Miroslav Samardžić and Dimitar Anakiev during forum in Zrenjanin, March, 2016
WHAT IS THE EUROPEAN UNION BRINGING TO US?
Dimitar Anakiev, speech made on March, 3, 2016, at the forum in Zrenjanin
Good evening! I have been travelling from Ljubljana to Belgrade by an international train whose composition consisted of two wagons, one of the first class, the other of the second. The first class wagon was locked up while in the second class one there were some ten to fifteen passengers. This image of the main railway line of former Yugoslavia is a good metaphor for the state we have found ourselves in after the breakup of the SFRY. This is an image of our disappearance and this disappearance was brought to us by capitalism and its exponents.
The train travel from Ljubljana to Belgrade lasted for 8 hours, the time I spent reading the book by Harold R. Isaacs, The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution. The first part of the book describes the conditions that led to the revolution in China in 1925-1927. The analysis of the social circumstances in China given by Isaacs is good so that I am going to use it as a cue; the image of the humiliated China can be compared to our social circumstances; first of all, it is interesting to see the share of foreign capital. On page 23 of this book we find the following formulation and data, namely, that the foreign capital „occupied dominant positions in all the basic economic sectors, sucking the country leech-like of its resources. It owned nearly half the cotton industry, China's largest. It owned a third of the railways outright and held a paralyzing mortgage on the rest. It owned and operated more than half the shipping in Chinese waters and carried in its own bottoms nearly 80 percent of China's foreign and coastal trade...“. This is, therefore, a true face of the Chinese economy at the time when China reached the lowest point in its history and this state would, in its turn, lead to a series of insurrections and two revolutions.
Let's have a look now at the image of Slovenia in the European Union. Slovenia entered the EU in 2004 and in only 12 years it has managed to completely destroy and sell out its economy. Its trade network is 100% in foreign hands; that is, today Slovenia has no trade network on its own. An exception is Tuš but is under mortgage. Beer industry, one of the key industrial branches in Slovenia, with a large market in the Balkans, is for 100% in foreign hands (Union and Laško). The same happens to the home appliance industry otherwise well known in the region; 100% is foreign hands (Gorenje is bought off by Swedish capital). The same is with steel industry (Russian capital) and industry of ski and sports equipment – all this is sold to foreign capital. A somewhat better situation is in the pharmaceutical industry which is only for 70% in foreign hands (Krka is still in Slovenian hands and it subsists probably thanks to the Russian market; however, this market is today in a serious crisis). Tourism is only partially sold but that's where sale is about to begin. We can see that all the profitable industries are sold. What does not bring any profit or disturbs someone's monopoly is destroyed. For instance, Slovenia has no longer an industry of fertilizers; neither does it have construction industry able to undertake more serious building projects. It makes sense to pose a question concerning what in Slovenia has not been sold or ruined yet? Answer is: energetics and infrastructure. They are waiting for the third wave of privatization and so are major banks. As we know, the role of banks in „transition“ is specific since the banks are the main instruments of social robbery by their system of giving loans to the chosen individuals, those loans that are to be paid off by citizens through budget „recapitalization“ of banks. Two fresh examples: the NLB or New Ljubljanska Bank has recently been recapitalized with 1, 5 billion of budget money and so has the NKBM or New Credit Bank Maribor with 900 millions. After its recapitalization, the NKBM was sold to an American fund for 200 million Euros. The Slovenian governments are without monetary and fiscal freedom. Neither have they enough money to function. Several times a year they take loans from various foreign creditors in order to pay their employees. It means that, in essence, it does not matter what color is the government since any government that has come to power will have to be obedient to its creditors. That is why a reasonable proposal has been put forward recently to, instead of electing a government, choose it by drawing lots every four years (elections are expensive and have no real purpose). Due to the fiscal rules set up in Brussels, the government of Slovenia cannot build a strategically important second track of the Koper-Ljubljana railway line that would strengthen its sea port in Kopar. It means that it cannot take a credit on its own since this credit would be too big for its fiscal frame. That is why this railway line could be only built by large foreign capital which means that foreign capital will draw profit from this important communication; however, we have seen that the majority of profit realized by Slovenian economy is squeezed by foreign capital. That is why the state is impoverished, and even its health care budget is lowered for 20% by “austerity” measures. That is why medical workers are leaving the country; at present there is a considerable shortage of doctors (the worst is in general medicine and anesthesiology) while nurses are not being paid for extra work). In such circumstances it is no wonder that 4 -5 000 young people, educated personnel, are leaving Slovenia every year while the number of children starting their primary schooling is reduced for 1/3. This is an image of genocide...
Before we start our discussion, let me list item by item the most important political parameters that characterize the EU. If I should, on the basis of Slovenian and its congenial Balkan experience, present you with some of the features that politically characterize the European Union, I would opt for the following ones: Policy of “austerity”, privatization (destruction of social property and public sector), the Left as befits capital (class cooperation instead of class struggle), denial of the right to strike (ILO Convention 87 is denied directly or indirectly), scorn of democracy (Greece is the most telling example; denied in Greece is the will of 2/3 of people expressed at the referendum against “austerity”; a similar experience is also that of Slovenia in adopting so-called “fiscal rules” etc.), destruction of national culture, fiscal and monetary slavery and total imperial war against all the nations (EU is the key factor of world imperialism that we see at work these days in the problem of refugees). Capital has enslaved us due to its established cooperation of the Left. All over the Balkans and beyond there is no single party of the Left protecting the interests of the working class. All the Left parties serve capital and propagate class cooperation instead of class struggle (class cooperation is best expressed by the strategy of “social agreement” which is in fact the policy of “workers’ submission”). Such pro-capital Left is also recognized by its allegiance to some “democratic socialism” which actually means “bourgeois socialism”. This phrase denies the dictatorship of proletariat while it promotes the dictatorship of capital. Therefore, the “European leftists” deny the democratic nature of socialism (that is, deny the democratic character of proletarian socialism) and equate (proletarian) socialism with Stalinism. We are now in the position described by Engels in 1849 in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung2 in which he described us as “non-historic peoples”, that is, those peoples that cannot take their own destiny into their own hands. The Balkan peoples today have their own states but they are, each on its own, too weak to resist neocolonialism of corporative capital that finds no obstacle in the state. Rather, the state could be regarded as service for better exploitation of small peoples with the help of comprador governments which is exactly like the situation in the 19th century China. The difference is only in the fact that China is an enormous state, of inexhaustive human and natural resources, while we have split into pieces that nothing can come out of unless they are again assembled into a whole able to lead a struggle against foreign overpower. It is in this fight that we must ask for the help of the international labor movement – a class conscious part of the workers’ movement standing up for class struggle – that we should even now set up connections and build up relationships.
1 The day after this speech is made, we heard on the radio that the annual brain drain in Serbia is 15000 people, including many doctors and medical workers
2 Engels, „Democratic Pan-Slavism“, February, 1849, Neue Rheinische Zeitung