for a long time now. The Communist Party was recently part of a South African government. If anything has failed in Africa, it is neoliberalism.

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US/NATO Military Doctrine Is Terrorist Doctrine

From the Saker. Incredibly enough, the Western presstitutes are already saying that the Novorussians attacked a convoy of their own civilians fleeing the area. Incredible.

And no Russian military vehicles entered into the Ukraine. There were many such Russian vehicles driving up and down the border in the region of where the aid convoy is being endlessly delayed by the Ukies. There is actually no real border ion that area. There is a no man’s land of around 1 mile in which you are neither in Ukraine nor Russia. It is possible that the Russian vehicles were in this area. All of the photos I have seen of these convoys simply shows them driving up and down the border. No photos have emerged showing Russian vehicles inside Ukraine.

No Russian armored column was attacked and partly destroyed inside Ukraine. It simply never happened. There never was any armored convoy inside Ukraine and no Russian convoy got partly wiped out there because there never was one in the first place. No photos of this destroyed column have appeared. No Russian sources validate the story. The Russians have reported no military losses in the area.

The Western media scum are simply lying again, just like they always do.

The Ukies (Nazis) did not raise their flag in the center of Lugansk. They did raise a flag, but it was an outskirt. The unit that did that has been decimated and has lost 2/3 of its men and most of its armor.

So the Ukies have deliberately done in Lugansk what they have already done in Slaviansk just before the assault: they destroyed the city’s water supply. In the meantime, other Ukie forces have used MLRS systems to bomb and destroy a column of refugees fleeing from the combat area.

It is crucial to understand that these are not “mistakes”.

In reality, this is typical US/NATO doctrine. Most of you probably remember the threat of Secretary Baker made to Tarek Aziz in 1991 “We will destroy your country and bring it back to the stone age.” For a while, Uncle Sam tried to sell this theory as “shock and awe”, but the real description of it would, of course, be “target and terrorize the civilian population”. Nothing new here.

This is what the US military has been doing most of its history, for the Indian wars to Libya and Syria in our times. But the best example of this was the terror war against Yugoslavia in support of the KLA in Kosovo. There, the USAF and NATO totally failed at even marginally degrading the Serbian Army Corps in Kosovo so they turned to a strategic terror campaign against the people of Serbian and Montenegro. This is also what Israel does every time Hezbollah defeats it (which is every time the two fight).

In the Ukraine we see exactly the same scenario playing out. The sole difference being that with the Ukies the terror against civilians began on day 1 as soon as Yanukovich was overthrown, especially in Kiev, Odessa and Kharkov. But pretty soon the junta organized something like a military force and sent it to fight the Resistance in Novorussia. Soon, however, it became painfully obvious that the Ukie military did not want to fight and that the Ukie terror squads could not fight. So, naturally, they both turned against the civilians, just like the US and NATO always do.

Though they will not admit it, the junta leaders probably realize that the Donbass is lost forever and that even if they occupy it, all they will get for it in a never-ending insurgency. So from the point of view of the Nazi junta, terrorizing civilians is a perfect strategy: either they leave or the die. And, as an added bonus, if the junta commits enough atrocities, Russia might be forced to intervene, which would be a dream come true for the junta and Uncle Sam.

But some reporters, even well-intentioned one, just don’t get it. For example, they say that the Tochka-U missile is inaccurate and that it cannot be accurately targeted. This is not true at all. The missile is called “Tochka” which means “spot” or even “dot” because it is extremely accurate. It’s “inaccuracy” is not in the fact that it cannot precisely be targeted, but because its warhead can kill everything alive on a surface of three acres, more with a cluster of FAE warhead.

When the Ukies shoot a Tochka-U at a residential neighborhood of Lugansk (like they did yesterday) they are deliberately trying to kill as many civilians as possible. Ditto for their massive MLRS strikes. For the Ukies civilians are not “collateral damage” – they are the primary target.

From all the reports, the junta has more or less given up on the notion of actually fighting the Resistance. Instead, they try to terrorize and kill as many civilians as possible, and they use their numerical superiority to probe everywhere along the line of contact. If a location appears less defended, they then “take it” – even if the “conquered” position was not even defended in the first place. It makes for good soundbites and headlines in the MSM.

Now they have destroyed the main water supply station in Lugansk. Again, this is not a mistake. Just like the numerous artillery strikes against local hospitals, including cancer-treatment facilities, the destruction of the civilian infrastructure is logical “if we can’t have it – neither will you” is how Uncle Sam and his death squads have always operated. This is why the Ukies have now begun bombing the coal mines.

What the Ukies are doing is a terror campaign of ethnic cleansing which is deliberate and systematic. All that talk about “poor targeting” and “mistakes” is nonsense.

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Filed under Eurasia, Europe, Journalism, Military Doctrine, Regional, Russia, Terrorism, Ukraine, USA, War, Yugoslavia

How the East Was Won – The Destruction of Eastern Europe by the US and its Allies

We are pleased to publish this first testimony of a francophone reader of vineyardsaker. Filo is of Yugoslavian origin. He emigrated to the West in the 70’s, and tells us of his disillusionment on the Western model as well as that of an entire people.

The French Saker Editors

1989, The Year the West Did Everything Wrong

by Filo

I was born a long time ago, in a country that was said to be situated between two blocks: that of the East and that of the West. A nonaligned country. Above all, an untroubled and peaceful country. I was born and lived there the first twenty years of my life. Enough for me to be able to perceive and understand the life of my country, engage in my studies and in my first experiences.

As early as 1960, socialist Yugoslavia was forced by the West and the IMF to open itself to a market economy and to start making economic reforms. Poorly prepared and ill-protected, state companies rapidly went into an economic crisis. Mass unemployment appeared. In short, we became easy prey, exploitable at will. The country was invaded by entrepreneurs and businessmen from Germany, Austria, Netherlands, and Switzerland, all attracted by low-cost manpower.

Many Yugoslavians became “gastarbeiters”, immigrant workers. When this situation reached its apex, there were in the West up to 2.5 million Yugoslavian workers according to estimates.

In 1970, I was among those who followed this course. I landed in the middle of an economic boom. I remember, my eyes wide open, being astonished by all of these ostentatious signs of wealth, by the presence of banks everywhere.

Although I was not born in capitalism, a question worried me: How can all of these banks be profitable? I finally understood much later. I will not say more about it now because I would like to keep that topic for another article.

Inevitably, I compared this new world I was discovering to the world I had just left. I was first struck by the amount of falsehood and manipulation in the written or broadcast media. These media were full of glorification of the Western society, presented as being superior in every aspect. The others, the Eastern countries, were systematically criticized and slandered. Yugoslavia often was simply lumped together with the other countries of the Eastern Bloc. I had just discovered that the media of my country were much more objective, more moderate, less dishonest, and overall more democratic.

The Period of Illusions

The year 1989, right after the Berlin wall had fallen, was meant to be the Year Zero for the whole of mankind. At least, that was what we thought at the time. A new start of a world without wars, without poverty. A world of happiness for all, in which we were finally going to live together. No more divisions or hostility, no longer this imminent fear of a forthcoming war.

