At this historical juncture, the ideology of self-management was going through the most dynamic period of its theoretical and legal reforms since the days of its inception in the late s and early s. Jakovljevic dedicates a special part of his book to the Yugoslav conceptual artist Goran Djordjevic, as one of the protagonists of the so-called analytic art and whose work on copies of modern art, offers an extraordinarily accurate critique of the fundamental problem of the Yugoslav representational economy and art that started in the late s and then went out of control in the s.
By declaring a copy more significant than the original artwork, Djordjevic expressed his indignation toward appropriation and commodification of art. The copyist art is specifically at odds with the capitalist market infrastructure of the art world: it does not fit well in the traditional collecting practices of contemporary art, and the prevailing cult of the individual artist becomes problematic. This second-hand knowledge could be recognized in Yugoslav creation of self-management: On the one hand, Yugoslavia was the first state ever to introduce self-management as an official form of industrial organization and an integral part of its economic and political system; while on the other, self-management remained historically tied to a whole spectrum of political ideas associated with labor movements outside of Yugoslavia.
As a result, attempts to define, historicize, and theorize self-management in Yugoslavia and abroad, primarily in France, have been intertwined and often contradictory. Jakovljevic accurately noted that significantly, both in France and in Yugoslavia, the idea of self-management was informed by experience of interwar avant-garde artistic associations, and carried forward either by former members of avant-garde groups or by their self-appointed heirs.
The integration of artistic and social practice, characteristic for post-WWII continental Europe, emerged as the most feasible alternative to the doctrinaire socialism imposed by Soviet Union on its acknowledged and unacknowledged zones of influence. In France, the legacy of surrealism was particularly influential among such groups as Situationist International, and for journals such as Socialisme ou Barbarie, as well as for individual thinkers, among them Henry Lefebvre.
Although not easy to discern, this same legacy propelled the establishment of self-management in Yugoslavia. During the s and s a prominent surrealist group was active in Belgrade. One of the slogans on the European streets was, Marx, Mao, Marcuse. He had been associated with the Korcula Summer School since its first session in the summer of Internationally recognized leftist philosophers such as Henri Lefebvre, Ernst Bloch, Lucien Goldmann, and Eugen Fink contributed to the worldwide reputation and the prestige of the summer school, and to some degree, protected it from pressures at home.
Marcuse is given a particular attention in this manuscript, especially because, according to McKenzie, Marcuse was ignored by the performance studies: the formative years of this discipline coincided with the swing in the opposite direction. In the late s, as it was in the early 20s Italian futurism and Russian constructivism the general perception was that aesthetic performance comes to inform and transform industrial performance, into un-alienated, authentic labor.
The most progressive thinkers in Yugoslavia during the s identified this kind of labor not only with self-management, but also with an expanded notion of human activity they recognized as praxis Aristotle. Yugoslav authorities responded by choosing the second option, which resulted in a massive adoption of disciplinary techniques. The first one is local and specific: the nationalist subject of the s that devoured Yugoslavia did not emerge from some medieval national identities Serbian, Croat, etc.
The second one is more general, and it expands on the first one: the disaster that capitalism inflicts on the subject is not in imposing a structure that is alien to it, but in appropriating its foundational property of compensatory sociality. Jakovljevic is also investigating textual practices throughout recent history. Actually, this is a book that engages with history in its mode of approach to performance as an event, but also how it is narrated. In a way, Jakovljevic started to write this book twenty years ago, when he was forced to leave the country in order to avoid military service and he was writing it all the time, collecting articles and different archival material, albeit without a clear focus in the beginning.
Therefore, his methodology comes close to the way Eric Hobsbawm wrote his books on 20 th century history, departing from a personal account to arrive to more general conclusions. Jakovljevic placed onto himself to write this book almost as his farewell to a country that once was, which obviously was not an easy task to accomplish but rather a heroic deed, which he performed with great compassion and high accuracy.
It is obvious, even at the first glance, that we are dealing with a very significant and impassioned book that is, in a way, long overdue. It should be noted that most concepts put forth in this book are meant to animate and inspire further interdisciplinary research. The book is intended not only for performance studies scholars but also to a more general public not only because it represents an excursus in recent history but also because it contributes to expansion of performance studies methodology.
Therefore, I strongly recommend the editor to publish this manuscript as soon as possible first for its historical accuracy and then for theoretical innovation. Skip to content. Performance and self-management in Yugoslavia. But if we accepta more limited definition of self-management — as participation in decision-making at the micro level — then the Yugoslav experiment can be called a success. Workers themselves did not perceive the councils in such a way.
