Some preliminary notes on Croatian nationalism and the left in Australia (includes scan of SWP pamphlet ‘Croatian Nationalism and the Fight for Socialism’)

A major national security concern in Australia during the 1960s and 1970s was potential political violence undertaken by Croatian nationalists and anti-communists against symbols of Yugoslavia in this country, as well as actions taken up inside Yugoslavia. Within the Croatian nationalist movement back then and also since the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, there has long been concern about pro-Ustasha elements, who praise the wartime regime of Ante Pavelic, and their links to the far right here and abroad.

In Australia, this concern was primarily raised by the left, including the Australian Labor Party and the Communist Party of Australia. While in opposition, the ALP under Gough Whitlam accused the Liberal Party of playing down the threat of political violence by Croatian nationalists inside the country (leading in part to the Murphy Raid in 1973). The CPA’s Tribune ran numerous features on Croatian nationalism and the Ustasha in Australia. 

But not all on the left were convinced. The Socialist Workers Party, the Australian party linked to the Mandelite Fourth International, came out in defence of Croatian nationalists in Australia, particularly the Australian wing of the Croatian Movement for Statehood (the HDP). This seems to have stemmed from an opposition to Tito’s Yugoslavia and suspicion of the CPA’s defence of the Yugoslav government. In the early 1980s, they produced a pamphlet titled Croatian Nationalism and the Fight for Socialism (which I have scanned and uploaded below), which supports the HDP as a form of revolutionary nationalism. This became a source of friction between the Australian SWP and their US counterparts during the 1980s.

This is a topic that I am very interested in exploring further and will be diving into the newspapers of the SWP and the CPA, as well as the International Socialists, over the next little while. Any suggestions of sources to track down would be greatly appreciated.

One comment

  1. Quote from “Fascist-Infested, Imperialist-Backed Ukraine Coup – Crimea Is Russian – Socialist Alternative: Running Dogs for Western Imperialism”, in: “Australasian Spartacist” No. 223, Winter 2014: „It’s no wonder that former RSP [Revolutionary Socialist Party] honcho and now SAlt [Socialist Alternative] ‚leader‘ John Percy has felt so at home within SAlt since their ‚death of communism‘ lash-up last year. Throughout the 1980s, Percy was a leading cadre of the Socialist Workers Party in this country. In 1983, the SWP leadership entered into a grotesque alliance with a shadowy Australian outfit, the Croatian Movement for Statehood (HDP). The HDP were counterrevolutionary anti-Yugoslav followers of the Croatian fascist Ustasha, World War II butchers too bloody even for the Nazis, who turned the puppet state of Croatia into a vast slaughterhouse for Jews, Roma, Serbs and many Croats (see ‚SWP Defends Ustasha,‘ A u s t r a l a s i a n S p a r t a c i s t No. 103, August/September 1983).
    A ‚party’ with such wretched traditions and hardened social-democratic leadership can only be a hothouse for myriad anti-communist prejudices. Thus, new recruits are schooled in rabid opposition to our Trotskyist principle of unconditional military defence of the bureaucratically deformed workers states—China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cuba—against imperialist attack and internal capitalist counterrevolution. A particular target of SAlt hostility is North Korea, which for years has faced down a belligerent U.S./Australian imperialist campaign of economic sanctions and militarist sabre-rattling.“ https://www.icl-fi.org/english/asp/223/crimea.html

    The article mentioned above is here: “SWP defends Ustasha”, in: “Australasian Spartacist” No. 103, August/September 1983, page 8/7 https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/document/icl-spartacists/periodicals/australasian/103_August-September_1983_Austral_Spart.pdf

    Disclaimer: I’m not a member or representative of http://www.spartacist.org and am posting this on my own initiative.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s