The Path of the Partisans
Many saw the period immediately following World War II as a time for a new start and hoped it would become a turning point for Europe and the world. It marked an end to the mass violence that had been committed in the name of fascism and extreme nationalism. There were few that realized this would only be the end of one fight leading directly to another. This new conflict centered it self around two ideologies or economic models, communism and capitalism, each supported respectively by the two biggest victors of 1945, the United States of America and the Soviet Union. While most of the world began to recuperate and pick up the pieces from the recent global conflict these two super powers had already started to think what their next moves were, what the map would look like, and what strategies they would have to employ. Europe itself was split in half at Yalta in February 1945. Russia’s influence began to increase in Eastern Europe and the Balkans as America and Britain held strong in the west. Both Soviets and Western governments saw that the unfortunate post-colonial third world was now relatively free from foreign authority, struggling to industrialize, and could now be influenced. This would be done through everything from bribery and pay offs to secret coups and loosely justified hot wars. Some nations were able to choose their fates, Turkey, a historic rival of Russia, took its chances with the West, later even becoming part of the NATO alliance. Other nations were not so lucky. The world was being divided distinctly into two camps. Even before the end of the war, Churchill, Britain’s Prime Minister, had visited Stalin with concerns of British interests in what would most certainly, after the war, be Soviet territory in Romania and elsewhere. Churchill proposed a trade of where the lines would be drawn. He offered 90% dominance of Russia in Romania, for 90% of British dominance in Greece. Bulgaria was split 75/25 with a majority of Russian influence. Hungary was split down the middle, as was another Balkan entity. The second country to be divided 50/50 was Yugoslavia (Glenny, 523).
The second half of the 20th century saw the reemergence of Yugoslavia in the Balkans as a real power. The west saw the Southern Slavs as a natural and historical ally of Russia by design. However, the socialist revolutionaries of Yugoslavia were not under the influence of the Red Army but were merely continuing their struggle for liberation as they had been since the invasion from German Nazis. Three years later in the spring of 1948 Stalin experienced a break in communist unity from Yugoslavia. Josip Broz, known by his war name Tito, shocked Moscow by refusing to allow his country to be wielded under their directive. The Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KJP) branched out and away from Stalinism. This move was of great historical importance not just for the Balkans and Europe, but also for the entire Cold War itself. The complex and difficult histories of these Balkan states led them down a path between the two blocs. The question of Yugoslavia’s unique stance after 1948 has been debated and scrutinized for obvious reasons. Tito had always expressed his loyalty to communism and Russia, but when it came down to it, it was his communism not Stalin’s. Yugoslavia is an extraordinary exception to the main understanding most have of the Cold War being a strictly bi-polar system. To understand how such a position could be taken between the two super powers one must understand the Partisan communist beginnings, the deception of Soviet dominance over them, the complex and sometimes confused Western support, and how Tito’s Nationalist Communism differentiates itself from Stalinism both domestically and abroad.
Yugoslavia was first established in a dense fog. Through the interwar period confusion and tension between the mosaics of cultures within Yugoslavia allowed King Peter II and his government to install themselves through a military coup d’état. They celebrated their new rule by signing a pact with the Axis powers bent on Balkan expansion. Demonstrations were held protesting such an alliance and it was this popular opposition that led Hitler to eventually invade the country. On April 6, 1941 the Germans bombarded Belgrade severely and in less than two weeks on April 17th the Royal Yugoslav army was defeated, unprepared for the German war machine. Hours before the German invasion the Soviet Union had signed a non-aggression pact with Yugoslavia, in an attempt to prevent further war in the Balkans. This backfired when Germany invaded six hours later leading the Soviets to halt all relations with Yugoslavia as they were still tied to their nonaggression pact with Germany (Banac, 4-5). The Russians allowed Yugoslavia to be buried in a deep grave of occupation and genocide. The Italo-German forces set up the Independent state of Croatia and set up the willing fascists of the state to govern, they became known as the Ustase and were led by Andre Pavelic (Rasinow, 1). The new German puppets began to exterminate and convert Serbs in the region. The Germans occupied most villages and major cities, while the Italian forces oversaw other areas of, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Albania.