In the East, they believed in it so much that, led by illusions, they began to dream with their eyes wide open of a new world of coexistence and sharing.

They imagined and persuaded themselves that the Western World was a world suspended between earth and sky. A myth that had suddenly become touchable, within hand’s reach.

They were probably in a state of mind similar to that of the Amerindians at the beginning of the conquest of the Far West; very naive. Truly ingenuous.

Then, history did nothing else but repeat itself. Because history always repeats itself. Only the context changes.

Too bad the West did not understand, did not want to seize such historical opportunity to open itself and welcome, in full frankness and mutual respect, this world from the East that came peacefully seeking a reciprocal coexistence.

Lies and Mental Aberrations

Since the end of World War II, Western propaganda, particularly the American variety, has never ceased to aim at the East a quasi-obsessional hammering of idyllic messages and images of a Western World bathing into perfect happiness.

Applied equally in the West, this propaganda was mixed with images and stories of the world behind the “iron curtain”, the reality of which was utterly distorted and darkened.

The goal was to create (and they succeeded) what was later called the “American leadership”. To define it, I offer to define “leadership” as a whole set of illusions and mental aberrations about the existence of a world to which everyone would like to belong. In reality, it is a world that does not exist and never existed. This world is also called « “The American Dream”.

In short, a game of fools. A fabric of lies in which we believed. Still today, it has become clear that the reality of yesterday and that of today are a permanent fabric of lies.

Americans in particular live in a permanent lie and have since the creation of their country. It started with the myth of the Far West put into images by Hollywood in an idyllic manner. The reality is entirely different and has been twisted around. Twenty million American Indians at the arrival of European settlers at the beginning of the conquest; at the end, less than a century later, only 60,000 were left. It is the largest genocide in human history. To date, no condemnation. The truth barely transpires today.

Still, the Western world is entirely used to the sleep-inducing image of “the American friend” wrapped into the aura of “the savior the Free World”.

A friend who, according to the legend, first came to save Europe and the world during the First World War. What a blessing!

And who returned again, during the Second World War. The American savior succeeded in stopping the evil Soviets at “Checkpoint Charlie.” The whole Western world barely dodged a disaster. Whew!

At this checkpoint, the Americans and their European lackeys tried to create a myth to go along with the Hollywood sauce. Big kitsch, yes!

At the beginning of this month of June 2014, during the commemoration of the Normandy landings, I was amazed to see how Americans continue to falsify history and blatantly lie. With the help of European cowards of course.

To maintain a permanent psychosis, the Americans were threatening and provocative, as much towards their opponents as towards their own people and the population of the Allies. Such a behavior caused similar reactions among their opponents until the introduction on both sides of a true paranoia.

I believe that the Soviet intervention in Hungary in 1956, the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, and the crash of the “Prague Spring” in 1968 are direct consequences of this escalation of paranoia between the two Blocs. The Americans can be credited for the direct initiative of this escalation.

One day we will know the truth about this period known as the “Cold War.” We even have a duty to know the truth and the whole truth.

It is important to be reminded that “walls” are first and foremost within our own minds. But, regarding the other Wall that fell in 1989, it is clear that it is still there in the minds of today’s Western policymakers. It is not yet destroyed. This is especially the case with regard to the Americans, subject to a total mental aberration.

Back to Reason: Four Examples

Unfortunately, we were bound to quickly become disillusioned and understand that we would not enter into a new era of peace and prosperity. It was all lies and promises from the West. Their intentions were far from sincere and honest, and they never intended to deal with us as equals. Their only endgame was as Western conqueror, triumphant and vengeful. Wishing to enslave us in order to better exploit us. For them, we were only consumers of their capitalist products; a potential market, and nothing more.

To support and confirm my statements, I offer four examples among many others:

  1. In our “liberated” countries, Western manufacturers implemented a dairy and food industry supplanting what was already there, regardless of the existing agricultural environment. The domino effect was instantaneous, and the farmers of these countries were ruined.
  2. We were discredited and treated as “sheep to shear” in favor of the capitalist banking and its usurious system. Putting their hands in the banks of the conquered countries, the “banksters” have imposed their methods and systems: Western-type mortgages, but with interest rates sometimes up to five times higher than those of West. Self-authorized robbery, yes! Especially because they were loans in euros, Swiss francs or dollars, modeled on the fluctuation of exchange rates. The destructive effect was guaranteed within a year after the loans were made. Result: a lot of ruined people and exorbitant suicide rates.
  3. The Westerners also robbed us of all of the wealth and raw materials in our soils. They systematically bought our raw materials at a fraction of their market value, often bribing local potentates to acquire both the mines and the factories that reprocessed these raw materials. In return, they gave us vague promises of investments and employment for the local population which never arrived.
  4. More directly, they sent an army of occupation. Example of such a deceit: Kosovo and “Bondsteel”, 40,000 m2, the largest U.S. base ever built in Europe. In 1999, the U.S. imposed on a puppet government in Pristina a 99 year lease, where the subsoil is rich in mercury, silver and lead. I am convinced that Americans began looting it immediately. The day they leave, there will be nothing left in the subsoil but gaping holes. The American army also uses this base as one of their secret prisons.

After blowing in like a hurricane, the Westerners triggered a tsunami effect.

Western Arrogance

These Western acts of triumphal conquerors were particularly stupid. We were open to them, and we wanted to learn from them, but also we wanted to pass on our own knowledge. In the field of culture, we could have had a very rich exchange: for us culture has always been very important, and we take great care of it. Contrary to this, we were treated with a wave of violence, spite and humiliation.

Curiously, I find some similarities between these events and those that occurred at the time of the Mayan and Aztec civilizations, when savage conquistadors looted and destroyed civilizations that were far more advanced than their own.

I am deeply convinced that the West in this year 1989 did not understand what had just happened. Together we could have built a new world, instead of just destroying what already existed. The confidence that was then lost will never be regained.

In the Year 1989, Westerners Blew It!

For example, the Germans believed in the coming of a 4th Reich. Genscher, at the time Minister of Foreign Affairs and former a SS officer, began to secretly visit the former Axis countries. He was forcibly expelled from the Baltic countries by the Soviets.

Mitterrand’s France was first opposed to German reunification. Backed as usual by the U.S., the UK was waiting for a signal from the Americans. The U.S. acted as if they understood everything; but they mainly pretended they did. They immediately applied (once more) their “Shock Doctrine”- immediate gains for sure, but very stupid in the mid to long term.

Those Who Saw Through It All

I think the only ones who got it all in 1989 were the Russians. Not the Russia of Mikhail Gorbachev and his entourage, but the Russians in the background, the strategists who acted immediately and started to create today’s Russia. They understood that German unification would be, at least for the next twenty years, like slamming an economic brake on the new reunified Germany and by extension on the Western economy, and that this length of time would enable a modernizing Russia to recover economically and militarily.

