“Letters from Yugoslavia” consist of translation of previous articles published in different portals whichare piled in "Yugoslavya Mektupları". The current articles are published in İleri Portal, the press agency of TKP (Communist Party of Turkey).

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Tuesday, 13 December 2016

THE POLITICAL IMPASSE OF YUGONOSTALGIA

(Original text: Published in January 5, 2016)

There is usually a general tendency to overrate Yugoslav experience in left wing politics. For most, Yugoslavia and Tito are the smiling, humanistic face of socialism and the post-Yugoslav tragedy is just an outcome of nationalism provoked and supported by imperialism.
No doubt that nationalist separatism received support from imperialism and the political impact of West, especially Germany, on the bloody process of breakup of Yugoslavia cannot be ignored. On the other side, it would be a bit naive not to foresee that the constitutional reform in 1973 in Yugoslavia which transformed the Yugoslav federation into confederation would end up with the breakup of Yugoslavia. Especially, at the time when USSR was collapsed and imperialism did not any more need the smiling face socialism.
Despite the fact that almost a quarter century has passed since the breakup of Yugoslavia, the memories of good old times are still alive for some. Almost in all of ex-Yugoslav countries, a café fancied with materials about Yugoslavia or a monument is evitable cherishing the memories Yugoslavia. Even sometimes some new ones opened. For example in Bosnia, Tito Café located at the ground floor of the Sarajevo History Museum is a popular place with canons and armories from the World War II located at its garden where Tito’s birthday is celebrated every year with fireworks. A few more Ex-YU cafés do also exist. One of the main streets in Sarajevo city center is still “Marshall Tito Alley” and a Tito monument in the campus of Sarajevo University still stands. Ex-YU is the abbreviation for ex-Yugoslavia and is widely used in popular culture. Not only in Sarajevo, but also in Serbia, Montenegro or any other ex-Yugoslav countries ex-YU ornaments or places can be found. Even in Slovenia which was the first to claim independence from Yugoslavia.
The nostalgia for Yugoslavia, or as we shortly call; Yugonostalgia, is prevalent in all over ex-Yugoslavia. Differing from “Ostalgie” (nostalgia for German Democratic Republic), or nostalgia for USSR (which is widely exploited by Putin), Yugonostalgia is not alive only in the hearts of ex-partisans or the elders who lived during the most prosperous times of Yugoslavia, but also in the hearts of youngsters who even were not existing in Yugoslavia.
Now, just imagine a country that leaders from 122 countries were in the funeral of your leader including kings, presidents… It is clear that neither in Serbia, nor in Croatia, nor in Slovenia, Bosnia, Montenegro, nor in Macedonia, a similar funeral will never happen again. Just imagine: You were a citizen of a country of 22 million population, not only respectably recognized in Europe, but also worldwide, your leader is main figure of non-Aligned Movement and has a top prestigious position respected in both camps of the world during the Cold War. You have a respected army, a serious economy and then suddenly: Puffff! You are a citizen of a country where people even do not know if your country is separated from Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia, or you are citizen of a country which is recognized only with the national football team with funny looking jerseys. Those two are the so called better off countries of ex-Yugoslavia who are both members of EU. Or you are a citizen Bosnia and Herzegovina, a monument of instability or a citizen of Macedonia even whose official name is not recognized in UN. Or a citizen of a country like Serbia which is shrinking through decades. Or a citizen of mafia-state like Kosovo or a citizen of Montenegro which resembles like a fictitious state. Would not you miss Yugoslavia?
Despite the tendency of Yugonostalgia, class movement and left wing parties are very weak in ex-Yugoslavia. Yugonostalgia obviously does not have any political implication in daily politics, which relies mostly on the anachronic character of Yugonostalgia. The main reason behind the anachronistic character of Yugonostalgia is the exemption of any kind of criticism of Tito and the practice of self-management. More than a political will, Yugonostalgia is a reflection of memories from relatively prosperous good-old days thanks to the financial credits donated by Western countries as a gift to a “socialist” country for her role in Cold War opposing USSR.
In contemporary political atmosphere, it has to be noted that Yugonostalgia, as an outcome of popular culture does not have any political implication. On the contrary, it has negative effect on class struggle and socialist politics in ex-Yugoslavia by blocking any political free of Titoism or Yugonostalgia. 

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