Volume 16 (1998)

The Regional Problem and the Break-Up of the State:
The Case of Yugoslavia
Časlav Ocić

The Nature and the Scope of the Regional Problem
Regional Policies and Changes in the Institutional Framework
Regional Development Levels: Grouping of Regions
Structural Change: Shift-Share Analysis
Efficiency: Shift-Share Analysis
Interregional Relations: Autarky
Some Other Results of the Regions' Development
Regional Development Costs: Ratios of Investment
Interregional Income (Re)distribution
Regional Convergence or Divergence?
Equality: The Failure of the Positive Discrimination Model
"The National Question" and Nationalism
Separatism: Economic and Political
A Long Journey from Utopia to Dystopia
Selected Bibliography
Data Sources & Documents
Appendix  (1)  (2)

A Long Journey from Utopia to Dystopia

The Yugoslavia established in 1918 and reconstructed along federal lines in 1943 is gone. The circle is closed. It was a long journey from positive to negative utopia (dystopia): from a nonexistent place to a bad, grim one. Dystopia is a common designation for the postcommunist chaos and the post-Yugoslav chaos. With the collapse of the Titoist regime, the federal state also collapsed (because it was an ideological, party-based and not the legal state). The ideology was utopian; thus Yugoslavia (un)justifiably(?) shared its destiny.
Would the destiny of the second Yugoslavia have been the same independently of this? In other words, was the first Yugoslavia utopian as well? It was also an ideological state, based on an idea of an integral Yugoslavism. Therefore, it also was a forced community, an "amalgam"produced primarily by ideological coercion. Yugoslavia as an unforced community could, in principle, be established as a community of interests, of probably loosely connected parts: democracy within it could work, because, as Kielmansegg argues, it can only endure a plurality of interests, to a lesser extent a plurality of values, but almost to no extent a plurality of identities.25 Can Yugoslavia survive as a voluntary spiritual community? A positive answer presupposes the existence of a Yugoslav nation, that is a Yugoslav national (spiritual) identity, since experience tells us that only a nation is a spiritual community.
Was there a Yugoslav "we"-consciousness? It is evident that since 1918 there have been different perceptions (and different projections) of Yugoslavia: it turned out that some nations saw Yugoslavia (and subsequently communism) only as a vehicle for achieving some other (national-strategic) goals, whereas for other nations Yugoslavia was a utopian ideal. The fall of communism in Eastern Europe provided the former with an opportunity to implement their strategic ideas (a sovereign state and national independence), while the latter saw Yugoslavia as the "final"solution.
Was the break-up of Yugoslavia chiefly caused by external factors, or should most of the blame for Yugoslavia's exit from the historical stage be laid on internal factors? There are those who argue that "Yugoslavia was created by Europe"(Milorad Ekme˙ci«c), implying that Europe can also destroy it if it so chooses, and others who find that internal events have played the crucial role. According to the latter, all that happened in Yugoslavia from 1918, to 1929, 1934, 1937, 1941, 1943, 1945, 1964, 1968, 1971 to 1974... inevitably (?) led to what happened in 1990, 1991 and 1992. This article is not designed to analyze either the underlying or the immediate causes of current events on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. But, despite the absence of a "historical distance,"it seems that the thesis proposed at the beginning of this article about the importance of the regional problem has been confirmed: the regional problem was dramatically interrelated with the major issues of a multinational, federal, socialist community; thus, the study of the former has undoubtedly provided a clearer perception, explanation and understanding of the latter.
The Yugoslav pendulum swung ever closer to the point of disintegration, built-in "destabilizers"were activated, the (un)planned collapse of the state took place. This break-up was significantly facilitated by the regional policy, particularly by the formulation and operationalization of regional development goals. But the regional policy itself (and the way in which its goals were set) undoubtfully was a result of the action of other, deeper and more powerful forces.
Yugoslavia has disintegrated into several smaller states. Many problems of the former state will be passed on to the newly emerged states. And these also are now faced or will be faced with problems of regional development, federalism, interethnic relationships...