Today one must admit that they were visionaries who were absolutely right.

The stupidity and greed of Westerners in general and Americans in particular have led to where we are now, a dead end without alternative.

Today the West has lost its hegemony over the world. The failure of its policy since 1989 is complete!

Recent events such as those in Syria demonstrate this well.

The effects of this global deception

“At the time, I was young, very naive and very stupid, and I sincerely believed that the Soviet Union was a deadly threat to Western Europe and that the only thing that stood between them, the evil Communists, and we, the Free World, was the military power of NATO,” the Saker stressed in a text published in March 2014 [1].

How true is this sentence of the Saker’s. Unfortunately we were young and naive, our naivete bordering on stupidity. Especially since the American style has always been the same – simple, too simple, downright simplistic.

The End of the USSR

The Russians are a nation of spontaneously and naturally friendly people; they voluntarily dropped “the wall” thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev’s naivety. Although, as regards the naivete of Gorbachev, head of the USSR from 1985-91, there remain some doubts to this day. According to the latest news, an inquest has just started in Moscow to determine whether the fall of the USSR was simple naivete or a case of high treason.

The only result produced by his “perestroika” (reconstruction) was an economic, military and political weakening of the USSR and its subsequent disintegration. The ruble was became worthless and people started throwing rubles out of their windows in disgust. In spite of all this, even today, he says he is satisfied with what he did.

In 1990, he received the Nobel Peace Prize. Later, with the collapse of the USSR, it was rumored that the Prize was a reward given to Gorbachev by the Americans for “letting the fox into the hen house.”

Then, another strike of bad luck for the Russians hit. Either a real string of bad luck, or the result of a large-scale corruption: the arrival of Boris Yeltsin. Notorious drunkard, yes. For eight years, Russia had an open door to all possible abuses and looting. Russia saw the appearance of vultures nicknamed “oligarchs.” Enriched overnight, they became billionaires. Some of the best known among them: Khodorovsky, Abramovich, Berezowsky, Navalny, etc. A real scourge for Russia.

Boris Yeltsin himself considerably benefited from the situation. In Switzerland, he has been investigated for corruption. He presumably received bribes from a civil engineering company in Tessin, led by an Albanian who was mysteriously contracted to renovate the Kremlin.

During his reign, privatizations prevailed. All that could be privatized and sold cheaply went to either oligarchs or foreigners, in particular Americans. Hence, Americans treated themselves to buying a military industrial complex in the north of Russia. Immediately after this purchase, they froze all of the activities with the company so as to harm the Russians. With Boris Yeltsin, a chronic alcoholic, Russia became the laughingstock of the West. Bill Clinton, at that time the U.S. president, was accustomed, at each meeting with Yeltsin, to laugh himself to tears. Forced but triumphant laugh of course!

Russia, a great heroic nation, saw its dignity trampled. Westerners, Americans in particular, stupid and vengeful, behaved like bulls in a china shop: looting, humiliation, and harassment of all kinds ruled the day, both towards Russia and towards other so-called Communist countries.

The Ceausescu Trial in Romania

Coup in Romania. Sloppy and expeditious trial of the Ceausescu couple. Death sentence and immediate execution of the couple. Judgment by two judges who were taken by force to an improvised courtroom site that looked like a grade school classroom.

Shortly after the trial, the two judges committed suicide.

The Destruction of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

Now, here is the height of Western stupidity: the destruction of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, under the false pretext that the people who composed it no longer wanted to live together. A pretext as cowardly as it is deceitful. Witness of it is the fact that it took Westerners almost twenty years to destroy it (from 1991-2006). A great and beautiful country, a Europe in miniature. A country of 24 million inhabitants and a territory of nearly 260,000 square kilometers (half of France). A sweet mixing of populations, cultures, and religions. An incredible diversity of cultures, arts and foods.

During the Cold War, the country had perfectly fulfilled its buffer role between East and West. Unfortunately the West had ideas of conquest and domination. I’m sure that the West had always and only ever wanted to take advantage of the Yugoslav position between the two Blocs, and that’s all. As disposable as a Kleenex, discarded once it has served.

Thrown out to the dogs of Western wars, all for more dough for their arm dealers.

Dough, the Only Real Western Value!

At the end of the Cold War, the old demons awoke. First, among the Germans and the Austrians (memories of 1st and 2nd World Wars). But also at the Vatican, who saw an opportunity to settle disputes with the Orthodox Church. Westerners played on the antagonisms that were unique to this land in order to destroy it.

Such an act is cowardly, criminal and stupid, and it caused a lot of suffering, hundreds of thousands of deaths and as much destruction.

Remember that in a house there are walls that are said to be load-bearing. One should never touch them, because of the risk of seeing the house collapse. Yugoslavia, for Europe in any case, was one of those bearing walls. And our stupid Western leaders destroyed it.

Since then, the house has kept cracking and threatening to collapse.

I feel that the destruction of this country will be fatal to the destroyers and that the Yugoslavian national anthem might as well be the Western funeral song. In the case of Yugoslavia, the West has shown a staggering political illiteracy and a stunning cultural ignorance.

And What About Russia in All This?

The Russians said, “Never again!” And they kept their word.

Once Yeltsin was thrown in the dumpster of history, the Russians chose the best among them.

VV Putin. A president and a very talented and intelligent politician. Someone who holds life principles which he applies. In less than 15 years, he managed to return glory and power to Russia. Today, not only is his country no longer the laughingstock of the West, but on the contrary, Russia has become a  major geopolitical actor on the world stage. On the military level, its role is just as important. The Russians have caught up and even surpassed the Americans in this area. NATO has found a Russian opponent who managed to halt its progression towards the east. The lying behavior of Westerners in the face of Russia is now being turned against them.

“The day the sun will rise above Russia, NATO will melt,” Slobodan Milosevic (former President of Serbia) said.

Milosevic “committed suicide” in 2006 at the hand of his jailers in the prison of the ICC in The Hague. According to British media, his trial was moving inexorably towards a nonsuit, that is a dismissal of charges.

And Finally, What About the West in All This?

In 1989, a Russian visionary declared: “Communism and capitalism are the heads and tails of the same coin. Now we let down our communism. How long after that, do you think your capitalism will hold?”

Today, results agree entirely with him.

Conclusion

Forty-four years have passed since my arrival in the West. I am a full citizen of my adopted country (Switzerland). From the beginning, I had the desire and made the effort to integrate into this country. But I always refused to assimilate.

Since the beginning, I was aware of the benefits of having been born and raised in another country, another political system, before arriving here. I have always taken advantage of this asset and used it in every opportunity that presented itself. I especially used it to understand and analyze some features and paradoxes of the West.

For example, very quickly, I had to admit the evidence that Westerners were viscerally anti-Communists, including towards such rather tempered form of that of Yugoslavian Communism, which was quite diluted from its original form.

For years I asked myself why.

A paradox that I wanted to elucidate at all costs. And I finally understood.

