Raya Dunayevskaya on Milovan Djilas

The Marxists Internet Archive has made available a 1957 critique by Raya Dunayevskaya of The New Class by Milovan Djilas. Djilas was one of the leaders of Yugoslavian Communism until he broke with Tito in 1954. Dunayevskaya’s critique is interesting for its focus on Djilas’s interpretation of Marxism rather than on the political ramifications of the fracture among the Yugoslav rulers.

Dunayevskaya was well versed in the issue of Yugoslavia and was a fierce critic of the Trotskyists’ attraction to the country after Tito’s break with Stalin. She included a devastating footnote on the false alternative represented by Yugoslavia socialism (reproduced below) in her Marxism and Freedom, published in 1958.

Dunayevskaya was also quite familiar with (and sympathetic to) the Yugoslav dissidents of the Praxis group. She was a personal friend of Mihailo Markovic for many years, but became alarmed in their last meeting of Markovic’s increasing Serbian nationalist attention to the issue of Kosovo. After Dunayevskaya’s death in 1987, Markovic became one of the chief intellectual supporters of Slobodan Milosevic’s murderous campaigns of Serbian national chauvinism.

For a more detailed analysis of this issue, see Bosnia-Herzegovia: Achilles Heel of Western ‘Civilization’, published by News and Letters.


(Footnote 226 from Marxism and Freedom)

Tito’s defection did not signal any fundamental change in production relations in Yugoslavia. True to his Russian model, the trade unions had been liquidated into the State, the guiding principle of factory director was to sweat the workers “by thoroughly utilizing working hours.” This Article (14) of the Five year Plan, introduced in 1947, was not changed after the break with Russia and the introduction of a “New Law on Peoples Committees.” Tito’s nationalism is Stalinism in Yugoslav dress. The fact that Tito’s country is very small and very backward, and independent of Russia, does not make his “socialism” any different so far as the Yugoslav workers are concerned. They continue to labor under the same state capitalist exploitative conditions. The break from Russia, however, was a blow to that pole of world capital. That America recognized this at once in seen in the aid granted Yugoslavia.

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