Thirty months of tragedy, genocide, and ethnic conflict passed in Yugoslavia before the future communist country began to rise from its ashes. November 29th, 1943 in Jajce, Bosnia the second session of the Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia met to deicide how they would face their occupiers. They agreed that their revolution would be a socialist one, as it was the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KPJ) that had started this movement. It is important to note that it was only at this second session that they established their socialist beliefs. This was because there was unwillingness to be influenced directly by Stalinist policy at the first meeting a year previous. The second meeting held the same tone as they explicitly denied intention of installing a Soviet type system. (Rasinow,2). This second session also included the intention to impose a federal system for the republics, which would include greater regional autonomy. These revolutionaries came to be known as the Partisans. Their goals were not just of fighting the occupiers but also to find stability after the war in communism. Unlike previous southern Balkan conflicts characterized by ethnic divisions, they invited all ethnicities of Yugoslavia to fight with them for the socialist cause. They were under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito, who established his headquarters in Uzice, in western Serbia. From there they tried to not only continue a resistance but ensure a stable social and economic life for locals. This goal was difficult to maintain due to sectarian devotion to Stalin but was more or less successful. They established a postal service, schools, cinemas, dance halls, a small weapons factory, and a 145-kilometer long railway. They even established a revolutionary newspaper, Borba (The Struggle), Tito knowing full well the importance of moral and propaganda (Glenny, 487). He also was aware of a possible Soviet intervention later on in the war and prepared for this by informing Stalin of his socialist goals, their joint struggle with Serbians leftist Agrarians and his willingness to an alliance with the USSR against English interests of installing the old monarchy. This should not imply that Tito was working loyally for Stalin as he covertly still planned to seize power in revolutionary Yugoslavia (Banac, 6).
There was however, another revolutionary group in Yugoslavia fighting the German opposition. Although the Royal Yugoslav Army had been defeated so quickly in the beginning, which was surprising to both Allies and Axis forces, many managed to escape into the mountains and forests of Bosnia, Montenegro, and parts of Serbia. These men came under Colonel Dragoljub Mihailovic (Draza), and they became the Chetnik resistance. They were for the most part Serbian, in stark contrast to the Partisans multi ethnic forces. They were loyal to the exiled monarchy, at the time based in London (Glenny, 486). The Chetnik strategy ran a different direction than Tito and his Partisan’s. The Chetniks had adopted a more defensive approach to fighting, as their main goal was the survival of the Serbian population (understandable considering the Ustase violence against Serbs) and not a socialist revolution later on. Their units were based in specific towns and areas for control. The Partisans employed another strategy of highly organized momentum and attack. They remained mobile, if they lost a liberated territory they would simply retreat and move to the next one. This also meant that the Partisans were open to allowing the extreme German retaliation, implying that war time loses such as these would make the socialist revolution later more easily attainable. (Glenny, 488-489).
Internationally the Chetniks were seen as the exiled governments ‘army in the homeland’ and were the recognized group receiving military aid. (Rasinow, 4). Inside Yugoslavia the two groups often engaged in fighting each other instead of the Germans, while the international community (particularly the West) was hesitant in aiding the Partisans. It is interesting to note here that more Yugoslavs were killed by each other than by Germans (Tito: His Own Man?). After some time it became clear that the Partisans were doing a better job at fighting the Germans. Hitler responded to increased Partisan aggression with Operation Weiss and Operation Schwarz, organizing a force of 117,000 Germans, Italians, Croats, and some Serbs against a Tito’s 19,000 Partisans. Tito was able to survive, regroup, and strike again. Churchill with much apprehension encouraged Stalin, Roosevelt, and King Peter to include the KPJ in his government in order to win the war more quickly, as they were proving to be a more than capable fighting force. By 1943 the Partisans received recognition and legitimacy from the exiled King and began to receive military aid from the Allies. It was a marriage of convenience (Tito: His Own Man). The King was eventually forced to disowned the Chetniks during the war due to their collaboration with the Germans against the Partisans, which the allies publicized. By-1944 the Partisans had grown to more than 350,000 under arms (Rasinow, 5). Even before the Soviets came to push out the remaining German forces, Tito had shown his willingness to receive aid from the West and his aversion to Russian communism.