It’s huge, because in reality it is the keystone of the West itself. The cause is capitalism itself. Since its beginning, by its very definition, it is an economic concept that is not viable. Therefore, it was doomed to fail from the beginning.

The reasons and causes of its inevitable failure I will address in my next article.

Filo, for vineyardsaker.fr

June 2014

[1] http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.fr/2014/03/today-every-free-person-in-world-has-won.html

Source: http://www.vineyardsaker.fr/2014/07/15/1989-lannee-ou-loccident-a-tout-rate-par-filo/

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US Space Program: Made in Communist Yugoslavia

“Communism doesn’t work.”

Yeah, that’s why they beat us in the space race, eh? Fascinating. The US space program had its roots in Communist Yugoslavia. And why not? The Communists prioritized state funding of science, education and state projects in general. Capitalist America has always hated state funding of anything whatsoever, and hence space and other necessarily state funded projects are given short shrift.

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No Exploitation of Labor = No Capitalism

Dota writes:

“”I believe that if the employees actually do own the firm, then that’s not capitalism, because capitalism is based on exploitation of labor.””

That’s a very hostile reading of Capitalism. Every ideology must be given a fair trial. There’s no doubt that Capitalism has caused many ills in society, but it cannot simply be done away with, it needs to be reformed and regulated.

“”Remember the labor theory of value is the essence of what is wrong with capitalism.””

The LTV is quite irrelevant in our services and tertiary dominated economy. At best it applies to heavy manufacturing centered economies (like the one Marx lived in), but we don’t have many of those anymore, and it ignores the temporal nature of economic value. Even co-operatives need to put away some money so that it can be re-invested in the business in order to sustain it. It’s inescapable.

I don’t deny the Marxist influence of worker owned firms, but this is merely a small island of Marxism in an essentially capitalist ocean. Capitalism can be regulated; the welfare state and worker owned firms are steps in the right direction. But labour cannot be the sole determinant of value and the accumulation of capital is still central to every economic activity. This how it’s going to be unless there’s a major economic paradigm shift.

Dota doesn’t understand capitalism. No exploitation of labor = no capitalism. The artist or artisan is not a capitalism. He exploits no one. He simply sells his painting, albums or books and people essentially pay tribute to his greatness by buying his creative works. No one has to buy his stuff. People just buy it because they love him. Because the artist exploits no one, he cannot possibly be a capitalist. This is also why artists tend to be leftwing.

It’s not a hostile reading to say that capitalism is based on the exploitation of labor. That’s the truth about capitalism – the dirty little truth. People don’t like to hear that because they like capitalism and it hurts their feelings to hear how ugly the system really is.

I have read descriptions of Mondragon cooperatives in the Basque country that said repeatedly that this is a non-capitalist mode of production. The worker owned enterprises in Yugoslavia were also said to be a non-capitalist mode or production.

There are not two modes of production – capitalism and socialism, and all economic activity can be thrown into one or the other.

There’s no exploitation in cooperatives. The money coming back goes straight to the workers. They decide how much to pocket and how much to reinvest in the firm.

When you put in a welfare state, you don’t have pure capitalism anymore. A lot of people call that socialism. Social democracy is clearly some sort of a mixed economy, and it is a form of socialism. Nevertheless, the mode of production in social democracy is generally the capitalist mode of production.

Keep in mind that economic liberals, which means capitalists and those who strongly support the capitalist mode of production, are completley hostile to social democracy. So social democracy is really hostile to liberal or neoliberal capitalism.

The main thing is to get away from neoliberalism or liberal capitalism towards some form of socialism, whether that be social democracy or some other form.

And under socialism, the state accumulates plenty of capital. That’s how socialist states like the USSR grew to be such mighty powers.

The real problem is that class war is constant in capitalism, and the capitalists tend to run the show. They own the media and tend to control the government.

So getting a fair or decent form of capitalism in a capitalist country is getting to the point where it is nearly impossible. Especially now when the IMF, the World Bank and the other loan sharks in the bond market hold nations in a stranglehold.

No matter how much of a decent or fair capitalism you put in, the capitalist scum will always hate it, and they will spend forever and a day waging endless war trying to get rid of it. And the first major downturn, the capitalists start trying to dismantle the whole social democratic project at the first notice. And once it’s taken apart, it’s hard to put it back in. So social democracy is very fragile and is always in danger of being dismantled.

It’s just an endless war to keep a halfway decent society going, and it really sucks.

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Capitalism Is Murder: Shock Doctrine in the East Bloc Killed 10 Million People

Here.

After the fall of Communism in the East Bloc in the early 1990’s, Westerners pushed something called shock therapy, or rapid privatization. A new study by the Lancet shows that shock therapy actually killed 10 million men and an unknown number of women in the East Bloc.

The study points out that it was not the transtion to capitalism per se that was at fault but how it was done. Rapid privatization or shock therapy was one way, but the other way is more gradual privatization. The study makes clear what we on the Left have been saying forever, that shock therapy kills.

The study also found that the more social connections a person had, the less likely they were to be killed by shock therapy. As radical capitalist neoliberalism has as its purpose the destruction of all bonds between men other than profit-seeking and the complete atomization of all humans, leading to mass insecurity and a Hobbesian war of all against all, it figures that neoliberal capitalism works strongly against social bonds. The more neoliberalism, the weaker the social bonds between humans.

Shock therapy had differential effects in different places. In Poland and the former Yugoslavia, there was little damage. The damage was severe in Russia.

In the US, the entire mass media and both conservative parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, vociferously pushed shock therapy. I read many articles about it at the time, always wondering why this was such a great thing. In the “free press” there was no dissent on the subject of shock therapy. You could not find a single opinion anywhere saying that this might be a bad idea. So much for “freedom of the press” in the USA. It was the way to go. Bill Clinton pushed it as strongly as Newt Gingrich.

Most of the Americans pushing shock therapy were connected with the Chicago School of Economics, and all of the most prominent ones were Jews. Many Jews in Israel also got in on the looting in Russia and the East Bloc. In addition, Russian Jews were very heavily involved in the mass looting and destruction of their great land.

Much of the looted funds was transferred to agents of International Jewry in the US and the UK, in particular Lord Rothschild. A lot of the money ended up in Israel. Richard Perle and other neocons on the right along with George Soros on the Left both gladly looted Slavic lands to benefit the tribe.

One wonders what the motivation for this mass rape of these mostly Slavic people was. Possibly it was revenge for anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe and Russia, another chapter in the war of the Slavs and the Jews. The Jews were getting their revenge for the Holocaust and Russian anti-Semitism. All in all, it was shameful behavior on the part of the Jews. The Jews are supposed to be progressive people, but here they were, acting just like the feudal lords and masters who they worked with in Eastern Europe for centuries. Worse, they were raping the East just as the ultimate Amelekite, Hitler, had done.

Every Jew on Earth should hang his head in shame at this grotesque display, if they have any sense of decency at all.

To be fair, a lot of the riches just went to the Western rich, mostly bankers. And many Russian gentiles helped the Russian Jews rape Russia. The Jews couldn’t do it alone.

