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The Balkans

Book Review: 'Yugoslavia Dismembered'

Contemporary European Paradox

'Yugoslavia Dismembered', by Catherine Samary, translated from French by Peter Drucker (Monthly Review Press, New York. I99S. £11.95)

If you are one of the countless people who are baffled by the events in what used to be called Yugoslavia this book is the simplest and most readable account published so far. It is packed with very useful chronological tables and easy to comprehend statistical information. It is analytically rooted in a Marxist approach, although this must be distinguished from dogmatic economic determinism which is not present.

What Next for Yugoslavia?

When I was at school over forty years ago we were told in our history classes how a young South Slav nationalist, Gavrilo Princep, by assassinating Arch-Duke Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo, had triggered off (1 seem to remember "caused" was the word used) the entire first world war. Whilst not denying a role for such melodramatic gestures, Marxian critics of the capitalist system and its persistent drive to war were never convinced that the enormous conflict that ensued had such a Ruritanian root-cause. It was, instead, the culmination of a lengthy period of economic rivalry between, on the one hand, the established powers such as France and Britain with their imperial systems of guaranteed markets and cheap sources of labour and raw materials and, on the other, the thwarted ambitions of capitalist late-comers Germany and Austria-Hungary.

Woodrow Wilson redraws the map

Things Fall Apart

"Sucked in and spat out like raw eggs", was how one member of the British public described the unfortunates who invested and lost everything in Albania’s "pyramid funds". It seems that pure logic alone should have told those who thought they were on to a winner that all would come to nought, and if not that then surely the experience of Russians and Rumanians who had also been conned in the past by such "get- rich-quick" schemes.

The Albanian pyramid fund schemes were quite simple. Investors were offered large rates of interest from the money they had persuaded others to invest. Obviously, sooner or later, and especially in a rather insular population of three million, a saturation point would be reached when the funds ran out of investors’ money. Collapse was as inevitable as night follows day.

Nationalism and Destruction in the Balkans

We review a recent film about the break-up of Yugoslavia.

'The Weight of Chains', a documentary written and directed by Boris Malagurski (2010)

‘Who in their right mind would actually want to be a colony? ‘So begins The Weight of Chains, a documentary written and directed by Boris Malagurski (2010) which argues that the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s was orchestrated by Western powers in furtherance of imperial ambitions. Director Boris Malagurski, hailed by the Belgrade press as the ‘Serbian Michael Moore’, claims his film ‘takes a critical look at the role that the US, NATO and the EU played in the tragic breakup of a once-peaceful and prosperous European state’.

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