Letter from London


Here are some extracts from a letter from Wildcat, London making some valid criticisms of some of the articles on this website. In line with our policy of not attempting to rewrite our history, the original articles will stay as they were, even if the criticisms are accepted. A detailed reply to this letter will appear shortly.

London, 29 April 99
Yes, indeed, we will shortly be making a banner denouncing nationalism and war in English, Serbo-Croat and Albanian... Well, you've got to do something. Perhaps one good thing that has happened is that the Yugoslavia article from W18 has become something of a best-seller, being distributed in large numbers by various people at lots of meetings (Harringey Solidarity Group people, for example, without any prompting from me). It seems to have even become a sort of Bible of class struggle analysis about Yugoslavia, given the absence of anything else.

An interesting little text about draft-dodging in Serbia just before the bombing: www.igc.org/igc/pn/hl/9903237368/h11.html [Link no longer exists]. It was written by one of the peacenik women that X used to know in Belgrade. Of course, she is some kind of liberal/pacifist but at least she is interested in the right things (i.e. practical opposition to the war) rather than "building civil society" or some such bollocks. I've encouraged X to email her...

...you do have a tendency to react to Western propaganda by giving too much credance to Serbian government propaganda. Yes, some of the refugees from Kosovo probably are fleeing NATO bombs... BUT it's pretty obvious most of them are fleeing from Serb police and paramilitaries carrying out a well-organised state policy of ethnic cleansing. Before the bombing Milosevic didn't have the national unity required to carry out the policy on this scale (although thousands had already been displaced or killed in the last year or so). NATO gave him that national unity and I'm sure they knew exactly what would happen - everybody with a cursory knowledge of Serbian politics knew it would happen and Serbian politicians said it would. Vojislav Scescelj, Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia and leader of the Serbian Radical Party, said something like: "If they bomb our country there won't be a single Albanian left in Kosovo". And so it came to pass...

You seem to adopt the same method as the propagandists themselves by saying, in effect: "Here's some official published document that backs up what I say, so I must be telling the truth". I don't think that an opinion column in the Orlando Sentinel is what you would call a trusted primary source, particularly when Charley Reese just repeats "refutations" of Western propaganda made by Serb nationalist propagandists - the Serbian government plus some of their mouth-pieces in other countries, like the RCP (or whatever they call themselves now) in the UK. The story about the emaciated man standing at the barbed wire who isn't really in a concentration camp is one such "refutation". Of course, it could be true...

As well as denying the cleansing of Kosovo, you also seem to go along with the denial of Serb nationalist atrocities in general. I have to admit I don't actually know a lot about the allegations of mass rape made against the Republika Srpska military in Bosnia. But even if it didn't happen in the way the Western media claim (quite likely), it IS highly likely that mass rape did take place - for the simple reason that armies have always tended to do that. The only reason it became a big issue in ex-Yu is bacause there were feminists active in all the affected countries who tried to expose it on all sides.

There was a famous article published in a nationalist newspaper in Croatia which was effectively a hit-list of Croatian feminists who had "raped Croatia" (!) by denouncing mass rapes by the Croatian armed forces. The article was, of course, claiming that "Our Boys" don't do that kind of thing, only the enemy do. Being bourgeois liberals, the Yugoslav feminists were not to know that their earnest attempts to denounce the patriarchal barbarism of the armed forces would end up being used (selectively) as war propaganda.

The only thing that can be clearly asserted is that atrocities have been committed on all sides. We can say this on the basis of our own analysis of the available information and, more importantly, on the basis that, unlike the war apologists on all sides, we don't have any illusions about what capitalist war actually involves.