LABORATORY OF YUGOSLAV POLITICAL INNOVATION: THE ORIGINS, SYNTHESIS AND INTERNATIONAL INFLUENCES OF SELF-MANAGEMENT SOCIALISM
Koper, 10–11th May 2018
After the split with the Cominform in 1948, the Yugoslav system confronted different agents and traditions of European leftist thought: on the one side, it was seen by Western left-wing circles as a laboratory of socialist innovation, while on the other, for East European politicians and intellectuals, it posed as a model of resistance toward Soviet hegemony. For that reason, we can observe an interesting, but until now scarcely researched and discussed, transnational political experiment that, as an attempt to organise society from the bottom up, attracted a lot of attention globally: from representatives of socialist and social-democrat parties adhering to the Third International, progressive movements, experts in different areas of social organisation, as well as supporters of the New Left.
Following the process of Yugoslav political innovation from a transnational perspective offers a unique opportunity to observe a conceptual and political interaction which went beyond the strict division between East and West and became an intriguing combination of liberal democracy and Marxism-Leninism that also unmasked the undemocratic aspects of the Yugoslav one-party system. The debate between Yugoslavia and Western Europe opened up many key problems of that time. Initially, in the contacts of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia and its mass organisations with the representatives of western left-wing parties, and subsequently in dialogue between Yugoslav left-wing intellectuals and the western New Left. Together they addressed issues like resistance to Soviet hegemony over the international socialist movement; worked toward overcoming a bipolar division of the world, maintaining world peace, equal economic cooperation, and later anti-authoritarianism, local self-government, direct democracy, total de-alienation, environment preservation, etc.
The aim of this conference is first to reconstruct, from a time distance that allows us to access hitherto unavailable archival sources, the course of the Yugoslav-western European debate on the perspectives of self-management socialism, and, secondly, to determine its significance for the development of a political theory and practice both in Tito’s Yugoslavia as well as in capitalist countries. Drawing on this context, the conference aims to ascertain which forms succeeded in penetrating Yugoslav society, and vice versa, the impact of the self-management experiment on industrial democracy in western European and democratic transitions in Mediterranean countries from the early 1950s to the late 1980s. We would also like to address the question regarding how the Soviet Union and its satellite countries reacted to the Yugoslav alternative to the state-socialist model and how “Open Marxism” and Eurocommunism challenged its aspiration to present itself as a ‘third way’ alternative to liberal capitalism and state socialism.
Historians as well as scholars from the fields of political science, international relations and economy who will take into account themes broadly outlined in the description above are encouraged to apply. The conference will be organised by the Science and Research Centre Koper, Slovenia. Funding opportunities for accommodation will be available.
Submission: Please send a paper title and an abstract of max. 400 words by 31st January 2018 to email@example.com
Jože Pirjevec, Mateja Režek, Jure Ramšak