SERBIA: THE FIRST STEPS OF A NEW CLASS STRUGGLE
The results of 2021 are marked absolutely all over the world by the tightening of inhuman manifestations of the reactionary governments of countries serving the interests of international capital, which is suffering a logical antiscientific collapse before our eyes. As a natural consequence, the transnational capitalist class and its regional representatives, realizing that the instrument of bourgeois democracy is completely discredited and does not work, move on to a violent, repressive phase of governing peoples. There is no continent today from which urgent news of the clash of rebellious working people against the reaction of the ruling classes is not sent. And friendly Serbia was no exception in these processes: Having lived for decades of patience, the people of the former Yugoslavia during the second half of the outgoing date, including the current December, are in the first phase of social resistance to the new draconian reforms of the reactionary government of President Aleksandar Vucic.
When it comes to the Balkan countries of Europe, one can very often come across a stereotype according to which exclusively Western imperialism is trying to use the territories and population of the former Yugoslavia. There are very tragic grounds for this long-standing opinion in the recent history of Serbia – at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries. A number of scientific and journalistic articles by our esteemed American comrade Marxist political scientist Michael Parrenti are devoted to this dramatic period. But today we see the permanent Alexander Vucic at the head of the anti-people right-wing political elite ruling in Serbia. Yes, at present Serbia is a small ally, a “vassal” of the eastern imperialist giant, progressing on the ruins of one of the first socialist states. Therefore, it is not surprising that in modern news reports from Serbia, on the Russia Today channel, a popular comment is put into the mouths of TV presenters, according to which the protest movement in Serbia, which broke out in late November in response to the anti-social reforms of the ruling elite, classic for capitalist right-wing politics, – nothing more than “another intervention of Sharpe’s destabilizing Orange scenarios.” This populist rhetoric towards the countries of the former socialist bloc is very characteristic of the Bonapartism of Putin’s Russia, a country where the financial capital that has taken shape is actively defending itself with a patriarchal conservative ideology that is open today.
Perhaps not everyone knows that since 2017, as President of Serbia, he is a right-wing politician who received his baptism of fire in the ranks of the neo-fascist Radical Party of Serbia. Prior to his nomination as a springboard for the presidency, this gentleman served as the Serbian Progressive Party, which he joined on the eve of the elections. For the previous 14 years, this politician served as general secretary of the Radical Party of Serbia under the leadership of the neo-fascist criminal Vojslav Sheyšelj. In the conservative media in Serbia and Russia, President Vucic has created the image of a patriotic people’s ruler, under whom the country lives hard, but stably … At the same time, the fear is constantly being built up that this stability may be destroyed – in the event that the government of Vucic is not at the head of the country. An ideological template is being created, from which it follows that President Vucic “restrains the pressure of the West and honestly manages a complex system in a country that has been perniciously influenced by the destructive era of the rule of the“ US and EU henchman ”ex-President Boris Tadic, who did nothing for post-war Serbia… Serbia is not a member of either NATO or the European Union so far, and this circumstance is also attributed to the merits of the current president.
According to the founders of the Marxist theory, the representatives of imperialism have no nationality, and indeed: modern imperialism, which wants to control the natural wealth of the Balkans, finds active support from Russian capital. According to the founders of the Marxist theory, the representatives of imperialism have no nationality, and indeed: modern imperialism, which wants to control the natural wealth of the Balkans, finds active support from Russian capital. In the opposition left-wing environment in Serbia, this is an obvious fact, and the Serbian comrades are conducting successful explanatory work with different strata of the population, in the process of which they explain that the time has passed when the Russians provided assistance to Serbian Slavic brothers: this was a reality more than 50 years ago, when Serbia , located within the framework of socialist Yugoslavia, was fully supported by the Soviet Union. Serbia is currently defenseless against the greedy aspirations of transnational investors, and the task of protecting their interests is entrusted to the ultra-rightist politician A. Vucic, who is an obedient vassal of both Western imperialism and young Russian finance capital.
