Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Workers' management in Yugoslavia

The economist Peder Martin Lysestøl has recently published a text - in the Norwegian newspaper Klassekampen - pointing out the very scant documentation of Eastern European experiments that in fact had something going for them. According to him, the neoliberal powers that be want to erase any historcial knowledge and memories from socialism/communism except the bad ones. Research and documentation on the socialist economies is one area that suffers. He mentions workers selv-management in Yugoslavia during the 1950's and 60's, where the workers did have significant influence, combined with a remarkable economic growth. As anyone with some personal knowledge of the former Eastern bloc knows, some things at least were worth defending under the former system. It would be reasonable to document the various experiments that were after all performed. But, as Lysestøl notices, there is no funding for research in these areas.

I would be interested to know more about the workers' management economy in Yugoslavia. What kind of self-government was involved?

Ingerid S.

9 Comments:

At 5:05 PM, Anonymous Anders Ramsay said...

Maybe there is a possible starting point for a discussion of Yugoslavian self management in the early works of Castoriadis: The question of support for Titos Yugoslavia was one of the crucial questions when SouB broke away from the Trotskyist Fourth International. Castoriadis and Georges Dupont (whoever that was) wrote a longer piece in 1950 (SouB no. 5/6), “La bureaucratie Yugoslave”, reprinted in La Societé bureaucratique 2” and partly translated in PSW I. I haven’t read that particular text, but as far as I know, Castoriadis never saw Yugoslavian workers self-management, contrary to the Hungarian workers councils of 1956, as anything nearly corresponding to the idea of autonomy he and the group were propagating. Of course, he might have been completely mistaken, but at the moment, I don’t know very much about it.

A.R.

 
At 9:24 PM, Blogger Clayton said...

I have on my shelf The Economics of Feasible Socialism Revisited by Alec Nove, which devotes 40 pages or so to an examination of the various reform attempts in the Eastern European countries; pp. 142-150 specifically discuss Yugoslavian workers' self-management schemes. He examines these from a practical economic standpoint; in particular, on Yugoslavia, laying out some of the problems experienced with self-management such as wage inflation and lack of coordination between units and enterprises.

I find Nove to take a slightly more skeptical approach than Castoriadis on the question of workers' management, and to accept in principle wage differentials and managers where CC does not, but I suspect this would be a useful book for anyone interested in such questions. They both considered it an immediate practical task to establish how a socialist economy should be implemented, precisely in light of the Eastern European revolutions and reform efforts.

 
At 10:25 AM, Anonymous Ingerid S. said...

This is great; the book is actually available as a pdf-file, thanks for that! I'll have to read some before I can comment further. Also, i contacted Mr. Lystestoel and asked him to elaborate a little bit on what was admirable about the Yugoslavian schemes, but he has not responded so far.

 
At 4:10 PM, Anonymous Evangelos said...

I think that -as far a Castoriadis reader is concerned- some recent examples from Argentina are much more interesting. If you 'ld like to, have a look at the following link:
http://www.mg.co.za/articlepage.aspx?area=/breaking_news/breaking_news__business/&articleid=308131

 
At 8:09 AM, Anonymous Costantinos said...

I agree that the movement of 'recuperated factories' in Argentina is much closer to Castoriadis thought than workers' self-management (WSM) in yugoslavia. In Argentina after the economic crisis of 2001, thousand of workers lost their jobs and units of production closed down. As a response the workers recuperated the closed factories and re-started the production process succesfully without any help from political parties, the state, international organisations or NGO (an interesting documentary on these events is available and is called 'the take'). In contrast, yugoslavian WSM was instituted from above under the orders of Tito and the communist party after the brake with stalinism (due to this brake yugoslavia managed to institute a much less bureaucratic and authoritarian regime than those of the USSR). In so far as Castoriadis stessed and admired the will of the people to institute libertarian forms of social organisation (from below, e.g Parisian Commune, the Soviets, the Spanish Anarchist Collectives, the Hungarian workers' councils) the Argentinean movement fits better with his theories. Nevertheless, Castoriadis recognised in an interrview with Edgar Morin (if i am not mistaken) that being a worker in Yugoslavia is probably better that being a worker in the east or the west, but still far away from what he would call an autonomous society.

 
At 3:04 PM, Anonymous ottolos@yahoo.no said...

Don't you now that the victors always write the history...and erase anything they want? Nothing to do about it...don't worry, be happy...

 
At 12:14 PM, Anonymous Kostas said...

well, ottolos, there is an element of truth in this suggestion, but ur argumentent oversimplifies the question of history and historiography. We still find anti-bolshevic historical accounts of the Krostand massacre or the USSR in general, of anarchist collectives in the spanish civil war, of the parisian commune...just think how much anti-capitalist bibliography has been produced in the 20th century by western historians...if the victors always write history and erase everything they want, how do you explain that?

 
At 4:07 PM, Blogger poetrixx said...

Hi. I explain it by the simple fact that they dont have to suppress that kind of information, in order to stay in power!
In fact, if they clamped down on historians and other dissents etc. who presented "unofficial" truths about the history and the present political and social situation and so on ... the citizens of this society would get alarmed and annoyed and seek to oppose the people in power.
Its far better for the rulers to let all this information float freely around, because the common man doesnt care about these facts or if they are false or right...see?
The common man only cares about his job and his beer at the pub and his personal safety and well being.

Our western societies are ruled by tyrants who have got their power from the common man, and they can do pretty much what they want by misleading the public through the media, which mainly belong to people like murdoch and berlusconi...and these people control the politicans.

Without Murdoch Tony blair would never have become prime minister.

It is Murdoch who rules Britain through his media empire which he uses to form the public opinion with.

 
At 4:09 PM, Blogger poetrixx said...

Hi. I explain it by the simple fact that they dont have to suppress that kind of information, in order to stay in power!
In fact, if they clamped down on historians and other dissents etc. who presented "unofficial" truths about the history and the present political and social situation and so on ... the citizens of this society would get alarmed and annoyed and seek to oppose the people in power.
Its far better for the rulers to let all this information float freely around, because the common man doesnt care about these facts or if they are false or right...see?
The common man only cares about his job and his beer at the pub and his personal safety and well being.

Our western societies are ruled by tyrants who have got their power from the common man, and they can do pretty much what they want by misleading the public through the media, which mainly belong to people like murdoch and berlusconi...and these people control the politicans.

Without Murdoch Tony blair would never have become prime minister.

It is Murdoch who rules Britain through his media empire which he uses to form the public opinion with.

ottolos

til ingerid...vær snill og rediger dette innlegget så stakkars kostas forstår hva jeg mener...engelsken min er horribel..i know

 

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