Friday, February 14, 2014

Demonstrators Bring Down Bosnian Government As Revolt Spreads

Authorities have lost control through most of Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Serbia
The government of Bosnia has resigned, calling early elections in a bid to shield the capitalist class itself. "We are ready to cede the power to anyone legitimate", Prime Minister Nermin Niksic told reporters on Monday. "But it needs to be clear who will take over." Within the space of just a week, a movement has sprung up which seems to have the potential to challenge capitalism in the region. Without doubt, it is the most explicitly anti-capitalist uprising since the global economic crisis began six years ago.

The struggle has predictably gained little attention from the corporate media, and much of the left in the UK seems slow on the uptake too. So you might have missed that the following has happened:
  • Protests in Tuzla, Bosnia became violent when former employees of privatised companies demanded compensation from local government, and police were set on the crowds.
  • Solidarity protests expanded into neighbouring Herzegovina and Serbia.
  • In Tuzla, rebel workers issued a list of demands which include the prosecution of economic crimes, the restoration of workers' rights, and the equalizing of the pay of government representatives with the pay of workers in the public and private sector.
  • Tuzla workers have demanded the collectivisation of the formerly state-owned, closed factories.
  • In Sarajevo, rebel workers and residents evacuated the presidency building, shouting: “Thieves! Thieves!” They then released a proclamation, called “Against the economic model that favours the rich.
  • Government buildings throughout the region have been burned down, and the heads of regional governments (cantons) have resigned.
  • In Tuzla and Sarajevo, some of the protesters captured by the police were released following mass demonstrations.
  • In spite of the ethnic rivalries throughout the region, which were cultivated by world powers during the 1990s, those in struggle have decisively rejected nationalism in favour of class solidarity. Slogans such as "Stop nationalism!" have taken hold. In the words of one participant, “This rebellion has nothing to do with ethnicity or nationalityit is about class.”
  • At a session of the Tuzla plenum (directly democratic assembly) yesterday, the meeting gave government officials just three days to concede yet more demands.
For now, the ruling class is clearly stunned and on the back foot. It has made concessions at the level of political offices, while it makes attempts to regroup. As yet, I have not heard of any concrete gains being made in terms of raising working class living standards. But the masses appear to be seizing a moment of apparent elite weakness to press home their temporary advantage. If they are able to sink roots into day to day struggles in neighbourhoods and workplaces throughout the former Yugoslavia, a revolutionary movement may have been born.

European Union bosses are beginning to draw up plans, in case the Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbian governments - which are in turn overseen by an unelected United Nations appointee - are insufficient to save Bosnian capital. Fearing a situation where the flames of rebellion fan into nearby austerity-hit Greece and Italy, Austrian-born UN man Valentin Inzko declared that: "If it comes to escalation we would have to consider the intervention of EU forces. Currently, we do not have such intention." A police chief also warned European bureaucrats that this may be necessary to maintain capitalist rule, proposing that: "The international community and the EU should consider [deploying] international military forces in BiH if [widespread rioting] occurs again.”

Such a 'peacekeeping' force would necessarily be totalitarian - dedicated to brutally stamping out all insurgency. If it continues to grow, the Bosnian revolution will need our active solidarity, and its story needs to be spread.
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