Illusions of Red
Comrade Stalin writes to us from Russia,
O Partisans, be afraid no more!
But we send him an open letter,
We were never afraid at all!
Sreten Zujovic-Crni, 1941
After the war Soviet troops occupied Yugoslavia for ‘protection’. Naturally the new communist nation came under Soviet guidance, thanks to Tito’s previous assurances of collaboration. Despite the Yugoslav leadership’s devotion problems soon arose with the Red Armies presence. Milovan Djilas, Tito’s propaganda lieutenant, complained about the behavior of the Red Army, specifically 1219 rapes, 111 murders and 1204 cases of looting (Glenny, 532). These numbers were especially high considering the Red Army only operated in the northeastern part of the country. The NKVD, the Soviet secret police, were also present in Yugoslavia spying and keeping tabs, but along with them doing the exact same practice was the Yugoslavian secret police, the Department for the Protection of the People (OZNa). The NKVD, OZNa, and in East Germany the Stasi, all differed greatly from their fascist predecessors. The Gestapo destroyed the physical body by shootings or death camps; OZNa and the other new Communist security apparatuses destroyed the spirit and soul by employing brainwashing techniques. However, in Yugoslavia the NKVD and OZNa, which had matured independent of the Soviets, stood opposed. Both kept watch on Yugoslav opposition but also each other. OZNa adopted the phrase Ozna sve dozna (Ozna finds out everything) and became an ever present force in the country (Glenny, 531). OZNa soon discovered how deep the NKVD was in the Yugoslavia state.
Not only were the two communist secret police forces dividing Soviet-Yugoslav relations but also economic ideas. Yugoslavia refused the offer to create joint-stock companies with Russia. This was Russia’s way of taking as much as they could from their satellite countries in attempt to revive the Russian economy. Yugoslavia came up with its own economic plan and before any other Eastern country under Soviet control. The Yugoslav five-year plan was outside of the Soviet ideology, and ideology was Stalin’s main tool of control. Aware of Western concerns Stalin wanted to conceal his imperialist expansions, and Yugoslavian independence could destroy that (Glenny, 532).
Tito and Stalin also disagreed on how to act in the eyes of the international community. Tito informed Stalin if the British invaded Croatia’s coast they would fight back. Stalin not wanting to anger the West further and allow them to think that Tito was following Soviet orders warned him to calm down his revolutionary enthusiasm. As Partisans raced to capture Trieste, the West called for them to back down, which they did. The British, as Stalin had rightly assumed, thought it was an attempt for the Soviets to gain a naval base in the Adriatic, but it was Tito who was looking for to the coast. Yugoslavia also wanted to gain access to Aegean through Salonika, They supported the EAM/ELAS communist revolutionaries in Greece against the West backed monarchy, hoping to find another communist ally in Greece, as they had also been abandoned by the Soviets. This went completely against Stalin’s agreement with Churchill to allow them influence there, making him ever more suspicious of Yugoslavia. (Glenny, 533-34).
As for the socialist revolutionaries’ enemies (their arch-rivals the Chetniks and the Ustase), they received their resentful punishment. On May, 7 1945 around 1-200,000 Croat Ustasa troops and civilians started making their way to the Austrian border. The Partisans pursued them killing 30,000 on the four-day march, and on May 20th 50,000 Croat soldiers and 30,000 refugees were executed over a five-day period (Glenny, 530). The Chetniks and Mihailovic were later hunted down in Bosnia and executed in 1946. These harsh retaliations were condemned by Stalin because they provoked the west, and Yugoslavia was being seen as the Soviet hammer against communist opposition. Although both countries supported the communist idea, they both had different ways of achieving that goal. Yugoslavia and Tito did not conform so easily to Soviet interests when they did not coincide to their own. These instances highlight the fact that the subordinate role that the world saw Yugoslavia playing for Stalin was in fact an illusion.
