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Yugoslavia/Nationalism

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[[Yugoslavia ]] was a federation of several South Slavic nations. In the period of [[state ]] [[socialism]], a period of almost fifty years (1943–92), the federation was comprised of five republics ethnically defined as Slavic: [[Slovenia]], Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Macedonia. The predominantly non-Slavic constitutive parts of the federation were the provinces of Kosovo and Vojvo- dina, which made part of the Republic of Serbia. The population of Kosovo was mostly ethnically Albanian, whereas Vojvodina was the home of a considerable [[number ]] of representatives of the Hungarian minority in Yugoslavia. The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which in the 1945–63 period was named the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, was constituted as a one-party [[political ]] [[system ]] ruled by the [[Communist ]] Party of Yugoslavia (in 1952 renamed the Communist League of Yugoslavia). The [[official ]] [[languages ]] of the socialist federal state were Serbo-Croatian, Slovene and Macedonian, whereas the Albanian and Hungarian languages were used as second official languages in Kosovo and Vojvodina respectively. The political [[doctrine ]] of the ruling party was distinctly marked by the so-called “Titoist version” of [[communism]], at the heart of which were: (a) the political-[[economic ]] system of [[self]]-management; (b) the [[construction ]] of a “Yugoslav national self”, aimed at transcending ethnic differences in the federation in line with its [[philosophy ]] of pronounced internationalism as one of the main pillars of the communist [[revolution ]] as a [[process]]; and (c) the international [[politics ]] of non-alignment. The latter was the product of the elaboration of Yugoslavia’s decision to stay out of the Warsaw Pact and of the evolution of this [[position ]] into a philosophy of its international politics and a long-term foreign policy general stance of the federal state. The [[goal ]] was to maintain economic and political connections with both the east and the west of [[Europe ]] and the US, while developing and propagating a communist political [[vision ]] in its international politics.
In spite of its shortcomings (primarily in the [[sense ]] of decision-making and production efficiency), the system of self-management – theoretically developed by Edvard Kardelj – enabled [[stable ]] economic growth for the country and ever- improving [[life ]] standards for its citizens, ensuring [[universal ]] healthcare, housing, minimal unemployment and access to free education on all levels. Yugoslavia’s non-aligned international positioning enabled free movement of its citizens to countries of both the Eastern as well as the Western politico-economic bloc. In spite of this relative flexibility of the system, constant [[ideological ]] disciplining and surveillance of its general population was carried out by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, accompanied by political [[persecution ]] and imprisonment. Generally [[speaking]], the system of political persecution in Yugoslavia was not nearly as harsh as that of Stalin’s USSR. Nonetheless, in the period of Tito’s [[split ]] with [[Stalin ]] ([[1948]]) and immediately after it, not only imprisonments but also executions of political opponents were massive.
[[Slavoj Žižek ]] was [[born ]] in [[Ljubljana]], the [[capital ]] of the Yugoslav Republic of Slovenia, in the dramatic year of 1949, the year of relentless imprisonments and executions of Stalinists. However, his [[formation ]] took [[place ]] in an era of virtually unrestrained [[intellectual ]] and academic liberty which began in the 1960s. The liberty at issue was one of consumption. Intellectual production, on the [[other ]] hand, entailed [[interpretation ]] of the “bourgeois” and “reactionary aspects” of a “deviant writing” in ways that offered simultaneously a critical perspective onto and an ideological compromise with the official state doctrine. In other [[words]], the Titoist communist interpretation had to grant an excuse or justification for the publication of a “problematic author”. For example, [[Heidegger]], [[Foucault ]] or [[Lacan ]] would receive a filter of reception aiming to reconcile the ideological doc- trine of the state and the main theses of their publication, which might seem to compromise the fundamental political and [[moral ]] values of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
In the 1980s and after Tito’s [[death]], Serbian national [[hegemony ]] grew within the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, which caused an ever-growing [[frustration ]] among prominent members of the Party from other republics. The first serious blow to the [[unity ]] and the very [[existence ]] of the federation was the clash that occurred on the [[third ]] day of the Fourteenth Congress of the Party between the Slovenian and Croatian delegation (joined by the Macedonian delegation the next day) and the Serbian delegation, led by Slobodan [[Milosevic]]. The authoritarian and repressive style of the functioning of the Milosevic-led Serbian branch imposed itself during the Congress and therefore on the functioning of the Party itself, and was the spark that ignited respective nationalisms in all of the Yugoslav republics and in the province of Kosovo. Amidst the declarations of independence of Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia and the emerging wars in Croatia and Bosnia, Milosevic and Serbia conducted a relentless hegemonization of the [[idea ]] of Yugoslavia and of the Yugoslav Communist Party, which made it practically [[impossible ]] to argue for the preservation of the federation even for those who were in favour of it. Therefore, Yugoslavia dissolved as a result of a nationalist hegemonism within its Communist party, which was reflected on all levels of [[society]], the [[economy ]] and [[culture]].
