Wednesday, March 5, 2008

KOSOVO - March 6th, 2008

As Kosovo declares independence with the encouragement of the US and most of the EU, one can well wonder whether all these people (starting with the Kosovars themselves) know what they are doing. The last 50 years have been full of countries splitting and joining, and almost always with nasty consequences that no one had anticipated. On the world-wide scale, this includes the WTO, and its junior cousin, NAFTA. Both of these are disastrous to the longer-term interests of working people, but these have stood still for having this done to them, often on the promise of cheaper goods. More visible is the fate of India since partition and of USSR since the Asian republics have been “freed” of the yoke of Moscow. Then Yugoslavia was freed of the legacy of Tito, which was 40 years of peace and relative prosperity. And we see the benefits that freedom from Britain has given places in sub Saharan Africa. Now we can expect Kosovo to seek inclusion in EU, and unthinking supporters of their independence will surely accept that, given the penury that separation from Serbia will surely bring upon them, and that will open the door to the Albanians, who will exacerbate the flood of cheap labor from E Europe. I am reminded of the saga of German unification. In the 60s and 70s, it was said that in Europe everyone was against that except the people. When it came, everyone cheered, but it has not been easily digested in Germany, even though the people are as close together in heritage as, say, the Southern and Northern Irish. And there is no doubt that while the Albanians think of themselves as one people even across that border, they will soon discover that they are uncomfortable bedfellows, not to mention they and the French, who have still not assimilated the Corsicans. The madness we know as nationalism divides more than it unites, though it keeps uniting people into units that ignore the other forces that divide their underlying interests. The little bits of Yugoslavia now have their own flags and their own parliaments, but they lack the economic strength they had 40 years ago, and that might be more important to them in the long run than any number of national anthems.

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