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  • Published in Analysis
Protests in Romania in 1989

Demonstrations in Bucharest in 1989 | Source: Wikipedia

Vladimir Unkovski-Korica analyses some of the challenges faced by activists trying to re-build the radical left in the Balkans and Eastern Europe since 1989

‘If we were able simply to unite the working masses around our own banner or around our practical immediate slogans, and skip over reformist organizations, whether party or trade union, that would of course be the best thing in the world. But then the very question of the united front would not exist in its present form… The Communists, as has been said, must not oppose such actions but on the contrary must also assume the initiative for them, precisely for the reason that the greater is the mass drawn into the movement, the higher its self-confidence rises, all the more self-confident will that mass movement be and all the more resolutely will it be capable of marching forward, however modest may be the initial slogans of struggle. And this means that the growth of the mass aspects of the movement tends to radicalize it, and creates much more favourable conditions for the slogans, methods of struggle, and, in general, the leading role of the Communist Party.’

Leon Trotsky, On the United Front (Material for a Report on the Question of French Communism),  March 2, 1922

Even since 1989, justifiable popular revulsion at what passed for ‘socialism’ in Eastern Europe combined with right-wing triumphalism and anti-communism to almost totally wipe out for a quarter of a century any sense that the radical left, let alone the revolutionary socialist left, has a role to play in the quest for democracy and social justice.[1] The notion is still dominant but less absolute, as a consequence of the depth of the global economic crisis since 2008 and the social destruction wrought by the ruling class policy of austerity to return to growth. This article, building on recent experiences of struggle in the region, argues that it is still imperative to build a revolutionary party committed to the overthrow of capitalism if progress is to be made in South Eastern Europe. The article underlines the need for strategy and the united front method as a key link in the chain in rebuilding the revolutionary left. The case for a revolutionary party is all the more urgent now since the defeat of the most visible attempt in Europe to roll back austerity at the ballot box, the Syriza experiment in Greece.

This is because the thinking behind the Syriza experiment still dominates many of the new left formations that have evolved in post-1989 Europe. Attempts to rebuild the radical left in Eastern Europe, supported by the European Left, through the establishment of NGO networks to support the eventual electoral challenge from the left, are bound to encounter the same dilemmas as Syriza. Relying on a logic akin to Laclau and Mouffe’s notion that struggle should be based on the maximum autonomisation of its different spheres, left parties have often emerged to the left of social-liberalism more successfully than the revolutionary cadre parties in the Leninist tradition. Nonetheless, their anti-Leninist separation of different spheres of struggle leaves the door open for the separation of electoral and parliamentary politics from grassroots social struggles. From Rifondazione Comunista to Syriza, the dangers of co-optation by the capitalist system remain clear.

This article therefore argues that revolutionaries need to concentrate on building extra-parliamentary mobilisation to shape politics, including electoral politics, with the goal of smashing the capitalist state and seizing state power for the working class and the oppressed. Moreover, understanding the weaknesses which gave rise to the failure of Syriza should not preclude learning from the success of this new left reformism. Syriza’s ability to emerge as a mass left party and its call for a government of the left implied strongly that mass unity and the struggle for a concrete and radical strategic alternative can become popular. Yet that popularity can ebb away as the seizure of power is not combined with a mass movement from below that is self-conscious and prepared to confront the institutions of the ruling class directly and decisively.

Thus, revolutionaries need to understand ‘really existing capitalism’ and move from it to formulate strategic demands around which to build mass movements. Moreover, this article argues that the imperative for revolutionaries is to look for opportunities for united front work with reformist organisations – and, in South East Europe, where reformist consciousness exists with fewer reformist organisations, to look for opportunities to engage large numbers of people who are often not organised. Drawing in larger numbers into struggle, however modest its initial goals, and attempting to generalise from that struggle, linking it to other struggles, and explaining their relatedness to the totality of class relations under capitalism, is the key to overcoming the atomisation and weakness of the working class and the oppressed. Rebuilding the mass organisations of the working class like the unions is a necessary, though insufficient, condition for the creation of the kind of mass combativeness and politics which is open to revolutionary ideas.

To demonstrate its conclusion, the article will undertake a circuitous route. The first section will outline the conditions in East Europe which atomised the left after 1989 and made recovery of the left difficult. In particular, it will argue for the need to understand that the past was not socialist and that the imperialist form of capitalist globalisation since 1989 needs specific responses. 

The second section will then study how the experiments of the Western left since 1989 have produced modest successes and significant challenges. It will argue that the broad party model survived the collapse of Syriza because of the coming together of East and West in Germany, in the form of the new Left Party. This gave life to a second cycle of the post-1989 radical left which sought to create deeper unity and contest electorally austerity politics post-2008.

The third section will argue that the growth of the European Left, led by the German Left Party, and spectacularly visible since the emergence of Syriza and Podemos, has had an effect also on the left and its modest recovery since 2008 in Eastern Europe. The fourth section will outline the case for a revolutionary party and the centrality of the united front to its successes in the current epoch, referencing several successful examples of revolutionary groups in the West, but also some in the East.

What’s left of the left in Eastern Europe?

This section asks what has happened to ‘the Left’ in (South-) Eastern Europe since 1989. Here, ‘the Left’ is short-hand for politics left of social liberalism, or the adaptation of socialist reformism to the market since the 1980s.[2] The question of what happened to the Left is largely posed by the seeming inability of the Left to return to prominence in former ‘Communist’ countries in the way it has in many Western countries since the end of the Cold War. This is particularly obvious in the context of the crisis of capitalism which has not ended since 2007 or 2008, and which has seen the re-emergence of radical right parties and largely ‘anti-political’ movements arise in many countries of the former (South-) East.

The major factor in the inability of the Left to return as the Left has to do with historical legacies. The ‘Communist’ parties of the Eastern Bloc came to power without a democratic mandate, which left major questions of legitimacy open through the Cold War. While these parties often provided growth rates and welfare superior to those offered by the pre-Second World War dictatorships, the states they ruled were a far cry from Marx’s ‘self-liberation of the working class’. These states in fact became bureaucratic monstrosities that systematically subordinated welfare to the demands of the bloc’s state-led economic growth in the context of Cold War competition, particularly military competition. The violent crushing of working class uprisings against the regimes of Eastern Europe in 1953 in East Germany, 1956 in Hungary, in 1962 in the Soviet Union, in 1968 in Czechoslovakia, and in 1980 in Poland, progressively destroyed any legitimacy the regimes built through the slow construction of welfare regimes. Moreover, their integration in the international debt regime that emerged following the collapse of Bretton Woods, and their inability to export their way out of debt, led to major austerity in the 1980s and mass popular unrest.[3] Curiously, it also crushed their leaders’ faith in the system: the elites decided to transform themselves out of being state bureaucrats running the nationalised economy to market managers running private firms in economies open to the world market.[4]

