Dragan Plavsic

Recognising a Real Revolution

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"The history of a revolution is for us first of all the history of the forcible entrance of the masses into the realm of rulership over their own destiny."

This memorable sentence appears in Leon Trotsky's classic work, The History of the Russian Revolution. It contains the essential measure - revolution from below - that socialists must use to distinguish the revolutions we can applaud from those we cannot.

The dramatic events in Nepal last month were an inspiring example of a revolution we can applaud. For here was a revolutionary situation marked first and foremost by the courageous determination of the Nepalese masses to take history by the scruff of the neck and force it onto a path of their own making.

Balkans: The Spoils of War

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Dragan Plavsic looks at the bloody parallels between the Balkans and Iraq.

Six years ago, in March 1999, Tony Blair launched his very first war when Britain and the US bombed Serbia for 78 days. Those of us who then argued - to the scorn of supporters of the war - that bombing Serbia would set a precedent for deadly interventions elsewhere could scarcely have imagined how swiftly and devastatingly this prediction would come true, in Sierra Leone, in Afghanistan and now, most devastatingly of all, in Iraq.

Kosovo: The Myth of Liberation

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The latest outbreak of violence between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo last month revealed once again the stark truth behind Nato's US-led war against Serbia in 1999, and the subsequent colonial-style administration of the province.

With 31 dead and a reported 3,000 Serbs ethnically cleansed, defence minister Geoff Hoon announced that he was urgently dispatching 750 British soldiers to quell the violence - while in the same breath absurdly claiming that 'very considerable progress' had been made in inter-ethnic relations since 1999.

Serbia: Neoliberals Stirring Up Apathy

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For the third time in just over a year, Serbia's presidential elections were declared null and void last month because of a disastrously low voter turnout.

Only 39 percent of the population bothered to vote, instead of the necessary 50 percent or more. The result has since led to the chaotic splintering of the ruling 18-party Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition which came to power after the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000.

Promises, Promises

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Bush claims he wants to liberate Iraq. Dragan Plavsic examines the experience of Serbia and Afghanistan.

The assassination last month of the pro-western, neoliberal Serbian prime minister, Zoran Djindjic, a key leader of the revolution of 2000 that overthrew Slobodan Milosevic, demonstrated in stark and bloody fashion the chaotic condition of Serbia today. This situation cannot be understood without examining the devastating role of western governments and institutions, above all the US and IMF, in recent Balkan affairs.

A criminal elite

On Russia With Love

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Review of 'Marx and Anglo-Russian Relations and Other Writings', D B Riazanov, Francis Boutle Publishers £10

During the 19th century, constitutional Britain and despotic Russia had one common and abiding interest--the defeat of revolution. In 1848, when the Tsar sent his army to crush the Hungarian Revolution, Lord Palmerston, Britain's foreign secretary, murmured to the Russian ambassador, 'Get it over quickly'. Although Britain and Russia clashed during the Crimean War of 1854-56, the war had a sham quality because Britain sought not to destroy but to contain Russia, so as to save Tsardom for the cause of counter-revolution.

Nato's Sea of Troubles

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The expansion of Nato eastward comes on the eve of war. Dragan Plavsic argues this is no coincidence.

'Nato has became a European peace movement. An effective movement, that is, to spread peace across the continent,' gushed Timothy Garton Ash in the 'Guardian' in November, one week after the three Baltic states-Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania-together with Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, were invited at Nato's Prague summit to join the alliance in 2004. In his enthusiasm for this miraculous conversion, Garton Ash turned a blind eye to the heart of the matter - Nato as the vehicle of US imperial expansion eastwards, and war as an integral part of the strategy.

Up, Down and Out

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Review of 'Milosevic: A Biography', Adam LeBor, Bloomsbury £20

The Victorian writer Thomas Carlyle once commented that a well written life was as rare as a well spent one. Adam LeBor's biography of Slobodan Milosevic is that common thing--an inferior book about an infamous life.

Liberty Up Against the Law

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Is New Labour fighting terrorism or restricting our rights?

Last month three 12 year olds who were playing with a plastic toy pistol were suddenly surrounded by police patrol cars, arrested and reprimanded. Under new guidelines introduced by the Home Office in April, the children were then fingerprinted and required to give DNA samples--which will be kept for life. This outrageous incident is but one example of the opportunistic assault New Labour has launched on our civil liberties in the aftermath of 11 September.

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