Defend tiny Serbia

Former SLP vice-president Royston Bull says defeating Nato is the only issue at stake

The argument in the Weekly Worker (Jack Conrad May 20) that socialist demands are currently irrelevant in Kosovo (because Serbia has other plans) is just as applicable to the Albanian minority over their supposed “democratic demand for self-determination”. Albanian annexation of Kosovo would mean anything but “democratic rights” for its 20% Serb minority population.

The long polemic on the struggle for “democracy” supposedly being the essence of a ‘Marxist’ revolution-by-stages approach (“The minimum programme and the struggle for democracy cannot be skipped” - Jack Conrad) gets round the unfortunate brutal reality of mutual slaughter in Kosovo by just slipping in - unjustified and undocumented - a totally biased version of what that civil war conflict (currently rumbling in its present phase for nearly 13 years now, and a struggle with origins going back a century and more) is all about.

“Serbia is fighting for its sacred right to oppress the Kosovars [an emotive way of describing the Albanians in Kosovo; the Serbs also consider themselves to be Kosovars] - to the point of driving the entire population from their homeland. For any democrat it follows that the resistance of the Kosovars [ie, Albanians] is just.”

How is ‘democracy’ for anyone served by such poisonous nonsense? This is exactly why the Trot fence-sitting of being “against Nato war” while for the annexation of Kosovo is such a fraud. To unleash civil war for this separation would have been unthinkable without subversive imperialist support from the start of this modern phase of conflict (from when the Yugoslav workers’ state began to look doomed from the late 1980s onwards, as Gorbachev began openly to embrace full collaboration with an imperialist-run world). Thus to an important degree this “self-determination” struggle has always been a Nato war from the start. It has always been impossible to be for one but against the other - except in the world of subjective academic ‘Marxist’ fantasy.

And this is made even clearer by the ludicrous ‘justification’ of admitted KLA reactionariness (“The KLA would certainly suppress workers’ strikes and peasant land occupations” if it took over Kosovo, Jack Conrad admits - suppress any communist activity, in other words) - all declared acceptable by the astonishing analogy that 19th century Irish national liberationists were quite conservative “with no thought of women’s sexual equality”, yet were lauded by Marx for their struggle.

Ireland happened to be an identifiable, undisputed homeland of the Irish. The British presence was an equally indisputable imperialist invasion, conquest and colonisation. Britain was a very major world colonial power. Any revolt against such a mighty empire would have an electrifying effect on national liberation struggles the whole world over. No wonder that any anti-imperialism in Ireland, however conservative its background, met with the approval of Marxist-Leninism’s founders.

What possible comparison could there be with this opportunist armed land grab in Kosovo? If it is an identifiable homeland at all, it is of Serbs. It is certainly not undisputed territory of Albanians. Who did what to whom in the area is a bitterly contested complex question going back centuries. But the idea that tiny Serbia (population roughly what Greater London’s used to be and never an independent state, even in the modern imperialist era) can be seen as an equivalent to the Great Britain colonising empire of the 19th century, dominating the world and rightly despised as a target for national liberators everywhere, is just insane. There are almost as many Albanians in the region as there are Serbs; and Greater Albania nationalist ambitions over the last century have been little different from Greater Serbia ambitions.

Of course the Albanian minority in Serbia are at liberty to declare yet another Balkan ethnic-territorial war; but let them take their chances against the Serbian state and the local Serbian population on their own. It is obvious they would never have done so if outside imperialist guarantees of support for annexation of Kosovo had not been conspiring from the very beginning in the 1980s. It is criminally stupid for academic ‘Marxism’ to effectively bolster this imperialist warmongering stunt with totally inappropriate long-range guesswork about “democratic rights” in such a foully corrupted political situation of international capitalist racketeering.

The brutality is mutual in this Kosovo civil war, and although a multinational working class fight for socialism may seem a million miles away from such intense nationalist fear and hatred, the idea of calm multinational bourgeois democracy prevailing in such a cauldron (and with total worldwide free-market economic crisis in the background) must be seen as just as unlikely.

What exists is total ethnic enmity and war on the surface, and the great mistake to be avoided is the one all the fake ‘left’ have made - failing to see that the Nato imperialist intervention into the war is the overwhelmingly important factor - nothing else. The only issue for international communists is to denounce this warmongering, and explain its origins and purpose and then to work for its defeat. Nothing else.