As a reaction to this process, counter-nationalisms in the republics of Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Kosovo rose up, culminating in two short con- flicts in Slovenia (1991) and Macedonia (2001), and more lasting wars in Croatia (1991–95) and Bosnia (1992–5). In 1999 [[NATO ]] forces engaged in a military oper- ation in Kosovo and Serbia, aimed at preventing Milosevic-led administration, police forces and [[army ]] from entering into a more serious [[conflict ]] with the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army), which would have caused [[another ]] bloodbath in the territories of former Yugoslavia. This [[intervention ]] of NATO was never approved by the UN Council and is the first of its military interventions to be termed a “humanitarian war”. It was a precedent that has served as the pseudo-[[legal ]] [[model ]] for legitimizing subsequent military interventions in Afghanistan and [[Iraq]]. Many anti-interventionist intellectuals in the West have condemned it, whereas [[others ]] have favoured it (e.g. the [[right]]-leaning nouveau [[philosopher ]] [[Alain ]] Finkielkraut in [[France]]). As a Slovene, occupying simultaneously the position of an ex-Yugoslav and an aspiring EU [[citizen]], Žižek hailed the intervention and deplored the fact that it had not happened sooner, namely already during the Bosnian war. This [[gaze ]] towards the West as the saviour from the clutches of Milosevic’s army has been characteristic of virtually all the intellectuals of ex-Yugoslavia, for [[public ]] [[discourse ]] was highly critical of Milosevic’s Serbia and its nationalist pretensions. In other words, the political critique of interventionism did not [[exist ]] in the public discourse of former Yugoslavia [[outside ]] of Serbia and Montenegro.
The asymmetry of national hegemony in favour of Serbia was the foundational element of the Yugoslav federation for the period that preceded the Second [[World ]] War. The federation of [[three ]] nations (Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia) was estab- lished in 1917 upon the initiative of the greater European states, and had initially been formulated in the so-called “London “[[London]] Agreement” offered to Serbia in 1915. It was basically a proposal for establishing a state of Greater Serbia, which would include all the territories populated by the South Slavs, but was rejected by Serbia because it deprived it of Macedonia, which would have belonged to Bulgaria instead. The [[logic ]] of establishing Greater Serbia under the [[name ]] of Yugoslavia was insidiously [[present ]] in the “Corfu Agreement” signed in 1917 between the Kingdom of Serbia and the Yugoslav Council, a committee consisting of prominent South Slavs from the territories of the Austro-Hungarian [[Empire]]. It was an agreement between an established state and an informal initiative of representa- tives of a population consisting of [[subjects ]] of another state, that is, an empire. The army of the Kingdom of Serbia was deployed to [[defend ]] “the Yugoslav population” from the territorial pretensions of Italy, after which, on 1 December 1918, the founding of a federal state called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was declared. With minor changes of the federal borders, the same territory was transformed into the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, while its national composition was reconfigured by adding two more Slavic nations as constitutive: the Macedonian and the Montenegrin.
Western interventionism was at the heart of the [[constitution ]] of the Federation. It was present at the finale of its [[dissolution ]] as well, through the NATO intervention in 1999. Thus, no ethnic tribalism was the source of the Yugoslav wars and its dissolution, as the balkanizing gaze of the West would have it. Instead, to quote Žižek:<blockquote>Threatened by Serbian [[nationalism]], even Slovenian and Croatian nationalism preserved a respect for Tito’s Yugoslavia, in any [[case ]] for its fundamental [[principle]], that of the federation of equal constituent states with [[full ]] [[sovereignty]], including the right to secede. Whoever overlooks that, whoever reduces the war in Bosnia to a civil war between various “ethnic groups”, is already on the side of the Serbs. Because in no way was the [[difference ]] between Milosevic and other national leaders only quantitative. No, Yugoslavia was not hovering on the edge, betrayed equally by all national “secessionists”. Its dissolution was much more a [[dialectical ]] process. Those that “deserted” Yugoslavia were reacting to Serbian nationalism – that is, to those [[power ]] groups that were endeavoring to liquidate Tito’s legacy. Thus the worst anti-Serbian nationalist stands closer to Tito’s legacy than the present Belgrade [[regime]], which maintains itself, in the face of all “secessionists”, as the legitimate and legal successor of the former Yugoslavia. (“Ethnic Dance Macabre”)</blockquote>[[:Category:Zizek Dictionary]]
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