As one might logically predict, this Jewish-led mass looting led to a huge upsurge in anti-Semitism in Russia and Eastern Europe, even in places like Romania (5,000 Jews) and Poland where there were hardly any Jews left.

If Jews hate anti-Semitism so much, why do things to worsen it? I don’t get it. Or do Jews hate anti-Semitism? Maybe they like it?

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Some Thoughts on Worker Self-management

Repost from the old site.

In the comments section, huy points out that the former Yugoslavia under Tito had a different type of Communist system that allowed worker self-management of plants.

That system provided a quite nice standard of living too, I am told. The former Yugoslavia supposedly had one of the highest standards of living in Eastern Europe, and was particularly good at providing plenty of consumer goods for their people. This is important because many Communist states promoted heavy industry at the expense of consumer goods, leading to much frustration.

A female writer from Czechoslovakia, in a critical book on the Communist experience in that country, said that one of the things that angered the people (I would gather the women) the most was the chronic shortage of washing machines. Who wants to wash your clothes by hand?

The problem with the Yugoslavian model was the workers really did run the enterprises. So they had the choice of whether to take home the profits of the enterprise as spending money or to reinvest in the business. They usually chose to take home the profits for more spending money. Eventually, plants did not receive reinvestment and they fell apart and became uncompetitive.

I do not think that workers should run their own enterprises because they do not know what they are doing and will usually take home profits as pocket money instead of pumping them back into the enterprises. What has to be done is for an outside manager to run the business.

The Mondragon Cooperatives in the Basque Country is a good example of a non-capitalist cooperative economy in Spain. It works very well and has for many years. The cooperatives are formally run by the workers, but actually the owners are some giant regional banks. They operate with the enterprises’ best interests at heart and often money is reinvested in the plant. Sometimes workers just get to take it home.

The workers also get to elect their own managers. One would suspect that workers would elect those managers who let them screw off the most and work the least, but that has not been the case.

Bottom line: the decisions are in the hands of people who know what they are doing.

In China, a similar thing is operating. Workers still formally own most of the plants in China. They may even own most of the so-called private plants. Anyway, most enterprises in China are still run by the state, but they are typically run by smaller municipalities and labor collectives.

For instance, the enterprise that is the third largest producer of television sets on Earth, an immensely successful enterprise, is a socialist institution that is state-run. Officially, it is owned by its workers, but they elect managers and abide by their decisions. This worker-ownership thing is seen as a Maoist holdover by rightwingers inside and outside China and they are itching to get rid of it.

As another example, there is a very successful plant in a small city in Northern China that I read about. It is officially owned by its workers, but they are required by law to plow 90% of their share of the profits back into the enterprise every year. Their 10% share is still a fat paycheck in Chinese terms. Workers from all around are flocking to this city to try to work in its enterprises, so there is a competitive system involved.

The cities with more profitable plants attract large numbers of workers wishing to live in those cities. With the money from the plants, the small municipality has made very nice homes for its workers, nice streets, nice cultural and civic programs and structures, etc.

So this is a great example of how worker self-management or the cooperative model, or some strange new socialism, can operate. It is essential to find new models of socialist and cooperative ownership and economics in order to avoid the socialist failures of the past.

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Are Cooperative Firms Uncompetitive Against Capitalist Firms?

Hacienda, a supporter of neoliberal capitalism, says worker run companies could not survive the competition against capitalist firms in Silicon Valley:

There are no worker run firms in Silicon Valley.There aren’t any, because they couldn’t survive the competition. That’s seems to be the flaw of worker run firms. They can’t compete.

There’s no reason why a worker run could not survive against capitalist firms. I’m having a hard time imagining why they could not.

The cooperative sector in the US, the rest of the West, Cuba, Nicaragua, Vietnam, China and lots of places, does just fine. Most of China’s firms that are kicking the world’s ass are actually publically owned firms, often run by labor collectives or small municipalities. And co-ops have been going like gangbusters in Western Europe for ages. Don’t sell it short. It’s run just like any other firm, accept that the workers get the profits as owners instead of management.

Tito’s worker run firms did very well for a long time, but there was a flaw. Given the choice of reinvesting in the firm or taking the profits home in their pockets, workers usually decided to take them home, thinking short-term. Eventually, the plants collapsed through lack of upkeep.

The Mondragon Cooperatives in the Basque Region have been running great for years.

Mondragon has gotten away from the Yugoslavian problem in that large banks actually own the plants and run them. They make the decisions about how much to reinvest and how much to pay out to workers. In Mondragon, workers hire and fire their own managers. You would think they would fire anyone who made them work and only hire those who let them slack off, but it has not worked that way at all.

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Making Sense of Kosovo

Repost from the old site.

Updated March 25, 2008:

Via Joachim Martillo, we have Backgrounder on Kosovo/Kosova.

This is one of Martillo’s pieces that I am going to support in full.

Almost the entire Western Left, and part of the libertarian Right, seems to be opposed to independence for Kosovo. This is a most sorry state of affairs and has a rather shameless history. I am very happy that Martillo has come out in favor in independence for Kosovo, no matter how problematic it may be. I am afraid he did so only because he is a Muslim, but no matter.

A background in the Balkan Wars of the 1990’s is helpful, if not essential, in understanding the declaration of independence by Kosovo.

It is also important to understand where the Workers’ World Party, of which Sarah Flounders is a member, is coming from. I don’t know a lot about them, but this Wikipedia article is a good primer.

WWP is a Trotskyite split dating from 1958. They split from the Socialist Workers Party, a standard Trotskyite group.

Their reasons were: the candidacy of Henry Wallace for President in 1948, support for Mao’s revolution in China and defense of the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956.

The SWP opposed all of these.

Mao is opposed by all Trotskyites, mostly on human rights grounds but also on the usual ultra-Left basis of not being socialist enough. Wallace’s candidacy, a revolutionary candidacy in the US in that an explicitly socialist candidate actually ran for office and got lots of votes, was probably opposed on ultra-Left reasons that he was not a Communist.

The invasion of Hungary would have been opposed on the basis that the USSR was “Stalinist”.

Trotskyites have always had a reputation of not being very pragmatic. In some ways, they are the ultimate splitters.

The WWP retains some Trotskyite leanings in that they are highly critical of Stalin. However, after Stalin died, they supported the USSR. Many Communist parties chose sides after the Soviet-China split, but the WWP continued to call for a union of all socialist countries, no matter what their ideology. In this sense, they are somewhat unique.

They also started supporting all states that were seen as resisting US imperialism. This led to difficult stances such as supporting Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

It is in this context that they opposed the breakup of Milosevic’s Communist Yugoslavia in the early 1990’s and thereafter supported Milosevic on the basis that he was a Communist. In this they reflected the views of most Communists and Leftists the world over – they supported the fascist Milosevic just because he was a Communist.

WWP is also behind International ANSWER Coalition, which led many antiwar marches. Ramsey Clark has unfortunately been associated with this group. I do not think much of the WWP.