The continuity of the elites and the discrediting of ‘Communism’ in the eyes of ordinary workers meant that no one defended or mourned the collapse of ‘workers’ states’. Such a legacy made it difficult for ‘the Left’ to re-emerge. The violent collapse of Yugoslavia in particular, with a ‘Socialist’ party, the direct successor to the Communists, running Serbia, the principal state sponsoring war in the ex-Yugoslavia, only compounded matters for any authentic and alternative ‘Left’ that could emerge. [5]

The transformation of bureaucratic state capitalism to market capitalism further complicated matters for the ‘Left’. Most former Communist parties returned to power at some point in the 1990s (earlier in the Balkans, later in the Central Eastern Europe) as social liberal parties. Most then withered as a result of their weddedness to the neo-liberal vision which triumphed in the West in the 1980s. Unlike their Western counterparts, who entered power in the late 1990s, they were most frequently unable to deliver any welfare advances on the ‘Third Way’ model. Rather, they oversaw the 1990s transformation, which causes a major human catastrophe.[6] Other parties oversaw the economic ‘upturn’ in Eastern Europe, which occurred in the 2000s on the back of errant financial capital, unleashed by the Bush administration’s deregulation of the banking sector, and reflecting decades of falling rates of profitability in world capitalism.[7]

For the social liberal successors of the Communists, this was a major blow, and their inability to revive since 2007/8 owes much to their inability to offer a credible alternative to market policies. This can be seen as a legacy of ‘post-Communism’. It was instead nationalist politics which constructed an opposition narrative built around the notion of national protection against global capitalist forces.[8] This has been partly aided by the right wing Putin regime in Russia which provided a partial regional counterbalance to the dominance of American and Western European capital, particularly since the outbreak of the world economic crisis. Russia has also sponsored certain forms of right wing extremism in the region, particularly since the Ukrainian crisis broke in 2014, in order to complicate European integration. The inability of ‘the Left’ to break through in the context of a ‘globalist vs nationalist’ political landscape is thus the result of both the legacies of Communism and post-Communism – especially the continuity of elites.

Nonetheless, the entry of Eastern Europe in the global economy since the 1970s via credit and since the 1990s via privatisation occurred on an inferior basis: these countries were historically behind in any case but were particularly badly hit by the re-entry in the global market.[9] Their penetration by global capital generally led to at least temporary human catastrophe. Higher mortality rates, falling living conditions, higher unemployment, lower social provision and general disillusion with liberal democracy meant overall welfare.

Nevertheless, some countries, particularly in Central Eastern Europe recovered better than those in the Balkans, and those in the Baltics recovered more fully than those of Belarus or Ukraine. Even those that recovered more fully, particularly since the early 2000s, however, have seen forms of growth largely dependent on the West. This means they made up for major de-industrialisation only in part by integrating into Western (particularly German) production networks, and becoming heavily dependent on either foreign capital inflows in the form of FDI or credits, or EU structural funds (as in the Polish case, with its added dependency for growth and political stability on the major out-flux of workers to Western Europe, largely the UK).[10]

Accompanying much of this has been the apparent disappearance of the privileged agent of ‘Left’ politics in the twentieth century: the working class. Commentators have lamented the now famous ‘paradox of labour weakness’. This refers to the erosion of working class power which was recognised as being central to the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, particularly in Poland, but was also central, though not recognised to the same extent, in Yugoslavia. The working class, following the overthrow of the dictatorships, appeared to lose momentum despite greater democratic rights and increased independence from the state. It was the long economic crisis, and then the economic transformation, often overseen, as stated, by the ex-Communists, that helps explain this ‘paradox’. Having lost faith in ideologies that placed collective solidarity on a class basis as an answer to the capitalist mode of production even while these politics were in allegedly in power, workers entered the market transition without an ideology representing their class interests. Decimated by market reform and opening to more intense and direct world competition, and integrated in Western production flows on an inferior basis, the working class of Eastern Europe became more atomised and structurally weaker.

When the transformation appeared at least in part to have provided results in the 2000s, after the fall of ex-Communists from power, the ‘transition’ appeared to have provided at least some justification, and certainly buried any notion of ‘Left’ being an answer in the immediate term for the middle and younger generations. If ‘Socialists’ did return to power in the 2000s, their time in office only compounded the situation: from being caught lying about finances in Hungary, leading to the rise of street protests led by the nationalist right, to being seen as Russian puppets and masters of corruption in Bulgaria, the ex-Communists have only continued to sow disillusion with anything ‘Left’ in the imagination of the citizens of the former ‘Communist’ states. In the recent elections to the European Parliament, the ‘Left’ vote was dismal. By contrast, the vote of the far right as the party of protest increased.[11]

What, if anything, then, is left of the Left? And why discuss strategy at times like these? One important reason is that a party of the ex-Communist Bloc has been central to the recent rebirth of the Left in Western Europe. This is namely the Party of Democratic Socialism, the successor to the ruling party of Eastern Germany. Its fusion with a split from the formerly West German Social Democrats, and the creation in 2007 of the nation-wide Left Party (Die Linke) in Germany, which has scored strongly in national and European elections since, has helped re-align the Left across Western Europe. The Linke has helped set up similar coalitions, like the Left Front in France, and led the recovery of the European Left since the mid-2000s. Its success contributed to the rise of Syriza in Greece and the European Left’s strong showing the European elections in 2014 in the countries of the periphery.

This also helped spread the rising tide of electoral success for the ‘Left’ in Eastern Europe. Besides the surviving strength of the Communists in the Czech Republic, 2014 also saw the election to the European Parliament and then to the national parliament of the ‘United Left’ in Slovenia. Moreover, some apparently ‘Left’ splits from the Bulgarian socialists and the Serbian Democrats in 2015 have explicitly referred to the rise of the Left in Western Europe as an explanation for their political trajectory. The increased activity of the European Left in formerly Eastern Europe therefore needs attention. Crucially, the longer the global crisis of capitalism lasts, the more perennial debates like the continuing strategic relevance of issues like “reform or revolution?”, “the united front”, and “the broad party or the revolutionary party” continue to re-emerge in different forms, even where the Left is still in embryonic form, like in Eastern Europe. Old questions of imperialism and the national question also arise in new forms, especially in the Balkans, whether in the form of the collapse of Yugoslavia, Western intervention in the wars of succession, or questions relating to European integration.[12] Here, the Western Left is important in terms not just of what it shows about old debates, but how it affects the concrete situation affecting Eastern Europe and the Balkans. This is why it is important to understand better the rise of the European Left, both its successes and limitations, if the Left in Eastern Europe is to develop in tandem with, and hopefully go beyond, rather than be just as an extension of, the Western Left.

