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Djilas
1911-1995

The main contradiction in a society which has undergone a socialist revolution is that property, de juro (legally) belongs to everybody, but de facto it belongs to “the new class”, i.e. the nomenclature. This new class cannot resolve the contradiction between the relations of property de juro and de facto. Hence, in all transitional societies there is a need for a new political revolution which will sweep away the rule of the nomenclature. 

Djilas has described decision making in a transitional society in the following passage: “At home, over a dinner, while hunting, in a conversation of two, three people, the problems of state-wide importance are being decided. The party forums, the meetings of government cabinets, the sessions of parliaments have a purely nominal, representative character and are convened solely for the purpose of putting a rubber stamp on that which has been ‘cooked’ at the ‘family kitchens’.”

That’s how all important questions are decided, at all levels in a transitional society. Democracy has a purely nominal character, while the real power belongs to a “Bonaparte”, or to a narrow circle of people, an oligarchy.

The argument of Djilas that “the new class” is a capitalist class, and hence the new type of society is a kind of “state capitalism”, does not hold water for the following reasons:

1. If we’re dealing with a capitalist relations, then how can one explain the following passage from the book of Djilas: “All steal from people’s wealth – not because they need it, but simply because it is as though nobody owns it… In Yugoslavia in 1954 alone, there were 20 thousand known cases of theft from ‘social property”.

2. Where does “the new class” start, i.e. how do we distinguish it from the rest of the people? Djilas draws a line between the “political bureaucracy” and all other, including the industrial nomenclature. However, this sounds false in light of the current campaign of privatizations in the former USSR, when, as an example, some former directors of enterprises have become their new “owners”.

3. The theory of Djilas cannot explain the cleavage, from top to bottom, that we currently see in the formerly monolithic nomenclature. In other words, it does not explain the division of state property, known as “privatization”, and then again “re-nationalization” for the purposes of another “privatization”.

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