Fascism is a nasty virus, and like many viruses, it can grow in most any human being and certainly can unfold in any society. This is what makes it such a dangerous and deadly enemy. In many ways, Russia is now a fascist state. Even Communist Vietnam has fascist tendencies of various types. It can even be argued that Stalin pursued a fascist policy in his Russification campaign against many ethnic groups.

To this day, almost all Leftist and Communist groups continue to support the rump Serbian state, which still has a horrible fascist problem. At the same time, they care nothing about the equally fascist Croatia or Macedonia. Contempt is showered on the Kosovars and they are labeled fascist. But as Martillo makes clear, Kosova has a right to independence.

Whatever the Serbs did in Kosova, this was in the context of the horrible Serb crimes in Bosnia – Srebrenica, Vuckovar, Sarajevo. With that kind of history, the Serbs were clearly not the good guys. And they did commit plenty of atrocities in Kosovo.

Incredibly, the Left continued to throw its full weight behind Milosevic and his semi-fascist successors, solely because he was a Communist, even in the midst of all of the horrible crimes above. The real problem here is not the leaders of Serbia, but the Serbian people themselves, who are having a love affair with fascism.

Another factor was that the US and NATO joined in on the side of Bosnia and Kosovo. Anything the US supports, right, wrong or indifferent, is opposed by the US Left. The US simply cannot do anything right according to these folks.

Flounders makes some interesting points about the US and NATO’s colonialism of Kosovo and US and NATO’s imperialist goals regarding Yugoslavia in the early 1990’s. This is lamentable, but Kosovo could cease to be a colony anytime its wants to, and if Serbians would act like adults instead of a nation of juvenile delinquents, this colonization would never have been necessary.

This blog takes the perfectly principled position that we support separatism in most cases on the basis of the right to self-determination.

In some cases, it should be opposed. Some Ahwaz wish to break away from Iran and take most of Iran’s oil wealth with them. Iran should not be expected to put up with that. A similar situation exists in Angola with Cabinda.

Some movements are being exploited by the most cynical beast romping the planet, US imperialism, and should not be supported. These include the Ahwaz, the Iranian and Pakistani Balochs, the Kurds of Iran and Syria and the Azeris of Iran.

Yet many movements should still be supported. The separatist movements of the Basque Country, Catalonia, Corsica, Brittany, Wales, Scotland, the IRA, and the Turkish Kurds in Europe all deserve support on this basis.

The Sudanese and Burmese governments have lowered themselves below the level of not only humans but also any non-human animal and hence deserve to be smashed into as many pieces as the separatists wish.

Somalia, a nation of terminal adolescents, has shown itself incapable of even forming a government to support the existence of its human residents and hence has no right to exist either.

My argument, in case you didn’t guess it, is that Sudan (separatists here and here), Burma (separatists here , here, here, here , here , here, here, here and here) and Somalia (separatists here, here, here and here) have all forfeited their right to exist.

Indonesia has no right to its colony in West Papua nor to its rule over Aceh, and its criminal performance in suppressing these rebellions cements those negations.

India never had any right to rule Kashmir and certainly does not now. Palestine at least ought to declare Kosovo-style independence. This blog has always supported the struggle of the Sahrawis in Spanish Sahara. The island of Bougainville deserves support for its separatism from Papua New Guinea.

In Russia, the republics of the Caucasus deserve support in their drive for independence. This includes the Chechens, the Ingush, the Dagestanis, Karachevo-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria. The Tuvans seem to deserve the right to secede also.

The situation of the Mari, Chuvash , Bashkirs , Udmurts and Tatarstan are much more difficult because none of these republics exist on Russia’s borders. States should not be forced to carve out enclaves inside their own borders. All secessionists need to cleave off lands on the borders of existing states or even split existing states. The notion of independent islands wholly surrounded by a single state is preposterous.

In India, the nations of the northeast were never part of India and their secessionist movements should be supported. Nor can India ever be said to have existed at all until 1949, as under the British it was merely a collection of 5,000 separate princely states with ever-shifting borders.

In China, the cause of Taiwan and Tibet is clearly moral and East Turkestan also seems to have a valid cause. Abkhazia and South Ossetia should be allowed to cleave off from Georgia, and they already have anyway, de facto, though Russia is supporting these movements for only the most cynical reasons. The Tamils of Sri Lanka deserve support, despite their terrible tactics.

I have much more of a problem in supporting Islamist separatists in the Philippines and in Thailand. First, their tactics are horrible. In both cases, Islamists, as they always do in wars, are simply massacring non-Muslim civilians in countless numbers.

The Koran provides justification for mass murder of non-Muslims in wartime, so this is typical behavior of most Muslims when they go to war with non-Muslims. The historical antecedents are too painful and numerous to count. Furthermore, the war against the non-Muslims often takes near-genocidal proportions.

There are examples in this century from Indonesia (Muslims massacred animists in West Papua and Christians in East Timor), Bangladesh (Pakistan massacred Hindus), Iraq (Muslims slaughtered Assyrian Christians in the 1930’s) and Turkey (Muslims mass murdered Christian Assyrians, Armenians and Greeks), and Sudan (Muslims massacred South Sudanese Christians and animists).

Earlier, there were examples in Lebanon (Muslims slaughtering Christians in the 1840’s-1860’s) and Iraq (more mass murders of Assyrians in Iraq in the mid-1800’s) and the worst of all in India around 500 years ago, when Muslim invaders murdered up to and possibly more than 50 million Hindus in the worst genocide that the world has ever seen. Quoting Will Durant:

The Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious good, whose delicate complex of order and freedom, culture and peace, can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within.

This continues a tradition set in the early days of Islam, when invading Muslims often committed massacres of non-Muslims in various places they conquered. Notable examples occurred in Palestine and in Iran. The only conclusion is that when Muslims fight wars with non-Muslims, they are frequently genocidal conflicts, and this genocidalism is sadly sanctioned by language in the Koran itself.

As such, it is difficult to support a bunch of Islamist murderers in the Pattani region of Thailand and in Mindanao in the Philippines. In Mindanao, Muslims are only 25% of the population anyway. How exactly are they going to break away? I guess the plan is to murder enough Christian “colonists” so the rest of them take off back to other islands.

Hawaii deserves to go free, but the movement has no support except among Hawaiians, about 22% of the population. All colonies and pseudo-colonies, or as many as possible, of the US, France, Netherlands and the UK, should immediately be set free or incorporated into the state.

In most cases, like baby birds from the nest, these colonies need to be tossed out on their own. Most are welfare cases anyway that take in far more from the Western state they are umbilically attached to than they donate in services. In other words, to the colonizer, they are a gigantic money drain.

This begs the question then of why these colonies even exist, since the logic of colonialism, which is all about the loot, demands that money-losing colonies be cut adrift. In some cases, there are imperial reasons, in others, there is simply the logic of colonialism. Once a nation becomes a colonist, the power rush is as addicting as crack. It’s a tough habit to break.

Two essential rights are at stake here.

First is the right to self-determination. This has even been ratified by the UN.