America’s Global Gamble and the Rise of Resistance

The slow re-emergence of the Western Left is a complex process. It relates both to the Western Left’s response to the decline and fall of the Eastern Bloc, as well as to the popular responses to the neoliberal transformation of global capitalism since the late 1970s. After forty years of neoliberal offensive, with the left and the worker movement almost universally on the back foot, we are now witnessing a slow but clear renewal of polarisation of politics globally. The revival of forms of left wing activity have been clear since the mid-to-late 1990s. The Zapatista Rebellion of 1994 and the public sector strikes that broke the French government in 1995 proved to be harbingers of things to come. The global capitalist crisis, centred on the financial shocks of 1998, especially in Russia and the Asian Tigers, appeared quickly resolved, but it too showed deep cracks in the claim that capitalism was now surging ever forward. A growing minority, especially among the youth, began to question the premise of the ‘end of history’. This was most obvious in the rise of transnational anti-capitalist and anti-war movements which reached their peak in the early 2000s when the US launched its bid to compensate for its economic decline through further radical financial deregulation and a bold military offensive.[13] This was a grab for what former US Presidential Security Advisor Brzezinski called ‘the Global Balkans’ – the territory stretching from the Balkans through the Middle East to Central Asia.[14]

The strategy was basically a radical extension of the mid-1990s new American foreign policy of containing Russia and China, visible already in the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. It was, however, 9/11 that provided the needed ideological excuse for the visible shift in gear under George W. Bush. The US-led ‘War on Terror’ set its sights on Afghanistan and Iraq, with, as it would turn out, catastrophic consequences for the region stretching from North Africa to the Indian sub-continent. This over-extension of imperial power proved to open spaces for the left and popular forces globally.[15]

While the global hegemon was concentrated on Central Asia and the Middle East, resistance sprouted elsewhere. In Latin America, we saw the rise of leftist movements and anti-neoliberal governments. In Western Europe, we also saw the rise of new parties of the radical left, mostly left reformist in coloration, but often shaped in part by revolutionary currents. Both often emerged to fill spaces vacated by pre-existing political formations of the left. The communist parties had suffered extreme setbacks following the collapse of the USSR and social-democracy had moved towards the centre, embracing markets and imperialist war. Now, new formations evolved out of the social movements which had, in fragmentary fashion, begun to resist marketisation and imperialism from Latin America to Western Europe over several decades.[16] In the Muslim world it led to a major revolt against governmental power which started in Tunisia and continues to shake the region in a counter-revolutionary phase that coincided with Western military intervention in Libya, but included a Western-backed military coup in Egypt, and the channelling of the popular rising in Syria into pro-Western and reactionary Islamic movements.[17]

These developments posed anew questions of strategy for the small forces of the revolutionary left as they began to visibly influence the political terrain of their countries and of the developed world for the first time in decades. Since these developments occurred on the back of the globalisation of capital, the transformation of work and the shifting of production to the East, they often did not bring to the fore classical forms of working class struggle, like mass strikes. Rather, they were often protest movements which began to seek electoral representation. The movements were often anarchistic, decentralised or single-issue, and their politics was highly pragmatic, and often shaped by hierarchies imposed by the quintessential neo-liberal activist-form: the non-governmental organisation.[18]

The influence of NGOs in the Social Forums, for instance, was visible, in the insistence on anti-party politics, consensus decision-making, single-issue approaches, etc. NGOs sprouted in the Third World to fill the vacuum left by the state, but they emerged also in the imperialist countries, reflecting the availability of money arising from the financial turn of late capitalism. Their effect has been to introduce undemocratic hierarchies into decision-making and social movements, as activists come under pressure to be primarily accountable to donors, rather than the movements themselves.[19] Often, however, the sheer pressures on the movements led to shifts towards politics, albeit these shifts were often uncritical and pragmatic. This in turn strengthened left reformist and opportunist formations which were able to articulate social struggles momentarily before trying to cash in on their effect at the ballot box in exchange for ministerial perks.

The most obvious, tragic and influential example in this first wave was the case of Rifondazione Comunista, which intervened effectively in the movement in Genoa 2001 against police brutality, only to ultimately join a social-liberal government in 2006, implode because of association with this government’s social-liberal and imperialist policies, and leave behind it a wasteland on the Italian left. Its insistence on the need to build a ‘non-ideological’ left led it to duck crucial strategic debates, like entering government, since the task was to defeat Silvio Berlusconi. Moreover, the Bertinotti-Ingrao commitment to ‘non-violence’ allowed a subtle shift right on Palestine and Afghanistan, since Italian commitment was on peace keeping.[20] The inability of this first political turn by the movements to go beyond electoralism and parliamentarianism resulted in the progressive retreat towards movementism by some and the retreat into sectarian revolutionary propagandism of others.[21]

Since the outbreak of the capitalist crisis in 2008, we have seen some of these dilemmas resurface anew in much more dramatic form. In the Middle East, we witnessed spectacular resistance to imperialism and a revolutionary wave that has irremediably upset the inter-state system of the region. Now, as imperialist intervention and counter-revolution close ranks to beat back the insurgent masses, we have seen major population movements the likes of which we have not seen since the end of the Second World War, threatening to exacerbate an existing disunity in European Union, already tested by the capitalist crisis and the architecture around the single currency, without fiscal union. Indeed, the European Union appears as the weak link in the imperialist chain. The Euro-crisis in particular expressed the flaws of the post-Bretton Woods system. The EU’s lack of fiscal policy tools, its adoption of a single, inflexible currency for its economically uneven membership and its weddedness to undemocratic institutions and austerity politics has seen it teeter at the brink of collapse.

The movementist and electoralist challenges to the EU were particularly clear in the Mediterranean. In Italy, a strong electoralist challenge from an anti-political grouping upset the political balance of the country. In Spain, the rise of a mass movement modelled on the Egyptian revolution’s occupation of the squares gave birth to a mass plebeian political party with a claim to a renewed and robust internal democracy, though in reality its e-democracy looks more like a control mechanism of a small party elite. Its electoralism appears to be a worrying development. In Greece, youth revolt, worker struggles and occupations of squares amplified and were amplified by the rise of the radical left coalition Syriza, which supported the movements but also cashed in on its electoralist advantage, borne of the most catastrophic case of austerity-driven destruction seen in peacetime. Like the PT in Brazil, Syriza dampened the movements by promising change at the ballot box, and quickly adapted to the forces of the world market, here given concentrated expression in the hated ‘Troika’. While Rifondazione and the PT, however, faced capitalism in its boom phase, Syriza has compromised during the bust phase. This bodes ill for it and suggests the fallout will be all the greater for much of the European Left, just like the PT’s strategic retreat has strengthened the social-liberal and moderate wings of the leftist parties across Latin America. Unlike the Latin American left, the West European left is unlikely to find a radicalising pole like Chavez’s Venezuela after the coup, which in any case only delivered major reforms on the back of the temporary rise of global oil prices.[22] It does, however, face a continuing crisis of the EU, particularly in the form of currency-related austerity and migration, which continues to offer possibilities and openings for the Left.

