COMMUNISM CAN ONLY BE RADICAL PLEBEIAN DEMOCRACY: REMARKS ON THE EXPERIENCE OF S. F. R. YUGOSLAVIA AND ON CIVIL SOCIETY (2015, 13500 words)

International Critical Thought 6.2 (2016): 165-89., 2016

The essay is divided into approach and two parts plus a short summation. The approach poses the theme of nexus between communism and democracy as the only hope to oppose the present neo-fascist turn of capitalism. Part 1 discusses central political choices after the Yugoslav 1941–45 revolution, focusing on its popular revolutionary horizon as well as on disalienation of labour in workers’ self-management, and sketching the history of their achievements and then reflux after the 1960s. The three available politico-economic horizons were a Soviet-style police state, “market socialism,” and a fully associational plebeian democracy. Choosing the second solution meant, in the absence of central planning, a slide towards a market without democratic control and swayed by international centres of financial capital plus the six or seven regional centres of power in the “federal republics,” inevitably turning to nationalism. This led to economic and state disaster. Part 2 discusses plebeian democracy in a participatory mode, foregrounding the need for open politics in post-revolutionary societies and what might a real “civil society” be (Gramsci). The conclusion is not only that Marx’s horizon of communism can only be radical plebeian democracy, but also that only communism can be radical plebeian democracy.

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