The other is a totally phony “right of a state to be secure within its borders”, which was dreamed up by states after World War 2 in their paranoia over national secessionism. This principle has no standing, as state borders have been shifting forever, and many states have only the most dubious standing for drawing their borders wherever they did.

It’s clear that the only progressive stand worth taking is in favor of self-determination. However, we should make exceptions in certain cases as above, and only real nations should have the right to secede. The right to secede should not be granted on economic or purely political grounds (such as the rightwing state of Zulia in Venezuela the rightwing Santa Cruz region in Bolivia threatening secession).

Imperialism of all types has always been sleazy, dirty and vile about separatism, as it is about most everything, trying to break up its enemies under the rubric of self-determination while arming its allies to fight horrific wars and invoking the right of nations to be secure in their borders. This kind of hypocritical crap is the sort of depravity that the right loves, as the Right has always championed hypocrisy.

We should be better than that.

Sarah Flounders’ article below entitled Washington Gets a New Colony in the Balkans is fairly typical of the criticism of the Kosovo declaration of independence.

While the USA does a lot of evil in the world, the breakup of Yugoslavia may at least initially have been a project of the German government, which for historical reasons was much more interested in an independent Slovenia than the USA was.

Neocons like Joshua Muravchik fairly quickly saw a possible opportunity to cultivate a pro-Israel Muslim population (either Slavic or Albanian) in a divided Yugoslavia. Finding such a Muslim population has been a holy grail of Zionism since Herzl created the character of Reshid Bey in Old New Land (Altneuland).

Sorting out the various claims about Kosovo requires awareness of the changing boundaries of the region. Here are two maps of the Ottoman Vilayet of Kosovo:

The first map of the Ottoman vilayet (province) of Kosovo, from 1875-1878. Kosovo is now much reduced in size from this vilayet.

The second map of the vilayet of Kosovo, from 1881-1912, shows shifting boundaries once again. Kosovo today is much smaller than this vilayet.

Claiming that Kosovo is the historical center of Serb culture is somewhat tendentious. The Ottoman Vilayet of Kosovo was larger than present-day Kosovo, and its borders shifted during the 19th and early 20th century.

Territory that had been Ottoman Kosovo is today divided among Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Greece. Kosovo regions that were in some sense the historically important Serb centers have for the most part been incorporated into Serbia, Montenegro or Macedonia. Here is a current map of Kosovo:

A current map of Kosovo, much shrunken from its former vilayet. When Serbs scream about Kosovo, you really need to ask which one they are talking about.

Ethnic Albanian Kosovars could probably legitimately argue that they rebelled from the Ottoman Empire during the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 in order to achieve independence or union with Albania, whose independence European Great Powers endorsed in 1913, but the Serbian government opportunistically used to rebellion to expand Serbia at their expense.

The Serb obsession with controlling all of Kosovo results from the development of a nationalist mythology that focuses on the Battle of Kosovo (Косовски бој, Kosova Savasi, Bitka na Kosovu, Beteja e Kosovës, or Schlacht auf dem Amselfeld).

The mythology has little connection to the facts. Lazar’s army (the “Serb” side) included Croats, ethnic Albanians (who were mostly Orthodox at that time period) and probably Bosnians. Murad’s army (the “Turkish” side) included a large contingent of Serbs.

The population composition of Kosovo/Kosova in the 14th century and later is disputed. It was not unusual for a close relative of someone with a Serb name to bear an Albanian name. Later Serb literature refers to Albanized Serb populations, but the description is dubious. Bilingualism was simply common, and the ethnic boundaries that exist today really only came into existence in the 19th century.

The following paragraphs are propagandistic:

Yugoslavia was born with a heritage of antagonisms that had been endlessly exploited by the Ottoman Turks, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and interference by British and French imperialism, followed by Nazi German and Italian Fascist occupation in World War II.

The Jewish and Serbian peoples suffered the greatest losses in that war. A powerful communist-led resistance movement made up of all the nationalities, which had suffered in different ways, was forged against Nazi occupation and all outside intervention. After the liberation, all the nationalities cooperated and compromised in building the new socialist federation.

There simply is not much evidence of Ottoman exploitation of ethnic or religious antagonism either from Ottoman or non-Ottoman sources. The Ottoman rulers generally tried to discourage local Balkan hostilities because they were administratively costly and interfered with tax collection.

The omission of any mention of Czarist Russian imperial interference shows bias.

Terminology like Jewish and Serbian peoples is questionable. Yugoslavia contained Jewish populations of Ashkenazi ethnicity and of Ibero-Berber refugee ethnicity. The term “Jewish people” comes from Zionist propaganda. While there is a Serb ethnicity, there is no Serbian ethnicity because people of many different ethnicities live within the territory of Serbia.

The implicit attempt to connect Jewish and Serb losses during WW2 is misleading. Serb politics in the lead-up to WW2 had clear fascist and Nazi currents.

While many Serb political leaders wanted to work with Germany, the German government rebuffed them because too many Germans and Austrians blamed Serbs for WW1 and the subsequent dismantlement of the pre-WW1 German and Austrian Empires.

German and Austrian hostility toward Serbs increased during WW2 and probably influenced German policy toward Serbia during the 1990s.

The situation of Kosovo before NATO intervention was a mess. It has remained a mess, and there is no particular reason to believe that independence will lead to improvement.

Kosovo’s ‘independence’
Washington gets a new colony in the Balkans

By Sara Flounders
Published Feb 21, 2008 8:13 PM

In evaluating the recent “declaration of independence” by Kosovo, a province of Serbia, and its immediate recognition as a state by the U.S., Germany, Britain and France, it is important to know three things.

First, Kosovo is not gaining independence or even minimal self-government. It will be run by an appointed High Representative and bodies appointed by the U.S., European Union and NATO. An old-style colonial viceroy and imperialist administrators will have control over foreign and domestic policy. U.S. imperialism has merely consolidated its direct control of a totally dependent colony in the heart of the Balkans.

Second, Washington’s immediate recognition of Kosovo confirms once again that U.S. imperialism will break any and every treaty or international agreement it has ever signed, including agreements it drafted and imposed by force and violence on others.

The recognition of Kosovo is in direct violation of such laws – specifically U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244, which the leaders of Yugoslavia were forced to sign to end the 78 days of NATO bombing of their country in 1999. Even this imposed agreement affirmed the “commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Serbia, a republic of Yugoslavia.

This week’s illegal recognition of Kosovo was condemned by Serbia, Russia, China and Spain.

Thirdly, U.S. imperialist domination does not benefit the occupied people. Kosovo after nine years of direct NATO military occupation has a staggering 60 percent unemployment rate. It has become a center of the international drug trade and of prostitution rings in Europe.

The once humming mines, mills, smelters, refining centers and railroads of this small resource-rich industrial area all sit silent. The resources of Kosovo under NATO occupation were forcibly privatized and sold to giant Western multinational corporations. Now almost the only employment is working for the U.S./NATO army of occupation or U.N. agencies.

