Published by Women in Black – Belgrade and Mostart-Zemun 2019
On June 12, 2019 more than 30 persons, mostly women and men activists of Women in Black, were present in the premises of the Women in Black organization.
The presentation of the book started with an introduction by the professor of the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb Dr Lino Veljak (who is also the author of the book’s foreword), and continued with comments made by those having an insight into the topic of the book (Dragan Stojković, the director of the publisher Mostart, Srba Manojlović, a long-time correspondent of the agency Tanjug from Algeria, Nebojša Komanović, Aleksandar Kraus, Dragomir Olujić, Staša Zajović) and the translators of the book (Snežana Tabački, Natalija Mitrić, Olivija Rusovac, Nastasja Radović), as well as a former Yugoslav student from Algeria Karim Musalal.
In the introduction we emphasized the following:
In Yugoslavia the concept of self-management was introduced at the beginning of the 1950’s by a decree from the above: the workers were ordered to become self-managers. Of course, the Party kept the control over the process of self-managing.
In Algeria, after the declared independence in 1962, the process of introducing self-management was quite different. Namely, Algeria, especially the Mediterranean part, was relatively developed industry-wise. The owners and managers of industrial machines were exclusively French. After Algeria gained independence the French left the country and returned to France, therefore the workers who had been working there for 20 years had to take over the job of managing the companies and they were quite successful in it, even though this book shows that there were failures and weaknesses… But there was resistance as well to that process, most of all by the commander of the National Liberation Front Huari Bumedian, who during the Algerian fight for independence had a strong material and support of other kind by the Soviet Union, from weapons to educating the personnel of officers. Bumedian supported the Soviet idea that self-management doesn’t fit the real socialism and that the Soviet model, meaning state management from the above, should be introduced to industry and economy in general, while Ben Bella supported self-management. After the coup when Bumedian overthrew Ben Bella in 1965 the policy of self-management also froze. Bumedian destroyed the remains of self-management, and when he died his successors, facing the people’s ever rising discontent and trying to preserve legitimacy, gave space to the ever rising fundamental forces which didn’t have any basis in Algeria but were imported from Egypt, all along being supported by Saudi Arabia. After the Soviet model failed, i.e. after the fall of the Berlin Wall, in Algeria the Salafi Movement found itself on the rise and gained popularity, the Army supported the so-called secular values but without ever questioning the reasons for what caused the situation, and fundamentalism gained wide support in Algeria… The final result was that Algeria is now one of the countries with a relatively high percentage of refugees, not to speak about the percentage of violation of human rights (especially women’s rights). What does that have to do anything with us? It does since it shows that there is a causal chain between the suppression of autonomous movements, forming of coalitions with fundamentalists of all possible origins and the destruction of a society that leads to a social and historical regression.
During the discussion the participants paid special attention to the question of whether self-management in Algeria occurred spontaneously or it was modeled by the Yugoslav model (and some participants suggested that self-management in Yugoslavia was imposed by a Party’s decree). The publisher made clear his motives that lead to his publishing the book: not only is it a very valuable and current piece but he was also very emotionally attached to the fight for independence and socialism by the Algerian people ever since his childhood period. Srba Manojlović amongst other things remembered his talks with Ben Bella while Karim Musalal gave his own view on the Algerian experience with self-management.
All participants agreed that this book is extremely valuable and they showed their content that someone finally wrote a book on this subject.
Prepared by: Nastasja Radović
Translation by: Tomislav Perušić