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Chronicles 15

Marko Nikezic: Serbian Fragile Vertical

Edited by Latinka Perovic


"This book is made up more of Marko Nikezic's speeches given in camera, than of his public addresses. As a leader of the League of Communists of Serbia, he was labeled as - and that was what the Party accused him of - a promoter of the concept contrary to the ideology of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia. An analogy was drawn from the experience of other communist parties in power. The comparison made between him and Petofi's followers in Hungary in 1956 or those of Dubcek in Czechoslovakia in 1968 was not only meant to make people frightened of a Soviet intervention that put an end to massive anti-Stalinist movements in these countries, but also to set limits to any change in Yugoslavia," says historian Latinka Perovic in her introductory study titled "Following in the Footsteps of the Liberal Tradition in Serbia: Who Were the Serbian Liberals of 1970s and What Did They Stood for?"

The book was launched on December 18, 2003. It was introduced by Mirko Tepavac, former foreign minister of ex-Yugoslavia; Olga Popovic-Obradovic, professor at the Faculty of Law; Olivera Milosavljevic, professor at the Faculty of Philosophy; lawyer Spiro Galovic; Zarko Korac, Serbian vice-premier; publicist Mirko Djordjevic; and, Sonja Biserko, chair of the Helsinki Committee, on behalf of the publisher.

Referring to "short life span" of "Nikezic's Liberals" and their expulsion from the Serbian political scene, Mirko Tepavac, said, among other things, "The realities of 1970s banned any 'overthrow of the system,' as if the Liberals had ever planned it. Anyway, no enthusiasts for such foolishness were to be found in the ranks of rather cowardly anti-communists of the time, as well as among by far more numerous advocates of the return to 'original values of true socialism.' The only way to push forward the system's evolution at that time was to act within it, and only within deep-rooted limits of its ideological intolerance. The system was not afraid of counterrevolution, but of democratic models that were, on the one hand, offered by civilized West, and, on the other, rigorously renounced by the shaken East of real-socialism. And domestic bureaucratized regime with one party in command of everything was afraid of both."

Olivera Milosavljevic's introductory remarks about Nikezic's book begun as follows: "Anyone feeling unsure of whether Serbian nationalists from Dobrica Cosic's circle 'created' Milosevic, provided him with a clear-cut program and supported his destruction of Yugoslavia, will get an affirmative answer and no longer be in a dilemma after reading this book. And how is that possible if one bears in mind that everything to be found in it was written two decade before Serbian nationalists and Milosevic came together? An answer to this question is quite simple. Nikezic fully understood the nature of ideas propagated by a Belgrade intellectual circle, he explained these ideas the same as he did when it came to the instruments that would put them into practice, and he finally defined the ultimate goals behind them. Two decades later, ideas, methods and goals of nationalism came to light in the most brutal form, just as he had predicted. Nikezic himself did not live long enough to see how cruel - an incomprehensible to many of his contemporaries- and how accurate to detail was the logic he followed when perceiving the threat to Yugoslavia and Serbia proper."

Paraphrasing major points of Nikezic's discourse, Spiro Galovic pinpoints, "He /Nikezic/ was obsessed by economic progress and modernization. Unless it solves the issue of its productivity, a society cannot imply either justice or solidarity.For him, the unbreakable link between economic dynamism and democracy is an axiom. Unless this link is acknowledged, ideology and ideological struggles are deprived of their fundamental justification. The policy of national equality is the basic element of such relationship. What a society has to do is to establish relations capable of defending themselves, and simultaneously overcome the heavy burden of backwardness and communist dogma that are connected with it stealthily, but strongly."

"The book of collected articles by Marko Nikezic, along with Latinka Perovic's study, is the key to interpretation of the history of mostly unsuccessful reforms in modern era," said, among other things, Mirko Djordjevic, and added, "The name of Marko Nikezic - a reformer within a one-party system - is of great importance. With the power he was invested with at the time, he endeavored to safeguard the state of Yugoslavia that had been reconstructed after the World War II. Inspired by common democratic and liberal tradition, he turned to European values. And his personal fate, too, was unusual. For, at his time, the same as before - and the same as today - the vertical failed as it was prevailed by a horizontal, and even by something much deeper than the two. Latinka Perovic researches this 'deeper' phenomenon - the phenomenon of discontinuity in the modern Serbian history. Fatally, we have always gone back to some 'new beginning' or 'a zero point' of a kind - from 1903 till 1945 or 1989 - and failed, as a rule, while suffering all the consequences of these failures. Some refer to it as our 'ill omen' or a part of some special 'fate of ours.' However, a historian has no right to lament. Historian makes critical judgments and draws conclusions only on the grounds of sufficient evidence. I believe I am not in the wrong when saying that in Latinka Perovic's methodology - as used in this book - I recognize the virtue Spinoza bequeathed to scientists in this famous work 'No Laughing and No Crying, No Hating, but Understanding.'"



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