As noted, an apparent success for the European Left, which occurred roughly simultaneously as the collapse of Rifondazione Comunista, was the creation of the Left Party in Germany and its fourth place finish in the 2005 elections. Its stabilisation as a force in German politics, its spread to West Germany, and its leftward course nationally, kept up the sensation that there had been no ‘forward march of the movements halted’ for the left in Europe. It proved key to the formation of Jean-Luc Melanchon’s Left Party and Left Front (with the Communist Party) in France. Nonetheless, the experience of coalition governments which implemented neoliberal measures at state level did blight its domestic image. Moreover, the party remained deeply divided between right and left, much like the Left Front in France.

The bulk of the ex-Communist element provided the bastion of the right, with its gravitation towards deals with social-liberalism, as a continuation of the popular front strategies of the past. The Left Party’s inability to take a coherent position on the Euro-Crisis and the rise of the far right, as evidenced by its stance during the Greek bailout talks and its attitude toward the anti-immigrant Pegida, and its weakness on Palestine, reflect some ways that the party is held uneasily by a centre not unlike that which held Rifondazione together. Thus, though it has managed to avoid the trap of joining a social-liberal government, the Left Party’s lack of clear response and allies in relation to key issues of the day has left it looking less relevant than the far right in the escalating refugee crisis of ‘fortress Europe’. Oskar Lafontaine, a founder member, has rallied allies in the European Left Party to draw up a Plan B for Europe, which nonetheless avoided the drawing in of the social movements and remained a strictly run party affair. Flanked by Jean-Luc Melanchon from France, and the anti-Euro sections of the Greek, Italian and Czech lefts, this wing of the European Left Party represents the more far-sighted elements of left reformism, which wishes to reconstitute Europe and the left on a more left reformist basis over the longer term.

While always at risk of a right turn, a la Rifondazione and Syriza, because of the pulls of the electoralist and parliamentary logic, elements of the European Left want to wait out the temporary revival of European capital and to coordinate a much more concerted political response to the next round of the Euro-crisis which will inevitably come, with a weakened Germany and a more desperate and radical periphery likely to aligned against each other. Indeed, Germany cannot possibly maintain its current export record, with China turning inward and the US still unclear in its recovery, and much of Europe still suffering from austerity-related slump. The Volskwagen scandal shows German capital is prone not just to corruption but serious competitive pressures, and its likely economic fallout will probably weaken Germany, opening it up to pressures from the US for a more cooperative attitude towards reforming the EU in coming years. The US did not take kindly to Germany’s refusal to listen to it during the Greek crisis and will probably do all it can to prompt it in a more American direction at the next opportunity, using the Ukraine crisis also to weaken Europe, as Russian sanctions continue to bite. The main hope is to force Germany to accept not just the benefits of its position of hegemon in Europe, but also the responsibilities, as the US sees them, and that means forcing something of a Marshall Plan on Europe, as the US did in the post Second World War phase. Whether a Democrat will still be in the White House and whether world capitalism will be in sufficient health to grow its way out of the next round of the Euro-crisis remains to be seen.

But it is clear that the sections of the European Left hope to use that juncture as a more propitious one for the reconstitution of Europe on a more federalist and democratic basis. They will probably be more prepared for radical moves including supporting temporary exits from the Eurozone or even the Union, but the problem remains that many of them do so from a profoundly national rather than class basis. This classic left reformist problem manifests itself in Lafontaine’s call for quotas for refugees, while the Left Front in France continues to fail to represent a decisive challenge to the far right National Front. These kinds of policies suggest that the European Left remains divided and has failed to understand the implications of the Syriza debacle, which also pacted with the right in an attempt to negotiate from a position of national strength, without success. Syriza’s debacle rested in large part in its struggle for bourgeois legitimacy, which was only strengthened by its association with a national conservative section of the bourgeoisie. All the same, the European Left continues to exist and shape the terrain of the radical left across the continent.

The Linke looks East: Renewing Left Reformism, East of the Reich?

Although it is divided, the European Left has slowly begun to work out a strategy for East Europe. This involves the creation of left parties in Eastern Europe, in time for the next European elections. This comes directly from the German Left Party’s own experience as a fusion of an Eastern party and a Western splinter from Social Democracy. Pouring masses of money into the endeavour through the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, the left’s party political foundation funded by the German taxpayer according to the party’s parliamentary representation, this attempt has built a major infrastructure for the left in Eastern Europe not seen since the collapse of the bloc. For the first time, class-based political projects are emerging through various NGOs funded by RLS in Russia, Poland and Serbia, but covering most of the former Soviet bloc and Yugoslavia.

Focusing on South-East Europe, as a case in point, it is possible to discern a pattern. The strategy has appeared simple: creating new civil society groups largely from unemployed intellectual circles fresh out of university and without jobs, but also from existing NGO projects in need of cash to maintain progressive activities; organising outlets, publications and initiatives that can articulate a class-based opposition to austerity; and grouping these together to form political groups that can then autonomously contest elections and win parliamentary representation.

The most spectacular success has been in the ex-Yugoslav region with the use in Slovenia of the Workers and Punks University to set up a political group after extensive training and funding, and at a particularly favourable juncture, after an occupation of the squares movement in Maribor on the back of the Arab Spring and the rise of Syriza. The formation of the Initiative for Democratic Socialism, its blocking with other left groups to form the United Left Coalition, and its electoral breakthrough on the European and domestic level on an anti-austerity ticket proved to be a blue-print for other such experiments. Differences in pre-existing conditions meant few could match the Slovene example, with its relatively positive legacies of the partisan movement, labour strength at the end of Titoism, short war of independence, very belated economic crisis and a vibrant intellectual and cultural scene on the left.[23] Moreover, United Left Coalition now has problems minimising careerism and maximising its impact outside the electoral sphere.