In the history of the promotion of the Anglo-Australian TNC Rio Tinto corporation in the southeastern part of Europe, Russian roots can be traced since 2006. It was then that Rio Tinto and the Norilsk Nickel company, owned by the Russian businessman Potanin, who is one of the oligarchic pillars of the modern Russian ruling class, – create a joint subsidiary. This fact reveals the international ties of Capital: here the significant moment is that the expansive march of Rio Tinto for the resources of the countries of Eastern Europe (the former socialist “Eastern bloc”, which has opposed international Capital for many years), began precisely with the resource-rich former territories of the Soviet Union. The protest of Serbian workers against the anti-popular regime is already difficult to contain with the help of populist methods based on the stereotype of “traditional friendship between Serbia and Russia”: the deceit of A. Vucic’s government is already obvious to many in the country. A clear awareness of the anti-popular essence of the policy of official Belgrade, based on the support of the Russian Bonapartist Putin government, is coming to an increasing number of Serbs.
The people are coming to realize the class reasons for what is happening in the country – an illustration of this is the powerful protest wave that swept in Serbia at the end of this autumn, 2021, which swept Belgrade, Novi Sad and other large cities.
The people of Serbia rose massively to fight for their rights, as well as against the promotion of TNC Rio Tinto into the country, immediately after the Vucic government resorted to the adoption of amendments to the Referendum Law, eliminating the need for a 50 percent turnout of adult citizens to ensure the validity of the referendum. It is obvious to everyone that the ruling lobby needs to promote this bill in order for A. Vucic to stay for one more presidential term. Lobbying the interests of such a major investor as the transnational corporation Rio Tinto, and explains all the recent political steps of the Vucic cabinet, including the changes in the country’s legislation aimed at strengthening the position of the current president – an obedient and effective puppet in the hands of big business …
The Rio Tinto Corporation is notorious around the world for the disruptions to the natural balance and the devastating impact on the environment that TNCs cause wherever they operate. It is obvious that the coherence of official Belgrade and the management of TNCs was the result of a complex chain of capitalist scenarios, at the origins of which was originally a plan to develop the bowels of Bolivia, one of the richest countries in lithium in the world. As a result of the organized political struggle of the Bolivian workers and agrarians, the plan to strengthen the puppet government of J. Agnes, who ousted the legitimate president E. Morales, failed. In 2020, a representative of the popular party MAS L. Arce, supported by the population, won the elections in a South American country, which meant that transnational capital, guarded by the world hegemon of the United States, received an unexpected defeat, despite the solid efforts of Washington and financial the infusion of interested in Bolivian lithium Elon Musk. The need for lithium mining and the cannibalistic appetite of transnational capital only intensified after this defeat: the attention of TNCs was drawn to eastern Europe, where there are also reserves of lithium and tungsten on the territory of western Serbia. On the eve of the upcoming presidential elections, the Serbian government has agreed to secure the interests of Rio Tinto, which plans to arrive in the country with the intention of securing the necessary production of lithium through the development of lithium deposits in western Serbia.
Since the announcement of the company’s arrival in western Serbia, a new wave of protest mobilization has begun in the country. In the last days of autumn, a series of mass protests swept across the country against the adoption of anti-popular legislative projects, which are being promoted without public debate. On November 27, 2021, the streets of Serbian cities were filled with hundreds and thousands of protesters who embarked on a political struggle against the state’s offensive on the social interests and rights of the people. However, the autumn mass mobilization, which demonstrated that the Serbian people will not simply resign themselves to the will of Capital without a struggle, ran into repression from the ruling forces, which are supported by the right sector. The ruling elite was unable to hide their fears of an upsurge in popular protest, which took on a radical character: at the entrance to some Serbian cities, protesters set up checkpoints designed to protect against state repression. The events in the town of Sabac attracted the most attention from the media.
In the midst of protest unrest, the apparatus of the ruling SNS party took a populist step: A. Vucic himself visited western Serbia in order to visit the region of the Jadar River, where popular protests are strongest. Outraged townspeople here have resorted to radical action, setting up roadblocks at the entrances to cities most at risk from the potential arrival of Rio Tinto. The ruling party is apparently seriously concerned about the fact that a large number of local farmers have joined the protest against TNC here. The ruling party organized a meeting between local farmers and A. Vucic, apparently empowering the spokesman for their interests related to the interests of transnational capital, in extreme cases – to make certain concessions to the protesters. The presidential visit was widely covered by the official Serbian media, which was prompted by the need to monitor the progress of Vucic’s meeting with farmers, and to ensure his escape.
