Hands Off The Balkans!

For the Defeat of the Aggressors!


Revolutionary Marxist Association/Proposta of Italy


With the aggravation of the aggression and the possible passage to a ground invasion of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, it becomes more and more evident that the true reasons for the war do not concern the legitimate rights of the Kosovan people to self-determination. The American and European governments are in competition to earn the role of protagonist in the aggression and in the division of the spoils of war that they will achieve.


The objective truth of the imperialist bombs is that of opening the road to the control of the process, already under way for years, of the break-up of Yugoslavia and of the completion of the reintroduction of the capitalist "free market" after the collapse of  Stalinism.


Far from the being subordinates of the USA, the social democratic-led  European governments [scramble?--sgomitano] to occupy the centre-stage in this new massacre. The lives of millions of people have been sacrificed once more on the altar of the profits of the big bourgeoisie.


An internationalist mobilization is necessary of the workers of the aggressor countries (USA, Europe) to the side of the proletariat of the attacked country, the Yugoslavia Republic. A mobilization to contribute to the defeat of the aggressor armies and to a victory of Serbia.  It is necessary for the workers to take into their hands, arming themselves, the organization of the defence against imperialist aggression, not delegating it to the butcher Milosevic who has been for years allied to imperialism and its agent in the process of the restoration of  capitalism, and of the cancellation of the--even deformed--revolutionary conquests


The defeat of the governments of USA, Italy, France, etc. would strengthen the struggle of the working class of these countries against their own bourgeoisies; it would allow the workers to overthrow  Milosevic; it would allow the Kosovan people and other people doubly oppressed (by  imperialism and by its vassals) to achieve self-determination. A victory for the attacked Yugoslavia could open the road to the only solution of the conflict in the Balkans: a socialist federation in which a peaceful cohabitation of all the people of the region would be possible, respecting of the law of self-determination of each.


The defeat of Western troops would be transformed into a victory for the working class and could also give, in Italy, a new impulse to the construction of an autonomous class pole, counterposed to the two alternative poles of the bourgeoisie today united in support of the imperialist interests of the Italian bourgeoisie; this victory of the international working class would allow us to make a step forward in the construction of the communist project of the overthrow of capitalism, which is the only true solution to put an end once and for all to wars.

It is necessary to continue the mobilization, building in each place of work and of study united committees, organizing demonstrations and strikes in each city, building a general strike against the war and against the government of D'Alema. Because, as Karl Liebnecht wrote in 1914, in a famous flier to the troops in war:

The principal enemy of the workers is in their own country!


False and True Reasons for The War


The official version of imperialism, pronounced by Clinton and argued by the social-traitors like D'Alema and Veltroni, would wish the NATO force to engage in a bombardment of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (RFJ) to "protect" the Kosovans of Albanian ethnicity from Serb purges. After Iraq these bombs become intelligent and humanitarian. It is sufficient to mention the news reported on CNN to sweep away these falsehoods: not only have the bombs struck the outskirts and popular districts of Belgrade and of the principal cities of the RFJ, but among the victims there are obviously also the same Kosovan fugitives that are supposed to be the beneficiaries of this intervention. In reality the barbaric aggression against the RFJ is functional to the elimination or reorganisation of the last remaining element that is not fully controllable by imperialism in the Balkan area.


The refusal of Milosevic to accept the imperialist "peace" of Rambouillet that foresaw in fact the installation of a NATO protectorate in Kosovo, has constituted contemporaneously an unacceptable challenge and a pretext for a strengthening of the imperialist presence in the zone. The only purpose of the bombardments, and of what could follow from them, is this: not the rights of the ethnic minorities but imperialist control of the heart of the RFJ and therefore of the Balkans. Everything is inserted in a scenario that sees the diverse imperialist powers in competition (peaceful for the moment) for world supremacy: with the three imperialist poles - USA, Europe, Japan- in competition for the sceptre after the disappearance of the "Soviet" antagonist.