Meanwhile, in the other Balkan countries, a new left has begun to emerge, but without the same success. Igor Štiks has usefully mapped out some of the dominant issues and forms taken by the new left in the ex-Yugoslavia. Student protests, citizen struggles relating to defence of the commons, worker protests against privatisation and at times for cooperative ownership, some union resistance to new labour laws, new online media initiatives and some, albeit unsuccessful, electoral interventions.[24] His modesty prevents him mentioning some of the biggest political festivals held in the Balkans and Europe, the ‘Subversive Festival’ in Zagreb, which he was central to co-organising for years. Nonetheless, the new left has remained weak. Poorer starting conditions, like feebler civil society and unions, a less favourable image of the left, and stronger nationalist contenders for the role of anti-systemic opponents has placed objective and subjective obstacles in the way of the creation of left political platforms and electoral success.

Subjective errors need more attention, however, since there is a lack of critical but comradely discussion among the ‘new lefts’. One episode which can serve to underline some of the main weaknesses relates to perhaps the most important event for the ‘new left’ in the Balkans since 1989. The spectacular workers’ uprising in Bosnia and Herzegovina in early 2014 highlighted the continued power of the industrial working class in the region. The uprising failed but has not received due attention since. Unfortunately, Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to be policed by the imperialist powers, pressed by its neighbours, and ruled by chauvinist oligarchies, while the working class also remains divided across national lines. These are issues the new left remains remarkably unable or unwilling to discuss, not just in Bosnia and Herzegovina.[25]

The uprising in Bosnia and Herzegovina also highlighted another weakness of much of the ‘new left’. Political progress but also weakness is visible from the many movements’ embrace of horizontal forms of democracy often called ‘the plenums’, which saw their biggest impact in Bosnia and Herzegovina. These represent a healthy desire to go beyond the liberal democracy which inevitably remains a limited form of democracy as long as capitalism remains the dominant socio-economic system and the rich continue to dominate politics. Yet the lack of representative character of such ‘plenums’, which never developed delegate system to involve wider society and develop a counter-power, with it’s a-political insistence on ‘technical’ governments, meant that the movement ‘rose like a rocket and fell like a stick’.  The Western-funded NGO network slowly began to dominate the plenums as informal hierarchies re-emerged and channelled much of the energy of the movement in a safe direction from the standpoint of imperialist and bourgeois power, at least in the short-term. In this sense, the weaknesses seen on the left in the West are reproduced in dramatic fashion.

The emergence of RLS-funded networks of NGOs in this overall context has had a contradictory effect. It has in many ways been positive. The phenomenon has, for all its weaknesses, brought forward the left in general, by making a class-based politics more accessible and visible in Eastern Europe than at any time since the collapse of bureaucratic state capitalism in 1989-1991. In a region blighted by unemployment and economic emigration, it has provided jobs for youth who wanted to stay and engage in political activity. Maximum budgets of 60,000 Euros a year for organisations with just a few full-timers in a region where average wages range from 300 to 800 Euros a month has meant the effective or indirect employment of dozens in every country of the Balkans. Direct successes like the Bilten website, which produces regional news in Serbo-Croat, and gets thousands of hits a day, publishing informed reports or occasional analyses of events for 150 Euros per piece (often less after tax), has changed the media landscape for the informed student or youth.

Indirect successes like the new universities union in Croatia set up by among other RLS NGO activists is a tribute to a reinvigorated left in the region. Funding for pre-existing events, like the ‘Subversive Festival’, which brought thousands to hear major public figures on the left, and which contained initiatives like the ‘Balkan Forums’, which connected activists from across the region, RLS-funded and not, were qualitative steps forward, made possible by the RLS network. Similar political projects, like the Left Summit of Serbia, bringing together several dozen left and worker groups for discussions, joint statements and occasional protests, would have been impossible without RLS funding of transport, venues and speakers. Where before there had been small, atomised initiatives, there are now networks and infrastructures. Issues like austerity, historical revisionism and feminism have all received much more publicity in the region as the RLS has carefully funded publications, conferences and events to coincide with potential campaigning issues and dates.[26]

Such a massive undertaking is not however without its problems and limitations. This new set of organisations has some of the same issues that all NGO projects have in one form or another, well explained by Ji Giles Ungpakorn on the experience socialists had of work with NGOs in Thailand. At a fundamental level, NGOs have to account for their money and activities to their external donor.

This leads, first, to a focus on public events and visible outputs like publications, for accounting purposes, not on campaigns and their autonomous sustainability. It can, second, create hierarchies between those on salaries and ordinary people involved in projects or wider campaigns. NGO jobs allow activists from NGOs to develop various skills like speaking, writing or organisation that many non-NGO activists will lack. Additionally, the power that comes with the ability to invite or not invite certain individuals or groups to conferences or publications is power to open or limit spaces. At times, this can reach ridiculous proportions, as when personal confrontations express themselves through official channels, or between official representatives and outsiders.

A third problem with the NGO form is that their employees are separated functionally and in terms of living conditions from the majority of the population, blunting their ability to fully comprehend or be comprehended by the population at large. Fourth, NGO projects have dates and deadlines that often carry with them their own demands, separate from the political demands of the day. Funding is dependent on fixed programmes, where one needs to plan months or years ahead, leaving no flexibility on re-redistributing time and resources in case the political map in the country changes significantly.

Fifth, NGOs are funded from abroad but subject to strict domestic laws, placing them in a tricky position under authoritarian regimes. They are therefore unlikely to be prepared to fund openly political or radical activities. This can shape their approach to class-based, anti-austerity politics, bending it towards more moderate, institutional or academic channels, rather than radical, class-based ones. For instance, while criticisms of anti-legislation laws could be published, recommendations for law-breaking strikes or mass direct action did not flow from the publications or groups linked to RLS in South Eastern Europe.

Moreover, the NGO form brings with it unaccountable or undemocratic hierarchies different from classical reformist and union organisation, which are more prone to changes in balances of forces and consciousness in the class. Since the NGO model is brought from outside, it is doubly removed from democratic decision-making. It is subject to the ultimate arbitration of the German electoral system, the realities of which are far removed from everyday life in much of Eastern Europe. Whether a left party, and what kind of left party, is necessary for the European elections now, or in three years’ time, is not determined by the needs of the movement in a Balkan or East European country now, or in three years’ time, for instance, but on undemocratic decisions taken elsewhere. On a broader scale, similar issues are likely to arise in relation to bigger political questions, often ones on which the German Left Party is deeply divided, like the question of the future of the EU.

How this can reflect on strategic debates on the left in the Balkans remains to be seen over the longer term. So far the record has been good, since local actors have managed to make their own arguments, but it is unclear whether this was because of the RLS leadership in Belgrade or the policy set in Berlin. Certainly, on a more mundane level, some forms of control have been evident. The prolonged attempt by the local RLS office in Belgrade to develop new cadres at the expense of existing groups led to the advancement of leading members of a group based at the university, the Centar za Društvenu Analizu, which openly flirted with nationalist cultural and political ideologies. The later debacle of this group during a student protest, when they collaborated with the far right, fortunately came when their prominent members had largely gone off the funding track of the RLS, but it nonetheless showed some of the dangers involved. It is to be hoped lessons are learned from such episodes, by the RLS itself, and activists who work alongside its NGO networks. Nonetheless, for revolutionary socialists, and those committed activists who wish to bring change by working alongside NGO networks, spelling out the lessons of such problems is an absolute and long overdue necessity.

