Issue 231 of SOCIALIST REVIEW Published June 1999 Copyright © Socialist Review
We reject these false dilemmas:
As most of your 'Bosnia: the great carve-up' article (May SR) draws on empirical material from my book Bosnia: Faking Democracy After Dayton, I feel I must write in to distance myself from the article's conclusions.
The point of the book was that elected representatives from ethnic groups in Bosnia have no say in how the state is run. Gareth Jenkins' conclusion that Serbs and Croats have partitioned the state flies in the face of the rest of his article and the book from which it was drawn. No ethnic groups or nationalist politicians are shaping the division of Bosnia. The High Representative's colonial powers are enough to undermine any cohering institutions that could overcome the politics of ethnicity and to fragment and atomise Bosnian society.
Peace and stability cannot be imposed on Bosnia, or Kosovo, by colonial fiat. Only a negotiated compromise between the different ethnic constituencies can give people a stake in the future and provide legitimacy for new state institutions. At the moment the Bosnia protectorate precludes any possibility for this process to take place. This means that local and parochial allegiances are as important as they were during the war, when the state institutions fell apart. The fact that nationalist parties have strong support and that the state is highly fragmented does not mean there is a causal relationship; these are both consequences of colonial rule and the denial of any democratic autonomy.
Dr David Chandler
There is fascism in Kosovo. I can understand why the SWP wants to argue that Milosevic is not a fascist. The pro-war lobby invoke the 1930s and appeasement against fascism as arguments for Nato's actions. As you argue, he is not the 'new Hitler', and Serbia is not the economic giant that Germany was, but this is an argument about scale and size, not category. As far as the latter is concerned, the Serbian military and police are carrying out fascistic policies in Kosovo.
The left is happy to label the BNP's policy of repatriation, voluntary or not, as fascist. As in Kosovo, this is a policy of ethnic cleansing, even though the fascist groupings in Britain do not have the same power that Milosevic's regime does.
Racism is the systemic discrimination against ethnic identity. Fascism extends this discrimination into physical liquidation and planned violence. Many Kosovan Albanian men have been liquidated, and the rest of the population have had planned and systemic violence displace them from their homes. Your definition of fascism is exclusively linked to the fate of workers' organisations, a class reductionism that looks faintly absurd given the realities of what is happening in Kosovo. Admitting that there is fascism may make it harder to mobiIise an anti-war movement, but it is, nevertheless, the truth.
Blair says humanitarianism is the reason for bombing Yugoslavia. This is rubbish. I work for GEC-Tarmac, one of the railway infrastructure companies. GEC makes weapons of mass destruction. Tarmac builds major infrastructure projects throughout the world. The bombing taking place in Yugoslavia will benefit both of these companies--when the war ends, Belgrade's infrastructure will probably be rebuilt by one of the major construction companies.
The same bosses are attacking workers in this country. That's why we held an anti-war meeting for tube and rail workers. We know other workers in Europe are opposed to the war. The meeting decided to build a network of workers who not only want to fight against the war, but want to fight against the bosses in this country.
I would like to support Pat Stack's views on the Guardian (May SR), and urge readers of that paper to switch to the Independent, to complain to the editor of the Guardian about the sacking of Mark Steel and to suggest to the editor of the Independent that he starts a Mark Steel column.
The Guardian tells me that 'a great many other columnists in the Guardian both now and in the future are robustly critical from a left wing view point as well as being witty and amusing'.
However, I suspect that John Carvel, the education editor of the Guardian, hints at the truth in his book Turn Again Livingstone: 'The bigger cheers went to Mark Steel when he urged people to vote for Livingstone [as Labour's candidate for Mayor of London] "because we want to blow a great hole in their rancid, weaselly New Labour project".'
We welcome letters and contributions on all issues raised in Socialist Review. Please keep your contributions as short as possible, typed, double spaced if you can, and on one side of paper only.
Send to: Socialist Review, PO Box 82, London E3 3LH