The Break-Up of Yugoslavia as the Product of Capitalist Restoration


The circumstances of these days cannot be understood if we do not note the context in which the break-up of Yugoslavia has happened. For a deeper analysis we refer you to the dossier published in Proposta 10, October '95: "Ex-Yugoslavia: imperialist barbarity in the form of 'ethnic war'" (which can be obtained from the editors). We confine ourselves here to recall some elements.


The break-up of Yugoslavia and the ten year conflict between the regions that composed the Titoist state are the product of a combination of interdependent causes: the collapse of Stalinism "to the right," that is in the absence of a re-conquest on the part of the proletariat, through a political revolution, of the power usurped by the bureaucracy; the absence of a revolutionary leadership that leads to this end: a product in turn also of the physical liquidation, since the 1930s, of whole leading groups and of all the cadres of the anti-Stalinist communist left  (continuing in the following years under the control of Tito); the resurgence of  inter-ethnic tensions, used by Stalinism since the 1930 to oppose every anti-bureaucratic struggle, fed then by the occupying nazi-fascists as a tool of division and domination of the country and recovered finally by the ex-generals of Tito employed after the collapse of the USSR,  as agents of  capitalist restoration, to divide Yugoslavia, each in alliance with a sector of imperialism.


In Yugoslavia, as in the other countries of so-called "actually existing socialism", what has happened is what Trotsky and the Bolshevik opposition to Stalinism had foreseen since the 1930s: "Either the working class will crush the bureaucracy and will open a road toward socialism, or the bureaucracy,  becoming ever more the organ of the bourgeoisie in the workers' state will destroy the new forms of ownership and will propel the country towards capitalism."


The state, born from the antifascist resistance, was born already deformed. Titoism did not ever constitute in fact a communist alternative to Stalinism; even when the regime of Tito broke with the USSR, it did it within a nationalist framework, of acceptance of "socialism in one country." Despite this, and with the evident limits of a bureaucratised worker state, the regime endeavoured in that phase to calm the inter-ethnic conflicts  (which, however, it had fomented previously) to guarantee its own stable domination. In this framework the Yugoslav constitution of 1945 guaranteed the rights of  minorities, including therein those of Kosovo, which had recognized the right to schools in the Albanian language and a relative cultural autonomy; from 1974 Kosovo was finally recognized an autonomy even if limited by the bureaucratic Titoist regime . This status had been definitely revoked by Milosevic in the 1989.


Subsequently, in the context of the war between the fragments of ex-Yugoslavia, the ethnic conflict has been a fire in which many have burned (including therein the ex-Albanian regime of Berisha: which has fed the idea of a "Greater Albania" in counterposition to the "Greater Serbia" of Milosevic).


Finally the Dayton Accords of 1995 that have imposed the imperialist peace in the area have simply removed the matter of Kosovo, that is of a territory 90% of which is populated by inhabitants of ethnic Albanians and by 10% from a  Serbian minority, but by now subject to the institutions of the new federative Republic (that is Serbia and Montenegro).


The Betrayal on the Part of Leading Kosovan Groups

in the Battle for Self-Determination


From 1997-98 the Democratic League of Ibrahim Rugova, which demanded a limited autonomy for the region, has been "[eclipsed?--scavalcata]" by the more radical and armed leaders of the KLA (army of liberation) which advocated the conquest of independence. The KLA is a petit bourgeois formation: the greater part of the leadership has been leaders of the Democratic League and the majority of them are tied up to ex-Albanian president Berisha (but there is also a neo-Stalinist fraction with nostalgia for Enver Hoxha). The USA had at first preferred a relationship with Rugova, defining the KLA as "terrorist" and allowing even for Milosevic to instigate, last summer, a bloody offensive against of them. Subsequently it has seen in the KLA (which by now had become a mass movement at the expense of the League of Rugova) the privileged interlocutor: in the moment in which, however, it accepted the substantial renunciation of  the programme of  independence, setting its signature on the American text of Rambouillet that foresees a semi-autonomy for Kosovo under the control of the imperialist troops.

