Belgrade 1968 Protests and the Post-Evental Fidelity: Intellectual and Political Legacy of the 1968 Student Protests in Serbia

  • Aleksandar Pavlović, Mark Losoncz
Keywords: 1968 Belgrade student protests, Case of eight professors, Belgrade Faculty of Philosophy, Praxis, Korčula Summer School, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, Josip Broz Tito, Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Abstract

Even though Belgrade student protests emerged and ended abruptly after only seven days in June of 1968, they came as a cumulative point of a decade-long accumulated social dissatisfaction and antagonisms, as well as of philosophical investigations of the unorthodox Marxists of the Praxis school (Praksisovci). It surprised the Yugoslav authorities as the first massive rebellion after WWII to explicitly criticize rising social inequality, bureaucratization and unemployment and demand free speech and abolishment of privileges. This article focuses on the intellectual destiny and legacy of the eight professors from the Faculty of Philosophy close to the Praxis school, who were identified as the protests’ instigators and subsequently expelled from the University of Belgrade due to their “ethico-political unsuitability”. Under both international and domestic pressure, they were later reemployed in a separate research unit named the Centre for Philosophy and Social Theory, where they kept their critical edge and argued for political pluralism. From the late 1980s onwards, they and their colleagues became politically active and at times occupied the highest positions in Serbia – Dragoljub Mićunović as one of the founders of the modern Democratic Party and the Speaker of the Parliament, former Serbian President and Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica and former Prime Minister late Zoran Đinđić. Still, while some members became strong anti-nationalists and anti-war activists, other embraced Serbian nationalism, therefore pivoting the intellectual split into the so called First and Second Serbia that marked Serbian society during the 1990s and remained influential to this day.

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Published
2019-03-09