Workers and Youth: Form Popular Councils and Take the Power! Spread the Revolution to the whole Balkan! For a Socialist Federation of the Balkan People!
Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 9.2.2014, www.thecommunists.net
1. The worldwide wave of popular uprisings and revolutions has reached Bosnia since February 5. The protesters themselves call it the “Bosnian Spring” referring to the “Arab Spring”. We send our warmest greetings of solidarity to the heroic Bosnian workers and youth who are fighting on the streets against the greedy capitalists and corrupt politicians! Bosnia has been plundered for nearly two decades by imperialist corporations and sleazy native entrepreneurs. They have been assisted by the corrupt caste of politicians which dominate all parties of the Bosniak, Serbian and Croatian communities. The country is occupied by Western imperialists who treat it like a colony. The task is now to transform the spontaneous uprising into an organized revolution. This means that the workers and peasants should overthrow the ruling class and take the power in their own hands. To avoid a derail of the revolution it is urgent that the political advanced workers and youth form a workers’ party based on a revolutionary program.
A brief Overview of the Historical Background
2. In the 1980s the Stalinist system in Yugoslavia entered a terminal crisis. Against this background, the ruling bureaucratic castes of the different republics like Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia were striving to transform themselves into ruling capitalist classes. To keep popular support for this goal, the camouflaged their policy with nationalism. In this, the Serbian bourgeois regime of Slobodan Milošević was the driving force and by the late 1980s it controlled the Yugoslavian federal institutions. It intensified the oppression of the Kosovar Albanians (which were always suppressed by Serbia since their annexation in 1913). It started to oppress also other people of the Yugoslav republic. The Croatian bourgeois regime of Franjo Tuđman copied Milošević’s reactionary chauvinism. Beside the Kosovar Albanians, the Bosnians were the most effected victims of the Serbian (and Croatian) chauvinism.
3. The RCIT (respectively our predecessor organization) always defended the Bosnian people against the genocidal war which was started by the Serbian (and Croatian) nationalist forces in 1992. This war brought unspeakable suffering for the Bosnian Muslims and those Serbs and Croats who resisted the nationalist partition of Bosnia by the Serbian and Croatian chauvinists. According to a report about the war 1992-95 by the head of the Bosnian Delegation to the United Nations in 2008, 200,000 people were killed, 12,000 of them children, up to 50,000 women were raped, and 2.2 million were forced to flee their homes (in a country of about 4 million people)! We denounced the reactionary Bosnian government of Alija Izetbegović which – like the bureaucracies of the other republics – was striving to restore capitalism and which failed to defend the Bosnian people against the chauvinist aggressors. We called for international support for the national liberation war of the Bosnian people and combined this with the perspective of a multi-national workers republic in Bosnia as part of a socialist Balkan federation. We denounced the US and EU imperialists who strangled the Bosnian resistance with an arms embargo and whose UN troops collaborated with the Serbian chauvinists when the butcher General Mladić organized the mass murder of 8.000 Muslim men in Srebrenica in July 1995. We were part of the International Workers Aid campaign delivering medicine, clothes, etc. for the workers in Tuzla and other places. We called for arms and international volunteer brigades for the Bosnian resistance and denounced the NATO bombing campaign in summer 1995 which stopped the Bosnian national liberation forces when they were starting to advance and to take back the areas which they had lost in the first war years. In short, the RCIT stood – in contrast to many pseudo-Marxist groups – for the victory of the Bosnian people and the defeat of reactionary Serbian chauvinists and combined this with the perspective of a socialist Balkan federation.
4. The US and EU imperialists enforced the reactionary Dayton Accord in 1995 on the Bosnians. This accord installed the so-called High Representative and the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina which transformed Bosnia into a colony of the US and the EU. It left 49% of the country under the control of Serbian chauvinist forces. Today the Western imperialists have stationed 900 soldiers (European Union Force Althea) amongst which Austrian imperialism provides the biggest contingent of 300 troops. The RCIT opposed the imperialist interference in Bosnia from the beginning. We call for the expulsion of all imperialist troops and the immediate dissolution of the so-called High Representative and all other foreign institutions which restrict Bosnian’s sovereignty.
5. The colonialization of Bosnia by the imperialist powers is also obvious in the so-called International Criminal Court in The Hague. The Great Powers enforce Bosnia since years to extradite war criminals or alleged war criminals. The RCIT denounces this imperialist colonialism and calls for workers and peasant tribunals in Bosnia – composed of the families and friends of the victims in the genocidal war – to judge over the war criminals.