This change of attitude of the USA toward the KLA explains the fact that Washington has never wanted the separation of  Kosovo from Serbia since it would constitute an element of instability, it would set in movement the Albanian minority in Macedonia, it would open the road to a clash between Greece and Turkey. The objective is rather that of preparing a stronghold from which to monitor in the whole region the process of integration of the Balkans into the capitalist market, avoiding the repetition of insurrections like the Albanian one of the 1997. In this sense the USA has always chosen as its allies the Albanian leaders that refrained from fighting for independence. Its ally of today is the KLA which not only has renounced the independence of Kosovo but has made calls for NATO bombardments on Serbia.


It appears evident therefore that today, more that ever, the struggle of the Kosovan people for self-determination passes to the construction of another leadership.


European and Italian Imperialism and the Role of Social Democracy


Contrary to the attempt of the majority of the leading group of the PRC to give credence to a version that would see the EU and the Italian government as "subordinates" and "incapable of an autonomous role" from the USA, all the governments of the "centre-left" and the European "left" have taken sides decidedly in favour of aggression, participating directly or indirectly. The partial distinctions from the USA do not concern possible pacifist scruples of Europe, but are the visible product of the underground conflict that contrasts the different imperialist poles in struggle among and within themselves to gain a primary role in this "war" and in the equilibrium that emerges from it. Thus also the most advanced European government (according to Bertinotti), that of Jospin, has declared its own "full adhesion" to the conflict under way. And in Italy the calls on the part of polished bourgeois commentators (one thinks of Lucio Caracciolo in "La Repubblica") for a "better role for diplomacy" do not constitute objections to the indiscriminate use of the bombardments, but solicitations to the D'Alema government to occupy centre-stage in the massacre without delays, to guarantee the Italian bourgeoisie a further strengthening on the international chessboard.

The inter-imperialist competition occurs therefore between the USA which wants to strengthen its presence in the Balkans, limiting the European one; Italy which wants to strengthen its own role, that has seen a season of renewed protagonism with the Prodi government already, and with the suffocation of the Albanian revolution in the 1997 and the installation of an Italian protectorate in Albania; Germany, which has assimilated Croatia already, and wants now to definitely eliminate the Serbian obstacle to its own expansion in the area; France, which has armed Milosevic for years, and now intends to participate in his destruction in order to divide the spoils of war with the others.


The role of European Social Democracy in the construction of a European imperialist pole in competition with USA and Japan is therefore confirmed: and each demand of the PRC appears so much more grotesque because "Europe makes its voice felt ." The so-called voice of Europe is in the choir of the butchers and knows how to sing only the hiss of the bombs.


The same "left" wings of the governments, from its ministerial patrol of Cossutta, to the Manconi varieties (who speak about "knowing how to do politics in time of war") confine themselves to turning their heads from the other parts and to looking for any pretext which allows them to contemporaneously save their souls and their ministerial easy-chairs. It signifies the attitude of "duplicity" of the PCF of Hue that while it participates in the demonstrations in the square against the war it finds new motives "for a renewed support to the Jospin government."


The Inconsistent Pacifism of the Majority Leaders of The PRC


If it is recognized that the PRC as a whole has the capacity for an immediate mobilization against the war, it is necessary to underline that once more this happens with heavy limits which invalidate the whole position: limits determined by the position of the majority of the leading group to the continuous search for that European neo-Keynesian model (as with Jospin) that should constitute the alternative to liberalism. Here, as in the various interventions of comrade Bertinotti and in the position taken by the national secretariat, is an attempt to make a distinction between good and bad imperialism, charging all guilt to the "US policeman" while Europe would be somehow involved "[obtorto?] neck" (even for the guilt of the bad wing of  social democracy: that of Blair). It speaks about the "servility of Europe" towards the "war of the Americans," of "Europe in the hands of General Clark" etc.: trying to give credence to the analysis of an unwanted war, suffered by the European governments, the victims (and therefore amendable and as always liable to make a "turn" capable of restoring "an autonomous role to Europe").


