Communists and the dogma of »Greater Serbia«

2014 March 27

Excerpts from the afterword (source) of Dimitrije Bogdanović's »The Book of Kosovo« (»Knjiga o Kosovu«, SANU, Belgrade, 1986.) concerning the Communist position towards Yugoslavia and the Serb national question. Consider the eerie similarities with the official narrative imposed in the 1990s by the Western media, as well as the Anglo-American position since the mid-1800s, shared by Austria-Hungary. Translated by Nebojsa Malic.

- Even though the ethnic Albanian minority has been overly hostile, or at best passive, during the war, Kosovo and Metohija were established in 1945 as an autonomous region of the new Yugoslavia, opening the perspective for ethnic and constitutional self-determination and economic and cultural development of Albanians with the Yugoslav socialist federation. This can be explained by the unchanged position of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY) regarding the national question, and the continuity of belief in the dangers of »greater Serbian hegemony«.

- ...the belief in »greater Serbian hegemony« did not take into account the important difference between national awareness, identity and elementary needs of the Serbian people on one hand, and the opinions and actions of individual Serb politicians on the other. Through generalizations and projection, an unjust and inaccurate collective guilt was imposed on the entire Serbian nation. Moreover, the Austro-Marxist rhetoric of the Serb Social-democratic Party cannot be seen but as a product of Austro-Hungarian arguments against the Serb national policy. In fact, those arguments questioned the entire program of national liberation and unification, begun in 1804 and finalized as the desire for South Slavic unification in 1914, as well as the legacy of the Serbian revolution and wars of liberation.

- The idea that Serbia should be small, weak, reduced to the »Belgrade Pashalik and Six Counties« barely recognized by the [1878] Congress of Berlin, meant identifying that constrained polity as the only legitimate boundaries of Serb national territory, and declaring every effort to liberate and unite with Serbs outside those borders as aggression. Such a concept demanded, as late as 1914, that Serbs outside of the state of Serbia -- more than half of the total Serbian population at the time -- could only be regarded as ethnic minorities or the Diaspora, no matter how spiritually integrated or ethnically contiguous, and thus lacking any right to self-determination, secession, and joining the motherland.

- CPY's position towards the national question was determined on one hand by the legacy of the heterogeneous socialist movements of different South Slav peoples, and on the other hand, at least until 1935, by the positions and decisions of the Communist International [Comintern]. As no more than a »section of the Comintern« for a while -- merely a branch of this internationalist body, entirely under control of the USSR -- the CPY went through a series of rapid changes of its position regarding the national question in Yugoslavia during the interwar period.

- At its Second Congress, held in Vukovar [in 1920], the CPY declared its primary objective to be a Soviet Balkans -- a Soviet Republic of Yugoslavia as part of a soviet federation of Balkans and Danube countries, which would have been part of an international federation of Soviet republics. However, the idea of »one nation, three tribes« and the desire of Yugoslav »tribes« to unite was replaced by 1923, under the influence of the Balkans Federation -- a branch of the Comintern dominated by Bulgarian Communists -- with the notion that Yugoslavia was a product of the Imperialist World War and the »Versailles system«. The Third »Land Conference« of the CPY, held that year -- not even five years since Yugoslavia's establishment -- already declared »Serbian hegemony« as the imperialist foundation and essence of the Yugoslav state, in which all non-Serbs were considered oppressed and denied. In asserting their rights to self-determination, the CPY also asserted the right of these peoples to »rejoin their own national state«.

- The Fifth Congress of the Comintern [1924] decided that the Yugoslav state had to be destroyed, rather than reformed, declaring it one of the principal pillars of anti-Soviet and counter-revolutionary activity. According to the Comintern's conclusions, the solution was in secession and establishment of independent states [e.g. Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia]. Granted, disputes about the Comintern's conclusion emerged within the CPY, but none of the factions involved questioned the premises, least of all the thesis about the Serbs as the »oppressor nation«. The Comintern's conclusions included the calls to differentiate between the nationalism of the »oppressed« and that of the »oppressor« [i.e. the Serbs] so that the principal mission of the CPY, and in particular the Communists in Serbia, was to fight »Serb nationalism«. Meanwhile, every separatist, anti-Yugoslav and anti-Serb nationalist movement in Yugoslavia was to be openly supported...

- The concept of destroying Yugoslavia was fully worked out at the Fourth Congress of the CPY [Dresden, 1928]. Yugoslavia was to be broken up into separate, independent states -- Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Slovenia. Serbia is not even mentioned, while the Hungarian and Albanian minorities were to secede, as their lands were supposedly »annexed« by the Serbian bourgeoisie. Cooperation was sought with the Albanian »Kosovo Committee« [as well as the Croatian Ustasha, in 1932].

- After that, the number and shape of »independent« states to be carved out of Yugoslavia continued to change, but as late as 1934, the Serbs in Yugoslavia -- outside [the pre-1912 boundaries of] Serbia, and in Kosovo in particular -- are considered »occupiers« that need to be »expelled«.

3 thoughts:
- Julia Gorin
- Political Mavens

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