The Capitalists plundered Bosnia with the help of corrupt Politicians
6. Since then the country has been plundered and impoverished by native and foreign capitalists who were actively helped by corrupt politicians. Today more than 44% of the Bosnians are without a job. About 100,000 old people don’t receive their pensions – including for war veterans who risked their life in the liberation war. The average income for Bosnian workers is 420 Euro per month which is the level of Albania or Namibia. Many live below the official poverty line and suffer from hunger. In many factories, which are the heart of the present uprising, workers have not received their wages for many months or even years. Factories have closed and their owners left the country with full pockets after their workers spent their savings to buy a significant share of “their” enterprise. At the same time many privatizations of state enterprises turn out to be criminal schemas for quick enrichment of greedy capitalists. In this they are helped by the politicians of all parties who enrich themselves in manifold ways. In addition the people are suffering from the “petty corruption” like the policemen or the little bureaucrats who hold out their hand at every opportunity.
7. Unsurprisingly anger and unrest have simmered for long amongst the Bosnian people. For many years they were hold back to take mass actions because their rulers asked them for more time given the devastating effects of the war. But people have seen now that the more time they give their rulers, the worse the situation becomes. The latest wave of privatizations of state enterprises was the trigger for the revolution. The mass strikes and demonstrations started from the Tuzla enterprises Polihem (acid and alkali), DITA (washing powder), Konjuh (wood processor) and Resod-Guming (chemical product makers). The workers there have not received their wages for more than one year and had no health insurance. After these enterprises have been privatized, the owners want to close them now and sack 10.000 workers. The government plans further privatizations of many other state enterprises like Energopetrol, tabacco enterprise FDS in Sarajevo, Bosnalijek, Sarajevo-Insurance, Alumnij in Mostar, Energoinvest and the Steel Factory Zenica. After the workers gave so many sacrifices for years in the hope for a better future, they are now forced to recognize that the bosses and their government destroy the future for the workers and only fill their own pockets. This was the final straw which triggered the uprising. In other words, this is a popular revolution against the effects of the restoration of capitalism in the 1990s.
The Character of Popular Uprising
8. The Bosnian Revolution started in Tuzla. This city of 120,000 people has always been the industrial heart of Bosnia and is the center of the Bosnian working class. It has a multi-ethnical composition. It has a long and proud tradition of class struggle and internationalism. During the Great Miner Strike in Britain in 1984/85 the miners of Tuzla collected money and sent it to their brothers and sisters. British miners returned this favor by initiating the International Workers Aid campaign in 1993. Tuzla was also the heart of the multi-ethnical Bosnian working class resistance against the Serbian chauvinist forces during the liberation war in 1992-95.
9. The Bosnian popular uprising is multi-national, working class, youth and militant. It is multi-national because it encompasses Bosnian Muslim, Serbian and Croatian workers and youth. True, the majority of the workers are Bosnian Muslims. But this is hardly surprising since this community is the biggest in Bosnia (officially 48%) as well as the most urban and proletarian. (The Serbian and Croatian communities have a more rural character.) While its main leader is the Bosnian Muslim worker Aldin Siranovic, the movement has also a Serbian spokeswoman, the economist Svetlana Cenic. The Revolution has already reached Serbian towns like Prijedor. The youth plays a central role in the uprising – similar to all other authentic revolutions. Like in Egypt Revolution and the Turkish Gezi park movement, football fan clubs play an important role in the protests. The movement has also a very militant character as one can see from numerous reports and Youtube videos. The workers and youth have stormed the governmental buildings in many towns and burned them, as well as numerous police cars, down. In Zenica they pushed the cars of the bureaucrats into the river.
10. The movement raises a number of progressive social and democratic demands. They call for the halt of all privatizations and the renationalization of the enterprises which have been already privatized. They call for the payment of their outstanding wages. They demand the punishment of criminal entrepreneurs and corrupt politicians. They call for a limitation of politician’s salaries to 1250 Euro and an end to their parliamentary immunity. They call for the abolishment of the cantonal system.
11. However, as a result of lack of experience and deep hatred against all political parties, they also wrongly call for a “government of experts without party-affiliation” and for “independent courts”. The RCIT draws the attention of the Bosnian workers and youth to the experience of other countries. In Italy for example we saw a “government of experts without party-affiliation” just recently. Such a government might not be dependent of parties but it is deeply in the pocket of the big corporations and the powerful circles of the ruling class. In Italy such a government was the driving force in massive cuts in the social system. Similarly, courts can only be independent of the ruling class and the bourgeois state which pays their salary if they are elected and controlled by the people.