The reality of the fact is very different. It is anything but European subordination: it would be enough to read the newspapers to know that last December in St Malo in a meeting between Blair and the leaders of the "advanced" wing (according to Bertinotti) of social democracy, Jospin, the need to make rapid steps toward the construction of European military structures has been posed, independent of the USA, and the need to try to build "a greater European military state"  to contest the supremacy the USA, even on the military ground, has also been mentioned. It is not a case in fact of whether the first to speak about intervention with ground troops has been the advisers of Jospin. Why then does the party not extend  to the PCF the invitation that it has addressed to Cossutta of removing support to the governments which make the war? Perhaps because the Jospin government remains however a model of reference? And it has not been able to find a way out as Paul Ferrero has done of the national secretariat. (in "Liberazione") speaking about a "victory of the Blair line against that of Jospin": the strategic alternative of Blair and Jospin has never existed (except in the heads of some comrades of the leading group of the party). The war is "the continuation of politics by other means": the governments of the centre-left or of  the "left" which carry forward in the respective countries anti-working class programmes, are today the administrators of the interests of their bourgeoisies abroad. The plans to remodel the Italian armed forces, started with the Prodi government and continued with D'Alema, have exactly the finality of endowing Italian imperialism with flexible tools of intervention to protect their own affairs outside national confinements.


To a wrong analysis a vague perspective is accompanied. The solution pointed out for the Balkan circumstance consists of the call to the UN. As always the absence of a class analysis of phenomena and of institutions leads to ignoring the role of that "lair of imperialist brigands" (Lenin) that it is the UN. Heir of that League of Nations born in the 1919, it did not prevent any conflict ever (including during the Second world War) and it shielded instead the imperialist invasions of Mussolini in North Africa. An organization to which the Russia of Lenin never adhered (it was the USSR, by now in the hands of Stalin, that adhered with a view to a dialogue with "democratic" imperialism). The U.N. that according to Bertinotti would remain today "in silence":  (when instead the secretary general Kofi Annan has spoken with clarity of a "legitimate attack, for the peace") it is the organization that carries the primary responsibility for the embargo of Iraq that has provoked a million and half already dead or that has perpetrated--with its blue helmets--the rape of Bosnia and Somalia. An organization from which moreover today, the USSR has vanished, imperialism does not have any more need, it is able to permit itself to show its face directly without making recourse to  cover of  acronyms or to calls to a non-existent "international legality."


But the majority of the leading group of the party seems to ignore these evident elements and prefers to put every hope more in bourgeois diplomacy than in the international class mobilization. Until it indicates as a solution an "international conference for the integration (sic) of the Balkan area into a common and democratic Europe."


For a Revolutionary Position on Self-Determination of Nations

and on Perspectives for the Balkans


Paradoxically today almost nobody (neither the false imperialist friends, nor those who from left oppose the war) recognizes the rights of the Kosovan people to self-determination (and therefore also to independence): often rather it is preferred to speak only of "autonomy" because " otherwise it would be chaos." Yet the classical position, the ABC of  communism, departs exactly from the opposite reasoning. It is enough to quote this passage of Lenin (from "Results of the Discussion on Self-Determination," 1916):  "The dialectic of history is such that the function of  nationality and of oppressed people, impotent as factors of independence in the struggle against imperialism,  is that of  ferment, of a bacillus that, together with other ferments and bacilli will contribute to making an entry on to the scene of the true strength which could fight against imperialism, namely the socialist proletariat." And again (in the "Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to  Self-Determination", 1916):  "Obviously not only the right of nations to self-determination, but all the essential claims of political democracy are 'realisable'" in the imperialist epoch only in an incomplete way, deformed (...). But from this it cannot be derived at all that social democracy should renounce the immediate and definite struggle for all these claims (...) attracting the masses to  active struggle, widening and rekindling the struggle for each fundamental democratic demand until the direct activation of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, that is until the socialist revolution that dispossesses the bourgeoisie."

These positions remain, we believe, those from which begins the task today of refounding a communist praxis. And this today implies recognising for the Kosovans, as with the other Yugoslav peoples, the right to self-determination: not contrasting in a sterile fashion national claims to those of class, but developing dialectically the one in the other. That means saying clearly that the national or ethnic rights will only be able to find satisfaction without any interference from imperialism, in finding again the unity of the proletariat of the different Balkan states beyond the different ethnic groups, against their own dominant classes and against imperialism, in the struggle for the only possible solution to the conflicts in the whole area: a Socialist Federation of the Balkans