For example, while during that first phase CEOs were not responsible to them, later they were. There is evidence, however, that this did not greatly impress the workers, as the CEOs of self-managed enterprises still retained the authority to administer work, conclude contracts, hire and fire workers, secure work discipline, and suspend acts of the management board that they judged to be illegal. Workers had the right to determine distribution of income because it was from the products of their labor.
The official ideology of socialist self-management in Yugoslavia gave the worker greater legal rights and a much better social and working position than a worker in the East or the West. Yugoslav workers, as self-managers, had job security; they could not fire themselves. The only existing party was bureaucratically controlled, and workers formed only a relative majority of its membership. Trade unions were a transmission belt for the party, without real power in decision-making processes. Autonomous trade unions did not exist, nor did other political parties. They took advantage of this opportunity to some extent, displaying a generally positive attitude toward self-management despite their awareness of its subordinate position in the overall system.
Moreover, self-management was not limited to the micro level: through various layers of assemblies and through the delegate system, workers could participate in decision-making about economic, social, cultural and political issues at all levels of socio-political organization municipalities, provinces, republics, and federation.
These three mechanisms of the economy corresponded to three basic social subjects — working class, technocracy and bureaucracy. It could not be argued that workers saw enterprises as belonging to their own collectivity more than to society as a whole. This was because they clearly saw that the political elite and managerial strata had in many formal or informal ways influenced the economic policy of enterprises as well as the process of selection of executive organs and CEOs.
Also, workers formally and to some extent in practice were the only decision-makers who could motivate them to work harder and better. To be sure, workers sometimes followed their particularistic interest in allocating themselves wage-increases. But it would be one-sided to attribute this to any inherent deficiency in self-management. There were other causes for such behavior. Second, although the Yugoslav system had strong elements of market economy and self-management, the state continued to play a key role through price control and macroeconomic measures.
Their competences and autonomy were limited by macroeconomic decisions made elsewhere. It is thus not surprising that they showed less initiative and responsibility. It was elected by workers and had competence in making decisions on economic issues at the macro level. Similar councils, with different names and structure, were established in the and constitutions at the level of municipalities, republics, and the federal state.
However, most members of these councils belonged to the League of Communists. On the other hand, the federal government drafted an economic policy which limited the autonomy of these specific councils of self-managers. Although some authors thought that workers were not interested in the economic development of their enterprises, many examples proved the opposite.
Where self-management was not developed enough, workers played only a secondary role in decision-making. But if management was incompetent, workers could revolt and impose personnel changes. On occasion, workers voted reductions in their own wages in order to find enough resources for economic recovery. Although workers participated relatively actively at meetings, less than half of them thought they influenced decisions.
Very often workers were informed after the decision was made. Workers were often unaware of the legal options offered by self-management, not to mention basic economic concepts relevant to enterprise policy. Many CEOs came from the political elite or had good connections with it. Although the political elite developed democratic structures in political institutions after , the League of Communists leadership retained its monopoly. Informal groups could be allowed to function because self-management had an insufficiently strong material basis while one and the same group maintained control over society as a whole.
This did not mean that the party always controlled the process of decision-making. It depended very much on the concrete situation in each enterprise.
For example, an informal group composed of a CEO, party activists, and experts could try to impose its proposals and to ensure their acceptance. Their ability to resist depended on their developing a self-managing consciousness. But self-management failed to become the dominant social relationship. Although the bureaucracy voluntarily gave up some of its prerogatives, it retained its overall dominance. This is the real reason why self-management developed only gradually and with constraints.
Despite its limitations, self-management was not a merely formal arrangement. It worked to some extent, and its positive results as well as the legal openings it offered encouraged workers to implement it. Two arguments should be taken into consideration.
Yugoslav Economy Under Self-management
First, self-management was a constitutional principle; its realization was therefore a legal obligation of governance in Yugoslavia. Not only enterprises but also political institutions were meant to be run in accordance with its principles. Its realization was thus essential for preserving the legitimacy of the party leadership. Thus, somewhat paradoxically, although the party might be threatened by self-management, it had an interest in assuring its basic viability. It was tested by issues such as surplus-allocation and regional inequalities.
They would probably think about improvement of their economic activities. Also, if workers did not think of enterprises as belonging just to their own group, they would be able to offer solidarity and material support to less developed regions or enterprises. Of course, the scope of their discretion remained limited. More precisely, they had to make decisions within the general framework of economic policy decided on at the federal or republican level. Economic policy, the politics of price control, and alleviation of regional inequalities were decided by the federal government and federal parliament.