At some point, the police stepped aside, soon after which an excavator appeared and tried to break the blockade of the protesters, completely neglecting their safety. The excavator was stopped during a physical confrontation between the protesters, the driver and his masked guard who turned out to be a member of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). It is worth recalling that this political organization is the legitimate heir to the nationalist extremist Radical Party of Serbia. Several thugs, who were in the cars behind the excavator, then joined the tailcoats, attacking the protesters with sticks and hammers.
At some point, the police stepped aside, soon after which an excavator appeared and tried to break the blockade of the protesters, completely neglecting their safety. The excavator was stopped during a physical confrontation between the protesters, the driver and his masked guard who turned out to be a member of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). It is worth recalling that this political organization is the legitimate heir to the nationalist extremist Radical Party of Serbia. Several thugs, who were in the cars behind the excavator, then joined the tailcoats, attacking the protesters with sticks and hammers. But it was a great moral victory for the protesters. This time, right-wing SNS fighters did not get away with their violence without a serious response. SNS made an effort to portray the event as the violence of multiple demonstrators against innocent bystanders who simply wanted to pass to join the party’s founding anniversary celebration that same day. The party fully supported their excavators and held a rally demanding “justice” for them, although they received real justice in the form of the blows they received when they tried to break the blockade. … The given example of the competent and criminal use by the ruling class of grassroots forces from ultra-right militant groups during 2021 has already been used in the Balkan Peninsula. A good example of this is today’s capitalist Greece, where the fascist Golden Dawn party has been under an injunction for more than a year now. In Thessaloniki in September of this year, the same right-wing militants staged a physical reprisal against young activists from the peaceful action of the Greek Communist Party.
The incident caused a wide negative response in the Serbian public. People who generally opposed violence this time welcomed physical resistance to the neo-fascist SNS scum. Due to the regime’s arrogance, many more people in many more cities came out to protest on December 4, 2021. The masses have shown a growing willingness to respond to potential provocations by Vucic’s right-wing militants. In Novi Sad, after their initial provocations, about thirty Vucic thugs made a quick escape from the city, facing the wrath of protesters. Along with this example of militancy among the masses, there is a sharpening of protest rhetoric regarding the expansive arrival of Rio Tinto, which is viewed exclusively as an onslaught of big business. While this is a positive turnaround, it is essentially only a first step that does not yet place the hostile capitalist system itself at the center of the issue.
Faced with the power of the masses on the streets, Vucic now abandoned planned amendments to the expropriation and referendum laws and admitted defeat. Activists understand this as a victory, but it is not yet complete. This is a victory on the terms of Vucic himself. The regime is trying to overcome its temporary tactical retreat to ensure that Vucic’s popularity is not undermined too much ahead of the scheduled elections in April 2022. The right-wing populist politics of Aleksandr Vucic, who has carefully cultivated his image of a strict but just ruler, is based on acting as a “strong man” who rises above institutions, government and even his own party. With this maneuver, he is trying to consolidate the position of the “supreme arbiter” who “understands the people” and is ready to apply disciplinary measures from above against the state apparatus itself in the name of the “public good.”
Vucic tried to portray his decision to back down as the actions of a compassionate leader who heeded the calls of the locals. That is, he wants the public to believe that he changed course because he “heard the voice of the people” and was not forced by the pressure of mass protests in the streets. A few days later, admitting defeat, he was forced to hypocritically admit the legitimacy of these protests, stating that there are many sincere people in support of the protests, and that he is even personally concerned that some celebrities have even shown their support.
After this partial victory, the fight will continue in various forms, the main requirement of which is the cancellation of all government contracts with Rio Tinto. Indeed, the regime will continue to try to find new ways to bring the company to Serbia. Rio Tinto’s resource expansion and Vucic’s loyal service to imperialism, to which he sells not only the natural resources of little Serbia, but also labor, are the result of a system based solely on profit. These protests show that the populace is losing the fear that is the basis for the control of the population in reactionary regimes. However, as long as the system remains intact, with or without Vucic, capitalists like those behind Rio Tinto will continue to exploit the country’s working class and natural resources, one way or another. The best step to escalate these protests and move them to the level of the class struggle would be to join the labor movement, since workers are the ones who can strike for the foundations of this speculation system through a general strike – this would most effectively threaten Vucic’s rule by preventing further attacks from outside.