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Limits and Possibilities

Limits and Possibilities: The Crisis of Yugoslav Socialism and State Socialist Systems

Bogdan Denitch
Copyright Date: 1990
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Limits and Possibilities
    Book Description:

    The nature of the Eastern European Socialist state and its potential for transformation without sacrificing its specific identity is the subject of extensive current debate. Limits and Possibilities is the first book to be written that deals conceptually and historically with the myriad kinds of change a state might undergo. Bogdon Denitch has chosen the Yugoslavian model to frame his analysis because it initiated these “modernizing” changes in the 1960s and can therefore provide a case study of the limits of reforms possible in Communist regimes. In using the Yugoslav case paradigmatically, the volume addresses in a more general sense the issues of decentralization, autonomy for nonparty and nonstate institutions, multi-ethnicity, new social movements, including the “greens,” and the role of women and women’s movements.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5583-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Introduction for the Yugoslav Edition
    (pp. viii-xii)

    Most books should speak for themselves. Nevertheless, in the case of this extended essay on the crisis of Yugoslav socialism a few brief remarks may help the reader understand stylistic awkwardnesses of this text. It is also necessary to locate this book politically since I hope it will provoke controversy (What good book does not?), and attacks (What critique of existing power elites does not?).

    Three features of this book may not be obvious. To begin with, it was originally written in English, the language in which I have worked for over forty years. A Yugoslav citizen of Serbian nationality,...

  5. Introduction: Limits of Change, Prospects of Democratic Change
    (pp. xiii-2)

    In this case study of Yugoslavia I will develop some general conclusions about the prospects of democratic transformation of the Communist regimes. I will argue that Yugoslaviaʹs role as the first of Communist politocracies to enter on the long and crooked road to political, social, and economic reforms, as far back as 1948-50, makes it a uniquely suitable prism through which to examine the experiences and prospects of the other reforming Communist regimes. Because the Yugoslavs began traveling this road without signposts and have been on it for four decades, many of their experiences and errors will be of relevance...

  6. Chapter 1 Yugoslav Socialism: The Limit of Reforms in Politocracies
    (pp. 3-12)

    Despite its historical roots in the region, Yugoslavia has not been politically or socially a part of the Eastern European regional system for four decades, or more than a whole generation. Nevertheless, the distinct Yugoslav experiences and problems are today directly relevant to both Eastern European and Soviet reformers. This is because Yugoslav political leaders pioneered a number of key economic and social reforms in what was the most deviant and experimental of the Communist Party-ruled governments. The fact that similar reforms are now on the agenda throughout Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union should not make us lose sight...

  7. Chapter 2 The Unanticipated Evolution of an Unprecedented Model
    (pp. 13-27)

    The Yugoslav Revolution of 1941 through 1945 was successful in good part because the Communist Party-led Partisans, unlike both their royalist or pro-Axis civil war opponents, accepted the reality that theirs was a multiethnic society. In order to be effective in developing a Yugoslav-wide resistance movement they immediately proceeded to organize both the revolutionary struggle and the proposed postwar federation on the basis of that reality.¹

    Each of the major Yugoslav national groups has its own republic: Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.² While there are many nationalities, for political purposes two are important—Hungarians, who form an important minority...

  8. Chapter 3 A Troubled Economy: Market Socialism at Bay?
    (pp. 28-38)

    The Yugoslav economy is in deep trouble. It is not clear how much of the trouble is the result of bad decisions made by national and regional political leaderships, as opposed to what is undoubtedly the influence of a very unfavorable international economic climate since the oil shock of 1973. Whatever the assessment of the responsibility of the policymakers at that time, and of the long-range federal and local economic policies (or more precisely the absence of coherent policies) for the economic situation, it is obviously in need of drastic rescue measures. Hardly any growth of the national product since...

  9. Chapter 4 Liberalization and Democratization
    (pp. 39-51)

    When discussing reforms in state socialist one-party polities it is essential to distinguish sharply between liberalization and democratization.¹ The first, acceptable to new middle classes and technocratic elites as well as to the more modern sections of the party leadership, is a process most often coming from the top down, although sometimes in response to the existing or anticipated pressures it rises from below. The second, democratization, is a far messier, more turbulent, uncontrolled, and contested process. That is what is happening in Poland and it is what the current struggle in Yugoslavia is about. Liberalization is not counterposed to...

