Volume 16 (1998)

The Regional Problem and the Break-Up of the State:
The Case of Yugoslavia
Časlav Ocić

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 National Question"and Nationalism

In single-party mobilizational systems -such as the Yugoslav system after 1945 -interregional policy, or any other policy, cannot be dissociated from its ideological underpinnings. This is particularly true of interethnic and interrepublican relations, whose framework and direction was set by an explicit, full-fledged national politics derived from the Marxist-Leninist ideological postulates of the system. Lenin argues that "all definitions in general have only a conditional and relative meaning,"and so does the definition of nation, particularly with regard to its dialectical-historical connections with class and society. These connections are not defined by any universal rule. Labour parties are entitled to "differentiated"political strategies, Lenin points out. So, labour parties of an "oppressive nation"are entitled to insist upon the "right of an oppressed nation to secession,"whereas the labour party of "an oppressed nation"should insist on "the right to unification." A big nation has to accept a certain inequality in relation to a small nation. In this way, it would give up the advantages that it unjustifiedly gained during the previous period of historical development as well as the advantages stemming from the mere fact of its numerical superiority to small nations. The right of each nation to self-determination, uncompromisingly defended by Lenin, coincides with the interests of the proletariat, i.e. of the communist revolution. The latter has international aspirations and in this regard the "national question"itself becomes a global issue -it is directly associated with the establishment of the Communist New World Order. Therefore, wherever nationalism is subversive of an existing (noncommunist) order, "the right of oppressed nations to self-determination"should be "unwaveringly"supported. For Lenin, national self-determination means "political self-determination, the right to secession and establishment of an independent state." The right of a nation to self-determination, according to Lenin, is an uncompromising principle of political democracy. But it also means a complete equalization (?!) of nations in terms of economy, culture and education. In a multinational community, with markedly uneven development, "under socialism,"this implies an active policy of national equality, in other words a considerable redistribution of the "conditions and results"of development or, in regional policy terms, an "even regional development."
Despite assertions of official ideologues that the politics dealing with the national question was consistent at least since 1925, several stages in the development of the Yugoslav communists' national politics are noticeable.17 These are: (1) 1919-1923: defence of centralism and unitarism, the concept of the three-name (Serbo-Croat-Slovene) people; (2) 1923-1928: internal disputes between the left wing and the right wing of the Party; (3) 1928-1934: the period of the Comintern, marked by the Comintern order to split Yugoslavia into separate, ethnically homogenous national states; (4) 1934-1943: recognition of the right to national self-determination, coupled with the desire to preserve the unity of the socialist Yugoslavia; (5) 1943-1964: federalism characterized by the disjunction of the republics and nations, and the more implicitly than explicitly formulated idea of Yugoslavism; (6) 1964-1974/1992: dismissal of Yugoslavism and the identification of nations with republics and, consequently, of interethnic with interrepublican relationships; and (7) 1974-1992: consensualism and the disintegration of the state.
The idea of national economies (i.e. economies of republics and provinces in which national working classes -through their /party/ states -freely use their national surplus values) emerged in the "sixth stage"of the evolution of the Party's national politics, beginning in 1964 when the 8th Congress of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia laid the ideological foundations for the identification of nations with republics, i.e. of interethnic with interrepublican relations.
The idea and the practice of "national economies"was accompanied by a variety of ideological rationalizations. Two fundamental attitudes that provided plausible grounds for republican and provincial economies to become "national economies"were: (a) that "national economies"... "are a safeguard against unequal relationships and against any attempts at exploitation"(Hasan HadHad�iomerovi18; and (b) that "national economies"promote national independence and state sovereignty. Thus, the economy was defined in strictly functional terms, in terms of promoting state sovereignty: the completion of protected economic structures of republics and provinces, i.e. the creation of "national economies,""springs out of a natural need to secure the strongest and safest possible foundation for the economic independence implied by sovereignty"(Hasan Had�iomerovi19 ).