All these differences found between Tito and Stalin came to headway when Tito and Georgi Dimitrov of Bulgaria began toying with the idea of a closer union. Tito wanted to have an outright federation, but Dimitrov, wishing to secure Bulgaria’s identity preferred a confederation. Both countries neglected Soviet interests in their initiatives. Tito recognized Stalin’s policies as an extension of Tsarist imperial ambitions (Glenny, 534). Bulgaria and Dimitrov, unaware of this, tried to start another Balkan/Danubian confederation including Greece. Stalin saw this as an attempt of his communist allies to act independently of Moscow (Glenny, 535). Stalin also lured Yugoslavia into this trap, thinking that pushing Yugoslavia’s willingness to expand independently would solve the problem. He did this by encouraging their addition of Albania into the federation (Banac, 40). After both Yugoslavia and Bulgaria strayed farther away from the communist pack and Soviet control, Stalin summoned both Dimitrov and Tito to Moscow. Dimitrov tried to defend himself and then buckled, denouncing his own plans (Glenny, 535). Tito on the other hand sent Kardelj, instead of going himself. This was a great insult to Stalin, and he instantly denounced Tito and demanded obedience. On June 28th 1948 at a meeting of the Cominform (Communist Information Bureau) Yugoslavia refused to attend. The date coincided with the Serbs historical battle in Kosovo and the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand. Stalin then accused them of having abandoned the Marxist ideology (Glenny, 535). Stalin had already withdrawn his troops and civilian advisors from Yugoslavia because of the increasingly hostile atmosphere and the increasing surveillance of the Yugoslav secret police (Banac, 43). He expected his power over communist ideology to prevail and push the dubious Marxists out, but Yugoslav nationalism was stronger than communist beliefs. The KPJ took their stand on the grounds of national independence and equality (Banac, 117). For this the Soviet Union stopped all cooperation with Yugoslavia, thinking this would bring the southern Slavs in line. Khrushchev himself had said he had only to ‘lift his little finger’ and the Yugoslavs would be begging for forgiveness (Glenny, 536). However, after being excommunicated from the Soviet circle Yugoslavia did not back down, securing itself a place in Cold War history as a communist nation operating independently of Moscow.
Tito Turns West
Another notable act of operating between the two blocs was Yugoslavia’s dealings with the West. This is of particular importance because although they had been rejected from the East they still maintained a socialist ideology, one that now needed to be unique and purely Yugoslavian. They still maintained the idea of collectivization and other Marxist practices, particularly the practice of brutally rooting out opposition. Tito decided that the recent split between him and Stalin would need to be followed by a new strictly Yugoslavian form of communism aided by the spirit of nationalism if they were to survive their exclusion (Glenny, 536). His two closest advisors, Edvard Kardelj and Milovan Djilas, persuaded him that a distinct socialist ideology was necessary. Without it the break would be seen as nothing more than an old nationalist or new imperialist action (Glenny, 575). Yugoslav political thinkers and statesmen looked to discover the fundamental flaws in Stalinism. The South Slavs had never been known for their philosophical thinking, but now a flow of criticism, theory, and experimentation followed (Rusinow, 48). This led them to Yugoslavia’s unique communist theory of self-management.
The break with the Soviets was not without consequences. An economic blockade was placed on Yugoslavia from the eastern bloc. This was a huge set back because Yugoslavia depended on the USSR and its allies for most of its raw materials and almost all its oil. The USA was aware of this and decided to keep Tito and his little experiment alive, as a potential invaluable ally against the Russians. The West, having backed the Partisans considerably during the war, now could continue to back a communist state a little more easily (or legitimately) with Yugoslavia’s unique twist on socialism, though they only really did this for strategic reasons against the USSR (Glenny, 536).
