Although locally, in certain countries, there was a takeover of workers of some abandoned factories and business facilities. Yugoslavia was the first country that, after the victory of the Socialist Revolution, as an integral part of the liberation struggle that led in World War II, implemented self-management in the socio-political and economic system.
The first sprouts that were then crystallized in the structure were formed during the liberation struggle and the revolution when the National Liberation Boards were established on the liberated territories, which initially represented the logistical support to the combat units, and in time they became the bodies of peoples power, which has organized and managed in its local area the entire political, economic, social and cultural life. In such a way of organizing and conducting the Liberation War and the Revolution, in which the widest layers of the population were co-creators, was a kind of guarantee that the rest of the calls sent by the KP to the peoples of Yugoslavia to engage in the liberation struggle will be fulfilled. First of all, the land allocation to the peasants who will process it, and factories to those who are in them to create new value. In this we have to look for a response to the phenomenon that the Yugoslav people under the leadership of the Communist Party and supreme commander Josip Broz Tito, self-organized and successfully conducted one of the largest, in fact the only serious internal resistance to Hitler and his domestic and foreign helpers, and whose armed forces to the end of the war reached 800,000 fighters.
Introducing of self-management
After the end of World War II and the victory of the Socialist Revolution in Yugoslavia was introduced the socialist socio-political-economic system, with a dominant state ownership, collective co-operative and private enterprises in the form of small crafts. After the Cominform Resolution and the split between Stalin and Tito in 1948, Yugoslavia has rapidly worked on defining its own development model and finded it in the idea of socialist self-management.
I will limit myself to what I consider to be the most important considering the time at my disposal.
On June 27, 1950, the National Assembly of the FNRJ approved, "The basic law on the management of economic enterprises and higher economic associations", colloquially called "Law on handing factories to employees for management", or "law on the workers 'self-management'. The highest representative bodies in the factories and enterprises were Workers' councils, the staff made up of different profiles of workers. The degree of autonomy of the workers' councils, depended on the area that we consider: When it comes to professional decisions, which related to technical and technological issues; it respected the opinion of the professionals. In terms of income distribution Workers' councils had the highest degree of autonomy. While the staffing was oversighted by the party. The essential difference between the capitalist organization and self-management is that the goal of capitalist production is profit, while in self-management the goal is the creation of income, and that income is directed and shared into individual consumption, collective consumption, investment and development. From collective consumption fed into the health and social services, education, housing, social standards, culture and physical culture. This is not a dictatorship, but the establishment of economic and social democracy, as an integral part, with political democracy form a whole, which does not have if they are missing one component.
Workers' self-management within the factory and office buildings had and its continuation in housing after hours, in the legal form of a delegate system, through which working people and citizens directly involved in decision making on all important issues, at the level of local communities, as basic social cells and continue following the Municipality of Cities, the Association of municipalities, the republican Assembly and the Federal Assembly. In addition to the democratic dimension, such a decision-making method also contained emancipatory power.
The role of trade unions in workers' self-management
The role of trade union in the self-managment society differs from those in capitalism. In capitalism, the union defends workers from antagonistic class layer, which exploits workers. In the self-governing system in Yugoslavia, workers' rights were regulated by law, and the union was a guarantee that the law would be applied and it had the corrective. The union was part of self-menagment and its tasks was to educate and empower the working class, for the fulfillment of the assumed tasks. They also worried about the social standard of employees, organizing educational and professional courses, working holiday resorts, workers'sports meetings, cultural events etc.
Results of self-management system
The results achieved in Yugoslavia at the time of self-managing socialism are epochal. Yugoslavia emerged from the war as an agricultural country, with a destroyed infrastructure and a quarter of illiterate population older than 10 years. In a relatively short time it has managed to consolidate, educate the population, educate expert cadre, bring the quality of health services to the level of developed countries and industrialize the economy. In the 60s of the last century it recorded the fastest economic growth in the world, and shipbuilding up to the emergence of Korea was among the world's top somewhere around 3rd and 4th places and the Yugoslav economy participated in international tenders. And most importantly the system was fairer and more humane, for working people than all previous ones.
On an international level, Yugoslavia was one of the founders and leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement, which incorporated two-thirds of the countries and liberation movements at it's peak. Yugoslavia enjoyed full sovereignty, was not subordinated to anyone, was asked for advice, intervened in resolving conflicts and concluding peace agreements. It is also indicative that within the framework of this system, in the unstable region of the Western Balkans, where diverse interests are intertwined, where several nations and confessions have achieved the longest period of peace and coexistence. All this has disappeared after the abolition of this system. The idea and experience of Yugoslav self-managing socialism were the subject of analysis and study by a large number of sociologists, economists, historians and other profiles from abroad.
Disadvantages of the self-management system
Self-managed socialism has existed in Yugoslavia for only 40 years, until the secession and counterrevolution of the 90s of the last century. Historically this is an infinitesimally short period, insufficient for a social project to achieve maturity. Like any emerging social processes, it was not immune to negative phenomena. Over time, a techno-bureaucratic strata was created that sought to impose itself above the working class. So we get from one side a legal and institutional framework, which protects the rights of the working class, to decide on the production process, its work and surplus labor, on the other side a bureaucratic structure, which has impeded the development of self-management and the working class, which is due to insufficient level of class consciousness manifested their dissatisfaction with lower labor discipline, lack of responsibility towards the means of production and avoiding maximum engagement in the production process.
In the 80s, we are faced with a stronger penetration of nationalism and liberalism, in Croatia additionally supported by the political clerical-Ustasha emigration, which has not given up counter-revolutionary activities since the end of World War II. In 1990 happened the counterrevolution and the secession of Slovenia and Croatia. The working class rejected it's class identity, abandoning everything it created in the previous 40 years, agreed to be disempowered, accepted a national identity and accepted to engage in a civil war. Thus, the further development of socialist workers' self-management was deferred for an indefinite period of time.
Despite all the above, but also what could not be said in this short review. Socialism and self-management have shown their potential in the example of Yugoslavia and will represent an unavoidable basis for emancipatory aspirations. Socialism and self-management have been shown to work in conjunction. Without economic and social democracy there is no political democracy. This confirms the thesis of Rosa Luxemburg that there is no democracy without socialism nor socialism without democracy.
From socialist self-management in Yugoslavia, but also from the general existence of a block of socialist countries, the workers of the capitalist West had indirect benefits. One reason was that unions and labor movements in the West had drawn ideas from the practices of socialist countries, and the other was that the owners of capital had to be more compliant to the demands of the workers. This was a big contribution to the so-called "welfare state“ in the second half of the 20th century, which is no longer present today.
On the basis of everything known, and because of a lack of space could not be included in this article, I feel free to conclude that the period of self-managing socialism was the best thing that had happened in the Western Balkans since it was inhabited by the human species.
In Istanbul 16. II 2019.
Socijalist Workers' Party of Croatia