In Memoriam: Bogdan Denitch, 1929–2016

Sociologist, leading democratic socialist, and longtime Dissentnik Bogdan Denitch passed away last Monday at the age of eighty-six. Here, we present tributes by two of Bogdan’s close friends and comrades to his outsized personality and influence on the American left, along with a selection of his writings for Dissent, which spanned from 1970 to 2002.

There will be a NYC-based memorial service for Bogdan Denitch sometime in the next few months, organized in cooperation with his daughter, Maja Denic Munk. For details, or to share remembrances with Maja, please email inquiries [at] dissentmagazine [dot] org. —Editors
 

Memories of Bogdan Denitch by Jo-Ann Mort

“The man whom the folk-singer legend Dave Van Ronk, Bogdan’s old friend, called ‘the mad Montenegrin’ was a larger-than-life figure with a uniformly kind heart that he often tried to mask. . . .”

Bogdan the Speaker by Harold Meyerson

“The first time I heard Bogdan Denitch speak, he intimidated the hell out of me. . . .”

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Bogdan Denitch traveling in Croatia and Bosnia, late 1980s, and at his apartment in the East Village, New York City (right). Photos courtesy of Jo-Ann Mort.

Selected writings by Bogdan Denitch

Forum, What is Socialism? (with responses from Lewis Coser, Bogdan Denitch, Michael Harrington, and Michael Walzer, 1981)

“Can socialism be democratic? Yes; otherwise, of course, it will not be worth its name or worth supporting. But more to the point, yes—provided socialists do not permit their imaginations to be crippled by the limits of liberal democracy under capitalism.”

Forum, From Sweden to Socialism (Winter 1991)

“Democracy cannot exist in any meaningful sense when there are gross disparities in political power. That argument is so obvious and well established that it provides today the most effective language with which to express the socialist argument—the language of democracy.”

Tragedy in Former Yugoslavia (Winter 1993)

“The political elites of the states of former Yugoslavia have wrought a massive disaster on their peoples. They have also reduced their actual independence.”

Lessons from the Bosnian War (April 1995)

“The federation that was Yugoslavia was a much lesser evil than the horror that followed.”

The Balkan Endgame (Summer 2002)

“Can one find some generalized lessons in all this suffering? I reject two major paradigms that guide most of my academic colleagues and most American politicians dealing with the region. One is that age-old, deep-rooted hatreds, going back hundreds and hundreds of years, shape the conflict…. The second holds that one must pay scrupulous respect to national sovereignty even when carnage occurs.”

Read more articles by Bogdan Denitch.

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