The blockade forced Yugoslavia to find other markets outside of the Soviet world. From 1945-49 almost all trade had been done with the Soviet bloc countries. Starting in 1948 trade with Austria, France, Great Britain, Italy, West Germany, and the United States began to increase dramatically, while trade with Soviet countries dropped to zero from 1950- 54 (Vucinich, 104). In the period of 1949-53 the average percent of Yugoslavian exports to the West was 57.5 percent, while imports were averaged at 49.8 percent. During these years the percentage of American trade also increased dramatically from 2.6 percent exports and 3.4 percent imports to 13.1 percent exports and 22.8 percent imports (Vucinich, 107). This emphasizes the room Yugoslavia had to move internationally in terms of trade. Yugoslavia was supplied with basic food supplies, raw materials, and numerous other commodities. Also important were military supplies from the United States, which allowed them to continue a defiant stance against Moscow while surviving the blockade. There were however drawbacks, the country with its state monopoly was dealing with private enterprise nations, because of this they were forced to work with private credits and to secure imports they had to accept them at short and medium terms and with high rates of interest (Vucinich, 107). This would later become a problem when the Western economy entered crisis in 1973.
Economic aid from the United States began with a 20 million dollar loan from the Export-Import Bank in September 1949. This helped Yugoslavia purchase necessary industrial machinery and raw materials. The loan was given again two years later for the same purposes. After these first loans France and Great Britain began granting small loans to the communist country. The loans and imports were necessary between 1950-54 due to drought and lack of food supplies in Yugoslavia, but their new Western backing was enough to get them through this difficult time. The economic aid came of course partly from a need to lessen the suffering of the starving Yugoslavian population but this humanitarian cause was only a part of the reason for the aid. The military aid was also included to help Yugoslavia stand up for them selves, though specifically standing up and facing east. The question of Yugoslav aid in the US Congress and White House led to much scrutiny, but was concluded to be a calculated risk (Vacinich, 108-111). Though the United States did gain advantages from aiding the Slavs, it in no way lessens the importance of the fact that Yugoslavia was able to do business with the West. From the end of the war to 1962 the United States had aided Yugoslavia with a total of 2,304 million dollars, including military aid, grants, credit, and other assistance (Vacinich, 113).
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The Road Not Taken-Robert Frost
Yugoslavia certainly chose the road less traveled by (or perhaps a better metaphor would be that Tito saw both paths and chose to make his own), when they chose to act in defiance of Stalin and continue to boast a new quasi-Marxist path. Kosta Cavoski noted “By saying ‘No!’ to Stalin, Tito stood on his own two feet for the first time in the world of politics. And henceforth, his glittering political leadership was no longer a mere reflection of Stalin’s sun…From that moment on, Tito now represented the sun for most Yugoslavs…Serpens nisi serpentem comederit non fir draco – a snake cannot become a dragon until it has eaten another snake” (Cavoski, 18-19). This path sometimes seemed like a comfortable middle ground and at other times a razors edge. Yugoslavia became a place where westerners could go on vacation and where educational exchanges took place. The Journal Praxis was also inviting members from both Warsaw Pact and NATO to the country, welcoming critiques of both communism and capitalism. It became an intellectual boiling pot, where liberal westerners could support a milder form of communism (Glenny, 588). In 1952, the KPJ changed its name to the League of Communists (LCY) in order to distance it self further from Stalinism. As mentioned before, Tito needed a new Yugoslav communism to justify his breaking off with Stalin; this came in the form of self-managing socialism. This was a strange mix of Marxist rhetoric and capitalist economics, a curious laissez-faire socialism. Some have argued the Yugoslav ideology as ‘double talk’ and showing no major differences than Soviet thought, and that Tito’s ideology only offers practical policies such as market socialism and open frontiers (Vucinich, 169). However, the fact that Stalin expelled a potential satellite and strong ally merely because Yugoslavia operated with market socialism instead of his own communism exemplifies these major differences was real. The countering political and economic viewpoints found rich soil in the complex culture and history of the southern Balkan federations creating this hybrid system most refer to as Titoism. Its innovativeness is in some sense more agreeable with true Leninism than Stalinism or its future incarnations. Marx himself wrote, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point is to change it.” (Vucinich, 171). Yugoslavia is a monument to the insistence that ideology is a guide to action, and that the creative development of Marxism is key. The Italian and Spanish communist parties also began to deviate along with the LCY and away from Moscow’s socialist doctrine (Vucinich, 181). Yugoslavia is a prime example of innovative communist theory, even if they were forced into the situation through stubborn nationalism and independent tendency.