The only major construction in Kosovo is of Camp Bondsteel, the largest U.S. base built in Europe in a generation.Halliburton, of course, got the contract. Camp Bondsteel guards the strategic oil and transportation lines of the entire region.

Over 250,000 Serbian, Romani and other nationalities have been driven out of this Serbian province since it came under U.S./NATO control. Almost a quarter of the Albanian population has been forced to leave in order to find work.

Establishing a colonial administration

Consider the plan under which Kosovo’s “independence” is to happen. Not only does it violate U.N. resolutions but it is also a total colonial structure. It is similar to the absolute power held by L. Paul Bremer in the first two years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

How did this colonial plan come about? It was proposed by the same forces responsible for the breakup of Yugoslavia and the NATO bombing and occupation of Kosovo.

In June of 2005, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed former Finnish President Marti Ahtisaari as his special envoy to lead the negotiations on Kosovo’s final status. Ahtisaari is hardly a neutral arbitrator when it comes to U.S. intervention in Kosovo.

He is chairman emeritus of the International Crisis Group (ICG), an organization funded by multibillionaire George Soros that promotes NATO expansion and intervention along with open markets for U.S. and E.U. investment.

The board of the ICG includes two key U.S. officials responsible for the bombing of Kosovo: Gen. Wesley Clark and Zbigniew Brzezinski. In March 2007, Ahtisaari gave his Comprehensive Proposal for Kosovo Status Settlement to the new U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.

The documents setting out the new government for Kosovo are available here. A summary is available on the U.S. State Department’s Web site. An International Civilian Representative (ICR) will be appointed by U.S. and E.U. officials to oversee Kosovo.

This appointed official can overrule any measures, annul any laws and remove anyone from office in Kosovo. The ICR will have full and final control over the departments of Customs, Taxation, Treasury and Banking.

The E.U. will establish a European Security and Defense Policy Mission (ESDP) and NATO will establish an International Military Presence. Both these appointed bodies will have control over foreign policy, security, police, judiciary, all courts and prisons. They are guaranteed immediate and complete access to any activity, proceeding or document in Kosovo.

These bodies and the ICR will have final say over what crimes can be prosecuted and against whom; they can reverse or annul any decision made. The largest prison in Kosovo is at the U.S. base, Camp Bondsteel, where prisoners are held without charges, judicial overview or representation.

The recognition of Kosovo’s “independence” is just the latest step in a U.S. war of reconquest that has been relentlessly pursued for decades.

Divide and rule

The Balkans has been a vibrant patchwork of many oppressed nationalities, cultures and religions. The Socialist Federation of Yugoslavia, formed after World War II, contained six republics, none of which had a majority.

Yugoslavia was born with a heritage of antagonisms that had been endlessly exploited by the Ottoman Turks, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and interference by British and French imperialism, followed by Nazi German and Italian Fascist occupation in World War II.

The Jewish and Serbian peoples suffered the greatest losses in that war. A powerful communist-led resistance movement made up of all the nationalities, which had suffered in different ways, was forged against Nazi occupation and all outside intervention. After the liberation, all the nationalities cooperated and compromised in building the new socialist federation.

In 45 years the Socialist Federation of Yugoslavia developed from an impoverished, underdeveloped, feuding region into a stable country with an industrial base, full literacy and health care for the whole population.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the Pentagon immediately laid plans for the aggressive expansion of NATO into the East. Divide and rule became U.S. policy throughout the entire region. Everywhere right-wing, pro-capitalist forces were financed and encouraged.

As the Soviet Union was broken up into separate, weakened, unstable and feuding republics, the Socialist Federation of Yugoslavia tried to resist this reactionary wave.

In 1991, while world attention was focused on the devastating U.S. bombing of Iraq, Washington encouraged, financed and armed right-wing separatist movements in the Croatian, Slovenian and Bosnian republics of the Yugoslav Federation. In violation of international agreements Germany and the U.S. gave quick recognition to these secessionist movements and approved the creation of several capitalist mini-states.

At the same time U.S. finance capital imposed severe economic sanctions on Yugoslavia to bankrupt its economy. Washington then promoted NATO as the only force able to bring stability to the region.

The arming and financing of the right-wing UCK movement in the Serbian province of Kosovo began in this same period. Kosovo was not a distinct republic within the Yugoslav Federation but a province in the Serbian Republic. Historically, it had been a center of Serbian national identity, but with a growing Albanian population.

Washington initiated a wild propaganda campaign claiming that Serbia was carrying out a campaign of massive genocide against the Albanian majority in Kosovo. The Western media was full of stories of mass graves and brutal rapes. U.S. officials claimed that from 100,000 up to 500,000 Albanians had been massacred.

U.S./NATO officials under the Clinton administration issued an outrageous ultimatum that Serbia immediately accept military occupation and surrender all sovereignty or face NATO bombardment of its cities, towns and infrastructure. When, at a negotiation session in Rambouillet, France, the Serbian Parliament voted to refuse NATO’s demands, the bombing began.

In 78 days the Pentagon dropped 35,000 cluster bombs, used thousands of rounds of radioactive depleted-uranium rounds, along with bunker busters and cruise missiles.

The bombing destroyed more than 480 schools, 33 hospitals, numerous health clinics, 60 bridges, along with industrial, chemical and heating plants, and the electrical grid. Kosovo, the region that Washington was supposedly determined to liberate, received the greatest destruction.

Finally on June 3, 1999, Yugoslavia was forced to agree to a ceasefire and the occupation of Kosovo.

Expecting to find bodies everywhere, forensic teams from 17 NATO countries organized by the Hague Tribunal on War Crimes searched occupied Kosovo all summer of 1999 but found a total of only 2,108 bodies, of all nationalities.

Some had been killed by NATO bombing and some in the war between the UCK and the Serbian police and military. They found not one mass grave and could produce no evidence of massacres or of “genocide.”

This stunning rebuttal of the imperialist propaganda comes from a report released by the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Carla Del Ponte. It was covered, but without fanfare, in the New York Times of Nov. 11, 1999.

The wild propaganda of genocide and tales of mass graves were as false as the later claims that Iraq had and was preparing to use “weapons of mass destruction.”

Through war, assassinations, coups and economic strangulation, Washington has succeeded for now in imposing neoliberal economic policies on all of the six former Yugoslav republics and breaking them into unstable and impoverished mini-states.

The very instability and wrenching poverty that imperialism has brought to the region will in the long run be the seeds of its undoing. The history of the achievements made when Yugoslavia enjoyed real independence and sovereignty through unity and socialist development will assert itself in the future.

Sara Flounders, co-director of the International Action Center, traveled to Yugoslavia during the 1999 U.S. bombing and reported on the extent of the U.S. attacks on civilian targets. She is a co-author and editor of the books: Hidden Agenda:U.S./NATO Takeover of Yugoslavia and NATO in the Balkans.

Articles copyright 1995-2007 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

References

Durant, Will. 1972. Story of Civilization, Vol.1, Our Oriental Heritage, p.459. New York.

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