“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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Saturday, 11 March 2017


(Original text: Published in March 7, 2015)

It is not a joke! Similar to the international mothers’ day, which is celebrated by the second Sunday of May every year, 8th of March is celebrated in a similar way in ex-Yugoslav countries. 8 of March is still defined as “Women’s Day” not as “mothers’ day, but it is normatively accepted as the day for mothers. Kids buy presents to their mothers, and it is very common that women arrange entertaining activities.

For those who have experienced any Mayday in any ex-Yugoslav country, this is not an interesting situation. In fact, where 8th of March is Women’s Day, Mayday is “spring festival”. Usually the days prior or after Mayday become free day and a holiday of a couple of days is arranged. If you see smoke over Beograd, Zagreb or Sarajevo, be sure it is not the tear gas thrown by police to Mayday demonstrators, but it is the smoke coming from barbecue parties. It does not matter if the unemployment rate is breaking new records or it does not matter if the real salaries continue to drop; Mayday is spring festival.

Yugoslav Hedonism

I do not think that the readers of this article favour an ascetic political struggle, avoiding profane joys. At least I am not. At least neither I nor my comrades would not like to have a political vision ignoring the joy of spending time together, having a dinner or a coffee or a drink together or playing football together etc. … Consequently we are all struggling to enjoy life altogether and in those “great days” we will be dancing in the city centres until the dawn.

However, we also cannot think something which is more absurd than transformation of 8th of March into a day where consumerism is boosted, where we in fact commemorate 159 women textile workers at March 8, 1857 in New York. Moreover, it is not only absurdity, nor a disrespect, but it also has to be perceived as an aggression towards the struggle of women.

What means lockouting a strike for workers means the same to celebrate “8 of March” within the conceptualization of it as a day boosting consumerism.

It is very common that especially white electronic companies make special sales in 8th of March. What a paradox! Strengthening the domestic division of labour, defining women in her natural place as “kitchen” in 8th of March, in the day symbolizing the equality and freedom struggle of women!
It becomes even weirder in Yugoslavia where Maydays are transformed into “spring festival” and “8th of March” is considered as “mothers’ day”. At the end, Yugoslavia was a socialist country having an experience of socialist values for 45 years! It is quite difficult to understand how those dates of struggle became the ritualistic carnivals of capitalism.

Considering the theoretical background and practices of “self-management” in Yugoslavia, it is a fact that this absurdity is just a visible scene of a chain of nonsense which is not only limited to 8th of March or Mayday, but an expected consequence of politics of self-management. Briefly, with an anti-Soviet claim, Yugoslav “market socialism” widely enjoyed an artificial welfare society thanks to the financial credits donated by West who were content about that anti-Soviet stance. The most essential part of this hallucination was the culture of hedonism especially at the end of 1960’s that was connected with the hallucination that the “working class was holding the means of production” where in fact the system was exploiting not only the financial credits of Western imperialism, but also socialist values dissolving the pillars of a socialist country like class consciousness and class struggle.
Transformation of Mayday into spring festival and 8th of March into “mothers’ day” is part of this systematic hallucination.

Politicising 8th of March!

Leftist political struggle is not a hobby.

It is a rebellion against pressure which takes place in everyday life, against a very political repression! The system which does not allow women’s political existence, is a political system and the reply should be political as well!

Not only within its historical context, but also regarding the current political situation, women’s day is a political fact. It is not like that only in countries like Turkey where fundamentalist religious politics restrain women in every single sphere in public life, but also in countries like Yugoslavia with a serious experience of socialism where women enjoyed progressive rights and social representation in every sphere of the society.

In this context, no one can claim that 8th March shall be “celebrated” free of its political meaning! In ex-Yugoslav countries, 8th of March shall even be commemorated in a more political concept where the heritage of self-management shall be questioned as well.

No wonder that, in this land, in Yugoslavia, 8th of March will again be the date symbolizing the struggle of women for freedom and equality, following the path of Marija Bursac and her martyr comrades in the struggle against fascism under the banner of Communist Party of Yugoslavia.

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