Volume 16 (1998)

The Regional Problem and the Break-Up of the State:
The Case of Yugoslavia
╚aslav OciŠ

The Nature and the Scope of the Regional Problem
Regional Policies and Changes in the Institutional Framework
Regional Development Levels: Grouping of Regions
Structural Change: Shift-Share Analysis
Efficiency: Shift-Share Analysis
Interregional Relations: Autarky
Some Other Results of the Regions' Development
Regional Development Costs: Ratios of Investment
Interregional Income (Re)distribution
Regional Convergence or Divergence?
Equality: The Failure of the Positive Discrimination Model
"The National Question" and Nationalism
Separatism: Economic and Political
A Long Journey from Utopia to Dystopia
Selected Bibliography
Data Sources & Documents
Appendix  (1)  (2)

The efficiency of regional development, in the broadest sense, should be evaluated by the sum total of all the results and costs of a region's development. Besides investments that were essential for the achievement of certain results there were unnecessary costs as well. This wasteful spending, as a consequence of a negative politicization of regional development, particularly in underdeveloped regions, gave rise to social parasitism and led to a cultural disorientation in development and eventually, since the process was a lasting one, to the so-called parasitic involution.
The political monopoly of the Yugoslav communist party was one of the three main factors which determined economic policy in general and regional policy in particular. The other two were the federal state structure, mostly rooted in ethnic differences, and economic planning (of the command, indicative, pseudoindicative i.e. self-management agreement type). The debate about party control was focused on the principles of the party's organization (especially the principle of democratic centralism) under the conditions of legislative decentralization of society. The federal state structure raised two questions: of the distribution of power among the federation and federal units and of the distribution of power between regional and local authorities and economic enterprises. On top of the traditional debate about the relative efficiency of centralized versus decentralized planning mechanisms, economic planning opened the issue of the development priorities of certain republics and of the level and the objectives of regional policy.
The evolution of the postwar economic policy reflects the quest for a compromise between and within the following dimensions of the political structure: centralized political and economic power was constantly in conflict with the legislative decentralization, the decentralization of corporate governance ("self-management socialism"gave rise to political promotion of the "autonomy"of the workplace), as well as with the distributive and redistributive regional policies. As this conflict proved basically unproductive, the compromise that was reached may be considered a "bad compromise"in E÷si's13 terms.
After many unsuccessful attempts the Yugoslavia of the 1980s was presented with the dramatic question of whether to become "a serious and responsible society"with clearly defined rules of conduct. In other words, the problem of a transition from a pseudo-political to an authentic (pluralistic) political condition presented itself. This also implied a transition from a pseudo-legal to a legal environment as well as from a pseudo-economic to an economic environment. The result was an open (previously latent) general crisis, whose integral part (or more precisely, mirror) was a crisis of regional development.
Does this mean that the fundamental, strategic objective of regional policy (an even regional development) was merely one of the (utopian) illusions of a revolutionary and ideologized society? The illusion was dispelled when the external sources of finance for the Yugoslav "experiment"dried up and the issue of postrevolutionary normalization14 was placed on the agenda. Indeed, two questions, stripped of their regional or rather regionalist cloak, in which they had frequently been wrapped throughout the postwar period, were brought out into the open:
  1. What is a republic -a region or a national state?
    People living in a republic developed a consciousness about their territory as a political entity, since their region was either once an independent state or aspired to become. Additionally, the republics had legal guarantees for this, especially under the 1974 Constitution. Moreover, the self-assertion of republics was reinforced by autarkic practices stemming from Stalinist and Kardeljist economic theories.
  2. What is Yugoslavia -a common and lasting framework for answering the "national questions"of Yugoslav nations or a provisional establishment, a waiting-room in which everyone was hoping to grab an opportunity for their separate solutions or the achievement of "thousand-year-old dreams"of state sovereignty?

All this had already been strikingly evident (particularly since 1965) in the philosophy of regional development in the form of: (a) a refusal to accept the need for regional policy on the federal level; and (b) double standards -one regional logic was applied on the federal level, another on the republican. An illustrative example is the operationalization of equality as the principle that underlied the long-term, strategic goal of regional development. With reference to territory and space this goal was defined as an evenness of regional development, while with reference to the citizen, social or ethnic group -as equality. How was territorial, national, social, civil (or whatever) equality to be achieved through instruments and objectives of regional policy? With great difficulty, of course, particularly insofar as, by an impossible simplification, the republic, nation and state were equated. What were the chances of achieving national equality on the part of the members of the Yugoslav nations who lived outside the "mother"republic, especially when they were unable to act as subjects on the level of the collective?