The third way - Yugoslavia

If the USSR and its satellites comprised the „Second World“, Yugoslavia, despite its claims to be a „Third Way“ and a leader of the „Third World“, was as a copy of Stalinist Russia a kind of Second Second World, one of several (like China and Albania, later Cambodia) which claimed to be the 'better Communists'[ in comparison with the 'corrupted Leninists' in Moscow.

At the same time, Yugoslavia and the Balkans in general display a particular complexity of 'imperial layering', showing in different areas more or less influence of the Ottomans, the Austrians and the Russians.

Up till the break with Stalin in 1948, Josip Broz Tito's life and work was closely linked to the USSR, beginning with participation in the Civil War on the sideof the Red Army as a Bolshevik in 1918. Twenty years later he survived the purges  of the Yugoslav Communists in the USSR and became their leader in the middle of the worst period of the purges in 1937. Another decade later, Tito and Stalin were  insulting each other as „degenerates“. The exchanges of this period were full of rejuvenated imperial discourses ranging from the Tatars to the Ottomans. The Soviet trace in the Communist empire was erased by the Yugoslavs and tranfered to other historical and cultural territories.

Yugoslav historiography of the early 50s gave Russia a completely different historical role than was the case in late Stalinism, but also after Stalin's death. The Yugoslav „new way“ was depicted as outstripping this tradition, whose significance was downplayed.

Vladimir Dedijer's 1953 book Tito speaks, his self portrait and struggle with Stalin, London) notes that Stalin had lost his „conscience“ and had entered into  an openly imperial phase. This is precisely the point where Yugoslavia becomes the 'better Second World' by denouncing the USSR as an imperial body which is no different from the „First World“. Yugoslavia thus becomes a Second Second World. 

In this way, the Yugoslav geopolitical discourse expresses in open discourse that which in the USSR could only be expressed on the border bwtween the discursive and the non-discursive.

For this reason the period between the break of 1948 and the reconciliation of 1955 (Chruščev's visit to Yugoslavia) is of particular significance for our project.  Tito shifted the border between the discursive and non-discursive to a completely different field and openly adressed the 'truth' of the Soviet imperial while hoding the imperial elements of his 'small empire'.