Once again on the Broad Party, the Revolutionary Party and the United Front – East and West

The above problems cannot be solved by movementism or propagandism. While the RLS does not represent a dominant reformist force in the East European labour movement, it does represent an important and still largely progressive tendency. Those on the left who wish to ignore, dismiss or attack it misunderstand the current conjuncture, globally, and locally. For those who wish to develop the self-organisation and self-consciousness of the working class as the pillar of any popular movement against the debt economies and the austerity policies followed by the local ruling classes, the RLS is currently an important ally.

And if we are to develop battle organisations of the class for today and for tomorrow, we have to start with the class as it currently stands, and the left as it currently stands. We need also to develop autonomous, Marxist analyses of the balance of forces in society and orient to those sections of the class and the left that we think can act as the small cogs that can move the bigger cogs of the wheel of class struggle towards points of confrontation with the ruling class. In societies where most of the class is still reeling from the offensive of capital, and in which the debt economy has destroyed workplaces and made people dependent on handouts, it is important to articulate class-based responses, which the RLS excels at. The RLS will continue to have a hold on student and academic circles because of its ability to relate to their needs and problems in particular. Its failures so far in the field of attracting unions will probably be progressively overcome as it provides militant unionists with training in Germany and elsewhere, and provides a counterweight to AFL-CIO or Friedrich Ebert Stiftung courses, largely in ‘social dialogue’. In this sense, a considered response from the revolutionary left should be to assist such efforts, relate to them and offer constructive and open criticisms where disagreements arise. It is obvious that to create stable relationships on the left, rather than fleeting and tactical alliances, we will need to establish longer-term cooperation with those, like sections of the RLS and RLS-funded NGOs, who provide concrete ways forward for the class.

Nonetheless, it is also urgently necessary to move beyond reliance on the NGO left. Indeed, the revolutionary left needs to recruit and build an outward looking cadre, guided by Marxist politics, organised by a website or a paper, and intervening through the building of real, concrete struggles. We are still far from that goal, but we need to have that goal in order to be able to achieve it: many so-called revolutionary groups remain satisfied with abstract, programmatic debate.

Crucial to the success of the revolutionary left is to conceptualise and actualise politics as the building of mass movements which go beyond established left institutions and indeed beyond parliamentary politics. Left realignment can and should occur around the big questions of the epoch in which we live, but this should come out of concrete forms of successful joint struggles and campaigns, rather than abstract calls for unity. Unity in action would involve those sections of the left who see beyond ‘building the broad party’ and who wish to involve the entire working class movement. Broad parties are, of course, not necessarily inimical to the establishment of the united front, as an interview by Luigi Wolf with Bernd Riexinger,Die Linke co-chair, suggests, which is why Marks21 translated the interview into Serbo-Croat. The success of Marx21, a revolutionary current in Die Linke, in building broad antifascist marches that include the Muslim community, for instance around yearly marches in Dresden on the anniversary of its bombing in the Second World War, or around “Blockupy” with autonomist left forces, are instances of this success.

The problem with broad left parties, as evidenced by Rifondazione’s involution, despite its active involvement in the movements, is that they can allow levels of pluralism at lower levels without committing the entire party to a political line. This leaves major power of manoeuvre to the party bureaucracy. Moreover, the predomination of movementist ideas on the global left in the 2000s and 2010s has often allowed party bureaucracies to elide questions like the relationship between party and social movements. When these were represented as being parallel ‘legs’ on which the left stood, ‘politics’, in its parliamentary sense, was often left to ‘parties’, while movements were engaged in changing ‘extra-parliamentary’ attitudes. This left the question of state power out of the equation and fundamentally unchallenged. While left programmes could be adopted in the abstract, concrete strategies and tactics remained ‘decentred’ and therefore fundamentally (left-) reformist. As Alex Callinicos and Chris Nineham explained, this was central to the impasse of the social forum movement, as reformist leaders used autonomist language to attack the Left.

When concrete questions relating to state power arose in parliament, parties like Rifondazione found it difficult not to escape the logic of parliamentary blocs. This then opened the door for social liberals to pressure the right of the broad party to pressure the left to keep quiet over certain questions, in order not to allow the Right back in to power. This logic destroyed Rifondazione on the one hand, and helped Tsipras transform Syriza so quickly from a growing party attracting the flower of the Greek working class to a social liberal party implementing austerity and calling early elections to flush out its left wing. That his rightward march after 2012 remained fundamentally uncontested by the party’s left wing suggests that many became trapped by the electoralist and parliamentary drift of the party, rather than its potential to become a fighting party leading struggles from below.

Even groups that did not give in to the need to keep silent, like DEA, never offered a ‘people’s Grexit’ as an alternative, preferring rather to concentrate in economistic fashion on the position of ‘not one more sacrifice for the Euro’. This disarmed the left when faced with a forced Grexit. When the rebellion against Tsipras’s capitulation came, it managed to win much of the party’s middle ranks, but still allowed Tsipras to remain in control, partly because of his position in the state executive power, and partly because the left opposition had never fully mobilised in and out of the party around its plan B for Greece – a people’s Grexit, default, etc. Tsipras managed, at least for the time being, to convince the rank-and-file and voters that he was preferable to both Grexit and a return of the Right. As argued, this is not inevitable, and the relative combativeness of Die Linke, despite the paucity of social struggles in Germany, remains an important, albeit limited, counter-example. Without the building of mass movements from below, through united front work which includes pacts with elements of leaderships of the mass organisations of the working class, no left party or government of the left can succeed. We will see whether Die Linke will stand the test of time, and its dithering over the question of parliamentarianism and the EU will remain important problems.

There is, of course, no simple organisational solution to this problem. The existence of independent poles outside Syriza in Greece, in the form of the KKE and Antarsya, appeared to have little effect on Syriza’s rightward trajectory. The KKE’s openly sectarian attitude, although partly informed by healthy scepticism towards Syriza’s electoralist and Europeanist programme, left it completely sidelined in Greece. Antarsya’s decision not to support Syriza and to stay out of Syriza also paid few dividends. Nonetheless, its broadly correct programmatic approach to the question of the Euro, which Marks21 translated alongside its own analysis of the crisis, continues to make it a potentially important political factor in the crisis further down the line. Whether it will become a major player in part depends on its ability to deal with Popular Unity, Syriza’s anti-Euro left, which left Syriza in the face of the Tsipras capitulation.