By the end of 1957 self-management had taken root and was growing. The system now focused more on local factors and it stressed the indigenous character of their revolution (Vucinich, 172). In its essence it was moving decision making from a political center to the shop floor. However, this involvement of Workers councils in distribution of investments and profits seemed to undermine the democratic centralism, core to any communist dictatorship following Lenin’s path. Liberals inside the new LCY saw devolution and self-management as an opportunity to push for reform. The devolution of powers from the center also brought up the national question of the six republics in the federation. When conservatives and liberals from all republics had disagreements Tito was always the final decider, without his final say, Yugoslavia would have been lost earlier on. With Tito leading the way down the razors edge, it never seemed to be that narrow.
Self-managing socialism was the domestic aspect to Yugoslavia’s state policy, but its foreign policy aspect was the Nonalignment movement. Yugoslavia tried to maintain good relations with both east and west blocs despite disagreements over things like Vietnam or a world Communist conference. The Yugoslav foreign policy took a clear stance against imperialism and alignment (Rasinow, 213). In 1961 in Belgrade and 1964 in Cairo conferences of a non-aligned Heads of State and Government were held. The second conference, while not as successful as the first, still showed that the non-aligned movement was alive and gaining momentum (Rasinow, 163). After Stalin’s death in 1953 the ice between Belgrade and Moscow began to thaw, both showing willingness to normalize relations and bring some unity back to the socialist world (Glenny, 578). In 1961, eight years after Stalin’s death, Soviet-Yugoslav looked much warmer. From the Soviet perspective, it was a question of Communist influence in the Third World. It was important for the USSR to have good relations with Yugoslavia, as it had become a bridge connecting Eastern, Western, and Third World countries. Even Tito at the Belgrade non-alignment conference began to show good will towards the Soviets once again. In May 1962 Krushchev himself went back on Stalin’s excommunication of the Yugoslavs by assuring to Bulgaria and Romania that Yugoslavia was ‘also building socialism’ and that self-management was a positive phenomenon (Rusinow, 163-164). Tito was playing his foreign policy by ear; he was practicing it independently, practically, and without concern to consequence. If one side blocked them out, the southern Slavs always had other options. Tito refused to deviate Yugoslavia’s course to satisfy the will of other nations. Yugoslavia also enacted a policy of active peaceful coexistence that was on a global scale (Rasinow,165). Its promotion of peace and non-alignment with other neutral states in Asia and Africa went alongside the quiet maintenance of economic and political ties to the West (Rasinow, 94). This complex dance between East and West stirred up liberal and conservative ideas at home, but these arguments were always led to calmer discussions with the guiding hand (or Iron fist) of Tito. Though his foreign policy was sound and balmy, he made sure the enemies of socialism were taken care of, sometimes with great force. Tito’s infallibility kept Yugoslavia together, but his solutions to most problems were always short lived, as he came up with no real long-term solution to the national question (Glenny, 574).
One cannot speak of the Yugoslav experiment without mentioning its disastrous ending. While aid and loans received from the West, due to the blockade with the East, did highlight Yugoslavia’s maneuverability on its alternative path between a bi-polar system it also created the problem of debt. The interest rates on the loans were high and like many communist countries Yugoslavia’s economy eventually became stagnant in the beginning of the 60s. This economic reverse brought about the question of whether it was caused by too much or too little reform. Should the economy be further liberalized, or should the government step in more? The debate lasted three years with Croat liberals calling for devolution and full realization of self-management with more autonomy being granted to the republics (Glenny, 580). On the opposite side, conservative, unitarist, Serbians wanted the central authority to remain where it was; in Belgrade with the banks. The secret police, OZNa, had become UBDa, remained mostly Serbian dominated, and was led by Aleksandar Rankovic. When the question of reform came, Rankovic used his position to block any chance of reform, further hurting the economy. Two years later Tito took his chance and moved against his old comrade Rankovic. Tito removed him, and continued with the economic reforms. This was another example of Tito using his power to defuse ethnically charged debates, such as further devolution, or continuing Serbian run centralism (Glenny, 580-583). The economic stagnation was an important problem to fix because most of the Western aid money and loans went toward big projects in Yugoslavia and defense spending, leaving the lower classes angry. However, Tito solved this by dismantling UBDa (Serbian) with KOS , a new Croat run secret police agency. He may have solved the problem but only by pitting one ethnicity against the other.