12. The Bosnian Revolution faces the danger of an imperialist intervention. Valentin Inzko, an Austrian diplomat, who is currently serving as the “High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina”, already threatened to send the EU occupation troops against the workers in case the protests turn violent and threaten foreign property. This makes it urgent that the European and international workers movement supports the Bosnian workers and youth and call for the immediate withdrawal of the imperialist occupation forces from Bosnia. It is in this spirit that the RCIT calls for solidarity actions in European cities.
A Program for the Bosnian Revolution
13. The Bosnian Revolution faces several dangers. It is highly spontaneous and lacks the formation of mass organizations to ensure a sustainable character of the movement. Hence there is the danger that the movement might lose steam and retreat soon. Secondly there exists the danger that reactionary politicians might try to divide the movement via inciting nationalist feelings. This is a real danger given the fact that there nearly all Bosnian families have a living memory of the genocidal war. Thirdly it lacks a clear program for power and an authentic communist party prepared for the revolution. The Bosnian masses already saw the terrible effects of such a lack of program and revolutionary leadership in early April 1992: then, hundreds of thousands people of all ethnic origins demonstrated in Sarajevo and stormed the parliament to protest against the threat of a chauvinist war. They had the power in their hands but didn’t know what to do with it. Several days later, the Serbian chauvinists started the genocidal war.
14. The RCIT suggests the following program to the Bosnian workers and youth. It is urgent to form popular councils in the factories and neighborhoods which meet daily. These councils should decide on the urgent issues of the struggle and elect delegates. These delegates should meet for a national congress to decide about the perspective of the uprising. The movement must call for an indefinite general strike to prepare taking the power. The workers should occupy the factories and governmental buildings and take over the production and administration. The factory and neighborhood councils – with the youth in the forefront – should form self-defense units which can later be transformed into popular militias in order to defend the masses against the repressive state apparatus and a possible intervention of the EU occupation troops. It is urgent to stress the multi-national character of the movement and to organize multi-ethnic leadership committees and self-defense units on the basis of open and explicit anti-chauvinism and equality of all Balkan people.
15. Naturally most democratic and social demands deserve the full support of socialists. But the program of the Bosnian Revolution must go further because otherwise the workers and youth will not succeed in their goals. The RCIT proposes that the movement fights for the nationalization of all bigger enterprises – both native and foreign – and banks under the control of the workers in order to avoid any influence by the corrupt politicians. It should demand a public employment and infrastructure program to abolish unemployment and to rebuild the country. In order to finance the rebuilding of the country the masses have to expropriate the small elite of rich capitalists. To counter the politician’s plans for a new constitution, the movement should call for a sovereign Constituent Assembly whose delegates are under control of the electorate. The goal of the uprising should be the overthrow of the capitalist ruling class and the formation of a government of the workers and peasants, based on councils and popular militias of armed masses. Such a government could open the door to a Bosnian Workers and Peasant Republic which could rebuild the country on the basis of a democratically elaborated economic plan.
16. It is urgent to spread the revolution to Bosnia’s neighboring countries and the whole Balkan. In Serbia there have been already calls to join the protests. In Greece the masses are fighting against the capitalist austerity policy since years. In Romania and Bulgaria the masses have also fought on the streets in the recent years. The widespread poverty – a result of the historic crisis of world capitalism – forms the objective basis to unite the struggles of the exploited and oppressed and to fight for a joint future free of imperialist banks and corporations, native capitalists and genocidal generals. This is why the RCIT raises the call for a Socialist Federation of the Balkan People.
17. It is equally important to link the struggle in Bosnia with the world-wide mass protests and revolutions against the imperialist exploiters and reactionary dictators. Bosnia is another link in the chain of just struggles and revolutionary uprisings like the Egyptian masses fighting against the dictatorship of General Sisi, the Palestinian people resisting against the continuous Zionist aggression, the Syrian workers and peasants fighting against the butcher Assad, the South African black workers who launched mass strikes for a living wage or the Brazilian workers and youth fighting against the greedy capitalists and corrupt politicians.
18. Such a program can only be achieved by the organized struggle of the working class, led by a revolutionary workers party in the tradition of Lenin and Trotsky. From the very start, creating such a party must be done in conjunction with the efforts to establish a new World Party of Socialist Revolution. In our opinion, such a new party will be the Fifth Workers’ International. The RCIT calls revolutionaries in Bosnia to unite in an authentic revolutionary organization based on an internationalist and communist program. We look forward to discussing these issues and collaborating with revolutionaries in Bosnia and the whole Balkan, in order to advance the formation of such a revolutionary organization.