Popular Unity’s refusal to pact with the sections of Antarsya that did not join it in the 2015 elections reflected the PU leadership’s somewhat complacent belief that people would flock over to it once Syriza’s bankruptcy had become evident. The trouble was: it had not become evident in the sense that few saw a credible alternative. The PU’s inability to provide a credible case was not a question of intellectual weakness. Popular Unity’s Costas Lapavitsas, for instance, had a powerful analysis of the failures of the Euro and a credible, though not sufficiently ‘popular’, alternative in the form of Grexit: he did not explain what political measures were necessary to attain a workable Grexit for the popular classes. Nonetheless, Popular Unity remained trapped in a fundamentally ‘parliamentarianist’ position: it did not seem to understand that the struggle for a plan B was not simply an ideological struggle, but a struggle for the full mobilisation of the class, which needed more than a few weeks of preparation to achieve the needed levels of confidence in its own ability to confront the ruling class power in order to achieve a ‘people’s Grexit’.

While Antarsya may be correct in its criticism of the leadership of Popular Unity over this question, its own inability to build a wider movement of struggle against austerity in the preceding years suggests its own only partial grasp of the united front policy developed in full at the Fourth Congress of the Comintern in 1922. Building a credible movement outside Syriza may be difficult because of the small size of the revolutionary left, but it remains imperative if the left is to shape events in the coming years, not just in Greece, but across Europe. Antarsya continued for much of the period after the rise of Syriza in 2012 to denounce the party, despite its clear popularity with the working class. While it continued to call for joint action with Syriza against austerity, its decision to stand against Syriza in 2012 and the tone of its denunciations of Syriza afterwards makes it hard to see the call for united front struggle as anything more than concrete propaganda to expose the Syriza leadership. Antarsya’s ability to intervene in the 2015 referendum, as part of a clear OXI to the creditors’ demands, however, suggests its 2012 mistake could be overcome. Time will tell whether further realignment of the Greek left will give birth to a broader and more sensible revolutionary current, with a deeper commitment to the united front policy.

The policy of the united front certainly involves friction as well as cooperation with reformist leaders, as it is both calculated to involve the masses wedded to reformist organisations in order to raise the self-confidence of the exploited, and to demonstrate the revolutionaries’ more effective tactics of struggle from below than that of the reformist leaders by showing the reformists as more prone to unnecessary compromises. Effective united front work means revolutionaries should be seen as the most energetic and effective campaigners over the issues a united front is built around, but also be prepared to act independently when needed. This was a central debate in the split between the SWP and the ISO in the late 1990s – as was the ISO’s softness on imperialism – as argued by Alex Callinicos in a pamphlet still worth reading. United fronts are greater than the sum of the parts of the existing left: they can often only be built if decisive action is taken by sections of the revolutionary left without reference to much of the rest of the ‘currently existing’ left, since the latter’s particularistic and conservative biases are often a block to mass engagement.

An excellent example of the united front policy has been the work of the SWP in the 2000s and, after the SWP’s turn away from united front work and anti-imperialism in 2008, of Countefire in the 2010s. In particular, the SWP’s initiative to launch the Stop the War Coalition is a case in point. It worked alongside the Labour Left and the Communist Party to launch a mass movement against imperialist war after 9/11. It took this action much more clearly and decisively than the SWP leadership of 2008 in response to the economic crisis. The successes of the STWC cannot be ascertained merely by whether it stopped the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. It did not, which certainly coloured its ability to mobilise such large numbers of people subsequently. It did remain a major mobilising campaign however, drawing hundreds of thousands against the Gaza War and it did revive protest politics in Britain following the doldrums of the 1990s. It shifted public consciousness significantly to the left. This helped stop a Syria War in 2013 and it helped elect Jeremy Corbyn as the first anti-imperialist leader of Labour since the 1930s.

Counterfire did not merely collapse into Labour Left or CPB positions, however, as the post-2008 leaderships of the SWP charged. Despite its successful launch of the People’s Assembly Movement, a united front against austerity, and its continued closeness to such figures as Jeremy Corbyn through both the STWC and PA, Counterfire never capitulated to reformist positions. Indeed, it remained capable of mobilising inside and outside Labour precisely because of its lack of need to tow to internal Labour Party machinations, as Jeremy Corbyn comes under McCarthyite—level attacks. Its ability to take a firm position that Corbyn should not allow a free vote on the Syria war in the Labour Party ran counter to Corbyn’s own ultimate decision to allow a free vote. Its lobby of the Labour Party HQ did however aid Corbyn in keeping the rebellion of Blairite MPs quite low and opened the way for him to act against the right in the Shadow Cabinet. Overall, then, despite not winning over each question, the united front approaches of the 2000s SWP and the 2010s Counterfire have shown revolutionaries can remain relevant even when comparatively small in relation to mass reformist organisations. Showing absolute unity of purpose over key questions for the class, like austerity or imperialist war, with the reformist leaders, but also the ability to employ different tactics through maintaining organisation independence has shown that revolutionaries can shift the balance of class forces in favour of the working class.

Examples of such politics exist in other instances in West and East Europe, recommending the spirit of the politics as a universal prescription, adaptable to specific national conditions. One example was the work of the International Socialist Group around the Radical Independence Campaign in Scotland. In the words of Chris Bambery, the RIC united ‘the left of the SNP including those who quit over its vote to back Nato membership, the Greens, Labour Party members, the radical left and, most of all, folk belonging to no party whatsoever… RIC combined traditional campaigning methods, conferences, public meetings and protests, with a wealth of other initiatives. Its attitude was “let a hundred flowers bloom” and it used social media to huge effect. Its history should be written up somewhere for the benefit of us all… But perhaps the single most important thing it did was the mass canvasses of working class communities and estates on the edge of the great cities.”

This campaign forced a national debate about what independence meant by asking questions that the official Yes Scotland campaign and the Scottish National Party did not pose, and thereby not only capitalised on a mass mood of anger against neoliberalism, but shifted the national political compass left in Scotland. Moreover, by helping to break the hold of Labour on the working class in Scotland, it created spaces for a new left not just in Scotland, but in England too. The popularity of the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon, as she tacked left in the Westminster election in 2015, was reflected on Google after her appearance on the televised leaders’ debates: the question of whether non-residents of Scotland could vote for the SNP was one of the most searched-for terms. That helped show that Labour’s loss was not because it had tacked to the left, but that it had not tacked left enough, helping Corbyn win the leadership of the Labour Party. Struggle in little Scotland could then affect struggle in England: an internationalist triumph, portending much for the future if used correctly.