In 1968 liberal students rioted in Belgrade against social and economic injustice. Tito gave them only empty promises to calm them down, but it was enough. Then when Croats began to question why money from Slovene and Croatia’s thriving industries was being mostly used to fix the poor southern republics, some Croats began displaying group favoritism instead of seeing Yugoslavia as a whole country and ethnicity (Glenny, 585). In March 1967 they made a Declaration in the form of a literary debate, against the use of Serbian as the main language. This was also a call for further self-management and devolution away from Belgrade. This rise in nationalist sentiment came in the wake of Rankovic’s demise (Glenny, 586). Tito though able to control and quell disputes continued to make more.
He dealt harshly with Kosovo Albanians in their movement for more rights and autonomy, which would cause huge problems later for Yugoslavian stability. Bosnian Muslims, matured into a modern nation inside Yugoslavia, causing a rift that would later widen due to Serb and Croat minorities in the Bosnian region. Slovenes took to the streets in 1969 due to their infrastructure being ignored by both Zagreb and Belgrade (Glenny, 588). Tito did well to control the complex multiplicity of problems but found no real solution to fix them. Instead of fairly devolving powers away from unitarism, which had become synonymous with Serbian nationalism, he simply swung Croatian nationalism as his instrument of power. In 1969 the Croatian Spring had begun, shifting the Yugoslav ideology away from its roots in the Partisan struggle. Liberal Croats wanted to move away from communist dogma and towards democratic socialist ideas. This did not at all match the Serbian Communist Leagues objectives. In December 1971 Tito cracked down on Zagreb liberal ideas but did not allow tensions between Serbs and Croats to die down, preferring to play each off the other to settle things. Even worse still was the problem of the divide between new cosmopolitan population and the rural countryside (Glenny, 588-595).
Then came the West economic downturn in 1973, forcing almost 800,000 Yugoslav workers in the West to return. This coupled with the massive debts from the west put Yugoslavia back into crisis mode. By 1982 the debt stood at 18.5 billion. With nationalism on the rise, unemployment reaching new heights and the economy out of control, the reforms made earlier on were halted. To solve this new crisis Tito brought about a constitutional reform in 1974. It was a complex and confusing document that also gave more power to Kosovo and Vojvodina, two regions of Serbia. This merely buried nationalism until its return. The 1974 Constitution was again not a long-term solution. It was based on a system of political musical chairs to stop power from being accumulated in one position for too long. It also gave more powers to the republics in the federation but the relationship between centre and federal units was ambiguous and grey. When Tito died in 1980, it led to mass confusion and corruption. Without Tito leading the way, favoritism crept in among the Slav cultures. After the fall of the USSR the country was no longer able to maintain its balance of ethnicities as cultural scars left by Tito to fester opened up leading to disaster.
The Yugoslav road was its own road undoubtedly, but it also deviated from Marxist theory at crucial points. Engels and Marx had always described nationalism as a bourgeois factor, and not a proletariat one. With the rise of the proletariat a sense of internationalism toward all socialists worldwide should have been adopted and nationalism thrown out. Yugoslavia however, held on to its nationalist and ethnic divisions, ignoring its uniting Partisan strictly Yugoslavian history in its complex brand of a market socialist state. This is most likely a failure by Tito to bring about a real sense of Yugoslavian nationalism.
Since the Partisans Yugoslavia has treaded its own path. It did this standing defiantly against the East, while still trying to play the role of a country part of the socialist order. They created their own brand of Yugoslav communism in the form of self-management even when the communist hierarchy treated it as heresy. It traded, while not always openly to its own public, but successfully with the West. They even adopted an ideology of non-alignment during the Cold War most countries would have considered impossible to maintain. A lot can be said about Tito and his ability to rule his country with such ferocity while still being admired as a father like figure, but the fact remains that the Yugoslav alternative was at one time alive and truly remarkable in the face of the two superpowers.
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