Comments on Balkan History
It is fundamental to the materialist understanding of history to start from the analysis of the actual events and their interrelationships from the events which otherwise constitute the motive of the problem and the cause of historical research.
Despite all of this, in the name of the Marxist method, the opposite occurs: From ideas to events. Most of the so-called revolutionary groups analyse the crisis and war in Yugoslavia as a platform of applying their own ideas which they have on the national question or the Balkan one from what they believe was or wasn’t Lenin and Trotskys and the Bolsheviks position.
In relation to the Balkans Lenin and Trotskys positions is falsified as they are presented as followers of the division of the Balkan peninsula so as to apparently fulfil the national desires of the peoples that live there. There cannot be an even more false argument than this.
Above all we should not forget that we are living through the adventure of the New World Order in the Balkans. The USA and the EEC are seeking supports at whatever nationalist excuses so as break up Yugoslavia and the whole of the Balkans into small and defenceless statelets allied to the Western European Union and NATO
This event cannot be ignored in the name of some supra historical principles regarding national self determination. These principles must be supported in the struggle against the New World Order and in no case can they become its excuse for its imposition.
The Balkan peninsula is occupied by a mosaic of nationalities in such a way that in no area can a national problem be solved without another one being created. The independence of Croatia created a national question for the Serbs in Kraijna. The same as the independence of Bosnia on a muslim basis creates a problem for the Serb and Croat occupants of this Yugoslav Republic. The independence of Yugoslav ‘Macedonia’ will surely create problems for the large Albanian minority. It is not special circumstance but the form of the national question as a whole in the Balkan regions.
This reality obliged the socialists and the later the communists and before them Rigas Ferraios and the bourgeois revolutionaries to support the idea of a Balkan Federation, under the framework of which all the national minorities would gain their autonomy.
Initially the idea of a Balkan Federation was in the interest of the ruling classes in the peninsula which had a reason for a ‘common national front’ against the Ottoman Empire. But the Balkan wars of 1912-13 put an end to the same cros Balkan bourgeois coalition and showed that the Balkan Federation was a utopia on the basis of conflicting bourgeois interests. Only the working class could unite the Balkans and create a common Balkan market for economic development and cultural progress of all the peoples.
Death to the Bulgarian invaders EAM poster during WW2
Lenin and Trotsky never supported the idea of the national dissolution of the Balkans. Their position was that the solution of all the national problems in the Balkans was only possible under the framework of a Federation. With this perspective in mind, the CI in the 1920’s founded the Union of Balkan Communist Parties so as to fight for the unity of the peninsula.
It was foreign to Lenin and Trotsky’s idea to have the dissolution of Yugoslavia into ten independent statelets the same for Greece, Rumania and Bulgaria. The national question is not always solved with the secession of national minorities but commonly with multinational unification. A common example is the USA as will all the countries of the US peninsula.
The question of a national secession without a Federation for the Balkans was not made by Lenin and Trotsky but a rising Stalinism inside the Communist International. Practically it limited itself to the demand for an independent Macedonia and Thrace. The idea of a Thracian state was so openly false and technical that soon it was abandoned and forgotten by its architects. As for the Macedonian national independence it led to an alliance of Stalinism with the Bulgarian komitsadides (fascists). It expressed the old views of tsarism and pan-slavism for an exit of Russia in the Meditterranean. The old Russian diplomacy appeared with the new Stalinist attire. Slowly but surely the slogan for a Balkan Federation took its place and later a ‘de nuclearised’ Balkans and peaceful coexistence of states with different social systems.
Already from the 1920’s onwards the ideology of socialism in one country dominated the Communist International. The Union of Balkan Communist Parties in essence expressed the politics of the Bulgarian Communist Party. Its leadership was also the leadership of the CI and was decisively influenced by Zinoviev and Manuilsky.
It is characteristic that its founding document in May 1920 aimed at the crushing of the forthcoming proletarian revolution in Bulgaria and the Balkans.
“The Balkans – wrote this document – is divided today into a great number of small states subjects to the economic and military rule of the Entente and are competing in a more intense level than the pre war one. A victorious revolution in one and only state would not only be threatened from Entente but mainly by the armies of the neighbouring countries”
The opportunism of the leaders of the Bulgarian Party and the CI found a revolutionary formula so as to be camouflaged. The conclusion was that:
“A revolution in Bulgaria was impossible without a parallel Balkan insurrection. If it occurs and is victorious it will be smashed”
Trotsky from then noted that the Bulgarian party which led the Balkan Federation expounded a Marxism which,
“despite all its phenomenal indifference was a Marxism o propaganda, of wating a pathetic and quite immobile Marxism”
The Greek communist movement deeply influenced by the October Revolution and quite young so as to have its own development accepted the instructions of the CI. Later though the conflict between the left opposition – Stalinism, led to P Pouliopoulos initially expressing the position of the international factions with clear diplomatic aims which were based on Balkan, especially Bulgarian opportunism.
Pandelis Pouliopoulos finally supported the old Bolshevik position that the national question in the Balkans could be solved only under the framework of a Balkan Federation. This was Trotskys position and his aim throughout his whole literary work during his writing of the Balkan Wars 1912-13.
Today in Yugoslavia the touchstone of revolutionary politics is not simply the demand to respect the rights of the minorities but above all to restore the Yugoslav Federation, under the framework of which all the nationalities must have full respects and autonomy.
In opposition to this, autonomy and national secession without a Federation is a totally reactionary position which objectively serves the attempts of the New Order and further on from this lays the groundwork of turning Yugoslavia into a permanent theatre of bloody conflicts, without a possibility of an exit from the crisis.
The Yugoslav Federation is a stage towards the Balkan Federation which encompasses the foundation of a new Union of Bolshevik States in the Balkans as a necessary tool for the actualisation of this strategy…
L Sklavos 1992