The following statement was originally published by the International Committee of the Fourth International in 1994, in the midst of the 1992-95 civil war in Bosnia. In light of the present NATO bombardment of Serbia, the issues addressed below—the history of the Balkan region, the attempts made to free it from manipulation by the major imperialist powers, and the struggle of the Marxists to unite workers of all ethnic and religious backgrounds to establish a socialist federation—have an immense and immediate significance.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 was preceded by the rapid collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe and the GDR. The ICFI analyzed the collapse of Stalinism, above all, as a new stage in the crisis of imperialism which had broken at its “weakest link”: the autarkic, parasitic regimes of Stalinism. The result was the breakup of these deformed workers states into a series of a new nation-states on a capitalist basis. In Yugoslavia, capitalist restoration was accompanied by the systematic fueling of ethnic tensions, resulting in violent ethnic clashes and the intervention of imperialism.
The fact that imperialism and the bureaucracies were able to resolve this crisis in their own interests and restore capitalism, testified to the profound damage that Stalinism had done to the socialist consciousness of the working class over the preceding decades.
On October 3, 1990, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany, known as the GDR), a state with 17 million inhabitants, was disbanded 41 years after its founding and incorporated into the Federal Republic of Germany on a capitalist basis.
The ICFI intervened in the crisis of Stalinism in the USSR and East Germany on the basis of the program of socialist internationalism and fought for a political revolution by the working class against the bureaucracy. The German section of the ICFI distributed thousands of leaflets and volumes of Trotskyist literature among workers in the GDR. We are publishing here the most important statements and documents from this intervention, which laid an important basis for the building of the Trotskyist movement in Germany and across Europe.
The long-developing political crisis in Yugoslavia has now exploded into open civil war following the declaration of independence last week by the republics of Slovenia and Croatia.
In determining its own independent attitude toward the events in Yugoslavia and the growing threat of war, the working class cannot afford to base itself simply on moral revulsion and certainly not on the distorted propaganda of the capitalist press.