Music as a Means to Accomplish Ideological Tasks: Pula (Istria, Croatia) in the Formative Years of Yugoslav Socialism (1947-1955) 1

By Duraković, Lada | Studia Musicologica, December 2017 | Go to article overview

Music as a Means to Accomplish Ideological Tasks: Pula (Istria, Croatia) in the Formative Years of Yugoslav Socialism (1947-1955) 1


Duraković, Lada, Studia Musicologica


During the early post-war, formative period (1945-1955), one of the primary tasks of the Yugoslav Communist government was to make the vision of "the socialist man" a reality. To effectively shape the new society, it was necessary to (re)form the citizens in accordance with the newly proclaimed values. Based on the theory of Marxism, "the socialist man" was supposed to be educated methodically and become a person active in a society where every person has the right to decent living conditions. It was believed that a society relieved of class antagonism and "exploitation of man by man" would be able to develop versatile "socially oriented socialist men who would fully contribute to the development of a new and more equitable society."2

The concept of building socialism excluded any possibility of a multiparty system and division of authority under the Communist Party rule. Authoritative power was effectively consolidated in the hands of Josip Broz Tito and the small circle of highest-ranking officials within the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Yugoslav Communist Party. The Communist Party created an overall political strategy, thus controlling internal, foreign, economic, and cultural policies. Political publicity was heavily used as a means of justifying every measure undertaken by the regime, with the aim of eliminating the capitalist system, and promoting a new order based on the principle of justice and equality for all members of the social community and all the peoples and nationalities of Yugoslavia.3 Appointed to leadership positions were those considered loyal to the Communist Party and politically correct, mainly young people from the working class and poorer social strata who - thus - became "the class predestined to lead" the new country. The country was to be proletarian and the regime, in contrast to the earlier periods, relied on lower social classes. In the early post-war years, the society was extremely focused on the Soviet Union, but after the clash with the Informbiro in 1948 and the first democratisation processes, the Communist ideology in Yugoslavia moved away from the Soviet model by introducing self-government. Perceived as a Yugoslav form of transition into Communism, it represented a specificity of the Yugoslav socialism in relation to the USSR and the countries of the so-called people's democracy. The disruption between Tito and Stalin resulted in Yugoslavia no longer being protected by the Soviet Union and, in turn, moving closer to the West, especially the United States of America.4

The then most significant political model of the USSR also largely determined the climate of the early post-war period. At the time, the priorities of the new society in the field of culture were reflected in the formation of an authentic socialist culture and art serving the proletariat. Through the activities of state and political organs and institutions, the Communist Party was thus working on the formation of a culture and art suitable for the form of social and political arrangement based on the rule of working people. The cultural policy on all levels was established in accordance with the principles of the socialist realism and the validation of social occurrences in line with the needs of the Party. Art was supposed to educate the youth, as well as contribute to the restoration and advancement of the country, and therefore, it had to be accessible to a broad range of consumers. A work of art was supposed to meet the criteria of socialist conceptuality (being accessible to the broadest masses), party affiliation (by promoting Communism), and the folk spirit (as opposed to cosmopolitism and bourgeois nationalism).5

The same applied to music, which was, prior to institutionalization of socialism, equally monopolized by the official, social artistic "elite." Hence, the tendency appeared to bring it closer to all walks of society whose cultural needs had been neglected in the past. Music was to reflect the basic categories of socialist realism, the idea was that music should not be a privilege of the elite, but a common good, and such thinking eliminated the understanding of music as an exclusively aesthetic formation. …

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