The degrees of external dependence and of autarky, however, did not prove to be inversely proportional, as was believed by the break-up theorists. That dependence and autarky are not mutually exclusive (i.e. that autarky is no remedy for dependence) is illustrated by numerous examples of underdeveloped countries whose dependence has grown shifting from consumer goods to production goods. As imports and particularly technological dependence increased, so did the overall dependence. Also, dependence is usually associated with the market as -in Marxist terms -an exploitive institutional mechanism per se. Did the market enable transfers of income from underdeveloped to developed Yugoslav regions? Perhaps it did, inasmuch as the market existed. It should be noted that in Yugoslavia certain functions of the market (the allocative function, for instance) were hardly ever performed. The market was parcelled: interrepublican trade kept declining. Actually, there was no single Yugoslav market for goods, let alone for factors of production. Besides, developed regions (potential exploiters) and underdeveloped regions (potentially exploited) were closing their respective regional markets with an almost equal intensity.
In the case of Yugoslavia one could hardly speak of a classic (market) exploitation, in view of the fundamentally anti-market orientation of the system in all its forms -from the centrally planned to the consensual. Exploitation was a matter of position and status, involving, first, the monopoly to create institutions and, then, the very place in the power structure. As the power centres were mostly located in the sphere of politics rather than of the economy, the crucial role in both social and regional (national) exploitation was played by the privileged social groups, republics and nations.
The domination of political over economic sphere, from the point of view of Yugoslav regional development, manifested itself in the strong action of the political oligarchy of the loosely connected federal units towards an increasing closure of the republican/provincial economies. Republican nomenklaturas' insistence on the creation of six "national"economies meant an anachronic, antidevelopmental fragmentation of the Yugoslav economic (and not only economic) space. The creation of "national"economies provided the basis for a qualitative change in the organization of the state: the creation of several independent, sovereign states vis-a-vis the federation.
The process of putting into practice the concept of national economies (with corresponding autarkic tendencies) led to a continuous slowdown in Yugoslavia's economic growth, its diminishing competitiveness and growing dependence. Concurrently, the process was a source of constant political instability and harsh conflicts. The concept of national economies brought diverse "passions"into the economic sphere, which more than any other sphere should be ruled by reason. So, this sphere (otherwise the primary, and in developed countries almost exclusive source of conflicts of interests) lent additional strength to an already strong and objectively determined secondary line of conflicts (race, religion, nation and language) so characteristic of developing countries.
The two ideological and political cornerstones of the post-war Yugoslav "commonwealth"were the following: (a) that the socialist society solves the problem of uneven (economic) regional development, unsolvable under capitalism; and (b) that only socialism makes national harmony and equality possible. Was the regional problem solved (or at least alleviated) in the socialist, federal republic of Yugoslavia? Were national equality and harmony achieved? The answer is definitely negative: Yugoslavia's development after 1945 and after 1965 showed the end of the path of a road of decentralization without democracy and without efficient mechanisms of economic cohesion, with an arbitrary interregional redistribution and a permanently suboptimal global allocation of resources. The heightening effect of centripetal forces led Yugoslav economy, state and society, etc. into disintegration, eventually taking the form of an explosion.
The role of nation and nationalism in the break-up of Yugoslavia is twofold. It has its (a) international and (b) internal aspects.
In more recent history, because of its subversive nature, nationalism has been the most suitable vehicle for breaking up large (especially multi-national) states. Today, the leading actors in world politics use it, before all, to dismantle the Soviet (communist) empire. Here, Yugoslavia served as guinea pig for testing the mechanism of the New World Order (NWO). In the vocabulary of the NWO protagonists both the Russians and the Serbs are referred to as expansionist and conquering, i.e. as imperialistic ("oppressive") nations. This is not the only correspondence between the NWO and Marxist-Leninist (communist) terminologies. The latest NWO, like communism, also has planetary ambitions and, in its purpose and essence, though not in terminology (which is democratic), is equally revolutionary, because the change is so universal and radical that it can only be effected by force. Therefore it is concerned neither with legality nor with legitimacy. The fight against communism is used as a justification for secessionism -anticommunism is an alibi not only for separatism, but also for various kinds of selective (inconsistent, i.e. ad hoc) foreign intervention. The NWO means a victory of the bourgeois principle over the proletarian principle and therefore nationalism is always supported because it is now primarily anticommunist in nature. The New World Order uses nationalism to score a victory over communism but, fundamentally, not to promote the nation, but rather to negate it. Just as the nation (nationalism) is a temporary aid to the proletariat in its struggle against capitalism and for the Communist New World Order, so is it to the Anticommunist New World Order. The New World Order is, thus, not only anticommunist but also antinational (it advocates "a confederation of regions,"which is why it is being introduced into the "Old Continent"as "the Europe of regions").