Studies from showed that consumption was a very important motive for workers to participate in decision-making. Had the workers been entrusted with greater responsibility, it is more likely that they would have been able to look beyond their personal well-being and the success of their own enterprise. A few years later the authority of the councils was reduced as a result of recession and inappropriate allocation of revenues. This specific combination allowed two diverse results.
On the one hand, the more developed republics developed faster taking advantage of the market economy, while on the other hand the federal government intervened through a special fund in order to promote development of the less developed republics. The results were contradictory.
While underdeveloped republics grew rapidly, the gap between them and the developed republics in some cases widened. This problem arose especially after when the market economy became more important while the new system of self-management was introduced. The inability of the system to clear up the feeling of less developed republics that they were being exploited led to a weakening of the legitimacy of self-management and eventually to its replacement by nationalism as the dominant ideology.
This occurred because self-management was presented by the political elite as a basis for socialism and socialism as a system was perceived as the main cause of regional inequalities. Of course, regional inequalities are a consequence of many factors acting on the macro level. The negative impact of market mechanisms could be prevented only by state intervention.
The role of self-management here becomes clear if one understands that it entails a self-managing state, i. This is precisely what failed to happen, however, because political elites of different republics tried, often unsuccessfully, to find a middle way between market and state intervention. The resulting society was perceived as unjust. As self-management was defined as its basis, people more and more accepted the idea of replacing self-management with some other system.
We thus find a contradiction originating in the tension between market, state intervention, and self-management. Decentralization did not help because it meant only that republican rather than federal institutions influenced the economy. The problem sharpened when republican political elites could not agree any more on allocation of investment.
Therefore the market was introduced as a mechanism to relieve inter-republican tensions as well as to allow greater enterprise-autonomy. On the other hand, self-management is an inherently socialist concept, which led to another natural consequence: workers as self-managers in the socialist sense had also to concern themselves with the well-being of society as whole.
Unfortunately, this aim was not achieved because these councils did not really act as organs of self-management at the macro level although they were conceived as such. It was often said in Yugoslavia that the gradual introduction of self-management was an expression of economic and cultural underdevelopment.
Ostensibly, self-management would become more effective as the society advanced in other respects. But this did not occur. It is true that self-management developed in many ways — institutionally, legally and practically. Institutionally, it developed in the sense that many new self-managing institutions were created, both at micro and macro levels.
About this book
Self-management existed not only in the economy but in the political system, social services, culture, education, sport, and other spheres of social life. Legislative bodies also were organized along self-managing lines, including a delegate system after The ruling bureaucracy knew very well that legal and institutional changes could not challenge basic features of the system — one-party rule, state dominance over the economy, etc. These arguments, however, are at best half true. Although in some cases workers made irresponsible decisions about distribution of surplus, it is hard to assess the generality of such behavior.
First of all, they were well aware that the councils often functioned without regard to their wishes and attitudes. They could see in practice the existence and dominance of informal groups — bureaucracy and technocracy. Second, the very concept of social ownership in Yugoslav theory and in the legal system gave some authority to the state to intervene in economic affairs. One of the mechanisms of this intervention was so-called socialization of risk or socialization of losses. If an enterprise worked badly, its losses would be covered from a budget.
Health care and workers' self-management in Yugoslavia.
For workers understood that their councils could not work independently and that the bureaucracy was interested in covering losses from bad economic performance. Although the official attitude was that Yugoslavia had a system of socialist self-management, in practice it was a mixed system which combined elements of self-management and etatism, with prevalence of the latter. Officially, Yugoslavia had a system of integral social self-management which was exercised in all spheres of society.
The political system therefore was also organized along self-management lines with socio-political organizations the League of Communists being the most important as only one of its components. But their actual social powers were severely limited. Samoupravljanje u Jugoslaviji dokumenti razvoja , Privredni pregled, Beograd, , The text of the Basic Law can be found in Samoupravljanje u Jugoslaviji, , See George A. In one extreme case, 7, workers voted in a referendum for a decision.
In just one participating BOAL, the result was 31 to 29 against the decision. This 2-vote margin within a single BOAL blocked the verdict of 7, ibid. The first one was organized in the Slovenian mine center Trbovlje in when 4, workers struck. Overall social product in Yugoslavia grew faster than the world average in the period between and indexes and respectively. Average annual growth rate globally was 4. Horvat made the same point regarding self-management in Chile.