Yugoslavia in Flux

June 6, 1973

Report Outline
Ideological and Economic Unrest
Yugoslav Heritage of Separatism
Charting Yugoslavia's Future Course
Special Focus

Ideological and Economic Unrest

Renewal of Purges to Reassert Party Authority

Once again extensive purges are sweeping Yugoslavia. Top political figures in Serbia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Croatia are being ousted from their jobs for being too “liberal,” for advocating nationalism, or reportedly even for failing to show proper deference to 81-year-old President Tito, who has been in power longer than any other living Communist leader. He has talked openly in recent months of the need to thin the ranks of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY). And Tito has menancingly warned that prison awaits anyone who “persists in hostile activity.” To the anguish of many of its people, Yugoslavia is fast becoming a country where fear is replacing the hopes of a better tomorrow.

At the end of Tito's frequent speeches, crowds still sing the famous song from the time of Yugoslavia's break with Russia 25 years ago this month: “Comrade Tito, we swear that we shall never swerve from your path…” Increasingly, however, Yugoslavs have begun to wonder where that path leads. A Serbian professor told Balkan expert Paul Lendvai that “you in the West have built him up as a world leader, while in fact he is the single greatest stumbling block to progress.” The professor suggested that by clinging to power too long, Tito had missed the chance “for preparing an orderly transition from the rule of a charismatic leader to the rule of institutions.” After more than a decade of preparations for his eventual exit from power, there is greater uncertainty than ever about his succession. Paradoxically, the more he has tried to arrange his departure, the more he has placed himself in a central role.

To most observers, the ebb and flow of social experimentation in Yugoslavia over the past 25 years presents a puzzling and kaleidoscopic picture. What Yugoslavs like to boast of as self-management often seems to bear a closer resemblance to anarchy. Although Marxism-Leninism remains the official doctrine, the so-called Yugoslav road to socialism seems like a search by trial and error for a viable alternative to either Western capitalism or Communist state ownership. Newsweek magazine has suggested that Tito's willingness to tinker with the Communist system “led to his predicament.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Aug. 21, 2012  The Troubled Balkans
Jun. 06, 1973  Yugoslavia in Flux
Dec. 18, 1968  Tito's Yugoslavia
Nov. 29, 1961  Yugoslav Neutralism
Nov. 04, 1949  Relations with Yugoslavia
Imperialism, Colonization, and Independence Movements
Regional Political Affairs: Europe