  10. Chapter 5 A Decentralized Socialist Market System
    (pp. 52-62)

    Many domestic and foreign observers and critics of Yugoslavia strongly believe that in terms of economic policy at this time, the Yugoslavs have less centralized authority and planning than would be useful. The pendulum has swung far from the overcentralized bureaucratic command model, and it is not clear that it has been replaced by any coherent economic mechanisms whatsoever. Rather, it appears that the Yugoslav economic policies, if one can call them policies at all, have consisted of endless ad hoc improvisation, suffering, although in a very different way, from the same weakness that Soviet-type ʺplanningʺ did. That is, political...

  11. Chapter 6 The Systemic Crises of State Socialism
    (pp. 63-74)

    There are three separate loci of the ideological and political crisis common to politocratic Communist regimes at this time: one, the complete collapse of the official Marxist ideology as a mobilizing instrument useful to the ruling elites;¹ two, the demoralization of in-system reformers and the startling absence of any reform currents within the intelligentsia or the other opinion-forming strata; three, the growing and increasingly visible and obvious gap in technology, productivity, living standards, and social standards between Eastern Europe and Western European industrial states. That is not to say that there are no attempts to reform these societies. Such political...

  12. Chapter 7 The Restless Ghost: Managing Multiethnicity
    (pp. 75-92)

    Solution of festering national questions that had historically plagued the region was one of the greatest successes claimed by postrevolutionary Yugoslavia.¹ Basing themselves on Leninʹs, or more precisely Stalinʹs, writings on the national question, the Yugoslav Communists restructured postrevolutionary Yugoslavia, at least in theory, as a federation of equal sovereign South Slav nations. Croats, Serbs, Slovenes, Macedonians, Montenegrins and Bosnian Muslims received federal units, republics with considerable and growing cultural and later political autonomy. Yugoslavia also developed a broadly tolerant policy toward the non—South Slav minorities, which in line with the Soviet practice were renamed ʺnationalities.ʺ This was one...

  13. Chapter 8 The Need for a New Foreign Policy
    (pp. 93-104)

    During Titoʹs lifetime, Yugoslaviaʹs foreign policy was counted as one of the countryʹs few clear and unambiguous successes.¹ Yugoslavia appeared on the world stage as a country throwing around a great deal more weight than its size, its gross national product (GNP), or its military power or alliances would account for. A great deal of this influence was due to Marshal Josip Broz Titoʹs own larger-than-life personality; some of it was due to his longevity as an international figure, but even more was the result of the happy coincidence of the emergence of an independent, nonaligned, and Communist Yugoslavia at...

  14. Chapter 9 Where Is the Yugoslav System Going?
    (pp. 105-117)

    The Yugoslav social and political system has retained enough vitality to become a long-range laboratory for the problems of democratic devolution of one-party Communist states. The problems of developing a working model of a decentralized, self-managed economy, with all its consequent political and economic difficulties, makes Yugoslavia a testing ground for the continued vitality of socialism, even when it is facing major problems. Yugoslavia is particularly fascinating because three options are being tried at the same time, in different republics: alliance with the techno-managerial groups, reliance on national populism and devolution, and sharing of power with democratic social movements.


  15. Chapter 10 An Opinionated, Brief, and Prescriptive Summary
    (pp. 118-126)

    1. Yugoslavia has been an extraordinarily fertile laboratory for the prolonged solution of several problems of major interest to potential reformers within the Soviet bloc, as well as to those Western socialists or observers interested in dealing with issues of workersʹ control and selfmanagement, decentralization, management of multiethnicity, and devolution of one-party authoritarian regimes. Laboratories, however, are very difficult and often unpleasant places for people to live in. This has become especially true in Yugoslavia since the outset of the eighties, when the economy began to develop major problems. Quite simply, the margin of error for the regime had become much...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 129-144)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 147-150)
  18. Index
    (pp. 151-158)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 159-159)