Tag Archives: national liberation

Questions of Form, Reform and National Liberation in State Capitalism & World Revolution

written with Will

Chapter IX of SC&WR addresses the issues of Tito and Yugoslavia.  In many ways the question of Yugoslavia could be seen as the last straw for the Johnson-Forest Tendency.  Yet again orthodox Trotskyists and the Fourth International fetishized nationalized property and described Tito’s Yugoslavia as breaking Left from Stalin’s Russia without asking that central question:  was the working class self-governing?

Along with China, Yugoslavia posed other challenges to the common conception of Marxism for that time.  Like other exercises in national liberation, Yugoslavia raised questions about the role of the peasantry, the material limitations of national liberation without world revolution, and the dynamic class tensions within national liberation movements.

Hopefully the following prompts can help us think through some of these issues.

  • How do they describe the mode of labor in Yugoslavia? (86)  How did this compare to Stalin’s Russia?
  • What was Tito’s People’s Front, and what role does the Johnson-Forest Tendency argue it played in relation to class tensions?
  • Tito and the Communist Party Yugoslavia (CPY) established a method of emboldening the bureaucracy that could be described as a process of upward mobility;  “in its crisis it sought to strengthen the state authority by new recruitments from those who have shown readiness in the factory to exceed the norms in production.” (92)  The notion of meritocracy is a common conception today of what an egalitarian society should look like.  How have we encountered and challenged these sentiments in our own organizing?
  • The Titoist bureaucracy, through a process of criticism and self-criticism, argues for “decentralization.” (93)  The demand for decentralization is still common in progressive/Left circles today.  Is this enough?  Does decentralization have any role in defining the new society?
  • The example of Yugoslavia is posed as similar to other experiences of national liberation.  What was the relationship of the CPY bureaucracy to the Yugoslavian working class when it opposed the Kremlin? (96)  How does the class nature of the Titoist bureaucracy explain its relationship to both the US and Russian empires? (94-95)  How has the problem of socialism in one country been manifest in the historical failures of other national liberation movements – socialist, nationalist, or otherwise?
  • JFT describes the CPY bureaucracy as “concretely nationalist and abstractly internationalist,” what does this mean? (97) How has the Trotskyist tradition understood the nature and process of national liberation?  Is it necessarily a bourgeois revolution?  Are there alternative conceptions of national liberation movements, and why are they necessary?