The breakdown of elite ideological consensus : the prelude to the disintegration of Yugoslavia (1974-1990)
The disintegration of Yugoslavia was the result of many factors, not of a single one, but the main one was the breakdown of the ideological consensus within the Yugoslav political elite during an extended period of 15 years preceding the actual disintegration of Yugoslav institutions. The thesis examines the emergence, implementation, crisis and the breakdown of the fourth constitutive concept of Yugoslavia (1974-1990). Since the role of the political elite in this period was crucial, it is only by focussing on elite perceptions of reality that one can understand Yugoslav politics. More than any other work in the field, this thesis emphasises the link between elite and ideology (i.e., Kardelj's interpretation of Marxism). Using interviews with dozens of key political actors in this period, documents and other primary sources, the thesis reconstructs the elite's motives and reasons for first accepting then abandoning both Kardelj's interpretation and a fragile but viable compromise reached during the 1967-1974 Constitutional debate. The thesis is a historical case-study of the collapse of socialist Yugoslavia, but it makes contribution to other fields, such as: theories of state disintegration; the comparative politics of communist states; elite politics; the debate on ideology; politics in multi-ethnic societies; methodology of social sciences, etc. Its main novelty is in presenting new sources and offering an original interpretation of the events which happened in the analysed period. It also corrects some misconceptions in the debate on the collapse of Yugoslavia, such as the 'ethnic hatred' argument and various mono-causal explanations focussed on economic crisis, international politics, ethnic structure, etc. Their main fallacy is in neglecting the subjective, i.e., the perceptions of political actors in politics. The thesis demonstrates that institutions that were created on ideological grounds found it ultimately impossible to survive the collapse of the ideological narrative whose products they were.