Rise and Fall, a book by the Communist dissident Milovan Đilas, originally published under the title Vlast (Power) in the Serbian language in London in 1983 and in Croatia under the title Vlast i Pobuna (Power and Rebellion) in 2009, is one in the series of Đilas’ memoirs covering the years from the end of World War II until his release from prison in 1966.
In addition to the other books Đilas published in English about the Yugoslav socialist regime and the nature of its rule, the book Rise and Fall contributes to the understanding of the complexity of relations inside the Yugoslav party leadership and its methods of dealing with political enemies, and illustrates the personal transformation of a fierce communist into a democrat and liberal, demonstrating his personal courage, thereby contributing to the culture of dissent under the socialist regime.
The manuscript itself was written in 1956, while this most famous book by Djilas was published in 1957 in the United States, and later it had dozens of editions in many languages. Djilas presented his theoretical explanation of the concept of the “new class,” which was born just after the revolution in the newly established communist societies. He considered the emergence of the “new class” as a social reality that is deeply rooted in ideological theories about the establishment of social egalitarianism. This was a new communist elite created by the Yugoslav revolution at the top of society in order to collectively manage all social resources. The main conclusion of Djilas is that this “new class” had, paradoxically, been transformed into the exploitative class against which it had itself fought during the social revolution. Thus, Djilas's reflections on “the revolution betrayed” by the communist avant-garde was similar what Trotsky had already observed. By doing so, he seriously shook the legitimacy of the ideological foundations of Tito's Yugoslavia and the countries of the Eastern communist bloc, as the first dissident who was labelled the main enemy of communism. However, although Djilas condemned totalitarian communism and single-party dictatorship, he had maintained his socialist beliefs until the end of his life, believing that socialism could be achieved through reform in a democratic order.
The New Class, a book by the Yugoslav Communist dissident Milovan Đilas, is one of the most important political documents of its time, and according to the London Times Literary Supplement poll, one of the 100 most influential books of the latter half of the 20th century. Historian Mira Bogdanović believes that one of the reasons for its great influence is the assistance Djilas received from the CIA in writing, translating and distributing the book, all in the context of Cold War politics (Bogdanović, 2013).
The book was first printed in English in the United States in 1957, and it was translated into dozens of languages. It is a study in which Đilas analysed the socialist order and ideology, and systematically demystified the socialist system in Yugoslavia. The greatest significance of the book, the demystification of socialism, is due precisely to the fact that it was written by the former fourth man of socialist Yugoslavia and one of its key ideologues. The book was legally printed in Yugoslavia for the first time in the Serbian language in Belgrade in 1990.
In the context of the culture of dissent, the book provided insight into the nature and practices of the socialist society in Yugoslavia, thus influencing Croatian intellectuals in Chicago, their attitude toward Yugoslavia and their advocacy for an independent Croatia.
The most important among the books of Đinđić’s collection is his analysis of the political and constitutional system of Yugoslavia and its key shortcomings in “Yugoslavia as an Incomplete State”. The book was published in 1988 out of a series of essays Đinđić had published in “Literary News” [Književne novine] between 1986 and 1988. Using theoretical analysis, Đinđić criticized the ruling ideological paradigm of the time and “affirmed for the first time, on a theoretically relevant basis, liberal thought on the level of the individual, society and politics.” (N. Dmitrijević, Kontinuitet nedovršene državnosti (Foreword) in: Đinđić, 1998, IX).
Đinđić wrote on Yugoslavia: “Not even the more sober-minded observers will be able to escape the impression that the most fundamental matters are, indeed, contested here. The impression that Yugoslavia is, as a matter of fact, an unfinished state. So to say, it is an open option, which withstands any final definition... In the vacuum spreading with the communist term (or, more precisely, non-term) of statehood, a variety of herbs grew, which turned the lack of premises for life in its own premise for life.“ Đinđić also analysed key problems in Yugoslavia, anticipating its dissolution, the victory of nationalism, and warned about the far-reaching consequences. This book is considered among the most important works in political theory during the 1980s in Serbia.
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Jaromír Šavrda, a writer, poet, journalist and dissident from Ostrava, was, because of his samizdat activities, twice held in the custodial prison in Ostrava and later imprisoned in Ostrov nad Ohří, first from September 1978 until March 1981 and then from September 1982 until October 1984. During his second stay in prison, Šavrda wrote two books reflecting his experiences as a political prisoner; they depict his personal experiences from police persecution and describe the lives of people that Šavrda met in prison. The first of the books was “Vězeň č. 1260” (The Prisoner No. 1260), written between September and November 1982 and published as samizdat, followed by “Ostrov v souostroví” (The Island in the Archipelago), written by Šavrda between November 1982 and January 1983. After his return from prison, this two texts were published in 1987 as an omnibus called “Přechodné adresy” (The Temporary Addresses), at first in samizdat edition Popelnice and then in edition Expedice. “Přechodné adresy” was first officially published in the 1990s (Ostrava: WMCG 1991, 1993). Both texts were also published separately with original titles in 2009 (Prague: Pulchra, 2009). “Přechodné adresy” (2009) is also a name of a documentary film about Jaromír Šavrda directed by Petra Všelichová.