Another impressive triumph for the revolutionary left included the success of the Iniciativa Ne Základnám (No to Bases Initiative) in the Czech Republic which collected 170,000 signatures and helped force President Barack Obama to announce he was dropping US plans to build a missile defence radar in the Czech Republic and place anti-missile rockets in Poland in 2009. The Czech revolutionary socialist group ‘Socialist Solidarity’ played an important role in putting the coalition together and showed that the left can win in Eastern Europe if it uses sensible politics and language understood by big numbers of people. In spite of a media barrage, an official political scene favourable to Washington after 1989, and mass illusions in the new president Obama, demonstrations and protests spread beyond the capital, Prague. The mobilisation pushed the Social Democrats to adopt clear anti-radar policies but also helped divide the Green Party from the government. Here was another example of how class-based, sensible politics of building mass movements could go beyond national borders and affect global events. Moreover, the line of ‘Neither Washington, nor Moscow, but international socialism’ was a useful guiding policy inherited from the internationalist left in the Cold War. It left ‘Socialist Solidarity’ in a stronger position to maintain a real presence in the construction of anti-austerity coalitions following 2008.

Politics is therefore more important than organisational questions – the latter flow from the former. Revolutionaries in the Balkans should learn from this. Whether or not we are part of a broad left party is a tactical question. Maintaining the independence of the revolutionary current remains the strategic priority in terms of building the central tool to help lift the self-confidence and self-organisation of the working class through the united front method. Building stable relationships with others is more than a tactical question, however: it requires strategic astuteness and relationships built over a period of time, as explained by an important Counterfire document from January 2013.

We need to continue to use all the existing left platforms available to us, whether those set up by RLS-funded NGOs or the trade unions, to discuss and debate with(in) the left to argue for a new party with as radical a socialist programme as possible, and one which responds to questions of dependency on foreign capital for domestic ruling class formation and questions relating to imperialist domination (and, in the Balkans, its intertwining with the national question and a regional federation as the only real alternative, as demonstrated by Andreja Živković and Matija Medenica in LeftEast). In the era of neoliberal ‘financialisation’, this includes struggle against austerity and privatisation, the nationalisation under workers’ control of the banks and the commanding heights of the economy, rejection of the foreign debt, as well as regional unity against imperialist integration and nationalist division. That should be a lesson also for the Greek left, which has too frequently been reluctant to link the ‘people’s Grexit’ with Greece’s links with the Balkans. But it is also necessary for revolutionary groups in the region to understand that the strength of the NGOs on the left or the weakness of trade unions is in inverse proportion to the strength of the working class movement and the classical left. If the NGOs are still more successful than the organic left movements of the region, or the unions look for government deals, it is useless and counterproductive to decry the situation and launch ferocious attacks on the RLS or label unions police unions. We need rather to rise to the occasion.

Indeed, the organic left should seek ways to overcome its weaknesses, including its penury, and in many cases he overreliance on NGO money to fund activities. To do so, it will need to test its strategies and tactics through real attempts at organising struggles, and to do so it will need to maintain its political independence. By relying on the united front policy, organic left forces should look to the RLS and the unions, but also beyond them, to build mass movements rooted in the working class and the oppressed to confront the effects of economic crisis, imperialist domination and nationalist division in the region. Rather than collapsing into movementism or propagandism, and rather than simply dissolving into various forms of left reformism, then, the organic left should find creative ways of being with the radicalising elements of the class, while all the while maintaining a scaffolding for the construction of new fighting organisations of the revolutionary left in the struggles we engage in now and in the future. For building the revolutionary cadre is not just a task of abstract education or programme, but of strategy, tactics and modes of concrete action, which occur in the thick of the class struggle, shifting the balance of class forces, and convincing the majority that a different world is possible – and that it can be built only through ‘the forcible overthrow of all existing conditions’ by the majority itself.[27]

Notes

[1] I would like to thank my comrades in Marks21 and Counterfire for their incisive comments on earlier drafts of this text. Special thanks also to Chris Bambery, Leo Fischer and Mariya Ivancheva, whose valuable advice has also improved the politics of the piece.

[2] See for more, Alex Callinicos, Against the Third Way: An Anti-Capitalist Critique, Polity, 2001. See also, Oliver Nachtwey, ‘Die Linke and the crisis of class representation’.

[3] Chris Harman, Class Struggle in Eastern Europe, 1945-1983, Bookmarks; 3rd Revised edition, 1988. See also, Andreja Živković, The future lasts a long time: a short history of European integration in the ex-Yugoslavia.

[4] Mike Haynes, 'Class, crisis and the transition in Eastern Europe' in J.Rees et al, Marxism and the New Imperialism, Bookmarks, 1994, pp. 124-186.

[5] D. Blackie, ‘Yugoslavia’s Road to Hell’, International Socialism, vol. 53 (1991).

[6] Mike Haynes, ‘Globalisation in Eastern European and the Former Soviet Union’, in E.Bircham & J.Charlton eds., Anti-Capitalism, A Guide to the Movement, Bookmarks, London, 2001.

[7] Gareth Dale, First the Transition, then the Crash: Eastern Europe in the 2000s. London:  Pluto Press, 2011.

[9] M. Haynes and  R.Husan, 'Whether by Visible or Invisible Hand: the intractable problem of Russian and East European Catch-up’, Competition and Change, vol. 6 no.3, 2002, pp. 269-287.

[10] See again, Gareth Dale, First the Transition, then the Crash: Eastern Europe in the 2000s. London:  Pluto Press, 2011.

[12] Andreja Živković and Matija Medenica, ‘Balkans for the peoples of the Balkans’.

[13] Alex Callinicos, An Anti-Capitalist Manifesto, Polity, 2003.

[14] Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership, Basic Books, 2005.

[15] John Rees, Imperialism and Resistance, Routledge, 2006.

[16] Chris Harman, ‘The Faultlines Grow Deeper’.

[18] James Petras, ‘NGOs: In the service of imperialism’, Journal of Contemporary Asia, 1999, 29, 4, 429-440.

[23] See again Andreja Živković, The future lasts a long time: a short history of European integration in the ex-Yugoslavia. See also Marko Grdešić,"Mapping the Paths of the Yugoslav Model: Labour Strength and Weakness in Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia", European Journal of Industrial Relations, 14 (2), 2008, 133-151.

[24] Igor Štiks, ‘“New Left” in the Post-Yugoslav Space: Issues, Sites, and Forms’, Socialism and Democracy, 29:3, 2015, 135-146.

[26] For more, see: http://www.rosalux.rs/en.

Vladimir Unkovski-Korica

Vladimir Unkovski-Korica

Vladimir Unkovski-Korica is a member of Marks21 in Serbia and a supporter of Counterfire. He is on the editorial board of LeftEast and teaches at the University of Glasgow.

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